Your Baby Has a Lot to Say

Maybe your baby has passed the cooing stage where you were on the receiving end of lots of “oohs” and “aahs.” Now, they are starting to put consonants like “p,” “b,” and “m’ in from of the oohs and aahs so you are now hearing buh-buh and muh-muh. So, when will your baby really start to talk?

 Actually, your baby is (and has been) talking to you since the first coos came out of their mouth. Babies are born ready to learn, and that includes learning to talk since their brains are hardwired for language. Their noises may sound like gibberish to you, but they have meaning. Go ahead and talk back to your baby – agree with them, tell them how special they are, and just let them know that you are paying attention.

 Babbling is a stepping-stone to language and should be encouraged. See below for some ideas to keep your baby talking and learning!

 How Can You Support Their Language Development?

  •  Talk with your baby beginning at birth, just like you would with a friend.

  • Ask your baby open-ended questions.

  • After your baby “talks” to you, pause before you answer them to show how a conversation is held.

  • When your baby makes a lot of noises, imitate the sounds back to them.

  • Sing to your baby.

  • When you talk with your baby, make eye contact and respond lovingly.

  • Read aloud to your child every day. Don’t rush through the book but take your time. You can use different voices, accents and tones for the characters.

  • As they get older, pay attention to what they are interested in. If they point at an object, say the correct name and provide extra details, such as what color it is, if it is big or small, and etc.

  • When your baby begins stringing words together such as “dog eat,” don’t correct them but respond as in a conversation with something like “the dog does like her food.”

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Taking Care of Your Physical and Mental Health Is Good for Your Family!

“Mom! I’m hungry!” “Daddy, I’m sick!”

We’ve all been there and heard those words yelled by our little ones. Then, we quickly worked to make sure that their needs were met: fed them when they were hungry, comforted them when they were sick or scared, and soothed them when they were sad or angry. Often times, we were hungry, sick and tired too, but our children’s needs took priority.

Let’s be clear: your child’s needs are important and should not be ignored. But, it’s important that you make your physical and mental health a priority too. Since August is National Wellness Month, we thought it would be a great time to help our Georgia Parent Power caregivers find ways to stop making self-care an afterthought. Try some of these tips to increase your well-being:

  • Breathe. Sounds simple, right? After all, you do it every day all day without even thinking about it. Today, we want you to think about it and release a little stress with every breath out. Try the 4-4-8 technique: Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, taking it deep into your abdomen. Hold your breath for a count of four. Breathe out through your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of eight.

  • Go outside. Take a walk, lay on the lawn or in a hammock, read a book under a tree, meditate, or just sit quietly.

  • Make a weekly appointment for something you love. Maybe it is a spa treatment, time with friends, a movie, or simply shopping by yourself.

  • Trade child care with a friend on a regular basis. Take turns hosting play dates which will allow the other parent a few hours to take care of chores or do something that benefits their physical and mental health.

  • Schedule dates with your spouse. It’s important for you two to take time to reconnect and do activities that aren’t centered around your children.

  • Hydrate. Water keeps your brain working, helps your joints, keeps you looking young and your body needs it. Buy some tea that you enjoy and is for you, and you alone. Or, maybe it is flavor drops that only you know about and use.

  • Keep a gratitude journal. It can be one sentence, short and sweet, or map out 20 minutes each day where you are free to write whatever your heart needs.

  • Join a gym. Take a yoga class. Subscribe to a YouTube fitness program that makes you feel good.

  • Go to the doctor for your annual fitness exams. You make your kids do it, so it is only fair.

  • See a therapist if you are having anxiety, can’t let go of worries, or feel depressed.

  • Take a mental moment to decompress after work and before picking up your child from child care or walking into the house.

  • Make sleep a priority.

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Tips to Help Your Child Welcome a New Experience

Moving from preschool to a Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten class is a big deal and chances are that you are as worried about it as much (or more) as your little one is. It is understandable that some children may become clingier in the days leading up to the new classroom or for the first few weeks while they are settling into this new experience. It’s important that you demonstrate patience and love during this time as well as positivity and excitement. If you are outwardly appearing sad or worried, your child will most likely take their emotional cue from you and react in the same manner.

