Singing Helps Your Children’s Development

(Photo of the children’s group Lake Norman Singers)

After recently reading a newspaper article about how singing is beneficial for adults, I thought that it must have many more benefits for children.  I did some research and this week’s blog is about just that.   Children love to sing and singing helps their intellectual and emotional development in many different ways.

The advantages of having children sing are explained: 

  1. Singing helps a child improve his vocabulary by learning new words.  Experts say that parents should start from when the child is very young, as singing nursery rhymes and simple songs can be a foundation upon which words are built.

  2. For young children, it helps them learn to communicate by exercising lip and tongue movement.

  3. It helps develop the “memory muscle” – when your child is learning a song, tunes and words are being embedded in your child’s mind.

  4. It helps develop creativity.  Your child can create songs about anything and anyone. Make the words rhyme or not.  There is no limit to what type of song can be written and sung.

  5. It helps your child develop self-confidence.  As your child practices a new song with both words and tunes, she will become more confident as she masters it.

  6. When your child sings with a group, it helps him to develop better social skills as he will be learning and building friendships at the same time.

The websites listed below give parents and caregivers many tips as to how to encourage singing.  They range from singing before bedtime or just making up songs while you are at home to looking for singing classes or a group in which your children can participate.  Make it fun.  Your children will enjoy themselves and learn at the same time. 

For more information, please visit these websites:

Do You Know That Your Cell Phone Addictions Are Bad for Your Children?

I have heard adults complain a lot about their children being addicted to electronic devices, from cell phones to iPads to laptops and desktop computers.  Children seem to be constantly occupied by playing video games, or texting, or watching videos.  But, what about parents who are addicted to their cell phones?  Studies have found that parents’ cell phone addictions can be detrimental to their children.

There is a very interesting article online at the website for Psychology Today entitled, Turn Off That Smart Phone, Mom and Dad! It is written by Dona Matthews, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist who has also written several books about children and adolescents.  The article refers to five research studies which establish the damage that parents can do by being distracted on their cell phones and not paying attention to or communicating responsibly with their children. 

  • According to study #1, “moms on cellphones have children who are more negative and less resilient.” Children up to 2 years old were studied and researchers found them to be more distressed and less willing to explore their environment when their mothers were using cell phones.

  • According to study #2, “children feel unimportant, and have to compete with smartphones for parents’ attention.”  In an international study of 6,000 children ages 8 to 13, researchers found that almost 1/3 felt “unimportant” when their parents were on their cell phones during family times.  Over one-half of the children felt that their parents spent too much time on cell phones.

  • According to study #3, “distracted parental attention harms children’s social/emotional development.”  In this study done with rats, researchers found that those rats that were distracted mothers were “less predictable, less reliable, and less attentive (to their pups).”  The pups spent less time playing with others and ate less.  “The researchers concluded that fragmented and chaotic maternal care disrupts brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life: We need predictability and consistency for the emotional system to develop.”  The researchers are expanding their study and findings to include humans.

  • According to study #4, “cellphone use interferes with healthy parenting.” Researchers found that “kids whose parents were absorbed in their devices were more likely to act silly or be noisy. Many parents on cell phones were irritable and impatient, which only led to worse behavior.”

  • According to study #5, “kids feel sad, mad, angry, and lonely when parents use cellphones.”  This study was conducted on 1,000 children ages 4 to 18.  The researcher concluded that “parents should think twice before picking up a mobile device when they're with their kids. … We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don't matter, they're not interesting to us, they're not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”

This article also has links to many other articles and studies that establish the negative effects of parents’ cell phone use on their children.  The next time you are with your children and decide to answer a call or write a text, please remember that your children need your attention, care and love.  If the cell phone communication is not urgent, do not respond.  Better yet – turn your cell phone off and give your children your undivided attention!

