Archive for the ‘Behavior in children’ Category

Keep ‘Em Moving!

Posted on: May 31st, 2016 by ctpadmin

Keep ‘Em Moving!  The importance of movement in the development of the young child

Did you know that it is really important in development for kids to move – to creep, crawl, walk, run, jump, skip, hop, ride a bike, swing a hula hoop, and more?


The education jargon calls it gross motor activity.  It is important for children to master actions that fall into this category so they may be successful in their daily activities in school.  By having control over their bodies, they will become capable of moving through crowded walkways, or sitting in a chair.  Eventually, the gross motor activity will lead to development of fine motor activity which will allow them to hold a pencil, crayon, marker or other tool.  It will also allow them to have more self-control over their body.  Additionally, movement helps kids avoid the onslaught of childhood obesity which is running rampant in our society

Motor activity is helpful for important growth issues, one of which is balance.  Some of our playground equipment has changed over the years to eliminate some of the items which required more strength and varied kinds of movement.  There seems to be an elimination of see-saws and swings at some playgrounds.  When I was a child, there was always a merry-go-round that could hold several children that  was powered by running and jumping on so you could spin around.  I don’t think I’ve seen one of those in years.   Balance is associated with vestibular stimulation which happens when you spin. We are eliminating items that are good for kids’ development because maybe there’s a slight possibility that someone may be hurt on a piece of equipment.

Belkis on monkey barsDoing creative movement in the classroom is a wonderful way to increase motor activity and stimulate the brain while also stimulating the imagination of children.  Creativity will happen for young children when they are able to move and express themselves with their whole bodies.  Movement is equipping them as active, thinking, creative young people who will be more successful in school.

Much of this will impact readiness for preschool and kindergarten.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, here is a good article about expectations for school readiness.

PSA values the importance of outside play and movement in and out of the classroom in the educational curriculum across all ages.

We hope you are able to have fun moving with your child this week.



Playing is Educational!

Posted on: March 3rd, 2016 by ctpadmin

Playing Is Educational!

Today we talk about the importance of play.  The last sentence of the philosophy of PSA states: “We believe children learn best through play and the discovery of concepts that are a result of their own creativity.”  There is great controversy in the educational arena over this subject because there is such a big push to increase the “academic” skills at younger and younger ages.

As stated in our philosophy, we believe that the power of play outweighs the drill and “kill” method of teaching letters, numbers, counting, reading and other skills that will come soon enough.  Often times, those letters, numbers, etc.,  come through the play in which the children are involved.

Important kinds of play include the following:

  • pretend play
  • block play               photo 3
  • gross motor activity

Each of these activities include opportunities for the child’s growth such as:

  • problem solving
  • critical thinking
  • social interaction
  • language development
  • cognitive growth

During pretend play, a children are creating a scenario in their mind.  They may be using pieces from a story that caught their imagination, or from a real-life situation which they have experienced.  Often they will be engaging other children in their play.  If they are creating a story about a trip to Grandpa and Grandma’s home, they may set out by first packing their suitcase filled with doll clothes, and getting in a car which they may have created out of cardboard boxes outfitted with a pizza tray for a steering wheel.  The seats of the car may be large blocks from the block are, or even a couple of their little chairs.  They may create buildings with large blocks en route.  Possibly, the grandparents live on a farm, so they may construct a farm using some of the small animals they have set aside.  During this play, the children are problem solving – “How do I build my car?”; using critical thinking skills to decide what animals will be on the farm – “Would there be a tiger on the farm in Vermont?”; socially interacting when they invite another child to join them; increasing their use of language as they talk through the various aspects of their play.

All these are contributing to the children’s cognitive development as they put it all together.  They may have drawn a map where they have labeled places along the way (literacy), they may have to pay a toll (math) on the highway.  Every aspect of this pretend play has children thinking out of the box to create aspects that will carry them through much of their future academic development, while also building fond memories.

The really exciting thing about this kind of play is that it takes very simple, everyday objects and simple, basic toys to create this rich learning environment.  Happy playing!

Here is a Link  that addresses the importance of play. is a very helpful place, particularly for parents of infants and toddlers.


You really want me to change?

