What Parents Need To Know About Kids and Dirt

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As a parent it can be more than a bit unnerving in having to deal with all the strange things that kids do. As spring comes around and children who have been cooped up indoors all year take to the backyard, playgrounds, and parks parent may observe some very perplexing and potentially concerning behaviors.

Children, especially toddlers, are very likely to be learning about the world around them for the first time. This often includes putting things in their mouth, including things like dirt and mud. As a parent your first instinct may be to rush your child to the hospital, but the behavior, if a rare incident, may not be any reason for concern.

Normal Kid Stuff

Believe it or not the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency of the United States has actually completed a study on the prevalence of children eating dirt. They have discovered that about 20% of all normal, healthy and well-adjusted children will eat approximately one teaspoon of dirt sometime before the age of three.

When children are tasting and sampling small amounts of soil it is typically natural curiosity about the world around them. This behavior should be minimal and should not be part of a pattern. In addition, children will often put other objects in their mouths such as toys, sticks, rocks and even dirty hands that may also have some quantity of soil on their surface.

Concerns

There is some natural and real concern in children eating soil, dirt, mud, sand or dust. The biggest issue is contamination with pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals that can be present in any soil.

With a small amount of soil this is typically not a health issue. However, if the child continues to eat soil or other non-food items it is important to contact your doctor immediately.

If you have pets such as cats or dogs, there is an increased risk there may be parasites in the soil. Not all parasites of dogs or cats can be passed to humans, but some can. Treating your pets regularly for worms and parasites can reduce this risk to almost zero. It is also critical to keep the yard free of any animal waste.

As a parent, talk to your doctor if you notice any signs of a child eating dirt. In the vast majority of cases it is just normal experimentation, but you and your doctor can ensure that the child is safe and is not at risk for any possible health issues from the consumption of soil.

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Best Apps for Small Children and Toddlers

educational apps

Winter is coming and outside play will become less and less possible as the cold winds and even snow start to blow. But that doesn’t mean your small children can’t be entertained and stimulated.

Thanks to the mass quantities of technology that now consumes our lives on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that it’s even becoming a part of everyday life for even toddlers. Educational developers and computer experts are constantly working together to develop literally thousands of games and apps specifically geared toward small children and toddlers in order to keep them stimulated, help with better hand-eye coordination and well-developed fine motor skills.

Here is but a small list of the most popular apps that combine education and fun for your little one:

  1. Pat the Bunny is based on a children’s book from the 1940s and is used as an interactive reading tool. While this iPad app doesn’t off the feel of the faux fur that the original book offered its readers, there are still plenty of scenes that your child can explore and interact with. For example, there’s an Easter egg hunt in all of the scenes as well as coloring activities
  2. PianoBall allows your child to explore their musical side by using this app to create their own musical scores. The colorful keyboard attracts your child and keeps their attention as they explore the five different modes that allow the music to be heard the way it would sound with different instruments.
  3. Potty Time with Elmo approaches potty training in a whole new way. The wildly popular Sesame Street character will help your toddler with the transition from diapers to using the “big kid potty” by using songs, puzzles and even animated stickers.
  4. Drawing Pad is another app that helps your child explore and release their inner creativity. With this app they can use realistic crayons, markers and even paint brushes to create a virtually unlimited portfolio of projects.

Again, this is but a small sampling of the apps available to entertain and educate your child. This winter, replace the toy box full of unused or broken toys with apps like this and let your child explore a whole new world.

http://www.AM2PMKids.com

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High Quality Pre-School Means Better Kindergarten Experience

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There are plenty of studies that prove that children aged 3-4 years-old who are exposed to good, quality preschool program have more successful experiences in kindergarten and even beyond. The problem is, many preschool programs don’t provide the high quality that the children need for this success.

If you are considering putting your child in a preschool program but you’re unsure what to look for, the two areas that are most important and provide the best program are the “process” and the “structure” of the program.

