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Story Time

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Story Time!

Children love story time, and rightly so! Books build imaginations while teaching children important literacy skills and vocabulary. Every child should be read to aloud for at least 15 minutes every day beginning at birth. As a child’s attention span lengthens, the amount of reading times should be increased.

Parents should carve out cuddle and reading time each day with your children, and make it part of a routine. The more you read the better so don’t save story time only for bedtime.

When choosing a child care program, you should be sure that the provider values reading as much as you do. Ask the provider how the program supports early literacy and how often the children enjoy story time during the day.

 

Look for these examples of early literacy support in your classroom:

  • Make sure that books are easily accessible.
  • Look for a diverse range of books– bright colors, sharp contrasts, rhythmic writing, lift the flap books and simple phrase books.
  • Centers should be labeled.
  • Are there paper, pens, pencils, crayons and other items to write and draw?
  • After reading, do teachers encourage discussion of the book and characters?
  • Is reading part of the child care program’s daily routine, such as at the close of circle time?

BIRTH to 1

  • As you read with your baby, show her that pictures should be right side up.
  • Provide board books for your child that can be touched and she can put in her mouth.
  • Babies love books with bright colors in them.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Teach your child that reading is done from left to right.
  • Point out words that have similar sounds and rhyme when you read with your child.
  • Seek out story times geared for children your age at local libraries and book stores.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Children this age know that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Help them understand the different parts of the story by imagining different beginnings or endings.
  • Read and reread books that your child loves as she gains something new from the book with each reading.
  • You can help increase your wiggly child’s attention span by finding entertaining books that you both love to read aloud.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Explain to your child that letters in a specific order form a word. Practice by teaching him to write his first name.
  • When you are reading a book for the first time, take a moment to look at the cover and guess what the books might be about. Read the name of the author and illustrator to your child and tell him what those titles mean.
  • Story books with just one or two sentences per page printed in a large, clear font are especially good for promoting word recognition.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • When reading to your child, point out that there are spaces between the words.
  • Encourage reading at home by creating a special, comfy space your child can go to enjoy his books.
  • Help broaden your child’s awareness of social situations by reading books that provide opportunities for him to identify with a character’s feelings or behavior.

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Early Literacy Skills

Support Your Child’s Early Learning Through Words

Children are sponges and begin soaking up the world around them from the day they are born. Research has proven that children who have a rich vocabulary by the age of three have overall success in school but especially with vocabulary, language and reading comprehension skills. There’s no better way to boost your child’s vocabulary and language skills than talking to him frequently, consistently and using a large variety of words. The more quality words children are exposed to the better!

Along with having meaningful conversations with your child, it’s important that you read to your young child every day and expose them to music as books and songs also introduce your child to different words. Talk with your little one about unfamiliar words and what these words mean.

While parents are the biggest influencer in helping their children with their early literacy skills, be sure that you and your child care provider is on the same page when it comes to learning. Ask your child care provider how she supports language development. For instance, do they talk with the young children and give them time to share their thoughts? Do they have multiple reading times each day? Is music played in the classroom?

  • Look at your baby face to face when you talk, being sure to make eye contact.
  • When you talk, give your baby time to respond. Mimic adult conversation by talking to her in a back-and-forth manner.
  • Share books with her that feature interesting textures. Talk with her about how the books different textures feel.
  • If your baby is using hand gestures like clapping or to show she’s cold, reinforce the words for her actions.
  • When reading simple word books, try rhyming with the words or introduce her to a more sophisticated word that means the same thing. For instance, if the books says “big” you can say “enormous.”

AGE 1 TO 2

  • When your child says a word or gestures, you should respond immediately by using that word in a complete sentence.
  • Help your child begin to think critically by asking him questions as you read or talk with him.
  • Read colorful books to your baby. Talk about the pictures and use lots of quality words to describe the scene.
  • Build on what your child says. If she asks for a hamburger for dinner, asks her if she wants lettuce on it. Keep the conversation going by asking other questions: Does she want tomatoes too? What color tomatoes and what do they taste like?
  • Ask your child to think of explanations for the actions or emotions of children and animals you see while you are on a walk. Ask him questions such as “why is that little boy running?” or “why do you think that dog is barking?”

