Monday, December 28, 2009

Reflect a Child's Personality with Kids Bedroom Furniture

Your child's room should not only be functional, but also reflect a bit of his or her personality. That means choosing furniture and decor that is themed towards towards their likes and colors, is stylish, offers plenty of storage for toys & clothes, and fits your budget. You can get more for your money by choosing styles that are specially made for children meaning sized for them not for an adult and buying better quality items that last.

Here are some of our favorite options:

Colorful kids bookcases are a longtime favorite for both parents and children. Although you can find basic units, there are also fun styles to match your child's personality. Animals, princess themes, and ocean decor can be used to tie in with your existing decor theme. When choosing a bookcase, pick one that has enough room for all his books or use storage baskets to hold toys or clothes.

Storage bin units are perfect for kids because they are generally bright colored and made from wood and plastic materials to last for ages. You can also choose between large and small storage bins, or a combination of the two to accommodate clothes, toys, shoes, books, or anything else you need room for.

No child's room is complete without a classic toy box. Choose one that matches your overall design theme, or one made with a wood finish. You can even get it personalized with your child's name. We find that when putting a name on the item kids are more apt to be part of the clean up process. This is the best way to store loads of toys that your child will still have easy to while playing and picking up his toys.

When choosing furniture and design choices, let your child have as much say in the decision making process as possible. How much or how little input you give him will depend primarily on age. For young toddlers and infants, choose pieces that will grow with your child as he grows. Animal themes are a good choice. Older kids can help you pick out each piece as you go along, so you can really make the space his own. Just remember, if you are set on the pieces matching perfectly, only give him options that you have pre-approved.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Waiting room seating doesn't have to be uncomfortably designed nor boring

There are a few simple ways you can make your waiting room both child and parent friendly, while still maintaining a professional appearance in your office. You can choose toys, storage, and seating that is both easily accessible and fun for children, while still being classy and refined for when there are no kids present. To set up your ideal waiting area, plan carefully for each item you purchase and don't forget to include items meant for older kids and teens.

Waiting room seating doesn't have to be uncomfortably designed nor boring. For kids, you can purchase brightly colored chairs and benches; or for a more refined look buy simple chairs or recliners set up in in a circle to create a relaxing seating area for reading or playing.

Choose toys that are appropriate for multiple age groups, like arts and crafts, books, or board games. There are also several types of play tables, making keeping up with pieces and crayons a thing of the past. Older children and teens will enjoy card games, books, magazines, and videos. Just make sure that all videos and reading materials are targeted toward this age group. Young adult fiction and magazines are generally inexpensive and easy to find. Organize toys and books by storing them in a toy box and on specific bookshelves.

If you are going for a whimsical or casual environment, choose options with bright colors and character animal or ocean prints. More formal settings would require real wood finishes. Either option will provide kids and parents with easy access to toys and reading materials, while making cleanup at the end of the day a lot easier for you.

Make sure that when you choose reading materials for the parents that you find things for multiple interests. Picking up the free publications will show that you didn't put much effort into picking things out, especially since magazine subscriptions are relatively inexpensive. Choose a variety of topics, including fashion, news, history, and automotive.

Although buying recliners for all of your adult visitors is unrealistic, you could opt for seating that is a little more comfortable than the standard plastic chairs shoved painfully close to the chairs next to them. Chairs should be sturdy and firm to allow proper support. You could also choose large benches with upholstered seats to provide added comfort, especially if your establishment is know for long waiting periods.

More casual settings with adequate room may even do well with sofas, which you can find at any consignment shop for very reasonable prices. Put two or three sofas in a circular area with a few tables to create relaxing environment for parents to read and converse while they wait.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Selecting Classroom Furnishings: Not an Easy Decision

Choosing the right furniture for your classroom, daycare, or preschool may seem like an "in and out" sort of deal. You pick out some chairs, get a few tables, and viola done! But what many teachers and school board members fail to realize is that certain furniture is more suitable for specific age groups and it has to do with a lot more than just size.

Featured Manufacturer: Wood Designs School Furniture

Small tables and chair sets are perfect for preschoolers and kids just joining the ranks of four and five year old kindergarten. Children in this age group have often never been in a large group of children before starting school or daycare, so it's important not to overwhelm them with giant tables nor with individual desks, which can make them feel alone or singled out. The best options for kids this age are table that can accommodate between three and five kids. To make the most of the arrangements, try and sit shy kids next to friendly children who are outgoing to help them come out of their shell.

Very large tables become necessary (or are at least a good idea) for kids who have been in school for a few years, but who have not yet mastered the art of working as a team and taking turns. By having them sit in a large group, learning to be respectful and answer questions one at a time is must and this will give you the perfect opportunity to make this point. If you can't accommodate or don't want a few very large tables and chairs, you can choose tables or desks for individual children and simply move them into a large circle for specific lessons.