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Parents Should Monitor the Music Their Children Listen To

I saw this statement on the internet as I was researching the theme for today’s blog post - parents monitoring their children’s music - and thought it was an interesting perspective to write about to address this topic.  Proverbs 22:6 states that we parents are to, “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The subject about offensive music came up recently after a close friend of mine attended an exercise class at a sports facility in a large urban area.  Music videos were shown as part of the exercise experience.  My friend told me that the young instructor bragged about how her mother often attended her classes.  Unfortunately, my friend did not have a good experience - she was not only shocked by the extremely vulgar words in the songs, but also the dance moves in the videos.  Repeated curse words as well as sexually explicit language and dance moves were a part of almost every song.  As it turned out, the instructor’s mother did not attend class that day.   My friend commented that she believed the instructor’s mother would have been highly offended and embarrassed by the music had she been there.  She also questioned whether the instructor would have played these music videos with her mother there and sighed in relief that no men attended the class that day because she said she, as a woman, would have been embarrassed.

There can be no dispute that much of the musical lyrics today is filled with vulgar and sexually explicit language- especially in certain genres.  What should Christian parents do?  Parents must be vigilant, as they play a very important role in deciding what music their children listen to when at home.   I’m a firm believer that when children are in your home, they should abide by your rules.  Of course, teenagers especially will complain about peer pressure and fitting in with their friends.   But, you must set parameters and train up your child as you feel is right and godly.

I don’t believe that any parent would even consider allowing his child to have in the home any literature or videos promoting racism, pornography, or violence against women, for example.  So why would a Christian parent allow his child to have music that is laced with vulgarity and sexual explicitness?  Plain and simple – that type of music should not be accepted.

Talk with your children and explain why you are setting boundaries.  And, importantly, ask them whether they would play that type of music if you were sitting in the car with them or talking with them in their bedroom?  If they believe that a song would be offensive to you as a parent, then it should be offensive to them too!

Be Very Mindful of How You Speak to Your Children – Part 2

This blog post is part 2 of how we as parents should speak to our children. Part 1 can be found here. I love what this quote from Brooke Hampton says as to how we should speak to them – “as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth ….”  And then, based on what we say to them, their belief system in themselves is being created: “what they believe is what they will become.”

Proverbs 23:7 says that “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  A child often believes or thinks what he has been told, whether it is the truth or not.

As parents, we develop in our children what they will think about themselves.  If we notice and react to our children’s faults right away and then criticize or punish them, we are developing in our children the tendency to be critical about themselves.  Make a commitment to change that.  Actively look for what your children are doing right each day and praise them for it.  When the time comes that you will have to deal with something that they did that was unacceptable, the positive words will outweigh the negative ones.

When you are speaking words of kindness, encouragement, and love, make a point of stopping what you are doing and focus on them.  Have them stop what they are doing too.  Get their attention.  After speaking these words, observe what happens to their demeanor.  They will light up!  It’s as if the most important person in the world (well you are to them) truly believed in them. What could be more important?

Ask yourselves: aren’t your children, in fact, the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth to you?The answer is clearly “yes”.So let’s speak to them as they deserve to be spoken to!

Be Very Mindful of How You Speak to Your Children – Part 1

I have always profoundly believed that we parents form the foundation for the way our children view the world and themselves.  Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has the power of life and death.  When you speak to your children and about your children, what do you say?

The quote for today’s blog from Peggy O’Mara rings so true to me.  The way we talk to our children does, in fact, become their inner voice.  How else can children know how others view or describe them except by hearing it first from their parents. 

From my own personal experiences growing up as a child, I know that what my parents said about me always resonated in my head.  I was often described by them as being “shy”, “quiet”, and “smart”.  Whenever I was introduced to an adult, my parents would use those three words to say something about me.  I grew up with those words ringing in my head.  Now, as a mother of two sons, I understand the power of any sort of “description” I speak of my sons.   I have tried very hard to only speak positive words.

In my professional career as a judge who presided over many juvenile delinquent and juvenile offender cases, I heard the demeaning words that parents would often speak about their children to me in court, and usually, these juveniles were young men.  As their parents told me derogatory things about them, the young men would just stand with their heads down, ashamed and not knowing what to do.  But, I knew that their parents’ criticism and derogation did not just start then. 

Are you speaking words of encouragement and hope to your children? Even in anger, we parents can lose control and say mean things.  Once these words are said, though, it is hard to forget them.  Develop the habit of pausing before you speak.  This will allow you to gather your thoughts and control your tongue.

