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How to Create a Bedtime Routine

Do you ever struggle getting your kids to bed at a decent hour? Creating a routine can help take bedtime from struggle to seamless with these few easy tips:

  • Pick a specific time. Allow 20-30 minutes before bedtime to complete the routine from beginning to end.
  • Provide a warning. Verbally communicate with your child that he/she has “5 more minutes before we start to get ready for bed.” Doing this comforts children and gives them a sense of security because they know what to expect.
  • Decide on a sequence of events. Consistency is key, once you develop a sequence of events, repeat them in the same order every night.

For example, if your child’s bedtime is 8pm, then at 7:25pm let him/her know, “In 5 minutes it will be time to get ready for bed.” Once its 7:30pm, your child would do the following:

For younger children it may be helpful to provide some visual cues or pictures for each step. Creating a routine, and following it consistently, will help children know what to expect- making bedtime become a calm and relaxing way to end the day!

How Art Can Influence Children’s Learning

The most common way that young children learn is through interacting with the world around them. By creating open-ended art children are given the opportunity to explore their senses; they can see what happens when colors combine, hear the sound of crinkling tissue paper, smell the saltiness of play dough and touch the stickiness of glue.

Open-ended art means that the outcome of the art project is not predetermined. It gives children the control and freedom to create what they want, how they want.

Children love open art because it’s fun and it provides them opportunities to express themselves. Children must learn how to identify and communicate their emotions. Creating open-ended art gives the child control to do that.

Art also provides children important skills for living. Open art encourages children to learn about planning and problem solving. Crayons are among the many materials that encourage open-ended art. Children can plan what materials they would like to use and how they would like to use them.

Lastly, creating art allows children to develop their fine motor skills. These are the same skills necessary for buttoning a shirt, holding a pencil to write, turning a page while reading and using utensils to eat.

Here is a list of materials that encourage open-ended art:

Happy creating 🙂

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month. A growing body of research shows that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health and possibly positive behavioral and mental health. To get the amount that’s recommended, most people need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they currently eat every day.  Most parents understand the importance of fruits and vegetables and desperately want their children to eat more of them.  However, this often becomes a struggle at meal times.  Here are a few important tips:

 

  1. Introduce fruits and veggies at a very young age —When a breastfeeding mother eats a varied diet, countless components of the foods she eats seasons her milk subtly. In this way, a breastfed baby is exposed to a wide variety of flavors before a single vegetable touches his or her lips.  If you are a breastfeeding mother, make sure to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables yourself.
  2. Offer them often and consistently—Once you begin to introduce solid foods to your baby, continue to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables and a variety of tastes and textures. Your baby may reject green beans, spinach, or other foods, but repeatedly offering a variety of foods usually leads to acceptance and eventually a preference for those foods. Try, try again.
  3. Don’t hide them in other foods—If you’re looking to increase your child’s long-term intake of fruits and vegetables, don’t hide them. This will do nothing to foster a long-term appreciation. Hiding a 1/4 cup of pureed cauliflower in your child’s macaroni and cheese won’t teach your child to appreciate cauliflower, instead it will foster an appreciation for macaroni and cheese.  However, hiding fruits or vegetables in certain foods is not always wrong as long as you are aware that it’s only for the nutritional value and not for the purpose of instilling the valuable lesson of healthy food choices. For this lesson to sink in offering the actual fruit or vegetable and increasing your child’s exposure to it is the only way to go.
  4. Lead by example! —Take care to remember how deeply your choices as a parent affect those of your children. Profoundly impressionable, they’re looking to you to guide them into making the right choices for themselves.  By actively choosing and savoring vegetables yourself, you mold the way your child views fruits and vegetables.  Eat well, and your children will learn to eat well, too.

 

Visit a local farmer’s market and let your child experience the bright and vibrant colors of the fruits and vegetables. Celebrate National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, but remember to enjoy these necessary foods all year long.

How to Deal With a Biter

“Welcome to Parenthood.” An adage you will find yourself being told, and even telling other parents, when a particularly ‘exciting’ thing occurs on your parenting journey; sleepless nights, pouring orange juice on your child’s cereal instead of milk, unsuccessfully potty training, and getting the notes coming home that your child is biting. I received the first of my ‘biting’ letters just a couple weeks ago. I ran through a gambit of emotions; I rationalized “Oh it’s natural, he’s getting his molars, they have to hurt, I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it!” I irrationalized, “He had to have been provoked. That’s so unlike him.” I cried, “What did we do as parents? I should have done better by him.” I denied, “It couldn’t have been that bad, he wouldn’t really hurt someone, even if it wasn’t on purpose.” I internalized, “I should have given him Tylenol, I knew he was a bit cranky, I should have read the symptoms.”

