Toddler Tuesday- Say Yes

Tonight I want to impart on you one of the greatest lessons I have learned when it comes to taking care of children.

Say yes.

That’s it. Super simple and super effective.

Now that’s not to say you should let them eat ice cream for dinner and jump off the roof. But if it is safe, not destructive, and will do no harm to anyone else (which I realize is all the same thing), then by all means say yes.

Children nowadays are constantly told no. They can’t do finger painting because it will get on their clothes. The toys can’t leave the playroom because it will ruin the aesthetic of the house. Well I say pooey. Let kids be messy. Let them explore. And rid yourself of the power struggle that comes when you say no too often. Yes is a beautiful powerful word to children. It tells them you trust them, believe in them, and will honor their true needs and desires. It tells them you love them.

smallblessingsinc.com

smallblessingsinc.com

While I was cooking lunch today Little Miss started creating this very detailed roadway system throughout the home utilizing, I kid you not, almost every toy in the house. This thing was massive. Now I could have made her clean it up before eating… and the clean freak in me really wanted to, but she asked to be able to play with it later. And I said yes. Of course I did not let her do anything that would destroy the toys or home. And what did I gain? Almost two hours of her playing by herself. I even got some time to do some cleaning of my own. Little Miss also learned a valuable lesson in putting away what she takes out. 🙂  mwahaha

Play and life lesson all on one? I think so.

Love!

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Toddler Tuesday: 2013 Education Calendar

I’ve been working on building a calendar that charts the themes and lessons I teach Baby Miss (2 years old) throughout the year, and I’m ready to share it with all of you. Now you will notice there are a few changes from my previous “themes” post back in November. This is due to the fact that I found out Baby Miss’ parents decided to start her in preschool this June rather than September. I want Baby Miss to already be on track, knowing her letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc. So, you will notice that for each month, I have a theme. And each week has a letter, number, color, and shape. By the end of June, we will have gone through one cycle of the alphabet. That’s when Baby Miss will start preschool. I have finished the calendar for you though (meaning through December) and will be posting the activities I do throughout the year. And in fact, I think I like this calendar much better then my last one. Always striving to improve. 🙂

2013 Education Calendar

I have also created a list of songs, felt board games, books, crafts, and activities for each month’s theme. I currently have January and February up, and will finish it soon. I’m also working on creating videos of each song on my list so you can hear how it goes and see the motions… I’ll let you know when I figure that out. 🙂

Theme Activities

For Christmas, I bought Little Miss and Baby Miss a felt/magnetic dry erase board. I started this week using it for “circle times” with Baby Miss. On days when we have no place to be (gymnastics, music class, etc.) circle time can consist of many parts: songs, books, art, felt board activities. On busy days, it may only include going over that week’s letter, number, color, and shape; and one song and book. I’m not very strict about it, but I am working on making it a habit to sit down and do some type of structured material with her everyday around the same time.
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Yesterday, we created our first letter and number signs. For each new letter and number, we will be making a sign and posting it on the wall. Soon, Baby Miss will be able to see numbers 1-10 and the entire alphabet each and every day.

Our number signs consist of a large number cut out from construction paper. Then she puts a corresponding number of objects on that number. This week, for the number 1, she decided on one dog sticker. We will also be using buttons, dry pasta, beans, yarn, etc. for the different numbers.
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Our letter sign consists of a large letter cut out of construction paper, which I first let her color on; then we will add something that starts with that letter. For A, we did apple prints. Just cut an apple in half, stick in paint, and use them to stamp the paper. Both girls really liked this activity.

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Each week I will be sharing with you the various activities that I do with each girl. You can join me by following along on the 2013 Education Calendar and using my themed activities.

I would love to hear any feedback you may have: different activities, challenges you faced, anecdotes, or just “hello” all work for me. 🙂

Love!

