Let's be honest: reading to little ones can be challenging. Here are 6 simple ways you can enjoy it!

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 and 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 and therapeutic 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.

You may also enjoy these posts:

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!

 


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

Why is reading to your child so important? 

  • 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

It's never too early to begin reading to your child! 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!

image source

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.

You may also enjoy these posts:

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!


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

Bad weather days can make it a challenge to keep little ones engaged and active without resorting to screens. When the days are cold or the rain won't stop, it’s tempting to turn on the TV or the iPad instead of encouraging activities that will stimulate the brain and the body in the ways a young child needs. Exploring through movement and play is one of 5 Basics every child needs to get a great start in life!

Believe it or not, there are many things your child can do that are free or low-cost. Here are some of our favorites!

1. Build a fort: blankets, pillows, sheets, towels, and living room furniture can keep children engaged for hours. Once the fort is built, it’s a great place for looking at books, setting up a tea party, or playing with toys.

2. Hide and seek: You can hide, they can hide, or you can hide objects for them to find.

3. Blocks! Check out these fun activities involving blocks.

4. Art: With simple supplies you already already have on hand, your child can create to their heart’s content: crayons, washable markers, scrap paper, stickers, toilet paper rolls, paper plates, etc.

5. Water play in the sink, tub, or large plastic bin. Plastic containers and water provide lots of fun for toddlers! Plastic animals can join the fun too. *Remember to always provide supervision when your child is doing water play.

6. Pretend play. Children are naturally creative and imaginative. Whether they’re making a tea party for their stuffed animals, building a zoo, or cooking dinner, encouraging pretend play is an important and delightful part of a child’s development.

7. Play-Doh. Yes, it can be messy but it’s also a great way for your child to have lots of fun for a long time, all while strengthening the muscles in their fingers and hands that are so important for school.

8. Turn on music and have a dance party. This one’s for you too, moms and dads! It’s a great way to maximize love, manage stress, and let your child burn off some energy.

9. Puzzles. They’re another great activity for developing the muscles in fingers, and working on coordination and thinking skills. Children love working the same puzzles over and over again!

10. Books. Yes, we want you to read to your child but it’s also valuable for children to look at books on their own, to “pretend read,” to talk about the pictures, and to make up their own stories as they turn the pages.

11, Dump out plastic cups and utensils in the kitchen. Toddlers love to bang on containers with plastic spoons, to put containers inside one another, to build and stack and then knock it all down. This is a simple way for them to stay occupied while you work in the kitchen.

12. A cardboard box. For a child, a cardboard box isn’t just a cardboard box. It’s a car, a rocket ship, a house, a place to hide, and so much more!

13. Simple sensory bins. Take a few containers—bins, plastic bottles, or large resealable bags—and fill them with child-friendly objects that appeal to your child’s senses and interests: feathers, water beads, cotton balls, plastic toys. Here are some simple ideas to get you started. *Closely supervise your child if your bins or bags have items that can be choking hazards. 

14. Masking tape. A simple roll of tape can create a lot of fun! Tape “roads” on the floor for matchbox cars, tape a hopscotch court, or tape a “balance beam.”

15. Have an indoor picnic. A blanket on the living room floor + finger foods turn snack time or meal time into a fun treat and a break from the ordinary.

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 "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!


5 Practical Ways Parents Can Maximize Love & Manage Stress during the Holidays

The holiday season can be a wonderful time for young children and for those who care for them. The festivities and traditions take on a magical quality when seen through the eyes of a child.

But as we all know, the holidays can also be a stressful time. Extra treats, later bedtimes, disruptions to normal family rhythms, financial strain, and the expectations of extended family can add to the stress. When you consider the unique challenges we face at the end of 2020, it’s no wonder we’re overwhelmed.

Here are 5 practical ways you can maximize love and manage stress this holiday season:

1. Stick to daily routines as much as possible. 

Even though it’s a pandemic and there will be fewer parties and fewer things on the calendar, your child’s daily routine will still be disrupted. That’s okay because that’s life. But it’s important to stick to routines as much as possible. Why?

Routines provide comfort and stability for your child. Knowing what to expect helps them feel secure. They are less likely to have meltdowns when the day is following its usual rhythm. As much as possible, keep mealtimes, bathtimes, bedtimes, etc. the same.

2. Build in quiet time / down time for your child and for you.

Between the hustle and bustle of work, school, childcare, Zoom meetings, parenting, housework, and constantly being on screens, our brains and bodies need a break. When you factor in all the extras of the holidays, you and your child definitely need downtime! 

Just 15-30 minutes of doing something calming and enjoyable can help you recharge. This is not a time for scrolling on a screen. Take a real break to rest, read, or sit outside. Let your child play with toys or look at books. 

3. Get outside.

Even if it’s cloudy and you have to bundle up, sunlight, fresh air, and greenspace are good for the body, mind, and emotions. Nature provides peace and perspective, and also releases serotonin. Sunlight helps Vitamin D levels rise and helps boost your mood. Being outdoors has even been shown to help with focus and concentration. Sometimes, it simply helps your mental state to get a change of scenery. 

4. Move your body and be sure your child gets plenty of movement and play.

Moving your body can help you and your child rest better and feel happier. Whether it’s stretching, yoga, going for a walk, or doing a workout online—movement boosts your body’s happiness chemicals and releases serotonin and endorphins, which help to stabilize mood and help you feel more positive about life. 

If you have a baby, be sure they’re getting enough tummy time and movement. Toddlers and preschoolers need plenty of opportunities to run, jump, climb, and play.

5. Adjust your expectations.

Holidays can be a wonderful time with family and a break from the routine, but you can also experience the weight of others’ expectations and the burdens you place on yourself to provide a perfect holiday for your children. Here are 3 things we want you to know:

  • Set boundaries. As a parent or caregiver, make decisions that are best for you and for your immediate family. If others try to make you feel guilty, remind yourself that your voice matters. Whether it's how much money to contribute toward a teacher gift or being expected to join extended family for gatherings, don't overextend yourself or your child just to make others happy. It’s hard to let people down, but you are the only one who can set the best boundaries for yourself, your child, and your family.
  • Know that less really is more. The message of our culture is often that more = better! More spending and more presents! More activities and more festivities! But “more” of these things is not best for your child and it’s not best for you, especially when “more” often creates more stress in terms of spending beyond your budget and packing more into a holiday season than is reasonable.
  • The best present is your presence. Your child needs a parent that is attentive, responsive, and calm. It’s hard to be that parent when you’re too busy, too preoccupied, and too stressed. Stress is part of life, but managing your stress—by setting boundaries and limits in all areas of life—is key to maximizing love with your child.

 

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! And we'll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 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! 


Use meal time, bath time, & car time to prepare your child for math!

Believe it or not, babies are born with brains that are ready 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.

These simple ideas—during mealtime, car time, and bath time—can help you turn everyday moments into powerful learning opportunities! 

MEAL TIME

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! 

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.

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?”  Or "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. 

Have fun with patterns and shapes. 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?”

BATH TIME

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.”

CAR TIME

What shapes do you see? Houses, shops, signs, the wheels on a car—they all have shapes that your child can begin to recognize!

Talk about time. “It will take us about 10 minutes to get to the store.”

Count things. Traffic lights, cows and horses, red trucks, white cars, buses. Children love to count!

Ask how many? How many wheels does that truck have? How many wheels does that car have? How many wheels does that bicycle have?

 

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!


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