Archive for Child Development

4 Ways to Celebrate Friendship

4 ways to celebrate friendship, preschool friendship week

Do you teach your kids to celebrate friendship. I don’t know about you, but my friendships are some of the most important things in my life! This past week at Little Sprouts we have been celebrating Friendship week. Its fun to do special events with kids to break up the everyday ho hums of long days at daycare.

I like to come up with special celebrations that don’t cost an arm and a leg and don’t kill me with a million extra things to add in to our day. This week was fun and fairly easy and I didn’t spend any extra money. If you are a daycare provider, you know those pennies are hard to come by.

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Learn How to Rock Behavior and Guidance-Conscious Discipline for Kids

Yesterday I took a refresher course in my favorite behavior and guidance class, conscious discipline by Becky Baily. If you ever get a chance to take a class based on Becky Bailey’s principles, DO IT! You will not regret it. It has changed my life over the past 10 or so years I’ve been learning about it. She has excellent ideas that really make a difference in how your day will go.

Our ideas and procedures for discipline come from our own upbringing. Sometimes when I think back to the forms of discipline I received from various places, I feel a twinge of pain in my heart. My goal as a care provider for children is to NOT give them those twinges. I want to grow confident, kind, thinking people.

Are your kids listening to you out of fear or love? Do they want to be good people, or do they just want to not be punished? If you teach them to do the right thing because it’s good and right, they will carry this throughout their life and make better decisions. If you teach them to obey you out of fear, as soon as you’re not looking, they will do what they know is wrong. Use your time with them to show them good things and not scare them into obedience.

Do you spend time with a child that causes a heap of trouble in your day? I know I have had numerous kids over the years in various places that each and every time, gave me a run for my money. Did you know if you spend 5 minutes, JUST FIVE MINUTES at the start of your time with that child, building a relationship with them, it will cut down their behavior problems by 50%? Like the teacher in our class said, you don’t have time NOT to do this. Just this one tip could change the dynamics of your life from here until forever. I know it to be true, it works.

Behavior management for kids

Have you ever felt like you have told a child at least 100 times not to leave their shoes in the walkway because everyone trips over them? I have told you 100 times to pick up these books so they don’t get torn up. I have told you 100 times to put your toys away before you get some more out. I have told you 100 times not to climb on that! Well guess what? According to Becky Bailey and her research, it takes 2,000 times of hearing something before we have it as a value or know it to be true. So I guess you have 1,900 more times to go.

If you think about how a child’s mind works, you can take a lot of frustration out of your time with them. Learning as much as you can about brain development and the development of reasoning and thinking skills in the children you are guiding can give you a whole lot more understanding into what they are thinking when they chose their behaviors.

Here’s something that will illustrate. I have heard this in multiple conscious discipline classes. Children CANNOT understand or comprehend the meaning of the word don’t. So if you say to a child under 4, don’t run, the only word they actually comprehend from that sentence is run. If you tell a child 100 times a day don’t climb on things, guess what they hear? Climb on things. And they hear that 100 times a day. Have you ever wondered why it doesn’t seem like you are getting through to them?

A classic behavior with children is running in the house. I don’t know about you, but I live in a tiny 1,100 square foot home and I am in here with 7 kids a day for 10 hours a day. There is no room for running in here. The small places that don’t contain furniture, are full of people. If anyone is running, they are running into someone or something. Then guess what happens? They get hurt. Every. Stinking. Time. So what do we say? Don’t run in the house. Don’t run in the house. Don’t RUN IN THE HOUSE!

What can we say instead? There are other terms we can use to convey what we want from children besides the natural instinct we have from our upbringings of saying don’t. We can say: Walk in the house, use your walking feet, or SLOW DOWN! Just remember when you tell a child don’t, you are telling them to do whatever thing you say next. It’s not bad behavior, it’s the stage of development they are at. That’s all they can comprehend.

How to get kids to behave

Any time you have a chance to take a class about how children’s brains and thinking develop, it will really be beneficial to you. It’s amazing how we go from a little cell, to these thinking, reasoning adults we are.

