It can be the perfect solutions for some families, while it’s a burden for others. It depends on your preferences and unique situation. Here are some pros and cons worth considering as you decide whether it’s a good fit for your family.
If you’ve long wondered why your child appears to be more deeply affected by loud noises, sudden schedule changes, or a loud and fast-paced environment than other children his or her age, you may be dealing with the heightened sensitivity that marks a highly sensitive child (HSC).
Indeed, the phenomenon of the HSC has only recently received much attention or press coverage, and many parents of sensitive children may not have much guidance on the best discipline methods, amount and type of media exposure, or preschool programs to help meet their child’s needs.
Fortunately, there are several popular pre-school and pre-k programs that may be a perfect fit for the sensitive child. Read on to learn more about the special considerations you’ll want to take into account when selecting a preschool program for your highly sensitive child as well as some of the ways in which your child’s needs may differ from those of his or her peers.
How Do the Needs of Highly Sensitive Children Differ From Those of Other Children?
Although sensitive children don’t have an “official” diagnosis (unlike those with autism spectrum disorders or other sensory processing issues), many psychologists believe that highly sensitive children are essentially born with a nervous system that’s always on alert. Highly sensitive children may be especially sensitive to sudden loud noises, like slamming doors or beeping car horns, and tend to be restless sleepers.
Many HSCs have sensory issues that overlap with those of children with an autism spectrum disorder. For example, an HSC may insist that the seam of their sock be perfectly lined against their toes or refuse to put on a certain shirt or pair of pants with a tag that’s too scratchy.
While non-HSCs may notice or even be bothered by these same issues, they’re better able to ignore them and move on while HSCs may find themselves unable to concentrate or continue on to another activity until the problem is solved.
HSCs are frequently described as “shy” or “standoffish”; although they can be extroverted, it can sometimes take them more time than other children to adjust to new situations and become comfortable and at ease with their surroundings.
While this may seem like a laundry list of factors that can make raising an HSC more challenging than a child without heightened sensitivity, HSC have a number of advantages as well. Their perception and ability to soak in others’ emotions and reactions can make them tremendously empathetic, and you may discover that your child is always the first on the scene to comfort a friend or pet who isn’t feeling well.
What Should You Keep in Mind When Selecting a Preschool for Your HSC?
There are a few factors you’ll want to place at the forefront of your mind during your decision-making process.
For highly sensitive children, transitions can be especially stressful. If your child already attends daycare, you may find that dropping him or her off is the most hectic part of your morning. By inquiring into the transition procedure of your chosen preschool or pre-k program, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether the transitions are fluid and flexible enough to meet your child’s needs or will send him or her into a tailspin immediately upon arrival.
Many HSC do better with a slow-paced transition to activities-for example, eating breakfast quietly at a table after they arrive at preschool rather than immediately being sent into a loud room with other children playing.
Schools that focus on learning through play and fostering independence can often appeal to the HSC. As opposed to more structured programs where children aren’t able to choose what they work on or where they play, these child-centered programs can give your HSC the flexibility to step back when an activity becomes overwhelming rather than force themselves to continue and go through a meltdown.
If you’re child doesn’t respond immediately to your attempts to help them, don’t worry too much. As your child gains independence and forms relationships with his or her peers, the activities that are perceived as overwhelming may become fewer and farther between. Talk to the professionals at Kid’s Country for more information.
Many preschools, parents, and even babysitters rely on crafts to entertain their charges. These simple projects are more than just busy work-the tasks involved in crafts help children learn and develop as they have fun.
In this blog, we list five benefits that craft projects at home and at school can provide to your little one.
1. Bilateral Coordination
The term “bilateral coordination” applies to two vital types of child development. The primary type of bilateral coordination is the ability to use both hands in tandem movements. Using scissors, coloring, and doing other common crafting tasks encourage children to figure out how to make their hands work together.
