Head Start On Careers

Do you remember having your own doctor’s kit, your own fire truck, or even a train set? How about your own mini-bakery kit or the little teacher’s kit? I had my own set of little pots and pans and tools for “cooking” myself!

It’s all about the exposure – small acts such as bringing your little ones to the office, whenever possible. You can also tug them along with you as often as you can to run errands. This can be at the favorite neighborhood bakery, the Chinese take-out place, the bank, the mechanic – even at the salon or the bank. Reminds me of the song from Sesame Street I used to sing when I was little… “The People In Your Neighborhood.” Every experience would be feeding them ideas and introducing them to all the people who work hard every day. Interacting with the people you meet as you go through your “To-Do” list is a great way for you’re young ones to learn how everyone has a part in the community.

You can also take them on special trips that pique their interest. This can be to see a favorite band, an art exhibit, watch a musical, take part in harvesting or poetry reading – even take them dining at a restaurant that you find delightful.

The most important discussion would be after having these exposure trips with your kids. You can follow up their interest on a particular person or business that they’ve encountered. You can also plan what to do and where to go next time!

Bookworm to Book Butterfly

Encouraging a child to be a bookworm will enable them to appreciate the world around them as well.  Try to expose them as early as possible, make reading part of their lives in an enjoyable manner.  One top habit that your kids might love is gathering on the bed or sometimes, spread out a quilt and just cuddle up and take turns making a story with sound effects.

This very interactive way of reading books aloud will also enable them to realize how important and alive words can be.  They will, in effect, be asking incessantly about everything around them.  They might also want to go and learn more deeply about a certain subject matter – the most common of which would be animals, modes of transportation and nature.
Coming from knowing the world around them by reading would also eventually make them ready to create their own stories.  Try to encourage them to mix up the stories that they love and name the characters themselves.  You can also use this chance to peek into how they see the world as well.
Most of all, savoring the chances to express themselves will draw them out of being shy or apprehensive about voicing their opinion, their ideas, and their viewpoints.  Nestling themselves in all the possible words they can grasp, understanding and linking together to say something very vivid is truly a sight to behold.
 Imagine, when your bookworm will finally be able to fly on their own and have stories to share of their own as well.  That’s one pretty proud moment a parent can have: when they see how their child bloomed after nurturing their ability to communicate.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite and Other Impromptu Activities

Having a sudden burst of energy and a sense of adventure to do something is a good thing. Especially when the time and the place to do it present itself immediately!

One of the most popular activities to do at times like these is to fly a kite. Smile. There is nothing like wide open space, the fresh breeze and seeing that colorful piece of artwork that you and your little ones can make together, just flying around. There is something extraordinary… something that feels similar to sensing how free you are when you see your work up against the bright, blue sky with the wind agreeing to carry it up there for everyone to see.

Or, how about making an adventure out of exploring what’s in the kitchen? Creating something can be as simple as trying out a new cookie recipe or experimenting with the available ingredients in your pantry.

The tricky part is to make sure that the result will be, more or less, edible or downright surprisingly good. See who can come up with the most original cookie and a name to go with it.

How do you make a mundane task more fun? Cleaning the car can take some persuasion. But, if you pre-plant the car with surprises – like a comic book that they’ve been wanting, movie tickets in a compartment or under the spare tire, you can make cleaning the car a fun adventure.

Most of all, you can make your own spontaneous fun. Just keep in mind how the little ones would like to get surprised, what would get their creative juices flowing and their enthusiasm to a high level?

Doodling and Creativity

Our guest blogger, Megan, shares how she encourages her tyke to be creative!

Mommies and Daddies, did you ever doodle on the back of your notebooks back in high school? How about when you were in grade school? Or, was it just yesterday in your diary or journal? Doodling is not simply boredom manifested – as my favorite Math teacher likes to put it. It’s a way to let your thoughts travel and explore on their own – this was declared as a universal law by my heroic Art teacher.

You can use doodling as a fantastic family adventure. You can set aside a wall, or a rather large table, cover the area in white drawing paper or you can even get some “chalkboard” paint and create your own chalkboard. From there, everyone can doodle. You can all agree that the doodle has to have a certain theme or a certain design. Maybe family members can take turns choosing a new theme each week. The act of roaming around with one’s ideas would encourage you and your little ones to connect and create.

With my child, we have our refrigerator door as our doodling project. We both agreed that red and black would be the only permanent ink marker colors that we can use – moving from there, we also decided that we will doodle the favorite snacks we love, along with names of our favorite places, friends, brands, etc. We now have a curiously interesting refrigerator door that is a good topic of conversation for everyone.

