My water table was one of the best $100 investments!

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Water play is such a wonderful sensory and stimulating activity for any age! Children love the water, any kind; rain, baths, sprinklers, lakes, oceans, snow, puddles. It is part of our world and part of us. My water table was one of the best $100 investments I ever made. I started with the small blue one in the link below, then transitioned to the larger when my oldest turned 4. At 9, 7, and 6 they still find different ways to play with it. We use measuring cups, bottles, bowls, and any other type of plastics we can find. Plastic can go a long way! They love anything that can pour or shoot water (like the medicine dispensers from CVS). Often they put the water table on the ground, fill it, sit in it, dump to make a stream to lay in, pretend it’s a pool or boat, and more. We also mix up the activities with bubbles, food coloring, utensils, buckets, and water guns. Water tables are worth every penny!! Just set it up in the driveway full of plastics. A hose and clean recyclables host hours of fun.

The two water tables I purchased:

http://www.environments.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=1540&keyword=water%20table&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price=

http://www.environments.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=1539&keyword=red%20water%20table&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price=

Children’s books are not just for reading…

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We often forget the library is one of the greatest places to explore and learn for a child. A library is full of adventures! Each story contains a new one. Even before a child reads this is important. Children’s imaginations soar as they look at the beautiful colors and artistic creations on each page of a book. Mine often create and make up their own stories. This is the basis of reading and language. I never pushed or focused on the words until developmentally reading became important. My children love to go, and have the same excitement as going to the toy store, every time. For the last 8 years (yes, as soon as my oldest turned 1) I’ve tried to take my children once a week. We leave with a bag full of books. Each one of my children flipped through the pages and immersed themselves in the images before they could read. Reading isn’t the only purpose of a story, or the story itself. Now my 9 year old leaves with a stack of her own Chapter books, and reads at least an hour every night before bed. It is one of my greatest successes as a mother. Every night I read one story to each child (of course we miss nights, and now this time has become “chat” time with my oldest instead) but it has become a transition to dreamland which studies are finding aid in proper sleep and development… The library is a place of wonder and mystery, held in the page of every book. Give that gift to your children. “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass

Terrible two’s & three’s?!! HELP!!!

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Terrible two’s and three’s are actually part of the normal development cycle, and a very critical time in molding social behavior. At this time, a child starts to realize he or she is separate from you, and are trying to learn and find autonomy. This often comes with defiance, anger, and new “behavioral problems”. Where did my kind and quiet child go? Remember, they have transitioned from being inside to outside of you, but still have been at your complete dependence. Between two and three, as we encourage and praise them to walk and do things on their own, they start to recognize they are separate and have their own will, but are also still dependent. They also start to realize it is more fun to do whatever they want, and freedom is much more exciting.

Believe it or not these behavioral issues show that your child has a strong bond with you and the confidence to find his or her own self. They trust they can be who they are and you will still be there and love them. These behaviors are testing grounds for what they can and cannot do, often with feelings they are experiencing for the first time.

After going through this three times myself, I find saying, “NO” firmly and once, means NO, and not waffling. If they are misbehaving with a toy for example, simply say, “Stop or I will take it away”. If they do not stop, you do not say a word and take it away. No threats. No anger. No negotiation. When they cry, reassert the reason, “If you do “this”, I take it away”. This not only teaches consequences but it also puts the power and choice in the child’s hand. And, explaining why is critical in their understanding. Getting mad or taking it away without reason does not teach them cause and effect, or why. They need to learn boundaries and testing you is how they do it.

When it is hitting or physical danger I do time outs (they won’t sit long). If they get out, keep putting them back in without saying a word. I always explain why, “Hitting Sara is not ok. Sit here.” Set a stove timer for 1 min. I would make it less about the actual time, and instead not let them out until they were ready to say WHY they were in time out. “Why did Mommy put you in time out”? The first many times they will not want to admit it because they feel badly about what they did. They do not want to disappoint you or make you upset. But this step again teaches consequences and makes them take responsibility for hurting someone else. I would also make sure to tell them after they admitted what they did, to thank them for doing so, give them a big hug, and tell them I am proud of them and love them.

Know this phase, despite how challenging, is less about behaving badly then it is learning and experimenting with social and emotional boundaries. It certainly is one of the hardest times as a parent because it feels daunting and overwhelming, but it does pass and your sweet child is on the other side. The real challenge is ours, to be consistent, strong, understanding, and loving all at the same time. In the end it is just feelings, and they are trying to figure out what to do with them. © motherinsight.com like/share 🙂

Often we forget children need transition time…

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Often we forget children need transition time… between events, tasks, and even normal day to day activities. It’s almost as if children accumulate and store pent up energy that needs to be expelled, before they can settle into another task. Ask any school teacher or provider, they will attest to this collective time between one activity and the next. This time is often missed as we try quickly to get them to bed, brush their teeth, or even sit down for a meal, and it often ends in frustration and angst. Transition time doesn’t have to be long but realized and naturally built into a child’s day. Doing this not only makes life as a parent easier (who learns to expect this rather than get frustrated), but it also allows the child the time to release the energy, and mentally and physically prepare for the next thing.

Boys want to break things! Girls explore.

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Yesterday I brought my 5 year old daughter to the lake to see the melting ice, and today my 3 year old son. I generally just let them go, watch, and follow their lead. My daughter wanted to explore. She wanted to collect things like clam shells, slide/”skate” on the ice, touch the water, ice, and stones, take her shoes off (at 23 degrees), and climb to the top of the largest rock. My son wanted danger and excitement. He wanted to throw rocks, break the ice, make a sand castle, sink into the deep mud, and walk on the ice (to break it). While there were similarities the experiences were completely different. My daughter putted around while my son spent the majority of his hour trying to break things. We often suppress this desire to dominate in boys and discourage girls from the physical freedom we allow boys. As a parent it is important to recognize there are differences between the natures of and in the development of boys and girls, that these are strengths each innately have, and to ebb and flow as a parent to support them to do what they feel naturally (safely). – Jodi Healy
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Shopping with children can be unbearable! Unless…

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Today I brought a small shopping cart along and empowered my 5 and 3 year old to help pick and carry groceries (taking turns). Half way through my 5 year old said, “Mommy my legs aren’t even tired.” Not only did they get exercise (rather than sit in my cart the whole time bored and full of pent up energy I have to deal with later), they were so proud of themselves. When my 7 year old came home from school my 5 year old bragged she did the shopping! I personally hate grocery shopping and add children to the mix and it often can be unbearable… but I learned by engaging them in the responsibility, making it an activity we can do together, it can be a peaceful experience instead and a great learning one too! – Jodi Healy
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Thank the Snow Plow! Homemade “Luge”

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Rather than trekking through 3 feet of snow with little feet to go sliding (who would sink, get boots full of snow, and wet feet), we created our own “luge”! The plow and winter left us with huge mountains of snow in our driveway. Simply using a shovel I made steps on one side for easy climbing and dug out a slide on the left. I continued to add snow on the pavement as the kids slid down, and “viola” we had our own easy to access slide. – Jodi Healy