Websites for Preschoolers

With all these snowstorms and freezing temperatures, it's hard to want to leave the house and young children can get a little bored or stir crazy. Instead of having your child watch mindless t.v. or movies all day there are some fun websites out there that provide both learning and entertainment and are appropriate for preschool children. Many sites have things like printables that are good for crafts, but i am just going to focus on ones that have interactive games on them too.

Disney features it's funschool website which has games, craft videos, and resources for parents and teachers.

Starfall.com is a reading website that has phonics, stories, songs and activities. It reads words that you click on so you don't have to be right next to your child reading to her.

Sesame Street has it's own interactive site that is full of games and other fun things.

and Scholastic's Magic School bus which includes games, stories, videos and printables.

You can always search for additional sites, but this will help get you started.


Tips to help an overstimulated baby

During the holidays we get more invitations to parties and gatherings then other times of the year. If you have a baby that means one of 3 things. Option 1 stay home. Option 2 pay a fortune each time for a babysitter. Option 3 bring your baby.
If you choose option 3 and bring your baby, s/he may not be used to all the noise, people, etc. and it's possible to get a little fussy. Let me rephrase that. It's possible for your baby to get a little fussy. Ok and you too.
If your baby starts to get overstimulated by all the noise and commotion there are some things that you can do to help calm him/her down. The first thing would be to pick up your baby if s/he is not already in your arms, in order to offer comfort. If this does not work, find a quiet space to bring your baby and talk or sing to him/her. Leaving the chaos will let your babies senses take a break. None of us like a noisy, crowded room for too long, either, so think about it from your tiny babies perspective.
Once your baby is quieted, bring him/her back into the room, or if it's possible, leave him/her in a separate room to play in a pack'n'play or be watched by an older child.
Peace and quiet. There's a lot to be said about it. Just not right now.
Happy Holidays!


Teaching your child to say Thank you

With Thanksgiving coming this week, many kids in school are being asked to say what they are thankful for. But do they really know what that means? Are we instilling gratitude in our kids or are we raising kids to be selfish and have a sense of entitlement?
Too many children expect their parents to give them things or for their friends to give them the toy they want, and I'm just talking about the preschoolers. Is that the kind of child you want to raise?
Thanksgiving started when the Pilgrims wanted to say thank you for all the help the Native Americans gave them, which begs the question: How often to we say thank you? And if we are not, then our children are certainly not either.
This time of year is the perfect time to start instilling some gratitude in your young one. Teaching your child to say please and thank you will get them in the habit of not only having good manners (which everyone appreciates) but it will make them realize that something is being done for them and they will eventually understand what that means. Habits are learned early and hard to change the older we are, so take this opportunity to really teach what giving thanks is all about.


How too much tv affects your child

ow much time does your young child spend in front of the television? Do you find yourself putting on the dvd player in the car, handing your iPhone to your child so s/he can watch a movie, or putting on the t.v. at home to entertain your child?

TV watching is a passive activity that doesn't require anything more than sitting there, staring at a screen which can lead to obesity and affect developmental skills. When your child is sitting around watching television, they are NOT doing a lot of other things such as: reading a book, playing outside, socially interacting with others, being creative, or being physically active. These are all things crucial for meeting developmental milestones. Limiting t.v. watching time allows for more planned activities which will help your child work on skills like conversational skills, gross and fine motor skills, and cognitive skills.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that TV watching should be limited to one to two hours per day of quality programs. The word quality is key here. Make sure what your child is watching offers something to your child. Programs like Dora the Explorer attempt to engage your child in critical thinking skills. And although the questions posed in programs like this are better when coming from an actual person who can help your child come up with the correct answer, it is better than watching mindless television that does not offer a lesson, or some learning.