Speaking of reasoning…let’s talk about our triggers as care takers. Everyone has buttons and the people we interact with do push them at times, right? So let’s talk about some triggers that push our buttons. Let’s talk about biting. Doesn’t it make you so freaking mad when a child bites another child? I mean, there is the frustration that the child is hurt, the anger that a child is hurting someone, the dread of telling the parents and showing them the mark. It’s emotional. But take that part out of it. The reality of biting is you have a child that doesn’t know how to express themselves with words. That child is learning that if they bite, they get the toy in another child’s hand (or whatever) because they drop it when they bite them. Biting is an expression of the biter’s needs.

Now biting is totally not okay. It is unacceptable. But the biter does not know that, the biter knows they want the toy. The biter is hurting because they don’t have the toy and the biter knows how to get the toy. Now back to the emotional parts. We hate seeing children get hurt. We are afraid the child is hurt badly, and we are afraid being hurt is scary to the child. We are afraid of how the parents of the victim will react. When a child bites another child on your watch, it’s scary. And fear begets anger. ALL ANGER IS FEAR!

Anything that pushes your buttons in your life does so because it scares you. Do you hate bad drivers and have road rage? It’s because you are afraid of getting in a wreck, getting hurt, damaging your car, or your children being harmed, right? If you are mad when your kids run away from you in a parking lot, it’s because you know what happens when a child gets hit by a car and you know it’s hard for the driver of a car to see a child running, right?

So when you have something that sends you over the edge daily, check out the reason why you are afraid? Most of the time as caregivers, our fears are grounded. The reason we are afraid of the action is because we know the outcome and it’s something unpleasant. Do something differently to effect the change you are wanting. We all know you can’t stop every bite or catch the kids before they do it every time. We also know that sometimes people expect us to be able to, but even if you are right there the second the child thinks of it, you can’t always stop them if they are determined to do it. Doing the best you can to prevent it and giving the biter another option is the best way to effect change.

You can designate a special stuffed animal as that child’s bitey and put it in a special place where they can get to it. If they feel like they have to bite, they can bite their bitey. You can also help them find the words. Show them how they can say, can I play with that toy, and that sometimes the other child will share it with them. And you can show them how to find something else to play with like another toy that’s the same or similar they might have fun using. It’s all in giving the child tools to express themselves.

Our goal is to teach children to make good choices with their behavior. We need to give them tools to get what they need to meet their needs. We need to be thoughtful about the outcomes we want. If you have not heard of Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline, I suggest you google her right away and watch some of her you tube videos and order a book or two of hers. She will change the way you see yourself and your children. She will change your mind and give you the tools to have awesome days with the children you serve.

Getting kids to behave

Click here to see one of her Conscious Discipline books

Click here to go to Becky Bailey’s website

Click here to go to her You Tube Channel and view some techniques right now!


Our First Book Review, Quack and Daisy, and a GIVEAWAY!

Any time we get a new book around here, the kids get all excited about it. (I don’t know where they get THAT from, tee hee) Anyhoo, this week we received “Quack and Daisy” by Aileen Stewart. It will be my very first book review on my blog, so I was doubly excited.

Here’s a link to order your copy! Click here.

quack and daisy

We sat down to look through the book and the kids were chanting at me to read it, so we began. The story is about a cute little cat and a cute little duck who end up in the same meadow exploring. They have fun together but find out they are very different. What will they do about their differences? You’ll have to read the book to find out if they’re a deal breaker for the friendship.

reading with kids, quack and daisy

The kids enjoyed listening to the book and loved the brightly colored pictures of the duck and kitten. Everyone commented on how cute the kitten was. She was definitely the favorite. The colors in the illustrations are very vivid and appealing to a child’s eye. The story is sweet and it teaches us a great lesson about differences and how to find something common with someone who is not like us.

kids literature, quack and daisy

I’m excited to see the next edition of Quack and Daisy’s adventures in the meadow and see what else the kids can learn from them. The only drawback of the book was it was a little long for the age group I have. Their attention span was held with the book, but developmentally, a little bit shorter book is better for ages 1-3 like I have. I would say it’s more appropriate for 4-5 year olds.

