WELCOME TO THE PARENT
(Please scroll down on this page for new articles every week! Check them ALL OUT!)
This is a new page on the website to help all parents & caregivers of young children in the very important job of parenting! First of all, as parents/caregivers, you are your children’s first and most important teacher!
Now, as we are facing the “stay at home” COVID-19 precautions, your job as a parent has increased to become your children’s only teacher. Maybe you never thought of yourself as a homeschooler, but now it has become a necessity! We know that one of the reasons you come to ECFE classes is to be together with other parents/caregivers and to bring your children to a safe school environment where they can play and learn together. Right now we all know that is not possible so we have created this page to inspire a “parenting community.” We want to help you with all aspects of parenting, from how to cope with this pandemic to the ordinary everyday issues of feeding, toileting, & sleeping issues.
To begin with, there are a few tips for staying home with your young children:
1. Have a schedule. Children thrive on schedules! They know what to expect and feel less anxiety. So, an example of a regular schedule could include: a regular waking up & bed time, breakfast, lunch, dinner time, putting on play clothes (and not staying in pj’s all day—even though that seems tempting!). Do all the same rituals children love and have come to expect, like reading books before bed, brushing teeth regularly, helping with home chores, bath time with favorite bath toys, walking the dog together. These routine things give us all comfort!
2. Have variety and flexibility. Schedules are important but so is spontaneity and creativity! Use this time you have together to encourage creativity and exploration! There are lots of good ideas for fun, child friendly activities on Pinterest, Scholastic, etc. Just Google it! (There will be more fun ideas for activities in the future on this page!)
3. Have a limit on technology. Although there are a ton of great learning ideas for young children on the web, please limit the time you allow children to spend watching videos, tv, movies, video games, etc. I think we can all fall down that rabbit hole to fill the time! Put the phone face down, turn the tv and Ipads off. Talk to each other, make up stories, bake cookies, draw, paint, do puzzles, play board games.
4. Allow your children to play outside with you in the yard. (It is becoming spring!) Take a walk, go on a hike in the woods, have a scavenger hunt, or make a snowman. We all need more vitamin D and fresh air!
5. Try to keep positive. Now I know that it is not always easy. We can get down in the dumps, wondering how long this crisis will last. However, we do have our family with us, and we have access to technology that allows us to keep in touch with friends and other family members, & the weather is changing from winter to spring. So—-there are things to be grateful for in our isolation.
Hopefully, this page will help cheer you up and bolster you in your parenting! Take care and stay safe! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you think and your ideas for future articles! Thanks!
Learning begins at birth! If an infant, toddler, or preschooler is interested and involved in an activity—and having fun—he or she is learning. Treasure these early days of playing and cuddling with your little one. It is exactly what your child needs to grow and learn. We now have an opportunity to spend time with our children and play with them.
I have a quote from one of our ECFE parents during this time when family means our whole world. “We have enjoyed our family time so much. I hope many families take this time to prioritize family and what it means, & my hope is there is a gentle shift in society once things are all back up and running.”
Our topic for this week is play and learning.
ART & MUSIC:
Using large sheets of paper (or paper bags cut open), paint to music. Observe how the pictures change between country, rock & roll, classical or jazz music.
Keep a variety of materials, such as wrapping paper scraps, fabric, ribbon, yarn, packing peanuts, etc. to make collages using glue or duct tape!
Go outside to paint with a bucket of water and large paintbrush. Or make chalk pictures for everyone in the neighborhood to see.
Make an empty oatmeal container into a drum, or get a pot and a spoon from the kitchen. Let your child keep the beat to his/her favorite song as you sing together.
Have your child walk slowly around the room using music to set the pace. Call out a movement, such as forward, sideways, little steps, giant steps.
Make boxes with the following ideas! COOKING BOX—mixing bowl, measuring spoons & cups, whisk, spatula, cookie cutters, apron, BATH BOX—plastic funnels, turkey baster, spray bottle, sink or float items, plastic dolls, rubber duckies, cars/trucks, GROCERY BOX—recycle empty food boxes and clean plastic jars, coupons, play money, cash register, shopping cart or cloth bags, CAMPING BOX—tent, flashlight, sleeping bags, blankets, binoculars, DRESS-UP BOX—use an old suitcase to store old clothes, hats, shoes, costumes, plastic jewelry, scarves. Dramatic play is a good way for children to role play, understand other’s perspectives, problem solve, develop & foster imagination, storytelling and much more!
You may hate junk mail but your child loves it. Give a pile of it to your children in an old purse or cloth shopping bag. Use an empty kleenex box or shoebox for the mail to be delivered to.
Have an indoor picnic. Put a tablecloth on the floor and eat there.