You can also try to be more adventurous by, maybe, having their bedroom door also a doodle spot that the family can work on. Again, there has to be an agreement on what can be doodled on them. They can also decide that it’s one door per person, if they wish.

Just let those ideas travel and let them roam, you’d never know what this fantastic wandering can lead to – a discovery, to say the least.

Building A Strong Sense of Independence

Nothing feels more amazing as when you first see your child take their first step.  Though a bit wobbly and seemingly unsure, it’s as if all the little parts magically knew what to do.  There is this overwhelming pride and joy to see how your child is discovering themselves and what they can do.

Independence is such a big word for our little tots.  Here are some of the little steps:

First, letting them eat on their own would be a good start.  Let them make a mess, just be around to praise them when they finally are able to use the child-friendly utensils right.  Let them enjoy the adventure of exploring textures, tastes, colors and smells of food that they love.

Second teach them how to dress themselves up.  You might need to give a hand with buttons.  Just let them choose what they would like to wear.  A good opportunity would be to know what their color preference is.  This would also be a tool for learning the basics of color harmony.

Third, as I’ve mentioned above, when they begin walking on their own.  Yes, they may stumble and some of the times have a bump or a scratch.  These are the moments where you can calmly let them know that it’s alright.  Try not to be overly concerned when they do – to project that you strongly believe in them will let them focus on what lies ahead, with great gusto.

Music Matters

Rhythm – it’s everywhere!  Starting with our heartbeat, with the machines that surround us, with the visual cues that we encounter everyday…you know it’s there!  The way we talk even has cadence, a melody that we might not notice – for it is always around us.  Many people even play music for their babies before they’re born.

Letting your little ones get acquainted with different kinds of music is definitely a fun activity.  Let them choose what they would like after being exposed with an almost complete genre of music.  These can span from the classical to Motown, from jazz to rock, from The Beatles to the most current band that’s also your favorite.

It doesn’t stop there.  When your little ones are able to express themselves more eloquently, at about the age of three – you can now ask them how things that they hear everyday can be similar to a song that they have heard.  You can now dive into discussing, in simple terms, the feeling or mood that they think is projected by certain songs and such.

In this way, they become aware of how they express themselves – how ideas are made, what the messages really mean – the connection between art and society can be established.  Though, this might sound too complex or too serious, it’s up to you how to bring it to their level.

Veggie Good

Today we’re so happy to have our friend Megan Carson  give us some tips on getting your kids to eat veggies:

“The first challenge for me as a mom was how to introduce eating vegetables to my child.  Should I prepare them as dessert?  Should I make an epic story that they would like with the veggies as the catalyst for super powers? How about whipping up some other fancy idea? Or would scare tactics be the last resort if all else fails?

So far, with numerous experiments, I found two ways to introduce vegetables to my kids as part and parcel and consistently a good thing to eat.  I was able to find out what they like by trial and error.

First up would be with toddlers. Based on what I have researched and of course, from personal experience, they usually would like something a bit sweet and soft to eat.  The way to cook the veggies would be steaming, boiling or part of a good soup.  Carrots, potatoes, beets – other root crops which are leaning on the sweet side can be served as such.  They can be side dishes as well. Another awesome idea would be puddings or baked in puff pastry as snacks.  I try not to mix them with the main dish but instead put them in the spotlight as side helpings to complement the meal.

The youngsters, or your little ones just past the toddler stage, would like something a bit more experimental in taste – savory, salty and spicy – yet with a crunchy goodness to it. A quick stir-fry of crunchy veggies and a sprinkle of mild spices that you like would be the trick.  Make sure that a cheese dip is ready for the green beans, celery sticks, sweet onions, carrot, radishes, etc.  You can also try out other dips – but, the cheese dip or cheese flavor is always a sure hit.

The latest family favorite is the ever tasty cabbage: I just roll the leaves into a wrap and carefully slice them as thinly as possible.  They would look like very thin, long strips of noodles.  The dressing is a mixture of sour cream, crushed black pepper, a bit of mayo, a bit of soft butter, salt mixed in with just enough wasabi.  A good salad to go with any meal!”

Hope you love the ideas!

Good Morning Good Mood

Waking up early in the morning is not actually an ideal thing for some of us.  Especially for the young ones who just can’t let go of the dreams they’re having and are still warm and cozy and comfortably snuggled in.  Sometimes, the little ones can’t help but be so disappointed that the dream will abruptly stop with a jarring alarm or a sudden wake-up shake-up back to reality.

What can parents do to encourage a good mood every morning?  Better yet, how can we establish a ritual or a habit that would have them wonderfully welcoming the new day from a good night’s sleep?  How can we possibly woo them from such a fantastic place? Smile! I might be able to help!

