Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Parents often ask me how they can get their young children to listen. Listening demands social skills and thinking skills, something that is just developing in young children. Remember a child's job is to explore and experiment. Be realistic about your child's development and practice breaking tasks down to simple pieces of information. Kristen Hopkins writes in an Article Tips on Teaching Preschoolers to Listen:
                            "Listening skills need to be taught as part of language development. Listening requires attention. Since attention skills are just developing, preschoolers use much of their mental energy when they engage in activity. They can attend to one thing at a time, and it is often difficult for them to shift gears to attend to something new."
To improve your child's listening, remember to model good listening, make sure there are no distractions, and compliment your child when he does listen. The average child hears 432 negative comments per day, versus 32 positive ones. Look for opportunities to offer sincere positive comments. It just might get you the kind of attention you are looking for!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Amazing Children and their Play!

Here is a great article on play. It reinforces that play is children's work. Play is an essential part of brain development. Young children need time to play in a variety of settings. At Mommy, Daddy and Me playgroups young children have an opportunity for structured play time with a activity, dramatic play time, open play ( child's choice), circle time, snack time and clean up time ( yes, clean up can be fun!). Some key points from the article:

Play can be an effective and enjoyable way for children to develop skills:

  • Language skills when they play name games, sing songs, and recite jump rope rhymes.
  • Thinking skills when they construct a block tower, follow directions to a game, and figure out pieces to a puzzle.
  • Small-muscle skills when they string beads, make clay figures, and cut with scissors.
  • Large-muscle skills when they play ball, roller skate, and run relay races.
  • Creative skills when they make up stories, put on a puppet show, and play with dress-ups.
  • Social skills when they team up to play ball games, discuss rules for a card game, and decide who will play what part in dramatic play

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Amazing Babies

Here is a good article on the importance of movement and brain development. It includes some technical language, but basically the article stresses the importance that all babies need to spend time engaged in natural movement, including spending time on their tummies. Tummy Time for babies is something that these days is commonly neglected or forgotten. All too often babies are in placed in infant seats while they are in their homes. While they may look comfortable and cozy, babies need time on the floor, in someones arms and exploring their world.

Our Amazing Babies Movement and the Developing Brain by Catherine Burns
Our babies are little miracles of creation that we get to witness with the delightful developments of the first year. Baby's capacities build from early nursing and gazing to avid exploration and cruising out in the world. The brain triples in size by the end of the first year. A little being comes shining though, and shows us the mystery of this new little person. It all happens through movement and relationship.
Brain Development Through Movement
Fascinating research inform us that the baby's brain develops through natural movements of nursing, tummy time, rolling, creeping and crawling. Baby's most complex senses, vision and hearing, are also organized by doing the same movements.
Developmental movements organize and structure the brain for cognition, attention asset (vs. attention deficit) and emotional regulation, the ability to modulate between calm and excited states. The earliest learning takes place through movement explorations. Baby's natural movements also provide a baseline of core strength and good coordination.    
Tummy Time
During tummy time baby builds his earliest measuring skills. Moving his head up and down, bopping himself with his hand and turning in response to voices, baby gradually builds a map of his visual and auditory fields. While on the tummy, baby's field of sensory experience matches his field of action - both small. This creates a properly matched learning environment of sensory-motor balance. Over time, baby comes up to rock back and forth on hands and knees, developing near to far vision.   School age children need this visual organization for switching between blackboard and their deskwork.
Emotional regulation is supported during tummy time as the prone position elicits the parasympathetic while active tummy time play engages the sympathetic nervous system.  
Many invisible senses of internal movement and the vestibular sense of gravity are elicited through reflexive micro-movements while on the tummy. These internal senses develop sense of connection within oneself and feeling of support from the earth. Both of these are underneath a stable sense of self.
Distress in Tummy Time
Many babies who have not spent much time on their tummy may fuss or even cry in distress when placed there.   A baby may experience mild to profound vestibular disorientation if he haven't spent time on his tummy.   Vestibular disorientation can lead to anxiety, hyperactivity and many behavior problems, as the child does not have a secure sense of self and of support.
Tummy time provides baby with the first opportunity for mastery learning. Tummy time is the foundation for all of the following developmental movements, including rolling, creeping and crawling. Many school age children with learning challenges skipped these early movements.
Distress in tummy time can be resolved through simple handling practices and daily play activities.
Here is the complete link to the web site:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Staying active in the cold

It's easy to hibernate this time of year. It can be most comforting to curl up with a blanket, a good movie and a cup of cocoa.
Especially when it is dark and cold and on most days lately ,dreary.

Remember that:
  • Children who are provided with ample time to engage in self-directed play benefit in a variety of ways. Child driven play in early childhood promotes the well being of the child; it contributes to the cognitive, social, emotional and physical development of the child.

  • Children between the ages of one and five should participate in at least two hours of physical activity each day, mostly through unstructured active play.
How do we as parents promote play?
First Tip: Limit video games and TV.

Second Tip: Encourage active play; this doesn't necessarily have to be in a structured format such as a team sport. It can include open play at an indoor playground in the winter like the Tree House or open gym at a local school. Other ideas like sledding, skating, and skiing work well with preschoolers. Just don't set your expectations too high, remember to have fun. Also, young children will love to design a crawling tunnel in the house, or build a snow fort. Parents can include all members of the family by organizing a winter "family Olympics" event. The idea is to get moving and play!

The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

Parenting resolutions:
 Most parents tell me they want to be more patience, yell less, spend more time with their children and
get their children to listen better.

 Tip #1. Try letting your child know what you want them  to do rather than what you don't want them to do.  Rephrasing  the request in a more positive light may help get different results.
Tip #2 Remember: listening demands social skills. Be realistic  about you child's development and your expectations. Break things down to simple tasks. Instead of stringing along 2 or more commands; "pick up your toys, brush your teeth and put your PJ's on. Start with one task and be encouraging. It takes practice but it may help take some of the hassles out of parenting.