Posted on: July 13th, 2015 by ctpadmin

What have you tried that’s new recently?  My last blog was about the importance of routine and establishing ritual.  Now that I’ve challenged you for that, I would like to challenge you to step outside your comfort zone to try something new. Sometimes comfort zones are good, but sometimes we get stuck in a rut. Trying something new can provide you with opportunities you never knew were possible.

When I retired the first time, I took a quilting class and a watercolor class. I discovered a side of myself that I not only didn’t know existed, let alone one at which I might actually do rather well. The painting was a pleasure that I enjoyed until I went back to work and didn’t have the time to spend doing it. The quilting has become a passion and has given me many opportunities to reach out to ones I love through special gifts.

IMG_9156  IMG_9153

Children will take their cues from their caretakers. Parents and teachers have more influence than they know oftentime.  By setting an example,in this case, stepping our of your comfort zone, you are able to encourage your child to try something new.  My kids and I had never downhill skied until John came into our lives.  One night he took us to a small local ski area and determined to teach three of us to ski – forty year old mom, nine year old Tara and thirteen year old Bob. John brought us to a little rope tow, in itself, rather intimidating, and managed to get us to the top of a very little bunny slope.  It was accomplished by putting Tara under one arm as he held onto the rope with his other. All she kept saying was that she wanted to go home.  After two trips down the bunny hill, we were all hooked.  Had I stayed in the lodge sipping hot chocolate, I don’t think my kids  would be skiing. Now they are proficient skiiers and are teaching their children. We were willing to get out of our comfort zone.

You   might start by doing some little thing. Say you have always had your furniture in exactly the same position. How about changing up the room?  You might find a whole new perspective. What if you always order the same dinner when you go out to eat?  How about trying something new?

This is a neat example to set for children. Yes, we want them to be secure in reading a book, but when they are introduced to something new, they are expanding their horizons. I believe that once a child is secure in their routines they will be more willing to try new things.

Happy change. It can be a lot of fun to accomplish a new challenge and it can also feel great to return to our comfort zone!

Do I really have to read that book again?

Posted on: June 8th, 2015 by ctpadmin

Routines and rituals-very important for kids!  Why?  Children like to know what is happening   They need the security of repetition in a world that is ever changing. Think about it-who likes change?  It is much more comfortable for us all as adults to have a routine that is predictable, go to work, have our meals, enjoy our hobbies, etc.

Children need that predictability

IMG_3612even more than adults. If you establish a routine at bedtime, life will be more even-keeled. When my kids were young we had dinner, played briefly, took a bath where we were able to play and just talk together, followed by brushing teeth, reading a story or two, saying our prayers and then saying good night. We were able to alter the routine slightly, if we had been out a little later, by omitting the bath, but still reading the story. (We knew what the shortest book in the bookcase was for those very late nights!)

Leaving a child at daycare is another example of an important ritual.  You should talk to your child about what he/she should expect when they get dropped off at school .  It is good to remind them that you have to go to work, but you will be back to pick them up before supper.  (You might talk about something fun you can do on the way home or what you will cook for dinner.  Maybe your child can help you  come up with an idea of something to look forward to.)  It is good to have a special good bye.  “I love you,” out the door with a wave from the car is always good.  All our schools have a “good-bye” window.  It is always important to exit quickly (don’t sneak out on your child – they may find it more difficult when you leave the next day).

Holidays are another time, when rituals that are uniquely for your family, are very important.  We have a tradition at Thanksgiving where everyone shares one thing for which they are thankful, following grace.  It is very interesting to hear what the children have to share.  Even very young children will have something for which they are thankful.

Remember that rituals arise from routine, and routine comes from repetition. How many times have you read Goodnight Moon or Green Eggs and Ham?
All that repetition helps children learn security, love, and grow in their emotional and academic development.

Happy rituals!

Yummy, Yummy in my Tummy! – Ideas on Healthy Eating for young children

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by ctpadmin

Yummy, yummy in my tummy!

We hear that we are what we eat!  How important those words can be to parents of young children.  I believe it is very important that we help children form good eating habits right at the beginning of life.  We could start a whole conversation about how we are so busy and we don’t have time to cook, or make meals for our kids.  Often that is true, but it seems that we could spend a little extra time working on our kids’ diets from early on and it will pay big dividends later in their lives.

We know that there is an obesity problem in kids that has reached epidemic proportions.  Often it is cited as a problem of poverty, but I would argue that it can be a problem of not spending the appropriate time planning and working together as a family to make sure everyone eats well.

