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Start the new year right

reading

A New Year has started and most of us have resolved to make ourselves better in one way or other in the year 2017. Although most New Years resolutions focus primarily on developing healthy habits, we at Montessori Kids Universe have another one for our parents – to foster reading habits in young children that encourage them to be better readers.

Every day you and I and millions of parents around the world feed and care for their children so they grow into happy and healthy individuals; however, we should also provide them with all the essentials that enhance their learning abilities.

Reading plays an important role in the growth and development of children. Studies have shown that children who are read to from an early age are likely to do better when transferred to formal education. Through stories, children are exposed to a wide variety of words which further enhance their language skills. Additionally, reading is a great form of entertainment and can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

Sadly, in a world full of television, video games, and mobile devices – getting children to read and taking the time out to read TO them is becoming a challenge on its own. However, if reading skills are established at an early age – children grow up to be better learners, listeners, and speakers.

So, this New Year, let’s all join hands and make a resolution that we will encourage better reading habits in our children. To help you out, here are some tips that you can apply on a regular basis.

READ EVERYDAY!

Create a habit of reading to children every day. Whether it’s at night before sleeping or after school – set aside at least 20 minutes when you put everything aside and read different books together. By following a set schedule, children will understand that reading is an important activity and will look forward to spending more time with you.

FILL CHILDREN’S ROOMs WITH BOOOKS!

Purchase plenty of books that are in accordance with your child’s age group and keep them at their reaching level. For budget-friendly options, you can also visit Book Fairs and thrift shops. The more variety children have, the more they will be encouraged to read or ask you to read to them.

BE A ROLE MODEL!

Children do what they see. Instead of fiddling around all day with your smartphone, let them see you reading. Show them how much you enjoy reading books and magazines to encourage them as well.

GET A LIBRARY CARD!

Visits to libraries are always fun. Take children to the nearest library and allow them to find books that they would like to read. Let them choose in order to build their interest level and confidence as well.

READ EVERYWHERE!

Reading should not be limited to books only. Make it fun by reading signs on shops when you are travelling or on everyday items such as cereal and milk boxes, toothpaste, and juice bottles.

Try these tips with your young ones and start 2017 in the right way – by giving children the gift of reading which they can cherish for a lifetime.

January 3rd, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Preschool Writing Development Made Easy

preschool writing4 Fun Montessori Inspired Activities Your Child Will love

Do you want to help your preschooler learn to write, but don’t know where to start? Montessori educators have some great solutions, and parents across the US are catching on the benefits of their teaching methods. Here are four fun-filled early writing activities that you and your child will love!

Montessori Alphabet Boxes

The first step to learning to write is recognizing each letter of the alphabet. This fun activity will do that and more. You’ll need a box or basket for every letter of the alphabet, each labeled with a single letter. For each box, have your child help you locate items around your home that starts with that letter. For example, a letter “B” box could contain a toy bear, ball, brush, and buttons. This activity is great because it creatively teaches your child letter recognition, phonics, and real-life application.

Sand Writing Tray

Writing starts with engagement, and what better way to captivate your child than letting him play in the dirt! This writing activity is a great starting point for letter recognition and basic motor skill development, and setup is simple. All you need is a small wooden box, sand, and ABC flashcards. Fill the box about half-way with sand and place a single flashcard at a time beside the box. Have your child trace the letter in the sand with the finger or a stick.

Chalkboard Water Letters

This mess-free game is a fun way to teach your preschooler basic writing skills. It also works well for learning to spell and write their name. A chalkboard easel works best, but you can also sit your child at a table with a tablet chalkboard. Write the desired letters with chalk. Give your child a cup of water and a paint brush, and encourage them to paint over the chalk letters with water.

Paint Dot-to- Dot ABCs

Paint makes any learning activity fun! This exercise helps your child recognize letters while practicing fine motor skills, and all you need is paper, paint, and Q-tips. Write letters on paper using a black marker. Along the lines of the letters, make dots so that it resembles a dot-to- dot picture. Place a small amount of your child’s favorite washable paint color in a cup or another washable container. Show your child how to dip a Q-tip into the paint, then mark your dots with paint. You can also have your child trace solid lines with paint instead of dot-to- dot letters.