I encourage you to talk to your children with positive, supportive words.  Help strengthen their inner voice so they develop faith in themselves and truly love who they are. 

Encourage Your Children to be Good Sports and Humble Winners

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself.

                                                                                                Philippians 2:3

I’m a big promoter of children participating in sport activities as there are so many benefits for them.  And, I’m a mother of an athlete: my oldest son played many different sports, including basketball on his high school team and on a Division 1 college team.  Sports, of course, are competitive and typically there will be a winning team and a losing team.  How your children respond is important – whether they are part of the winners or losers.

Children’s attitudes toward sports and winning come, in most part, from their parents.  When you are watching a game on television, what do you say about the competing teams and their players? When you watch your children play a sport, what do you say about the same things?  As a mother who attended her son’s games, I can attest to the fact that many parents are at the sidelines saying  encouraging words to  their children and fellow team members but others make very derogatory statements.  Some verbally attack the referees, calling them all sorts of names, while some criticize the opposing team’s members as well as their parents.  I live in a small community so allegations can run rampant of referees being biased because they have favorite players or teams. 

Be mindful of what you say to your children about their performances and what happened during a game.  Encourage them to analyze what they did to play well and how they can improve their skills.  Discuss how their team can do better as well as what the opposing team did well and vice versa.  Be respectful to them, their teammates, opposing team members, coaches, and referees.  If coaches do not have team members shake the opposing team members’ hands after a game, have your children do that.  It represents respect for the sport as well as the persons who played.

There has been a recent trend to have all children participating in a sports competition be designated as “winners”.  I understand the reasoning behind this, but do not believe that it teaches children about reality.   In life, there will always be winners and losers.  How your children react when being in each group is an important part of their development.

Good sportsmanship must be valued and taught.It is an integral part of being a godly, respectful person.

Detecting Reading Problems in Your Children

In my blog, I write frequently about the importance of children reading from a very early age.  My mother taught me to read from a very early age.  When I was just 3 years old, I could read basic words.  When I was 4 years old, I was more advanced in reading than children in first grade.  My mother begged the administration of a small private school to admit me and after they tested me, they agreed and enrolled me into first grade.  But, what happens if you notice that your child is not learning to read as you had hoped?  What should you do?

In an excellent online article, author Melissa Taylor writes about 7 Early Signs Your Child May Have A Reading Issue.  This article is very helpful and I will briefly discuss some of the points she raises.  She stresses to have your child taken to a specialist as early diagnosis of any issues is critical to your child’s development.  Here are the 7 signs:

1.    Your child does not remember basic letter sounds, such as /a/ as in apple.

2.    Your child confuses letters that look-alike, such as “d” and “p”.  It is common for a young child to do this but as the child grows older, this confusion should not continue.

3.    Your child has a problem rhyming simple, basic words such as “mat” and “cat”.

4.    Your child does not remember easy sight words such as “a”, “her”, “to”, etc.

5.    You child does not pronounce the ending of some words, such as “-ing” or –“ed”.

6.    Your child has a poor memory and does not remember a recent book that was read.

7.    Your child misspells the same word throughout a document.  For example, she may write the word “because” in one paragraph and spell it correctly, but later in the same document, she misspells it as “beacuz” or “bekus”.

Other experts refer to your child’s vision as a possible issue.  Consider taking your child to see a physician to get his sight tested.

It’s important to not just sit back and believe your child will “grow out” of a reading problem.   Speak with her teachers and physician and seek assistance.  When there is early detection of a challenge and assistance given to help your child overcome that challenge, your child will definitely thank you.

Ms. Taylor has links to other websites in her article to further help you.  You can read her entire article by clicking here.

Encourage Your Children to Read More by Building a Fort

The Christmas and New Year’s holidays will soon be here and our children will have many days off from school.  I often like to think about creative ways for parents to encourage their children to read and develop active readers from a young age.  Why not consider building a fort in a child’s room or family room as a unique, cozy, private place to read?

In building a makeshift fort, let your children take the lead in researching what types of forts can be built, planning what is needed, and actually building it.  After all, it’s “their” fort.  I recommend starting out by searching the internet for pictures, articles and ideas.  There are also many books that give step by step instructions on building all types of forts. 

