Archive for the ‘ Preschool ’ Category

Preschool Play vs. Bullying? 4 Things for Parents Should Look For

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Earlier this week I was interviewed by a Michigan morning radio show about cyberbullying and in my conversation with the hosts about bullying behaviors, I discussed how both result in hurt feelings. The hosts asked me what age we need to teach our kids about cyberbullying. I responded by saying that we need to teach our kids about what it means to be a good friend from the time they’re very young.

The concept of being a good friend is one that kids understand as toddlers and certainly as preschoolers. Being nice by sharing one’s toys, inviting others to play, and displaying empathy are core concepts that even the youngest kids can understand. They know what it’s like to have their feelings hurt by others who tease, exclude others through their play, and are aggressive. If we teach our kids about what it means to be a good friend to others, they’re more likely to stand up for each other and less likely to engage in bullying behaviors.

I used to think that bullying was something that our family would have to deal with as our children got older and was shocked a couple years ago when our then 7 year old daughter shared that her little brother was being bullied by preschoolers in his class.

“Mommy,” she said very softly, as we settled in to read our bedtime story.  “Brother told me I could tell you that two boys at school are calling him names like baby.”

Bullying beginning in preschool?  It’s not unheard of and it’s good to nip it in the bud in the early years before it can get worse as kids grow older.

While name calling and taunting may have been part of our playground experience as kids, there’s a heightened awareness about any behavior that might be considered an act of aggression towards. Kids are being empowered to take a stand against bullying even if they are part of those developmental childhood impulses that come with age.

While kids may be kids, an article in says “in some cases, the behavior is a precursor to more serious forms of bullying that crop up during the school-aged year.”  It May Come as a Shock to Many Parents to Learn that Bullying Happens in Preschool also reminds parents that:

“Remember that there is a difference between play, which builds imagination, develops coordination, and teaches children about rules and responsibility, and bullying, which is chronic, frequent behavior that has, at its core, the intention to harm and intimidate.”

With kids getting ready to head back to school, here’s what you need to be aware of in terms of bullying along with the resources that can help if you find yourself in the same situation as I was in with my preschool-aged son.

How do you know when play turns into bullying?’s Teasing and Bullying No Laughing Matter encourages parents to look physical and emotional signs of stress.  The article contains a comprehensive list of warning signs.

Now that you know your child is being bullied, what do you do?‘s article called Bullying in Preschool: What Parents Need to Know provide signs that relate to preschool ages and a step-by-step guide to handling it. Besides being knowledgeable parents, we also need to know these 5 Ways to Empower Children Against Bullying.

What if the bullying continues?  Raising Children Network encourages parents to talk to your child’s preschool and involve the teacher but also says that involving the bully, or their parents, can often aggravate the situation.  Instead, Bullying at Preschool: Helping Your Child encourages supporting your child at home and teaching coping strategies for bullying.

Does your child know someone being bullied and is wondering how to help?  Eyes on Bullying has a list of things for bystanders to do including standing up for the person being bullied and helping the victim walk away but my favorite is “Your involvement makes a difference.  Don’t just stand by and watch quietly.”

Sad child with a brick wall via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Education, Preschool

6 Tips for Surviving Air Travel with Kids

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Family air travel can be stressful for even the most travel savvy parents who rack up frequent flier miles for business trips. All parents are put to the test when it comes to traveling with kids in tow. Managing extra bodies and bags in the same lines that you are used to doing solo, dealing with unexpected surprises of air travel and the impact on your children, and hoping that fellow passengers are understanding of wiggly kids in flight are elements that are not present during work trips. Even if you’re not an experienced business traveler, use these six tips to prep your family for an upcoming flight to appear like a travel pro.

Let your kids know what to expect at the airport. While you talk about your upcoming trip, include important information about what to expect before the plane takes off. Discuss getting boarding passes and checking bags, the security lines (kids under 12 can leave their shoes on), and waiting to board the flight. Helpful books for young kids include  Helpful books for young kids include Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport  or Flying by Donald Crews.

Pack together. Whether packing in-flight entertainment or outfits for the duration of your trip, it’s always a good idea to involve your child. This ensures that your toddler has their favorite stuffed animal, your preschooler has a couple books that are familiar to be read at bedtime, your persnickity tween has a wardrobe that you both agree upon, and your teen has remembered the many chargers needed for their digital devices.

