Signs Your Child Has a Bad Teacher

empty_classroom freeimages.com 284164

Your kids started the school-year not that long ago. Yet your child is already complaining. Is the problem your child or the teacher?

Although children can create behavioral challenges, teachers can also instigate problems. Your child may complain that the teacher yells. A teacher who yells is out of control. The louder the students, the more the teacher yells and grows angry.

Yelling and Fear

This can create fear in some children, not to mention being poor teaching practice. My daughter complained about this one year, but when I helped in her classroom, the teacher raised her voice slightly in a stern voice. My daughter perceived that as yelling. However, typically when children report yelling, the teacher is out of control.

Softer and Quieter

Good teachers know that the noisier students get, the quieter the teacher’s voice gets. A “look” works better than a raised voice. The teacher also gets closer to the disruptive students. For example, a group in the back is rowdy. The teacher walks near the group and softly says, “I need this group to stop talking and listen.” Most of the remainder of the class doesn’t even hear and class goes on.

Negative Treatment

If your child complains about how the teacher treats students, the teacher may be labeling or embarrassing children. Such actions as put-downs, belittling, sarcasm, labeling “stupid” or “slow,” or making fun of children are all completely unacceptable and demonstrate a lack of respect for children.

Teaching Styles

Teachers have different teaching styles that your child may need to adjust to; however, being treated disrespectfully is one of the most common ways the teacher is the problem. Maybe the teacher refuses to model the lesson more than once.

What’s the Real Story?

If you sense there is a problem, don’t go to the principal or the school board. Speak directly to the teacher. If it is still unresolved, you can then ask to speak to the teacher’s supervisor. Remember, you always want to get both sides of the story. By listening to both your child and the teacher, you can obtain accurate information. Then you’re prepared to make the best decisions for your child.

 

Image Source: empty_classroom 284164 [freeimages.com]

Start a Gratitude Journal During COVID-19

“Gratitude is taking a snapshot of an outstanding moment and

 filing it away in your heart.” – Coach Bobbi

A lot of what we hear and see these days about the COVID-19 pandemic is frightening and upsetting. “Journaling is an amazing tool for working through your thoughts and emotions, which can be incredibly helpful during chaotic times like this.”1

“Writing helps to organize thoughts, facilitate integration, and helps you accept your own experiences and put them in context,” says Dr. Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis.2  “In essence, it allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life.”

For instance, in all the confusion of what to touch or not, mask or no mask, what can I be thankful for?

In January I bought a glass “blessings jar.” Each night I write on a 1.5” x 2.5” index card a blessing from the day. Some days it’s easy, while other days are more challenging. Monday’s blessing was an iridescent hummingbird in our yard for the first time. As a back-yard bird watcher this thrilled me. Today was wild blackberry frozen yogurt.

Improve Your Health by Giving Thanks. Gratitude has not only emotional benefits, but physical benefits as well. People who practice gratitude consistently report a host of health benefits. Here’s five of them:

    • immune systems are stronger,
    • not as bothered by aches and pains,
  • blood pressure is lower,
  • get better sleep, and
  • have fewer symptoms of illness.2, 3

Choose a Journal. Choosing a journal sounds simple but there are many options available. There are gratitude journals that are just for this type of journaling. I prefer a traditional handwritten journal with lines. Sometimes I select a journal that corresponds with something going on in my life. Other times I may chose a religious one with bible verses written throughout. Sometimes I choose a fun journal, like my 34th journal I’m using now with adorable llamas all over the cover.

Computer Apps. Not only are there handwritten journals, there are awesome apps for starting and keeping a gratitude journal. Android & iOS

apps typically range from free to $4.99 but watch the free apps as some only allow so many entries and then charge for further use or charge for additional features or offer a premium app. Some apps charge a monthly fee. Will you journal on your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer? Which would be more convenient? Before selecting your app, think about where you will be writing in it. I write in my journal at night in bed.

Schedule Gratitude. Decide how many gratuities you want to write each day and when you’ll actually write them down. I write one blessing each day. The most common number seems to be three, but I’ve seen as high as ten. Most people write every day, but I read several comments that writing every day causes burnout. Writing once or twice a week is more doable long-term. Try to be flexible with yourself. Don’t give up if you miss occasionally because you aren’t in the mood as this practice can help change your mood.

