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, but babies need the stability and security of their daily routines signaling 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. Your little ones value the time with you far more than having 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 to chat about cold vs. warm. Kids learn best from multisensory experiences so take advantage!
  • 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 their lead. Build upon their 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 he or 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 physical, linguistic and cognitive development are, 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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