See our tips below to help your child make a smooth transition to their new learning environment:

Getting Ready for Pre-K

  • Be sure to attend open-houses, visitor’s days, or family socials scheduled for your child’s new class.

  • Select a variety of interesting books that emphasize the fun and new experiences children have at Pre-K to read aloud to your child in the weeks prior to their first day.

  • Share stories of when you or your child’s siblings were in Pre-K.

  • Talk to your child about what their day at Pre-K will be like. (Be sure to ask ahead for a schedule so that you can tell your child about all of the activities.)

  • Have your child start their new bedtime and wake-up routine a week or two before school begins so that they can get used to the change and you have time to adjust it as needed.

  • Let your child help you choose a new backpack and their first day of school clothes.

  • Listen to your child when they talk about Pre-K. Do they seem happy or scared? If your child regresses in their potty training or shows aggression or separation anxiety, it’s okay. It’s only temporary. Listen to their worries and be understanding.

  • Find time to play “First day at Pre-K” with your child and their babies. Act out how you hope her first day will be, including kissing mommy or daddy good-bye and then playing with their new friends.

  • Make sure that you fill out all of the necessary forms including any medical concerns or food allergies, emergency contacts, and info about your child.

When the BIG DAY Arrives

  • Wake up early enough so that your child isn’t rushed in getting dressed or eating breakfast.

  • Share breakfast with your child and use the time to talk about what they should expect (how you will drop them off, what will happen next, if they will take a nap, and who will pick them up).

  • Keep your morning conversation positive and exciting.

  • Help your child feel more comfortable by letting them take a special stuffed animal, blanket or family photo with them to school.

  • Don’t leave your child at school without saying goodbye. Plan to only stay for 15-20 minutes. That should be long enough to explore the classroom and make your child comfortable.

More information:

Choosing the Right Preschool for Your Child

Choosing the Right Preschool for Your Child
Who knew there were so many curriculum choices and other considerations when deciding to send your young child to preschool? For first-time parents, the curriculum information as well as the search and enrollment process can be overwhelming. Below is some basic information about the more common early childhood learning concepts and some questions to help in your search.

Early Childhood Curriculum Models

Bank Street (also known as the Developmental Interaction Approach)
Developed by the Bank Street College in New York City, this method uses a play-based approach that believes children are active learners, explorers, experimenters and artists benefitting from a diverse curriculum. Teaching focuses on history, geography and anthropology as this approach consider the world to be the best teaching tool.

HighScope
Many community-based programs tend to follow this research-based approach of “active participatory learning.” The philosophy of HighScope is that children learn best, building language and cognitive skills, through hands-on experience with people, materials, events and ideas. Classrooms are set up for specific types of play and learning, and academic areas.

Montessori
The Montessori approach was formed more than a century ago in Rome, Italy, by a pediatrician/psychiatrist and is a child-centered method that emphasizes the development of the whole child with teachers as guides to a child’s learning. While play-based learning is important in Montessori, there is a focus on academics and children learn at their own pace. Generally, programs include children ages three, four and five together in one classroom so that the older children serve as role models. It is not unusual for a child to have the same teacher for all three years which helps to strengthen the teacher-child relationship.

Reggio Emilia
Developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy, after World War II, this project-based learning approach was created to help children become better world citizens. It emphasizes communications, relationships, choice and problem-solving. Many of the projects originate from a child’s question or interest, and the teachers are there to help them explore and frame the activities. This method incorporates academics through play using natural materials instead of memorization.

Waldorf
Waldorf education is a play-based approach that engages the five senses. It emphasizes creativity and imagination over academics (meaning no handouts, tests or desks) and is known for its strong environmental and outdoor programs. Waldorf values the development of a child’s individualism and curiosity. Like Montessori, it is often has mixed-age classrooms and the same teacher for multiple years. This approach does not include computers, video or electronics for learning and prefers children play with natural materials instead of synthetic or electronic toys.

Other Learning Methods
Be sure to check into other preschool philosophies including Language Immersion, Parent Cooperatives (Co-ops), Outdoor, Inclusive and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Questions to ask during your search

  • Is the child care program licensed, Quality-Rated, and/or NAEYC certified?