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Enlist your child’s help around the house. Ask her to put her cup on the table or bring you her shoes.
  • Practice saying the first and last name of your child and each family member, as well as if they are a brother or sister, or mama or daddy.
  • Ask your child to help you solve small problems during the day. For instance, “Oh no, we have run out of tape. What should we do?
  • Children this age can now follow more advanced directions. You can ask them to do things that require multiple steps, such as: “Please grab your jacket from the closet then put it on before we go outside.”
  • As you drive around town, point out and name objects, buildings, colors, and etc.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Help them learn more complex language, such as future tense, by asking questions or making comments about what might happen next in certain situations.
  • Talk about letters and sound. Grab a rhyming book like The Gruffalo, and point out words like claws and jaws that have the same sound and some similar letters.
  • Ask your child to tell you about his day, giving him your attention and asking questions while he does so.
  • Make story telling a part of your day. Ask your child to tell you what happened the last time you visited a particular park or playground, or what you bought at the grocery store on your last trip.
  • Ask your child’s teachers how they use vocabulary, sounds and letters in the classroom.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • When eating out at restaurants, go over the menu with your child but encourage them to order their meal all on their own.
  • Pause during book reading to talk about the story. This gives her time to think and talk about the characters all the while helping to build her comprehension skills and vocabulary.
  • Build your child’s vocabulary by stressing new words, talking about what they mean and then relating the word to your child.
  • Use your face, voice and hands when talking with your children. Don’t be afraid to point, frown, or shrug when talking with your child as these actions can help define words.
  • Children need to hear a word several times before they understand it or use it. So, when introducing a new word, remember to repeat it in sentences over a course of days.

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Help Your Child Manage Goodbyes

It can be tough for parents – especially new moms and dads – to leave their child in the care of another adult while they work or are attending to other matters, but it can be even harder when the child is upset too. Rest assured that your child care professional knows how to calm distressed infants and children. She may even have some helpful advice for you on how to make separations easier for you both.

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye each time you leave, and you find yourself unhappy and worrying about her, ask your provider how she handles a child that needs a little extra attention due to separation anxiety or who is having a rough morning. Follow her advice and then discuss what tweaks you can make if she continues having a hard time. Together you and your child care professional can create a plan that makes you and your child both feel at ease, and even soothes your fears while you are away!

Ideas to Help Your Child with Goodbyes:

BIRTH TO 1

  • Make sure your child has a special “lovey,” such as a blanket, items of your clothes or stuffed animal that provides comfort and makes him feel safe.
  • Separation anxiety usually starts around six to seven months and is a normal, healthy sign that your baby is developing as he should.
  • Give your child a special toy that he can only play with when you are gone.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Plan to spend 10 – 15 minutes easing your child into the morning once you arrive at child care. Perhaps you can read a quick book while snuggling or do some drawing together.
  • Keep your goodbyes quick and upbeat to reassure your little one that she will be fine while you are gone.
  • Start goodbye rituals when your child is young. Children love routines and predictability so help them out by always using the same entrance for drop-offs, have a special hug and goodbye.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Work with your care giver to set up a morning routine or to help distract your child with play during drop off each day. However, don’t sneak away – always say good-bye and assure them that you will be back.
  • Focus on the fun your child will have while he is with his child care provider. Be sure to mention some of his favorite activities that happen each day.
  • Remember, separation anxiety is just a phase. It will get better.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Even at 3 years old, saying goodbye can be hard. Does your child’s teacher help by giving special 1-on-1 time during your departure?
  • Help boost your child’s coping skills by practicing mini-goodbyes or playing games like hide and seek and peek-a-boo at home.
  • Ask your child care provider how she helps to soothe your child once you are gone. Distraction with a game, cuddling, reading are all good ideas to suggest.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Create a picture collage of important people in your child’s lives; let him help you pick the photos! When it’s done, let him keep it at school.
  • If your child regresses, don’t panic or get upset. Just try using some of the same methods again and talk with your provider to see if any changes have happened in the provider’s program.
  • Create a connection with a special teacher who will greet your child and ease the transition every day.

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Help Your Children Learn About and Express Their Feelings Through Creative Play

Children learn best through play. When they create their own fantastical and magical worlds in pretend play, you will often see them imitating their parents, teachers, and siblings and pretending to do things such as cook dinner, play family or school. While these activities are fun for your children, they also help them to practice their verbal and nonverbal communication, share materials and express their feelings.

Creative play, in particular, has many benefits that encourage social, physical, cognitive and emotional development while also supporting language and literacy development.

Creative Play Ideas to Try with Your Child

 BIRTH TO 1

  • Use safe everyday items from home to support baby’s creative play. He will love board books he can chew, boxes to open and close, and etc.
  • Give your child opportunities for messy play, like with sand, mud or paints. This is a great way for children to express feelings if they’re happy or upset.
  • Make up silly songs about different emotions, using any tune. For example (to London Bridge) — “I feel happy when I play outside, play outside, play outside. Let me show you my happy face (everyone makes a happy face together).”

