The #1 Thing You Need to Know About Reading to Your Baby + 7 Simple Tips

Perhaps you’ve heard that you should read to your child from the time they’re born. It’s a way to help them develop a love for books and receive the many benefits of reading as they get older. But perhaps you’ve wondered if this is really practical. How can a baby engage with a book or understand a story? How can a baby possibly have a sufficient attention span to get through a story?

When you read to your baby, you have one primary purpose: providing a positive experience with a book.

It’s not about the story. It’s not about learning letters or phonics or making sure they’re an early reader. It’s about the experience.

When you snuggle your baby up close and they listen to the sound of your voice as you read or describe pictures, you’re exposing them to language from the very beginning. You’re promoting brain development in one of the simplest, but most powerful ways, all within the context of a loving relationship.

Here are some simple tips for reading to a child 0-12 months:

1. Focus on creating “warm and fuzzy” feelings associated with books.

Snuggle up and hold your child close so they can see the pictures and hear the sound of your voice. The early days and months of your baby’s life are filled with transitions and challenges, but stopping to read and snuggle can provide a welcome break for you too! (This is also a way to do Basic #1: Maximize Love and Manage Stress.)

2. Keep it simple. 

Sturdy board books that are short, simple, and have colorful pictures, are perfect for babies. As they get older, they will want to reach for the book and turn the pages. Board books that they’ll want to look at over and over again are a great investment. Don’t forget that your local library has these too!  

3. Speak with expression.

Whether you’re reading the words or simply pointing to the pictures and describing what you see, use an expressive voice to engage your child and make the book interesting. Remember, the sound of your voice is your baby’s favorite sound, so have fun as you read!

4. Describe the pictures and point to what you see.

With infants, you don’t need to read the words. You can simply describe what’s happening in the pictures and let them see you turn the pages. Talk about and point to the colors, shapes, and characters.

5. Let them be involved.

As your baby gets older, ask them to point to what they see in the book and let them turn the pages. Before they are even a year old, you can ask questions like, “Do you see the doggie on the page? Can you point to the doggie?” Children love to point and show you what they're learning! (This is also a way to do Basic #2: Talk, Sing, and Point.)

6. Read the same books over and over.

Babies and young children love repetition. It makes them feel safe and secure. Repetition also reinforces everyday words and concepts that are an important part of their world. Worn out books are well-loved books!

7. Follow their lead.

Remember, the number one goal during this stage is simply to create positive experiences with books. If you've been reading for a few minutes and your baby begins to lose interest, move on to something else. Every child is different and their attention spans will vary, even as they get older, but making it enjoyable will keep them excited about reading.

What are some of your favorite tips on reading to babies?

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80% of a child’s brain development happens in the first 3 years of life. Let's seize the opportunity! The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! 

Best of all, you can make the Basics part of your everyday family routines.

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

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are making "Read and Discuss Stories" part of everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • You may also enjoy 8 Simple Tips for Building a Healthy Brain with Books!
  • 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 to those within your circle of influence!  

CLICK HERE to share this post on Facebook!

 


10 Everyday Ways Your Child Can Explore Through Movement and Play (even when it’s hot outside)

 

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. Each stage of development comes with new opportunities for learning. For example, 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! 

This is why one of the 5 Basics is “Explore Through Movement and Play.”

It’s easy to think of movement and play ideas when the weather is just right for playground fun and outdoor activities. But it’s the middle of summer...and that means it’s really hot outside for many of us! It's tempting to let TV and iPads rule the day, but there are simple ways you can support movement and play for your young child, even during the summer months:

1. Have a dance party. Turn on your favorite tunes and dance around the living room! Children love to move to music (and you may be surprised at how much fun you have when you join them.)

2. Cool off with water play. You don’t need a pool or water park to have a blast with water!

 

Children love simple activities like running through the sprinkler and having fun with containers of water. Another favorite activity is giving kids a big paintbrush and letting them “paint” letters, shapes, and designs on the sidewalk or driveway with water. Click here to see this idea in action!

An inexpensive sprinkler is another way little ones can run and play without getting too hot!

3. Walk across a balance beam. You can make one by using painter’s tape if you’re indoors. Working on balance builds a healthy body and brain during the little years.

4. Jumping Jacks and windmills. Counting while your child jumps also helps with math skills.

5. Play pretend or charades. Have your child waddle like a duck, fly like an airplane, and hop like a rabbit. Or you can let your child pretend to be something, and you get to guess.

6. Tummy time for babies. Babies need tummy time every day. 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. 

7. Make (or have your child make) a simple obstacle course outside or inside with materials you already have. They can hop, crawl, climb, skip, or tiptoe their way through a course filled with cardboard boxes, pillows, containers, and other regular items you may have at home.

8. Everyday movement matters! When your child helps you carry in groceries, when you take the stairs instead of the elevator, when you swim at the pool or walk to the store, know that these daily activities are helping to build a healthy brain and body.

