Posts tagged ‘early childhood development’

Read with Your Children

The morning hustle: head down getting everyone up and out the door with little time to wrap my head around what is really important to me on this day. Dashing out the door with totes, lunches, and kids in tow we zip to the highway for the first drop-off on the last week of summer camps. Music on, conversations fragmented and a red light finally offers me the first brief moment I get to pause. On this particular day, the pause at what my daughters call “the longest light” is suddenly so worth it.

“Mom, what book do you think that mom is reading to her daughter?” I look over and marvel that through the oncoming traffic and nestled into a bus shelter surrounded by the hedge greening the road my daughter notices a mother and daughter quietly reading; so focused they don’t hear or realize life whizzing by them. What a way to start the day. I am reminded that it only takes a few moments to make a meaningful connection with your child. Sitting closely, turning the pages, and discussing the story, I thought to myself “what an opportunity to connect.”

The green light sets us back on our way but I stayed in the right hand lane with the slower traffic so I could spend a little more time with my kids today. We talked about the summer library program and how we needed to catch up since we didn’t read as much while on vacation. My eldest daughter reminded her sister of the book she’s suggested, and for once my youngest agrees it might be time to try a “bigger” book. She asked if I would sit with her to read it in the beginning in case she had trouble with some of the words or understanding the story. I agreed.

For the next ten or so minutes we named all the books we could remember reading. We shared our favorite books we had read together as kids, and I shared the book my mom gave me years ago repeating what she wrote on the inside cover. I still cherish the message today.

Snuggle up and read with your kids.

Snuggle up and read with your kids.

Reading is essential to the positive upbringing of a child. The benefits are never ending but a few important ones come to mind:

  1. The opportunity to snuggle up and physically connect – using your voice to put life into the story, hands to depict characters and scenes all add to the magic of the moment.
  2. Left to right – run your finger along the page as you read and you help your child understand that’s the way to read a book. Read then discuss the illustrations to teach visual storytelling. Sometimes words and pictures are different but it’s interesting how they can tell the same story.
  3. Engaging your child’s imagination excites verbal skills – repeating words, and asking questions will spark conversation and help your child form complete sentences as well as learn new words daily.
  4. Academic excellence – it’s probably the number one goal most parents have when they think of their child’s future. Research shows early reading moments will help students perform better in school.
  5. Interpersonal relationships – all stories are based on relationships and the opportunity to learn through imaginative stories will help young children build basic skills for positive interpersonal relationships.

There are more reasons to read together and LeVar Burton is probably the biggest champion of reading to children. Research continues to validate the benefits at every age and stage of a child’s early brain development.

I could spend hours reading through this research but inspired by the mother and daughter sitting at the bus stop I’d rather turn the page with my own children and create a story or two of our own. What is your favorite childhood book – share with us on Facebook or start reading today with your children.

August 4, 2014 at 8:29 am Leave a comment

Chipper Tips: How to Keep Children Busy At the Grocery Store!

Taking children to the grocery store can sometimes be a necessary but frustrating task since isn’t usually on a your little one’s list of favorite activities. Aisles filled with goodies that mom won’t add to the cart is quite a tease. Here are some ways you can create our own activities to occupy your tots that help them build important learning skills while allowing us to get our errand done. Let’s Get Chipper on your next shopping trip and avoid the supermarket stress with these strategies!

  • Involve your little one in putting together the grocery list. Aside from learning what she might want to eat this week, it will get her talking which helps increase her vocabulary.
  • Keep your child busy at the grocery store by taking along books, crayons and markers, or small handheld toys. Allow your child to sit in the cart, if he is still small enough, and entertain himself with a few activities so that you can get the groceries you need without hassle. If you are going to a store in which toys or books cannot be taken (in case you’re worried the grocery store staff might think you stole them), try taking along plain scratch paper and a pen for your child to draw. Tell your child to draw something neat he sees in the grocery store. This gives your child a fun drawing activity and gets him a little excited to be in the grocery store because you’ll have him looking for something in the store to draw. Depending on your child age, ask your tot to help you figure out what letter the item starts and ends with. These pre-reading skills will be beneficial as your he begins sounding out words!
  • Bring your child food and something to drink to keep him busy in the grocery store. Many children get hungry and thirsty in the grocery store and unable to sit still because this makes them antsy. Giving your child something to snack on will keep him busy while you get the groceries you need and keeps him from getting cranky from having an empty belly. To keep your child even busier while you grocery shop, bring along colorful snacks such as fruit snacks, colorful cereal pieces, or animal crackers. If you’re concerned that the grocery store staff will think you took the food, bring the snack in a plastic Tupperware container.

