Making sure your child has the necessary building blocks for reading later on

Learning to read is a key skill for children and, believe it or not, they start practicing it since very early on. But what is literacy? It’s not only the ability to read, but also to write and learn. It includes comprehension and spelling. There are many skills and experiences that happen since birth that will make up the building blocks for a baby to be able to read later on. So, before being able to read, your little one will acquire listening skills to understand sound patterns when you sing, rhyme, and talk to her; she will develop her visual recognition, and will learn to associate what she hears with what she sees when you read books to her and show her pictures.

Doing these activities is very relevant for future language development and literacy skills. Thus, literacy doesn’t begin at preschool or when your child starts learning the letters, but at home with you and with all the loving and caring interactions that happen between you two. So, what can you do at each stage to promote literacy skills? Continue reading

The magic behind routines

We’ve already talked about how important routines are for our babies and kids and that they provide a sense of safety and predictability. But how exactly do routines help our children and why are they so helpful for them?

1) They foster the development of self-control
Knowing what comes next gives children security and emotional stability, making them feel more in control. For example, knowing that every day dinner-time comes after playing, will allow your little one to play, explore, and learn without worrying, and when it’s time for dinner she’ll be expecting it.

2) They promote positive behavior
Routines are like a set of steps that guide children towards certain goals. This can help to ensure children’s safety and help them learn responsible behaviors. For example, to always hold your hand when walking in the street or to say “please” when asking for something she wants.
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How To Practice Mindfulness With Your Child

Practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way to improve behavior and to increase focus. Both of them are critical for boosting our children’s language. Try out these activities to work on mindfulness with your tiny friend!

  1. Belly Breathing

Belly breathing is an easy way to get your child focused on the here and now. That is, if your child is experiencing big feelings, belly breathing is a great way to calm down. We also need to ensure that our children know how to appropriately belly breathe so they can speak properly. Children who are not able to do this often have higher pitched voices and/or run out of breath when speaking. Luckily, it is a very visual practice! You can either sit or lie down with your hands on your stomach. You want your belly to expand as you inhale, and deflate as you exhale. Some little ones prefer lying down with a beanbag or small stuffed animal on their stomach so that they can watch the object move up and down. This is one of my favorite videos for this activity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZbzDOpylA Continue reading

How do children develop analogical reasoning?

Analogical reasoning is an advanced skill that allows us to tie together several experiences or facts that are not similar among them. This ability is what distinguishes humans from intelligent animals, and it is essential for analytical and inductive reasoning. But how do children first develop this reasoning ability? What cognitive mechanisms make possible the development of this complex form of reasoning?

Some say that knowledge acquisition is the one thing that, with time, enables children to learn this ability. Thus, when babies are born, they interconnect certain representations based on their appearance and similarities. This is done in a non-analogical manner, because they don’t have enough or relevant background knowledge yet. But as they grow and acquire more knowledge, they shift to analogical reasoning. This theory has been well demonstrated by the significant relationship that exists between early vocabulary and later reasoning skills, showing that language and knowledge act as building blocks for later analogical reasoning. Continue reading

When will my little one be able to control his impulses and how can I help?

Self-regulation is a fundamental skill for our socioemotional well-being since it allows us to have healthy interactions and relationships. It involves the ability to express and handle strong emotions, cooperate with others, cope with frustration, and solve conflicts. Self-regulation allows us to complete our daily activities by having a good enough handle on our emotions and impulses. For this reason, when children have trouble self-regulating, everyday tasks like sitting, paying attention, and interacting with peers, become more difficult.

From birth to 4 years and further, children develop their self-regulation, learning it through interactions and with the guidance of adults. Actually, kind and responsive interactions with the caregiver are essential in this matter and are part of the “Co-regulation” strategy that teaches self-control. This strategy aims to provide the support, guidance, and modeling needed for children to understand, express, and regulate their own feelings and actions. It involves consistent and sympathetic responses with enough support and encouragement. But what can you expect from your little one at each stage? And how can you help him with co-regulation? Continue reading

Making 2019 the best year yet!

