The Gift of Time - Top Ten Tips

November 9th, 2018

#1: Have Breakfast Together

Get up a little earlier and start your day off right by having breakfast together as a family. Make a habit of talking about the day ahead when everybody is rested. Within your breakfast routine, consider establishing a family tradition, such as a reading a positive quote, thought or short story for the day. Get the children involved in preparing breakfast. Even a small daily job, like buttering the toast or setting the table, can boost your children's self-esteem and make them feel like an important part of your family.

#2: Make Household Chores a Team Event

Children love routine and they also secretly love chores. Regularly feeding the family pet, taking out the garbage, dusting, or being your sous-chef during the evening meal, work particularly well. What seem like just chores for you can often be fun activities for younger children. And don‟t be afraid to start them young! Kids love to help out. Simple jobs, like sweeping the floor or transferring wet laundry to the drier, instill the importance of contributing to the household and develop a solid work ethic along with a sense of gratitude. For teenagers, more sophisticated activities, like learning to cook, buying groceries, and doing the laundry teach essential life skills. A light hearted, team approach to housework has the added benefit of decreasing the time you spend doing chores and often eliminate the need for nagging.

#3: Create a Fun Bedtime Routine

Establishing a fun bedtime routine is something children look forward to and allows you to bond with your children on a daily basis. Get the logistics like teeth brushing out of the way before cuddling, stories or a simple hug good-night. Remember that once you have said “good-night” to not get suckered into the “just one more story” or “another glass of water” request. Children need to go to sleep on time, so they awaken refreshed and not grumpy. Smooth bedtimes also give you much needed rest on your own or special time to connect with your spouse.

#4: Go on Date Nights

Set aside one evening per week for “date nights” spent together as a family and make it a tradition. Have dinner together, play at the park, go out for ice cream, or watch a movie and have popcorn in the comfort of your own home. Friday evenings often work best, as homework and weekend commitments don’t interfere. The goal of this time is to catch up and have fun together because families who play together often are the ones who stick together.

#5: Dust Off Your Games and Play Together

Board games and card games are a great way for the family to interact. Let your children pick the games they enjoy. Don‟t be shy about creating your own games.  Use ordinary objects around the house to create a fun play space—build a fort with blankets, make music with pots and spoons, create a puppet show or even a treasure hunt. Outdoor games such as baseball, hide „n seek, follow the leader or “shooting some hoops” in the driveway can provide great fun for everyone,  whether you are on a team, acting as cheerleader, or simply keeping score.

#6: Plan Family Holidays and Special Occasions as a family

Involve children in planning birthday parties, social events, weekly schedules and family holidays. Children love exploring brochures and writing out holiday wish lists. If children feel they are part of the planning, they not only feel important but tend to be committed to making it a success and have a much better time.

#7: Focus on the Positive

A common complaint of children and especially of teenagers is that their parents nag too much. Just as you don't like to be put down, your children don't want to be around someone who is constantly criticizing (neither do our spouses by the way). Focusing on the positive is often the most effective way to reach out to your child and teen and to also have them do more of what you want and like them to do. So lighten up and make a point to recognize and appreciate your teenager or child when they are being helpful. Simply saying “thank you” can help bridge deep seeded issues that divide you from your child.

#8: Invite Conversation Instead of Demanding It

Don't interrogate your children—talk to them. Instead of asking, “What did you do at school today?”, tell your children about your day. This is one of the easiest ways to model and invite great conversation. Teenagers in particular, need to know they can bring their problems to you. If they think you are going to freak out every time they share, they will simply stop sharing. A great way to break the ice is by being real with them about some of your own challenges. When parents periodically share their own daily issues and open themselves up to hearing their children’s opinions, they are actively demonstrating healthy conversation. This builds trust, understanding and will make your child more open to sharing with you. One of the best times to talk is in the car. Teenagers are especially more open when they don't have to make eye contact when discussing sensitive issues.

#9: Make Room for Spontaneity

If you look back on the best moments of your childhood, chances are the things you remember most fondly were unplanned. By being impulsive and doing the unexpected, you can create memories that last a lifetime. Spur of the moment events, like a Saturday morning pancake making contest, a dinner picnic in the family room, tenting in the backyard or a giant after school tickling fight often create a treasure chest of family legends.

#10: Eat Dinner Together

The dinner table is one of the most important daily opportunities for solid family interaction. If schedules are getting in the way, change your schedule so you can eat dinner together more days than not. Consistency is crucial. During the meal, turn off the phone to ensure uninterrupted time, give each child time to talk about their day and make certain you are sharing too. Keep the conversation light and leave heated discussions for other times. Most importantly, make dinner mealtimes fun and cooperative.

8 Tips for Parents from Big PLANS Occupational Therapists

October 24th, 2018

October is national occupational therapy month in Canada, and at Big PLANS we are celebrating by sharing some valuable tips on our blog from our very own OT’s!