  • How do the teachers and program communicate information and news to parents?

  • What is the ratio of children to teachers?

  • How does the preschool approach academics?

  • What is a daily routine like?

  • What is the expectation for parent involvement?

  • How often and for how long do children get to go outside?

  • Does the school or parent provide the child’s meals and snacks while at school?

 You can find more questions, tips and suggestions at www.QualityCareForChildren.com.

More information:

Good Communication is Important for the Success of Any Relationship

Parents should seek to develop a strong connection with their child’s care provider as they both have a common goal: to help their child thrive and succeed in life. These early relationships help children feel loved and cared for, enabling them to learn important social-emotional skills and develop in every other aspect of their mental and physical health.

 Read the factors below to determine if you have a strong relationship with your child’s care provider or if you have work to do.

 Strong:

  • Do you greet your child’s primary teachers and other staff by first name every day?

  • Are you a good listener when your child care provider is sharing concerns with you about your child?

  • Do you regularly share important things about your child’s life? Such as that your child got a poor night’s sleep or that they are having a hard time with allergies?

  • Changes in family life, like a new job, a move, family visitors, or a divorce, are important events in your child’s life that could induce behavior changes and should be shared with the provider.

  • Do you take an interest in your child care provider’s life? Ask about their families, weekends, or special interests.

  • Show up for all meetings and conferences.

  • Collaborate with your child care team to help in the class when needed and support the program’s special activities.

  • Do you regularly tell and demonstrate to your child’s caregiver that you appreciate them?

Average:

  • You greet your child’s teacher and staff during drop-off or pick-up but do not linger to see if you can help or to talk with the teacher.

  • You attend one or more planned activities at the program.

  • You are congenial and open to feedback when discussing your child.

  • You ask how your child is doing during the day and what they are doing in the classroom.

Weak:

  • Do you know your child care provider’s first name?

  • Do you regularly drop-off or pick-up your child while on the phone?

  • Do you send your child to school sick?

  • Have you missed one or more planned meetings or conferences with your child’s caregiver?

  • Do you talk negatively about your child’s teacher to other parents or your child?

  • Are you open to suggestions or conversation about your child’s learning and behavior?

  • Are you responsive when the child care program or teacher contacts you?

All relationships need nurturing, clear communication that includes active listening, and respect to be strong. Below are some resources with advice on maintaining a positive relationship with your child’s teachers.

More information:

Create Good Eating and Physical Habits to Keep Your Child Healthy

In the U.S., approximately 7 in 10 adults and 1 in 3 children are overweight or have obesity. You can help your whole family maintain a healthy weight by balancing good, nutritious eating foods with physical activity. The earlier you start introducing fresh, non-processed foods to your children, the better they are as you are assisting them in creating healthy eating habits that will last for a lifetime.

Health Problems Associated with Being Overweight:

  • Low-self esteem

  • Being bullied

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Asthma

  • Heart disease

  • Sleep problems

  • Anxiety and stress

Get Physical!

  • Be more physically active as a family: Go on walks, bicycle rides, visit skating rinks, and have fun at your local pool with family swim races.

  • Let your children take turns choosing family activities that include exercise.

  • Limit screen time, which includes all computers, screen readers, TVs, smart watches, video games and smart phones. And, no TVs in your child’s room.

  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep each night as kids who do not are at higher risk of being overweight or obese.

Set Up Healthy Eating Habits

  • Eat as a family as much as possible and do not cook multiple meals to compensate for “picky” eaters.

  • Plan healthy meals with as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. Eliminate, or include less, foods and drinks with added sugars, that are high in sodium or carbs, and that are processed.

  • Serve reasonably sized portions and limit seconds to only fruits or vegetables.

  • Encourage your family to drink lots of water.

  • Let your children help plan meals, shop for foods or work in a garden with you, and prepare meals.

  • Provide a healthy breakfast with a protein to start the day and offer healthy snacks to help control hunger between meals.

What Should You Do If Your Child Is Overweight?

If you have concerns about your child’s weight, make an appointment to visit your pediatrician. When you make the appointment, share then that you are specifically concerned about your child’s weight so that the doctor can be sensitive about your concerns in front of your child.

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