“Process” consists of interactions with others, the activities that children are involved with, learning materials and opportunities and of course the health and safety routines that we all should follow. “Structure” includes the size of the class, the student-teacher ratio and the training and experience of the teacher and rest of the preschool staff.

A child’s socio-economic status should not determine the quality of his or her preschool experience. While statistics show that children from lower income families typically attend a lower quality preschool, it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, be that way. Every preschool has the ability to maintain the same high quality standards whether considered “low income” or not.

When choosing a preschool, speak to the administration and find out what activities are provided that will give your child the challenge that he or she needs; make sure they will have ongoing opportunities for learning and making the right decisions; that there are adequate interactions with other children both in small groups and larger ones; assure that there is variety in the program to keep your child from getting bored which can lead to disinterest in the program.

By making informed decisions based on the preschool program of the facility you’ve chosen, you can assure that your child’s preschool career as well as the rest of his or academic career, is successful.

www.AM2PMKids.com

AM2PM Childcare Learning Center

1000 Route 36, Hazlet, NJ 07730

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It’s Better to Give Than to Receive

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It can be a difficult task teaching children that it is better to give than to receive – after all who doesn’t like to receive a gift right? However, by teaching your children this valuable lesson is one of the most rewarding things you can give them.

Going about can be difficult if you don’t know what the right to go about it is, so here are a few ways to work with your children.

  •  Start small, especially if you are working with very young children. An example would be making cookies for a sick friend. Let the child know that he or she is doing something nice for the friend, even though your child may want to make and keep the cookies. Avoid this by making enough for both of them.
  • Next, teach them that money isn’t necessary in order to give. They can wash your car, do the dishes without being asked or even make breakfast in bed.
  • Let your child be involved in deciding who will benefit from the gift. Maybe you’ve given to the cancer research society for years, but your child heard about a need at the local pet shelter. By allowing them to help with the decision they feel important and learn the value of giving to those who are less fortunate.
  • Children learn by watching their most influential role model: YOU. If you volunteer at a local soup kitchen, when your child is old enough, let them go with you and start helping.

Teaching your children the value of giving rather than receiving, you’re instilling a sense of pride and self-esteem, character traits that will take them far as they grow.

 

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From Preschool to Elementary School – How to Prepare Your Child for the Transition after Summer Vacation

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It’s that time of year – in fact, I’ll bet if you listen closely, you can hear the whine from children all around “Oh no, it’s time to go back to school!”

If your child has been in daycare or a preschool type setting over the summer, the transition to regular school may not be as bad as if they weren’t, but there is still some preparation that needs to be done before the first bells ring this fall.

Children who have been in daycare or preschool over the summer months will have some idea of what a setting with other children is like on a daily basis. However, these settings tend to be on a much less strict schedule than a regular school day. Helping your child adjust for “big boy or big girl” school isn’t difficult if you know the steps to take.

Things to know before the first day:

  • Take the time to talk to your child and begin explaining some of the things they can expect on the first day of school and even beyond. Don’t frighten them! School years are supposed to be the best time of their life, don’t get them on the wrong foot. Share some of your favorite school memories.
  • Go to the school for a visit. If your child is starting elementary school, start by taking a trip to the playground and then setting up a visit to the classroom. Help him/her find the classroom, restroom, lunchroom and principal’s office.
  • Let your child ask questions and answer them as openly and honestly as you can.
  • Remind your child of all of the friends he/she will make when they go to school and also remind him/her that many of the children from preschool or the daycare will likely be in the same school and classroom.

Finally, remember that the school your child attends is a part of your community and easy to get involved with. Sign up to be a classroom parent for your child’s class or join the PTA. Your child will likely find the daycare to school transition that much easier if you are involved.

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Sunglasses and Eye Health

haha Ocean!