Montessori educators know how to make learning engaging and memorable! With hands-on activities like these, your child will gain basic writing and reading skills in no time.

December 27th, 2016

Posted In: Montessori Education

Montessori Christmas Gift Guide

 

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Christmas is coming and many of us still have some last minute gift shopping to do. However, it is difficult to find the perfect present for each loved one. Especially kids.

Every year, toy manufacturers develop numerous new toys and games for children.  Most of them are made from intricately-designed plastic pieces while others come with bells and whistles.

Regardless of which toy you buy, most offer very little educational value – and in the end, you spend a lot of money on something that usually ends up in the toy bin.

Montessori toys are different. They are usually made from wooden material and last for years to come. Montessori inspired toys not only offer children educational support but also encourage imagination. Moreover, these toys are safe, non-toxic, and quiet – in short, they will not pollute your home with chemicals and noise.

If you are also in search of a perfect gift for the youngsters, then you are in the right place. This guide consists of some of the best gifts for a Montessori toddler.

Stacking and nesting cups:

The perfect gift for children between the age of 6 months and 1 year, stacking cups not only help fine tune children’s motor skills but also develop hand-eye coordination and balance control. Stacking and nesting cups are available in varied shapes and colors.

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Wooden stacking rings:

Wooden stacking rings promote a child’s understanding of colors shapes, and sizes. They also teach children the basics of problem solving. These come in various lengths, shapes, and colors and are the perfect gift for children above the age of 1 year.

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Shape sorters:

Shape sorters are a classic favorite amongst toddlers. The challenge to put the shaped block in the right hole keeps kids mesmerized for unlimited hours. With these shape sorters, children learn to identify shapes and colors while developing hand-eye coordination.

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Lacing toys:

Lacing toys are fun especially for those children who are aspiring to become crafters. These toys are also available in various shapes and offer children unlimited lacing and tying practice fun.

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Building blocks:

The wooden block set is a great addition to any children’s toy collection. They provide years of building, designing, and inventing fun for children (and even adults) of all ages.

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Abacus:                                                  

The abacus is helpful for improving children’s mathematical skills. It also teaches them logic and is a great way to exercise the brain. In ancient times, the abacus was used to calculate, but now these are used as one of the many brain development tools for children.

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This year, think about going for the classic toys that make learning fun. You’ll give your kids a gift that will teach, entertain, and develop creativity – what more could you want?

December 22nd, 2016

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5 tips for surviving holiday shopping with kids

mall-shopping

Christmas is just a few weeks away and even if you have completed your holiday shopping in advance – there are some people you are likely to have accidentally overlooked. As parents we know that it’s far easier – and faster – to keep the kids at home to complete the shopping list. Unfortunately,  this may not be feasible and you have to make the dreaded trip to the mall with kids in tow.

To help you out, here are some tips that can make the shopping experience, despite the traffic and crowds, pleasant for both you and the little ones.

  1. Have a plan ready:

Before going out, prepare a shopping list so you know what to look for and where. Try to pre-plan your parking to be close to the section of the mall where you need to shop. Pack some snacks and lightweight books/puzzles ready in your bag for kids if they become cranky. It is easier to shop if your kids have something that entertains them and bringing along a favorite activity will go a long way in keeping your kids’ attention.

  1. Explain rules in advance:

Just as you have rules for proper behavior at home, you should have rules for proper shopping behavior. Make these clear to your kids ahead of time so they know exactly what’s expected of them. Remember safety and make sure you tell your children that stores will be crowded and they are to stick next to you. You can also offer rewards for good behavior, such as a stop in their favorite store or a milkshake in their favorite flavor. Everyone needs incentives, and if it will cut your shopping time in half to promise a treat at the end, it’s well worth the reward.

