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5 Ways to Make Friends for Your Toddler

March 29, 2016

By Nikki Cecala

5 Ways to Make Friends for Your Toddler | If your toddler isn’t in daycare yet, how can he or she meet other kids and make friends? It’s easier than you may think. | Two toddlers sit next to each other on the playground, looking up at the camera.

Kids love spending time with mommy and daddy, but it helps their social skills when they play with other kids. Children start developing the skills for making friends between the ages of two and three years old. But if your toddler isn’t in daycare yet, how can he or she meet other kids and make friends? It’s easier than you may think. There are many free or inexpensive ways to connect with other parents and their kids.

1. Go local
Your community is a great place to start. Check out park district classes specifically designed for your child’s age. These interactive classes are a wonderful way to meet and connect with other parents in your neighborhood. If your toddler seems to make a connection with another child in these classes, exchange numbers with the parents and schedule a play date.

2. Social media
Social media is a great way to find new friends or reconnect with old ones. Go through your friends and take mental note of people with kids.

  • Do your friends from high school or college have kids now? Reconnect beyond social media friendship and send them a message to meet up with the kids.
  • Do you belong to a local parenting group? I am in two parenting groups on Facebook and simply asked, “Are there any parents who live in the Chicagoland area?” It gave me an idea of which parents live near me and could meet up for play dates.

3. Meetup.com
This website is the world's largest network of local groups. It’s easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one. A quick keyword search on the site for “kids” yielded almost 60 results, including neighborhood groups, groups for moms and toddlers, and groups for gifted kids. You can even search through the site before signing up to get an idea of how it runs.

4. Take advantage of play areas
Every Thursday evening, my sister and I go to McDonald’s with our two boys. No, not for the Shamrock Shakes. Many McDonald’s have play areas attached to their restaurants and it’s free to go in without a purchase. It’s a great way to catch up with a friend or sibling while the kids play.

5. Attend birthday parties
The idea of attending a party with 30 toddlers running around and screaming can sound a tad overwhelming, but it’s a goldmine for meeting other parents and connecting. It also gives you a chance to meet friends of friends and enlarge your circle of parent friends.

When trying to make friends for your toddler, remember that you’re making a new friend, too. Your child is always watching how you act, so set a good example by modeling positive behavior. Always be polite, respectful, and caring to other parents and their children.

For more information on building your child’s social skills and modeling positive behavior as a parent, read the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books, available on Amazon.

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6 Potty Training Tips for Success

March 22, 2016

By Noralba Martinez

6 potty-training tips for success | In over 15 years as an early childhood intervention specialist, this mom has helped potty train hundreds of toddlers. Here are her 6 key tips. | A child's feet point to a potty training toilet.

When it comes to potty training, every child is different. I’ve supported the potty training of hundreds of toddlers through my career as an early childhood intervention counselor, and the strongest advice I can give you is that consistency is the key to success.

Here are six tips that will help you through this journey.

Is your child ready?
Your toddler needs to be ready before you can begin potty training. How do you know if your child is ready?

  • Your child knows when he or she is going to the bathroom, even if it’s in a diaper.
  • Your child is able to pull up his or her pants or underwear.
  • Your child doesn’t go to the bathroom during naps and can stay dry for at least two hours.
  • Your child communicates a desire to use the toilet.

Model the behavior
Once you know your child is ready for potty training, take him or her with you to the restroom. Show your toddler that going potty in the toilet is a natural and normal thing everyone does.

Explain in simple terms what you are doing. Be patient and calm, as it may be difficult for your child to understand at first.

Make it easy and remove obstacles 
Keep the bathroom door open at all times so your child can access the room whenever he or she feels the urge to go. Put the potty chair in an area your toddler can see and get to quickly. If you’re using a child seat on your toilet, put a stool next to the toilet.

Set a schedule
Take your toddler to the potty chair or toilet every 30 minutes. He or she can sit for five minutes. If your toddler doesn’t go, it’s okay. You’re setting a schedule to encourage him or her to have the opportunity to empty regularly.