9. Switch up your outdoor play time.

While you may prefer to go to the park during the day so your kids can burn off energy, consider going in the evening or first thing in the morning so that they can still enjoy playground time.

10. Make art. Drawing, even if it's just scribbling with crayons on scrap paper, is a good way for little hands to build strong muscles and for little minds to develop creativity. Summertime is a great time to make a simple art station in your home.

What are some of your favorite ways to make Basic #4, “Explore Through Movement & Play” part of your summer routine?

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80% of a child’s brain development happens in the first 3 years of life. Let's seize the opportunity! The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! 

Best of all, you can make the Basics part of your everyday family routines (like the mealtime examples above.) 

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

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are making "Explore Through Movement & Play" part of everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Why Your Young Child's Brain Needs Movement & Play + 7 Simple Ideas
  • 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 to those within your circle of influence!  

CLICK HERE to share this post on Facebook! 


5 Fun Ways to Turn Meal-time into MATH-time!

Believe it or not, babies are born with ready brains for learning numbers, patterns, sizes, shapes, and comparisons. Using everyday moments, you can help your child build a healthy brain that’s prepared for problem-solving and math!

Here are 5 fun and simple ideas: 

1. If you have a baby who is eating cereal or table food, count each bite as you feed them with a spoon.

Using a fun, sing-song voice as you count shows your baby that counting is fun!

2. As your child can feed himself finger foods like Cheerios, count out a certain number and put them in a group.

“Let’s count 5 Cheerios! 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5!”

 Counting individual items teaches your child that numbers correspond with objects.

3. Once your child understands that numbers represents objects, you can begin doing simple addition and subtraction.

“How many chicken nuggets are on your plate? That’s right, 5. If you eat 2, how many are left?” 

"How many carrots will you have if I give you 1 more?"

They may not know the answers at first, but you can take this opportunity to point to the items and count with them. 

4. Have fun with patterns and shapes at meal-time.

Create a simple pattern such as carrot, grape, carrot, grape. Then let you child create her own patterns with finger foods.

Meal-time is also a great opportunity to talk about shapes! 

"What shape is your cracker?"

5. Teach comparisons such a big, small, heavy and light.

“Which piece of fruit is bigger? The apple slice or the strawberry.”

“What’s heavier, the banana or the apple?” 

What are some of your favorite ways to make Basic #3, “Count, Group, and Compare” part of your daily routine?

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80% of a child’s brain development happens in the first 3 years of life. Let's seize the opportunity! The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

Best of all, you can make the Basics part of your everyday family routines (like the mealtime examples above.) 

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

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are making "Count, Group, and Compare" part of everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • 8 Simple Ways Your Child Can Become a Math Person
  • 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 to those within your circle of influence!  

CLICK HERE to share this post on Facebook! 


3 Simple Ways YOU Can Help Parents Maximize Love & Manage Stress (right where you are)

 

The Palmetto Basics equips every parent and caregiver with the basic tools they need to give all kids a great start in life!

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

Children thrive when their world seems loving, safe, and predictable. When parents express love and respond to their child's needs, the child feels secure. Parents also need to take steps to avoid too much stress and learn to cope effectively when stress is unavoidable. But it's harder for parents to manage stress when they are running on empty and lack support. 

Believe it or not, we all have a part to play in promoting great childhoods and preventing abuse. It begins with supporting the parents right around you in simple, everyday ways. 

Here are 3 everyday ways YOU can help parents and caregivers in your community Maximize Love & Manage Stress. 

1. Pay attention.

When parents live in a constant state of stress and instability, they are far more vulnerable to abusing and neglecting children. Too much stress, in the form of sleep-deprivation, financial hardship, and family crisis, can push even a loving parent to snap.

This is why the first and most foundational basic is "Maximize Love & Manage Stress." 

When you understand the importance of this and begin to pay attention, you can make a positive impact in the life of a child, even as you go about your daily routine. 

Imagine this scenario: You're standing behind a mom in the grocery store line at 5:30 pm. The furrowed brow and circles under her eyes tell you that she's exhausted and overwhelmed. She simply wants to survive the checkout line and get the kids and groceries into the car. 

What if you could be the unexpected encouragement that helps to steady a stressed-out parent, equipping them to make it through the day?

It begins with noticing her. You might buy a cold drink from the checkout cooler and say something like, I bet it’s been a long day. Here you go. Take it, I insist. You’re doing an awesome job, putting food on the table and keeping up with these energetic kids. 

There are countless ways this scenario might show up in your everyday life but they all have the same simple responses in common — pay attention and offer practical, everyday kindness.

You've heard the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." It's absolutely true. When you provide timely encouragement to a parent, 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. Your everyday compassion may save the day for an overwhelmed parent and a vulnerable child. 

2. Share what you can.

You probably have more to give than you think. We tend to take our own privilege for granted and assume we need more time, more money, or a measure of expertise to “pay it forward” and really make a difference. But what if we begin to adopt an everyday, give-what-I-have mentality?