In the summertime, it’s second-nature to apply tons of sunscreen on our children to protect their skin from the harmful effects of the sun. But many times, as much attention as we give to their skin, we often overlook another area that can be damaged by the sun – their eyes.

We put sunglasses on to shield our eyes and our children should have the same protection. This protects them now and also helps to prevent them from developing common eye problems later on in life. Keep in mind that UV rays are radiation and radiation is damaging to the eyes just as much as it can damage anything else. Here is just a partial list of those common eye problems that you should be aware of

  • Over-exposure to the sun’s UV radiation can cause the cells of the eye – inside and out – to divide abnormally. This abnormal division can cause tumors – both malignant and benign.
  • “Surfer’s Eye” is common in coastal regions and is caused by sun exposure. This affects the cornea which can affect your ability to focus clearly.
  • Overexposure to the sun also effects the lens of the eye as well as the retina which can lead to macular degeneration and cataracts later on.

A good rule of thumb to help protect your children’s eyes is to put sunglasses on them if they are going to spend any extended amount of time in the sun. It’s never too early to start this practice. You’ll want to use standard tinted glasses not the colored lenses that are popular with kids.

If you have younger children who are having a hard time wearing the sunglasses, a large hat with a wide brim or visor is the next best thing. You can also try attaching an elastic band to the sunglasses to help hold them in place.

Sunglasses, sunscreen and your children should be a common routine in the summer!

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Helping Your Child Get Ready for the First Day of Kindergarten

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Helping Your Child Get Ready for the First Day of Kindergarten

We’ve given birth and nurtured our children and watched them begin to grow into wonderful little people in awe of the world and all their surroundings. Now it’s time to prepare for them for the first big step in their lives – preparing for the first day of kindergarten.

Getting ready is probably the most difficult part. You have likely already been working to instill good, healthy habits into your child’s life but it’s even more important as they prepare to enter school to instill healthy habits like getting enough sleep – at least 10-12 hours per night and eating right – a healthy breakfast and lunch will help your child get through the day.

Once your child is in school on a full-time basis, it’s common to think that after school activities are all part of the process. We want our children to be well-rounded and involved and in our quest for making this happen, we tend to get our children wrapped up in many after school activities. Children can become as burnt out as adults can so it’s important to fight the urge to let them get involved with everything and keep these after school activities to a minimum.

The next step in helping your child adjust to school is to help them foster independence. Allowing your child (within reason of course) to pick their outfit and dress themselves will help give them both independence and confidence. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include tying their shoes. It is not uncommon for children not to learn to tie their shoes until their kindergarten year.

You also want to address things like making sure your child understands the importance of putting away things when they are done using or playing with them, putting the lids back on paints and markers and putting the crayons back in the box when they are finished.

Finally, make sure you have the “potty” talk before your child heads off to the classroom. Make sure they are able to take care of themselves after using the potty and don’t forget to stress the importance of washing their hands when they are finished.

Talking over these few tips will help your child be better prepared for their school day – take the time to make it a positive one!

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Keeping Kids Entertained During the Summer Months

kids fountain

Every parent at least once in their lives has heard those two dreaded words every child mutters: “I’m Bored!” Even the child who is most excited about the end of the school year will not get through the summer break without mumbling that phrase at least once. So what as parents are we to do to keep our kids stimulated and entertained over the summer months?

There are plenty of activities you can do once the initial fun phase of summer wears off. Here is just a brief list of ideas to help keep the summer doldrums from setting in:

  • Plant a mobile garden – maybe in a wheelbarrow or other container that can be moved around. Plant vegetable plants, flowers or even start an herb garden that your children can be responsible for.
  • Draw in butterflies by planting wildflowers around your lawn. Not only will it beautify your landscaping it will also decrease the need for mowing.
  • Have a picnic with your child’s favorite teddy bear or doll. This can be something as simple as fruit and juice or tea and cookies. Plan to make this a weekly event – and even play dress up for a “formal” lunch!
  • Kids love bubbles! Adults love bubbles! There’s just something magical about them that no one can explain so take a trip to the dollar store and pick up a large container and some wands that make some really unique bubble shapes. Spend a late afternoon/early evening blowing bubbles and chasing them with your kids.
  • Don’t forget your local library. There are always reading programs in the summer and other special programs that you can involve your children with.
  • Build a treasure box with your child. Find an old shoe box or other suitable container and let them decorate with crayons, paper cutouts and other craft items and then they can fill up their box with “treasures” they find.