If you need help remembering to have your child go every 30 minutes, you can use a timer or a potty watch. Just be sure to stay consistent so your toddler can expect the opportunity to go.

Reward and praise your child
Motivate your child and increase his or her success at potty training by praising all efforts and rewarding accomplishments. Stickers are a great way to reward your toddler when he or she goes in the potty. Some parents have a special basket of dollar-store toys the child can choose from after a successful potty. Verbal praise also goes a long way to influence your toddler.

Bye-bye potty chair
Just like you have to say good-bye to your toddler’s high chair, playpen, and many other baby items, you will also say goodbye to the potty chair. After your toddler has demonstrated independence and self-care responsibility, transition to the toilet full-time.

Potty training can seem like a daunting task, but if you’re patient and stay positive and consistent, you and your toddler will get there. It won’t happen overnight, but with your help he or she can do it.

Do you have potty training tips to share with fellow parents? Please tell us in the comments below!

This article was originally published on April 10, 2014 and has been updated to reflect additional information.

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7 St. Patrick’s Day Facts to Share with Kids

March 15, 2016

By Jessica Vician

7 St. Patrick’s Day Facts to Share with Kids

St. Patrick’s Day is known for a lot of things, but did you know it started as a religious holiday in Ireland and was first celebrated in the U.S. to help Irish soldiers feel less homesick?

Share these facts with your kids to give them a better understanding of the legends, superstitions, and history behind the March 17 celebration.

Why do the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
St. Patrick is believed to have died on March 17. He is known for bringing Christianity to Ireland, which is why the day he died is an Irish national holiday.

Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S.?
It all started before we signed the Declaration of Independence. Irish soldiers were fighting for the British Army on American soil, and they held a St. Patrick’s Day parade to help the soldiers feel less homesick through music and friends.

Years later, when the Irish immigrated to the United States, they continued their traditions from their old country in their new country by celebrating the holiday.

What are leprechauns?
According to Irish legend, leprechauns are small, Irish faeries who work very hard as cobblers and craft specialists, earning a lot of gold. But they were very thrifty, and it’s said that leprechauns would bury their gold in pots at the end of the rainbow.

The legend says that if you catch a leprechaun, you can ask him where he hid his gold and he must tell you the truth.

Why do you have to wear green?
It’s tradition that if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, anyone is allowed to pinch you.

Why do we eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day?
It all comes down to the other green stuff: money. Corned beef and cabbage used to be the least expensive options for meat and vegetables.

The Irish ate a lot of salted pork in the 19th century, so when Irish immigrants were looking for an American option for salted meat, they found corned beef was the least expensive choice.

They paired it with cabbage because cabbage was (and still is) an inexpensive vegetable in the U.S.

Why do we wear shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day?
Shamrocks are three-leaf clovers that are supposed to give you good luck on St. Patrick’s Day. They represent Ireland’s magic number of three and also represent the Holy Trinity in the Christian religion, which are the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.

Why are four-leaf clovers lucky?
Clover plants don’t naturally produce four-leaf clovers, only three-leaf clovers. Finding a four-leaf clover is quite the anomaly, which makes you very lucky!

Tags :  academicholiday
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How Women Can Make a Difference

March 8, 2016

By Jessica Vician

How Women Can Make a Difference | Every woman has qualities to become a great leader and should take inspiration from the aforementioned history makers and other women to impact their families and communities. How can you tap into those qualities to make a difference? | A girl dressed in a superhero costume stands flexing her biceps.

Maya Angelou. Susan B. Anthony. Frida Kahlo. Rosa Parks. Sandra Day O’Conner. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

Women. Leaders. Revolutionaries.

Each of these women’s actions have impacted our lives in various ways. They have shaped America’s history through artistic expression, by leading women’s suffrage, by joining civil rights efforts, and by holding respected government offices once belonging only to men. Our lives and our families’ lives are better because of their courage.