  1. Involve them:

No one likes to stand around feeling useless, even little kids. Give them a task according to their age. If they are young, ask them to hold on to the shopping list and track your progress. Or ask them to select between two shirts for grandpa and actually listen to their opinion. By making them feel useful and important, you are likely to limit any behavior issues. They will naturally want to help when they see you value their input. In addition, you are showing your respect for them as little people, and they appreciate that!

  1. Take Breaks:

Are your kids acting up? Are they cranky? Maybe they are tired, hungry, thirsty, or just plain bored! Take a quick rest by having a snack or maybe even a nap for the little ones. Visiting Santa is also a great activity that kids look forward to when in the mall. Grab a bite to eat, get off your feet, and take a few minutes to rejuvenate. After a little break, everyone will be back in shape to finish off the shopping list.

  1. Have some fun:

Shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it fun by singing carols on the way to the mall or skipping from store to store. By keeping your kids happy and entertained, your shopping trip will go by in a breeze. Remember that learning can be fun and keeps little minds engaged, so get them to help you with the math of a purchase or aid you in  finding the best price. Ask them to count how many people they see wearing red sweaters. Games can come out of the smallest moments, but they make a big impact when it comes to creating a pleasant shopping experience. They also make long memories that your kids will treasure when they get older.

With these tips in mind, your holiday shopping trip will be a fun experience for all and not an overwhelming hassle, like you expected. Give these tricks a try and happy shopping!

 

December 12th, 2016

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Divide and Conquer: Chores for the little ones

Adorable toddler child washing dishes in kitchen. Little boy having fun with helping to his mother with housework.

Doing chores is (and should) be a tradition in a family. Children learn responsibility by doing their chores and of course, by sharing chores with the family members.

Not sure where to start and which chores to give your little ones? Don’t worry! We’re here to help and make doing chores a positive experience for all.

By giving children responsibility, they feel needed and know that they are making a contribution to the family. If children learn to help in their younger years, they will work harder later in life. Even children as young as two years old can help around the house and are more able than you think they are. They can easily use the modern gadgets, so tasks at home are simple.  However, they are not born knowing everything and just like you taught them how to walk and talk, you must teach them how to do tasks that are appropriate for their age group. Don’t insist on perfection but praise them as they struggle through each job that you have assigned them.

Make a Chore Chart

Create a list of jobs for every member of the family. Hang it in a place where everyone can see and follow. Rewards can also be given to children to motivate them to do their tasks on time.

2-3 Years old

  • Put toys away.
  • Put clothes in hamper.
  • Wipe up spills.
  • Pile up magazines and books.
  • Fill a pet’s water and food bowl.

4-5 years old

  • All of the chores mentioned above
  • Make their bed.
  • Empty waste paper baskets.
  • Bring in the newspaper.
  • Help clean the table.
  • Water flowers.
  • Help unload the dishwasher.
  • Wash dishes.
  • Help parents prepare food.
  • Be completely responsible for pet’s food and water.

6-7 years old

  • Vacuum rooms.
  • Mop floors.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Put the laundry in its respective places.
  • Empty trash cans.
  • Wash light load of dishes.
  • Take clothes from the dryer.
  • Take care of pet’s food, water, and exercise completely.

8 years old and up

 

  • Dust.
  • Clean kitchen.
  • Clean bathroom with help.
  • Mop.
  • Help clean car.
  • Tidy up drawers and cabinets.

With these tips in mind, you will be well on your way to creating a chore system for your household. We at Montessori kids Sugarland also believe that children should take care of their own belongings so we encourage them to clean up their class work and lunches. With this partnership. Children learn responsibility and feel that they are members of the larger community.

 

 

December 5th, 2016

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How to cope with separation anxiety

separation-anxiety-spxcc-full

For many children, saying goodbye to a parent or guardian brings tantrums, screams, wails, and tears. Young children are in a close relationship with their parents and are often hesitant about leaving them or seeing them go somewhere – even if they are just leaving the room for a minute.

However, it is perfectly normal for young children to feel anxious and worried when separating from their parents or important caregivers. And although it might be difficult for you to leave your clinging child, it is a normal part of growing up and fortunately for you, it can be relieved with patience and understanding of your child’s unique situation.