We enjoyed the exploring the new book. After we read it, I put it in the book rack and it’s been picked over and over again throughout the week when the kids want something to read. I would love to review more books with the kids in the future. I think they would too.

Early reading is so important for kids. Check out this post about the importance of reading for language development here.

Check out “Quack and Daisy” for a sweet story to engage your young children. It’s available for purchase at AMAZON, click here.

I can’t wait until you get it, you’re going to love it!

For some super exciting FREE “go along” materials the author has created to enhance your Quack and Daisy experience, click FUN WITH AILEEN here.

#QuackandDaisy, #KidLit

Now onto the GIVEAWAY! Woo hoo! If you’d like to enter to win a copy of “Quack and Daisy”, fill out the rafflecopter below. There will be THREE WINNERS! US residents will receive a paperback copy, International residents will receive a pdf copy.

This Giveaway ends Friday Oct 2 
 Quack and Daisy giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact Thaleia at s2ovaservices@gmail.comif you have any additional questions or comments.

How to Model Behavior You Want to See in Kids

How to Model Behavior You Want to See in Kids

Do you wish your kids showed more kindness? Do you want them to have good manners? Modeling behavior is one of the best ways to teach a child. I don’t think there is any better way to see who you really are than to spend time with children. It’s amazing the way children take in your every word and action, and spit it back out to you in mirror form. If you don’t want to see your ugly side, make sure you don’t model it to your kids!

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What’s the Deal with Screen Time?

Does it seem like every child you see is walking around with some sort of electronic device in their hand looking down at the screen instead of ahead? Does it seem like the art of conversation in dying out to texting and messaging? Do you think teenagers today are turning into zombies with no social skills?

The American Academy of Pediatrics, The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, and others recommend discouraging any screen time for children under the age of two, and less than two hours a day of educational programming for older children.  

screen time and kids

Over the past 20 years I have watched a lot of changes take place in this world and I have seen children change immensely. More and more I see media taking the place of human interactions. Most children I know have televisions in their room. Most children I know have a tablet, phone, or video game system they are well skilled at using. But I’m wondering what that is doing to their minds. How do they develop the ability to interact with others when they spend so much time tuned into a screen rather than a person? And what about all those activities that build learning skills they need? How do they have time for that?

Children spend way too much time viewing media. Statistics show 29% of babies under age 1 are watching an average of 90 minutes of TV a day. Children ages 1-2 are averaging over 2 hours, and children ages 2-5 are spending as much as 4.6 hours per day using media. Children ages 8-18 average 7 hours of screen media daily. What the ham sandwich? That’s a lot of TV!

kids and screen time

Time spent with screens is time kids are not running outside, playing with their dogs, talking to their friends, or playing soccer. It’s what they’re not doing during that time that’s the problem. INTERACTION, socialization, learning from the environment and more productive activities. Screen time is habit-forming, the more time we spend watching TV, the harder it is to turn it off. The older kids get, the harder it is to break that habit.

Screen time includes texting, internet surfing, video games, TV and movies. What’s the big deal about watching some TV or playing some video games? Excessive screen time is linked to hyperactivity, emotional problems, difficulties with peers, poor school performance and conduct problems. Early television watching in children under two is linked to problems like ADD, ADHD, lower intelligence, lower math achievement, reduced physical activity, and victimization by classmates.

Television viewing in young children is linked with increased BMI or body mass index, increased calorie intake, increased intake of low-nutrient and fast foods, sleep disturbance, and irregular sleep patterns in all ages of children. In addition, screen time is linked to delayed language development and lack of creativity and problem solving ability.

Adolescents who watch more than 3 hours of TV daily are at high risk for negative attitudes toward school, poor grades and long term academic failure as well. In addition, it is linked with violence, cyberbullying, obesity, and sleep problems.

Television replaces activities that make kids smarter, happier and healthier, time spent with family, homework time, and creative play. In children under the age of three, TV watching replaces activities that are imperative to proper brain development as well as human interaction time.

Don’t forget that many video games are too violent or sexually provocative for children. Violent video game play is linked to aggression and decreases helpful behaviors. There is also the risk of children being exposed to pornography when they have an internet connection in their bedroom.