Individual desks are generally the norm for kids from upper elementary school and older; with the exception of art classes and other activities. This is because kids at this age need individual space, and need room to work alone without the distraction of another child. You may also choose tables built to fit two kids or teens because they will get the same benefits of extra space while still feeling like part of a group. It also makes doing certain projects or activities much easier, especially if you separate the class into the groups frequently.

Even when using individual desks, at any age, having one or two medium tables and chairs around is always a good idea if you have the space. The benefit of desks is that they can be moved closer together in order to accommodate additional furniture. By having added tables around, kids will have more room to stretch out during certain projects, working as a group will be easier, and kids who work better sitting closely with another person will have that option if you deem it necessary.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Potty Train: It Keeps Rollin'

Holiday trips don't have to derail your attempts to potty train. With a littler perseverance and planning, you can help you child make this all too important transition with minimal hassle. Just make sure you bring along the right supplies, and follow these handy tips for holiday training success.

Bring along the same potty chair your child has been using at home. If he's been using the big boy toilet rather than a potty, you may consider buying a fun potty chair to make the experience more pleasant while you are away from home. There are great options with various characters, sounds, and other features your child will enjoy.

Make frequent stops if you will be driving a long distance. While pulling over once every hour may not be feasible, you can still stop a little more often than you would normally require. Remember, kids have smaller bladders than adults and can't hold themselves quite as long especially one that is new to the potty concept. You can use disposable training pants in lieu of underwear just to make life a bit easier on the road (and to save your family from having to clean up messes upon your arrival), but don't use that as a crutch to avoid stopping. Remember, if you get lazy now you may setback whatever progress you had made.

Purchase fun games, puzzles, drawing supplies, and books for your little one to use while he is on the potty. Even if you don’t this at home, you may be more likely to get him on board if you add them now. Being in a new place is scary, especially if you are trying to learn something new and complicated at the same time. These items are relatively inexpensive, and they will continue to be useful even after potty training is over.

Avoid using Christmas (Hanukkah, Kwanza, solstice) gifts as reward of punishment. Even if he doesn't go in the potty right now, and even if he has an accident Santa will still come and Christmas will still be merry. Put yourself in your child's shoes. It may seem like common sense now, but when you have been on the road for nine hours and then your child won't cooperate, you may be tempted to go to great lengths to get things back on track. Resist. Being away from home is stressful, so prepare to have accidents before you leave the house.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Educational Toys for Infants: It's Never Too Early to Start Learning

Infants, meaning children under one year of age, are often the hardest ones to shop for. You want that first holiday gift to be special, but you also want to get the most for you money in terms of toy longevity and usefulness. Here are some things to look for when shopping for educational toddler toys.

Children this age change rapidly. In fact, more growth occurs in the human brain during the first few years of life than at any other time. Choosing toys that help to stimulate this process is a great way to give your child every advantage. But how can you find the best toys for your baby to enjoy?

Make your toy buying decisions by choosing options that stimulate one of the five senses: hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling, and seeing. The best educational toys will make use of one or more of these things.

: Choosing toys with audible sounds is an iffy topic. On one hand, children enjoy hearing voices and music that they've come to enjoy. On the other hand, it is not recommended for children this age to have too many noise making toys unless the child has some control over the sounds. Rattles, for example, are generally acceptable because your baby will have full control over the rattling sounds. Other ways to help stimulate your child's sense of hearing is to talk and sing to him as much as possible. Read books together, sing lullabies, and narrate what you are doing as you go through your day.

Tasting: Babies put everything in their mouths. Although this may seem like a strange way to play, your baby is actually learning more about the world around her. By gumming and mouthing objects, she can get a better idea of what they feel like, taste like, what their textures are, and if what their temperatures are. Although there aren't many toys specifically made for your baby to "taste", it's important that you pick some items that are safe for mouth exploration. This can include soft books made from rubber or cloth, blocks with no added paints, and teething rings. Just be sure to disinfect toys frequently.

Smelling: Again, toys are generally odor free but that doesn't mean you can't use them to tie in certain sensory details. Find a book of pictures, for example and then get real items to go along. Show baby a picture of the flower and then let her have a sniff of a real one. This will teach her that the flower smells good.

Feeling: Aside from mouthing toys, babies also use their hands to manipulate and feel the textures of certain objects. To help reinforce this concept, find toys that come in various textures and shapes, Examples include baby friend blocks, texture toys with cloth and crinkle fabric, and books with various textures included inside.

Seeing: Nearly any toy can be used to stimulate your baby’s sense of sight. Books, blocks, stuffed animals, pictures, puzzles, and wall toys and mirrors are all great choices. Just remember that very small infants do not have the same eyesight as we adults. They need colors that sharply contrast in the beginning, like black and white, followed by bright primary colors in intriguing patterns.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Parents and Kids Playing Together

It doesn't matter how old your children are or what their hobbies are, there are several toys, activities, and games you can find to enjoy with your kids for years to come.

