Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mirror Image

Children can become bored easily and it can be a challenge to think of different ways to help keep them entertained. While it is true that the earlier they learn how to entertain themselves the easier it will be for children and parents alike, realistically it can take several years for a child to get to that point.

That challenge may become increasingly difficult under different circumstances. For example, if your child is visiting a doctor and is old enough to remember being there before it can cause them to experience extra anxiety. Perhaps the last time you visited the doctor your child was ill or needed to update their immunizations, that sticks in their mind and they may become very anxious at the next visit. Even if you tell them that it is just a check-up and there will be no need for shots, they may still feel a little doubtful and it can be helpful if there are fun and interesting toys in the waiting room.

Children are naturally drawn to their own image and sometimes will spend a great deal of time in front of a mirror. Sometimes you will catch them blowing kisses to themselves (some even kiss the mirror) or making funny faces. Many times you will hear double the laughter if another child happens to be with them doing the same thing. One way to capitalize on this form of entertainment is to have a mirror or two around for them. This can be extremely helpful in a waiting room, as they will have other kids laughing and playing with them. You may also want to consider a Giant Giggle Mirror that has a double curve in it giving it a "fun house" type of reflection. Each child will see themselves and their playmates differently, and will have great fun pointing this out.

If your child’s pediatrician does not have this type of toy, you may tell them about it and see what they think. They also know how important it is for a child to have as little anxiety as possible when visiting a doctor and they may take this into consideration. However it happens a child needs that little extra comfort when it comes to a doctor visit and this type of toy is bound to bring out the giggles.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Imagination Central

Whether you are a parent or caregiver, you realize that stimulating a child’s mind is very important in helping them grow and mature. Many experts agree that there is a vast difference in children that are encouraged to use their imagination opposed to those that have little or no stimulation. The ones that have been encouraged to be curious and explore are far more likely to grow and mature into a well-rounded adult.

Most children begin to really display curiosity and seek out things that catch their attention around their first birthday. Some may do this sooner and some later, the time frame itself is not written in stone, it's just a guideline. No one knows your child as well as you do, so you will need to watch for individual signs that your child is ready to explore.

One way to help them along is to provide ways for them to start developing and shaping their own individuality. This can be done in a variety of ways, from scheduled instruction times to free play. Naturally, the ideal would be to combine the two, as this seems to get the best results.

If you are attempting to insert a little educational instruction, keep in mind the younger the child the harder it may be to keep their attention. It does help to make it as fun as possible while still keeping it age appropriate. An excellent choice for this type of educational toy is the Purple Play PanelWall Toy. As the name indicates, it can be mounted on a wall, which leaves more space available for a play area on the floor. It has a great variety of games that children love to play and the bright colors are pleasing to the eye. It can also be great fun trying to teach your child how to say the name, they love those P's.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Pretend Kitchen - Fun That Teaches Life Skills

Children love to help, but it's not always practical. The kitchen can be a dangerous place for your child even though you're supervising. While you still let them help out with stirring the cupcake batter (and yes, you know there's the occasional "taste" that happens when the kiddo thinks you're not looking); or help by getting a stick of butter out of the fridge, they can't help cook things on the stove or take items in and out of the oven no matter how badly they'd love to really help you and do that too.

A pretend play kitchen brings a wonderful solution that can let your children have fun while also learning valuable life skills. Teach your children to "wash" their hands in the sink to get rid of any germs on their hands and explain germs can make people sick so it's important to get rid of them before you handle foods that everyone will eat - it's another way to instill good habits that will last a lifetime. Also, you can let them show you what they've learned just helping out in the kitchen with you when they play. Such as stirring their pretend batters, baking a pie or making entire pretend meals for you or their stuffed animals gathered around a table. Talk to your kids about good food choices and bad food choices. You'll hear your words come out in their play.

Afterwards, let them pretend to do the dishes (another skill you hope you can coax out of them in later years). You can even give the kids real foods to prepare such as sandwiches or encourage them to make up menus and have a restaurant. A pretend kitchen will lend itself to so many scenarios and all of them will have your kids learning something new!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ready to Learn

Summer is almost over and another school year is right around the corner. Are you ready? Or at least as ready as you can be?

Children's educators are just about the most important people around and are most certainly high on the list of exceptional role models. If you are a teacher, and that includes the people that home school their children, you already know how important you are to those growing young minds. Long considered a most noble profession, teaching children is a very rewarding career. You get the chance to see the look of excitement and pride when something new is learned, or a skill is mastered.

As you are probably already aware, the environment for learning can be just as important as the lessons themselves. This holds particularly true for younger children. Once you have their attention, keeping it can be a difficult task. There are different tools and methods that may be used to encourage learning in a fun and enjoyable manner. As a teacher, it is important to make the teaching area as inviting and comfortable as possible, which in turn lends itself to a learning environment.

Bright colors and bold shapes tend to be very popular with young children. It catches their eye and makes them want to investigate it further. Colorful posters on the walls and bright carpeting are great for getting their attention. You may also want to consider a reading corner, complete with several beanbag chairs in bright colors and shapes. They will love sitting in these great chairs, which just may result in a new appreciation for books and learning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Can't Wait to Grow Up. Where's My Duffel Bag?

An often heard phrase from a child is "I can't wait until I grow up, so that I can ______" here you can fill in the blank with a few of the more common ones such as: stay up late, go to school, not eat vegetables or feel free to choose one of your own. And no matter how many times you tell them not to be in a hurry, that being an adult is not as easy as it sounds, they still look at you with a disbelieving expression. Probably very similar to the ones you used to give to your parents when they tried to impart the same wisdom on you.

While you do want them to slow down and enjoy their youth, you also need to start a little preliminary "facing adulthood" groundwork. Many experts feel that having chores to do is one step towards the ultimate goal of raising a responsible adult. Of course, they need to be age appropriate and in-line with their own personal abilities, otherwise, frustration sets in and the child’s self-esteem drops. Keep in mind that most children only focus on their immediate emotion, so telling them they will be sorry later if they do not do this now or one day soon they will be glad they did it, is not something that is going to make an impression. Instead, work on setting short term goals for completing their chores and once they accomplish this be sure to praise them for a job well done. If you would like to include some type of a reward for doing so well consider something that ties in with them growing up.

One idea is to get them a Kids Duffel Bag, allowing them to replace that small "baby suitcase" with Going to Grandma's written on it. Not that there is anything wrong with going to Grandma's mind you, but imagine their smile when Grandma tells them how grown up they are getting to be the next time they visit. Besides, a teddy bear probably fits better in a duffel bag.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Children and Pets

Children and pets, is there anything cuter? While cute, it may not always be an option for a family. You may not live in an area or environment that is conducive to owning pets. You may not have the time to properly care for an animal or perhaps someone in the family has allergies.

Whatever the reason owning a pet may not be possible but children love them and there are some advantages to pets. It can teach responsibility as well as helping to develop a nurturing side. Even if you are not able to own them perhaps you can visit someone who has pets and would love the company. Or even a visit to an animal shelter for an older child might be appropriate. If relatives have pets you can always try to arrange visits with them. This also allows time to be spent with family, which is always a good thing.

Perhaps a visit to a petting zoo would be in order. That provides the hands-on experience that you are unable to have at home. There are usually caregivers around that can answer questions and tell your child a little about the animals. This always brings smiles and makes them feel very grown up with all of their newfound knowledge.