Bilateral coordination is an essential foundation for developing fine motor skills, which we’ll discuss in more detail in section three.
The second type of bilateral coordination is neurological. This type of bilateral coordination involves the right and left hemispheres of the brain working together to respond to stimuli. Because crafts involve technical elements and artistic elements, these projects stimulate both the left and right brains.
Early development of bilateral brain coordination improves overall cognitive development throughout your child’s life.
It’s important to give children plenty of opportunities to flex their creative muscles, as we discussed in our previous blog, “The Importance of Fostering Children’s Creativity.” Creativity teaches problem solving, future thinking, and awareness.
Children are blessed with vivid imaginations that allow them to learn through play. Crafts give children an outlet to draw, build, or otherwise put their vision on paper.
3. Fine Motor Skills
Early childhood is when your child develops the ability to accurately control small-scale physical motions. This ability can also be referred to as “fine motor skills.”
Your child will use his or her fine motor skills to drive, type, and work in the future. But for now, drawing, cutting, and pasting help him or her strengthen the muscles in the hands as well as the neurological pathways that control fine-motor movement.
Learning how to communicate thoughts and feelings is an important part of growing up. For many children, articulating these abstract concepts with words is difficult. Having a child illustrate their ideas is a first step toward effective self-expression.
This concept is particularly true for children who are introverted or for those who have speechdevelopment delays. Misshapen paper snowflakes and thick lines of glitter glue may not look like art, but they provide your child with an avenue to explore ideas that they can’t otherwise explain.
To adults, many craft projects are simple activities that don’t require a lot of decision making, selfcontrol, or thought. To children, however, craft projects often present a series of choices that can help them develop executive function skills like self-management.
For example, your child may think that cutting multiple sheets of paper at once will save time but discover that the end result isn’t as pretty. Making the decision to go slower to create a higher-quality end product shows self-management and future thinking.
Crafts also teach patience and the ability to identify causal relationships. For example, children learn that glue needs time to dry, thus requiring patience, and that not waiting long enough could break apart the project. This is a form of cause and effect.
Encourage your child to cut, glue, and glitter to help him or her learn and develop in the areas listed above.
At Kid’s Country Learning Center, creative and engaging craft projects are staples of our curriculum and classrooms. Learn more about our range of activities and how these activities help your child to thrive on our About Us page.
Singing and song time is an enjoyable part of early childhood education, but you might not fully realize just how much music—especially singing—can influence your child’s brain development and educational experience.
Here are a few of the unique benefits that your child will enjoy when he or she spends time singing in the classroom and at home.
Have you ever had a catchy tune stuck in your head? Music, especially lyrics set to an easy tune, has a way of tapping the memory center of your brain. In preschool and daycare, singing can help children improve their capacity for learning. Music also serves as a mnemonic device for certain skills and knowledge. For example, when music is involved, your child will have an easier time with:
- Learning the alphabet. Many children can sing the alphabet before even learning the meaning of each letter.
- Learning a second language. Songs in a second language will help your child remember correct pronunciation.
- Counting and remembering mathematical functions of all sorts. Adding becomes easy when the first few numbers in the sequence are set to song.
Additionally, if your child sings a song as they learn a new skill, the skill will be easier to repeat later—music can improve muscle memory. As a basic example, many toddlers do better with remembering to go to the potty when if the ritual of going to the bathroom includes a song. When they have to go, they might then begin to sing the potty song before even reaching the bathroom.
Increased Social Interaction
Singing together with other children is one of the first community-building exercises your child will experience. It takes work to listen to the words others are singing and to follow along with the lyrics to the end of the song.
Singing as a group fosters a feeling of learning together—especially when songs express a goal. A common example is the “cleanup” song: “Cleanup, cleanup, everybody everywhere!” This song immediately conveys the task at hand, and when every sings together as they cleanup, each child is focusing on “doing his or her share,” as the song instructs.
