Helping Your Child Develop Friendships

It’s back to school season and often with the start of a new school year comes a new set of classmates. Although there may be some familiar faces in your child’s class there are likely some new faces as well. For some children, meeting someone new is an exciting opportunity to make a friend! For other children, making a new friend feels a bit out of their comfort zone.

Have you ever wondered how you can encourage your child to make new friends? Developing the skills to make friends comes with time, however there are some things you can do to help your child establish and strengthen those skills.

The best way to teach children about the skills for developing friendships is to model them, or in other words practice what you preach! It’s important to talk with your child about these practices but follow the conversation with a real life example to help reinforce the concept. Again, these skills take time for children to develop, however with these tips you can support your child in establishing new friendships.

Nurturing Meaningful Conversations with your Children

Do you ever ask your child a question only to get a one word response? They get home from school or a play date and you are excited to hear all about their experiences! All you’re looking for is a simple conversation that is somewhat meaningful and yet all you get in response is “good.” There’s a chance that we are asking the wrong questions. Of course we want to know all about school and all about the play date, but we are giving them the opportunity to end the conversation short by asking a question that requires a one word reply, otherwise known as a closed-ended question. We need to try and ask more meaningful, open-ended questions.

When adults ask children open-ended questions it provides them opportunities to expand their language development (verbal, receptive and written) and learn vocabulary. It also allows children to share how they think or feel. There is no right or wrong answer. When adults listen to children’s responses and continue the conversation it validates the child’s thoughts and feelings. Children’s creativity and problem solving skills can also be developed as a result of being asked open-ended questions.

It can be difficult breaking the habit of always asking closed-ended questions. Here are 10 examples of open-ended questions that may help adults break that habit!

30 Date Night Ideas

Our children play such a vital role in our lives, and vice versa. So much of what we do focuses on their needs that we can sometimes forget our own. It is important for our physical & mental health and well-being to find ways to implement selfcare. A large part of that can be in finding time for not just ourselves, but for our significant others as well. So, call the sitter and pick one of these fun date night ideas for a relaxing night to reconnect!

At AppleTree and Gilden Woods we understand the importance of taking some time for yourselves and know how beneficial it is for your overall state of mind. We offer a free Parent’s Night Out twice a year, for enrolled families, where we provide dinner and a movie for your children, so you can have an evening out. Be sure to take advantage of this perk and don’t forget to call the sitter today enjoy a little “you time!”

September is Safe Sleep Awareness Month

September is National Safe Sleep Awareness month. At AppleTree & Gilden Woods we are committed to providing infants with a safe place to grow and learn. For this reason, AppleTree & Gilden Woods have a policy in safe sleep practices for infants to also include providing a safe sleep environment and ensuring all teachers are trained on safe sleep annually.

We support and respect your parenting decisions but want to make sure you take this opportunity to learn important information to help keep your infant safe.

SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome.  This term describes the sudden, previously thought unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year of age.  Some people call SIDS “crib death” because many babies who die of SIDS are found in their cribs.  But, cribs do not cause SIDS.  SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between one month and one year of age. Studies show that breast feeding is associated with reduced infant deaths.  Here are some important tips for reducing the risk of SIDS.

Where is the safest place for my baby to sleep?

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in the room where you sleep, not in your bed.  Place the baby’s crib or bassinet near your bed (within arm’s reach).  This makes it easier to breastfeed and bond with your baby.  The crib or bassinet should be free from toys, soft bedding, blankets, and pillows.

Make sure everyone who cares for your baby knows the Safe Sleep rules.  Tell grandparents, babysitters, childcare providers, and other caregivers to always place your baby on his or her back to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS.  Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, even for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS—so every sleep time counts!

Free educational materials, including brochures, posters, decals and DVDs, can be accessed at:  http://www.healthymichigan.com.

