Everyday math activities that don’t feel like math

Building early math skills doesn’t have to be one more thing you need to do as a parent or caregiver. There are endless ways to make numbers and problem-solving part of everyday life with young children. Here are 3 simple ideas for weaving math into your daily rhythms!

1. Math in the kitchen

Measuring. Even if your young childr doesn’t understand the concept of numbers, you’re teaching them that numbers are part of everyday life. Young children love to scoop and pour, so you’re encouraging math skills in a way that’s a naturally fun activity for them.

Stir something a certain number of times.

Use “math words” as you cook. “The bag of flour is heavy.”  “A teaspoon is smaller than a tablespoon.” 

Stacking or nesting plastic containers teach young children about patterns and special reasoning (understanding location, direction, position.)

 If you have a kitchen scale, they can measure ingredients and talk about which one is heaviest.

 

 2. Math in the bath

Teach comparisons such a big, small, heavy and light. Having simple toys in the bathtub, such as plastic cups, is a fun way to do this. Simple conversations like these may not seem like math, but they are. 

“Which cup is big and which cup is small?”

“Pour the cup from up high. Now pour the cup from down low.”

“When you fill the cup with water, does it get heavier? When you dump the water out, does it feel lighter?

Talk about shapes, colors, and sizes of bath toys.

Use words like over, under, down, up during bathtime. “I’m going to pour the water down your back to rinse you off.” Or “Look up as I rinse your hair.”

 

3. Math during read-aloud time

Build early math skills during read-aloud time! There are lots of great books that cover counting, shapes, patterns, and colors but within the form of a story. Here are some of our favorites that can be found at your local library.

Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh: Children love this delightful story that introduces counting in a tale of a greedy snake and how the mice he caught to eat escaped.

Changes, Changes by Pat HutchinsThis book tells the story of a wooden family living in a house of blocks. Whenever a problem occurs, they must come up with a shape-based solution.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: This children’s classic follows a very hungry caterpillar and children love to count the foods as you read the story. 

Chicka Chicka 123 by Bill Martin & Michael Sampson: 101 numbers climb up the apple tree and wonder if there will be “a place for me.”

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni: A heartwarming book about a chameleon, colors, and companionship.

 

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

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents count, group, and compare with their little ones.
  • 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!

 


6 Simple Ways You Can Support Language Learning with Your Young Child

If you're a parent or caregiver, you already have the superpowers you need to help your child learn to communicate! You don't need a degree in speech or child development. You don't need books written by experts or expensive educational toys. Babies learn to talk from being talked to.

Talking, singing, and pointing with your baby from the very beginning are some of the most important things you can do to build a strong and healthy brain! 

Children learn language from the moment they are born. Day by day, babies learn that sounds have meaning. Every time you talk, sing, or point to what you are talking about, you provide clues to the meaning of what you are saying. Talking is teaching.

This is why “Talking, Singing and Pointing” is one of The Basics, 5 fun, simple, powerful ways every child can get a great start in life! 

Here are six simple ways you can talk, sing and point with your baby or toddler. Chances are, you're already doing these things throughout the day. But being mindful of just how important it is to talk, sing, and point, can help you be even more intentional with your child. 

1. Talk throughout the day.

Talk to your child during activities like changing, feeding, bathing, going for walks, and running errands.

Describe what you are doing. Name and point to the objects around you. If you have a baby, know that the sound of your voice is your baby's favorite sound! So when you fix lunch, buckle carseats, or walk to the mailbox, describe what you're doing. 

2. Add ideas.

Help grow your child’s use of words by expanding on what he says. For example, if he says “eat,” you can respond with, “Yes, let's eat a snack. I'm going to fix some apple slices and cheese."

3. Point.

When you talk about something, point to it. This helps your child understand what you mean. Encourage your child to point, too. “Can you point to your shoes?” This will help them connect words to objects.

4. Sing.

Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes. Choose ones you remember from your own childhood or make up new ones. Children love music, and there is a great deal of research that supports the power of music and rhyming for healthy brain development!

