Tuesday, October 28, 2014

From Wherever, With Love

If you are taking a trip for business or pleasure and are in the habit of bringing back a souvenir for your child, here is a thought: 

Bypass the toy. 
Skip the t-shirt.

Choose a book instead. 

It can be a book that is representative of your destination. (You can even cheat and buy the book ahead of time and stash it at home.) Then, as you read the book with your child and point out places you visited, she can picture you there.

If you do a travel a lot, this is a terrific way to build a library. (And if your travel takes you to far-flung shores, the resulting collection might even be exotic.)  

However, the big takeaway here is that you are sending a message . . .  you were thinking about your child, missing and loving her, and you chose a book as a token of your affection. 

Making it a book sends the message that books are a valued gift and a sign of your love. You are strengthening that connection between loving and reading when you choose a book.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Visit School to Read Aloud

Visiting the classroom is a good way to keep an open connection between school and home. If it is okay with your child’s preschool, ask if you can visit the classroom to read your child’s favorite books with the class. 

A visit provides a good chance for your child’s teachers and classmates to get to know your child a little better. You will also get a sense of your child’s day and what the school environment is like. It is a terrific way to get to know some of the classmates she may be talking about at home. And she will like to show you off to her school friends and maybe even show off some of her reading prowess.

First, be sure your child if she is OK with this plan. And ask her which book she wants to share with the class. Then, schedule the visit. If she is hesitant, wait a month or two and ask again. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's Time to Get Your Kid Carded

Take your child to the library to get a library card. 

While this may see like a quaint idea in the digital age, libraries are way cooler than you might remember from when you were a child. Plus, libraries are free! 

Find out about story hours and special programs that your child may enjoy. Many libraries have websites that allow you to reserve books ahead of time. So if bad weather or crazy schedules prevent you from getting out to the library, plan ahead and reserve books for your next trip.

Your public library may have programs that are perfect for your child’s age and developmental stage. Children’s librarians are specially trained to suggest books your child will enjoy and plan programs for children of different ages. Programs will probably not cost anything and are often geared toward creativity and extending a theme from a book. 

And don't forget about the power of peers. In the children’s room at a library  your child will see other children reading—and that will reinforce the message that reading is something lots of people enjoy. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fan Time

If your child really, really enjoys a book, do some research. Find out if the author has written other books. If so, get your hands on them!

Do a search and find photos or biographical information about the author. Many authors have their own websites so it is easy-breezy to get the facts. Show your child the sites and talk about the author and his or her life.

This little research pursuit helps children get the idea that books are written by real people who have ideas and feelings and their own lives that include their own family . . . and maybe even pets. 

Your preschooler will be starting to learn to respect the creative process and to understand that books come from people—not just libraries and bookstores! This knowledge will help your child gain appreciation for the writing process as well as the idea of authorship.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thumbs Up? Thumbs Down?

Encourage your young child to express opinions about the books he reads. If he loves a particular book, probe a little to see what he liked. Was it the amazing pictures? The familiarity of the setting? A character just like him?  

And . . . just like you, he won't love every book he encounters. Let him know that it's fine to feel that way--that you are interested in why he didn't like a particular book. Were the pictures boring?  Was the book too scary? Was it too long?

You may need to help him find ways to express his opinions. Even if he does not have the vocabulary to describe what he is feeling, you can help him formulate his ideas. He will begin to develop that vocabulary over time.

Ask questions to get the ideas flowing. You are teaching your preschooler that his opinions matter. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Let's Potty! A Terrific Resource

I sometimes have the opportunity to review new books and products that are designed for children and parents. I recently had the pleasure to take a look at Let’s Potty, a potty training board game created by Aim High Games, Inc. 

Did you know that the term “potty training” is one of the most-searched terms of all parenting issues? No wonder. It can be fraught with tension between child and parent, competition among parents, and feelings of frustration and despair. This fresh and creative product, designed to facilitate the toilet training process, is a new resource to deal with those challenges.

I am a big fan of multifaceted approaches to issues. For example, I think a book can be a good starting point for talking to children about something new or upsetting —whether it is starting school, moving to a new home, a loved one’s death, and so on. Likewise a game can be an ideal vehicle for dealing with a developmental step. Game playing builds social skills as well as cognitive and physiological abilities. Young children love playing games. They enjoy the back-and-forth, the rules, the feeling that they are doing something grown up. And this lighthearted game reinforces all those needs, and does it uniquely and with spirit. It also provides parents and children with accessible vocabulary to use for potty training and experiences to refer to in the real world.

I loved this game—its colorful graphics, humorous style, and lighthearted touch offer parents a fun way to take some of the angst out of toilet training. If you are thinking about or in the process of toilet training your young child, check out this award winning game. It is a terrific resource. For more information, go to www.lets-potty.com.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reading Early May Increase Brain Power

As if I needed to have one more reason to encourage parents to read to their children!

A new study from the University of Edinburgh finds that developing early reading skills may lead to higher intelligence scores later on. This longitudinal study compared twins over the course of many years, and found that the twin whose early reading ability was stronger scored higher in intelligence testing over the course of years, even at age 16.

Of course, the best reason to read to your young children is to love the time together, and show your young one the joys of reading and learning. But in case you are motivated or intrigued by this interesting study, published in a reputable research journal, I thought I'd share it!

Here is a link to a description of the study.



There are all kinds of readers. Some—like my daughter and me—are never without a book to read for pleasure. Others—like my son—are careful, analytical, and curious readers who read primarily to seek information from the page.

No matter what kind of reader your child becomes, you can help him or her get started. After all, you are your child’s first teacher. And, best of all, you can have some fun in the process.

Please feel free to share your own ideas. Tell me about ways you've enjoyed reading with your child.