8 Simple Ways to Make Math a Fun Part of Daily Life!

Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm just not a math person?" 

As adults, we know our own strengths and weaknesses, and this awareness can lead us to believe that we don't have what it takes to equip our young children, especially if it's in an area where we haven't had success. That's why many of us say, "I'm just not a math person!"

We believe every parent can give every child a great start in life if they know "The Basics!"

Believe it or not, children come into the world pre-wired to learn simple math ideas, including numbers, patterns, and making comparisons. As parents and caregivers of young children, you can seize this important window of brain development and teach them to become a problem solver. 

This is why "Count, Group and Compare" is the third Palmetto Basic.

Here are 8 fun and simple ways you can "do math" with your child and help them develop important thinking skills! 

1. Move in rhythm. 

Clap, tap, rock or kiss your baby in a steady rhythm. Count while you do it. 

If your child is in a swing at the playground, count each time you push the swing. Have fun! These are simple ways to teach your child about patterns and counting. 

2. Count objects.

Count groups of things, starting with small numbers. You can count your child's toes or count their Cheerios. Infants learn through all of their senses, so hold objects up for your child to see and touch. "Look, there's one...two blocks. Two blocks." As your child gets older, continue to count things together. 

3. Compare. 

Provide opportunities for your child to touch and explore things that are the same and different. For example, let your baby shake things that make different sounds, or touch fabrics with different textures. Talk about how they are similar or different.  

4. Use math words. 

When you talk to your infant or toddler, use words related to math ideas like amounts or comparisons. Examples of math words are more, less, big, small, tall, short, round, square, equal. 

5. Make groups.

Children learn to say strings of numbers before they truly understand the meaning of numbers. After they learn to count numbers out loud, the next step is understanding how many things each number stands for. "Five" isn't just a word that comes after "four;" the word five represents five of something. Count objects, like socks or blocks, and put them in a group so your child can see the whole set.  

6. Make it a game.

Have fun with counting. You can count 1, 2, 3, and then let your child say 4, 5, 6. If you're walking down the sidewalk, you can clap after every 5 sidewalk lines. All sorts of everyday objects and activities can be turned into math games. You know that you're building a healthy brain, but your child simply enjoys the fun and loves bonding with you!

7. Name shapes.

Shapes are everywhere! Look for them with your child and name them.

"The clock is a circle. Do you see any other circles in this room?"

"The sign is a rectangle. What other rectangles do you see outside?" 

8. Match and sort.

Make a game of matching and sorting objects. For example, let your child match socks while you do laundry. Your child can match and sort items by their shape, color, size, or other features. 

When you make math a fun and daily part of life with your child, you are teaching them to become a "math person!" And you may find that you actually enjoy math more than you realized. 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! We're choosing one Basic a month, sharing an overview here on the blog and other resources you don't want to miss through social media.

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

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


One thing is certain during this uncertain time: your child’s brain & body are still developing. Here’s how The Basics can help!

These are challenging, unprecedented days. And when parenting young children is part of the mix, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to “check out,” to say to yourself, “I’ll be more intentional about things once life becomes normal again.” We get it. 

But here’s the thing about young children: their brains are still developing rapidly, even though the rest of life feels like it’s on pause. In fact, 80% of a child’s brain growth happens in the first three years of life! Parents and caregivers, it’s important to seize the opportunity of the early years, even when it’s not ideal or convenient (like during a pandemic!)

Thankfully, there’s good news. Promoting healthy brain growth isn’t complicated. Everyday life provides all the opportunities you need to give your child a great start in life. Here’s how The Basics can help!

1. Maximize Love, Manage Stress.

These are stressful times. Loving your children well while managing personal stress is THE most important thing you can do right now. This is also the Basic that serves as a foundation for everything else. Maximizing love for your child prepares their young brain and body to learn, to adapt, to relate to others, and to thrive in all areas of life—both in a time of crisis and beyond.

Here’s a recent post that provides practical tips for managing your own stress as a parent or caregiver, and provides simple ways to love your child well: Parents and caregivers, here’s the most important thing you can do for yourself and your children during these trying times.

2. Talk, Sing, and Point

Talking, singing, and pointing with your baby from the very beginning are so important for healthy brain growth. 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. Chances are, you’re already talking, singing, and pointing 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. Here’s a post that can help: 6 Simple Ways to Support Language Learning with Your Child

3. Count, Group, and Compare

Believe it or not, children come into the world pre-wired to learn simple math ideas, including numbers, patterns, and making comparisons. As parents and caregivers of young children, you can seize this important window of brain growth and teach them to become a problem solver. This is why “Count, Group and Compare” is the third Basic. Use these everyday moments to prepare your child for math! (even if you’re not a “math person”)

4. Explore through Movement and Play

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

5. Read and Discuss Stories

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. We know that simple practices create lasting foundations! Whether you have a baby or a preschooler, we’ve got you covered: Building a Healthy Brain with Books: 8 Simple Tips!

