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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

5 Tips to Provide Learning and Healthy Development for Your Kids at Home

Rebecca Caban

As a mom, I know how strapped for time we all feel and how much we want what’s best for our kiddos. That’s why at www.eensies.com we strive to provide parents with advice that requires little preparation and is super easy to implement. The good news is that some of the best things you can do at home to promote learning and healthy development requires only a little tweaking to what you’re already doing. Take a look at my top 5 below and you’ll see what I mean.

Read, read, read and read!

Reading to your children is one of the most important things you can do at home to ensure their success at school (and in life). It’s really never too early to start, but please remember that school aged children also benefit tremendously from read alouds. Being read to helps teach children that reading is an enjoyable activity, while at the same time it builds listening and comprehension skills, increases vocabulary, improves memory and much, much more. No matter how you squeeze it into your day, do it!

Be a top model

Modeling (okay, not the Heidi Klum kind) is the most powerful teaching tool and as parents we’re the number one models our kiddos follow. Viewing ones parents as “readers” and “writers” makes those acts that much more inviting to our wee ones. Let your child observe you reading and writing regularly. Get “caught” reading the paper, your fave magazine, a good book, recipes, etc. Share that shopping or to-do list, the thank-you letter you just wrote, or the notes you put together for the sitter.

Allow plenty of time for free, unstructured play

The importance of play cannot be overemphasized. It’s essential for healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development. Yet, sadly, in today’s hurried environment play is in serious jeopardy. Therefore, we must find the time to support it at home! It couldn’t be easier to encourage and www.eensies.com has TONS of tips to help.

Do things together

You may not think of assembling that new toy, setting the table, or baking a cake as learning opportunities, but they are! When you make something together you often have to read instructions or a recipe and discuss them, which helps develop literacy. When you bake or cook you have to measure and do conversions, which demonstrates the real-world application of mathematics. But more important than the skills you’ll be building, doing things together strengthens the parent-child bond. Spending quality time with our children is extremely important- it reminds them that we love and care for them. And what’s more important than that?

Praise your kiddos

A little positive reinforcement goes a loooooong way! Trust me, it’s much easier to praise good behavior than to correct bad behaviors. And when you let your child know that they're doing something well, it silently encourages them to do it again- bonus! Make sure you “catch” your kiddo in the act of something positive everyday. “I love the way you…”

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After teaching in NYC public schools for 10 years, Rebecca Caban is now spending her time at home in Brooklyn being “taught” by her 2 year old daughter. While in the classroom, she taught pre-K through the 3rd grade and then spent some time coaching other teachers.

Inspired by the frequently asked question many parents have, “What should we be doing at home?” Rebecca started a blog with a former colleague, www.eensies.com, to help inspire parents and promote learning and healthy development outside of the classroom. Eensies are small, easily digestible bits of advice for parents.