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Encourage your child to paint and draw. Ask them to draw what it feels like to be “happy”, “sad”, “scared” and so on.
  • Read stories with characters who are going through emotions that your child is also feeling. Point out that the character in the story is happy or angry too.
  • Make different emotion faces and have children guess what you might be feeling.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Make sure your child has ample and regular access to play things like dolls, stuffed animals, blocks and etc. Through imaginative play, children easily ascribe feelings and ideas to these “people” and “animals” and often use them to express, explore and work out their own ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Take your child to a park or open area with lots of space for outdoor play like running, tumbling and rolling. This can help your child let out emotions and meet new friends.
  • Listen to different types and styles of music. Or, why not make some music? Grab some saucepan lids for cymbals, or a jar full of rice or dried peas for a shaker.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Encourage your children to recreate a favorite story by using puppets, drawings or even retelling it but adding their own twist. Prompt their ideas by asking questions like: “What do you think happens next?”
  • Turn on your child’s favorite music and have some karaoke fun. Talk about how the music makes them feel.
  • Play an emotion walking game while outside. You and your child should walk around your yard like you are sad. Then walk like you are mad. Repeat the activity until you have practiced several emotions.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Does your child like superheroes? Help her create her own super identity by having material that can be used as a cape and various other costumes that can be mixed and matched available.
  • Reverse roles with your child and let her be the “mommy” and you the child. Try acting sad, angry and hurt to see if she can identify and respond to your feelings. Talk with her about your pretend emotions.
  • Let your child make up games, and even if they do not make sense to you, play along. Follow his directions and ask questions as you go along.

Need More Information?

Unscheduled Visits

Plan Unscheduled Visits to Your Child Care Provider

Like the majority of parents, your main exposure to your child’s early childhood learning program is most likely during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. Have you ever dropped by unexpectedly? If not, you should plan to do so one day to see how the program is running when parents are not around. Checking up on your child’s care can put your mind at ease about the time she spends away from you, as well as provide you with information to any problems she may be experiencing.

Hopefully, when you do show up for an unscheduled visit your child’s caregiver greets you warmly. If that is not the case and you feel unwelcome, be sure to stop by again at a later date to see if maybe your child’s provider was having a bad day. If the caregiver dissuades you from just dropping in, schedule a meeting to talk about why parents are discouraged from visiting during the day. Not being welcome at the child care program during the hours between drop-off and pick-up could be a warning sign you do not want to ignore.

 

 

 

BIRTH TO 1

  • Stop-in before a scheduled feeding time so that you can feed your baby yourself, and see how these transitions work when you are not there.
  • Being away from your baby can be hard. Drop-in for a visit at your baby’s program to put your mind at ease and grab some cuddle time.
  • While nap time can be hectic for a visit, try stopping in a few minutes after it has started. You can ensure that your child is sleeping on his back and check other procedures.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • By making a few surprise visits at your toddler’s child care program during the year, you will know better how the program operates.
  • Drop in at lunch time with some fruit or cookies for the child care teachers, and share lunch time with your child. Get to know her friends better while seeing what is being served.
  • How does your child care provider greet you when you drop-in unscheduled? Is it with joy or alarm?

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Unscheduled visits to a child care program offer you a peek into how it runs even when they are not “parent ready.”
  • Mark your calendar for a visit during story time or centers. You may be able to pick up some early literacy skill building activities for home.
  • You can stop by for a visit without disrupting the class or your child’s activities. Just let the child care provider know that you wanted a peek into your child’s day and monitor what she is doing through a window or while the class is playing outside.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Surprise your three-year-old one day for lunch! It’ll make him happy and give you a chance to see how things work when you are not there.
  • Stop by for a visit to understand better how your child spends her day and get a feel for the activities she is doing.
  • Unscheduled visits help you determine if your child is receiving the care you expect.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Your child can tell you much about his day, especially if you ask the right questions. Drop-in occasionally to check that all is well and to help you connect more with your child when talking about his day.
  • It can be bittersweet when children love their providers so much they do not want to leave at the end of the day. If your child has a rapid change of heart and no longer wants to go to child care, stop in to see what has changed or is happening that might be influencing these feelings.
  • If a child care center does not encourage parent visits during the day, talk with the provider about why this is. Parents should feel as comfortable and loved in the child care program as the children are, and welcomed to take part.

Emergency Planning

Make Sure You Can Be Reached During an Emergency

Whether it is a true emergency or not, situations occur when your child’s care provider must reach you. Help her not waste time tracking you down by keeping your contact information current. If you have recently changed your phone number or email address, update your information with your child care provider as soon as possible.

Most organized child care programs request that you fill out and update registration and contact information once a year. This is a great time to review your contact information as well as the contact information you provide for emergency situations.

Don’t forget: communication travels both ways. Be sure to check that the information you have for your child care program is correct and working so you can reach them when needed.