If your child does go through a biting phase, rest assured that you are not alone. It is a natural reaction in young children and can be a result of many different stressors or reasons. I am here to encourage and support you. As a parent who is going through it, I have a few suggestions that could possibly help your situation. Please remember that each child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Keep an open mind and breathe through it!

  1. Don’t Bite Back- Try teaching your child positive behaviors. Be clear and be firm but keep in mind if you are asking them not to do something, but doing it to them, it will send mixed messages.
  2. Remain Calm- Children do most things for a reaction, any reaction. As much as it may hurt, be mindful of how you react. Stay centered and try to keep your cool. It may be difficult in a surprised or stressful situation, but it may eliminate further biting if they do not get the reaction that they are looking for.
  3. Supervise Closely- Watch your child when they are around others, or when you think that they may be teething, or stressed. Try to stay ahead of them, if possible, to redirect them from biting.
  4. Provide Something They Can Bite- Especially with infants, they are looking for something they can sink their sore gums into. Even toddlers or preschoolers can crave that sensation. There are a variety of teethers and teething necklaces for the older children that can help satiate that desire.
  5. Redirect- After a biting incident occurs, remove the child from the situation. Have a firm conversation with them that helps bring awareness to their actions, and then redirect them to a different activity that may be a bit more calm or quiet.
  6. Read Books About Biting- As you read, ask your child questions about the characters. Some recommended titles: “No Biting” by Karen Katz and “Teeth are not for Biting” by Elizabeth Verdick.

Lean on your support system and find solace in the fact that this too is a phase.

7 Tips to Teach Children Teamwork

We’ve all heard the clichés, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” “Together Everyone Achieves More.” As adults, we know how much of an integral role that teamwork plays in our everyday lives; in our friendships, relationships, and most certainly in the work place. Teamwork is supporting each other and working to achieve a common goal. But what does that mean to children, and how can we teach them from a young age to be team players?

Here are a few ideas to help you promote teamwork and good sportsmanship in your day to day routine:

  1. Allow your children to plan a meal together or with you, depending on age. Have them plan it from start to finish; making the grocery list, preparing the meal, setting the table, serving, and washing the dishes.
  2. Play games that encourage team work and problem solving. Organized sports or even a neighborhood game of tag will help them learn how to work with others.
  3. Model teamwork by helping them with a chore or helping another family member get something done that they were working on.
  4. Play a chain reaction game. Give them a card with a silly task to do once someone else does a silly task. For example, one of the cards could read “once someone claps their hands three times, get up and turn off the lights.” Then the next card would read “when someone turns off the lights, bark like a dog.” And so on. This will help put into perspective how much of what we do is dependent on others.
  5. Make up a story together. Create an imaginative masterpiece by taking turns and collaborating on a work of fiction. Bind the book with ribbon or binder rings and keep it to read together often. You could even create a story out loud. Alternate sentences and see what silly story can come out of working together!
  6. Create a piece of art together. Start with any materials you have lying around the house. Use paper or canvas and take turns adding something to the art piece. Display in their room when you are done.
  7. Put together a puzzle. Pick one out together and work to complete it

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Most children hear and listen to sounds from birth and learn to talk by imitating voices of their parents and caregivers. This is not true for all children, as some are born deaf or hard-of hearing. Some children lose their hearing later during childhood and will need to learn speech and language differently. It is important to detect deafness or hearing loss as early as possible.

This month provides opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing.

Here are a few tips from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to help protect your children’s ears:

 

Pro Potty Training Tips

The time has come to start potty-training, and I am a little terrified. I know the benefits, I understand the importance, but I’ve gotten accustom to the ease and routine of diapers. My son is going on the potty pretty regularly at home, but still struggling a bit at school. There are many different methods and tips out there to help make potty training quick and easy for you and your children. One thing I have found that is most valuable is that my husband and I are on the same page as the teachers in my sons’ classroom.

AppleTree & Gilden Woods offer a great potty-training program featuring one of our Woodland friends, Pedal. We also offer tips for parents to ensure that we are all on the same page and that they feel encouraged and supported. Below are a few tips that our teachers use and that we give to parents to help the process.

