Socialization and Toddlers

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Many parents cringe at the thought of getting their toddlers to socialize. After all, one of their favourite words is “ No!”

If toddlers are in a social situation where they are unfamiliar with the people, they have a definite social space surrounding themselves and their parent or caregiver; they are in fact glued to their parent’s hip or leg! Don’t think for a minute that you are going to be allowed in! Saying hello to the little one may result in a look that makes you take a step back.

Children begin showing interest in their peers around the age of two years. Younger toddlers tend to engage mostly in parallel play, where they play next to each other without much interaction. Even if they want to interact with another child, at this age children lack the social skills to do so.

Try to create opportunities to help your children learn to interact with their peers and acknowledge adults. This is a skill that children have to learn with a lot of prompting and practice.

The absolute best way to teach this skill to your toddler is to model it yourself. Use a free community outing like Rhymes that Bind as an opportunity to show your toddler how to interact with others; you can greet someone you don’t even know! Parent and child classes give your toddler an opportunity to socialize with same age peers and others from 0-3 years, as well as to become comfortable with new adults.

Rhymes is a perfect place for this as we are very welcoming, and there are ten weeks in every session. Children flourish with routine and knowledge that this is a safe and fun place to be with their parent or caregiver. Once you have come to Rhymes a couple of times, you and your children will recognize the facilitators and some of the other families.

You can make a little game of socializing. Tell your toddler that the two of you are going to greet, say, ten people today, then briefly talk about each person you have greeted and count them.

At Rhymes that Bind, the songs are interactive, and after several weeks your toddler will be comfortable enough to get up and move around with the other children. You will soon notice your toddler coming into a Rhymes program like it is their program. You will see your little one recognize the facilitators—or another little person—greet them, and sit down, leaving you on your own!

See you at Rhymes that Bind!

For more about Rhymes that Bind or to find a program near you in Edmonton, check the Centre for Family Literacy website.

 

Parenting in a Digital World

Which one do you want daddy?

Take a moment to think about how many digital devices you have in your home. It may sound something like this: two LCD TVs, an iPad, three smartphones, a laptop and maybe an Xbox. Technology has become such a big part of our lives, it’s easy to forget just how ever-present it is. It’s here to stay, and it’s everywhere. Just the other day I saw that Subway has switched to touchscreen fountain pop dispensers!

It seems our world is becoming increasingly digitized, so it’s understandable that children are being exposed to it at an earlier age. On top of that, parents want the best for their children and are sometimes led to believe this means having access to digital devices. It’s true; we do need to know how to use technology in today’s world—but we also need to remember it is just one “tool in the toolbox;” it’s not everything, and it’s not even the most important thing.

We know through research on brain development that learning happens in relationships through one-on-one interaction. We also know it’s not realistic for most families to totally remove technology from our homes. But what we can do is be mindful about how and when we use it by remembering this acronym: ORIM.

What does ORIM stand for?

Opportunity
Recognition
Interaction
Modelling

  • Is there an Opportunity to turn this into a learning experience? Learning takes place through interaction: talking, singing, rhymes, stories, and positive feedback.
  • Is there a way to Recognize and value your child and their efforts? This builds confidence and self-esteem. Is there a way to recognize when your child has made progress?
  • Does this activity have room for Interaction? Brain development takes place through “serve and return”—healthy back-and-forth communication.
  • Children absorb the behaviours and attitudes of the people they spend the most time with. Does the way you use technology Model a positive attitude about learning?

In short, since learning occurs within the relationship between child and caregiver, and through “serve and return interaction,” nothing compares to hands-on activities done with a real human. That said, family literacy is about making the most of your everyday activities, and for a lot of families those activities include digital technology. Think of ways you can add value to these experiences!

Try these:

  • Turn closed captioning on when watching TV.
  • Use your smartphone camera together to capture items on a scavenger hunt.
  • When playing games on a tablet, make it truly interactive by talking about what’s happening and asking questions.

Digital technology has its place, but it’s important to unplug and have boundaries. Try “tech time-outs” for the whole family!