Play together the games you grew up with, such as “I spy” or “Simon says.” Make everyday a special time for you and your children by planning activities that the family can do together.
So many ideas to try! Please feel free to use them all!
If you would like free parenting tips texted to your cellphone from ThinkSmall Parent Powered Texts, please text TS to 70138. These tips are for families with children from birth to age 5. These texts will arrive three times a week.
During this time of staying at home with children, I am sure parents are facing some tough discipline challenges. This article will deal with how to encourage children’s cooperation.
First of all, consider the age of the child and what would be developmentally appropriate. For example, would you expect an 18 month old to pick up all his toys? No, but you would expect him to help you pick up the toys on the floor of his room. You could expect a toddler to like to copy her parent. Parents can expect that toddlers will want to help with sorting laundry or sweeping the floor so give them opportunities, even though it may make life more difficult. Make household chores a regular part of the routine.
When we are looking at ways to get young children to cooperate, we must first look at the developmental tasks they are working on.
0-6 months—Being (I am here & absorbing everything!)
6-18 months—Exploring (I want to explore my world!)
18-36 months—Thinking (What happens when I do this?)
3-6 years—Power (Who has it & how do I get it?)
Now, let’s look at some tools for gaining children’s cooperation. Make a statement, like, “Your markers are on the floor,” or “It is time for cleaning up.” Use Grandma’s rule or the “when…, then…” rule–“When you finish your lunch, then we will go outside.” Give clear instructions–“Please put your shoes on and wait by the door.” Give a choice–“Do you want milk or juice?” Make it brief–“Clean up first!” Use humor–make a joke, sing a song. Use a timer for chores. Pick your battles. (Some days will be better than others.) Use rules & routines because children thrive on them.
Remember to communicate expectations clearly. State what is wanted. Don’t ask. Accept children’s feelings but reinforce expectations. Say what you mean and mean what you say! Communicate and deliver consequences appropriate for the developmental age of the child. (We will talk more about consequences in the next article!)
Natural and Logical Consequences
A consequence is a result of something a person does. Letting children experience the natural or logical consequences of their actions is one way to teach responsibility and help children with their misbehavior. A natural consequence means what happens because of something a child does. A logical consequence is a result arranged by the parent but logically related to what the child did. Natural & logical consequences result from choices children make about their behavior. By allowing children to experience the pleasant or unpleasant consequence of their behavior, parents help children learn what happens because of the behavior choices they make.
Ok! Let’s look at an example of both consequences in the real world of parenting!
NATURAL CONSEQUENCES: Dad urges Tommy to put on his coat as they are going outside to play. Dad says it is cold without wearing a coat. Tommy decides not to wear a coat. The natural result is that Tommy gets cold. This result is a consequence of a choice Tommy made. So, natural consequences are the responsibility of the child and not administered by the parent. Can you think of other natural consequences in your life with your child?
LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES: Mom tells Sally that she cannot ride her bike into the street. Sally decides to not listen and takes her bike out into the street. Mom sees this and stops her. A logical consequence would be to take her bike away for the rest of the day. Logical consequences are most useful when a child’s action could result in harm to the child. Can you think of other logical consequences in your life with your child?
The advantages of using natural & logical consequences are:
The consequence is closely related to the behavior, and gives the child a chance to learn what happens when he/she doesn’t behave in the way a parent expects him/her to behave.
Because it separates the misbehavior from the child, it does not shame or punish the child.
It is concerned with present and future behavior and helps children learn to be responsible for their own actions.
It is done in a calm environment.
It lets children make a choice, (as long as it doesn’t endanger their life).
Using natural and logical consequences can be a powerful tool in helping children manage their behavior. If possible, let the child help decide the consequence. Choices should be presented in a positive way. And most important, let the child know when he/she has done something good.
Parenting Lesson, Week 5
The Value of Outdoor Play
I know that during this time of “staying at home” you and your children have been inside the house. I hope you have been able to enjoy playing outside too! I know that sometimes the spring weather can be unpredictable and that makes it difficult to want to leave your warm house. However, it can be a learning experience for you and your child when you choose to embrace the weather!
What do you remember about playing outside when you were a child? Do you remember making mud pies? Do you remember digging in the sand by the lake? Do you remember catching bugs or minnows? Do you remember how fresh it smells after a rain? Do you remember collecting rocks or sticks? Do you remember the warm wind of summer blowing your hair? All of these are just some of the wonderful things outdoor play offers your children!
Outdoor play offers an opportunity to exercise and develop large-muscle and coordination skills. It gives children a chance to experience fresh air, sun, clouds, rain, wind, and snow. It gives children a vehicle for exploring bugs, ants, spiders, birds, squirrels, and natural objects like sticks, rocks, leaves, pinecones and acorns. It also gives parents an opportunity to observe children in a freer environment and to play with them in ways that are not always possible indoors.