Some children struggle to understand and pronounce new words. Other children might be afraid to speak in front of others. Singing is the bridge that can help these students improve. Songs teach new words, especially songs that build on themselves. For example, “London Bridge is Falling Down” features a new tool in every verse for children to learn about.
Songs also naturally teach prepositions, locations, and words that rhyme. All of these factors come together to help your child’s language development improve when enjoying regular singing.
Finally, research shows that singing out loud can actually promote physical health benefits for children. Singing can have the following positive effects:
- Calming. The act of singing requires mental concentration and can help the brain recall a calmer state. A simple song can help a toddler come out of a tantrum or help them forget sadness briefly as they sing a comforting tune.
- Reduced stress. Singing improves your breathing. Children who sing have slower resting heartbeats and a larger lung capacity, reducing physical stress signals.
- Improved body awareness. Children like to sing action songs—they make hand gestures (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”) and follow directions (“The Hokey Pokey”). Moving to musical queues improves coordination and helps children remain active at school, improving their concentration during more rigorous academia.
The benefits of singing in school cannot be stated enough. If your child is learning new songs at daycare, preschool, or in after school programs, encourage at-home practice to solidify the results.
For more information about aspects of exceptional childcare and education, contact us at Kid’s Country Child Care & Learning Center.
It’s said that the best way to show someone you love them is to spend time with them. You wish you could spend every day with your child, but your work schedule doesn’t make that possible. Fortunately, there are ways you can stay in touch with your child even when you need to work full-time.
1. Maximize Your Time Off
While you might not be able to take your child on daily outings, you can make use of evenings, weekends, and time off. Plan a special activity each week that you can do one-on-one with your child.
When you have a new baby, use as much maternity or paternity leave time as you’re allowed to take. You can use this time off to bond with your new baby and spend time with your older children. Plus, many workers let their vacation days go unused. You could use these vacation days to spend time with your children, even if you decide to stay at home.
2. Give Your Child a Basic Cell Phone
If you feel that your child is old enough and responsible enough to take care of a cell phone, buying one may be a good idea. Your child can get a hold of you if he or she needs a ride from school or daycare. If you’re going to be late coming home, you can give your child a quick call.
There are several cell phone options catered to first-time phone users. With a pay-as-you-go phone plan, you pay only for the calls your child makes. It’s a good choice if your child is using his or her phone only to contact you.
Children under 12 probably don’t need a smartphone—a basic cell phone will do. Most cell phone carriers allow you to use parental controls to monitor your child’s phone use.
3. Send Gifts and Notes
Your child might miss you during the long days at school or daycare. Let your child know you’re thinking of him or her by leaving little notes or gifts in his or her backpack or lunch box. Your child will love discovering a new special note every day.
4. Take Your Child to Work
Many employers participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, on the fourth Thursday in April. If yours doesn’t, ask your supervisor whether you can bring your child with you some day. Your son or daughter can see what your office looks like, meet your co-workers, and find out what you do. Knowing where you are every day might help him or her feel more connected to you.
5. Develop a Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher
If you want to know exactly how your child’s doing when you’re not around, ask your child’s teacher. The teacher can let you know about any struggles your child is having. He or she can partner with you to find a solution.
6. Choose a Daycare Near Your Work
This will give you the opportunity to visit your child if he or she gets sick or if there is another emergency. Choose a daycare, preschool, or after-school program with an open-door policy. That way, you can visit your child at any time during the day. You could even drop by during your lunch hour and participate in an activity with your child.
Working full-time can be difficult for both you and your child. By following these steps, you can maintain a good relationship with your child. Your child will know that you’re always there when he or she needs you.
If you’re looking for a family-focused preschool in the Seattle area, call Kid’s Country to schedule a tour. We have 10 locations, so we likely have one near your work.
You want to encourage your children to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. You also want them to learn more about the natural environment that surrounds them.