End of Summer Family Bucket List

It’s hard to believe that August is already upon us and sweet Summertime is slowly starting to fade. School starts in just a few short weeks. While your brain is racing with all the things you need to do to get ready, slow down and enjoy the last few moments of Summer. Push away the thoughts of leaves, pumpkins, sweaters, and boots for a little bit longer. Embrace the sunscreen, bug spray, and beach! Below is a family-friendly bucket list to help you end Summer on a high note.

Back to School Tips

Sadly, summer is coming to an end and it is time to start getting back into the Fall routine. It can be difficult to snap out of that blissful Summer haze, so here are a few tips to help get you and
your family back into a routine and ready for the school year.

Re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines: Plan to re-establish the earlier bedtimes, along with the earlier wake-up calls approximately 1-2 weeks before school starts.  This gives everyone some time to get adjusted to the schedule again. Remember to avoid screen time in the last two hours before bed as the blue light emitted from devices can cause problems with falling asleep.

Turn off the TV:  Encourage children to read or play quiet games, or activities in the morning instead of watching TV.  This will help ease them into the learning process and have less complaints when it is time to get ready for school, whether that is in person or distance learning.

Designate a homework spot: Keep desks or tables clear of clutter so there is a nice quiet place to do homework, and also for supervision.

Make lunches the night before: Get as much together the night before, so your morning routine will go more smoothly.

Layout clothes the night before:  Have clothes laid out the night before so kids can just get in their clothes before they even come downstairs to breakfast. One more thing you can check off your to-do list in the morning.

Establish the after-school schedule:  Make sure you go over the after school schedule with kids in the morning, so they are clear of what to expect when they get home from school or when the designated learning time is complete.  Be specific with young children— ”You will take the bus home today”, “Dad will pick you up at AppleTree/Gilden Woods today”, or “Learning time ends at 3 pm then we can go outside to play.”

We hope these tips help your family start the school year off on the right foot!

5 Ways to Bring Reading Alive

March is National Reading Month. Reading aloud to children is one of the most important activities that you can do together. It encourages language development and early literacy skills. Make this month as special as it is important as you celebrate reading with your children. Listed below are a few basic reading reminders.

Reading Basics:

  1. Let your child choose the books of interest to them- this ensures they will enjoy the reading experience more. Reading the same books repeatedly is okay.
  2. For children three and older, occasionally ask your child if they would like to “read” the book to you. Avoid correcting any mistakes as they retell the story from memory.
  3. Identify book parts together; cover, pages, spine.
  4. Discuss and use the terms author and illustrator.
  5. Point out the difference between a letter, a word, and a picture.
  6. For children four and older, point out sight words as you encounter them. Do this with enthusiasm and in a fun way- be sight word detectives.

Here are a few fun ways to bring reading alive this month:

  1. Buy a new book: Make a day of it and go to the bookstore. Allow your child time to walk around and find a book or two that you can read during special reading time, before bed, at rest time, or throughout reading month.
  2. Host a book swap: Instead of a normal play date, invite a few of your children’s friends to participate in a book swap. This allows them to share some of their favorite books with their friends while giving them a chance to try a new book.
  3. Make bookmarks: Gather some art supplies and make bookmarks so that your children can keep their place in some of their favorite books, or they can give them as gifts to their friends or grandparents!
  4. Visit the Library: Check out your local library. Most libraries host free activities for children of all ages. Check in and see what they are doing for National Reading Month.
  5. Introduce your favorite: Take some time to show your children your favorite book. Let them hold it, look at the cover, and give them a brief overview (this can vary depending on developmental levels.) Let them see you reading for fun occasionally.

It is never too early to read to your children. Start early to lay a great foundation for learning. Challenge yourself to take a few minutes every day this month to read aloud with your children. Enjoy this special month and honor reading together.

 

13 Activities to Teach Children Self Control

Self-control is a learned aspect of overall emotional intelligence. Impulse control, self-regulation, and patience, are critical to living successful, calm, and stable lives. Self-control is learned through repetition, patience, and modeling. As important as it is to learn and to teach, it can be a tricky one. Here are a few ways to help promote self-control in children

 

August is National Immunizations Month

August is recognized as National Immunizations Month (NIAM). This awareness month highlights the need for improving national immunization coverage levels and encourages all people to protect their health by being immunized against infectious diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does support and encourage the efforts of state and local health departments and other immunization partners to celebrate NIAM and use this month to promote back-to-school immunizations, remind college students to catch up immunizations before they move into dorms, and remind everyone that the influenza season is only a few months away. It’s a great reminder to our nation that people of all ages require timely immunization to protect their health.