What I have learned from a year with a child

As a nanny (or parent, or caregiver of any type), I’m always thinking about what knowledge I can impart upon Little Miss and Baby Miss. My brain is always attempting to use each moment to teach them something; be it education, spiritual, a life lesson, etc. But after reflecting on this past year, I must say, and I know it’s a bit clique; I think I learned more from them then they have from me. Children have a way on making everything simpler and more concrete. Through their eyes, one can really see a world full of wonder, curiosity, daily challenges, and fun. I wanted to share with you the top 5 lessons that I have learned this year.

1. Sometimes all you need is a nap.

As adults, we are expected to constantly be doing something. Our society praises people that stay up late to finish a report, miss dinner to go to a meeting, and spend their weekends catching up, or running errands. All that busy work can cause us to be (obviously) tired, cranky, and unproductive. Instead, I say, let’s do as the “babes” do. After lunch, when we all tend to get sleepy anyways, let’s take 45 minutes to close our eyes, count some sheep, and give our bodies and minds a much needed rest. And you know what? Studies have actually shown that those that take a mid-afternoon siesta are more productive, feel more refreshed, and are actually smarter. Check it out here!

2. Being silly is ok, and actually necessary

I don’t know what it is about being an adult and being on automatic serious mode, but I hate it. Sometimes all I want to do is blow bubbles in my chocolate milk, jump on the bed, and make a huge mess with finger paints. And you know what I’ve discovered? Being silly is ok. In fact, it’s good. I’ll take Baby Miss to a music class and all the other grownups are being so serious, but when I allow myself to sing and dance along, I and Baby Miss enjoy ourselves so much more. Who cares what other’s think? Who cares if I look dumb, or immature, or unsophisticated? Fun is good. Silly is good. Laughter is good. In fact, laughter has been shown to relieve stress, increase immunity, decrease pain, strengthen relationships and so much more. So go ahead, read the comics in the newspaper, watch funny Youtube videos, and join your kids when they are pretending to be a rock band. Be silly. You’ll thank me for it.

3. Go outside

Has anyone ever noticed that kids tend to crave time outside? It doesn’t matter what the weather is or the time of day; when given the opportunity kids love the outdoors. And yet, when you become an adult, it’s all you can do to get a few minutes during your lunch break to soak up some sun. Why is that? Is it that we have forgotten how great it is to be surrounded by nature. Have we just not given the outdoors it’s dues? In fact, many studies have shown the positive affects that nature can have on us; including but not limited to reducing anxiety and depression, better sleep quality, and immunity. So be more kid-like; take a recess, walk your dog, spend lunch outside, play touch football with friends at a local park; anything, just get outside. It’s good for you! 🙂

4. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full

You know the old saying, “Clean your plate!”; well it’s wrong, and it’s time we stopped it right here and right now. It’s so funny how old sayings like that can come out of you so automatically. Both Little Miss and Baby Miss are huge “grazers”. They eat a few bites, want to play, a half hour later, come back to eat more. It used to bug me to no end; but I’ve come to peace with it. In fact, I’ve decided it’s a great way to eat for myself. I always feel such guilt at leaving food on my plate that I usually just plow through it; but if I slow down and take a moment, I realize that there really is no reason to feel guilty. In fact, I should feel proud for listening to my body. As adults we get so out of sync with our bodies that sometimes it’s hard to tell when we really are hunger, or full, or just perhaps bored. If we eat like a child, we spend more time enjoying the food and in turn have an easier time listening to what our body is telling us.

5. Enjoy each other.

If there is one thing that I could say my years with children has taught me, it would be that what children crave most often is time with their parents. Most of a child’s learning actually comes from unstructured time spent with family members. When they are surrounded by family, they feel secure, loved, trusting, and have a higher self-esteem. That connection goes the same for us; when we are surrounded by family and friends that love us we are better able to handle the stresses and complications that life brings. Just like children, when we have strong relationships with others we feel more secure, loved, trusting, and have a greater self-esteem. But, and that’s a strong but, that does not mean just connecting with people of Facebook, through email, or even over the phone. That means face to face connections. Make family dinners a priority. Join a book club. Meet up with friends once a month for dinner. Spend time with others, and enjoy their company.

Have any other lessons that your kids have taught you? I’d love to hear about them.

Love!