BIRTH TO 1

  • Ask your provider for a written copy of the child care program’s emergency plans.
  • In the case of a personal emergency, communicate with your child’s care provider as early as possible to advise her of the situation.
  • Have at least one special provider to use as your point of contact.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • List multiple ways for your child care provider to reach you in case of an emergency. Provide your mobile number, work number, and email address.
  • Have you provided secondary contacts in case you can not be reached during emergencies? Provide multiple ways to contact your secondary contacts as well.
  • Does your provider have a newsletter or bulletin board to communicate updates? If so, be sure you are aware of any changes and updates.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Whenever your contact information changes, be sure to provide your child’s care giver with the new information as soon as possible.
  • Keep your provider updated with news they need to know about your child. Your child’s like and dislikes, allergies, and food preferences are important.
  • Teach your child your phone number. Help them remember it using a song.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Make sure that you label your child’s coats, backpacks and other items with her name and your phone number.
  • Do you have multiple contact numbers stored so you can reach your child care provider if you are having an emergency?
  • Double check with your provider to ensure they have your correct contact information on file.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Does your child know or have access to your contact information as well as to your spouse’s or another guardian’s information?
  • Ask your child if his provider has emergency drills at school and what happens during a drill.
  • Talk with your child about what to do during an emergency. Tell them to follow his provider’s instructions.

Car Seat Safety

Car Seats Keep Your Child Safe

The best way to ensure your child’s safety when traveling is to have your child in a car seat that is safely installed and correct for her age. It is the most effective device in preventing serious injury or death in a vehicle crash.

While car seats look simple to install, more than 75% of are found to be installed incorrectly when checked. Be sure to read all of the instructions that come with your seat and that you are using the appropriate car seat for the age and size of your child. Additionally, educate yourself about car seat safety laws where you live and travel.

 

BIRTH TO 1

  • Tighten harnesses and straps of the car seat until your hand is touching your child to ensure there is no slack in the straps.
  • Always consult your car seat and vehicle owner’s manuals before installing an infant car seat. Register your car seat with the manufacturer so that you are notified in case of recalls.
  • Have questions about your car seat? Contact your local fire department and have them ensure your seat is installed properly.
  • Are you new to driving around with a baby? Leave important items like your purse, cell phone or wallet in the backseat to remind yourself you are not alone.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Is your child within the height range for their car seat? What is the weight limit on your car seat? Ensure you are within the correct range for their car seat.
  • The best car seat is the one you can use correctly every time. Take time to read the owner’s manual.
  • Does your child care program provide transportation to or from school? Does the provider use a car seat for your child? If so, who installs it?
  • Keep rear-facing car seats turned towards the rear until your child no longer fits in this position.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • When is your child ready for a forward-facing car seat? That depends on their growth. Read the manual and your state’s car seat safety laws to ensure they are safe.
  • A properly installed car seat should not move more than one inch in any direction.
  • Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when he is out of the car. When your child is riding with you, place the visual reminder in the front with you.
  • Be sure to check out car seat laws and suggestions to make sure your child is in the car seat that is right for her.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Chest clips are designed to be on your child’s chest, not their stomach. In a collision the clip can cause internal bleeding if it is positioned on their abdominal region. Ensure the clip is on their chest.
  • Car seats have expiration dates. Be sure your car seat has never been in a car accident and that it is in good condition.
  • If someone else is driving your child or your routine is different one day, call your provider to ensure that he arrived at the destination safely.
  • Never leave your child alone in the car and teach them not to play in or around vehicles.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • When purchasing a new car seat, see if you can try it out in your vehicle before buying. This will ensure it fits your vehicle and your child.
  • Ensure your child is always in the back seat and never in front of an air bag.
  • Be sure to read your car seat’s instruction manual and register on the company’s website in case of recalls or safety notices.
  • Be a good role model and always wear your seat belt. Tell your child to remind you to buckle up and make sure they are buckled in.

Need more information?

Support Your Child’s Early Literacy Development at Home

Image result for early literacy developmentA big misconception is that early literacy means early reading instruction. That is not the case but it does refer to what children know about reading and writing before they actually do either one. For instance, learning their ABCs is only one of the pre-reading skills that children need to help them learn to read and write. The best way to support your child’s early literacy development at home is to introduce them to as many words as possible beginning at birth! You can achieve this by talking, reading, singing, writing and playing with your child every day.Mastering the six skills learned in early literacy (below) will help children successfully learn to read:Print Awareness: learning to use and love books.
Begin reading to your child when he is a baby and don’t stop; let him play with books as an infant (even if it means that some pages might get torn or chewed on); recite nursery rhymes; let him use a book to tell you a story.Vocabulary: learning new words and understanding their meaning.
Speak the language you know best to your child; point out words and their meaning as you explore the world around your child; point to words on the page as you read.Narrative Skills: being able to understand and tell stories and describe events.
Talk to your child as you go about your day, describing what you are doing; ask him questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer; play imaginative games and make up stories.Phonological Awareness: being able to hear sounds in words.
Read animal sound books as well as rhyming and song books; listen to music together, and sing; play rhyming games, even as they get older.Letter Knowledge: recognizing that the letters are different from each other and have different names and sounds.
Teach your child her shapes (triangles, squares, circles, etc.) as it will be crucial for learning her letters; read and reread colorful board books; make letters using play-dough, chalk, paint and even sticks while outside; go on a letter scavenger hunt when on a walk or driving in the car.Print Awareness: understanding that print is everywhere and has meaning.
Encourage your baby to play with books and turn pages; read books that have a few simple words in large, clear fonts; make books together from a story your child has made up.BIRTH TO 1