Challenge Yourself. If you find yourself writing the same gratitude over and over like your home, job, spouse or children, try to notice more subtle things. What do you appreciate about your spouse or children? What do you like about your home or job? You can find countless gratitude prompts on the internet. Here are 5 prompts you may find helpful if you get stuck.

  1. “What abilities do I have that I’m grateful for?
  2. What experiences have I had that I am grateful for?
  3. What have others in my life done that I am thankful for?
  4. What am I taking for granted that, if I stop to think about it, I am grateful for?
  5. What is different today than it was a year ago that I’m thankful for?”4

Go for depth over breadth, says author Jason Marsh. “Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.”2

Gratitude to Others. Elizabeth Scott, stress management expert, reminds us that we don’t have to save our gratitude just for our journal. “Tell the people in your life how much you appreciate them. From people in your family to salesclerks and postal employees you encounter in your day, everyone likes to know that they’re appreciated. And their positive reactions can help put you in a positive mood, too.”5

Recently I told the postal delivery man thanks for delivering the mail every day. His response surprised me and made me smile. “I enjoy it so much I don’t even think of it as a job.” Who can you express gratitude to and for what?

The COVID-19 pandemic is frightening and upsetting; a gratitude journal may be just what you need to help not only see the meaning of the events around you but create meaning in your own life. What are you grateful for today?

 

References:

  1. 15 Self Care Ideas for Coronavirus Quarantine https://www.lavendaire.com/staycation/
  1. Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal, Jason Marsh, November 17, 2011, berkeley.edu/…/tips_for_keepi…
  2. Eight Life Changing Benefits of Gratitude, Marelisa Fabrega, http://daringtolivefully.com
  3. 17 gratitude-prompting questions for your Gratitude Journal, Curt Rosengren, January 4, 2013, com › Energize your life
  4. How to Maintain a Gratitude Journal for Stress Relief, Elizabeth Scott, M.S., about.com/od/positiveattitude/ht/gratitude_journ.htm

 

Image: Gratitude Journal [Flickr.com]

Stay Calm & Step Away During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the onslaught of COVID-19 information it is easy to become worried and anxious. Some states are ending their stay-at-home orders while others are holding on. Here are a few tips on staying calm and stepping away during the pandemic.

Try to be a source of calm for your loved ones.1 It isn’t easy with the pandemic fear but the calmer you are in front of your loved ones, the better. Children especially are looking at trusted adults for their cues during this challenging time.

Feeling Thermometer. Dr. Aureen-Wagner  from The Anxiety Wellness Center has created a complementary Feeling Thermometer to download for assessing how you are feeling in the current moment. My scores seem to fall in the 4 to 7 range. My husband was fired eight weeks ago due to COVID-19 so that hangs heavy on my heart and makes some days more difficult. What’s your score today? It’s good to check your score every few days as circumstances change.

Limit Your COVID-19 Coverage Intake

Is it a Trusted Source? Geisinger Health & Wellness says, “There is no shortage of COVID-19 coverage to consume, and it changes moment by moment. Instead of constantly refreshing your social media feeds or staying glued to news coverage,  seek reliable information from trusted sources, you’ll feel well-informed and less anxious.”2

At first, it seemed that I was watching hours of news which resulted in worry and fear. Eventually, I chose one station and time of day to watch the news. I don’t have to compare multiple points of view but get the news consistently. That has worked much better for me. What about your consumption of the pandemic news?

Taking Breaks. “Taking breaks from the news helps distance yourself, even a little, from what’s going on and avoid getting overwhelmed.”2  Instead of keeping the news on constantly, spend time doing another activity. This will remove yourself from the bombardment of news that can be hard to dodge.

Effects of Screen Time. While we need to stay informed to keep ourselves and others safe, we need breaks from screen time. “Time spent with screens can cause us to feel dysregulated, anxious, and depressed.”3

Limit your Social Media

“Whether it’s the news, social media, or emails, stop consuming excessive content that adds to your fear, stress, and anxiety. There’s a fine line between staying informed and giving in to the ego that loves drama.”4

Effects of Social Media. “Take care of yourself by unplugging from the smart world; say goodbye to brain fatigue, eye strain, neck pain, disrupted sleep and loss of attention.”5

Finally, stay calm for your loved ones. Step back from the news and social media. Put your phone away for periods of time. “Create a calm and peaceful head-space where you’re not pulled into the craze and panic.”4

