Why It’s Important
Most parents these days are aware that they are supposed to read to their child every day. We hear this message in parenting magazines, on TV and from teachers and schools all of the time. “READ! READ! READ!” they tell us! However, you may not totally understand why.
There are lots of reasons why reading with your little one is so important. It helps them gain print awareness (they understand that the words on the page mean something and are meant to be read), they can learn sight words (words that they can recognize on sight) and they become interested and excited in reading! These educational benefits are fabulous and, just as importantly, reading and story time are great bonding for parents and child.
How to Do It
Here are some great, simple ideas for making story time fun and educational:
- Let your child choose books based on their interests. If they are excited to learn about animals then they will be excited to read all about them!
- Read in a comfortable spot like a big chair, a bed or a special reading area. Make reading an enjoyable, relaxing experience.
- Allow them to “read” to you. Let them use picture clues or the words they recognize to make up their own story and read to you.
- Buy some books that you don’t mind them destroying. They may not be able to play with books without chewing on or tearing them up. Get some books that you are fine with them slobbering on so that they can hold, love and enjoy without you having to worry about ripped pages or ruined covers.
- Let them see you reading for leisure. Pull out your own books in the evening and read side by side.
- Talk to them about what you two are reading. Keep up a running discussion about the characters, plot, pictures, vocabulary, etc. It is a great way to start conversations and also to help them understand and comprehend the books that you are sharing.
Brand New Dollhouse!
Today we would like to announce and introduce one of our newest products. The Zoe House is a modern dollhouse with all the flair and style a dollhouse should have. Best of all it comes fully furnished! The Zoe House is in stock and ready to ship. Price: $169.99
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If you have a young child chances are good that you are struggling to teach them manners. This is because manners are a social norm that we learn. We aren’t born knowing that spitting out our food or pulling hair is rude (which is why toddlers and small children do these types of things so frequently). We must be taught how to be polite to others.
There are two main things that you should do if you want your child to say, “Thank you” (and “Excuse me,” “Please,” and so on).
Your child will emulate what they see you doing. If you want them to be polite, respectful and kind to others then you must be all of these things! Say, “Thank you” to everyone… including your little one. If they hand you their cup, say “Thank you!” and smile brightly. They will quickly associate saying these words with receiving something positive. It won’t be long until they are thanking you for handing them a cup, cracker or toy. Model being polite in public by thanking cashiers, waitresses, strangers holding doors and so on. Never miss an opportunity to show gratitude to others. Not only will this be great for your child to see, it will make you and others feel great!
Once they know that saying “Thank you” is the polite thing to do they will still need plenty of reminders. Remind them at every opportunity. Have them thank the bank teller themselves, teach them to thank others who provide them a service (i.e. the pediatrician) and remind them to say “Thank you” to you when you bring them their lunch or share a bite of your ice cream. When they say it you should praise them, praise them, praise them! You will be thrilled with the results! Soon it will be a habit… the kind of habit you WANT your kids to have!
If you invest a little bit of time early on, you will have the best mannered kid on the block. The key is setting a great example and then giving them opportunities to emulate and practice what they have seen you do. Small children want nothing more than for you to be pleased and proud. Let them know they are on the right track with lots of positive reinforcement like praise, smiles, kisses and hugs! The kissing and hugging part will be fun for you too!
If you are considering sending your child to preschool, you are probably nervous and excited. Your children are the most important thing to you and you want to make sure they are prepared for this big step. There is no magic secret for getting your little one ready and each child is different. They are ready for preschool at different ages, have different interests, and have different personalities.
The most important thing is to let them see that YOU are excited since children look to their parents for cues about these types of things. If they sense that you are nervous or apprehensive they will become uneasy themselves. While showing them that you are excited you can work on skills that will help them to be prepared for the big first day of preschool!
Here are some ideas:
- Get excited about books and reading. Read together every day and talk to them about how many great new books they will read in preschool. Talk about letters, words and pictures that you see in their books. Encourage them to make up their own stories or to read simple sight words that they may already recognize.
