Confessions of a Baby Whisperer

whisperer3

What does it mean for someone to be good with babies? I have gotten that flattering feedback from families that I have worked with (and several friends and family members), and it always makes me smile and wonder a bit. It’s true that I know better than to pinch a baby when I hold them, but I don’t think that there is anything in particular about me that would make me good with babies.

Some people are surprised to find out that I don’t even have a baby of my own. I adore my nieces and nephew, but I honestly haven’t had any of them in my care for more than a few hours at a time. So, most of what I’ve learned about babies, I have learned through spending time with families in our programs and being curious.

Large-scale population studies have lead to schedules of developmental milestones for babies. And some of the most popular parenting guides break these findings down into a week-by-week, or even day-by-day, guide of what to expect. These can be helpful to get a general idea of when behaviours and physical changes are likely to first appear. However, if your baby is not developing “typically,” those resources can become a source of stress for many people. I recommend talking to your family doctor, pediatrician or a public health nurse if you have any concerns about your child’s development.

No matter how much outside research you do, or who you talk to, your baby will surprise you. Each baby is unique. If you ever meet a parent of twins (or triplets) who suggests otherwise, I would be very surprised. This can be incredibly humbling to people who have spent years working with babies in health care and child care settings, or to parents who have a number of older children.

As perplexing (and sometimes infuriating) as it can be, getting to know your baby on a person-to-person basis is one of the most valuable and rewarding things that I can imagine. And when it comes down to it, it’s that specialized knowledge that parents and caregivers get from forging a relationship with a baby that will be invaluable if any kind of outside help is needed. We can get hints of what to expect from friends, family members, and all sorts of other sources, but being good with babies, in my opinion, has more to do with having a sense of wonder and respect for these brave little creatures.

And for the record: I’ve never actually called myself a baby whisperer. If I were going to brag, I would only say that the babies who smiled at me when we met outnumber the babies who cried.

We have Books for Babies programs starting soon at various locations around Edmonton. I hope to meet you and your baby there.

Program schedule:

http://www.famlit.ca/programs_and_projects/programs/babies.shtml

hashtag: #books_for_babies

Family Literacy Day

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Board_game

Family Literacy Day — created by ABC Life Literacy Canada and held annually on January 27 — highlights the “importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.”

Literacy is the foundation for learning, and it begins at home. Family Literacy takes place during daily routines in life as parents, children, and family members use literacy at home and in their community.

Research tells us that we can set kids up for success as learners when we engage them in conversations, read together regularly, provide meaningful writing experiences, and let them see us reading and learning too. Positive parent-child interaction every day is key at every stage of a child’s language and literacy development.

As a parent, grandparent, or caregiver, you’re likely already engaging the children in your life in meaningful family literacy activities. Looking for fresh ideas?

Inspired by ABC Life Literacy, here are 10 ways to engage your family in literacy and learning on Family Literacy Day, and every day:

  1. Start the day with a story. It beats the morning grumps every time.
  2. Write a note for another family member. Leave it somewhere you know they’ll find it – in their favourite box of cereal, their sock drawer or lunch box. (We know a mom who writes on bananas: “Have a great day! Now eat me.”)
  3. Search online for fun things to do. Plan your next family day.
  4. Hunt in the newspaper together for a “good news story,” enjoy the comics, or see how your favourite sports team is doing.
  5. Start a family communication book. Leave a blank notebook out in a common area where anyone can leave a message for other family members. Messages can range from “Thanks for tidying the play room” to “Remember to buy cheese!” In the short term, it can help with communication and increase family connectedness. In the long run, it might just become a family heirloom.
  6. Create a story with your family around the dinner table. Take turns writing one sentence at a time, then read the whole story aloud when you’re done. If you illustrate it, even the youngest can help.
  7. Older kids?  Have a laugh with mad-libs. Use a published book or create your own!
  8. Driving? Try the alphabet game. Work together to find the letters of the alphabet — in order — on signs and license plates.
  9. Play a board game together.
  10. End the day with a new book or an old favourite.

Learning can happen at any time. “Practicing literacy together every day has tremendous benefits for both children and parents.” The possibilities are endless. Why not add one or two new ideas to what you’re already doing as a family?

Happy Family Literacy Day!

 

 

 

Snowmen on the C.O.W. Bus

snowmen

On the Edmonton C.O.W. Bus we are very excited to start 2015 off right. We brought out our best snowman activities and are eager to share some wonderful winter stories with our visitors. One of our favourites is The Mitten by Jan Brett. This book is about a grandmother who knits snow-white mittens for her grandson, who takes them on an adventure. This story comes with some fun props that all ages are sure to enjoy.

TheMitten

During the winter months, many easy outdoor activities—like building snowmen—are available for families. Try some of these:

  • Have a snowball fight
  • 
Go sledding
  • 
Catch snowflakes on your tongue
  • 
Make a snow angel
  • 
Build a snow fort
  • 
Collect pine cones

When it’s time to come inside and warm up, consider building a snowman inside. Use things such as paper plates or cotton balls for the body, and scraps of fabric or craft supplies to finish the snowman.

Enjoy this great interactive snowman activity we found online!

Sing along with this “I’m a Little Snowman” tune!

Check our website for the bus schedule and more information

Watch a video of a program on the bus

hashtag: #edm_cow

 

 

How to Choose Quality Children’s Books

Did you ever wonder how the Alberta Prairie (AB) C.O.W. Bus staff choose the books we give as a Legacy Library to every community we visit? Well, here is your chance to find out! Our shelves are stocked with a new selection of books to give to our partner communities this year.

Each Legacy Library consists of 50 different books – 15 hardcovers, 15 paperbacks, 15 board books, and five others that might include flashcards, a CD, or any other format of books we think families will enjoy. Last year we gave away 4350 books, so you can imagine how much time is spent choosing the books that we use in the AB C.O.W. program.

Choosing good quality children’s books can be difficult as there are no guidelines for what can be published as a children’s book. Not all books are appropriate for all children. At the Centre for Family Literacy, we try to keep three things in mind when we are considering the purchase of a new title. These tips are very helpful, especially when buying multicultural books because we may not be familiar with all aspects of different cultures.

1)   Is the book truthful and respectful?
2)   Would this book hurt or embarrass anyone?
3)   Does this book perpetuate a stereotype?

To help us choose good quality books that are age-appropriate, we keep in mind the following:

1)   How realistic are the pictures in board books?
2)   How wordy are the picture books?
3)   How well are the books are made?

When we see a new book from a familiar author, we generally know if the book will be a good fit for our program. A great example of this is Hervé Tullet’s newest book, Mix it Up! His previous book, Press Here, is a favourite of many of our facilitators and we knew that Mix it Up! wouldn’t disappoint us. Parents and children can explore the wonder of colours in a new, fun, interactive way.

Some of our favourite books that you can expect to see in the AB C.O.W. Legacy Libraries this year, from January to June, are:

1)   Mix it Up! by Hervé Tullet
2)   Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell
3)   Duck & Goose: It’s Time for Christmas! by Tad Hills
4)   The Very Best Daddy of All by Marion Dane Bauer
5)   Boy + Bot by Amy Dyckman

MixItUp Can't You Sleep? DuckGoose BestDaddy Boy&Bot

Remember, everyone does not have to like the same books. You know your children best, and what is okay for some children may not be okay for others. However if you enjoy the book, your children probably will too. Please share some of your favourite books with us!

Visit our website for free tip sheets on how to choose children’s books

Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus schedule

Make a donation to the Legacy Library

hashtag: #ab_cow