They also suggest that your child should not have a t.v. in his/her room, that if a program is not worth watching, do not keep the t.v. on for background noise, and choose program times as you would if you were going to a movie. It might not be a bad idea to actually check out the programs your young child watches and look at some others to in order to compare. You may discover that one is better than another and is better quality. This should apply to movies too. You should know exactly what kind of content the movies have in them. Just because something is animated, doesn't mean it's age appropriate.

Set a t.v. time, choose programs wisely and plan activities for your child that will help, not hinder your young one's developmental skills. Children learn from doing. As an old chinese proverb says "Tell me and I forget, Show me and I remember, Involve me and I understand".


Does your child behave appropriately at a restaurant?

If you look at the top of the menu of a particular outdoor restaurant on Long Island you read that children must remain seated during their stay and that service is dependent on this. And a few years ago there was some contraversy over a sign in a Chicago coffee shop that read "children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven."

Some may get upset by this and some understand and appreciate these signs. Sometimes it seems to be a clash of those with children vs those without when it comes to things like this. Each parent though, actually each person, comes from a different school of thought. There are some parents who are more liberal with their children and feel everyone should agree with their views. It's kindof like politics that way.

The point is, that when people go out to a restaurant, coffee shop or pizzeria, chances are they really don't want to listen to a screaming, misbehaved or whining child and like it even less when that child is running around. Most of us prefer to enjoy our time out...in peace. Especially since the reason we go out is for fun, to relax, to catch up with friends and dining out brings a certain mood that can easily be ruined by an unruly child.

To avoid your child from fitting into the category of "that kid" (you know, the one describe above who everyone is staring at) here are some things to keep in mind:

*Enforce appropriate table manners and proper in-seat behavior at home at your own table. When you are sitting down for meals, make sure your child is sitting too. Encourage him/her to sit quietly, with no yelling, whining or bouncing around rules. Some squirming is to be expected but reinforce staying in the chair.

*Bring something to do. Many parents go out for coffee or a meal with a young child and then expect that child to either sit there, or run around. Neither of these are good options and they are not fair to your child. Bring a bag full of crayons, coloring books, toys, books or dolls. Something that can fit on the table that your child enjoys playing with to keep him/her distracted.

*Talk to your child before going out about the behavior you expect. If your child is old enough to understand (about 2yrs and above) sit quietly with your child and tell him/her that you will be going out and explain exactly what you want to see. For example "we are going to the coffee shop and when we get there I want you to sit quietly with me and stay in your sit". If necessary offer and reward and tell your child they can pick out something yummy to eat, but that it is contingent upon the good behavior.

Going out should be enjoyable for everyone. If you have to constantly scold your child or chase after them, then it means that you are not having a good time, and the people around you aren't either. Having your child be well behaved means that you can enjoy your time with your child, and it means your child will have a good time too. It also means that your child will be safe since running around can lead to falls, hot beverage spills and even running into the street if it's an outside place. A well behaved child is a happy child and by children of all ages behaving appropriately all will enjoy time out together.


When to start your child in swim lessons

We know you love your child. And we know you pack anything they need for the pool. We've seen your trunks. But we also know that if you could just get rid of the swimmies and the tubes you pack in the bag and lug to the pool you would be a much happier camper.
When your child does not know how to swim, not only do you need to bring all the extra equipment, but you have to be in the water with your child every time s/he wants to be there holding him/her up...and let's face it... sometimes the water is just a little too chilly and the kids are a little too splashy for you to enjoy yourself.
So, that being said, many parents pose the question: "What is a good age to put my child in swim lessons"? The answer is around 3 -4 years depending on how much your child likes water. Even though there are swim classes for children as young as 6 months, these are really there just to get your child adapted to the water and there is no need for you to spend your money on them. Children who are about 3 years old begin to explore the water more freely and experiment with going under water and kicking their feet etc. As they get closer to 4 years old most children who are not afraid of the water are ready to swim. If your child is one of those children who goes under water and loves to be in it, then you may want to consider finding some lessons.
The best thing to do is sign up for private swim lessons. Many parents put there children in group lessons where their children get about 5 minutes of personal time once you factor in the other 5 or more kids in the group getting a turn. It is best to hire a swim instructor that works at your pool and use your money for private lessons where your child will get personalized attention for 30 minutes.
You should watch these lessons and listen in to all the key terms like "talk to the fish" and "listen to the fish" so that when you practice with your child you use the same cues that the instructor uses.
Once your child is proficient in the water, if they are young, it may be a good idea to go in the water with them or at least be sitting on the side of the pool depending on the skill level just to be on the safe side. And as you sit there knowing you and your child are free from swimmies and floaties and tubes, you can bask in the sun and enjoy watching your water baby show off her/his new skills.


Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan Dies at The Age of 68

Anyone involved in some way with Autism knows Dr. Stanley Greenspan's name. Amongst other accomplishments, he is best known for developing the 'Floor Time' method which involves getting on the floor with the child and following the child's actions instead of a more adult directed approach.

Dr. Greenspan died on April 27th at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., of complications from a stroke.


Linking the iPad With Education

Today's technology is being used more and more in the classroom and to aid students in learning. Computer technology, various websites, Wii's and whiteboards are among some of the more common we hear about. Now, a recent article on eschoolsnews.com states that applications for Apple's new iPad include programs to help with science, math, languages, and research. With more than 150,000 application downloads at costs of $2 to more than $15 the iPad is sure to have something for students of all ages.

The educational applications include ones that can help teach periodic table learning in a different form than the one we are used to, as well as language learning apps. The recently released app from Hello-Hello.com offers access to the site’s entire Spanish course and allows access to social networking sites where students can chat with native speakers of the language they are studying. Some company's programs are available for free such as“USA Factbook" which describes the 50 and “States & Capitals" designed for students prepping for a geography quiz or exam.

Some children just learn better through technology. As the world of technology and education continue to integrate, these tools are good to keep in mind as additional supports for kids who have trouble learning the traditional way.


Kate Winslet narrates "A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism"

April 2nd was Autism Awareness Day and was also the day when HBO premiered a film called "A Mother's Courage: Talking Back To Autism" which looks at Autism through a mother's eyes.

The movie which is narrated by actress Kate Winslet is about a mother from Iceland who does what she can to find out more about Autism and documents follows her efforts to find ways to help her severely Autistic son Keli as well as improve his life. The documentary follows Margret as she travels to places in Europe and ends up in America to be closer to a treatment center in Texas which will prove helpful for Keli.

The documentary not only shares Margret's story but stories of families along the way and gives watchers a glimpse of the daily struggles and frustrations families with children who have Autism face.

HBO will also air the show this Wednesday 4/7, Thursday 4/8 and Saturday 4/10. Since approximately 1 in 110 persons have Autism, the chances of you knowing someone who is affected in some way by this disorder is growing, so perhaps checking out this documentary which runs for a little more than an hour and a half or at least watching the trailer may be a good way to spend some time.


New DSM-5 to Remove Diagnoses of Asperger's

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders known as DSM will launch a revised 5th edition or the DSM-5 in May 2013. This new manual will remove the diagnoses of Asperger's Syndrome as it's own disorder and place it under the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The reasoning behind this change is that Asperger's is already part of the Autism Spectrum but those with it are higher functioning and often do not have language deficits, but rather social difficulties are the main issue. The news release by the American Psychiatric Association said this about the change:

“The recommendation of a new category of autism spectrum disorders reflects recognition by the

work group that the symptoms of these disorders represent a continuum from mild to severe,

rather than being distinct disorders,”

This change will supposedly make it easier for school districts to give services and parents to get services for their child because the children will be classified as Autistic and therefore qualify to receive services more easily rather than having to decide which category/ diagnoses the child falls. Some states do not give Special Education services to children with Asperger's because they often have average to high IQ's and adequate language skills. This new criteria will make it more children eligible to receive services through Special Education.