If children are watching television, parents should watch with them to reinforce the educational aspects of the show. Unfortunately most television that is being watched by children is not educational and much of it is not being watched with parents.

Obviously, most teens will laugh or roll their eyes at these recommendations. Children do not want to be limited in these activities. Sadly, most parents are unaware of the lasting impact media exposure can have on their children.

Young people now spend more time with media than they do in school. When my daughter was in school, there was a lot of media AT school. They watch movies, use computers to surf the web, and have access to cell phones at school. When I was a kid, there was none of that available. Now teens spend more time using media than anything else besides sleeping!

I know if parents try to limit internet time for teens, they will most likely find a way around it. At least that has always been my experience. I think the best way to avoid it is not to have Wi-Fi available in your home, or sleeping with all the electronic devices in your room with you. Having a plan when your kids are born and implementing it from a very early age can help parents manage media participation later on. Good habits can be formed early.

Its also important to follow ratings and guidelines to make sure your kids are not being overstimulated by the wrong kinds of images and experiences. Games, television shows, and movies have a rating scale that can be used to determine the appropriate age for the user.

In addition to the show itself, when children are viewing television programs, take a minute to notice the commercials that are coming on between the shows. Some channels have excessive commercials with the give me give me give me type of attitude that can cause children to have a more self-centered attitude. Commercials are geared to make people want things they don’t need. Excessive commercial watching can lead to more behavior problems as well. There are channels such as public television that don’t have commercials for toys and things of that nature. Those might be a better choice for children to watch.

We must do something to intervene in the current tide of media viewing. We need more information on the dangers and impacts of media. Our children are becoming anti-social, overstimulated and NUMB! If you need help coming up with some screen time guidelines, click here.

Not all screen time is bad or has negative effects, I just think like with anything else, limits are important and doing any one thing in excess can take away from more important activities. Parents and caregivers need to be educated about the long term effects of too much of any one activity.

What suggestions do you have to help families limit screen time?

Let's Get Real Weeklyuntitled (3)Christian-Fellowshp

How do I get my kids to CLEAN UP?

Getting kids to want to clean up after themselves or do chores can be the biggest chore of all. It’s super important to teach your kids to take good care of their things and to help you with the household chores. It’s much easier just to do the cleaning yourself, but this doesn’t teach your kids how to care for their own things.

Doing everything for children is not a favor to them in the long run. Having responsibilities is an important part of teaching kids self-discipline. I promise you, they will be thankful in their adult years if they learn self-discipline as a child. Responsibilities build character.

getting kids to clean up

How can we teach young children how to want to take responsibility for their own messes?

  1. ROUTINE! Consistency is key with any part of teaching children good habits. Are there things you wish you were more consistent with in your adult life? Routines taught to children help them to keep routines as adults. Cleaning may be boring, but it gives you pride in a job well done, helps you maintain order for the other parts of your life, and helps you find the things you need.
  2. Modeling. Kids learn what they live. It’s imperative if you want them to be responsible, that you show them responsibility. Make sure you get your work done before you play and you will teach your kids to do the same. You may think children are not listening, but they are listening to your actions LOUD AND CLEAR! When I was young, my room was sty. Pig pen was the most common term used to describe it, but our house was always neat and picked up and my sister and I had chores and responsibilities. When I moved out on my own for the first time, I was so proud, I always wanted my house to look nice so I kept it neat and tidy. No one would have ever believed I would be neat, but I was. I wanted that because my mom always gave that to us growing up.
  3. Make cleaning fun. At Little Sprouts, we sing silly songs when we clean up, race to see who can clean the fastest, set a timer and see if we can beat the clock, get excited about what’s coming up when we get it done. Everyone is willing to clean up if they get to go outside when they get done or something else fun.
  4. Expect kids to do their part. If you expect little of your kids, that’s what you will get for sure. Make sure kids know you expect them to do as much as everyone else. When we all work together we get the job done. I used to keep a boy who always said, “Many hands make light work”. I remind the kids of that often. It takes everyone working hard so one person doesn’t have to do all the work. If Ms. Christina picks up all the toys by herself, we won’t have time to go outside, but if we all pick up, we can go out right away.
  5. Don’t expect them to be perfect. If they don’t put everything in the exact right places, show them where the toy goes again and let them try a second time. If they miss a few things, show them where they are and give them another chance to get it right. Don’t make it a difficult chore by expecting them to do it on their own. Lend them a helping hand.
  6. SIMPLIFY! If your kids never finish cleaning, maybe you have too many toys available to them. I also find that my kids get bored faster and display more difficult behaviors when we have too many toys out at once. You may need to downsize to just the kid’s favorite toys to find success. When I find it hard to get the kids to cooperate with cleaning, I will just sort the toys and put some of them in storage and it usually solves the problem right away. Too many toys can be overwhelming.
  7. Show them the consequences of the messes they make. If you don’t want to pick up so many toys, don’t dump them all out on the floor, just get out what you need. If you don’t want to pick up all the food off the floor, make sure you get your plate over the trash can before you dump it. Picking up a million green beans is not a lot of fun, so help them pick them up and show them a better way so they can feel successful next time.

