Narrate life from the beginning! Your child’s brain depends on it.

Did you know that children learn language through relationship? They depend on parents and caregivers to talk and engage with them. This is how language develops and how babies begin to learn about the world around them. When it comes to brain development, talking and human interactions are literal superpowers, building a young child’s brain architecture in ways that will last a lifetime.

If this feels like a lot of work, don’t be overwhelmed. A child's brain will naturally develop through daily exposure to conversation. Everyday life is filled with opportunities to talk, sing, and point with your little one, helping his brain build powerful connections about language and the world around him! All you need to do is “narrate life.”

As you go throughout your day, simply talk about what you’re doing and what you see. Here are some examples of narrating life with your baby:

It’s time to change your diaper. Let’s unbutton your onesie and get out the wipes. This wipe is cold! I'll hurry! Okay, let’s button you back up. Now it’s time to eat. Are you hungry?

We’re going to the store. Let’s get in your car seat. First one arm, then the other. Okay, let’s buckle up to keep you safe. Good job!

What can we find on our walk? Do you see the green trees? I hear a bird! Do you hear a bird? The bird says tweet tweet!

It’s time to get ready for bed. First we’ll change your diaper, then we’ll put on your pajamas, and then we’ll read a book. I see a bear on the cover of this book. Let’s point to the bear.

When you talk, be sure to pause, giving your baby or toddler a chance to respond. Yes, even infants will chatter back to you, smile, or kick their feet in response. This is their way of engaging with you and “making conversation,” even before they can use words.

As your child get older, keep narrating life. The fun part now is that they can engage more in conversation and even ask questions. This is how they learn (and why they ask a lot of questions!)

When you ride in the car, ask them what they see. Cows? A red sign? Houses?

 

When you’re in the store, talk about what you’re putting in the cart and what you’re going to make with the ingredients.

Talk about why they have to take a bath and how finishing their meal helps them grow strong and healthy.

Parents and caregivers, you are everyday narrators and you have a captive audience! Seize the opportunity of the early years when your child's brain is rapidly developing. Your voice and your everyday routines provide all that you need to engage with your child through simple conversation and responsiveness.

TheBasics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life 

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are "Talking, Singing, and Pointing" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

 

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


5 Simple (yet powerful) Ways YOU Can Help Parents Maximize Love & Manage Stress!

It takes a village to raise a child.

We’ve heard this saying so much in recent years that we may have forgotten how true and powerful it is. Loving communities and great childhoods go hand in hand!

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and it's important to understand how the very first Basic, "Maximize Love and Manage Stress," is the best way to promote great childhoods and help prevent child abuse within our own homes and communities.

What do we mean by "Maximize Love?"  Children thrive when their world seems loving, safe, and predictable, and when parents are able to respond to their child's needs with love. We all have a role to play by supporting the parents around us in simple ways. We’ll give you ideas for this in a minute. But first, we need to talk about stress.

What do we mean by "Managing Stress?" When parents take steps to avoid too much stress and learn to cope effectively when stress is unavoidable, they are “managing stress.” But it's harder for parents to do this when they're running on empty and lack support. Too much stress can cause even a loving parent to snap. Imagine a mom who had an overwhelming week at work and was rear-ended while sitting in traffic. To top it off, her child got sick and can’t go to daycare, and she’s already behind at work. If you’re a parent, you know how hard it is to manage this kind of stress in a way that doesn’t negatively impact your children.

The good news is that this mom has a parent or an aunt or friend she can call, someone who can take the kids for a couple of hours or let her talk it out. This doesn’t eliminate her stress, but it does provide the support she needs to cope. She’s able to find perspective, love, reassurance, and maybe even tangible help.

Managing stress isn’t just about healthy coping strategies. Managing stress requires supportive relationships.

Now imagine a mom who had that same stressful week but has no one. Consider parents who live in stress that continues for weeks, months, or years due to poverty, family breakdown, or tragedy, and they have no one to help. We call this “toxic stress.” It's "the prolonged activation of stress response without the protective factors of things like relational support.” (from Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope)

Relational support is where YOU come in! One of the best ways to support children is by providing support to those who care for them. So, what are some everyday ways YOU can help promote great childhoods right where you are?

Here are 5 simple ideas to get you started:

1. Notice your neighbors. Take the time to get to know the parents around you. When you notice and encourage the parents and caregivers in your community, you help them manage stress. And when you help a parent manage stress, they are less prone to react in unsafe ways and better equipped to respond in love to their children. 

2. Serve in your faith community. Have you considered that when you serve in your church nursery, you're helping parents Maximize Love & Manage Stress? Churches offer invaluable support by providing nursery care and children's programming so that weary parents can be strengthened mentally and spiritually, equipping them with the rest and renewal they need to keep going. 