Children of all ages enjoy playing games. These may include board games, activity rugs, and memory games. Although they are generally listed by age group, parents and older children will still have a blast playing games targeted toward little kids as they learn new concepts. Many games also have a "hard" and "easy" play options in order to grow up right along with your kids.

Learning games like flash cards and memory games are also a great choice because it allows parents to get actively involved in their child's learning. You can play alongside your kids, or enjoy watching them master new skills.

Games that involve getting physically active are another great choice. Exercise balls and trampolines are both good options because they can be purchased in both adult and child sizes. Some exercise balls even have stable bottom to prevent rolling as children jump on and off. You can burn off those extra holiday pounds while your kids romp and burn off extra energy. Best of all, you will be fostering a love of physical fitness that will last a lifetime.

You can also take part in having arts and crafts with your kids. Make it rule that birthday and holiday cards are to be made instead of purchased, and take turns drawing your favorite things. When you're done, compare your favorites with your child's. This not only fosters creativity and imagination, but will also give you and your kids a great way to spend time together and learn more about each other.

No surprise here: books are another great way to spend time with your kids! You can purchase your favorite books as a child to share with them, and collect a library of new classics for them to enjoy. Studies have proven that children who are read to every day do better in school and feel more accepted and appreciated within their families. They will also develop earlier reading skills themselves, so you can take turns reading stories to one another.

However you choose to do it, spending quality time with your kids both during the holidays and throughout the year. You will both reap the benefits of love, encouraged expression and learning.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Choosing Educational Toys for the Holidays

You want to choose the most educational toys for your child this holiday season, but before you spend big bucks buying all the latest toys, make sure you know what you're spending your money on. We here at SensoryEdge have believed that the best toys are usually simple, don’t contain batteries, and encourage imagination. Now, there is emerging evidence to support these beliefs.

According to a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no data at all that shows toys with talking buttons and singing animals help to promote a child's development. In fact, the AAP consistently encourages parents to buy children open ended toys like shape sorters and building blocks.

This isn't to say that more technologically advanced toys can't help children learn to some small degree, but kids better grasp concepts like counting and reading when they’re learned by actively participating in their play, rather than simply listening to a character tell something is so.

You can better understand this concept by imagining that you have never seen the ocean. True, you can find out what it looks like by viewing pictures and you can learn about it through reading books; but this is only part of the story. With time, you will likely forget much of what you learned and unless you continuously look at the pictures, you can’t fully remember what the ocean looks like in your mind.

Now imagine that you go and see the ocean firsthand. You feel the sand in your toes and watch the way the waves crash onto the shore. By experiencing it firsthand, you will likely always remember what standing at the ocean looks and feels like.

Similarly, when children press a button and it tells them something is a "triangle", they may understand that that particular button represents a triangle. However, if you give your child a paint set or a drawing board and show them what a triangle looks like and then allow them to practice making the shape themselves they are better able to internalize, and thus learn, what a triangle looks like, how to draw one, and what it IS.

So as you do your shopping this year, choose toys that allow kids to be more involved with their learning and play. One general rule of thumb is that if the toy will be moving more than you child will be, you’d likely be better off going with something else. Swinging monkeys and dogs that really walk may look cool, but they are good for little else even if they sing the alphabet.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Should You Shop Using Age as a Guide Only?

Children who have learning or physical limitations have special needs that should be considered when buying toys and others items. If it is your child who is disabled, you may have a good handle on what types of thing he or she would enjoy this holiday season. For those who are buying for children that are not their own, choosing the right gifts can be daunting because disabled children may not enjoy the same things other children their own age would enjoy.

If you are comfortable enough with a child's mother to discuss level rather than age appropriate toys, do so. More often than not, she will simply be grateful that you are considering her child's needs before making a purchase, but if you feel hesitant to discuss the topic, choose toys that are most generic and educational for multiple age groups.

You can choose balance toys as a safe option (assuming the child is not in a wheel chair) because a child who has not mastered this skill will enjoy practicing and children who have will still enjoy playing games and being physically active on balancing trails, discs, and similar toys. Fine motor development toys are another good option for younger children or those with limitation in this area. There are lacing toys to help with tasks like tying shoes, as well as a variety of others.

When still in doubt, choose toys and gifts that virtually any age group or skill level would enjoy. Art supplies are always a good choice because kids from toddler to teen enjoy expressing their creativity through creation. You may also consider story books tailored for elementary aged children for older children and toddlers for the younger set.

Videos directed at children are another great option. Even infants often find the characters on screen entertaining, even before they fully understand language. Make sure to choose something educational in nature, as well as something that offers entertaining actors, cartoons, or stories.

For children who are severely handicapped, it may be a better option to discuss specifics with the parents before making a purchase. Certain toys or activities may not be appropriate or useful, depending on the type and severity of the disability, and you want to spend your money on things that can be used. When in doubt, rather than bringing up the disability or illness directly…simply ask what his or her favorite toys or movies are.