One of my first memories of childhood is that of my mother reading Dr. Seuss books to me in a big brown recliner in our living room. That memory brings with it sounds and smells and a general feeling of safety and comfort that never fades, even after all these years. Naturally, one of the first memories I have of my own first born child is sitting in a big chair and reading Little Golden Books to him.
Sharing books and reading with my children is as natural as giving them baths and making their breakfast. It’s just something I do everyday, and it’s one of the most pleasurable moments of my day. I love to hold my two year old in my lap while we snuggle up and look through his ever growing library of books. His favorite books change weekly as his interests broaden. Books open up the world to him and his imagination is bubbling over with new ideas every day.
More than just telling a story, books help children better understand their own ideas and feelings and often calm an upset toddler when nothing else will work. They see and hear about other kids like them and others from around the world who are different. We’ve all seen little kids acting out the stories they hear. As a child I spent many afternoons pretending to be the characters from my favorite books. Just recently my son was playing ‘Dr.Dan. The Bandage Man’, a current favorite Little Golden Book.
Although reading with children is so very rewarding for both adult and child, little kids need time to look at books alone. This allows them the opportunity to look at the pictures and develop the habit of ‘reading’ even though they can’t yet read. In my Family Child Care, I have different ‘libraries’ available in different rooms in my home. The kids have labeled these areas ‘libraries’ themselves, and will often rotate the books from room to room and act out ‘going to the library’ daily. Imagine my surprise when I first witnessed a three year old taking the younger kids ‘to the library.’
Because books are a very user-friendly activity and require no prep or cleanup other than returning them to the ‘library’, parents can and should use any opportunity to share books with their young children. Long car or plane trips, waiting rooms, in shopping carts, you name it, you can hand a child a book and make just about any transition or otherwise boring activity exciting. Books and reading can be both a group or individual activity, and many children who are normally shy in a group setting will sit in the reading circle and share story-time while making new friends.
By sharing books with your young child, you are planting a precious memory that will last a lifetime for both parent and child. They in turn will continue the tradition with their own children and remember those special times. A world of experiences and ideas are waiting for you to introduce to them.
This is the time of year when the parents of many preschoolers must decide where their child will attend school in the fall. I wanted to take this opportunity to share my experience with Montessori preschool education.
My son is completing his second year in a Montessori preschool program and attended from the age of 3 1/2.
I chose Montessori for several reasons. First, my son is a bright, inquisitive child who already had a sound grounding in recognition of his alphabet, numbers, shapes, and colors before he started preschool. I was worried that he might be bored in a more traditional preschool. Montessori’s highly individual program means he is always challenged and interested. In addition, my son is a very active child and the Montessori program gives him lots of opportunity for free play outdoors and indoors as well as more freedom to move about, stand, or even lie on the ground while working on his lessons in the classroom.
In my opinion one of Montessori’s great advantages is the fact that the child drives the educational experience. My son’s interests and abilities determine his unique educational program and so his lessons may overlap but are not identical to those of his classmates. This makes him an eager and motivated student.
The education program offered by Montessori also includes many advantages. My son’s experience includes the arts, math and science, language, and life skills. He regularly impresses our friends and family with his knowledge of science, sign language, and other areas not traditionally included in preschool programs.
I also like the fact that his classroom includes a wider range of ages so he has friends who are both younger and older. In addition, he really enjoys having regular contact with the elementary-age students who serve as both role models and friends.
Finally, as a parent, I cannot stress enough the benefits that a program like Montessori offers in terms of life skills. All students are expected to be responsible for their own personal hygiene as well as maintenance and cleaning of the classroom and food areas. While support is offered by adults and older children, even young children can learn to clean up after themselves. It has certainly had an impact on my son’s willingness and ability to help out at home.
Recently I compared preschool experiences with a friend whose child is completing her second year in what most people consider to be the top preschool program in our community. We compared our children’s skills to the checklist provided by our school district of 60 skills (including cognitive skills, listening and sequencing skills, language skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and social/emotional skills) that will help children transition into kindergarten. My son has all 60 skills while her daughter lacked skills in each of the areas.
I recommend every parent at least consider Montessori for their child as it is a child-centered learning approach that can provide an excellent foundation for a child’s future growth and learning.