Have a discussion about in-flight manners. This is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about respect and how to ensure that they’re respectful of everyone they may encounter during their trip. Remind them to look the flight attendants in the eye during beverage service and to say please and thank you. Talk about how to respect fellow passengers by limiting the sprawl of their belongings to the area in front of their seat and their seat back pocket, being gentle with the tray table, talking in quiet voices, and not kicking the seat in front of them.

Purchase new things to keep kids entertained.  Load up your smartphone with new apps, purchase episodes of a favorite TV show or movies to watch on your tablet or laptop, and invest in some new markers, crayons, or stickers. Having new and novel items that your kids haven’t seen before will help keep them occupied on your flight.

Bend the household rules when it comes to screen time. To preserve everyone’s sanity once you’re in the air, throw screen time limits out the window. Let your child drain the battery on your smartphone for an Angry Birds playing marathon, deactivate Kindle Free Time screen limits, and let them watch movies back to back if needed.

Compliment them on a job well done. Make sure your kids know you recognize their good behavior by telling them how well they’ve behaved during the trip. If fellow passengers compliment them, be sure to let them know that others recognized what good travelers they were too.

Family in the airport via Shutterstock

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5 Easter iPad Apps for Toddlers & Preschoolers Under $1

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

With spring break and Easter rapidly approaching, give your iPad a seasonal makeover with some affordable Easter-themed apps that will appeal to your toddler and preschooler without breaking the budget. These 5 apps provide diverse learning opportunities are are guaranteed to capture their interest but along with great game play, some of them also provide perfect opportunities to begin the discussion about social sharing and the pitfalls of  in-app purchases at a very young age.

Practice hand-eye coordination

Preschoolers will have to be fast to spot adorable white rabbits and tap them as soon as they stick their heads out of holes. Bunny Bop (free) is like the Whack-a-Mole of the rabbit set where the goal is to bop the bunnies as fast as you can before they steal a carrot. Kids will love the independent play and competing against themselves as they try to increase their score with each game.

Decorate a virtual egg

Kids anxious to get decorating will love creating a virtual egg using the PAAS Heinz Egg Decorator site or iPad app (free). Start by selecting from 10 different egg dye colors, use the slider to watch as you adjust the color from lighter to brighter, and then choose tools like a paint brush, chalk, glitter glue, and assorted stickers to adorn the egg. Make a mistake? No problem! One of the tools is an eraser that can easily clean up any decorating mishaps. It’s also very easy to decorate all sides of your egg thanks to the rotate and tilt feature. Click on the arrows to spin the egg in the direction you want and hit the stop sign to make it stop. Grab your favorite tool and start the egg spinning to decorate all sides.

Read an eBook

Happy Easter, Little Critter ($.99 at time of press) supports early literacy for young readers with a familiar character. Words in the story are highlighted as they are read, providing kids with a chance to build up their site word vocabulary. Individual words and pictures can be tapped to help children make the association between pictures and the written word. The record feature also helps motivate beginning readers to read the story out loud for the reward of hearing their voices played back as often as they want. Another fun element is the hidden egg feature. 100 are hid throughout the story, providing the challenge of finding more with each reading of the story.

Work on problem solving and spatial abilities with puzzles

Puzzle Me!! Easter Free (free) is an iPad app that features 4 different levels of puzzles including 6 piece puzzles that are great for toddlers and ones with more pieces for older brothers and sisters. If a child is using the family’s iPad or a parent’s phone to play, there is the option to share success via Facebook so this provides a great opportunity to discuss social sharing with kids even at a young age.

Practice visual discrimination

Easter Find the Difference (free) provides kids and adults alike the opportunity to practice visual discrimination as they spot the differences between the two pictures presented side by side. Two different levels makes this game great for toddlers through adults as each will race the clock to find the differences that are randomized with each game. There are two different scenes that are free but do be aware that additional ones are available as in-app purchases so talk to your children about what to do when the pop up appears since additional levels will be charged to your iTunes account.