A fort can be simple and just made with a few chairs for walls and a blanket thrown across the chairs for the roof.  Or, it can be more elaborate.  What is important is that everyone participates in the decision as to what it will look like.   Be sure to make it big enough so that you can join your children in the fort.  A fun activity is reading to them inside the fort!

This project will definitely be one for the memory books!  And, importantly, you and your children will have a fun time bonding.

Passing on Good Values

A friend of mine told me about the non-profit organization Foundation for a Better Life and its website www.passiton.com and I wanted to pass on what I have found and learned.   I believe it will be very helpful to parents and children in learning about and promoting good values.

The Foundation is dedicated to passing on good values in our communities through public service campaigns.  Various means of communicating positive values are used such as through videos, billboards, radio messages, and the internet.  Additionally, if you are looking for an inspirational quote, one page on its website is dedicated to that as well.  No matter how you may be feeling, there is an inspirational quote for you to help brighten your day.

A quote from its website explains its mission: “The goal of The Foundation for a Better Life is to offer inspirational messages to people everywhere as a contribution toward promoting good values, good role models and a better life.”  I can’t tell you enough about how impressed I am with this organization and all that it is doing.  Please spend some time on its website – you will not be disappointed!

Gaining Respect by Displaying Exemplary Behavior

The idea of respecting parents and other elders is practically engraved into the minds of all children everywhere from a very young age.  It is certainly important that they know to respect those around them, but it can be hard to put into practice when they are not being shown the respect they too deserve. Yes, deserve! Just as adults deserve politeness and deference, so do children.  Respecting children not only shows them how to treat other people, but it also increases their confidence and self-esteem.

Respect should be given out of love and not just as a result of an adult’s power. Punishments or bribes should never be the driving force behind obtaining your children’s respect.  Each person has value, whether young or old, and respect should be extended in recognition of that value.  Children deserve as much respect as adults because they are valued in the eyes of God.

1 Timothy 4:12 speaks of a message given to Timothy from his mentor, the Apostle Paul.  It was about setting an example for those around him by his maturity of speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Timothy was a young church leader at the time and his youth may have caused some in the church to deem him imprudent.  That is why this message was so significant.  While we cannot be completely clear as to what these people thought of Timothy, we do know that it was important for him to understand how God had called him to present himself as a dedicated follower of Christ and a leader.

Though children and adults alike should regard one another with esteem, this verse discusses certain attributes to be found in young people that build respect:

  • Children are to speak positive words into the lives of others, praise God, and express gratitude for their blessings. That positivity should also extend into their actions.  Negative or curse words do not bring glory to God or establish that the person speaking them is mature.

  • Volunteering for church events and following through on commitments are examples of the conduct of an exemplary child.

  • The described ‘purity’ extends to spiritual purity as well as physical. Do they mean well in all their actions? Is their faith in God strong? The answer to these (and similar) questions should be “yes”.

Just as Paul advised his protégé Timothy, God wants the same from your children. He wants them to know that regardless of their age, they are worthy of respect.  Importantly, they are to carry themselves in a way that is pleasing unto Him and as they do so, they will gain more and more respect from those around them.

Helping Your Children Not To Be Their Own Harshest Critics

Sometimes our children are harder on themselves than others are with them.  It is important to listen to what your children say about themselves and be able to help them stop their self-criticism as soon as possible.   Encourage them to build self-esteem.

In her online article on Focus on the Family’s website, author Shana Schutte writes that there are basic ABCs to building self-esteem in children. Start with the letter “A” which represents “acceptance”.   Children must feel accepted unconditionally by their parents!  If they don’t, they will withdraw and become self-critical. 

The letter “B” represents “belonging”.  Children must feel as if they belong in their family and are a critical, appreciated part of their family.  When peer pressure takes place, a child who feels a deep sense of belonging to her family, will find it easier to resist doing an act that she knows is not right.

The letter “C” represents “competence”.  Your children also need to feel as if they are competent and able to do what they would like to do.  Be there for them and encourage them, but do not be an overprotective parent. 