Happy New Year from our Kinedu family to yours! Time flies when you spend time with your little one, right? In the spirit of making this year special for you and your loved ones, we want to share some ideas on how to start this year with the right foot by establishing some family goals. Keep reading to learn more.

New year’s resolutions are great motivators to help ourselves and our children develop better habits and accomplish new goals. This year invite your whole family to join in on the tradition. Here are some ideas for everyone to get started!

For Mom & Dad

  • Better sleep – Set up a bedtime routine creating a soothing space in your room. Relaxing music, aromatherapy, a tea, and making your phone off-limits can go a long way in relaxing your body for a better-quality rest.
  • Less cleaning, more playing! – It’s okay if the house is not all tidy up. Your little one won’t mind if the house is perfectly clean when all he wants to do is have fun with you.
  • Being present – Take a deep breath and focus on whatever it is that you are doing. Groceries are not going to buy themselves by worrying about them; when it’s time to buy them, you can focus on that. Multitasking only separates you from the present moment.
  • Date night – When was the last time mom and dad had some alone time? Having children might change certain rituals, habits, and traditions that you used to have as a couple. Whether it’s dinner for two, an outdoor activity, or taking a trip, find something that brings you closer together and make it a monthly tradition.
  • Love not war – Having a child takes two people, and no one knows and understands your relationship better than you. Try to seek ways to be grateful to your partner each day; “Thank you!” and “Great job!” go a long way. Organize your thoughts before you speak, pause, and listen. Disagreements will rise, so create an environment where support is always present and there’s no problem the two of you can’t handle together. More hugs, less yelling.

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One of the many benefits of early childhood education: Being fair as an adult

Researchers have found that, more than 40 years later, the children from low-income families that participated in the Abecedarian Project study grew up to become adults that treat others with high levels of fairness. This is true even when being fair comes at a high personal cost.

The 78 children, now adults, that participated in the 1970s study have been followed as part of one of the longest running randomized-controlled studies of the effects that early education has in low-income families. The Abecedarian Project was a randomized control study of the potential benefits of early-childhood education in children from low-income families. Four groups of children, born between 1972 and 1977, were randomly assigned as infants to either an intervention group or a control group. The intervention group received full-time, high-quality education in a childcare setting from infancy through age five. The educational activities were designed in the form of games that they incorporated into the child’s day, and worked on the social, emotional, and cognitive areas of development –with a particular emphasis on language. Follow-up studies were conducted when the subjects reached 12, 15, 21, 30, and now 40 years after the study, showing long-lasting benefits associated with the early childhood program.  Continue reading

Tips for a stress-free holiday season

The winter festivities with a baby or toddler are like no other. And yet, while for many the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, it goes without saying that this magical season also comes with an important amount of overload for many moms and dads. Some of us can even end up taking on too many tasks and then end up feeling depleted. Here we have some tips and hacks for making this winter holidays magical and stress-free.

  • Don’t over-schedule. When it comes to tasks, set reasonable expectations for yourself, and have fun doing lees, rather than stressing about doing everything. Think about what you want for your little one and make it into an archivable target. You don’t need to overstretch; the festivities will be magical just by having people you love together.
  • Work together. For example, if you have a mountain of gifts to wrap or heaps of cupcakes and goodies to bake, why don’t you invite a good friend or family member over to your place, so you can wrap and bake while an older cousin helps babysit in the other room?
  • Try to keep a routine. During the winter holidays, it is easy to let our routines relax too much. However, babies need the stability and security of their daily routines that signal when it’s time for bed, for example. Remember that the activities, parties, and schedules of the season can leave even the most social baby or active toddler feeling a bit tired or grumpy.
  • Prioritize connecting with your loved ones! If your children are too young to help around, you may need to limit the tasks you undertake. Little ones value the time with you far more than having the perfect decorations. The memories you will cherish forever are the ones that create tradition and bring a sense of belonging and wonder into everyday life.
  • Try to let go of perfection and find ways to nurture yourself.