kids cleaning up

Ms. Christina does not pick up toys unless she plays with them. All of my kids know that. If I play with them, I pick up my share, but if I don’t, I’m not going to pick them up. If children leave a mess when they leave my house, the next day they come, they will find a mess. I do my part and clean up more messes than you can shake a stick at, but I will not pick up toys I didn’t use. If they don’t pick up, I put the toys that are out in storage and they can’t play with them again. It’s a natural consequence.

My preschoolers and toddlers do not whine and complain about cleaning up. It does not take them forever to get it done either. Some of them need to be occasionally reminded that we all have to help, but they are very responsible workers for the most part. Of course the older kids get more done than the little ones, but as long as everyone is trying, I’m happy. When all the toys get picked up and we get to do something else we want, the kids are happy too.

Once your kids are used to being responsible for the messes they make, you will be surprised at how willing they are to do it. It’s never too early to teach responsibility. It does take work, but consistently expecting them to care for things shows them that is what’s always expected. Don’t give up, it will get easier. Don’t give in and do it all for them. That is not what’s best for them.

Do you have any great tips to get kids to clean up?

untitled (3)Christian-Fellowshp

How to Throw a Terrific TEDDY BEAR Picnic!

How to throw a teddy bear picnic

Having a teddy bear picnic is lots of fun. We have at least one a year at Little Sprouts. I invite the kids to bring their favorite stuffed animal to eat with them and we eat in a special place. This year, the heat index was supposed to be 100 at lunch time and that’s just too hot for me, so we opted for an indoor picnic. I placed a sheet on the living room floor and cooked lunch and packed it in a basket. The kids had so much fun!

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How to Use the Power of MUSIC!


Music moves us. Think of a time when you have been down, tired, or even just plain grouchy and your favorite song comes on the radio. You are instantly transformed into a time in your life when you were having fun. Your spirits are lifted, your mood is changed. Music changes people.

Disco Fever!

Disco Fever!

Me playing the world's largest wind chime!

Me playing the world’s largest wind chime!

I remember my grandmother holding me on her lap humming and singing to me. I can remember her and my mother always hum when they cook a nourishing meal for me. I remember listening to music all day long when I was a kid because my dad loved music so much. It soothed him and he couldn’t live without it. My neighbor blares music in his garage when he works outside. My husband and I love it! In fact, when we’re outside working and he’s not, we miss it.


God created sound and I firmly believe He loves all kinds of music. I believe He gave us music as a beautiful and lasting gift that would span the ribbons of time. There are hundreds of different sounds and types of music and people like different ones because God made us all different.


If music can change your mind and your mood, how can we use music to change our children? If we are having a grumpy day at Little Sprouts, I can crank up some rock music and my babies are instantly transformed. If I’m having a grumpy day, I can use some beats to change myself and be better for them.


Children SHOULD be exposed to music. It’s good for every part of them. Click here to see why it’s so important to include music and movement in your time with your kids.

There are so many different types of music in different cultures. Children should be exposed to a wide variety of music. Music was involved in all parts of history. It was used in the Bible to comfort the king when he was anxious. It was used throughout history, even in writing our Declaration of Independence.