The first thing we can establish is a good waking environment.  This involves the night before when you create possibilities of the new day they can look forward to.  For example, the promise of yummy pancakes in the morning and some good old-fashioned hot cocoa with marshmallows when they wake up would be a good start.  Just the smell of it would make even us grown-ups want to jumpstart our day and wake up to start it right.

Another habit you might want to establish would be to gently wake up the little ones with soft tapping on their toes and whispering “Good morning sweetie! Time to wake up…we’re going to–”  and then provide the activity that you’ve talked about the night before.  Lots of warm hugs as well as helping them stretch out from slumber would be a great help too.

Another good tip would be to play a favorite tune or song that you all look forward to listening to – maybe your favorite is Motown music – you can have your music set up as an alarm to get things going.  It will set the whole gang in a good mood to greet the new day as well.

Good Morning!

Great Ideas for Outgrown Outfits

Every young one has had their share of super cute and overly-adorable outfits.  Those wee, little knickers, shirts, pants, skirts and dresses – there can actually be a lot! Have you given some away, donated or sold some at a garage sale? What if you can’t just let go of every piece clothing and the memory that comes with it?

When this happens, you can always make those outfits more than what they are.  They don’t need to be hidden away – they can be used around the house as one of the following:

Pillowcases – those wee little shirts can be sewn together – it depends on how big you would like the pillowcase to be. Or it could be several small pillows!  These pillow-shirts might turn out to be your child’s favorite pillow or your favorite one!

Outfits for favorite stuffed toys – the stuffed toys they have – albeit teddy bears or cartoon characters – can readily wear your child’s outgrown outfits.  It will further endear them to your child.

Pet outfits – well, it largely depends on how big your pet is.  If, for example, you have a rather small dog in the house, a rabbit, a cat, even a hamster – the outfits can serve as great protection from the weather for your pets.  Or, a good props for interesting photographs.

Wallets and bags – you can create wallets or tote bags from your old clothes!   Figure out what part of the clothing you would need – and still preserve the general look of the outfit.  This works very well with brightly colored pants or skirts – even pajamas make an interesting small tote bag for items like toiletries!

★ How about making a blanket?  Many favorite old clothes can be “patch-worked” together to make a very unique keepsake.

These are just a handful of suggestions that you can do.  Hopefully, you can find better ways to transform those outgrown outfits.  It also never hurts to pass it on to the next kid who might want them …but, to cherish and have them with you is definitely a fun way to keep them around!  We’d love to hear your ideas for recycling old clothes.  Let us know on our facebook page.

Off to School!

Starting school is a major milestone for children and parents. School is a place away from home where a child will have some of his greatest challenges, successes, failures, and embarrassments. Because school is beyond the control of parents, it can be stressful for both the child and the parents.

At school, a child will learn about how the world works, about appropriate social interactions, and about people outside his family. He will learn about himself, his strengths, weaknesses, interests, and who he is socially. He will have to perform in a way that he never has had to at home. He has to separate from parents, cope with social and academic challenges, and make friends.

Starting school can be both fun and stressful. Many children show some anxiety about school. Anxiety can occur at the beginning of a new school year or when a child changes schools. A child who has been in day care may be more comfortable with the daily ritual of separation. These children may be less anxious for the first few days of nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten.

If parents have mixed feelings (e.g. guilt, fear, or anxiety) about sending a child to school, it can add to the child’s hesitancy, or reluctance. A child’s experience starting school is influenced by his preparation and his parents’ feelings and attitude.

What Parents Can Do To Help Their Child:

Ø  Show interest and be supportive and encouraging.

Ø  Talk to your child about what to expect, such as the activities (nap, snacks, and story-time), the schedule, the toys, and the other children.

Ø  Take your child to school to get used to the layout (where his classroom is, where the bathrooms are, which cubbyhole or coat hook is his, etc.) and to introduce him to the teacher.

Ø  Let your child know it’s normal to feel nervous or worried about being away from parents and suggest that he take a familiar object or a family picture to school.

Ø  Getting on the bus with a favorite playmate or carpooling with a friend can ease the daily transition from home to school. Identifying a buddy at school can also help decrease apprehension about being alone in the new setting.

Ø  Make the getting-ready-for-school ritual as stress-free as possible. For example, lay out all his notebooks and clothes the night before. Having the child help with school preparations (example, make his lunch) the night before can also reduce stress for everyone.

What To Do If Your Child Has Difficulties:

If your child has significant difficulty with separation, consider staying for a portion of the first day or two. Discuss this plan with the teacher. As he becomes more comfortable, make your stay shorter, until eventually, you stay only long enough to help him off with his coat, greet the teacher and say goodbye.