On that note, I’ll leave you with this quote from Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd. It’s a parody of the classic book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and is a great story to read together as a way to transition into your “tech time-outs:”

“Goodnight remotes and Netflix streams, Androids, apps and glowing screens. Goodnight MacBook Air, goodnight gadgets everywhere.”

Digital Technology is one of the topics we cover in our Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Parent Workshops. If your organization would like more information about hosting us, please contact the Centre for Family Literacy at 780-421-7323, or check our website

Download the free Flit app for literacy activities to do with your children 0-5 years old! Here’s the link to iTunes to download.

 

Bathtub Fun on the C.O.W. Bus!

Waves in the Bathtub

A popular read on the Edmonton C.O.W. Bus is Waves in the Bathtub by Eugenie Fernandes. In this story, Kady takes her regular bath at night and sings the bathtub song about all of the ocean creatures she pretends are in the tub with her. From pelicans to large whales, Kady imagines many different creatures.

To extend this story and involve the children on another level, we have stuffed toys of all the creatures she pretends are in the bath with her. We use an inexpensive blue shower curtain as the ocean. This way each child can grab hold of the ocean by the edges and help make the waves in the bathtub for Kady.

As we progress through the story, each creature is eventually put into the ocean to swim in the waves with her. Both the children and the adults pick up the tune fairly quickly as it is catchy and repetitive.

A parent can have their own conversation with their children about what creatures they would like to pretend to swim with in the the ocean. Maybe the children are huge fans of the Ogopogo or sea horses. The song and story can be created entirely by children using their own imaginations and the props they may already have at home.

And with the mom in the book hopping into the bath at the end of the story and singing the same song, parents can create their personal version too!

Get the tune for the song from the following video, and see how we use it on the bus.

 

Why not join us for some fun on the Edmonton C.O.W. bus! Here’s our schedule

 

Books for Babies Book Giveaways

Hispanic mother and baby at homeBecause of generous funding from the Alberta Government and private donors, the Centre for Family Literacy is able to give a book to every family each week of the Books for Babies program—to keep.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that everyone’s taste in books is a little different, and that babies will be drawn to different things in different periods of their development, but here’s a quick rundown of how I choose the books that we give to the program families.

Week 1: I will almost always choose a board book with nice big photos of faces. Even newborn babies love these books, and it will be years before these simple books lose their appeal. Occasionally I’ll use a book with photographs of animals instead. They won’t be as visually appealing to babies, but if I can convince parents to have fun playing with the book and make animal noises with their babies, then I know it will work out well.

Week 2: I always highlight books with rhymes and language play, so I’ll either choose a rhyming story, an illustrated rhyme (like a lullaby) or a collection of rhymes. When the book focuses on a single rhyme or song, the pictures tend to be more simple, which helps babies to follow along with the rhyme. Rhyme anthologies, on the other hand, tend to be very busy, but parents are more likely to find a rhyme that means something to them, which can be even better.

Week 3: I pick a book that offers something more tactile and kinesthetic for babies to explore. Usually these are touch and feel books; sometimes they are books with flaps.  Sometimes I will go another route entirely and choose a book that you can use in the bath, where all kinds of new sensory experiences, beyond the vinyl pages of the book, surround your baby.

Week 4: I like to give a book with a simple story. Babies are closer to 18 months old before they can appreciate the narrative of a story, so the book should have nice simple pictures, and a clear pattern or rhythm. Sometimes, for an extra challenge, I’ll give a book that won’t really make sense to baby unless the parent brings it to life by acting it out with them.

B4B-unused2There are a lot of good books out there to choose from, but using these categories allows us, each week, to explore different elements of books that appeal to babies. And to increase the odds that gift books will be enjoyed by everyone in the group, I try to find books that offer at least two features that babies are drawn to.

How you share the book with your baby will make as much difference as which book you share with your baby, and we spend more time talking about that at our program. But that’s for another blog.

More about the Books for Babies program

Tip sheets for choosing books for your baby, toddler, or preschool age children