Parents and caregivers, we know you’re tired and overwhelmed. We know it’s sometimes easier to hand your toddler the iPad than to have a conversation or read a book. But as much as possible, keep doing The Basics. Snuggle, talk with them, count, play, and read. Your engagement with your child not only makes them feel loved and important, it supports the brain growth that’s so important during this time!

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!

Feel free to share!

Parents and caregivers, here's the most important thing you can do for yourself and your children during these trying times.

We never thought we’d be here, did we? Parents in all kinds of work and parenting situations are suddenly forced to find solutions for challenges that didn’t exist even a week ago.

We’re here to help. The mission of the The Basics is to provide every parent and caregiver with simple ways to give children a great start in life. And while all 5 Basics are important, the very first Basic is the foundation for everything else: Maximize Love, Manage Stress. It's also the foundation for our daily lives right now! 

Are you supervising digital learning for older kids and / or possibly trying to keep younger children occupied?

Are you now working from home with children?

Do you still have to go to work and find alternative childcare?

Are you facing financial worry while trying to stay calm and steady for your children?

These are stressful times. Loving your children well while managing personal stress is the most important thing you can do right now. (Besides staying home of course!)

This is The Basic that serves as a foundation for all the rest. Maximizing love for your child prepares their young brain and body to learn, to adapt, to relate to others, and to thrive in all areas of life—both in a time of crisis and beyond.

FIRST, LET'S TALK ABOUT "MAXIMIZE LOVE" AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN EVERYDAY LIFE RIGHT NOW. 

Children thrive when the world seems loving, safe, and predictable. This is true during everyday life in normal times AND during everyday life in times of crisis.

This can feel extra challenging for you as a parent or caregiver when the world feels especially unsafe and unpredictable. But you can provide these things for your child in simple, everyday ways. It’s not as complicated as you might think. (Remember, these are The Basics.)

Holding, kissing, and cuddling your young child helps them feel loved and safe.  Simple, everyday routines provide a world for them that's predictable and secure. Having consistent rhythms for eating, bathing, and bedtime helps children easily transition from one thing to the next because they know what to expect. 

What does this look like right now?

1. Provide extra snuggles, hugs, and kisses.

When you respond to the needs of your newborn or toddler, you teach them that they can count on you. This helps them feel secure. Children, even babies and toddlers, can sense your stress and the anxiety level in your home.

2. Find simple daily rhythms that work for you and your family.

Predictability helps children feel secure. When they know what to expect, they are less likely to push back and negotiate. If you are at home with children, there are a variety of daily schedules circulating on social media. If any of those are helpful, use them. But having a schedule that's too rigid can lead to more stress if your baby won’t nap or your toddler has a meltdown that throws everything off. We suggest a flexible daily routine instead of a rigid schedule.

Maybe your routine is loose and flexible and looks something like this:

  • Set mealtimes—breakfast, lunch, dinner—around the same time each day
  • Activity time in between—toys, go outside, read books, watch an age-appropriate show
  • Afternoon rest time
  • A bedtime routine—bath, read-aloud, goodnight

The times may not be exact. The activities may vary from day to day depending on weather, energy levels, etc., but there is some predictability to each day.

Maybe your routine is more structured and looks something like this:

  • Wake up – breakfast – play with blocks or other building toys– play outside if weather allows – have read-aloud time – eat lunch – rest time – watch a 30 minute show – color or do crafts – have a snack – look at books while parents make dinner – watch a 30 minute show – bedtime routine: bath, read-aloud, goodnight

Do what works best for you and your family! 

NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT "MANAGE STRESS" AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE RIGHT NOW. 

You can’t avoid stress, especially during a time of crisis. But you can learn to cope effectively and teach your child to do the same. 

In the same way that children thrive when the world seems loving, safe, and predictable, children suffer when their world is neglectful, unsafe, or chaotic.  

As we’ve mentioned, young children are greatly affected by the stress of their parents and caregivers. Even babies can sense the stress of a parent. It's crucial that you find healthy ways to cope with stress as you also care for your child. Not doing so can having a lasting effect on a young child's brain, body, and emotions.