  • Sing nursery rhymes while using hand motions.
  • Read books with lots of simple words and repetition.
  • If your baby is interested and having fun then she is learning! Keep making facial expressions when you’re talking to her.
  • Put words to the sounds your baby is making. For example: “I think you want to tell me about the doggy you hear outside.”
  • Make reading part of your routine. Purchase plastic books for reading time in the bath.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Encourage your child to join in with reading by repeating lines of the stories.
  • Read stories, magazines, newspapers, signs, and recipes together.
  • At this stage, children love singing the alphabet and looking at colorful books with lots of pictures.
  • Purchase magnetic letters for the fridge and make one the “Letter of the Day.”
  • Read books with pop-up art, colorful pictures, fun textures, and that make sounds.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Whenever you are looking at words together, ask your child to point out a specific letter such as “A” on the page when she sees it.
  • When reading a book with animals, make animal noises together.
  • Ask your child care provider to suggest diverse and age-appropriate children’s books, poetry, and music for you to enjoy at home.
  • Create a special reading place in your home, with your child’s favorite books within reach.
  • Use a checklist, like from www.prekinders.com, for letter sounds and sight words.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • During clean-up time, call out opposites as you clean. We are cleaning high/low, fast/slow, and soft toys/hard toys.
  • Towards the end of each page when the story is becoming familiar, ask “what do you think will happen next?”
  • Ask your child care provider or a librarian to suggest a book in which you can pair with a family experience such as: going fishing, tasting sushi, or going on a road trip.
  • Play a letter game that helps your child match sounds with letters. For instance, ask your child, “what words begin with the letter A?”
  • After reading a story discuss the beginning, middle, and the end. Ask your child what they liked and disliked about it.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • When reading a rhyming book together, leave off the last rhyme. See if your child can guess what is coming next.
  • To better understand stories, children need to know the meaning of words. Keep exploring opposites and talking about the unfamiliar words in the story.
  • Encourage your child to read a story to their favorite stuffed animals or dolls.
  • Purchase some sidewalk chalk and write sight words in the driveway.
  • Have your little one decorate a popsicle stick. Use it to point to the words as you read aloud.

Need more information?

Celebrate Your Child Care Provider This Month!

It’s National Teacher Appreciation Month! Hopefully, you let your child care program know how much you value them on a regular basis. But this month, we encourage you to take a little extra care of the people who take care of your family and let them know how much you appreciate them.
Feel free to lavish love, cards and support on your child’s provider. Need ideas on how you can make this month special? See below!

  • Have your child draw a picture of her child care teacher, and caption it with what your child loves best about the teacher.
  • Take your caregiver some fresh picked flowers from your yard.
  • During drop-off or pick-up, tell her how much you appreciate her care and love of your child.
  • Find out what her favorite morning drink is and surprise her with it when you drop-off your child.
  • Purchase some new books for the classroom and dedicate them to your child’s teacher as an appreciation gift.
  • Organize with other parents to provide a homemade meal she can take home with her after a long day at work.
  • Send a note to other parents in your child’s child care program letting them know it’s National Teacher Appreciation Month, and encourage them to share their love.

See below for other tips to show your appreciation to your child care provider all year long.

BIRTH TO 1

  • Praise your child care provider! A hand written thank you note goes a long way.
  • Keep an open mind and listen carefully to your child care provider when she wants to discuss issues or concerns.
  • Communicate with you child care provider as early as possible if you are going to be late for pick-up.
  • Remember that your childcare providers are human. Always greet them with a smile.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Offer to help. Ask about volunteer opportunities or items needed in the classroom.
  • Build trust and respect with your provider by discussing any concerns you have directly with them first.
  • Get to know your child’s teacher better. Ask how her weekend was, learn her hobbies and about her family.
  • Turn some of your child’s artwork into a handwritten thank you note for your provider.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Establish preferred methods of communication with your childcare provider. Remember, arrivals and departures are usually too busy for long discussions.
  • Share with your provider the positive stories and comments that your child tells you about her day.
  • Don’t be a stranger. Ask how you can volunteer during provider hours or help after hours.
  • Smile and thank your child care professionals for the work they provide.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Build a great relationship with your child care provider. This will come in handy when you have questions or concerns.
  • At drop-off, allow time for your child to finish what he is doing and clean up. Your provider will thank you for helping him become more independent.
  • Attend class meetings or events, and help to set-up before or clean up afterwards.
  • Give your child care provider recognition. Be sure to tell her boss what a good job she is doing or how much your child is learning.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Support your child care provider at home and do not talk negatively about her or the program in front of your child.
  • Ask your provider if there is a need for volunteers. Then help recruit other parents too.
  • Slow down during pick up. Take some time to talk with your child care provider. Your child seeing the two of you bond will make him even happier.
  • Even if you are in a hurry, don’t forget your manners. Say “please” and “thank-you” to your provider, and be sure your child hears you doing so.