Why are childhood vaccines so important?

  • It’s true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of the immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.
  • If a child is vaccinated and is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but babies are now protected by vaccines, so we do not see these diseases as often.
  • Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who are not immunized. People who are not immunized include those who are too young to be vaccinated (e.g., children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g., children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination. Also protected, therefore, are people who receive a vaccine, but who have not developed an immunity.

Immunization also slows down or stops disease outbreaks.

 

For more information on vaccinations, please visit www.cdc.gov.

Teaching Children Respect

Respect for one another is an important value in our everyday lives. However, it is a challenge to find ways to teach this value to children. We have all heard that we must give respect to get respect and this is very true. It relates back to the golden rule, treating others as you would like to be treated. As with anything, it is sometimes easier said than done. I am a first-time mother of a very independent and strong willed 4-year-old. Respect is our biggest struggle right now. I find my head racing in those heated moments; how do I stay calm, how do I respect the decision he is making, how can I get him to listen, why doesn’t he respect me, what am I doing wrong? One thing I know for sure and take comfort in is the fact that I am not alone. Most children go through a defiant stage, and many parents find themselves in frustrating situations where there is a struggle for respect. During those trying moments, are the teachable moments.

Define Respect: Take time to communicate with your children what respect means. Help them understand what respect looks like and how they can practice being respectful. Give them plenty of examples and positive affirmations, for example: “It’s so nice and very respectful when you listen quietly when I am talking to you. “You do a great job showing your teacher respect at school when you look her in the eyes when you talk to her.” “I know you love to play with blocks. Doesn’t it feel good when a friend invites you to play blocks, or shares their blocks with you? They’re showing you respect.”

Leading by example: Children model what they see. They take after the relationships that are in front of them every day. The way that you treat those around you; spouse, significant other, children, friends, coworkers, parents, etc. in the moments when you get lost in frustration or anger, bring your awareness back to who is watching, what they are learning, and how you can model expected or desired behavior. How would you like them to react to a similar situation?

Remain Calm: The power of breath is sometimes underestimated. When respect becomes an issue, teach your children to stop and take a deep breath. “Taking a deep breath really does calm you down by triggering neurons in your brain which tell the body it is time to relax, a new study has found there are neurons which link breathing to relaxation, attention, excitement and anxiety located deep in the brainstem” This allows everyone to slow down and calm the body down, which can reroute potentially frustrating situations.

Talk Openly: Talking about who we respect and why we respect those people gives you an opportunity to bring it full circle for your child. Once they understand what respect is, they can truly start to understand how to embody that and who to respect; mom, dad, laws, teachers, friends, themselves. Take the little moments and turn them into teachable moments, “I don’t want to clean my room” can turn into a conversation about respect. Respecting your personal property, the rules, and your parents.

At AppleTree & Gilden Woods, respect is very important to our CORE Values Character Education Program. For the month of July, we bring acute awareness to how we can embody respect and make a point to work it in to our every day lives. Below is an activity that we do in our classrooms, that you can try at home with your children around the dinner table or while sharing your day:

The “Talking Stone”

Activity Materials needed:

  • Medium Rock or Paint Stick (optionally can be decorated)

Often during circle time, many preschoolers want to talk at once. One way to help children learn how to take turns is to use a visual clue. Try using a “talking stick” or “talking stone.” Hold your “stick” or “stone” while you speak and then pass it on when it’s time for another person to talk. Only the person with the talking stone or stick may speak. You can use a colorful rock or decorate your stick in a special way. This technique helps young children learn to respect the speaker and to wait and listen. Continue with this idea and soon the children will be reminding each other.

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