  • If your child is a bit older and learning to read, give him the grocery list to keep him busy while you shop. Having your child take on a role while in the grocery store will keep him busy and out of trouble. Ask your child to cross off each item from the list as you get it. This not only keeps him busy in the grocery store, it also helps to teach him his letters and encourages better reading.
  • Ask your child to be your helper and get grocery items for you. Children love to be helpful and giving them a job to do promotes their self-worth and confidence. Have your child pick up each item as you name it off. Let him put it in the cart and move onto the next grocery item until you are finished grocery shopping. If there are hard items to get that are high up or a little heavy, lift your child up to them or each take a side of the item and put it in the grocery cart. You can even make a game of it and see how fast you can get all the groceries.
  • Help your wee one learn the concept of comparison with produce items. Hold up two tomatoes and ask him which is heavier, which is bigger, which is round, etc.
  • Ask you your child to help you sort the items in the cart. Group by color, by type of food or by size. By switching it up each visit, it will continue to be a new activity for your tot, while teaching valuable grouping skills.
  • Have your child be in charge of pushing the cart while you grocery shop. Allowing your child to drive the cart can be a fun activity for him that keeps him busy at the same time. However, this could be a difficult feat since some children may want to go super fast with the grocery cart, run into things, or find it hard to push the grocery cart straight and around people. If this is the case, simply let your child push the front of the grocery cart while you grab onto the back and help him steer. That way, your child gets to be a big help, and you get to make sure no one gets injured by your child, the speed racer.
  • Consider teaching them how to save money by comparing prices and using coupons in the grocery store if they are a bit older. Ask your little ones to grab two of an item off of the shelf or ask her how many of an object are on another one. In addition to helping them learn their numbers, the exercise will help them understand the concept of quantity.
  • Lastly, if you still can’t seem to manage to make the trip a fun learning experience and your child still gets out of control, such as with a temper tantrum, you might have to cut your shopping visit short. Always be considerate of other people and leave the store if necessary.

Now Let’s Go Chipper to the grocery store!

September 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Ask and You Shall Receive

As an adult, do you prefer to be asked or told what to do? The simple act of turning a statement or directive into a question completely changes the spirit of the moment. When you take this thought and apply it to a child – even as young as two – the results are surprisingly positive. Especially in the middle of winter.

The thought of bundling a child up in the dead of winter just to maintain a connection with nature seems about as pleasant as pulling a child from a birthday party right when cake is being served – would you ever?

The arguing and rationalizing over how many layers, the socks, the shoes …ear muffs, scarf or knit cap? And if you’re pro-active you’ve probably already bundled yourself up; so feeling “heated” by the moment is only exacerbated by the layers you can’t undo because you’re ready to go.

Next time you are in get-ready mode try empowering your child to make the logical decisions. Remember, children as young as two can rationalize these moments even if they can’t verbalize. A few Chipper tips to get you started:

  • Lay your clothes out and dress together. Ask questions that will guide your child to making the right choice
    • “It’s cold outside, which shirt should I wear? What shirt should you wear?”
    • “Do I put on my shorts?”
    • “Do I wear sandals or my boots?”

Make it silly, saying “I don’t need to wear my gloves, it’s hot outside.”

You challenge your child’s logical thinking and by making it playful they will engage in helping you get ready by getting ready themselves. Ask, “Show me how?”

The simple act of switching a directive into a question empowers independent thinking in your child; while also teaching them to think about themselves in relation to others. It’s a basic step but one to grow on …especially when engaging with nature.

January 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm 1 comment

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