Beautifully decorated Easter eggs via Shutterstock

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Hasbro Reveals FurReal Friends Cuddles, My Giggly Monkey as Tech Savvy Parents Exclusive Pre- Toy Fair

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

FurReal Friends Cuddles, My Giggle Monkey Pet – EXCLUSIVE PARENTS.COM

As the toy industry prepares to assemble in New York City for Toy Fair to reveal new toys an event that is the largest in the Western Hemisphere, keen eyed buyers and members of the media are looking for the golden items that will be the year’s best sellers. These toys are the ones that will be in high demand well before the holidays and could be long gone from store shelves come December. What sorts of items are likely to make the list even though they might not be available for purchase for months?

Building on the popularity of their FurReal Friends line, Hasbro has provided exclusive access to Tech Savvy Parents about FurReal Friends Cuddles, My Giggly Monkey.

Cuddles is a life size, lifelike baby monkey that is the most interactive pet in the FurReal Friends line thanks to technology that allows her to react differently to classic nurturing patterns. With over 100 realistic sounds and phrases, Cuddles, My Giggly Monkey responds to many play patterns like feeding, diaper changing, cuddling, tickling, swinging, and being rocked to sleep.

Nurturing boys and girls ages four and older will love watching this soft, animatronic plush open her eyes and make sweet noises as she wakes up. She recognizes when a child is near and leans in for more snuggles. Feed her from her banana-shaped bottle and Cuddles will happily make slurping noises, moving her lips in and out. After a delicious snack, it’s playtime for this baby monkey! Swing Cuddles and she knows she’s moving. She’ll respond with lifelike laughter and silly monkey sounds. Tickle her tummy and this loveable monkey bursts into a fit of giggles.

Just as play is hard work for any child, it is for Cuddles too. After a long day of play, children will enjoy putting Cuddles to sleep by rocking her gently. This motion tells this interactive toy that it’s time to sleep and she’ll slowly close her eyes.

Parents will appreciate that there are times that Cuddles behaves just like their preschooler or toddler. Just like a child vies for a parent’s attention when they’re not playing together, Cuddles acts the same way. She’ll move her head and make sounds to garner more attention perhaps teaching patience and empathy to your child through play with their new interactive plush toy.

Toy Fair begins on February 10 and will reveal new toys that will become available at  retail outlets such as mass merchandisers, toy and hobby stores, drug stores, department stores, grocery chains, TV shopping networks, outdoor retailers, amusement parks, warehouse clubs, gift shops, museum stores, and more.

Image courtesy of Hasbro

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NORAD Santa Tracker: Fun and Educational Way to Follow Santa Around the Globe

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

As Christmas draws near, the anticipation of Santa’s arrival becomes almost unbearable but the NORAD Santa Tracker is a fabulous website that allows kids to see where in the world Santa is while teaching lessons about geography at the same time. Run by The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), this real organization is a joint venture between the United States and Canada whose mission is to provide “aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space.” Each year the Colorado Springs based company uses radar, satellites, Santa Cams, and fighter jets to track Santa’s travels around the globe as he starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west.

Children can visit the site for the Santa Countdown Calendar to see the days until Santa’s sleigh is loaded up and ready for take off. The interactive site allows kids to click on parts of Santa’s village to see which workshops are the busiest on any give day up until Christmas Eve.

NORAD begins tracking Santa on what is Christmas Eve in the United States. By the time kids on the East Coast have woken up, Santa has already made stops in Asia. A world map shows exactly where Santa has stopped. NORAD displays the city and country of Santa’s last stop along with the arrival time to his next destination. A fast paced ticker on the site shows how many gifts have been delivered and is mind boggling for kids who still believe.

The Videos tab on the website feature footage of Santa as he traverses the globe featuring Santa and his reindeer flying over landmarks all over the globe. The videos can also be seen on NORAD’s YouTube page.

For curious kids, NORAD features a Frequently Asked Question page where parents can share how Santa is able to travel the world in a mere 24 hours, the travel route, technical specifications of Santa’s sleigh, if NORAD fighter planes ever intercept Santa, whether Santa has ever crashed, and even numbers and an email address in case they want to communication with NORAD about unanswered Santa questions.

In the years that our family has been tracking Santa, the NORAD site has become more sophisticated with additional content added each year that makes it a holiday tradition even for the non-believers.

Christmas background with Santa’s sleigh via Shutterstock


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