Outdoor activities in Washington State might not seem as obvious as those in California—you can’t always spend hours on the beach in the sunshine. Nevertheless, Washington still offers a variety of unique outdoor activities for children and parents.
Here are some educational yet fun outdoor activities you might not find anywhere else in the world.
1. Ballard Locks
Let your children experience what happens when the natural environment and human civilization meet. The Ballard Locks in the Lake Washington Ship Canal are a series of locks that shape Seattle and its waterways. The locks allow boats to pass from lakes to sea while preventing the mixing of salt water from the Puget Sound and fresh water from Seattle’s lakes.
At the Ballard Locks, your children will enjoy watching the locks in action. They can also learn more about the fish ladder, which allows salmon to safely migrate around the locks. Over a million people visit the locks every year, so make sure your family takes the chance as well.
2. Whale Watching Tours
Seattle’s proximity to the ocean offers the opportunity to see whales, dolphins, and other sea life. Several different boat tour companies can take you and your family around Seattle and the neighboring San Juan Islands. They can even take you all the way to Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia.
As you look for sea life, tour guides can explain to your family about Seattle’s native animals and natural features. Make sure your kids bring their binoculars so they can get the first glance at a jumping whale!
3. Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park in Port Angeles offers a wide variety of unique outdoor features for your family to explore. Your children can enjoy hiking in the mountains, watching sea creatures in the tide pools, or walking through the stunning temperate rain forests.
You’ll see many different plants and animals at the Olympic National Park. To make your experience more exciting, have your children participate in a photo scavenger hunt. Make a list of plants and animals for them to find. When they find each item, they can snap a photo with a disposable camera and check the item off their list.
4. Pike Place Market
The Pike Place Market is among the oldest outdoor farmer’s markets in the country, in operation since 1907. While you stroll through the market, you can purchase fresh produce, crafts, artwork,
snacks, and many other items. If you’re lucky, you might get to watch fishmongers throwing fish to customers!
As you visit Pike Place with your children, help them name all the unique foods they see. Encourage them to try something they’ve never tried before.
5. Mt. Rainier
Beautiful Mt. Rainier is one of Washington’s most iconic and beloved mountains. Visiting Mt. Rainier as a family allows for many opportunities to hike. You can learn more about the natural area surrounding Mt. Rainier by participating in a ranger-led walk or talk at the visitor’s center.
One of the most exciting natural wonders of Mt. Rainier are the wildflowers that cover the surrounding meadows. The flowers’ peak season is in July and August.
Rainy weather and overcast skies don’t keep Washington residents from enjoying the outdoors. Help your children learn the importance of an active lifestyle and appreciate the beauty of the world around them. If you need to enroll your children in preschool, make sure to choose a preschool that incorporates outdoor activities as part of the curriculum!
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) estimates that nearly 80% of children and teens suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder occurs frequently in children ages five to seven, with some children suffering separation distress as early as eight months of age.
If your child repeatedly throws tantrums, cries, or clings to you whenever you leave the house, your child may suffer from separation anxiety. Although your child will likely grow out of this behavior, the tears, screams, and pleas may make day care drop-offs a heartbreaking experience.
So what can you do to calm your child and soothe his or her fears before you leave?
1. Give Your Child Time to Adjust
Ever hear the phrase, “familiarity breeds comfort”? Your child will feel safer spending time without you if he or she is in a familiar environment.
Before you leave your son or daughter alone at day care, spend the first few minutes, hours, or sessions in the room with him or her. Point out fun and exciting objects for your little one to play with. Introduce your child to the caregivers and other children. And share your enthusiasm and confidence every step of the way.
If your child still doesn’t seem comfortable, encourage him or her to bring along a beloved toy, blanket, or book. The item will help your son or daughter maintain a connection to home and family, even if the day care doesn’t feel like a familiar, comfortable place just yet.