I also believe it is very important that children learn Bible verses that describe how much God loves them and how God sees them.   Search for Bible verses that your children can memorize and then use these verses to refute any negative feelings your children may have about themselves.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

When Was the Last Time Your Family Had A Game Night?

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Children love spending time with their parents, especially fun time.  What better way than to have a family game night to enjoy the time together and help your children to learn and develop new skills?

Games teach children many different, yet important things.  From colors to shape recognition to new words to social interaction, there are so many benefits.  Some games such as chess teach logic and strategic planning.  Children also learn that there are basic rules that must be followed in order to play and win. 

To start off, select one night a month that fits into everyone’s schedules.  Once the date is selected, stick with it and do not make excuses to cancel it.  Plan for the night as a family so that each person has input.  Will there be food? What game will be played? How long will the game(s) last?  It is easy to search the internet to find games that will be suitable for your family.  Consider both board games and physical games such as Twister (which was one of our family’s favorites). 

Be sure not to give up if the first family night is not as successful as you hoped.  The key is to plan and keep everyone involved.  It will become one of your and your children’s fondest memories.

Helping Your Children Become Entrepreneurs

We should encourage entrepreneurship spirit in our children beginning at a young age.  Children are very creative and having a dream to establish a business and be self-sufficient and successful are very positive goals.

My parents were small business owners.  I saw how they struggled to make ends meet when their business was established and then the benefits they reaped as the business grew.  After I graduated from law school and returned home to practice law, the seeds they had planted in me for entrepreneurship began to grow and I established my own private law practice.  My parents always encouraged me and my sisters to be self-sufficient and follow our dreams.

Later, as a mother with two sons, I hired them to work in my office to do general office tasks after school and on the weekends.  By working with me in that business environment, they were able to experience hands on training about what it is like to own your business and the dedication and hard work it takes to be successful.

Many children do not have the opportunities that I and my children had but parents can still open their children’s minds to the possible business opportunities that are available.   Children frequently ask for money so why not think about ways to help them earn money rather than just giving it to them.  If your children’s school has classes that teach entrepreneurship, encourage your children to take them.  If there are after-school activities and clubs centered on business ownership and development, again, encourage your children to participate.  

Of course, the typical business idea for children is the ubiquitous lemonade stand.  However, there are many websites that have ideas for children’s businesses.  At the end of my blog, I will give you a website with some very creative suggestions.

The key component is the parents’ involvement to help start and run the business, as children cannot possibly do it themselves.  Please do not start a business and then give up because you allow other tasks or activities to take precedence.   Many factors must be considered before starting a business with your children, including the time commitment involved, the availability of financing, and the general logistics of where and how it will be operated.  As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.  

Please visit this website for some business ideas for children: click here

Helping Your Children Find Hobbies and Sticking with Them

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Do your children have any hobbies?  A hobby is something that is done during their free time for fun and pleasure.  I hope that you did not answer that question with “Yes-they play video games”!  The absolutely last thing we should want our children to be doing during their free time is sitting and playing video games for hours on end.  

According to child development experts, hobbies are important for children for many reasons.  Hobbies help your children to develop creativity.  Is your child artistic?  Then, encourage him to draw and paint.  Several brand stores have huge sections devoted to art supplies.  Does your child enjoy taking photos with your cell phone?  Encourage her to continue to take photos and learn more about that art form.  There are many books that teach about how to take photos and to be very creative in doing so.  If her interest continues, consider purchasing a camera for her.  You can even show some of her photographs to her teacher and ask for suggestions of a club that she can join with like-minded persons.

Hobbies also can help develop skills that may lead to lucrative careers in the future.  If your child enjoys writing stories, help her to learn more about being an author and structuring her work.  It may be that you have a budding Pulitzer prize winner on your hands!

Hobbies further help children with developing intelligence.  For example, by sitting and putting together a jigsaw puzzle, your child will learn how to associate shapes with images as well as patience.  If your child enjoys reading, books will provide challenges to learn new words.  When your child encounters a new word, encourage him to write it down, find its meaning, and then use it in a sentence.  Review the word again with him each day for a few days to make sure that he continues to remember it. 

