From the time babies are born, they begin to learn about the world around them. How your child speaks, plays, and acts can give you clues to how well he or she is learning. Not every baby develops the same skills at the same time. However, you can look for milestones around certain ages to ensure your baby is learning essential developmental skills.
Look for the following milestones in your infant to ensure he or she is developing properly.
Your child knows a lot about the outside world. Thanks to his or her education and your own family activities, your preschooler or elementary school-aged child spends time in nature and knows a lot about the city or state in which you live.
But while you want your child to love life in your area, you also want him or her to grow into a global citizen-and there’s no better time to help your child become a compassionate, helpful member of the global community than while he or she is young.
Fortunately, you don’t always have to pay for international travel to help your child grow. Parents and teachers alike can help young children foster an interest in the rest of the world from right here in Minnesota-just follow the tips in this blog to help your child learn more about the globe.
When children take tests or learn new skills, their confidence level often determines their success. Therefore, it’s important for parents to help their kids develop a can-do attitude that prepares them for challenges both in school and in life.
If you want to help your child develop confidence as he or she grows, try the confidence-building tips below.
Another year is upon us, which means one thing: it’s time to set New Year’s resolutions. Even if you haven’t had success with resolutions in the past, setting a few with your children can help them learn self-discipline, as well as the value of setting and achieving goals.
If you’re not sure how to help your kids set healthy, realistic resolutions, don’t fret. We want to see your kids succeed just as much as you do, so we put together the following guide with potential resolutions and ways to turn them into reality.
The more you observe the world, the more you want your children to grow into strong, tolerant, and understanding people. You want to make sure your kids have the mental and emotional capacity to positively interact with people from diverse backgrounds.
But how do you help them develop that capacity?
First, you start early by exposing your children to other cultures and beliefs. And part of that exposure includes other languages, especially those languages that your kids might come across on a regular basis, like Spanish from Latin America or French from Canada.
As your kids learn these languages, the cultures and peoples associated with those tongues won’t seem so unapproachable to them. They’ll grow up with fewer cultural barriers. They’ll also reap the benefits listed below.
As a parent, you know that many of your child’s advantages and experiences come from the programs he or she participates in. You understand that organized sports offer structure and physical activity, while music lessons cultivate your child’s talents and hone his or her fine motor skills.
But what about preschool? You may have heard conflicting ideas about how a child benefits from programs before he or she enters kindergarten. In this blog, we list six of the studied benefits of high-quality preschool programs.
How well do your kids know your neighborhood and city? You may take them to the Minnesota Zoo or to Longfellow Gardens-but have they ever visited the Union Gospel Mission or taken a trip to a nearby animal shelter?
The Twin Cities area offers plentiful opportunities to community volunteers. Whether you work a few hours at a soup kitchen or regularly donate to another local cause, you’ll find many organizations in need of your service. Most local societies are happy to receive adult volunteers.
But adults often forget how generous children are. Sometimes parents and teachers are so busy going over homework or running to sporting events that they forget to teach community service. Once kids experience the fun of giving and helping, they often continue serving their community as adults.
If you’ve always wanted to involve your children in service projects, start small. Here are a few fun ideas you can try now.
- Sell Cupcakes for Charity
Most kids love to help make cupcakes (or frost them and add sprinkles). Regardless of your child’s age, let him or her help you prepare cupcakes in some way. For example, if you plan to donate to a breast cancer organization, you can use pink sprinkles or outline the shape of a ribbon by using pink M&Ms.
Once you have a few dozen treats, walk with children through your neighborhood, telling residents that you’ve made cupcakes for a particular charity. Most people are only too happy to donate 25 or 50 cents per cupcake. Then, your children can help you tally the donations and take them to a local charity in person (or donate online).
- Donate Garden Goods
If you grow your own garden-even if it’s only several tomato plants on your balcony-you can teach young children to share the bounty with others. Fill small plastic bags with extra zucchini or a few cherry tomatoes, and donate them to a neighbor who just lost a job, or to a community or church function as a fresh relish tray.
- Treat Those Who Serve You
If your children are small, plan a day to give back to service personnel in your area. If the weather is particularly hot, serve your neighborhood garbage collector a popsicle or cool glass of homemade lemonade.
This concept also works nicely for those who deliver your mail or sweep and shovel roads. It can make a busy driver’s day to receive a handmade card from a five-year old. And your children will love offering a cup of hot chocolate to your landlord or plumber on a dreary winter day.