- Math should be incorporated into their daily lives. Show them how fun math is by counting Cheerios at breakfast or talking about the numbers that you see on the price tags at the grocery store. Always remind them that when they get to preschool they will learn more about math and numbers!
- Give them opportunities to socialize with other children. Often, children come to preschool having never been out of their mother or father’s care. Socialization is so important for small children and when they get to preschool they will be expected to play nicely, share and be kind. Teach and reinforce these social skills. Keep reminding them of all of the great new friends that they will make when they start preschool!
Most parents are already doing most of these things. You probably read with your child, try and instill good social skills and practice simple mathematical concepts with them. You probably don’t even realize you are doing it but you are preparing your child for preschool every day. The most important thing is to get them excited about learning and about preschool so that they will enter that first day (tear!) with a great attitude and a big smile on their face.
From birth to 5 years, your child will move through a variety of stages, interests and phases. Some will amaze and thrill you. Others may shock and dismay you. Rest assured, however, that your child is not the only one developing and growing at such a rapid rate and that each of the (sometimes odd) behaviors you notice can, more than likely, be explained by the theories of Jean Piaget who developed a theory of development that is widely accepted. It includes 4 stages but the first 2 will be highlighted here.
The first stage is the sensorimotor stage and it is broken down into smaller stages:
- Babies spend the first month of their lives learning very simple reflexes like sucking.
- From 1 to 4 months, children learn simple skills that will help them to develop habits. Cause and effect toys help them to develop these skills by learning that specific actions can be re-created. The simplest toys, like our Flower Ring, will teach them cause and effect (“When I shook this, it made a noise. Will it do it again? I will try and see what happens.”)
- From about 4 to 8 months, babies become more object-oriented. This is when toys really become exciting and interesting for babies because they become more interested in the outside world. Colorful toys, like our Flexi Raffy, will grab their attention and they will be excited to see that they can cause it to make noise or can bend its body with their little fingers. They will want to practice these skills over and over again.
- Around 8 – 12 months you will notice that your child loves to play peek-a-boo. This is because they are starting to learn about object permanence. This means that they are beginning to understand that things that cannot be seen are, in fact, still there. They are also starting to act with intention meaning that they might grab for their bottle to feed themselves or use one toy to move another. They are also probably crawling. At this stage of development, toys that encourage more complex thinking as well as continued motor skills development are going to be very important. Try pushing a “Big Wheel Truck” just out of their reach and watch them use their new skills to figure out how to get to it!
- As your baby becomes a toddler, he or she will become more experimental in their play. You will notice that they are trying new things, examining objects and watching what you do to try and re-create your behaviors. It will often seem as though they are thinking, “Hmmm… what will happen if I do this…?” Truth be told, that is exactly what they are thinking! This type of thinking is more advanced than it had been previously because they will start to try multiple actions to see what effects they can create. Given our Fifty Piece Block Set, they may try a variety of arrangements to see which ones balance best. They might hit them against one another to see what noises they can make. You might even see them build a tower simply for the joy of watching it fall. This is a very exciting stage for both parent and child.
- From 18 to 24 months your child will become increasingly exploratory and will spend a lot of time trying to make sense of the world. They will be internalizing the learning that has gone on for the last 2 years. This means that they will play out a multitude of causes and effects, look to you for boundaries and information and turn from babies to children right before your eyes!
The second stage includes children from 2 years to school age and is called the Preoperational Stage. Children in this stage of development are very self-centered and still think magically. They love to play pretend and may have imaginary friends. They have difficulty understanding other peoples’ feelings or emotions and can be selfish and have difficulty sharing or “playing fair.” Though they may seem to be being unkind at times, they simply need to develop social and emotional skills. Imaginative and creative play with dolls and dollhouses, blocks, art supplies or puppets help them to use their belief in magic to learn important social norms. For example, a small child playing with dolls may like to pretend to be mommy or daddy. This is both enjoyable and educational. While exploring the role of parent, they will learn the importance of patience, kindness, selflessness and compassion. Parents will smile and say, “That’s so nice!” when the child gently rocks the baby and that child will learn that this is positive social behavior. By the same token, if the child throws the baby down the stairs and they get a negative reaction from others, they will learn that this is not a desirable behavior and that people will not respond well to it. During the preoperational stage, it is important to foster a child’s imagination as well as aiding them in social development. There are many, many toys that can be offered to foster your child’s development. Enjoy these years!