Still need some more ideas? Try these links for help:

Teacher Appreciation
Education World: Recognizing Teachers All Year Long

Look Again!

Help Stop Children Vehicular Heatstroke Deaths

Help keep your children safe by never, ever leaving them in a parked vehicle or letting them play in one for any amount of time. Below are some tips for parents and caregivers to follow so this tragedy doesn’t happen to you:

  • #LookAgain: Always check the back seats and under the seats before locking and leaving your vehicle to make sure that all children are safely out.
  • Create a reminder system that lets you know your child is still in the back seat (e.g., tie a ribbon around your wrist while your child is in the car or place your purse/briefcase in the backseat so that you have to open the rear door).
  • If your child is in child care, ensure that you know your provider’s policy regarding class trips and drop-off; how do they verify that every child has left the vehicle? Do they have more than one person checking and counting that all children have exited?
  • Make sure parked cars around your home are kept locked at all times.

For more information, please see:

BIRTH TO 1

  • Keep a large stuffed animal in your baby’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, place the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that your baby is in the back seat.
  • Never leave your baby in the car alone, even for a short amount of time.
  • Are you new to driving around with a baby? Leave items you need like your purse, cell phone, or wallet in the backseat to remind yourself you are not alone.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Make a habit to look again when you get out of the car. Place a valuable item in the backseat for a reminder.
  • Does your child care program provide transportation to or from school? Ask how they ensure no child is left behind in the vehicle.
  • Avoid driving with distractions, especially cell phones. Be extra alert and put your phone in the backseat to remind you that your child is there too.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Make it a habit to talk with your child while he is in the car with you. If you keep a constant dialogue going, it will be hard to forget that he is with you.
  • Ask your child care provider to call you if your child is expected at school and does not arrive.
  • Has your child’s car ride routine been altered? Check to ensure they arrived safely at his destination.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Keep all cars around your home locked, and keep car and garage remotes stored away from little hands.
  • Young children’s bodies absorb heat faster than adults. Always place a visual reminder in the front seat to remind you they are in the backseat.
  • Never leave your child alone in the car and teach them not to play in or around vehicles.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Change in daily routines, lack of sleep, stress, and distractions can all be reasons for a child being left in a car. What is your system to ensure you always #LookAgain?
  • If a child goes missing, check the surrounding vehicles immediately to make sure they are not stuck inside.
  • Be a good role model and always wear your seat belt. Tell your child to remind you to buckle up and make sure they are buckled in. Keep a ribbon tied around your seat belt to remind you that your child is in the car with you.

 

What You Need To Know About Early Literacy

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually begin to read or write. Research indicates that their experiences in the first three years are laying the building blocks for their language, reading and writing development.
Parents and early childhood teachers play a critical role when it comes to literacy development. When considering child care providers for your child, look for media rich environments and access to materials that support drawing, writing and creating. Talk to your child’s caretaker to see if they have opportunities to listen to music or sing during the day, and how often they are read to by an adult. Reading aloud is one of the most important activities that parents and teachers can do with children, and should be doing consistently and often. More words, more words, more words!

Reading aloud has many benefits:

  • It introduces children to new vocabulary words.
  • It builds many important foundational skills.
  • It provides an example of fluent and expressive reading.
  • It boosts conversational skills.
  • It increases phonological awareness.
  • It teaches them that reading can be for enjoyment.

Support your child’s literacy development:

  • Offer to be your child’s class “librarian” by working with the teacher to select a series of appropriate-aged books to check out from the library each month.
  • Introduce your child to the library and bookstores at an early age; attend the free story times offered and participate in reading challenges.
  • Ask your child’s teacher if you and other parents could be guest readers in the class each month.
  • Purchase new books for your child’s classroom and at home.
  • Read to your child every day, even if she was read to by another adult or sibling during the day.
  • Encourage your child to sing along to music and to remember nursery rhymes.