Lastly, hobbies give children a sense of accomplishment.  They have undertaken a fun task, stayed with it, and completed it.  Do all you can to have your children complete a hobby that they started.  The results can truly be amazing for them and you!

There are so many hobbies to consider.  One of the growing categories is rocketry.  Think about all the science involved with propelling a rocket.  Your children will be learning as well as having a fun time.

Please do not overburden your children with hobbies though. As I have written in prior blogs, your children need to spend time with you and other family members.  Adding too many activities to their schedule, especially during the school year can cause unnecessary pressures on them.

The list of hobbies is almost endless.  Don’t allow your children to waste their free time.  Hobbies will definitely allow them to continue growing and learning.

What are Healthy Sleep Habits for Children?

Now that school has begun, it is important to ensure that our children are getting to bed at a decent time to have the rest they need.  Their performance and learning ability in school depends on it.  But, just how much sleep do our children need each night?

There is an excellent article online about our children’s sleep habits at healthychildren.org.  It may be surprising to you to find out that children from 3 to 5 years old need 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day and children from 6 to 12 years old need 9 to 12 hours of sleep a day. Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours.

Some recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics are:

1.    Have a daily family routine for sleeping.  Include nap times as well during the day.  Children will understand and be ready to go to sleep when there has been a regular routine established at night and bedtime is set. 

2.    Be sure to keep all sorts of electronic screens out of your children’s bedrooms at night as they have been known to cause sleep disruption.  In fact, it is recommended that all electronics be turned off at least 1 hour before bedtime.

3.    Prepare your children for going to sleep.  For example, you may want to incorporate a bedtime story just before tucking them into bed and turning off the light.  Children love being read to and I can’t think of a more perfect way for children to wind down and get ready for sleep than having a story read to them.

4.    Be sure to monitor your children’s sleep patterns.  Are they going to sleep easily? Are they having problems waking up in the middle of the night? If you have any concerns, speak with your family’s pediatrician about them.

To learn more, please visit the following website: CLICK HERE

Grandparents Raising Children

Congress passed a new law that was signed by President Trump on July 9 named The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act.  It is estimated that there are about 2.6 million grandchildren who are being raised by their grandparents primarily due to the high rise of substance abuse, especially opioid use, by their parents.   The law aims to assist grandparents by providing a one-stop access to resources and services.

Raising grandchildren is a second-go-round for grandparents.  It impacts them not only emotionally but also financially.   One of the main sponsors of the Act was Senator Susan Collins of Maine who said that grandparents are coming to the rescue and providing a loving environment for grandchildren who are often very traumatized.

To read more about the new law, click here.

Make Certain That Your Children Receive Proper Oral Health Care From an Early Age

According to an online article written by Dr. Anthony Mendicino, DDS and Laurie Turner Finger, RDH in February, 2018, forty percent of children may have tooth decay before they enter kindergarten.  That’s a very surprising statistic. The article goes on to say: “Tooth decay or Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is the single most common chronic childhood disease affecting children today in the US. Tooth decay can compromise the health, development and quality of life in children both short and long term.”

In fact, tooth decay can cause many problems such as depression and dental infections and abscesses. The critical issue is to start teaching your children early about preventing tooth decay.   The authors suggest the following:

1.    Have your children visit a dentist early so that the dentist can begin monitoring tooth development.

2.    Do not allow your baby to fall asleep sucking on a bottle with milk or any sugary liquid.   Sugar coats the teeth and causes tooth decay.

3.    Be sure to begin brushing your children’s teeth as soon as one emerges.  Do not wait until they have many teeth to brush them and be sure to teach your children how to brush them too.

4.    Investigate whether your drinking water has fluoride.  If not, consider some type of supplements.  Fluoride has been shown to reduce tooth decay. 

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Some Fun & Interesting Websites for Your Children this Summer

During the summer months, parents struggle to find interesting and creative activities for their children.  The last thing we want them doing is playing mindless video games all day long.  Finding alternatives for them that are fun and still allow them to use the computer can be challenging.  We have done the work for you and found some interesting websites that we believe your children will truly enjoy and learn from:

1.    Science News for Children https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/ - This is an interesting and challenging website full of facts that children will enjoy.