PS. If you’re in my area (Northern CA) I’ve started a children’s literature book club through Meetup. Email me if you’re interested. 🙂

The Non-Crappy Gift List for Children :)

For as young as I am, I’ve worked for a long time with children. I’ve worked with a wide variety of ages, in different settings, and with all types of kids. And, I’ve been to a LOT of birthday parties. It’s Baby Miss’ 2nd birthday party this weekend, which has gotten me in a “present” state of mind (pun completely intended) :). It always baffles me how many absolutely terrible presents kids get. And no, I’m not talking socks and underwear. I’m talking toys. There are a lot of ridiculous toys available today; mountains of plastic, no creativity needed, and poorly made. It drives me bonkers.

But, I am here to save you from all craziness. I’ve put together a list of fabulous toys for all ages, as well as list of my favorite retailers so you can find your child’s new favorite toy!

There are five different types of toys; Dramatic Play, Active Play, Puzzles and Games, and arts and music, and sensorial. I’m going to give you some ideas in each category. Ready? Here we go!

Discount School Supplies Animal Hand Puppets

Discount School Supplies Animal Hand Puppets

Dramatic Play: So important for kids to be able to engage their imaginations 

Melissa and Doug

Melissa and Doug

scarves, stuffed animals, puppets, pretend food and kitchen supplies, dolls (of all cultures), dress up clothes (my favorite place to get these especially for school age kids is Goodwill or Salvation Army), play house, doll house, cars and trucks, mailbox, plastic or wooden animals and barn (or equivalent).

Active Play: Indoor or outdoor, kids need to move! 

bikes, trikes, jump ropes, balls (of all sizes, materials, textures, etc), tumbling mats, hoops, tunnels, scooters, bean bags, bowling sets, horseshoes, hula hoops, ribbon dancers, balance boards, mini trampolines, cones, domes, hopscotch mat, mini parachute, yoga mat and book or dvd, skates, etc.

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply

 

 

 

Puzzles and Games: Great for fine motor skills, problem solving, and turn taking

Candyland, Tic Tac Toe (travel set), The Storymatic, Charades, Tangrams, Colorforms, 3D puzzles or models (for older kids), Twister, Guess Who, Connect Four, memory games, dominoes, Chutes and Ladders, Go fish, puzzles of all sorts, etc.

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply

Arts and Music: Let’s your kid’s creativity shine with art supplies and musical instruments

Music of all types, instruments of all types, twirly skirts (as Little Miss calls them), scarves, ribbon dancers, playdough and rollers, cutters,etc; stamps and ink, markers, crayons, paper, watercolors, glue, construction paper, paint, art smocks, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, glitter glue, foam, felt, con-tact paper, scissors with all different edges, paper plates, beads, pom poms, stickers, rhinestones, popsicle sticks, chalk, etc.

Melissa and Doug

Melissa and Doug

You could make your own “craft kit” by throwing lots of different supplies in a super cute basket or box. Trust me- they’ll love it!

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply

Sensorial: Great for fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, and so much more

Blocks (wooden, foam, all colors and types), moon sand, playdough, construction sets, legos, magnet sets, threading boards, lacing beads, a light table and accessories, water and/or sand table, water toys, felt board and accessories, wooden pattern blocks and picture cards, clay, Floam, etc.

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply

Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods

Now there are two other gift ideas that I have that don’t fit under either category. One is, books. I can not say enough about how important it is for you to read to your child every day… ok, end of my speech. 🙂 Second, would be activities. These could be coupons for ice cream, ice skating, trips to the zoo, museums, and more. Children love getting out and exploring new things as well as spending time with their parents.

Here are some of my favorite retailers:

http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/ Great for art supplies, manipulatives, dramatic play, and more

http://www.melissaanddoug.com They have amazing puzzles, games, pretend play toys, blocks, and tons more.

http://www.uncommongoods.com/ They have toys, books, puzzles, and great gifts for teens; things that you can find no where else!

And let me just say: I am not paid by or sponsored by any of these websites or products, I just really like them.

Please let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

Love!