But before we look at ways to cope with separation anxiety, let’s learn more about what causes it.

When does Separation Anxiety occur?

Separation anxiety develops after children gain an understanding about your presence – usually around 8 months. Once they realize you are gone (even if you have just gone to the bathroom), they become unsettled and cry their hearts out until the parent or caregiver is back in the room.

The feelings of anxiety become stronger after the children’s first birthday. Children at this age become more independent and thus are more uncertain about their parent’s whereabouts.

Most cases of separation anxiety ease after the children turn 2. However, certain life-changing stresses can again trigger the feelings. These situations include starting school, having a new sibling, relocating, or dealing with an illness in the family.

How to survive separation anxiety?

There are several steps you as a parent can take to ease your children through this challenging phase.

  • Make goodbyes short and sweet – As much as you want to, don’t linger around the crying child. Say your goodbye, share a kiss and leave, allowing the caregiver you have selected to do her job.
  • Set a routine –Keep the same goodbye ritual each time you drop or leave your children. A predictable routine builds the children’s trust and confidence and makes them more capable of dealing with their anxiety.
  • Give them extra attention – When you and your child are together, make sure that you give him or her special attention. Experts believe that the additional one-on-one time boosts children’s confidence about their parent’s love and makes them less threatened at the time of parting.
  • Keep your promise – When leaving children, make sure you tell them what time you will be back. And of course, keep your promise and be back at the time you mentioned.
  • Practice staying away – Send children off to Grandma’s or arrange play dates over the weekends. Introduce them to new people and new places. Practice being away and leaving your child with caregivers for short periods so that they can get used to the situation and be prepared when the time comes for you to leave them with a babysitter, preschool, or a family member.

As hard as it might be for you, do your best not to cave in. have confidence that the caregiver or the school that you have chosen for your children will handle any situation. And it’s likely that by the time you are back in your car, your child will be happily engrossed in other activities.

Remember, in most cases the phase passes during the preschool years. However, if you feel that your child’s separation anxiety persists even after the preschool years, consult your doctor or a child specialist. 

November 28th, 2016

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Why kids ask why

kids-asking-questions

Why is the sky blue?”

“Why do I need to eat my vegetables?”

“Why do we sleep in the night and not in the day?

Why, Why, and Why? Studies have claimed that children between the age of 2 and 5 ask as many as 200 – 300 questions per day. Although it might seem to parents that the continuous chatter of questions is mainly to exasperate them, the queries are just a genuine attempt by the kids to understand more about the world in which they live.

Toddlers are instinctively curious and look up to their elders for an explanation about the things they see, hear, and do. Of course, ignoring the question or replying with an “I don’t know” or “You will know when you are older” stifles their curiosity and eagerness to learn which is something I’m sure no parent wants to do.

Research conducted by the University of Michigan also claims that children continuously ask the same “why” questions until they are satisfied with the answers. During one study, 42 preschoolers ages 3 to 5 were provided various materials involving books, toys, and videos that prompted them to ask questions. The group that was given an explanatory answer to their question was more satisfied and avoided re-asking the question when compared to the group who was given a non-explanatory answer.

Another reason children ask “Why” questions is that they have found another easily articulated word (the first being “no”) that gets your immediate attention and better – a response.  Children need constant attention and when they don’t get enough of it, they find an alternate way to get it.

THE MAGIC PHRASE TO USE WITH KIDS ASKING WHY:

Experts recommend that parents not answer questions asked by children instantly. Instead, they should probe them further by saying:

“You tell me why.”

By asking them the question in return, children will get a chance to think more about the answer to their “why” question. They might need a little nudge from you but it will help them explore the answer that will build up their problem-solving skills for the future.

For example, if your child asks “Why does the cat have fur?” before giving them a full response, allow them to come up with an answer. You can also research the topic more with them by taking the children to the library and showing them books about the subject.

HOW CAN PARENTS FOSTER THE HABIT OF ASKING QUESTIONS?