- Volunteer With a Church Group
If you belong to a local congregation and it regularly participates in community outreach projects, involve your kids whenever possible. If you’re cleaning the church grounds, give your child his or her own small garbage sack and pair of worker’s gloves. Likewise, if you’re helping deliver meals to a shut-in, let your child carry a few food items when you go to the door.
If your church sponsors a children’s group, offer to chaperone during a trip to a senior living facility where the children may sing songs or present residents with a small handmade gift.
- Work at a Food Shelter
Some local shelters allow families to serve meals. If so, give each child a specific task. One might help you fill or re-fill water glasses. Another can help you wipe down each table before serving or take away empty plates. One child can be a runner who informs adults when a food item runs low.
If your local food pantry or soup kitchen doesn’t need servers, ask if you can donate funds or actual food items. Your child may agree to give a bake sale or lemonade stand’s proceeds to a food pantry. These funds help pantry workers purchase needed food items when inventory is low.
- Remember Animal Shelters
Most kids love animals. If your child wants to donate to an animal shelter, consider helping him or her create a few easy chew toys from old denim jeans or colorful fleece scraps knotted together. Or, make handmade cards together that you can sell. Use proceeds to help animal shelters purchase dog food or other supplies.
If neighbors need help walking dogs during vacation, ask for a one-time donation that your child will give to the local animal rescue association. Then, set up a routine for your child to follow. This task works best for older children or those who know how to handle pets.
- Show Kindness
It’s not difficult to teach children to show kindness in your community. Opportunities lie everywhere-at your grocery store, on the sports field, at school, at the Laundromat, and just about any other place.
Help your child create some simple pass-along cards that say things like “Thanks for your smile,” “We appreciate you,” or “Thank you for being so helpful.” Carry these with you to give to a kind grocery bagger, favorite teacher, or helpful store clerk.
You never know what creative and fun service opportunities lie beyond the lemonade stand! Help your child get more involved in the community by volunteering today.
You may have noticed that your child’s Montessori education involves yoga, soccer and other physical activities. And when you noticed this, you probably wondered why the education system bothers with exercise. After all, when you think of school, you think of mental enrichment-not physical enrichment.
However, physical exercise contributes to your children’s overall mental health as well. Exercise boosts your children’s lifelong health and increases their chances for future successes. So, even though it may seem counterintuitive, physical activity represents a critical part of your kids’ education.
Below, we’ve listed a few ways that exercise boosts your little ones’ development.
- It controls weight.
You’ve likely seen stories about obese children in the news. In many cases, these children didn’t exercise or eat well. As a result, they became overweight early on, which began a cycle of increasing mass that even an adult would struggle to break out of.
You don’t want this to happen to your children. And while your kids probably won’t become obese, they may still struggle to control their weight if they don’t get regular exercise. So even if your children dance or play sports at school, they should still do something active when they get home. They’ll stay fit and healthy with that strategy.
- It strengthens muscles and bones.
When the body senses that certain muscles and bones handle more force than others, it sends more nutrients to those areas. The added nutrients make the tissues stronger, and your child becomes healthier as a result. If you want to ensure your kids have tough and healthy bodies, make sure they stay active every day.
- It lengthens your kids’ lifespan.
Studies have shown that people who exercise for at least seven hours per week have a 40% lower risk of an early death than those who exercised for less than a half hour. This statistic makes sense because physical activity also reduces a person’s risk for serious diseases, which we’ll discuss below. As a result, an active person has a more resilient body and tissues, so he or she will stay healthier longer.
- It reduces the risk for serious diseases.
When children and adults gain weight, they become more susceptible to certain diseases, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and more. The excess weight weakens the body and decreases the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. This lets diseases set in.
Luckily, exercise prevents some of these conditions and mitigates the risk for others.
- It improves your kids’ mental health.
Exercise releases endorphins and other hormones that help the body feel energized and euphoric. And that extra energy and euphoria boosts your children’s happiness. Your children also have a lower risk for depression and anxiety because exercise induces good emotions and purges toxins from the body.
Additionally, exercise increases blood flow to the brain, so it should improve the organ’s overall performance. Even if your children don’t want to become athletes, a little exercise can help them become the brainiacs and artists they want to be instead.
- It boosts self-esteem and body image.
As mentioned above, physical activity helps your children control their weight. This control has another benefit other than overall health: it also improves your kids’ self-esteem. They won’t have to worry about how they look because they carry too much weight, so they’ll feel happier and more confident as a result.
- It builds characteristics like work ethic.
If you enroll your kids in team sports, they’ll have to work hard to stay fit and develop the skills necessary for their sport. As a result, they’ll learn discipline and develop a health work ethic. These characteristics will help them succeed later in life.