When my kids were young, I made some good choices and some poor ones in helping them learn healthy eating habits.  One of the best choices I made was to breast feed them, even though I was working full time.  I realize that not everyone can do that, but if you can, it is the healthiest start you can give your child.  One of the poor choices I made was to give my son apple juice as a drink.  He seldom drank water and drank so much (undiluted) apple juice that he was nicknamed “Applejack” before he was 18 months old.  Another good choice was to make their baby food.  I would make it on the weekend and freeze it in ice cube trays for the next week of lunches at the babysitter or when I needed a quick meal at home.  This was a great way to introduce new foods at a very young age.  I would blend up some of the food we adults had for a meal so they were introduced to real foods without added ingredients.

Our family tried to make meal time important and fun at our house and it has been carried on as a tradition in my grandchildren’s homes.  They participate in the planning and making of the meals and consequently are quite diverse in the kinds of food they eat.  One of our grandkids absolutely loves sushi – why?  She was introduced to it at an early age and continues to enjoy it as she grows.  Another of our granddaughters doesn’t like many things. She is a carb-aholic, but her parents insist that she eats what they serve for dinner and she must try new things even if she doesn’t like them.  She always can be found with some carrots on her plate as they are the food for when all else fails!

French toast 2

Cracking eggs for French Toast

French toastg 3

Sharing French Toast with our friends!

Cooking for even toddlers can be a great learning tool for healthy meals.  Yes, it’s more work, but in the end it will pay big dividends.  Toddlers can beat eggs, preschoolers can measure ingredients, and school aged children can cook some things themselves.  Of course, supervision and common sense are needed around knives and hot surfaces, but when a child helped make an item, there is greater ownership for them.  Some of my best pictures are of my grandkids helping in the kitchen with their mom or dad.

Giving kids choices is very important.  You choose the cereal that you want in the house.  With two kinds, you may offer your child an option.  They will feel more control.  When making a sandwich, ask your child if they would like the piece in triangles or rectangles.  You can even throw squares into the mix as well as using a cookie cutter to cut a fun shape for their sandwich.  This is another opportunity to introduce a new food in a fun way without a big battle.

One of the most important things you can teach your child is the importance of drinking water.  If that is what you give them in between meals, that is what they will drink.  Please refrain from giving them sugary drinks like Kool-aid, or soda.  Diet soda is probably worse than anything (shared by a person who has kicked an addiction to Diet Coke).  Water is refreshing and healthy.

Sometimes we see very odd lunches at the preschool – pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, prepackaged lunches that consist of crackers, cheese and pepperoni (all processed foods), highly sweetened yogurt, etc.  These are all convenience foods that are just that – convenient.  However, you might actually save money on your grocery bill by cutting up fruit and veggies, or sending a child with a thermos of leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and in the process, give them the healthy meals they deserve.

Below you will find two excellent sites that may be helpful to you in assessing and working toward creating healthy eating for your child.  Yummy, yummy, in my  tummy!



Mama, Dada – The Importance of Talking to Your Child

Posted on: March 12th, 2015 by ctpadmin

How do we help our children develop?  One of the most important ways we can help children grow to be literate adults is to speak to them from the time they are born.

Much discussion is being brought to the forefront on early language acquisition and the way it affects many parts of the child’s development.  In all the reading I have done on this subject and from my personal experience watching children grow, I am convinced that the most important way to help a child with language acquisition is to talk to him/her.

concept buildingLet’s think about the way we all learn to run.  First we creep, then we crawl, then we stand, then we totter as we walk, then we walk with more assurance.  Along the way, we may try to run, but we always must return to acquiring the walking skill first.  Eventually, we will run.  Language is very much like this.  First a child listens, then babbles, then tries simple sounds, progressing to one syllable words, on to simple two syllable words, and then truly recognizable words.  Eventually, these words will be strung together into sentences, at first simple and probably without connecting words.  This is all part of the development of language.

I tell my piano students all the time that practicing is very important, and it is more important to do it every day in small chunks than to sit down on the last day and practice hours.  We don’t have to tell young children to practice language because they are doing it naturally every time they listen to someone speaking or when they are babbling.    We do have to be aware of just how much children learn as they listen – it might not be appropriate language!