This is a topic discussed frequently in our home. How about yours? An important concept we want to instill in our children is to always be thankful for family, friends and life. It’s important for their growth and maturity and is a quality I feel is somewhat lacking in today’s society.
Why do we feel it is important? It helps them in developing social skills which will be particularly important as they begin to form relationships. Learning to recognize and become sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others is a big one.
Another reason is when children are thankful they are less likely to always focus on themselves. As parents we do so much for our children and they should be able to respond with gratitude.
How can we teach our children to be thankful?
First start with teaching them to say please and thank you. Start at a young age so it becomes deeply set into their character. Remember children are sponges so “modeling” this behavior for them is probably the easiest way to teach them. Practice what you preach!
- At mealtime make it a point to discuss what you are thankful for.
- Talk about it often
- Encouragement and praise have a dramatic impact on gratitude.
- Ask them to help with age appropriate chores.
- Incorporate gratitude during playtime.
- Go to your local library and find books that are age appropriate.
- Encourage giving
What other tips have you found work well to encourage gratitude?
This post is a little different than our normal product discussions. I really wanted to share my thoughts lately on parenting and how dynamic it is. As most of you know I have a 4 year old and almost 2 year old. Both boys, yet so uniquely different. The lesson I have learned over the past few months and probably a little slow to pick up (smile) on is how many opportunities we as parents have to influence the lives of our children everyday. From the moment we wake and say that first “good morning” we are shaping how our children will react to daily interactions and situations. Both our boys are very active; love sports, trucks and trains. We keep television to a minimum and play with toys that allow them to create the scene. I have acquired the skill of building tunnels using building blocks for the train set and making the choo choo sound!
Ok, back to the point of this post. Part of what I have been feeling is not only our interactions with them but how we interact with them. I’m not exactly sure why this now is “really” just hitting me but I have a very strong sense of my responsibilities to my children. For me I learn something new about myself and my children every time I interact with them and so I felt compelled to ask you the same. Do you ever feel this way?
We wanted to take a moment to share with you all a new shopping feature added to our site last month. Over the past several months we had received several requests to be able to shop by price. We are always excited to add new site enhancements and hope this will help to create a positive shopping experience. Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated!
Send us your review and we’ll send you a 10% off coupon good on any order placed through August 2012.
We hope everyone is having a marvelous week. As we begin to near the Holiday shopping season (yes, oh my goodness) we wanted to take a moment to remind you of the free shipping we have available. Now through Dec 2012 all orders over $100 ship free!
In search of the perfect gift for a toddler please let us know. One of our trained staff would be happy to give you some ideas. Please contact us via email or phone.
Have a great week!
Well unseasonably warm weather has settled itself across the United States and that can only mean one thing…… Time to get those kids out of the house and engaged in active play. Ride on toys and specialty bikes can provide your child with hours of enjoyment and you with hours of sanity as they enjoy burning off that energy in the local park or the driveway. A couple of toys that you might want to look into for the active kids in your life come from companies such as Mobo and Quadrabyke. We fell in love with the Mobo Mini Cruiser for kids at the International Toy Fair in New York. Our toddler will be getting one here for his birthday very soon. The unique steering mechanism combined with the safety of being close to the ground makes this toy a clear winner in our book. The other product that we were really impressed with is the Quadra bike. This bike will grow with your child! When your child gets a little better at peddling and is ready to advance the bike converts to a three wheeled trike. Lastly the Quadra becomes as two wheeled bike as your child masters balance and is ready to take on the neighborhood streets. Both of these toys are amazing and were crafted with your child’s safety and comfort in mind while at the same time providing durability that can stand up to the tests of children and toddlers. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to get one of these great ride on toys soon.
We are curious; what do you believe is the best first bike for toddlers?