Talk is Cheap:The Importance of Talking to Babies.

While most of us may know that talking to babies is crucial to language and vocabulary development, not all of us realize just how important it is.  It’s not just listing vocabulary; rich, varied language with good grammar trains babies’ brains to learn through context.   Instead of saying “Here’s a banana”, it would be better to say, “Let’s put the banana in the bowl with the oranges and apples.”  Speaking in long sentences is best.

The earlier we talk to babies, the better.  A baby’s brain processes information long before he is able to respond. Researchers have found a “language gap” among children from low income  backgrounds.  Children from affluent, professional families hear millions more words when they are ready to begin school than poor kids. WORDS ARE FREE and should be used liberally from infancy on.  It doesn’t cost anything to talk to a baby, but the payoff can be measured in better school performance and more self confidence.

So how can we “talk more” to babies?

1. Use rich, varied language and longer sentences.

2. Don’t just label items.  Make connections.  Instead of “The dog is wagging his tail”, it is more effective to say, “The dog’s fluffy tail is fatter than the cat’s skinny tail.”

3. Put down your phone and turn off the TV.  Neither help a baby learn language.  Babies require PERSONAL INTERACTION to learn.  Have a conversation about anything and everything.  Ex. “Mommy is going to make some lunch.  Let’s see what we have in the refrigerator.  How about a salad with lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes?  I need to slice the cucumbers and tomatoes with this knife.  Then I’m going to butter the bread and put the slices in this pan for grilled cheese sandwiches”.  You get the idea.  It doesn’t matter WHAT you talk about, just that you talk directly to the child.  Overhearing adult conversations doesn’t count.

4. Reading a book for just 10 minutes a day adds up to a lot of language.  If parents aren’t good readers, talk about the pictures.

5. Fit conversation around everyday activities.  Talk about what you’re doing when you bathe the baby, the clothes you are changing her into, the scenery you pass when you go out for a stroll, etc.

In this busy, plugged-in culture we live in, talking often gets pushed aside in favor of texting, social media and the like.  In an effort to communicate, we are cutting off opportunities to talk to one another.  To ensure that our babies and toddlers grow up to be self confident, do better in school and are better able to communicate with others, PUT DOWN THE DEVICES AND TALK!  Your baby will be better off.

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Teaching Aid: Great Causes For Back to School.

As your children head back to another school year, we parents might wonder how we can support teachers and which programs are worthy of attention and support.  Here are 5 to think about:

1. GIRLS WHO CODE: Men outnumber women in the fields of science, technology, math and engineering. This organization hopes to change that by partnering with Google and other tech companies to launch coding clubs for female teens across the country.  Contribute at: http://www.girlswhocode.com

2. School Supplies: For every YOOBI brand pencil set, notebook or other school item purchased at TARGET, or at http://www.yoobi.com   another will be donated to a classroom in need.

3. Sign a petition to encourage teaching handwriting in schools by going to: http://www.bicfightforyourwrite.com    and BIC will donate a pen or pencil to Adopt A Classroom.

4. Dine Out:  For the entire month of September, eat at one of thousands of restaurants nationwide to get meal discounts and help raise money to wend childhood hunger.  Visit: http://www.nokidhungry.org  for participating restaurants.

5. Used Books: If you donate or buy used books and textbooks at http://www.betterworldbooks.com  a portion of the funds raised will go to literacy programs around the globe.

Make the school year count for those less fortunate and have a great year!

 

DIY Fidget Spinners

Everywhere I look these days, people are talking about FIDGET SPINNERS.  These gadgets were designed for use with children with autism as a way to help them with sensory issues.  They come in all shapes, sizes and designs and some are even battery powered.

You can make some simple spinners with materials you probably already have at home.  Here is a link from the Red Ted craft site that give you a step by step video.

http://www.redtedart.com/printable-diy-fidget-spinner-instructions/

Fit Kids=Smart Kids.

A recent study of 70 kids aged 9-11, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that strong muscles in children correlates to better memory.  Other studies found that aerobically fit children have better thinking ability, attention, memory, and academic performance.

Bottom line: Getting kids moving with strength-building and aerobic activities during their school years will lead to an overall better school experience. Kids don’t have to join a gym.  Just make sure your child’s school has a playground with lots of equipment and that recess and gym classes are a regular part of the schedule.  Set an example by doing active things together as a family.  Taking after dinner walks, dancing to favorite songs, jumping rope, using a hula hoop, skipping and swimming.  Try crab walks, wheelbarrow races, pillow case races, and soup can arm curls to build muscles.

Activity can be fun when parents set the tone and participate as well.  The rewards are better health and a smarter brain!

DIY Backyard Activities.

There is still plenty of summer left to enjoy.  You can get kids out of the house and keep them busy by making your own backyard a fun-filled oasis for the kids.  Besides the usual sprinkler, water balloon fights, and assorted water games, check out these really cool outdoor activities from Buzz Feed.  There’s backyard dominoes, lawn twister, bean bag toss, giant bubbles and a do-it-yourself slip and slide.

Many of the activities use things already on hand, so there is no need to invest in new gadgets.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/cieravelarde/suns-out-funs-out?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Parents%20614&utm_content=Parents%20614%2BCID_04fc34111fe2dc9b39baa67b7b04ef20&utm_source=BuzzFeed%20Newsletters&utm_term=.poglK3NawX#.cdy5Aw7rVb

Happy summer fun!

Let’s Make Some Rain!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had the power to make our own rain, especially with so much of the country  experiencing drought?  We may not be able to make rain in the real sense, but with this activity, you can hear the soothing sound of rainfall anytime you wish.

All that’s needed to make a RAINSTICK is a long cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels or foil, construction paper and stickers for decoration, dried couscous, and duct tape.

1. Cover the tube with paper and seal the seam with stickers or the tape.

2.  Cut out two circles for each end of the tube. Drape one circle over one end and seal shut with tape.

3.  Pour about 1/4 C couscous into the tube.  Drape the second circle over the end and seal shut with tape.

4.  Decorate the tube with stickers. 

5. To make the sound of rain, slowly and gently tilt the tube from one end to the other.  Close your eyes, breathe in the rain scented air, and the illusion is complete!