Parents both above and below the poverty line suffer from financial stress that piles on top of everyday burdens, threatening the stability of their family and their emotional health. When that happens, the safety and security of children are also at risk.

When the bills are piling up and the baby is crying. When the creditors won’t stop calling and the kids won’t stop fighting. When the bank is threatening to foreclose and the toddler just threw shoes in the toilet.

There are families in need right around you. Any person can be one job loss or one costly emergency away from dire financial straits and the resulting stress. With this in mind, there are resources you have that can ease someone’s burden and make a difference.

Who do you know that could use the clothes your child just grew out of? And if you don’t know of someone, ask your school or church. What local charity or family in need would appreciate the gently-used sofa you recently replaced? How about the Spiderman bedding your child has outgrown or the non-perishables in your pantry?

These are simple ways to share what you have and help a burdened parent. If you’re able to give in other ways, whether it’s a grocery store gift card or paying someone’s utility bill, know that your generosity can result in a ripple effect of change!

3. Serve where you are. 

  • 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. 
  • Your neighborhood. Take the time to get to know the families around you. Pay attention to parents who seem stressed, and offer to help by watching their kids, providing a listening ear, or sharing what you have. 
  • Meals for new moms. Providing a meal to a new mother helps get her through a critical time when she is desperate for life's most basic needs like sleep, sanity, and a hot shower. A meal not only helps lighten her load by providing food; a meal represents love and support, reminding a new mom that she isn't alone.

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 — in the grocery store, at the park, in your church, as you donate the things you no longer need, and give in ways that you can.

Together, we can help provide great childhoods!

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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 "Maximizing Love & Managing 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! 


8 Simple Tips for Building a Healthy Brain with Books!

Eighty percent of brain development happens within the first three years of life. During these early years of brain growth, infants and toddlers absorb massive amounts of information from interacting with other people. This early learning becomes the foundation for all future learning!

One of the most important ways to seize the opportunity of the early years is through reading to your young child just 15 minutes a day. The more we read to young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and do well in school.

When you read to your infant, they learn how books work and develop new language skills. They learn to associate warm, fuzzy feelings with books and learning. It's a wonderful way to bond with your baby and create simple routines. When you read to your toddler, you teach them to use their imaginations; they learn about people, places, and things that can be important building blocks to later life success.

This is why "Read & Discuss Stories" is one of the Palmetto Basics -- 5 fun, simple, and powerful ways that every child can get a great start in life!

Simple practices create lasting foundations.

Whether you have a baby or a preschooler, here are 8 simple tips for reading and discussing stories: 

1. Read to your child early and often.

You can begin reading to your child even when he or she is a baby. Research shows that children who don’t have as many words in their “word bank” are less ready for school, less prepared for academic success, and less able to follow instructions.  

Reading to your child from their earliest days is a simple way to expose them to words, pictures, and the simple rhythms of turning pages and hearing your voice.  

2. Actively involve them.

As your baby gets older and develops coordination, involve them more in the reading experience. Let them hold the book and turn the pages.

3. Make it a positive experience

Let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t want to read to young children because it’s a struggle. They interrupt, they wiggle, they get up and walk away.

When reading to babies and toddlers, there’s just one goal: give them positive experiences with books.

They’re learning how to look at a book and how to turn the pages. They’re hearing your voice. They’re receiving deposits in their word bank. They’re looking at pictures and pointing or watching you point. When they get tired or squirmy, close the book and move on. Keep it fun, for you and for your child!

4. Make reading together part of your routine.

Reading a book before naptime and bedtime helps children wind down and provides a regular point in the day to read together.

5. Describe the pictures.

With infants, you don’t need to read the word on the pages. Instead, describe what is happening in the pictures. Talk about the colors, shapes, and what the characters and doing. Point to the page when you do this. Books provide all sorts of learning opportunities beyond reading!

6. Have books available.

Having a book basket in the living room or keeping a book tote to keep in the car communicates that reading is an important part of your world. Keep a book in your diaper bag and tucked in the basket of your stroller. Instead of handing your child a screen, hand them a book!

7. Visit the library often.

Children LOVE the library. And libraries love children.

Not only can children begin to fill up their own library bags from an early age, they can also enjoy the fun and play surrounding literacy. Take advantage of the many preschool opportunities your local library has to offer!

8. Discuss stories.

Your toddler will learn the most if you have conversations while you read. Respond to their comments and questions about the story. Ask questions that get them thinking. “Why is the boy sad?” “What do you think is going to happen next?”

As your child gets older, go a step further. Retelling the story back to you {called "narration"} is a wonderful tool for language development. Let them go back through the book, using pictures to help them. As they mature, so does their ability to retell a story back to you!

We hope these tips encourage you to make books a simple but important part of your everyday routine with your child! For both parents and children, times together with books form fond and lasting memories.

 

 

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 helping their young children "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!

 

 


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