3. If you’re a grandparent or older adult, support the moms and dads you love. If you’ve already raised your children, consider ways you can support the next generation of parents. Parenting in this modern, digital age is filled with new challenges. Think about practical ways you can lend a helping hand or listening ear. Your presence and wisdom matter!

It’s important to note that a growing number of grandparents today are raising grandchildren. If you know grandparents who are primary caregivers, consider ways you can help, support, and encourage them.

4. Support families who foster.

Foster families are caring for our community's most vulnerable children, often while raising their own kids. They also spend time getting additional training, managing appointments, and meeting with social workers. We can’t all be foster parents but we can all support families who foster by asking them what they need and stepping in to help. 

5. Practice everyday generosity.

Take a meal to a new mom. Send grocery or gas gift cards to a family who’s struggling to make ends meet. Give your gently used furniture or kids’ hand-me-downs to someone who could use them. Offer to babysit.

Ultimately, promoting great childhoods and preventing abuse boils down to this — being a good neighbor. Do you desire the same stability and opportunities for the children of your community that you desire for your own children and grandchildren? It begins with paying attention to simple opportunities you encounter every day. Together, we can help provide great childhoods!

 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence! 

Click here to share on Facebook.

Click here to share on Twitter. 


Real talk about making read-aloud time a positive experience for your child AND for you!

Perhaps you already know that it’s never too early to begin reading to your child, that you can begin reading to them from the moment they’re born. Since 80% of a child’s brain development happens during the first three years of life, it’s important that parents and caregivers begin as early as possible!

But this message of reading to babies and very young children may seem impractical. After all, babies can’t yet understand the meaning of words or comprehend a story. Toddlers often can’t sit still from the first page of a book to the last. Young children interrupt, ask lots of questions, and are easily distracted.

Maybe you’ve tried read-aloud time and you don’t think you have the patience for it. We understand. Read-aloud time may feel more like a chore than a cherished moment. That's why we want to provide real-life tips for real parents with real kids (yes, the ones who squirm and interrupt and are easily distracted.)

If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: Give your child a happy, positive experience with books! Here are 6 ways to make read-aloud time a happy time:

1. Let them experience what a book is.

Everything is brand new to a baby! You are the first one who introduces your child to everything about a book. They see that books open and that pages turn. They hear words as you turn the pages. Their eyes learn to focus on pictures. They learn that books are to be held and touched. Books provide valuable sensory experiences for children and you get to be the first one who provides these important experiences. 

2. You don’t need to read the words. Point to the pictures and talk about what you see.

This is an especially good way of experiencing books with infants and young toddlers. You don’t need to read the words on the pages. Instead, simply describe what is happening in the pictures. Talk about the colors, shapes, and what the characters are doing. Point to the page when you do this. Your baby simply loves the sound of your voice and taking in the pictures they see. They also love being close to you.

3. You don’t need to finish a book.

When the focus is on reading every word and finishing every page, a young child may become bored and you may become frustrated. You don’t want them to associate books with boredom and frustration.

If you sense that your child is becoming restless, if he wants to skip ahead or move on to another activity, that’s okay! As they get older, they will be able to engage with a book for longer stretches of time. Each child is different. Don’t compare your two-year-old's attention span to another child the same age. Just a few minutes with a book matters more than you realize.

4. Read the books they love, even if it’s the same books over and over (and over) again.

Children love repetition and it’s actually good for their brain development. Repetition helps with vocabulary, word recognition, pattern, rhythm, word fluency, comprehension, and confidence. Read more about this here: Why Reading the Same Book Repeatedly Is Good for Kids (Even If It Drives You Nuts)

Keep introducing new books here and there, but know that it’s okay if you’ve read Goodnight Moon 387 times. : )

5. Read with expression!

There are so many ways to do this. Let your voice reflect what’s going on in the story. Use a different voice for different characters. Speak in a squeaky voice, a whisper voice, or a loud voice. Young children are full of joy, enthusiasm, and curiosity! They love it when the grown-ups in their lives get on their level have fun.

6. Think of read-aloud moments as a time of to “Maximize Love and Manage Stress.” (Basic #1)

One of the best things about reading to your child is the love they feel during these special moments! Parents, these moments can be special for you too. Pausing for just 5-15 minutes from the stress and distractions of daily life to snuggle and read with a child can be exactly what you need in the midst of a busy or challenging day. 

Moms, Dads, and Caregivers—you got this! When your goal is to keep read-aloud time positive for your child and for you, when you remember that it’s just fine to keep it simple and short and snuggly, you’re more likely to make read-aloud time a daily habit.

All of those 5-15 minute reading times sure do add up over the early years! The more we read with young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and to do well in school.