  1. 1. Assign easy names to bladder and bowel movements. Common ones include “pee pee” and “poo poo” but feel free to use your own. Remain consistent with the names that you do assign. Ask your child questions such as “Do you have a poo poo in your diaper?” and “Is it time to go pee pee in the potty?” These are the words they will learn to signal you when it is time to go.
  2. Have a potty walk through lesson. Talk through what you do when you use the bathroom. Don’t let the small details escape your train of thought. Remember, this is all new to your child. Invite questions.
  3. Change your child’s diaper as soon as it gets dirty. This lets your child feel the difference between wet and dry. When this happens, it helps teach your child what a dry diaper feels like and make the connection to when it is time to go potty.
  4. Create a signal for a dirty diaper. This lets you know that your child knows the difference between a wet and dry diaper and will be able to tell you when it is time to go potty. Also, praise your child when they tell you about a dirty diaper. This will associate going to the potty with a positive feeling, which is crucial to successful potty training.
  5. Choosing the Potty. During this time you also need to decide whether you want a potty that sits on the floor or on the actual “big potty.” Pay attention to your child’s desires in this decision making process. A lot of your child’s success will depend on their initial comfort level with the potty. Some children are initially afraid of the larger toilet and will be more comfortable on the floor. If this is the case you can start there and graduate to the big toilet at a time when your child is more comfortable.
  6. Keep encouraging your child when they use the potty, and with time it will happen more consistently

Stay strong, stay consistent, and encouraging. This a big change for both you and your child and you will both feel accomplished and proud once mastered. Best of luck!

Teaching Children Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a characteristic that shapes who we are as people. It is the groundwork for a well-balanced, happy life. Those that tend to hold grudges and have a hard time forgiving, hold on to negative energy and are molded by that. Those that are more likely to forgive are creating more space for positivity in their life and in the world.  “Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace.” -Tolstoy. Below are a few ways that you can model and promote forgiveness in your life and in turn help your children learn what it means to forgive and be forgiven.

Reinforce forgiveness—We often encourage children to apologize when they have upset someone or have done something wrong. It is just as important to encourage them to forgive when they are apologized to. Enforce phrases such as, “I accept your apology”, “I forgive you”,” I’m not ready”, “thank you”, etc.

Don’t force it – We want children to be open to forgiveness, but we do not want it to become a force of habit. It is important that children are able to process their emotions and rationalize for themselves. Forcing them to accept an apology, or give one for that matter, could just be a way of giving them an out and not fully allowing them to work through it and learn the lesson it holds.

Show your children forgiveness – Children’s behavior can be trying. As they are learning boundaries, they are finding ways to test them. These explorations can quickly turn into rule breaking, aggressive behavior, or acting out. If we are gentle, understanding, and forgiving with them, then they are more likely to be understanding and gentle when needing to forgive others.

Practice sincere apologies – When you are apologizing, or asking for an apology, encourage your children to structure their apology; acknowledge the wrong doing, admit the action without excuses, and commit to learning from this mistake and letting it go to move forward.

Use a visual aid – Using a tangible learning aid helps children process the lesson more easily. Try making a forgiveness tree with your children. Draw a tree with no leaves. Each time they forgive someone, together write who they forgave and why. With time the leaves will fill the tree and make it robust and beautiful. Reflect together about how big and beautiful the tree has grown with each act of forgiveness and liken it to everyday life.

Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is an important aspect of life. Start encouraging and modeling forgiveness to your children and to all of those around you.

Spring on the Mind

Spring is just around the corner and we are excited and ready at AppleTree & Gilden Woods. As part of our C.O.R.E. curriculum, children in our toddler and preschool classes will learn all about bugs, bees, and butterflies. The lessons throughout Spring are enhanced by raising and releasing butterflies.

Our K-Prep classrooms all receive a butterfly kit and habitat. Children are able to observe the life-cycle and watch as the caterpillars become chrysalis and eventually hatch into butterflies. Each classroom releases their butterflies into nature and the children enjoy the hands on experience and the opportunity to observe the entire life cycle. Visit nature-gifts.com for ideas to supplement this activity at home!

image source

Throughout the lessons, each classroom incorporates age appropriate activities, songs, games, and books. Each classroom reads Eric Carle’s, “A Very Hungry Caterpillar.” This is the perfect book to read at home with your children as well. It will help you discuss insect and animal life cycles and possibly different natural phenomenon that take place in spring.

 

Another way to incorporate springtime learning into your children’s lives is to visit Frederik Meijer Gardens. They have a butterfly room that is brimming with butterflies and fun activities all through the month of March! Check out their calendar of scheduled family events.

Spring Family Bucket List

It is finally safe to say that Spring is here! The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer, flowers are starting to bloom, and the birds are greeting us each morning. These sure fire signs of Spring are welcomed with open arms after a long winter. It is time to get outside and explore! Here is a family bucket list to help you embrace Spring and explore nature together!

 

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