You can do a lot of things that keep your kids entertained without spending a ton of money in the process. Spend times with your children doing some of these activities or add your own idea to the list!

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Baby Safety Tips For The Home

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Bringing home a new baby is an exciting and magical event for any family. Preparing your home in advance for the big day helps parents to proactively provide built in safety for the new addition to the family.

There are a range of different baby safety products on the market today that can make Mom and Dad’s life a lot easier. However, there are also some simple and very traditional types of safety practices that will keep your infant out of harm’s way.

 

Before your baby is up and about crawling and playing look at each room of the home. General safety issues that can be put in place include:

  • Baby safe latches on all drawers and cabinets in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and storage areas to prevent injury if baby pulls the drawers or cabinets open or gets into the stored contents.
  • Check all electrical cords and remove any that dangle or hang down. Cover all electrical outlets with spring loaded covers that automatically close when the cord is removed.
  • Roll all cords for blinds or drapes up to well above the height that a crawling baby, toddler or infant can reach.
  • Have a new crib and mattress for the baby that is designed to prevent the baby from getting hands or limbs lodged between the posts. The mattress should fit correctly in the crib and extend to the frame on all sides.
  • Limit items in and around the crib and ensure any mobiles or hanging items on the crib are safe and secure and approved for use for a baby.
  • Always have the correctly sized, approved car safety seat for your baby and do not travel with the baby in a vehicle when the child is not secured in the baby car seat.
  • Avoid using any types of room freshening or air treatment products in the nursery or the home as an infant may be extremely sensitive to these products.

Last, and perhaps most importantly, never leave your baby unattended unless they are in a safe, secure location such as their crib. This ensures that the baby can’t get into anything that is potentially dangerous in the few seconds you step away.

 

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Internet Safety For Young Children On Mobile Devices

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Internet safety is a relatively new concept for parents to have to worry about, really just evolving over the last 25 years. However, with the constant advancement in technology parents don’t just have to worry about kids getting to problematic sites on the family computer, now you also have to worry about tablets, smartphones and other internet connected devices.

 

The Problems

The problem with these devices is that there are multiple ways to access information. Kids will quickly learn how to access the browser feature on these devices, which you can set up to deny access to specific online content just as you can on your computer.

However, apps, which are cloud based, are not able to be blocked in the same way. This means any of your apps can be easily opened by your kids and they can make purchases, change information and even access those apps that may not be appropriate for little eyes.

 

The Solutions

There are ways to allow your children to use your tablets, iPads and smartphones while still keeping the children safe and protecting you from unwanted purchases or downloads. This will vary by device by can include:

  • Password protection – with both Android and iOS systems you can password protect specific apps and features. This means that the child cannot access that app or feature unless they first key in the correct password or PIN. They can access anything is not set up to need this additional information to start.
  • App download – on the Android systems as well as the Apple platform devices you can download a parental control app. This provides you with both parental controls that limit the content that the child can access as well as child locks that simply lock out that particular app, including email and online browser access.
  • Shut off in-app purchasing – on all devices you also have the option to shut off in-app purchases to prevent those unwelcome surprises. On the Apple products this is located in the parental settings and restrictions area and on the Android system it is found under the Google Play settings. You will need to create a PIN and enter that to make any purchase.

Kids and technology is a great match and with the safety options available parents can allow their kids to enjoy smartphones and tablets without any concerns.

 

 

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