2.     Cool math http://www.coolmath.com/ - There are so many cool math lessons, your children will be amazed.

3.    Is it possible for your child to become a genius? “Make Me a Genius” claims that it can http://www.makemegenius.com/

4.    National Geographic for kids https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/ - This website provides almost everything your child will ever want to know about animals, nature, countries, etc.

5.    Games that help children learn http://thekidzpage.com/ - All kinds of puzzles and other games are featured that will keep your child learning and having fun.

6.    How stuff works https://www.howstuffworks.com/ - This website provides answers to many questions in a variety of areas.  Nothing boring here!

7.    The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids  http://www.almanac4kids.com/ - So much fun information for your children that they cannot possibly get bored.

The Benefits of Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Young Children

The knowledge of the importance of sensory play for children has grown significantly over the years.   Sensory activities are those that stimulate one or all of the five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Young children, especially babies and toddlers, are constantly learning by utilizing their senses, which makes sensory play a great learning apparatus as well as a stress reliever.

These activities encourage children to use different processes in their play, including motor skills, aid in their development of these skills, and refine their sensory thresholds, which basically means they give children information as to how they are affected by the things around them.  They also assist in helping them to understand their bodies’ reaction to certain stimulants.   What does a lemon taste like? What does squeezing this object do? What does spinning in circles for a long time do? Can I shake this and make a noise?  Why does it make a noise?  Sensory  play answers these and many other related questions your children may have.

Some fun (and relatively mess free) sensory play ideas are:

1.    Frozen shaving cream

2.    Homemade shakers (jars with rice, beans, nuts, or seeds)

3.    Lights and shadows (different light intensities and their effects on shadows)

4.    Homemade, edible finger paints

5.    Sensory bin (a large container -big enough for a toddler- and one that is inside and smaller containing different objects of varying shapes, colors and sizes. The big bin traps all the mess!)

Along with being a way for children to learn more about their reactions to different stimuli, sensory play can also provide a great deal of comfort.  Squeezing play dough or playing with shakers can be very cathartic, so keep them on hand for the next time your children need a quick source of distraction and comfort.

There are many internet sites with sensory activities.  Try this one to start as it breaks down sensory activities based on each specific sense that is the focus: CLICK HERE

Fighting Childhood Obesity One Bite at a Time

Healthy eating and exercise should be an important part of your children’s everyday lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children and adolescents affected with obesity has tripled since the 1970s and it is now estimated that 1 in 5 school age children and young people between the ages of 6 to 19 are obese in the United States.  These are shocking statistics! 

Experts agree that obesity begins when there is excessive daily caloric intake in relation to daily caloric expenditure.  Poor food choices are at the root of this excessive intake, as usually choices involve fast food rather than healthy food.  For example, children love to eat pizza, but what type of pizza do they consume?  Typically, it is the pizza with double or triple extra cheese.  And, what about the types of drinks that are consumed with a meal?  Again, these are typically carbonated sodas with considerable sugar and calories. 

The key then is for a parent to introduce healthy food and drinks into their children’s diet.  Have food and snacks available that are nutritious and low in processed sugar.   Encourage them to drink more water as it is recommended that children drink 5 to 10 glasses of water a day, depending on their age.  As options for fast food or food and drink high in sugar and calories are diminished, your children will slowly be weaned from them and toward more healthy eating habits.  Please understand that this process will not be easy.  Sugar is an addiction and your children will be craving it.  However, offering them fruits with natural sugar as an alternative is very helpful.

In addition to changing what your children eat and drink, parents must encourage them to exercise.  Experts lament over the fact that children have become very inactive, opting to sit and play video games or watch tv for hours rather than go outside and play.   It is estimated that children now spend four hours a day watching tv. 

Instead of telling your children to exercise more, try joining them and encouraging them to exercise.  Take some time out of your day to exercise with them, if even for 15 minutes. Jog around the block, play a sport, or even join a dance class! The opportunities are endless and choosing an activity that your children will enjoy is the best way to ensure that they will keep up with it.

What our children eat every day fuels their bodies and ultimately their lives.  Choose to provide good, nutritious food and drinks for them to help them build lifelong good habits.