My baby girl when she was in the high school band. :)

My baby girl when she was in the high school band. 🙂


Children who study music have a higher grade point average than children who do not. Albert Einstein improved his learning by playing the violin. As music relaxes your body, you are able to concentrate more fully on what you are learning. Listening skills are improved through music. The top academic countries in the world place great emphasis on music education. In the United States, we are cutting music programs left and right as budget shortfalls continue. What will the effects of that be?


Music effects neurological, psychological and physical functions. Processing language and expressing emotion are effected by music. Memory and motor responses are effected as well. Music links the spiritual, physical, and emotional with the thinking parts of the brain. Music is mathematical. The beats and notes in the music have a rhythm and a time. This is what makes music help children learn. Particularly memory can be enhanced by music.


Click here for more information on the power of music.

Music changes the speed of the heartbeat, changes your mood, calms and comforts, and can even reduce pain. Music can also lessen the effects and symptoms of depression. Both sides of the brain are working when we are involved in music which also stimulates learning.

Click here to find out more of the benefits music can give us.


The more experience you have with music, the more you are able to enjoy it. Practice makes perfect is no different when it comes to music. If there is a particular type of music you find no value in, perhaps more exposure to it can help your mind comprehend where there is beauty in it.


Musical beats, rhymes, expressing language, emotions, and so many other great benefits are held in an arm’s reach at your cd player. The next time your kids all come in grumpy on a Monday morning, I challenge you to put on some tunes and see if that changes their minds. I would be willing to bet it will.


Music is great for transition times. If you want the kids to pick up and no one wants to, jam an upbeat song on the radio and see if that helps them have more fun with their task and in turn be more willing to participate. I make up silly songs to clean with. Such as the old Barney song, “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere” I made a new second verse that goes “Clean up, clean up, don’t forget your underwear.” Kids think underwear is funny. So they giggle and laugh as they pick up the toys. It works folks!

the joy of music

Music is great for kids to rest by. It relaxes their bodies, quiets their minds and helps them feel more peaceful at nap time. We always sing together before I put my kids down for a nap. It focuses them and settles them.

Dancing is great exercise and who can resist a little jig when cool music is playing? Not me! I know we get a lot more movement at Little Sprouts because of music. I perform songs for the kids (and dance numbers). I encourage them to perform them for me. I dance with the kids at music time. It’s important to show children that it’s good to have fun. But moving to the music has more significance than just plain old fun. Movement to music helps the brain develop and learn as well.

There is no type of music that should be off limits. Variety in music genres can create more appreciation for different types of music as well as more connections in the brain. Kiddie music is fun and teaches good things, but it’s important for children to hear adult music to broaden their understanding and learning about and through music as well. Obviously inappropriate lyrics should be avoided, but styles of sounds should not. Adult music has a broader spectrum of scales and notes and produces more reactions in the brain.

It’s imperative that we model a love and appreciation for music. Hum, sing, dance, play, and enjoy music WITH your kids. It will be so beneficial to them, I promise. It doesn’t matter if your singing voice is good, or if you are a good dancer, it’s the enjoyment of it that matters. My kids beg me to sing to them for hours on end. I will do it until my throat hurts. One of my favorite things is when a child wants to sit in my lap and have me sing to them. I make up songs with their name (much to my husband’s annoyance), sing their favorite kid’s songs, sing songs from their favorite movies (which I usually only know the choruses I hear them sing), sing songs from my childhood, and sing hymns. I sing whatever I can think of and they love it. We are bonding. I’m giving them what my grandmother and mother gave me.

When I listen to music, I’m immediately taken back by the beat of it. I find the drum or percussion in the song and set my heart to it. It’s how I connect with the beauty of the artist. It transforms me.

I encourage you to put more music in your life today. I encourage you to share more music with your kids! They will be smarter, happier, and better behaved. And all of you will be having more fun!

guitar hero kitty

9 Ways to Encourage Language Skills in Your Kids

Words! They mean so much! Mastering language is of utmost importance for kids.