Here are some practical ways to manage stress as you face new challenges in daily life: 

  • Get enough rest. Sleep = sanity.
  • Move your body. Stretching, yoga, going for a walk, doing a workout online. Movement boosts our body’s good hormones and provides endorphins!
  • Get outside. Weather and space permitting, go outdoors. Nature provides peace and perspective. Sunshine and fresh air are good for the body and soul.
  • Take breaks from media. The news, social media, and local forums have their place. It’s good to be informed from trusted sources. But mindless scrolling and taking in too much information in a culture of fear and alarm can add to your anxiety.
  • Take a break from your phone and other devices. Put it in another room for a time. Studies show that stress levels decrease when we disconnect digitally. This will feel hard at the beginning; you might actually feel more anxious at first. But over time, this healthy habit will become life giving.
  • Stay in touch with those you love. Call or text the friends and family you don’t get to see right now. Though you can’t be with others in the ways you're used to, you can still reach out in ways that bring connection and comfort.
  • Know that grown-ups need timeouts too. When you’re overwhelmed, when it’s only 11 am and the kids won’t stop fighting, it’s okay to step away and count to 100. It’s okay to leave them with your spouse or partner so you can walk around the block.
  • Practice gratitude. Studies show that gratitude actually improves mental health; it's a positive emotion that helps fight negativity. Perhaps you can begin each day listing 3 things you’re thankful for. If your child is old enough, teach them the practice of gratitude too!

 

Be kind to yourself. We’ve never been through something like this and we all need grace and compassion for ourselves and for others. Encourage the parents and caregivers in your life. Help them in any way you can, knowing that when you do, you’re helping children too.  

One day normalcy will return. But let’s make the most of this time with the children who depend on us. Research shows that a solid foundation of love and security helps children focus, adapt to new situations, control their emotions, and begin school ready to learn. 

 

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!  

CLICK HERE TO SHARE THIS POST ON FACEBOOK.  

CLICK HERE TO SHARE THIS POST ON TWITTER. 

 

 

 


10 Simple Ways to Get Creative & Have FUN with Read-aloud Time!

Making read-aloud time part of your everyday routine—before bedtime, for example—is a great way to guarantee regular reading. Routines also help young children feel safe and secure because they know what to expect. If you have a regular reading routine, keep it up!

But if you’d like to get creative and add extra fun to what you’re already doing, we have 10 simple ideas! Whether you’re a parent, caregiver, or teacher, we hope some of these tips can work for you and the little ones you love!

1. Read to a pet. Children are delighted when you include their furry friends in read-aloud time! And if you have a child who’s learning to read, local libraries will even host events where children can read to specially trained service animals.

2. Visit your local library or bookstore for story times. It’s fun to enjoy great stories with other children and families. (And it gives you a break from reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the 99th time.) Local libraries offer a variety of preschool storytime programs throughout the week, often including hands-on activities, music, and opportunities for movement and play.

3. Use different voices when you read aloud. 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. For example, you can use a high voice, a squeaky voice, a deep voice. Whisper the words or sing them. Use different voices for different characters. 

4. Let your child “read” to you. If you read regularly to your toddler, you may have already discovered that they love to mimic your reading.

It’s okay that they don’t actually know how to read. Holding the book, turning the pages, making sounds—these are all important pre-reading skills! Encourage their "pretend reading" and praise them for it.

5. Find a fun place to read. Grab a handful of books and sit under a tree, build a reading fort out of cushions and blankets, or find a cozy spot under the kitchen table. Let your child experience read-aloud time as an adventure! 

As your child gets a little older, the following ideas are great for helping them make connections between what they read and the world around them.  

6. Visit someplace described in the book. If you’re reading a book about the farm, visit a local farm and make connections from the book, such as the animals or tractors you see.

7. Experience something from a book. Eat green eggs and ham (from Green Eggs and Ham.) Try orange marmalade on toast. (From A Bear Called Paddington.) For more ideas, check out this link: Extend Reading Experiences by Bringing Books Alive!

8. Pick silly books. Laughter is good medicine for children and adults alike! We love this list of “super silly books for kids,” many of which you’ll find at your local library.

9. Check out library books based on your child's interests: If your preschooler is into dinosaurs, trucks, or the farm, your local library has all sorts of colorful picture books based on their interests. Children will enjoy read-alouds even more when they’re engaged in stories or information books about things they love! 

10. Let them experience stories with movement and play. If you're reading a story that takes place on a farm, for example, let them get out plastic farm animals and make the sounds each animal makes. You can also let them act out the story as you read. This is a great way for them to move their bodies, something all children need, and have an extra dose of fun with storytime.

What do all of these ideas have in common? They make read-aloud time enjoyable for both you and your child. When reading to babies and young children, there’s just one goal: give them positive experiences with books.

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 "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!


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