Asking lots of questions and getting accurate replies is an important part of children’s learning. As a parent you can support their learning by:

  • Encouraging them to ask questions
  • Asking lots of “why” questions yourself
  • Reading books that stimulate their imagination and prompts them to ask more questions

Remember, your children won’t be toddlers forever and they may find other activities to drive you bonkers (especially in their teenage years), so make the most of your time with them and as much as you dislike all these “why” questions, try to see them as wonderful learning opportunities.

 

 

November 8th, 2016

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How to Ditch the Diapers

potty-training

Potty training is a major milestone in the life of both parents and children. The secret to being successful? A lot of patience and good timing!

Is it the right time?

Not all kids are ready to be toilet trained at the same, so as parents, it is important to look out for signs of readiness from your children. Otherwise, starting too early or rushing the process might be frustrating for both of you and make the process longer.

Generally, most children exhibit signs of readiness around by the time they are 2 years old, although some may be ready earlier or later. Instead of using age as an indicator, parents should look out for the following signs that will tell them whether their children are ready to “ditch” the diaper or not.

  • Ability to follow simple instructions
  • Interest in watching others use the toilet
  • Verbal or thorough physical expression indicating a need to go to the bathroom
  • Ability to stay dry for more than 2 hours
  • Motor skills to pull down pants and/or Pull-ups
  • Complaints about wet or dirty diapers

If most of these attributes are present in your child, then he or she might be ready for toilet training. If not, you should wait a few more weeks before starting the toilet training process. It is also a good idea to wait a while if children have recently faced or will be facing a major change in life such as the arrival of a new sibling, moving to a new house, or recovering from an illness.

Invest in the right equipment.

Now that you have decided to take the big step, it is time to buy the right equipment. Parents have two basic potty options which include:

  1. A toddler sized potty chair with a bowl that can be emptied into the toilet
  2. A toddler sized seat that can be attached to the top of your toilet seat so the children sit secured without worrying about falling in

Set a schedule and have a plan.

  • Have the children sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes several times a day, especially in the morning, at bath time and whenever your child is likely to have a bowel movement. You can also take children to the bathroom at intervals of every 1-2 hours to see if they urinate. Stick to the schedule and make sure you are taking them at the same time every day.
  • Pick out a few picture books and DVDs to inspire children and erase fear. Everyone Poops and Once Upon a Potty are some of our personal favorites.
  • Demonstrate to the children how and why you sit on the toilet seat.
  • Look for cues that your child needs to go to the bathroom. Some signs include change in posture, red face, and/or grunting.
  • Offer children rewards every time they are successful in going to the bathroom at the right time.
  • Make sure all your children’s caregivers, grandparents, baby sitters and teachers follow the same established routine for toileting.
  • Teach children to wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom.
  • You may have to wipe their bottom until your children can take care of it on their own. Remember to wipe from front to back, especially for little girls.
  • Make sure your children’s wardrobe is adaptable to potty training. In other words, make sure they are wearing clothing that is easy to pull up and down.
  • If your child misses the toilet and has an accident, don’t yell, show frustration, or even comment on it. Clean up the mess without a fuss and offer lots of encouragement.

Toilet training might take weeks, even months. It is not a competition so don’t be pressured by other parents. Just relax and let your children get the hang of it at their own pace.

October 31st, 2016

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The dangers of too much screen time

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Screen time is an inescapable reality of modern childhood, with kids of all age groups spending countless numbers of hours in front of their iPads, smartphones, and television sets.

Although experts have revealed that some “quality” screen time is required to sharpen the children’s brain development and communication skills – not to mention that they keep the children entertained while parents hurriedly finish their daily task –too much exposure can delay the child’s cognitive and physical development.

According to recent studies, excessive use of the screen can result in:

  • Obesity
  • Sleep disorders
  • Behavioral issues
  • Lack of social skills
  • Less time for physical activities and play

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting screen time for children aged 2 -5 to an hour per day. They also emphasize that children under 18 months of age not use any form of media apart from video chatting.

Most readers will agree that our culture is addicted to the screen and most parents find the digital devices a “convenient” form of babysitter. To inspire our parents, here are some tips for limiting children’s screen time so they can enjoy other activities.