2. Start a Goodbye Ritual
When things feel out of your control, you may naturally feel more stressed and anxious about your day. If you don’t know when your in-laws are visiting, if your boss wants you to organize a meeting, or whether your mortgage will close, you may feel at your wit’s end trying to pull your life together.
The same concept applies to your child. When he or she doesn’t understand why you are leaving, where you are going, who to play with, or what to do while you’re gone, the unknown variables may scare your son or daughter to tears.
Regular routines help your child feel more secure with the day, giving him or her exciting events to look forward to and minimizing stress. When you establish a routine of a secret good-bye wave or special good-bye hug, you can quickly reassure your little one that the day will go smoothly, just like the day before.
However, avoid creating long, drawn-out good-byes with your rituals. The extra fanfare and stalling may train your child to continue crying so you don’t leave.
3. Assign Your Child a Job or Task
Children have notoriously short attention spans. Many experts estimate that a child’s attention span loosely measures at the child’s age, so if you have a four-year-old, you can expect him or her to focus on a single object for four minutes. If you have a seven-year-old, he or she may stay interested for seven minutes.
Due to the short attention span, you might not have to work hard to distract your
child from the fear and pain of your absence. A new book, toy, snack, or activity could quickly turn your son’s or daughter’s frown into a delighted giggle or smile.
Before you leave for the day, assign a small job or task that will demand your little one’s complete focus for a few minutes, such as greeting other children at the door, picking up the toys in the room, or reading a book on the shelf. Promise your son or daughter that if he or she finishes the task that you’ll reward him or her for the effort. Your child will be so intent on finishing the task that he or she won’t mind that you’ve left.
Just don’t use the distraction as cover for sneaking away. If you leave without a good-bye, your child may feel even more confused and fearful and you’ll lose some of his or her trust.
Remember to Be Patient With Your Child
The above tips and tricks can help keep your child calm, relaxed, and content while you are away. But remember that separation anxiety comes and goes in phases as he or she develops. Your toddler may go through a rough patch for two weeks, only to run off to day care one morning without a second glance. Or, your child may seem like a social butterfly for years only to revert to an anxious state when he or she goes to school for the first time.
To get through these difficult times, simply be patient with your little one and seek professional guidance as needed.
You want your children to find subjects they feel passionate about. You want your kids to love to learn, to develop their natural talents, and to feel inspired in whatever activities they choose. However, you also know that your children will have a more successful future if they foster an early interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
These fields, the STEM fields, direct your kids into high-paying jobs in accounting, manufacturing, and even astrophysics. Many children feel intimidated by these fields, especially as studies advance. But if your children discover an affinity for these subjects early on, they may feel inspired and motivated enough to stick with these disciplines even as studies become increasingly difficult.
Learn more about how to help your children discover a love for science by reading below.
1. Encourage Questions With Praise and Straight Answers
Children often think bigger than you might expect. So, when your kids ask you what the sun is made of, or inquire about black holes, photosynthesis, or genetics, divulge all the details with the appropriate vocabulary.
You shouldn’t try to simplify the answers-after all, the sun isn’t simply made of fire, and black holes are more than just deep space vacuum cleaners. Give complete answers with words your kids understand. For example, an explanation of the sun’s contents could include an explanation of matter’s different states: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. You could also talk about the different elements stars burn.
With straight, detailed answers, you show your kids that their questions and thoughts are intelligent, engaging, and praiseworthy. You should even praise your children for their deep thoughts and questions. Praise will encourage your kids to continue asking the same kinds of questions. Those questions, in turn, could help your little ones turn into future scientists.
2. Have Monthly Science Fair Projects
Of course, your kids will have to do official science fair projects as they progress through elementary, middle, and high school. But even if your children haven’t gotten to that point yet, you can still ignite their imaginations by having them do smaller science projects every month or even every week.
These projects can range from building solar systems to making volcanoes out of vinegar and baking soda.
As your children age, you can progress to even more complicated projects, such as building miniature engines. Look at online resources like Exploratorium if you need more inspiration.