BIRTH TO 1

  • Show your baby pictures in books. Describe the colors, objects, and meanings.
  • Ask your child care provider for the lyrics to the nursery rhymes they sing. Repeat them at home for reinforcement.
  • Encourage your child to use simple gestures, like shaking her head “no” or waving “bye-bye.”
  • Repeat vowel sounds like “ba” “ma” and “da.” Make eye contact and imitate their expressions.
  • The more words your baby is exposed to the better. Talk to them about your day, the weather outside or anything else that comes to mind.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Your child is pointing at pictures and engaging during story time. Ask your provider which books and songs your child likes best at child care, and talk to your child about them.
  • Read books daily. Make story time a part of your nightly routine. Allow your child to turn the pages, touch the words and pictures.
  • Sing the alphabet song on your way to school together.
  • Keep books throughout the house and make a comfortable reading area with pillows and cover just for your child.
  • Read a variety of books to your little one, especially poetry that rhymes.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Teach your child a “letter of the week.” Use chalk to write it on the driveway, paint it on paper, circle it in magazines, etc.
  • Read their favorite book over and over again. Read it with an accent, read it wearing costumes, or even sing it!
  • Have your child point out the letters she recognizes while grocery shopping or on signs as you drive.
  • Read slow enough to allow your child to build mental pictures.
  • Ask your child to pick out a book and a place for story time. Grant his wishes.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Make flash cards with pictures to assist your child with learning new words.
  • Read a story and have your child retell the story back to you.
  • During bath time have your child tell a story using their bath toys.
  • When reading, use lots of expressions, change your tone of voice, and adjust your pace to fit the story.
  • Check your local library and bookstore websites to find reading events, author visits and other fun outings where you can take your child.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Ask your child about the book they read at school today. Ask them to tell you about the characters.
  • After reading a story, ask your child to point out common words such as: up, and, go, run, or stop.
  • Work with your child to make up a story, then write it down.
  • Allow your preschooler to scribble letters without correction.
  • Point out common words at the grocery store, on cereal boxes, and road signs when driving.

Need More Information?
Reading Rockets Early Literacy Development
Get Ready to Read: Building Literacy Every Day
NAEYC: Great Books to Read to Infants and Toddlers

 

Developmental Milestones

Understanding Developmental Milestones for Your Child

Do you remember your child’s first smile? Or, when she rolled onto her tummy, crawled or walked for the first time? During the moment, you were probably more excited for her accomplishments and less focused on the fact that these special minutes were also important milestones in her development.

Developmental milestones are physical skills and behaviors, such as described above, that are seen in your children as they grow. It’s important to realize that every child is different as is their developmental timeline. However, certain milestones should still occur within a certain age range. By understanding the normal range for when your child should reach a particular milestone you can support her development in specific areas as well as spot any potential delays.

If you do identify any delays or have concerns, discuss them with your pediatrician at your child’s next well visit. Be sure to talk with your child care provider as well to see if she has any concerns about your child’s progress so that you can take that into account when talking with your doctor.

Monitoring Your Child’s Milestones:

  • First, become familiar with all of the developmental milestones using one of the resources below.
  • Next, print a developmental milestones chart for your child’s age and track her progress.
  • Keep notes of any concerns or delays to discuss with your pediatrician; share your concerns with your child’s teacher to see if she has any feedback as well.

 

BIRTH TO 1

  • Soon after birth your baby will begin to smile and respond to affection. Don’t forget to capture these precious moments on camera!
  • Around three months, your baby should turns towards familiar sounds and make eye contact for fairly long periods of time.
  • By his first birthday your child should be locating sources of voices with accuracy and understanding frequently used words such as: “all gone,” “no,” and “bye-bye.”
  • Encourage your baby’s development by allowing him to have supervised tummy-time.
  • Make sure you are attending regular check-ups during your baby’s first year and discussing your child’s development with her pediatrician.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • You’ll start to see your child become more excited to be in the company of other children and also start to imitate the behavior of others more.
  • During this stage, your child will understand simple instructions such as: “give to daddy,” “kiss mommy,” and “stop.”
  • Some of the skills your child will do this year is crawl on her hands and knees and pull up into standing independently at a stable surface.
  • Soon your child will be walking alone, carrying toys while walking, beginning to run, standing on tip toes, and kicking balls.
  • Around the age of two, your child should be able to unbutton large buttons and undress independently.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Your toddler will be able to follow two or three-phrase commands, sort objects by color or shapes, and imitate adults and playmates.
  • Most 2-3 year olds can link four to five words together for simple sentences but may stutter while thinking about what to say.
  • During this stage, expect your child to walk down stairs independently using one or both feet on each step.
  • Between the ages of 2 and 3, most children can throw a tennis ball forward. Keep working on the catching!
  • Your child will begin to understand opposites, such as: big/little, go/stop, hot/cold, and up/down.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Your child’s problem solving skills are really developing. Provide him with simple, large floor puzzles to put together to aid in his development!
  • If you have not introduced your child to a tricycle or bike yet, now is the time! Both help to support his motor skills development.
  • Around the age of 4, your child should be able to work zippers and put on her socks all by herself.
  • This year, look for your child to begin copying some capital letters, drawing circles and squares, using scissors, and drawing people with two to four body parts.
  • During this age, children love listening to stories. Ask them “why” questions while you are reading to further engage them.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Five-year-olds should be able to fix themselves cold cereal and pour some juice or milk, but you should still expect some spills. Encourage this act of independence.
  • By the time your child enters kindergarten, she should be completely self-sufficient in the bathroom, though she still may not be proficient at wiping.
  • At this age, your child’s pencil control is improving and he can color neatly inside the lines.
  • Remember how much fun board games were when you were small? Your child is old enough now to follow simple rules in board or card games. Uno, anyone?
  • Your child’s communication skills have really advanced in this last year. She should be able to speak clearly, understand and use future tense (such as “will be”) and tell a simple story using full sentences.