References

  1. Self Care during COVID-19. https://iocdf.org/covid19/self-care-during-covid-19/
  2. Make time for self-care during a self-quarantine, Published Mar. 18, 2020 https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2020/03/18/17/56/self-care-during-quarantine

3.   A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Posted Apr 10, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202004/self-care-alphabet-week-4-quarantine

  1. 10 Different Ways to Practice Self-Care, Emily Ferguson, February 24, 2020, https://www.trendymami.com/10-different-ways-to-practice-self-care/
  2. 15 Self Care Ideas for Coronavirus Quarantine https://www.lavendaire.com/staycation/

Be Gentle with Yourself and Those Around You During COVID-19

“We know that it’s important to show compassion for others, but how often do we show that same level of kindness to ourselves?” asks Emily Ferguson, author of 10 Different Ways to Practice Self-Care.1

Step back. Ferguson says, “Step back and remember that you are worth the love and care that you give others. Many think that practicing self-care is inconvenient or even selfish.” 1 As I began preparing the workshop Self Care for Educators During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I questioned if self-care is selfish even though self-care pushes us to be healthier versions of ourselves.

Self-care is defined as, “Our ability as human beings to function effectively in the world while meeting the multiple challenges of daily life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self-care is initiated and maintained by us as individuals, it requires our active engagement.” 1

“Times of high stress can bring out both the best and the worst in people — it’s wonderful when it brings out the best, but it’s completely natural and understandable when it brings out the worst.” 2 Give yourself permission to cry. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re short with someone or you binge watch Netflix while eating ice cream. Be aware of your emotions. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and apologize to others as necessary.

Resist the tendency to compare. Psychologist Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee says in Self Care and Covid-19: Getting Ready for the Marathon, “There are as many ways of handling difficult situations as there are humans. It’s easy, right now, to see what others are doing (and how they are seemingly thriving) and to compare ourselves to them. This is a time to work diligently to tend to your relationship with yourself.”3

Don’t take things personally. Dr. Dodgen-Magee also says in A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, “This is the time to work hard to not take things personally.”4 Identify what you need from others. Be sure to communicate your needs specifically. Remember to give others space to respond based on their capacity to help.

The pandemic won’t last forever. Maybe now isn’t the best time to flourish. We can be healthier versions of ourselves later. Meanwhile, we need to be gentle with ourselves and those around us

References:

  1. 10 Different Ways to Practice Self-Care, Emily Ferguson, February 24, 2020, https://www.trendymami.com/10-different-ways-to-practice-self-care/
  2. Self Care during COVID-19. International OCD Foundation,https://iocdf.org/covid19/self-care-during-covid-19/
  3. Self Care and COVID-19: Getting Ready for the Marathon, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D. Posted Mar 19, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202003/self-care-and-covid-19-getting-ready-the-marathon
  4. A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Posted Apr 10, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202004/self-care-alphabet-week-4-quarantine

 

Image:  empathy-4181896_Compassion friendship {Pixabay.com]

 

 

What is Working & Not Working During COVID-19?

“Take care of yourself and others” is a message I repeatedly hear on the news and commercials. Good advice especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. But what is meant by self-care?

Self-care is, “Our ability as human beings to function effectively in the world while meeting the multiple challenges of daily life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self-care is initiated and maintained by us as individuals, it requires our active engagement.”1

We all arrived to today through different journeys. For some, shelter at home means balancing work and family while for others it means no work at home due to job loss and everywhere in between.

By now you’ve probably tried some different things to make shelter at home easier. Some of the ideas worked while others were a huge flop. Enough time has gone by that its opportune time that we look at what is working for us and our loved ones and what’s not working.

Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee from Psychology Today states, “It’s important to do an evaluation of our daily and weekly patterns and see where our behaviors are helping us or hurting us. Once we’ve done this, we can begin to consider what habits need breaking and what new norms might help us in this next part of the journey.”2 Habits I needed to break were having time being bored with nothing to do, sleeping in late, and consuming too much news on the pandemic.

Dodgen-Magee goes on to suggest, “It’s always easier to establish healthy norms than it is to break bad habits.”Once we’ve developed a bad habit, it takes time to change the habit. It’s easier to establish a new habit than change a bad habit?

During my Peloton beginners bike riding class I take, the trainer talks about the importance of drinking water. Honestly, I drink way more soda than water. So, I’m replacing my soda with water. When I drink my daily allotment of water, I then can drink one soda. Most days now I don’t even want the soda. I’ve been able to replace a bad habit with a good habit. What about you? What bad habit do you need to get rid of? What new habit would be beneficial?