Read the full article here

13 Tips for Parents of Preschoolers

October 3rd, 2018

Are you wondering what you can do at home to help your children excel? We asked our Early Learning Specialists (Certificated Teachers) to share some simple strategies with you in our latest blog post!

Read more HERE

Building Your Child's Early Language and Literacy Skills: Can Technology Help?

October 1st, 2018

To be prepared for success in school, your preschooler needs to learn a number of important early language and literacy skills, like: 

  • Story comprehension
  • Knowledge of how print works
  • Vocabulary development
  • Letter-sound knowledge

Parents often wonder whether the use of everyday technology like tablets and smart phones can help build these important skills. 

Technology can help BUT interaction is the key

If your child is looking at a tablet or a smart phone all by himself, he won’t be learning as much as he could if you were interacting with him at the same time. Research shows that children learn language and literacy skills best during natural, fun interactions and conversations with the important people in their lives. So no matter what activity you’re engaged in – whether you’re having breakfast or looking at an app together – the key to helping your child learn is engaging her in enjoyable conversations. The bottom line: Technology can be both fun and useful when you’re using it as a tool to help engage your child in the kinds of rich, language-filled interactions that help him learn. 

Read the full article from The Hanen Centre here.

No One Will Play With Me - Helping Your Child Make Friends

September 5th, 2018

My usually bright, feisty, full of life, three year old boy was sullen, withdrawn and sad and it took me the better part of a week to figure out why he suddenly didn’t want to go to preschool any more. 

“No one will play with me” he said with tears rolling down his cheeks… 

He seems so sad and confused by this strange occurrence, he thought that going to preschool would mean lots of friends and people to play with. 

My heart breaks a little for him, but I smile, because I know that going to preschool will mean lots of friends and people to play with, but it will take time to learn how to make friends, how to join in, and how to deal with the disappointment of being told ‘you can’t play’. 

Children are not born innately knowing how to play together. Social play is a skill that develops over time and is dependent on a child’s age and stage of development.

​​Ways to Help Preschoolers Make Friends 

1. Don’t expect too much too soon 
At around three years of age children are only just taking their very first steps in developing more social play. They most often engage in Parallel Play (see table in newsletter). At three to four years of age Associative Play develops and children begin to interact with each other during play, but only sometimes. They are slowly beginning to understand the concept of ‘friendship’ and wanting to play with others. Expecting children at this stage to play complex, co-operative, social games without adult support is probably expecting too much. 

 

2. Support their Social Play 

Young children need adult support to be successful in social situations. Be there when your child plays with others to help them find the words to successfully join in, to guide them when they are not sure and to help when altercations arise. You don’t need to be a total ‘helicopter parent’ and do nothing but hover about waiting for something to happen, but do be close by and step in if you need to. 

3. Model Successful Social Behaviour 
Enjoy time with your own friends and family members with your children. Make sure you are modeling positive social interactions and positive social language when interacting with both friends and family. 

4. Set Up For Success. 
Set up your environment to make social play easy for children. If your child is in the early stages of social play (parallel play) set up activities where they can play next to, but not necessarily with other children. While it may appear that the children are ‘ignoring’ each other, they are actually learning many important social skills from each other by playing side by side and building up their confidence too. 
Make sure you have enough toys so that sharing and taking turns is a positive thing. If you only have a dozen blocks between three children no one will have enough blocks to build anything, which is frustrating and not conducive to co-operating. 

5. Practice! 
Help your child practice social skills and develop friendships by organizing to spend time with other children at a similar stage of development (who may or may not be the same age, because children all develop skills at different rates), and with similar interests. Invite the child and a parent over for a play. Having Mum or Dad stay with the visiting child will help give them confidence and make everyone feel more at ease. Keep the play date fairly short in the beginning and set up a few activities that you know both children enjoy so they are actively engaged. Join a group or activity of interest to your child. While they may not be engaging in ‘active social play’ while at a music class they are still learning and practicing many important social skills such as taking turns, listening etc and they are getting to know other children with similar interests. 

My boy is at preschool with a group of children who are three or almost four (like he is) so there is still a lot of time for him to practice his social skills and make friends… and I am sure he will. Which stage of social play is your child in? Have they started to form friendships with other children yet? 

Reprinted from: http://childhood101.com/2011/05/no-one-will-play-with-me-helping-your-child-make-friends   An early childhood educator and Mum of four who lives on a small property, ‘The Pickle Farm,’ in ‘almost rural’ Victoria, Kate blogs about all kinds of crazy things. Read more of Kate’s adventures at http://picklebums.com.

November 9th, 2018

The Gift of Time - Top Ten Tips

October 24th, 2018

8 Tips for Parents from Big PLANS Occupational Therapists

October 3rd, 2018

13 Tips for Parents of Preschoolers

October 1st, 2018

Building Your Child's Early Language and Literacy Skills: Can Technology Help?

September 5th, 2018

No One Will Play With Me - Helping Your Child Make Friends