Blog

No One Is Born Grateful

Many of us have had the good fortune, opportunity, and/or drive to provide for our children even better than what we had as children.  As parents we can feel disappointed when a child falls short of showing what is deemed “appropriate gratitude.”  From an expensive scientific toy received as a gift to running all over town for exotic pet food or driving to another county for an afternoon of soccer, children forget to recognize the sacrifice others make for them.  Teaching children true gratitude, not just tossing out a quick, “Hey, thanks” is tricky, though.  Our efforts can do more than just make grandmas happy by receiving a thank-you card. “A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism — along with lower levels of depression and stress.”*

The article cited below has some great ideas on what we can do at home to create the kind of change we want to see in our children, especially in the holiday season that will be here before we know it.

*http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/teaching-children-to-be-grateful/

 

Jordan Sicht has been with Academy of Early Childhood Learning since 2000.

He and his wife, Sarah, have two boys, 10 and 7.

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Rules and Regulations

As parents and caregivers it’s important that we don’t fall into the trap of creating rules for no reason other than conformity.  Many rules we follow as adults are for specific safety and responsibility reasons; speed limits, food prep temperatures and expiration dates, carrying insurance on your property, to name a few.  When we start having rules just for the sake of conformity, it can feel restrictive and agitating. Sitting in the only car at a red light for several minutes when there isn’t another motorist in sight might show this frustration.  We need to create more “roundabouts” in our children’s lives.  If we explain what needs to happen (the objective,) and are willing to accept a variety of possible methods to get to that end, we as caregivers/parents are more relaxed and your child is more empowered, self-reliant, and better prepared for their future.  I hope this helps!

Jordan Sicht

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The Function of Behavior

Many of you have just conferenced with your child’s teacher and have seen the component within that is a behavioral checklist.  Often we discuss the cause, or “function”, of the behavior.  Young children can often act out of control because that is exactly how they’re feeling.  As an example, if a 2 year old boy swings his hand at peers when they are nearing the center where he is playing, we need to help him to identify his feeling of worry.  He may worry that someone will knock down his tower or perhaps that there aren’t enough of that toy to share.  We can then provide him with the tools he needs to resolve this conflict.  We show children how to share, take turns, or sign the word stop.  It is important for us to teach replacement behaviors that are realistic.  A child may need to be taught it is okay to walk away and get a drink at the water fountain in order to cool off.  If we examine behaviors as objectively as possible, it can help us approach them as teachable moments and also will serve to preserve our relationship with the child.  (They really didn’t do it just to make you mad!)

Enjoy your children!

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Self Control

 

We see the effects all around us of adults that haven’t learned self-control, the ability to follow rules and understand limits. Developing self-control begins at birth and continues throughout adulthood.  Children learn self-control through group play and from guidance given from parents and other loving adults.

In order to help toddlers cope with limits we need to provide guidance and intervene when appropriate. Things we can do:

  • Stop the behavior.  Firmly, but not angrily, tell the child, “No hitting, hitting hurts.”
  • Label the emotion.  We need to feel understood. “You are angry that he took your toy.  It’s okay to be angry, but we do not pinch our friends.  Pinching hurts.”
  • Offer an appropriate “Can Do,” like jumping up and down or stomping feet.  A favorite of mine is the sign for “Stop” as it can be expressed emphatically.
  • Help the child solve their problem.  Go to the friend together and ask for the toy back.  Or, give them livable choices: “Do you want to play music while we clean up the toys?”
  • Be a role model for handling frustration.  “I’m feeling frustrated that I can’t find my phone and we’re running late.  I’m going to take a deep breath before we look for it.”
  • Create a cozy corner in your home.  This is a positive and soothing place to go when you need a break, not a time-out punishment.

For more information like this on child development, including other ideas for social-emotional development, go to Zero to Three, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families at www.zerotothree.org

Jordan Sicht

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April 22nd is Earth Day

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

-Sir Rannulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest explorer.

April 22nd marks the 48th Earth Day celebrated in the United States.  The concept was introduced to raise awareness for the many troubling environmental threats that Americans had been largely ignoring. At Academy of Early Childhood Learning, we would like to use it as a day to bring to light the importance of nature in children’s lives.  50 years ago, families and educators could take for granted that young children would spend time outdoors (Clements 2004).  Present day children, with growing interest in technology, have the world at their fingertips through Google and Wikipedia yet have never peered closely into a newly bloomed bud or watched tiny ants empty a beetle’s exoskeleton.  Tomorrow’s stewards of this incredible natural wonderland are in our classrooms today and are open to deepening their connection with nature (Rivkin 2014).  There are many psychological, sociological and physical benefits outlined in the book, The Great Outdoors.

http://naturalstart.org/bright-ideas/need-ideas-encouraging-nature-play-new-free-guide-available

Mary S. Rivkin, The Great Outdoors

Clements, R.,An Investigation of the State of Outdoor Play.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood

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March 2 is Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

 

 

It was 1960, Green Eggs and Ham was published, and Theodor Geisel (who you may more readily know as Dr. Seuss) implored, In these days of tension and confusion, writers are beginning to realize that Books for Children have a greater potential for good, or evil, than any other form of literature on earth.”

Dr. Seuss had written Horton Hears a Who some years prior to Green Eggs and Ham as a way to connect to young readers in a positive way. His art had experienced quite a shift from the derisive propaganda cartoons and film he had published as part of the war effort.  He wanted to effect change in society’s buds, our children.