What are some ways you can play with your children? First of all, you can see what interests them. Are they curious about how birds fly or why the wind is blowing the leaves all around? You don’t have to have all the answers. Just be curious about the outside world too and point out things. Look for teachable moments. Allow time for conversation and reflection.
One good idea for outdoor play to encourage movement, build gross-motor skills, and follow directions is to play “Simon says.” Simon says: run around the house, fly like a bird, bark like a dog, or jump over a stick. Let your child be Simon to have the power! Setting up a simple obstacle course, such as setting hula hoops on the ground or “search for. . .” game can be other fun activities. (Ask your child to find a dead leaf, rock or pinecone.)
Why does outdoor play matter so much for children? Regular habits of active play during childhood are one of the best predictors of active adulthoods. Outdoor play in nature reduces anxiety and stress. According to the “hygiene hypothesis,” early exposure to plants, animals, and the natural world helps children’s immune systems to develop properly, making them less likely to develop allergenic conditions like asthma. Frequent, unstructured childhood play in natural settings is the most common influence on the development of life-long conservation values and love of the natural world.
Keep nature play tools and toys handy. Some examples of good choices include: earth movers such as shovels or rakes, pails, binoculars, magnifiers, nets, or bug cages such as a shoe box or a jar with air holes in the lid.
Get your children into the outdoors! Forget about the mess they make and have fun with them!
“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.” —e.e. cummings
Dealing With Stress and Caring for Yourself
Parenting article, Week 6
As this pandemic and social distancing wears on, it becomes more and more difficult to cope with the stress we feel. We can feel lonely, sad, angry, depressed—-all in one day! We miss our family & friends, our normal life of freedom to go places. For some of us, we miss our work family and the schedule we had everyday. All of these feelings are normal and natural for what we are experiencing right now. This period in our history and our lives is unparalleled.
Parenting is for life. It is a complicated job, and you’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Research shows that even minor parenting conflicts are a huge source of stress in your life—now even more, as you spend every waking moment with your young children. Those parents that are still working can be stretched thin as they meet the needs of the world and family. Parenting can be isolating when you lose family and friends, especially right now.
However, research shows that you provide a solid foundation for effective parenting when you take care of yourself. As parents, you need to take care of your own needs in order to continue meeting the family’s needs. It is what they tell you on a plane—–put your own oxygen mask on first and then put one on your child. Try any one (or all) of the following approaches to care for yourself:
WORK TOGETHER. Each adult in the family has his/her own strengths. By working together, you can combine those strengths to meet your family’s needs. Children also can help with family chores, such as feeding pets or picking up their toys.
SET PRIORITIES. Look at your regular tasks and ask yourself if you can drop any. Things that seemed important to do last year may have little value to you today in this COVID19 world.
ESTABLISH A FAMILY ROUTINE. Children thrive on routine and parents do too. Routine makes life predictable and helps reduce stress. (This is a common theme in these articles but very important!) Make it a family affair to clean up after dinner, and set a quiet time for study or reading.
TAKE SOME ADULT TIME. You love the time you spend with your children (and you are having alot of that these days), but you also need some time just for you. A regular bedtime for your children can free up some of your evening. Or, getting up to get a walk/run in or drinking a cup of coffee before the family wakes can be doable.
CALM YOURSELF. Learn ways to relax when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Practice some meditation with deep breathing, play soothing music, light a fragrance candle, take a warm bath. Declare a “Time-out” for yourself!
BUILD A SUPPORT NETWORK. Stay in touch with family members and friends through Skype or Zoom or Face time on your phone, laptop, Ipad, etc. Even just a phone call or email to someone can be refreshing during this time. Just comparing notes with others on the ups & downs of daily life of family isolation can help!
FORGIVE YOURSELF. Every parent makes mistakes, but that’s how you learn. You can be imperfect and still be a good parent.
BE GOOD TO YOURSELF!
LEARNING ABOUT CHILDREN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT
Parenting Article for Week 7
Getting to know your children is one of the pure delights of being a parent. Children and their parents start as strangers to each other connected by powerful bonds of expectation, instinct, and love. As you move through the parenting years together, you have an ongoing opportunity to get to know each other very well. You learn about your children by watching them, sharing experiences with them and interacting with them. Your understanding of them deepens as you learn about the nature of childhood or child development. Knowing how children think, develop, and experience the world allows you to gain insight into your individual children.