For more ideas, visit the "Read and Discuss Stories" page at www.palmettobasics.org.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #5, "Read and Discuss Stories" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

Click here to share on Facebook.

Click here to share on Twitter.

 


3 Simple Ways for Busy Parents to Make Books Part of Everyday Life!

It is never too early to begin reading! Stories engage a child's imagination and expose them to words and ideas. What they learn about people, places, and things can be important building blocks to school readiness and later life success. For both parents and children, times together with books form fond and lasting memories.

Any time that your young child spends with books is time well spent!

But in a fast-paced world where parents and caregivers are juggling so many responsibilities, you may feel that you don’t have the time and energy to read with your child as much as you'd like.

Here are 3 simple suggestions for making books part of everyday life:

1. Make “book time” part of your child’s bedtime routine.

Routines make children feel secure. Knowing what to expect helps them feel safe and happy. Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, when you weave books into your child's rest-time rhythm, you're creating a soothing transition to sleep. As your child begins to expect read-aloud time, books will naturally become part of your daily routine.

Even when you're tired and have had an especially hectic day, these moments with your child can be a special and needed way to calm and connect. (This is a great way to do Basic #1: Maximize Love, Manage Stress.)

Remember, if you’re reading to your baby or young child, don’t worry about finishing the book or whether they understand what you’re reading. What is important is that they hear your words, see the pictures, and start to develop positive feelings about books.

2. Keep books handy.

This sounds simple, but that's what makes it doable!

When you keep board books in the car, your child can enjoy them while they ride. You don’t always have to read to your child; let them enjoy books independently. As your child turns the pages, looks at the pictures, and babbles, they're developing important pre-reading skills!

When you keep a book in your tote bag, waiting rooms and checkout lines turn everyday moments into learning opportunities.
Instead of handing your child a phone or iPad, hand them a book. Reading with them means that you have to put down your own device, but when you begin to see waiting time as reading time, you may discover that you have more time than you thought to read to your child.

When books are always within reach—whether in your home or on the go—you and your child will indeed reach for them more!

3. Love your local library.

Sometimes the library seems too good to be true. Think about it—thousands of free books, plush chairs to read in, weekly storytimes and literacy activities for young children. Your local library is a treasure!

Making a weekly or monthly trip to the library can become a happy and anticipated outing for you and your child. Little ones love to discover new books and pull them one by one off the shelf for you to read. Whether you read at the library, check out books for home, or enjoy a special preschool program, library visits are a simple and special way to encourage a love for books!

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Just 15 minutes of reading a day can have a powerful impact on your child’s brain development, school readiness, and even their emotional regulation. Have fun, keep it simple, and know that the moments you and your child spend with books will have lasting benefits!

For more ideas, visit the "Read and Discuss Stories" page at www.palmettobasics.org.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #5, "Read and Discuss Stories" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


The Basics of Exploring through Movement and Play with Your Baby and Toddler

Movement and play build your child's coordination, strength, and overall health. It's also how children explore and learn about the world. Each stage of development comes with new and exciting opportunities for learning!

Here are 3 simple ways to make movement and play part of daily life with your little one:

1. Give them things to handle, and encourage everyday discovery.

When you provide objects of different colors, shapes, and textures to play with, you’re helping your child develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Use safe and simple items from your home; you don’t need fancy toys to keep your baby’s attention!

Babies and toddlers discover how the world works by interacting with the objects around them. They reach for things because they’re naturally curious; they want to see what objects do and feel like. For example, your toddler may reach for a spoon and drop it over and over to see what will happen (and because they learn through repetition.)

Watch and assist as they explore the world around them, knowing that this is how they learn!

2. Give them time and space to move their body.

There's a reason young children have boundless energy and are wired to move. Science shows that for a child's brain to fully mature, it needs stimulation through movement and sensory experiences. An infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing, or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing.

Physical activity and curiosity don't simply build a strong body; they build a strong brain!

Give your infant regular “tummy time.” When they lift their head to look around, they strengthen the upper body and prepare muscles to crawl. They also get a new view of their surroundings!

For a baby, “play” may look like reaching for a small toy or shaking a rattle, both of which build coordination.

For a toddler, “play” may look like pouring water in the bath, building with blocks, playing hide and seek, and rolling a ball.

3. Remember that YOU are your baby’s favorite plaything, especially during the first months of life.

A baby’s development depends on human interaction. Your face, voice, and responsiveness to their needs are more important to their development than the latest and greatest toys on the market. As your child engages with the world around him, talk and point as he reaches for a toy, play peek-a-boo as you change her diaper, sing during bath-time. These fun, simple, powerful activities are what The Basics are all about!

For more ideas, visit the “Explore Through Movement and Play” page at www.palmettobasics.org.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #4, "Explore through Movement and Play" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


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