That being said, it is important to speak to your child.  Language acquisition has been shown to be linked to socio-economic situations but can be corrected with education for  parents.  One study in 2003 showed that children followed from seven months to four years showed disparate rates of language acquisition.  “Children in well-off families-where the parents were typically college-educated professionals-heard an average of 2,153 words an hour spoken to them, whereas children in families on welfare heard an average of 616 words.  By the age of four this difference translated to a cumulative gap of some 30 million words” (Bhattacharjec 70-71).

Another experiment was done where children nine months old from English-speaking families were taught Mandarin by native speaking Chinese tutors through play and reading.  Another group was taught by the same tutors through video, and a third group was taught through the audio track of the video.  At the end of the study, children who had the live tutors were able to differentiate as well as native children.  Neither of the other groups showed any learning (71).language for a group

I found this terribly frightening.  What a responsibility we have to speak with our children.  As we talk, sing, and read, we are introducing sounds, vocabulary, ideas, and concepts that will grow our children to healthy, literate adults.

You might find the following links interesting reading on this topic:

Works Cited

Bhattacharjec, Yudhijit. “Baby Brains.” National Geographic January 2015: 70-71. Print.

More Than Please and Thank You

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by ctpadmin

How Do We Foster Manners in Children?

Have you ever been a situation when a child doesn’t exhibit manners that should be a simple matter? I find that I always seem to have that “teacher hat” on and want to fix manners.  My reason is to try to make a better world where kids are concerned about others, not just themselves.welcome-handshake

What are manners?  We often think the “please” and “thank you” covers it all.  I disagree.  It is about respect – for individuals, groups, our world, institutions, and nature.  Having manners doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything about the aforementioned, but we should be able to voice ourselves keeping in mind respect for others’ opinions, as well as respect for places we may be.

Having manners  may be dressing appropriately for a particular situation.  Although we are in a very casual society, it would be good to consider that a child or young person should dress in clean and “dress-up” clothes for a concert rather than show up in their play-clothes.

For very young children, we begin by modeling manners.  When an infant gives you a toy, saying thank you is showing respect for them.  Showing eye contact when you engage with a young child or getting on their level to speak with them is another way.

Teaching children to pick up their toys can be an opportunity for many kinds of manners.   The adult may say “thank you” or “would you please bring me the doll?”  The child will also be learning the importance of caring for the toys in his possession, which is developing respect for things.  This can be started at a very young age.

Although toddlers are extremely self-centered, the concept of sharing or waiting their turn can begin now – another important etiquette skill children should develop.  It should really be paired with patience.  When there is a toy that is popular, begin by giving one child an opportunity to use it while praising another for waiting their turn.  Make the interval for waiting brief so there will be success for each child. An effective means of praise is by acknowledging that it was hard to wait, but the child did it.

When my children were young, whenever I was talking on the phone (which probably was too much), one of them would be tugging at my skirt or the two of them would start arguing.  It was important for me to say to them, “ Please be patient, I will be with you as soon as I am finished.”  It is also important to be aware of how much time we may be spending on things like the computer, TV, mobile devices and not with our children.  This really goes along with modeling behavior – leave mobile devices away from the dinner table so you can engage in conversation, turn off the TV, show interest in the table manners of everyone present, and eat properly.  Dinner time together will be another topic, but it can be a very rewarding time to build family relationships.

Sometimes it is a struggle to decide to discipline other people’s children, but when kids are in my house, I have rules that I expect will be adhered to. I expect that kids will not jump on furniture, and if I see them doing it, I will speak to them nicely, explaining that we do not treat our property that way. Their parents probably don’t allow them to jump on their furniture either, so I am really reinforcing manners that they already know.  Sometimes we learn more effectively from someone other than those closest to us.

Writing thank you notes – however brief may begin at a very young age.  Have your child draw a picture of the gift they received and you can interpret the picture for the recipient.  One birthday, my grandson, received many presents at his birthday party. He was quite young and not at all fond of writing,ameri so his mom made a form which left a blank for the name of the gift and a place for Ben to write his name.  It was the beginning of a habit which remains today.

I encourage you to consider how you are modeling manners for your children and what we all can do to enlist their help in developing respect for one another and the world around them.  You may find the following link helpful as you consider this important subject in parenting your child.