 

Need More Information?

Centers for Disease Control Developmental Milestones
American Academy of Pediatrics: HealthyChildren.org Ages and Stages
University of Michigan Health System YourChild Development and Behavior Resources
Growing Hands On Kids: Fine Motor Development for Ages 0 – 6

 

Connecting with Your Child Care Provider

 

Making a good connection with your child’s teacher is beneficial for you, the provider and most importantly, your child. Great communication is crucial to a good relationship. Always treat your childcare provider with respect and take an active interest in your child’s progress in the child care setting.

 

Keep in mind, as a parent, you and your child care provider are partners in nurturing your child and your reactions can help or hurt your child. The better the relationship, the easier it will be to talk about things, such as: noticing a bruise on your child’s leg, health problems, developmental milestones, picking up your child late or provider rate increases.

Studies show that children are better adjusted when parents and providers demonstrate a respectful relationship with consistent practices. Your child care provider has experience working with children, hours of training and certifications. Utilize your care giver for information about parenting and early childhood development. Work with them whenever possible to provide your child consistency and a supportive environment.

 

Tips for a Healthy Parent and Provider Relationship:

  • Ensure your provider has the best way to contact you and your availability
  • During drop-off ask about the plan for today’s activities
  • During pick-up ask about your child’s day at school
  • Ask how you can volunteer during school hours or after hours
  • Attend class meetings and events
  • Arrange play dates or family walks outside of the program with your child’s classmates
  • Ask about your child’s favorite books or activities and reinforce them at home
  • Praise your child care provider! A hand written thank you note goes a long way.
  • Have at least one special provider to use as your point of contact
  • Keep an open mind and listen carefully to your provider, and communicate clearly as well
  • If you are experiencing problems, give your provider’s suggestions a try first

BIRTH TO 1

  • Engage with one special provider each day to ask questions about your child or share information.
  • Get to know your child care provider better by showing interest in her life outside of the child care setting. Ask questions about her family, her weekend or other areas you know about.
  • Communicate with you child care provider as early as possible if you are going to be late for pick-up.
  • Talk to your provider about developmental milestones and how you can encourage your baby to reach another one.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Find out where the best source for information is. Is there a newsletter, email, or bulletin board you should check frequently?
  • During drop-off ask about the plan for today’s activities. Remember though that your provider may not be able to have a long discussion as other parents and children are arriving too.
  • If your child is experiencing a problem at child care, ask for your provider’s help. Listen and try her recommendations. Then assess and provide feedback as to whether their suggestion was successful.
  • Ask your provider about the happiest moments of your child’s day. If it was story time, ask to borrow the book so that you can read it together at home.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Praise your child care provider! A hand written thank you note goes a long way.
  • Provide regular updates about your child. Your child’s like and dislikes, allergies, or food preferences are important.
  • Don’t be a stranger. Ask how you can volunteer during provider hours or help after hours.
  • Ask your provider what your child learned while in care today and how you can help reinforce it. Have a conversation about the topic with your child on the way home.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • During drop off or pick up, look for opportunities to compliment your child and also your child care provider on a job well done!
  • Get to know the other children your child spends their day with at child care. Organize play-dates, a school picnic, or family get together.
  • Attend class meetings or events and make sure your child knows that you are there to support them!
  • Slow down during pick up. Take time to talk with your child care provider. Your child seeing the two of you bond will make them even happier.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Encourage your child to tell his provider “thank you” and to express his gratitude.
  • When your child talks about his day and fun or special learning moments, be sure to share these experiences with your child care provider.
  • Share articles about early childhood education with your provider to let her know that you are interested in her work as well as what your child is learning.
  • Give your child care provider recognition. Write a handwritten Thank Your card or bring her a gift card for a special treat.

Resources
Provider Parent Relationships from Purdue
Zero to Three: Choosing Quality Child Care

Quality Counts: Choosing Early Care & Education Programs