I can remember when there was only one “chubby” kid per class. Now one in three, by my informal survey and the government’s official tally, would be eligible for this form of verbal abuse. Actually, one child in ten is considered morbidly obese and the other two in ten just obese or overweight.
It’s not just the couch potato, chip-munching, remote controlled kids with the problem. I see plenty of active, fat kids at the baseball games, soccer tournaments and swim races. Many have normal weight parents who are active themselves in sports.
So what are the causes? You’re probably going to blame the fast food industry, cars, and a lack of physical education classes for our children living on the edge of medical self-destruction. Initially I even fell prey to that logic as a family practice physician and former P.E. teacher/coach. But when I really thought about these excuses I realized the causes are still the same as they were forty years ago when I ballooned into tent dresses.
After all, didn’t we have cakes, pies, and Twinkies to eat in the fifties and sixties? Ice cream and potato chips aren’t new. Plus, people used real cream, butter, and sugar in all the treats. I’ve ridden in cars my whole life. I can remember my brother falling out of the car at 50 mph on our way to Grandma’s Sunday dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cherry pie. Of course that was before seat belts came along.
Here is the real secret to all the “husky” kids circling around the last piece of pizza. They are emotionally empty, not their stomachs. Families are spread out or absent. Children are left to fend for themselves for meals and entertainment. They get bored, stressed out, and use food as a comfort just like adults. Often, parents are in denial that a problem even exists. My 50 lb. weight gain during the later stages of my mother’s illness and eventual death was no accident. It just wasn’t discussed.
Kids get shuttled from one home to another. Different rules, different environments. Especially with the divorce rate at 50% the so-called blended family requires much adapting by the child. Extended families don’t live nearby. Frequent job transfers, larger homes, and two car payments force both parents to work full time. The idea of sacrificing, saving, and delayed gratification went the way of the fifties and sixties.
With so much work and so many bills parents often arrive home emotionally drained. It is easier to let kids eat whatever they want, watch whatever they want, and listen to whatever they want. It takes more energy to be a parent enforcing rules and boundaries. The average father spends 20 minutes a day interacting with his child. Instead of picnics at the park, hiking, and shooting baskets, families opt for a video and pizza. Sometimes that is the only meal of the week together!
So what can we do? Treat the problem, not the symptom. Each child needs to feel valued. If you ask them whether they would rather have a new car or spend more time with you, the answer will be evident. Listen to your child more, talk less. Be quick to praise, slow to criticize. Regular family meetings promote feelings of belonging and connection. Everyone has a voice. Eat meals together on a regular basis. Preparing them as a team puts fewer demands on any one person and encourages communication.
Look inward, not outward to help solve a weight problem. Seek professional help early before medical problems and poor body image take hold. Your kids deserve it.
When the little one arrives, diaper bags are a must. This can be anything from a bag specifically designed for this purpose to an oversized shoulder bag with a lot of extra compartments. The truth is that there is no universal rule for diaper bags and how they should look. In fact, they can be very stylish and even affordable.
When shopping for diaper bags, you may sometimes end up paying more for a bag just because of it’s intended purpose. The truth is that you can often find a bag, with just as much possibility, for a lot less money if you know what to look for.
What are diaper bags? Basically, these are bags that you take with you that include baby items, such as diapers, powders, baby wipes and a change of clothes for the little one incase of an accident. Just because you are sporting a bag full of diapers doesn’t mean that you cannot do it with style. Shopping for diaper bags can be as easy as either visiting the infant section of a local retail or online store, but it can also be as simple as a stroll through the purse aisle.
Consider purchasing a large leather shoulder bag with internal compartments and lots of space. One thing that all diaper bags must have in common, regardless of their design, is a snap or zip closure. This will help to prevent the baby’s things from accidentally falling out or rolling away if the bag slips off of your shoulder. And, this can happen, especially when your priority is holding onto a squirming baby and you aren’t paying attention to much else. The main thing is to keep your child in your arms at all cost and if that means dropping a few diaper bags, then it helps to have a secured closure so that the contents of the bag will stay safe.
You can find diaper bags, or purses that can be used for that purpose, at any one of the many online stores carrying purses. You can often find a terrific sale on popular designs, which makes the deal even sweeter. One of the important considerations when shopping for diaper bags is their comfort. You will be spending a lot of time toting this bag, so you want and need for it to be comfortable. It should be large enough to hold all of the necessary items.