Wintry Activities For Your Little One

1-2 Year Old Tasks:

  • Read in Theme: One of the easiest ways to expose your little one to the winter theme is to read together about it. It’s best to start with touch & feel books, so that it is more interactive for your tiny friend. You can teach your child all about winter weather, winter clothes, winter animals, and winter activities by simply cuddling up with a great book! My favorites are Winter by Bright Baby Touch & Feel and Baby Loves Winter.
  • Have a Wintry Bath: Bath time is a wonderful time to incorporate the winter theme. You can build an igloo with bubbles, color the water blue with bath drops, bring winter animals into the tub, or even place an ice cube or two inside and chat about cold vs. warm. Kids learn best from multisensory experiences, so take advantage or this!
  • Color Color Color: Coloring pages are often overlooked in this digital age, but they shouldn’t be! Most kids who are exposed to coloring from a young age find it to be a calming and enriching activity. There are a million winter themed coloring pages that you can print out and work on with your little one. It is a perfect indoor activity for those chilly days when it’s best to just stay inside.

2-3 Year Old Tasks:

  • Bake: Baking is an awesome winter activity that is sure to boost language! Baking involves following directions, learning new vocabulary, working together, patience, and of course an edible reward. Baking is a great indoor activity for those too-cold days, but you can also bake in theme. You can make winter themed cookies, snowy cupcakes, or hot chocolate brownies.
  • Bring The Snow Inside: Who says snow has to stay outside? Kids love sensory bins and snow is the perfect medium! You can pack up some snow in a clear container and bring it inside to continue the fun. You can add some color to your snow, make snow cones, bring winter animals into the bin, or grab trucks that can dig in the snow. Your little one will love this task and clean-up will be a breeze for you!
  • Get Crafty: You can make wintry crafts with your little one using as few as two materials. Luckily the winter aesthetic is as easy as cotton balls and glue! Whether you make snowballs, a snowman, an igloo, or a polar bear, your craft will be equal parts adorable and simple.

3-4 Year Old Tasks:

  • Talk About Your Snowman: Every winter you make a snowman, but do you ever talk about him? Try expanding this activity by asking your little one why he needs eyes or a nose? What does his scarf do? Are all three snowballs the same size? Building a snowman can be an incredibly speechy activity if you take a few more minutes to chat.
  • Make Your Own Snow: There are a few different home recipes for faux snow, but my favorite is baking soda and shaving cream. You can play with your fake snow on a tray or in a sensory bin (i.e. clear container) for easy clean up. I like to bring the little ones into the bin and have them ice skate, build snowmen, make snowballs or igloos. Use what is motivating for your little one and follow her lead. Build upon her pretend play and narration of the activity.
  • Animal Sort: Animal sorting is a fun game for any season! You can use figurines, stickers, or coloring pages depending on what you have on hand. Depending on your child’s level you can sort 2-4 types of animals. You could do winter animals vs. summer animals, or ocean vs. snow vs. grass vs. home animals. Animal activities are great for boosting language because there is so much to talk about (i.e. Where do they live? What do they sound like? What do they feel like? What do they eat? etc.)

 

Molly Dresner is a Speech Language Pathologist based in New York City.

She recently authored The Speech Teacher’s Handbook, an engaging parent guide that includes practical and easy-to-follow tips and activities to help you help your little one!

You can find her on Instagram @thespeechteacher where she posts daily pops of knowledge and connect with her on her site as well as Facebook.

Emotional development – The basics

When we think about child development we tend to imagine babies learning to walk, talk, and count. We do our best to make sure that our child is on track on all these abilities and that she doesn’t have difficulties in the future. But what about learning to identify and express emotions? Aren’t these skills important for the future of our kids too? They sure are! Actually, the social skills that children learn during the first five years are related to their emotional well-being and their ability to adapt in school. Plus, they are critical to form successful and lasting relationships all throughout life. Thus, as important as the physical, linguistic, and cognitive development is, emotional and social development is just as relevant.

But what does emotional development involve? Learning the skills to…

  • Identify our own feelings
  • Identify other people’s emotions
  • Understand our own and other people’s feelings
  • Handle strong emotions
  • Express strong emotions with a constructive approach
  • Regulate our own behavior
  • Have empathy for others
  • Establish and maintain relationships

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