1. The first step in creating an environment that is great for language development is to show children that words have meaning. When you read a book, point to the words as you read them, as you cook a recipe, show the kids that they words on the page tell you HOW to create the recipe.

2. Reading to kids is the number one way to encourage them to master language. It’s also the best way to help kids become great readers. Children should be read to daily, in a positive way with physical touch. I try to touch all the kids as I read to them, I might put my arm around one, sit next to one, have one on my lap and hold another one’s foot or hand or rest my hand on their leg as we read. It’s not always possible to touch them all, but it’s a way to communicate positive memories with kids about reading, so I do it as much as I can. Click here to read more about the importance of reading to kids.

language development for kids

3. Another great way to improve children’s language skills is by talking to them. If you are a parent or a childcare provider, you should be talking all day long! You should listen to kids intently and look them in the eye when you listen to them or talk to them. Even holding their hands in yours so you can make them understand they have your attention and you want to hear them. You should talk about what you’re cooking for them, what you’re doing when you help them in the bathroom with potty training or changing their diapers, when you are getting prepared for an activity, when you are doing anything with them. We have to model good language skills if we want our kids to have them. Click here to read more about the importance of talking to kids

4. Music helps children develop language skill. The rhythm of music enhances all types of learning for children, and adults incidentally. Listen to all kinds of music with your kids. Click here to read more about how music enhances children’s language and other developmental skills.

5. Tell made up stories to your kids and listen to theirs. Imaginative stories are not lies, they are fantasies that help children discover life and the world around them. Tell your kids silly stories, a lot!

6. Cut down on screen time. Children under two should have no screen time and children over two should not be viewing screens for more than two hours a day. That programming should be quality educational programming as well. Children need interaction and response in order to learn language. Screen activities such as video games and television shows are not able to provide that to children and should be limited.

7. NEVER criticize how your child speaks. If someone mispronounces a word, just repeat it back to them correctly and praise their efforts. Do not say negative things about how children speak or shame them in any way.

8. Watch out for ear infections! Ear infections cause hearing loss and language delays in many children. Make sure you keep an eye out for them and look for warning signs such as pulling at or rubbing on their ears, drainage coming out of ears that is an off color, or the child complaining that their ears hurt. Ear aches are incredibly painful as well, so if you suspect your child could have an ear infection, get them the medical attention they need immediately.

9. Make sure to present plenty of activities to your children that stimulate language development. We do language experience sheets at Little Sprouts. I have a photo of each child doing something at daycare. I glue the photo to a blank sheet of paper and bring the child to the table. I ask the child to tell me a story about the picture and I write down exactly what they say how they say it. I give the kids as much eye contact as possible while I’m writing and I smile at them and encourage them with positive reinforcement. They love telling me their stories. I hang these on the wall at daycare until a month or two later when we make a new one so the kids can look at them and remember back about the story we wrote together. I give each mom a notebook at mom’s night out to keep the sheets in so she can look back and see how her child’s language has progressed over time. They are one of the most treasured things the families have commented on from daycare.

language development for childrenimproving language skills for children

Another activity we do is use the Clifford my big world books to read together each day. The sets come from scholastic classroom magazines and have a large book and a set of small books that are the same. We tape the large book to the wall and the kids get out the small books daily at story time. We read the book together out loud with them repeating what I read as I point to the words. Hopefully by the time we have been reading them for two weeks, the kids can tell what the books say. This is a great pre reading practice activity as well as a great self-esteem builder. To check out how to get your classroom magazines, click here.

Describing what you are doing or toys or materials children are playing with is a great way to increase language throughout the day. Make the most of meal times for pleasant conversations. We have the BEST discussions during meals at Little Sprouts. All kinds of things come up, even some parents would rather didn’t. Use your imagination to think of ways to add language experiences into every part of your day. Your kid’s language will develop right before your eyes. What do you to do encourage language with your kids?  


7 Steps to Rest-How to Get Kids to Sleep

Raise your hand if you could use a good night’s sleep? Who out there wants naptime at daycare to be more successful? Who wouldn’t want those things? Sleep can be elusive for children just like it can be for adults. Here are a few simple suggestions to help make sleep come easier for your kids. And they won’t hurt for adults either! Lack of sleep is detrimental to children not only for the tantrums and melt downs it causes, but it’s also important for physical growth and developmental growth. Click here to see the importance of sleep for kids.