- It teaches interpersonal skills.
Team sports also encourage children to work together towards a common goal. Your kids will have to learn about cooperation. They’ll also make friends, and they’ll have to learn how to lose graciously. These crucial skills can help them develop more successful relationships as they grow older.
- It taps into your children’s creativity.
When children dance, or even when they play sports, they have to think creatively and strategically. So if you want your children to become cleverer than ever, exercise represents the right solution. After all, to some extent, creativity is a skill rather than an inherent trait.
- It encourages a love of nature.
Most exercise takes place outside in the fresh air. It gets your children off the couch and out of the house so they can enjoy nature. They’ll learn to appreciate the cloudy days and the sunny ones. They’ll get to bask in fall’s fiery colors. They will also have the opportunity to watch things in the natural world that they may not have seen before, like ant colonies, new sprouts, birds’ nests, and more,
Physical activity has a lot of benefits beyond bodily health-though that benefit matters a lot too. If you’d like your children to develop any of the qualities listed above, start encouraging them to exercise today
As you watch your child reach for the iPad or the television remote, you can’t help but wonder the effect technology has on his or her growth and development. You’ve noticed he doesn’t like to play outdoors, and she only quotes her favorite cartoons.
According Mayo Clinic, some screen time can serve educational purposes, but too much TV leads to a variety of health and behavioral problems. Children who watch more than two hours a day tend to have a greater likelihood of experiencing obesity, irregular sleep schedules, impaired academic performance, and decreased verbal intelligence.
So what can you do to encourage your children to reconnect with nature?
1. Read Fun Books
To spark your child’s imagination and rekindle his or her love for nature, grab a few books and read before bedtime. These timeless titles all illustrate nature in a fun, exciting, and endearing way:
- The Wump World by Bill Peet
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
- The Little House by Virginia Lee Burtons
- On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole
- Just a Dream by Chris Van
- Allsburg Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
Once you’ve finished with these, let your children browse for books on their own. They may surprise you with what they pick.
2. Create a Work of Art
Many children love hands-on experiences, and the messier the better. Let your children explore their inner artist and create meaningful works of art.
Here are a few ideas to help you start:
- Create a nature journal and fill it with drawings of trees, leaves, and flowers.
- Paint animals on rocks and let them keep it as a pet.
- Collect leaves, sticks, and pebbles on a nature walk. Glue them to cardboard to create a one-of-a-kind landscape. Dip pinecones into paint and roll them on paper to print beautiful designs.
- Use nuts and shells to fashion trendy jewelry.
- Combine sticks and clay to form sculptures.
- Make wind chimes out of shells and string.
- Decorate flowerpots with snail shells and then grow a tiny garden.
The sky’s the limit! Let your children’s creativity fly as free as the birds.
3. Plan Family Outings
The whole family should have fun as they reconnect with nature, not just your little ones. Plan family outings that involve everyone, from your youngest toddlers to your eldest teens.
As go on adventures consider doing the following:
- Check out the aquarium, animal museum, or botanical garden
- Hike or bike nearby trails
- Go camping at state parks
- Take a vacation to the beach or lake
- Watch the sunrise or sunset
- Grab a telescope and go stargazing
- Walk around your neighborhood
- Participate in a nature scavenger hunt
Need a few more ideas? Ask your children! They’ll likely have a few places they want to see or activities they want to do.
4. Build a Safe Environment
Some children might not feel comfortable playing on their own at a park or even in their own backyard. Or perhaps you might feel stressed at the idea of your little one touching (or even tasting) objects from unknown origins.
To ensure both you and your child feel happy and relaxed, create a safe space in your backyard. Put up sturdy fences around more dangerous areas, and teach children that they shouldn’t pick or smash any plants you may have in the flowerbed.
You can also set up good playground equipment to help entertain your kids. A simple swing set, slide, or playhouse fuels the imagination and promotes active play. Just make sure you use quality materials-opt for smooth, soft rubber rather than rough rope and wood. And cover the areas around your playground with shock-absorbing materials, such as mulch or sand.
And don’t forget to inspect your backyard regularly-replace worn play equipment or cover sharp edges as needed.
5. Provide Tools for Discovery
Children don’t always need expensive playgrounds or organized activities to enjoy Mother Nature. Sometimes all they want is some room to explore and basic tools to inspect their discoveries.
If you wish, fill a backpack with the following:
- Butterfly net
- Magnifying glass
- Pencil, crayons, and paper
Teach your children how to safely use these items and interact with insects or other animals.