Child development researchers around the world have built a large body of knowledge about how children grow. This knowledge has only been developed over the last hundred years. (A relatively short period of time!) This research tells us that children go through certain predictable stages of growth. Children learn to crawl or scoot before they learn to walk, for example. Each stage of children’s development builds on the success of the previous stage. For example, babbling lays the groundwork for later speech. Each child has her/his own unique timetable for development. The child development theorist, Jean Piaget, coined the word, “disequilibrium” for the out-of-balance times children go through before they learn something new. For example, children who are on the verge of crawling or walking sometimes get fussy or start waking at night. Knowing that children struggle during these times as they grow can help parents understand difficult behavior and provide the support their children need. Often times, children make mistakes as part of normal development. Children go through many unsuccessful attempts before mastering a skill. For example, toilet learning can begin with a bang and then a regression occurs as a new sibling is born or parents forget to give reminders. Children grow in different areas at the same time. For example, a child who is sitting by mom as she reads is gaining knowledge in four different areas: cognitively—-learning about language, emotionally—-learning that she can trust mom, socially—-learning to take turns talking, physically—-learning how to make her fingers turn the page or just helping to hold the book.
Learning about child development gives parents a framework from which to see and support their children. When parents know that mouthing things is part of the healthy development of babies, they can provide a variety of safe things for baby to suck on and move dangerous items out of range. Through learning about their children, and child development in general, parents can become more responsible, effective parents.
One of the main ways we learn about our children is through observation. When we consciously and thoughtfully watch our children, we gain valuable insight into who they are and how to best interact with them. The four basics of becoming a good observer are:
Slow down. Be mindful by just watching your child for five or ten minutes. Get comfortable. Relax.
Don’t interrupt or distract your child. This is not a time to get involved in your child’s play. Just watch.
Cultivate a clear and open mind. Try to see what your child is doing without judgment or evaluation.
Use descriptive language. When you think about what your child is doing & you want to comment, try to use language that simply describes the activity. For example, “I see you are using lots of blue in your painting.”
Here is a PARENT ASSIGNMENT for you this week!—–Some food for thought as you observe your children:
1. What are the things that get in the way of observing your children?
2. Are there more natural times you could observe your children? (For example, would bath time or play time work instead of when you are folding clothes or fixing a meal?)
3. What have you learned about your children through observation? Have you been surprised by what you have learned?
Observation of your child helps you, as a parent, to come to a better understanding of what your child is working on (or what is his stage of development at this point in time). It also helps let your child know he is important and valued.
If you are looking for some interesting and educational information on the child development of babies, please check out the Netflix series, “Babies.” Plus, it will make you SMILE!
How to Help Your Child be Resilient
And Better Equipped to Handle Disappointment
Parenting Article,Week 8
This is a topic that is very timely right now. As we experience the world with the COVID pandemic, we and our children, are learning a whole new way of life! We feel disappointment every day in many different ways as we shelter at home. I have heard from a lot of parents who say that their child’s birthday couldn’t be the same, as they had no party with friends and relatives. I have also heard that children are missing school & friends and other group activities. All of these are big disappointments to young children. As parents, we must acknowledge these disappointments and the feelings that come with them—-sadness, loneliness, anger.
However, I would like you to think of how these disappointments are helping your child learn about life’s ups and downs and learn to bounce back (or be resilient). Robert Brooks, Ph.D, coauthor of Raising Resilient Children, says, “When children learn at an early age that they have the tools to get over a disappointing situation, they’ll be able to rely on that throughout childhood and even as adults.” So, how can we help our children during this time?
Acknowledge the feelings and even the tears. Validate the distress by saying, “I know you’re upset.” You may also say how disappointed you are, “I miss Grandma too!” Your child will see that it’s okay to feel his/her feelings.
Find ways for your child to help others. Can he/she make hearts for the windows (to show love)? Can he/she help clean up the yard or neighborhood? Can he/she smile and wave to others (keeping social distance) while on a walk or bike ride? Can he/she help make cookies or supper? Selfless acts, even at this young age, start to give children a chance to put their own problems in perspective and help them feel they’ve made a positive difference–an important attitude related to resilience.
Give your child more choices during this time. Young children feel like they have even less control over their life than usual when something doesn’t go their way. But giving a child an opportunity to make a decision can be empowering and can turn the situation around. For example, you could say,” We can’t go to Target now, but what game would you like to play?” or “Would you like to help me bake a cake?”
Last of all, find your own sense of optimism. Of course, we can’t always be positive about what is going on in our world. In troubled times, children pick up on what we’re feeling more than anything else. It’s important that we strive to find ways to cope, for them and for us. Take care of yourself, as you take care of your children.
This will be the last of the articles for the 2019-2020 school year. I hope they have been of some help to you in your parenting. I have enjoyed creating them! I think of all the families in the ECFE program during this difficult time and wish everyone a healthy and happy summer! I look forward to the time we can be together again! —-Jill Phillips, ECFE parent educator