(Don’t) Play With Your Food

This post was first published by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

You know the question is coming…yet you’re hoping…hoping this time will be different. You’re hoping you can avoid the fight, hoping for a calm, peaceful meal where everyone eats everything you’ve prepared. Yet, just as you expected…the question comes: “Mom/Dad I’m full, can I get down?” You look at their plate and see what you always see…fruit and anything with sugar gone without a trace…veggies, grains and other healthy food clearly untouched. How can they be full? Continue reading

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Playing to Learn

This post was originally published by the  Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

Somehow September is just a few days away and for many kids school is right around the corner.  The long and warm sunny days are giving way to cool and short autumn days, and in the northwest of course, the rain will return.  When the weather starts to turn and the daylight hours dwindle it can become more difficult to encourage kids to go outside and play.  Add in school work for the older kids and many schedules getting busier in the fall and winter – it seems like the opportunities for kids to have uninterrupted play start to dry up.

However, play is the most important thing a kid can do.  Play is where they learn more about their world.  They learn about their friends, they learn how to pretend, and they begin to learn who they are and what they enjoy.  Play is vital to the development of a child and having fun should be a kid’s number one job.  Whether it’s learning how to share when playing with a big group of kids or learning how to be someone different through role play – the lessons that are learned through play stick with them long past childhood. So what’s a parent to do when the school year starts and the daylight hours are fewer?

Take advantage of each little opportunity for play.  Playing sock puppets while getting the kids dressed or being silly by putting pants on their head reminds them that it’s ok to stop and have fun. Going out for a leaf hunt helps kids discover lots of different colors, shapes and textures and can be an early way to start learning to categorize and group objects.  And don’t forget to encourage them to jump into the big pile of leaves you just raked up as a reminder that even chores and responsibilities can be completed with a side of fun.  As children grow older grades, activities and responsibilities can create a lot of pressure and take some of the joy out of being young.  While your main job as a parent is to help guide these little people as they transition into adulthood, another big responsibility is reminding them that it is always ok to take time to have a little fun.

This is fatherhood…

What’s In A Name?

This originally appeared on the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub Blog here.

When you were thinking of names for your child…what was important to you?  Was family and tradition the deciding factor?  Did religious meaning or historical figures have a role?  Perhaps you were thinking of close friends or just wanted your child’s name to sound unique.  Whatever their name, your child seems to take special note whenever they hear it.  Before they can even speak or recognize most words they understand their name and that when you use it your attention is directed to them. Continue reading

Social Network

This post originally was published by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

One of the things that I’ve realized as a parent is that while there’s a lot of focus on building kids’ academic skills and their ability to read and write, a child’s ability to control their emotions and interact socially with peers is just as important to succeeding in school.  I’ve found that this can be a really tough and scary thing for children.  While some kids very naturally make friends and love being around others, other kids get quite uncomfortable around those they don’t know or are legitimately scared of situations where there are large groups of kids and people.   Continue reading

Who Needs Sleep?

This post was created for the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub and first appeared here.

Sleep.  I’m guessing that if you’re a parent of young children you may scoff when you hear that word.  Perhaps you might say “Sleep, what’s that?!”  These little people that we are raising, while adorable and incredibly precious, seem to have a knack for completely throwing off our sleep patterns and “helping” us find new levels of exhaustion that we didn’t think were possible.  From newborns that need to nurse every couple of hours to potty-training toddlers still learning toilet location…the life of a parent is often lacking in the “quality sleep” department.  We know that sleep is important though and in order to get some ourselves we have to figure out a way to coax our little ones to fall and stay asleep.  What’s a parent to do? Continue reading