On International Women’s Day and during National Women’s History Month, it’s especially important to remind women how valuable they are to this world. Every woman has qualities to become a great leader and should take inspiration from the aforementioned history makers and other women to impact their families and communities. How can you tap into those qualities to make a difference?

Respect Yourself and Your Family
You can’t change others’ lives until you take care of your own. Take stock of your commitments and ensure you’re only doing what you can and what you want. You need to schedule time for rest and relaxation, both for you as an individual and for your family.

You’re at your best when you are rested, without stress, and inspired. Take inspiration from your family, from your hobbies, or the causes that you care most about.

Set Goals and Plan for Them
Take a few moments to write down what you want for your life and for your family. How can you obtain those goals? Set small, incremental goals that contribute to larger goals.

For example, do you want to improve the arts offerings at your child’s school? Sit down and think about the big picture needs: staff, funding, materials, and the school board’s buy-in.

Then, set the small goals. By the end of the month, you will research how much the staff and materials will cost for the program and determine the final funding costs.

The next month, you can focus on a proposal for the school board. These are small goals you can set that will help you achieve your ultimate goal.

Take a Leadership Role in Your Child’s School
The best way to make a difference in your child’s education is to be involved. While you are your child’s only teacher in the first few years of his or her life, you remain your child’s first teacher for the rest of his or her life.

Join the PTA, volunteer as a parent leader, or volunteer as a classroom aide if you have a flexible schedule. Ask your child’s teacher what opportunities are available to be more involved at school, like chaperoning a field trip. Those efforts demonstrate to your child that you care about his or her life at school.

Celebrate Others’ Successes
It truly takes a village to raise a child and make positive changes. When you see another woman taking steps to better her family and community, congratulate her. Thank her for her work, her strength, and her efforts. Ask how you can help her.

Every woman who makes a difference starts as an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. Little steps lead to big changes. By respecting your needs and setting goals for you and your family, who knows what you can accomplish? Maybe we’ll see your name in the history books 100 years from now.

Tags :  socialacademicfamilymotherhood
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What manners should you be teaching your child now?

March 2, 2016

By Jessica Vician

What manners should you be teaching your child now? | A child holds a thank you chalkboard while his friend gives a thumbs up.

Think about the first manner that your parents taught you. It’s hard to pinpoint, isn’t it?

Likely “please” and “thank you,” these small but important manners are critical to forming friendships, succeeding in your career, and even making society function.

The three manners listed below are a starting point to teaching your child respect and gratitude, which will stay with them for their entire life.

Please, thank you, and excuse me.
When asking for something, your child should always start or finish the request with “please.” When the request is granted or denied, he or she should say “thank you.”

It’s especially important (and a little more difficult) to teach your child to say “thank you” when their polite request is denied. For example, let’s say your child asks Grandma for some candy, and she says, “Not now. It’s too close to dinner to have candy.” Your child should respond with a “Thanks anyway, Grandma” sentiment, demonstrating respect for Grandma’s authority and gratitude for the consideration.

“Excuse me” is also an important phrase for your child to learn. He or she should use it in public if accidently bumping into anyone or needing to go around someone. Your child should also use the phrase if he or she wants to join or politely interrupt a conversation of adults or kids.

Say hello to adults when you see them.
When your child goes to a friend’s house, he or she should greet the friend’s parents and any other adults in the house before rushing to play.

This action reinforces the importance of respecting one’s elders, being a good guest in someone’s home, and teaches them mature behavior.

Send thank you notes.
As adults, it’s refreshing when someone goes out of their way to truly thank us.

So when an adult or friend does something nice for your child—has Olivia over for dinner or takes Aiden to the amusement park—they should write a heartfelt thank you note and mail it or deliver it in person. (You can help if your child’s handwriting isn’t quite developed yet.)

The act of expressing thanks teaches your child to be grateful, to not take these actions for granted, and also develops his or her writing skills.

These are just three of the manners your child should start practicing and mastering now. After all, aren’t respect and gratitude exactly what this world needs more of?

What are you teaching your child right now? Share with us in the comments below.

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