He would go on to publish The Sneetches in 1961 with its civil rights theme, and ten years later, The Lorax, raising environmental awareness.

We can continue this important work in our homes and classrooms by teaching our children to be safe, kind, and responsible.  We can encourage activities that show we value each other for our similarities and our differences.

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Coping with Separation Anxiety

Helping Children Adjust to New Settings and Coping with Separation Anxiety

For the last few weeks some of our children have been experiencing new classrooms or are new to our center. Some tears due to uncertainty, new expectations, and missing parents and previous educators is a natural and healthy part of your child’s development! Separation anxiety can present as tantrums, clinging, or even just becoming quiet and withdrawn when dropped off. As caregivers and parents, there are a few things we can do to help:
Plan a visit to their new setting, showing the child you are comfortable with the new faces and routines.
Have a short and positive good-bye ritual. (Please never sneak away!)
Relate your return time to their schedule. (I’ll see you after nap, snack, and gross motor time.)
Acknowledge your child’s feelings while encouraging appropriate behaviors.
Keep a regular schedule at home and with your drop-offs at school.
Discuss the use of a transitional object (small teddy to keep in their cubby for the first couple weeks) with your child’s teacher.
Make pick-up a reunion! Sometimes work needs to wait – a precious little person has looked forward to your face all day!

*https://www.prosolutionstraining.com/index.cfm
Books to Help Children with Separation Anxiety
Appelt, Kathi, illustrated by Jane Dyer. Oh My Baby, Little One. Orlando: Harcourt, 2005.
Edwards, Becky, illustrated by Anthony Flintoft. My First Day at Nursery School. New York: Bloomsbury
Children’s, 2004.
Penn, Audrey. The Kissing Hand. Terre Haute, IN: Tanglewood, 2006.
Rusackas, Francesca, illustrated by Priscilla Burris. I Love You All Day Long. New York: HarperCollins,
2003.
Tompert, Ann, illustrated by Robin Kramer. Will You Come Back for Me? Boston, MA: National Braille,
2003.
Viorst, Judith, illustrated by Kay Chorao. The Good-Bye Book. New York: Aladdin, 1992.
Zalben, Jane Breskin. Don’t Go! New York: Clarion, 2001.

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Difficult Topics with Children

Recently, as well as in the past, we’ve been bombarded with upsetting, sometimes tragic, news stories describing the sometimes turbulent world around us.  What to do and what to say falls well outside of the scope and space available in this quick monthly snippet.  I can recommend that we parents and teachers have some idea of what to discuss, what to say, and how to help, before a child asks us for clarification about the images or topics they may have seen or heard discussed. The following notes are borrowed from the Applebaum Training Institute.

  • Try and come to terms with your own feelings before talking to children so that they see you calm.  Children catch their moods from you.
    •    Turn off the television.  Seeing the graphic images is terrifying.
    •    Give children opportunities to talk about their feelings.  Let them vent.
    •    Give them opportunities to ask questions.
    •    Teach them relaxation exercises, like deep breathing.
    •    Children feel safe with traditions. Have some daily rituals that stay the same no matter what is happening in the world.
    •    Remind children that the world is a good place, even if a few people do bad things.
    •    Promote lessons of kindness, diversity, and respect for all people so children learn early on to value human life.
    •    Talk about the wonderful community helpers available to help.  There are emergency workers, doctors, nurses, firemen, and police officers all working together to help keep children safe.

Another good article on this topic can be found at:

Talking with Children

 

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Are rules necessary?

As parents and caregivers it’s important that we don’t fall into the trap of creating rules for no reason other than conformity.  Many rules we follow as adults are for specific safety and responsibility reasons; speed limits, food prep temperatures and expiration dates, carrying insurance on your property, to name a few.  When we start having rules just for the sake of conformity, it can feel restrictive and agitating. Sitting in the only car at a red light for several minutes when there isn’t another motorist in site might show this frustration.  We need to create more “roundabouts” in our children’s lives.  If we explain what needs to happen (the objective,) and are willing to accept a variety of possible methods to get to that end, we as caregivers/parents are more relaxed and your child is more empowered, self-reliant, and better prepared for their future.

Read more

Natural Learners

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

-Sir Rannulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest explorer.

April 22nd marks the 47th Earth Day celebrated in the United States.  The concept was introduced to raise awareness for the many troubling environmental threats that Americans had been largely ignoring. At Academy of Early Childhood Learning, we would like to use it as a day to bring to light the importance of nature in children’s lives.  50 years ago, families and educators could take for granted that young children would spend time outdoors (Clements 2004).  Present day children, with growing interest in technology, have the world at their fingertips through Google and Wikipedia yet have never peered closely into a newly bloomed bud or watched tiny ants empty a beetle’s exoskeleton.  Tomorrow’s stewards of this incredible natural wonderland are in our classrooms today and are open to deepening their connection with nature (Rivkin 2014).  There are many psychological, sociological and physical benefits outlined in the book, The Great Outdoors.

http://naturalstart.org/bright-ideas/need-ideas-encouraging-nature-play-new-free-guide-available

Mary S. Rivkin, The Great Outdoors

Clements, R.,An Investigation of the State of Outdoor Play.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood

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