Saturday, November 24, 2007

Toys that Help Toddlers Learn

Toddlers are tough to buy toys for. They are independent little people and don't want toys that look "baby-ish" however toddlers are curious and somewhat still prone to put things in their mouths so you have to be careful and gift them with age appropriate gifts. Toys with small parts can still be dangerous.

Movement Toys
Toys that require physical movement are usually loved by toddlers. They have this great body that as gone from a sedentary baby to a crawler to kid that can run and play. A kid-powered trike or pedal car will get hours of play from your energetic toddler.

Pretend Play Toys Start expanding your child's mind now. Many children start showing a love of pretend play early on and it's a great way to incorporate a lot of skills that can be learned through simple play. Toddler-safe doll houses with no small parts and larger pieces will give hours of creative play, puppets and play kitchens are all great gifts that will expand little imaginations.

Grasping and Building
By now, your toddler has probably gotten a good grasp on grasping and most toddlers really enjoy building and stacking objects. Many building blocks and wooden log building toys have too many small pieces to be considered safe and and difficult for many toddlers to play with. However building toys like Magneatos are great for toddlers. They are easy to handle and will develop your child's fine motor skills.

Those are just a few ideas that your toddler will love, get him toys that will power his mind and motor skills and you'll be giving him a lot more than just a holiday gift.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Keeping Little Minds Busy with Puzzles

Do you remember a time when your child wasn't quite so talkative and the questions didn't come pouring out from the minute he gets up until he goes to sleep at night - and lately you notice he even asks questions in his sleep?

What you're seeing is a beautiful, busy mind at work. Don't be frustrated because you get interrupted constantly with questions that range from , "Why is the sky blue?" to "Why do I get in trouble for putting my face in the plate at the dinner table?

The only thing you need to really work on is the interrupting part. While teaching them respect and manners is a very necessary part of raising a child, they also need to know that it is ok to be curious and ask questions, in fact - questions should be encouraged as discovery through questions is a huge part of learning.

Keep that busy mind filling with knowledge and give your child toys that will expand his mind. An Alphabet Train Floor puzzle is a great example. You can talk about the letters,discuss the animals and little facts you know about each type of animal with your child and he will be learning while playing and study after study has shown - children retain knowledge gained the play the quickest and best.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kid's Holiday Gathering Spot

This holiday season if the gatherings are slated to be at your house, keep the frustration (and safety issues) of having kids underfoot when you're setting tables, setting out food and more at a minimum by creating a place for the kids to hang out.

Even the smallest of homes can dedicate a temporary "kid spot" to let the kids have their own place to play and let the adults enjoy the festivities while the children have a great time too.

First of all decide on a place for the kids to play. It can be a room in your home or a far corner in the living room. Set up a small table and chairs, it can be something as simple as a fold out card table and some fold up chairs so the kids can play board games, cards and other group games.

You can also give them a small television set for the day and ask if any of the kids have a video game unit they can pack along for the day and let them lounge on a comfy kid sized sofa and play their Xbox, Playstation or Wii.

It doesn't take much to make sure everyone visiting your home has a great time, just a little planning you'll have a house the kids beg to come to every holiday season (and most likely all times in between).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Organization is a Basic Life Skill-Make it Second Nature to Learn

Remember before you had children? You could have a nice vase on a delicate table and even put exotic flowers in it once in a while and never once worry about a curious hand pulling it off or simply tipping the table when running past. There weren't toys strewn from one end of the room to the other and you had a space to call your own.

Fast forward to the present and you find you have the odd toy here and there, lots of laughter and running (even though they aren't supposed to run in the house) and you realize you wouldn't have it any other way. But you do want your kids to learn the basics of being neat and organized.

Where do you start? As early as possible according to most child behavior experts. Even a small baby can listen as you say, "Mommy is putting up this toy and getting another one out for us to play with" and as your child is older, make simple rules he can follow. A good example is one toy at a time in the living room and he needs to put up the toy he has out before getting out another one. The earlier you start this practice, the more second nature it will become.

Then expand the practice to your child's bedroom. Your child will never learn to keep his room picked up if you don't give him a little help. You can also put a bookshelf and a Natural Wood Children's Captains Chest in his room to help keep the clutter to a minimum and also you can have it personalized with his name to further the specialness of this made in America toy box.

Visual reminders are one of the best ways kids take cues and having a toy box handy will remind him to keep his toys in their place and off the floor. Start early and teach your kids the valuable life skill of organization.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sensory Integration is the Edge for Kids

Autism is one of the most often misunderstood diagnosis given to children today. Many people think it means the child is locked only in their own head or is in some way mentally challenged and unable to learn - those assumptions couldn't be further from the truth.

There isn't just one type of autism and depending on the type the child has been diagnosed with, the therapy to help the child will be a little different. However, many caregivers agree, nearly all children with autism thrive on sensory integration. Sensory integration is simply learning to combine our given basic senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste) to coordinate and interpret the world around ourselves. This is something most people do effortlessly as they grow up, however autism can rob a child of the ability to do this automatically and it must be learned.

One way it can be learned is through play. There are a large number of sensory developed toys that can enrich the lives of autistic children and help them learn to coordinate what they are feeling, seeing, etc; and interpret it to the world around themselves. Toys that encourage movement, touching, or change as they are played with are all good choices to use. Tactile bars are a great example of sensory play. These bars have several different textures on them and the children can feel of them and learn the different ways that various items "feel".

The sooner the child starts sensory integration, the sooner you can start seeing results. Make sure that your child has tactile toys outside the therapist's room and keep his mind working and growing through sensory stimulating play.