  1. Set the example: It may be hard to model for many parents but we all know children do what they see. If they see you reading a book, they are likely to do so as well. And if they see you watching television, they will too.
  2. Set time limits: It will be much easier to limit children’s exposure to the screen if appropriate times are set aside for television, video games, and iPads.
  3. Encourage them to participate in other activities: Set aside time for unplugged activities such as reading, board games, and physical play.
  4. Interact with children: It might be easier for most parents to just turn on the TV for their children but parenting requires much more. Listen to children, observe them and be involved in their lives.
  5. Observe changes in children’s behavior: Television and the internet have an immediate impact on children. So keep a lookout for any aggressive, impatient, selfish, and irritable behavior.
  6. Keep screens in a common area: Keep TV out of children’s bedrooms and ask them to charge their devices outside of the room at night. Studies show that in addition to the obvious distractions, just the glow from these devices disrupts sleep patterns.
  7. Eliminate background noise: Most families keep the television on during meal times. However, meal times are an important opportunity for the whole family to connect and talk. Eating dinner while watching television also affects the children’s eating habits which may eventually lead to weight issues. So make it a rule to turn off the TV during when no one is watching; instead, protect your coveted family time.

It may seem like an “impossible” battle, but the less you and your children depend on digital devices, the easier it will become. And trust us, in the end. it will be worth the effort!

October 24th, 2016

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Developmental milestones for your 5-6 year old

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The school-age years have now begun and children at this stage are spending more time at their respective educational institutes and less time at home. They are now more influenced by their teachers and peers and learning many different skills that help them in both – inside and outside the classroom area.

As a parent, it is important to observe the children’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth and seek help if needed. To help you out, here are some developmental milestones to look out for after the children celebrate their 5th birthday.

Movement Milestones:

Children are very energetic at this age and are constantly running around, especially with their friends. It is a good time to get them started on a sport they show interest in. This will help them build self-confidence and the ability to set and achieve goals.

Children after the age of five are more confident at climbing, sliding, swinging, and balancing on one foot. They can also learn to skip with a jumping rope and do somersaults.

Their fine motor skills are improving and they may be able to tie laces, dress and undress, use utensils, and go to the toilet more with little or no assistance from your side.

At this age, the children are also able to:

  • Write their own name
  • Copy letter and number from memory
  • Recognize most colors
  • Draw and recognize most shapes
  • Read simple picture books
  • Draw more realistic looking pictures
  • Say their full name, address, phone number, age, and birthday

Language Milestones:

Five-six-year-olds love to talk, especially about their day at school. Give them lots of opportunity to talk by listening attentively and asking questions. Children at this age are also given opportunities to participate in “Show and tell” at school where they can enjoy telling their school friends about certain items and toys they bring from home.

Social and Emotional Milestones:

These children like to be recognized for their achievements and are especially pronounced when given evaluation from their schools for their academic performance.

5-6-year-olds are likely to:

  • Be more self-confident about themselves
  • Imitate adults
  • Enjoy making simple decisions
  • Want privacy especially in the toilet
  • Play with children of the same gender
  • Tell the difference between real and artificial
  • Agree with most rules set by their parents, teachers, and caregivers

Cognitive Milestones:

Children this age are active learners meaning they like to take charge of their own learning. They can now count 10 or more objects and say the complete alphabet. They are also attempting many new experiences and don’t hesitate to take risks to develop new skills.

What can you do to help?

  • Encourage them to play different sports and games.
  • Include them in simple household chores like setting/clearing the table, folding laundry, and putting away the dishes.
  • Play with them each day even if it’s for only 10 minutes. This gives children a sense of security and shows that you care for them.
  • Arrange play dates and allow them to play in groups.
  • Give them a variety of foods to eat but don’t force them to eat unwillingly.
  • Talk about their feelings and be sensitive to their fears or embarrassment, if they have any.

Children progress at different paces so don’t worry if your child exhibits these milestones a bit earlier or later than other children. However, if you feel that there is a significant delay in your child’s development – consult a child specialist.

Happy Parenting!

October 17th, 2016

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