And remember, these items don’t need to cost a fortune. Even the most careful and cautious child might accidentally break their tools during play time. Child-friendly plastic items will save you a lot of heartache and money.
6. Set a Positive Example
Your children watch what you do, so set a positive example. In addition to encouraging your child to explore nature, give yourself some time to pursue your favorite outdoor hobbies. Grab your camera and snap some close-ups of your favorite flowers. Pull weeds from your garden and plant a few trees in your yard.
With these methods, you and your children will develop a personal, thrilling relationship with nature in almost no time.
Studies show that healthy foods help kids do better in school. In one study, children who ate more vegetables, fruit, protein and fiber did better on literacy tests than kids who ate foods high in salt and saturated fat.
While you know healthy foods are the right choice for your children, it can be difficult to get them to eat healthy snacks. Why would your kids want to eat apples and carrots when they can choose potato chips and candy bars?
Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy snack options that are still yummy for kids. Here are a few treats that will make kids’ bodies healthy and tummies happy.
1. Fruit Smoothie
Kids love the sweet, creamy taste of smoothies. There’s no need to make smoothies packed with sugar-instead, try healthy ingredients like fruits and vegetables.
To start, try this recipe for a high-fiber broccoli smoothie. All you need to do is blend the following ingredients:
- 1 avocado
- 1 banana
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- 1 cup cherries
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
2. Yogurt Parfait
This is a healthy alternative to ice cream-and a very tasty dessert. In a cup, layer the following:
Instead of regular yogurt, try Greek yogurt, which is packed with protein to help your growing kids build muscle. It also contains probiotics, which aid digestion. And don’t forget about brain-boosting blueberries, which reduce short-term memory loss.
3. Ants on a Log
Kids love making this recipe themselves. It resembles ants climbing across a log, but it’s really a great source of vitamins, minerals, and protein.
- Cut celery sticks into small pieces. These are the “logs.”
- Spread natural peanut butter into the crevice of each celery stick. Peanut butter is a great source of fiber, potassium, andantioxidants.
- Stick raisins (“ants”) in the peanut butter.
4. Fruit and Cheese Kebabs
Small pieces of cheese give your kids calcium, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals, and fruits like apples, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and mango give your kids many vitamins and minerals. Arranging fruit and cheese into a delicious kebab can make these foods even more fun for your kids to eat.
Cut pieces of cheese and fruit, and layer them on a kebab skewer. Then eat and enjoy!
5. Yogurt Pops
What kid doesn’t love popsicles? With a yogurt pop, your kids get a healthy treat. Here’s what you do:
- Blend 2 containers yogurt, 2 cups cut-up fruit, and 1 tablespoon honey.
- Put the mixture in paper cups.
- Cover the cups with foil.
- Put a craft stick into the center of each cup. Freeze for 6 hours.
6. Whole Wheat Crackers and Hummus
Whole wheat reduces the risk of heart disease, obesity, and many other diseases. Choose whole wheat crackers for your kids, and have them dip the crackers in hummus, a dip high in vitamins, protein, and heart-healthy fats. Kids also love to dip carrots, cucumbers, and other vegetables.
Store-bought microwave popcorn contains many artificial flavors. However, air-popped popcorn is high in protein and dietary fiber. Popcorn will fill your kids up and provide great nutritional value-just hold back on the butter and salt.
Kids will love getting a paper bag filled with popcorn that they can take to school or activities.
8. Homemade Trail Mix
Let your kids make their own trail mix by choosing their favorite mix of various foods. Include the following nutritious foods:
- Peanuts, which add protein to the mix
- Almonds, which lower cholesterol and help build strong bones
- Cranberries, which fight diseases thanks to their antioxidants
- Dark chocolate chips, which provide nutrients like iron and magnesium and could even lower blood pressure when eaten in small amounts
- Cheerios, which contain soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol
9. Banana-Oat Snack Cakes
Instead of grabbing a sugary granola bar, kids can enjoy these homemade snack cakes. They contain heart-healthy oats and potassium-rich bananas.
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and melted
- 3 bananas (chopped)
- Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Coat a baking dish with butter, and then cover with parchment paper.
- Whisk oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
- Slowly add butter to brown sugar mixture and whisk.
- Add bananas to dry ingredients and toss.
- Stir dry mixture into brown sugar mixture.
- Spread batter in the dish.
- Bake about 35 to 40 minutes.
- Let cool and cut.
Remember, kids need frequent snacks to keep up their energy and brain power. Your kids can eat these snacks at home or bring them to school or activities. Pack your kids some of these delicious, nutritious snacks, and help them start a healthy lifestyle early on.