Did anyone ever notice kids act better for everyone other than their own parents. Kids know their parents love them no matter what and that will never change, so they tend to show their real selves to their parents more than any other people. You know the old, you hurt the ones you love the most saying, it’s true. Many time parents or grandparents share with me their disbelief about how I can get 7 kids to lay on mats in my playroom a mere few inches apart and they all go to sleep. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? It is THE most common question I am asked by my parents.

getting kids to go to sleep

kids sleeping, how to get them to go to sleep

Obviously, it will go more smoothly for me simply because I am NOT their parent. But these tips worked with my own daughter too. After 22 years of putting kids down for naps, I know how to find success. Check out my tips on how to do it. ROUTINES, ROUTINES, ROUTINES! This is the number one tip for making any part of your day successful. Children NEED to know what’s coming next. If your child is always in a different place doing something different and they never know what to expect, settling down is harder for them.

Have a set routine for bed time every single night! A simple routine could be:  Bath, PJ’s, Teeth Brushing, Read a Story, Go to Sleep It doesn’t matter as much what the routine is as that you have one. At daycare, our routine is: Potty, Wash Hands, Story, Songs, Huggies, Get in bed, Choose a stuffed animal, Get covered up in your blankie, Be still and let your friends sleep. Most days they are all out within 5 minutes. I have one who fights sleep sometimes and it takes them up to 30 minutes to fall asleep some days, but mostly they are out in 5 as well. Here are my ten best tips to getting your kids to rest well.

  1. GET THE KIDS TO BED ON TIME! If kids (and adults) get overly tired, they start to produce stress hormones called cortisol that prevent them from falling asleep and staying asleep. Make sure you have a set bed time or nap time and stick to it! The more tired a child becomes, the less they will sleep. You can’t get a child to sleep in in the morning by keeping them up later at night. It just does not work that way, the more sleep people get, the more easily they will be able to sleep. Overtired people do not sleep well.
  2. Make sleep a pleasant topic. Talk about how good it feels to be rested and how much you  like your rest at other times when it’s not time to head to bed. Show the kids that sleep is good for them.
  3. Create a comfortable, peaceful environment.
  4. Eliminate all distractions such as TV and video games in the room. Quiet down the house around the room. Make sure the child has blankets and a comfy pillow to snuggle up in. Tuck them into bed and make them feel safe and warm. Make sure there is not too much light in the room, although some children will feel more comforted with a night light.
  5. Give them time to wind down. About an hour before your bed time routine, start transitioning the activities to quieter things. Turn the TV down, turn a few of the lights off in the house, chose some quieter things for the kids to do. Let their minds and bodies start to relax (and yours too!)
  6. Let kids fall asleep on their own! I know its super fun and snuggly to rock children or lay down with them, but that’s not what’s best for them. Of course newborns need to be rocked at first, but if kids are never allowed to soothe themselves to sleep, when they wake up in the night, they won’t be able to put themselves back to sleep. Do you want to get up all hours of the night and comfort your child forever? They have the tools to soothe themselves, let them develop them. It doesn’t make your relationship less close or cause the children harm to settle themselves to sleep. Stick to your routine, give them what they need, tell them you’re leaving the room and they need to stay in bed, and then leave. No one should be laying down is a 4 year old or a 10 year old to help them fall asleep every night. Let them do it on their own and they will develop more confidence in themselves.
  7. Be in charge. Don’t let the kids run the show. It’s our job to set healthy boundaries and actually, limits make children feel safe. Knowing you are in charge is comforting to them, and don’t you know what’s good for them as the adult? Our job is to care for children’s needs. Do what you know is best, even when it’s not the favorite thing of the child.

language development for kids

Making bedtimes peaceful and successful takes time if they haven’t been in the past. Don’t give up! Stick to your guns and stick with your routines and you will be amazed how it improves every part of your life. Being well rested is the best gift you can give yourself, your family, and the world. It’s worth the effort, and you can do it!

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