Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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Solve Your Homework Struggles

I know this blog is supposed to be about toddlers, but I have something that is working SO amazingly well for getting my elementary kids to do their homework: study carols!

I got the idea from a recent issue of either Parenting or Family Fun - I'm sorry I can't reference the specific article. I went to Office Max and bought the 3-panel presentation stands (the kind your use for the science fair displays or table-top presentations for a trade show). I also bought cork board, dry erase boards, a pencil holder and some various school supplies so each kid would have her/his own stuff.

I let them decorate their own with stickers, pictures, etc and I posted their "No Excuse" words and other reference materials on push pins in the cork.

Before they get home from school, I set it up in our dining room (a room that's out of the way of the traffic of the rest of the house) and they come in, get a drink and snack and immediately sit down to knock out their homework. No struggle! No tears! No push back! It works so well and since we started it at the beginning of the year, they're in the habit.

There's still time for your kids - just get them going now so they'll be used to it for the rest of the year!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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Taking your Toddler to the Swimming Pool

Now that Summer is here, you've probably spent some time at the pool and maybe you had some challenges coordinating all the components of going swimming. Here are a few tips I've come up with over the years of taking my kids to the pool.

1) Bring an umbrella stroller for your toddler - or the littlest child. This works for several reasons - keeps them from slipping on the floor of the dressing room, keeps them corralled while you get dressed or undressed and provides a place for a nap if they tucker out before the rest of your group.

2) Bring a plastic bag for wet suits so your bag doesn't get damp and then smelly. Don't forget underwear for yourself and a new (non-swimming) diaper for the toddler.

3) A brush or hat for yourself - even if you don't plan on getting wet, the other kids in the pool might not be hip to that plan. I've gone home with pretty crazy hair in the past from not planning for splashes...

4) Bring a hat for your toddler and tons of sunscreen. I've heard you need to reapply sunscreen after every 45 minutes of swimming. I put a light sunhat on my son so that when he gets his head wet, the hat dries out quicker than a heavy hat. If your pool does an adult swim once an hour, that's a great reminder to reapply sunscreen then.

5) Bring water in a sippy for your toddler (and maybe a cool drink for yourself too). You might not want to spend the money on a vending machine soda or you might not want to fight the lines of a concession stand. If you plan on spending several hours, you might consider packing a light snack too - Veggie Booty, cheese crackers or even a peanut butter sandwich for your child. Fruit can get brown and cheese won't really work unless you bring an ice pack.

6) Water toys - which can also be sand toys. My son had a blast the other day with a sand sifter in the water. He put it in the fountain and watched the water go through for 20 minutes!

And don't forget a towel for everyone, even the little one. It's amazing how cold they can get even when it's over 85! And you'll want a towel for yourself to get completely dry when you are getting dressed.

Enjoy the summer - and remember these tips for when you go swimming inside this winter - most of them will still work. Have fun!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

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Sign Language for your Child

If you have not used sign language with your child, I highly recommend trying this with them. I started with three of my kids at age 7 months and they all started signing back anywhere between 8 months and 12 months.

It cuts down on frustration, builds understanding and language skills and makes life a lot easier when they can tell you when they are hungry, want milk or water, need help or want something. My 14 1/2 month-old says "please" in sign when he wants something that's out of reach and asks for "help" when he needs me.

With my two older children, they were never "biters" in preschool and I fully believe it was because they could express themselves from the earliest age and didn't get to the level of frustration where they needed to bite.

I learned sign language from Joseph Garcia's series and I recently found this website that gives a catalog of signs with video - it's super easy to learn and well worth the effort!

Monday, June 22, 2009

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Take Your Toddler Outside!

Now that it's officially summer, take your little one outside for some time in nature. Or better yet, take them camping! It's Camping Week - the 4th week of June according for Wikipedia. Celebrate by setting up a tent at a campsite near your home or even in your backyard. Even if you just take a nap out there, it will be fun for your child.

Have your toddler collect rocks, leaves, acorns, etc. You can make a bird feeder from a pine cone you collect or assemble some trail mix for your "hike" - even if it's just around the block. Point out the birds and bunnies for your child; you don't have to see a bear or a mountain lion to make it a fruitful time in nature.

If you'd like more ideas to share with your child for the week, please visit www.teachingyourtoddler.com and find a whole week's worth of fun for you to have with your child.