3. Encourage Your Children to Read Science Fiction
Lots of science fiction lacks verifiable science, but this literary genre does open kids’ minds to what science and technology could achieve. Children might read different science fiction novels and feel driven to create invisibility or cloaking technology. They might even read about “futuristic” healing techniques and work to make those techniques a reality.
If nothing else, science fiction will generate more deep questions that lead to further learning.
4. Expose Your Children to Real-World, Scientific Problems
Science encompasses so many of life’s facets that your children probably don’t even know what questions to ask. You can expose your children to some of science’s most pressing projects, such as getting astronauts to Mars or converting mass amounts of salt water to fresh water.
When you explain these problems, brainstorm solutions with your kids, and tell your kids about the advances scientists have made toward solving these issues, you could inspire your children. After all, if other humans can do such incredibly creative and intelligent things, your children can feel hopeful about doing the same. And hope is a powerful motivator, especially in fields as challenging as science.
When your children end up loving science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, the process begins with questions and encouragement. Use the tips above to get started. And if you need any other suggestions, contact your child’s instructor and see if he or she can do anything to help
You want your kids to learn and grow, which means they will have to try new things. But when certain tasks look like they might get hard, you may notice that your kids want to give up. For example, your kids might decide they don’t want to try to make new friends, stand up to a bully, or try out for their favorite sport because they are scared they may fail.
Your kids need to learn to have confidence in themselves and their abilities. These three tips can help you teach your kids to trust themselves enough to try new things.
1. Praise Effort, Not Results
You may feel that complimenting your children often will help build their confidence. However, praise can be a double-edged sword. If you constantly praise your kids for everything, they can learn to rely on it, which means that if they don’t get glowing feedback, they will feel like failures.
Alternatively, you might only praise your children when they are successful at something, like getting a good grade or making the soccer team. In this case, they might learn that they are only worthwhile when they succeed, even if that’s not the message you intended to send. If your children think they have to succeed to please you, they may be too scared to try anything new.
Use compliments wisely. Instead of giving them out for everything your child does, compliment your child when you can tell he or she tried hard. If you praise your children’s efforts, not the results, your children will learn that trying something is worthwhile and that they don’t need to always succeed to be worthwhile.
For example, if your children are at a competition, you don’t have to comment on whether they win or lose. Instead, you could focus on the effort involved, like saying how great they did on specific skills they’ve been practicing, or on how much you enjoyed watching them compete. Complimenting their efforts will teach them that their hard work matters, even if they fail.
2. Let Them Take Risks
You can’t stop your children from failing at some point. It’s inevitable, and part of confidence is knowing that you can deal with and move on from failure. You have to let your children mess up sometimes.
Next time you see your kid trying to carry too many things, don’t intervene (as long as he or she is safe). If your child drops everything because he or she was carrying too much, your child will better learn the limits of his or her capabilities. Additionally, he or she will learn to clean up the mess and move on, or in other words, your child will learn what to do after a failure.
3. Give Responsibility
Having some sort of responsibility teaches your child that he or she is capable of being in charge. Your children can learn to trust their own abilities more, giving them confidence.
The type of responsibility you give your kids depends on their ages and their abilities. You want to give them chances to grow, but you don’t want to set a goal that they can’t reach yet. For example, a toddler may be ready for the responsibility of making some decisions: you could ask your toddler to pick out his or her own clothes.
Your older children may be ready for more responsibility, like helping their younger siblings, cleaning certain areas of the house, or looking after a pet. You are ultimately the best judge of what your children are ready for. Think about what they can handle, and give them opportunities to take charge and succeed.
If your children struggle with trying new things, they could be afraid of failure. They need to learn confidence. Help by praising efforts instead of results, letting them take risks, and giving them responsibilities.
Daycare or after-school programs can also help your children learn to trust themselves in your absence. If you think your kids could benefit from trying new things away from home, contact Kids’ Country.