5. Go back and forth.

When your baby makes a sound, show excitement in your face and voice! Respond to their sound with words and see how long you can keep the “conversation” going. You may have seen this video that went viral of a dad having an animated conversation with his toddler. This is a perfect example of going back and forth, even though your little one may not be using real words yet. 

6. Listen and respond

Listen to your toddler’s questions and answer them. Have a conversation. This is when the most powerful learning takes place.

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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 with their little ones.
  • 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 helping prevent child abuse in your everyday life

Perhaps you’ve seen blue pinwheels spinning in the green spaces of local businesses, parks, and community organizations. That’s because April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the pinwheel is a symbol of the happy, healthy childhoods all children deserve.

The Basics are all about giving every child a great start in life. Though often seen as a private matter, research shows that the impact of abuse and neglect extends far beyond the home.  It causes a ripple effect of abuse and trauma throughout our communities and institutions. Sadly, many children have early experiences that do not provide a great start in life or an adequate school readiness foundation. Fifty-six percent of children who tested “not ready” on 3rd grade standardized tests were victims of documented abuse or neglect. Those children are likely to fall behind, to drop out of school, to be unable to support their families, and to later abuse their own children.

We believe that the cycle of abuse is preventable and this is one of the many reasons that early experiences matter! We also believe in the power of resilience. We know that even one loving, supportive relationship in a child’s life can help them overcome the effects of adverse childhood experiences. Every child deserves a great childhood. This is something we can all agree upon. And if every child deserves a great childhood, then every person in our community has a part to play in creating great childhoods for all the children of our community.

You might be thinking,  “What can I possibly do to prevent child abuse? What expertise do I possibly have to help a child become resilient?” We want to empower regular people you toward everyday intention. We don’t believe that child abuse prevention should be a separate part of our lives. Rather, we believe that difference-making should be woven into the fabric of our everyday rhythms.

Here are four simple and meaningful ways you can help prevent child abuse, right where you are.

1. Pay attention.

To the mom or caregiver in the grocery store at 5:30 p.m. with four kids and circles under her eyes. The one who’s running on fumes and has a toddler falling apart in the checkout line. Notice her. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Buy her a cold drink from the checkout cooler. Your compassion may provide the crucial pause she needs to make it through the day without taking her stress out on her children.

2. Care for new moms (and dads.)

Every new parent is vulnerable to breakdown. When parents experience ongoing stress, chronic exhaustion or postpartum depression, they’re far more prone to striking out at their children. New parents are weary. And single parents are particularly at risk. This is why we need one another. Take them a meal. Do their laundry. Offer to babysit. When you lighten the load of a new parent, you help prevent child abuse.

3. Give generously. What do you have that someone else needs?

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 the stability of their emotional health. When that happens, the safety and security of children are also at risk. There are families in need all around you. Do you have resources that can ease someone’s burden?

4. Know that just one supportive relationship can literally change a child’s life. Or a parent’s.

What’s the #1 way we can support resilience in children? The answer may surprise you. Relationships. Research shows that the difference between a really bad childhood and being able to overcome that, and a traumatic childhood and someone not being able to overcome that, all boils down to having a healthy connection with a supportive person. Relationships provide the love, support, and connection every child needs to help combat the effects of stress, whether it’s the stress of daily life or experiences that are traumatic.

And the same holds true for parents and caregivers. You might be the one person that caregiver has. Seek to listen, to be a shoulder to cry on. Speak life-giving, encouraging words. Believe in them. Help them. You are more than a teacher, a coach, a neighbor, a Sunday School teacher, a nursery volunteer. You are a life-giver and possibly even a life-saver.

Let’s partner together, in everyday ways, as we work toward safe, loving, responsive homes and communities for our youngest learners and their caregivers.

You may also enjoy: How "The Basics" Support Resilience in Children

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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 an overview of The Basics. 
  • 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 most important thing when reading to 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
  • 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!  

 


7 simple, doable, low-energy tips for parents who don't love to play!

If hearing the question, “Mommy, will you play with me?” makes you feel tired, overwhelmed, or guilty, you’re not alone. Some parents enjoy playing with their children more than others, but don’t feel guilty if you’re not one of them. Meeting the daily demands of parenting and life are already a lot; being your child’s playmate can simply feel like one more thing you need to do!

Yet play is vitally important for children and especially important during the early years when a child's brain growth is happening at a rapid pace. Here are 3 quick things you need to know about play:

  • Play is literally a prescription for a young child’s healthy brain and body. Play enhances brain structure, teaches children to pursue goals and ignore distractions, promotes healthy social interaction, and helps regulate the body’s stress response. 
  • Children need independent play. Children need the freedom to problem-solve, create, and get lost in their imaginations without adult help and intervention. It's easy to simply think of play as a time-filler or a distraction for children, but play is actually a child’s work!
  • Children also benefit from one-on-one attention from you during play, even if it’s just a few minutes. 

So, if play is so important, what is a parent or caregiver’s role in play? Let’s talk about what this can look like in real life with real parents and caregivers who have many responsibilities and perhaps lack the desire or energy to play. Here are some practical ways to work simple play into your daily life. 

1. Play begins at birth and happens in everyday moment. (for the parents who have infants)

When your child is born and in those first few months, think of play in terms of responsive relationships in which you interact with your infant by recognizing nonverbal cues and responding to their needs. Talk, sing, and point as much as possible. As your baby gets a little older and becomes more interested in the world around them, return their interest. “You’re looking at the ball. The ball is round.” Simple activities like playing peek-a-boo or counting toes during diaper-changing time promotes healthy brain growth and bonding with parents.  

It’s also important that your baby gets tummy time each day. As they are able to lift their head and look around, get down on the floor with them and place simple objects within their reach. Each stage of development, from tummy time and crawling, to walking and climbing, presents new opportunities to explore through movement and play.

2. Follow your child’s lead.

You don’t have to put so much energy into play. “The trick to enjoying this child-driven quality time is to try to fade into the background a little bit, energetically speaking,” says Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist and author of Playful Parenting. Simply meet the child on his level and observe, involving yourself in a laid-back way. Your presence and attention are still there, but it’s a less draining experience for you.

3. It’s okay to set a timer for a certain amount of time you’ll play.

Playing with your child doesn’t need to last as long as you think. You can tell them, “I’m going to set the timer for 15 minutes so we can play.” (Or 5 or 10 minutes.) You’ll be surprised at how loved and connected your child will feel, even if it’s a short amount of time.

4. Stay focused during this time.

For the minutes you have to play, don’t pick up your phone or chase other distractions if possible. Even 10 minutes of focused one-on-one time creates quality bonding and helps your child feel valued and close to you. Focused play time can even help prevent negative, attention-seeking behavior later in the day because you’ve made “deposits” in their emotional bank.

5. Play can be easier when you naturally enjoy the activity.

Though it’s simple and good to follow your child’s lead, it can also be fun for you as the parent or caregiver to create play moments surrounding the activities that come more naturally to you on the days when you do have the time, energy, or opportunity. Perhaps your thing is painting, crafts, Legos, sports activities, games, or being in nature. Share who you are and what you love with your child.

6. Use your local library for free story time and preschool activities.

Most local libraries offer activities throughout the week for young children. They’re free and all you have to do is show up with your child. The rest of the work is done for you!

7. Bring them into daily tasks and turn them into “play.”

Think about it. Young children love to pretend they’re doing household work already. They pretend to cook and bring you plastic food to taste. They pretend to buy groceries, talk on the phone, or play house. These early years are therefore a great opportunity to combine what they naturally love to do with what you need to do. Simply interact with them as you do what needs to be done. As they help you put dishes away, match socks, or put the laundry into drawers, you can turn these activities into a race, into sorting activities, games, or just a way to playfully interact.

Your child loves to be with you and they love to have your positive attention. The memories you make in these simple, playful moments will last a lifetime. They don’t have to be complicated or structured or take up much time; it’s simply important that you have them. It’s the togetherness that helps them feel safe, secure, connected, and loved!

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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 helping their young children "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!

You may also enjoy:

15 Screen-Free Indoor Activities to Keep a Young Child Busy

7 Simple Ideas for Exploring through Movement and Play (and why your child's brain needs it!) 

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

 

 


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