Another suggestion in Psychology Today is, “Ask yourself what activities are life-giving and self-soothing to you and schedule them on your calendar.” What have you found that gives you energy and sense of purpose? After lots of blank calendar days I realized I needed to have more structure to my day. One idea I’ve done that is life-giving is calling people I haven’t talked to in a while. At first, I was a little hesitant, but then I thought, if that person called me, I would be happy to hear from them. So, I’ve been calling. Many phone conversations last an hour. We’re connecting which is life-giving.

What’s working for you today during the pandemic?

 

Sources

  1. Fact Sheet Nine: What is Self-Care? September 2013. https://static.virtuallabschool.org/atmt/self/FC.Self_3.Environment_A1.WhatIsSelfCare.pdf

2.      A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Posted Apr 10, 2020,

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202004/self-care-alphabet-week-4-quarantin

Image source: illustration-of-light-bulb-concept-of-new-ideas [Pikrepo.org]

 

Mental Health During COVID-19 Pandemic

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Graphic. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario “Charo” Gutierrez)

With the shelter-in-place orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the restorative practices staff at Youth for Christ are planning a webinar, Self-care During the Corona Virus. I did research and chose 10 tips for the workshop. I thought you’d find some of the information and tips helpful as well. But first, I found something surprising.

It’s been shown that a period of just two weeks in quarantine can be linked with serious mental health issues, which can include: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression, confusion and/or anger.1

Since it has already been way longer than two weeks, chances are some of us are already suffering from mental health challenges. Get some help if you notice:

  • “yourself feeling overly agitated,
  • losing interest in life,
  • withdrawing from relationships,
  • eating or sleeping too much or too little, or
  • experiencing other symptoms of depression or anxiety.”2

Reach out to a therapist near you (many are doing telehealth) or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness crisis line at 800-950-NAMI. Or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

Together we can do this. I know that for me the days seem really long. Call a trusted friend or share with your spouse or partner. We do not need to go through this struggle alone.

References:

  1. Make time for self-care during a self-quarantine, Published Mar. 18, 2020 https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2020/03/18/17/56/self-care-during-quarantine
  2. Self Care and COVID-19: Getting Ready for the Marathon, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D. Posted Mar 19, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202003/self-care-and-covid-19-getting-ready-the-marathon

 

New Restorative Practices Book

Always on the lookout for new restorative practices resource books I’m delighted with my latest find, Restorative Justice in the English Language Arts Classroom. This five-chapter, 126-page book by Maisha T. Winn, Hannah Graham, and Rita Renjitham Alfred integrates restorative justice principles throughout as it applies to English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms.

I thought the book would be filled with assignments based on restorative practices for teachers to use with students, but the book offers so much more. It offers the philosophy and principles behind the assignment concept ideas.

There’s an extensive 23-page prologue on adolescent literacy that I found helpful yet disturbing. I’m disturbed “that 40 percent of high school seniors rarely write a paper of three or more pages, … the achievement gap between the reading and writing scores of white and students of color in 8th and 12th grades, and … the 4th grade slump in reading abilities” (p. xiii). I found the myths about adolescent literacy very insightful. The research-based recommendations for effective adolescent literacy instruction for teachers is spot on.

The book begins with “Teaching English in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” This short chapter offers hope despite the criminalization of particular children. The authors provide a solid foundation of why ELA teachers should care and how they can engage students in literacy for purpose and belonging.

“Restorative Justice in Educative Spaces” provides background in restorative justice in education methodology, that impacts entire school systems including English classrooms. Teachers of any grade or content area will benefit from this comprehensive chapter on the foundations of restorative justice. Why punishment doesn’t work is a strong section. The Relationship Matrix offers a different slant where people are viewed as objects and teachers have power over their students as opposed to people as subjects to be honored with unconditional acceptable and the power is shared “with” the students. Many of their excellent figures are offered through Living Justice Press as free resources. I’m making posters of each one for my trainings.

Being a researcher, my favorite chapter is “Using Our Curricular Powers: Pedagogy and Restoration in the ELA Classroom.” How does an ELA teacher integrate restorative justice principles into pedagogical practice? “Part of creating and reshaping narratives in classrooms mean accepting responsibility for the power that we as educators hold in creating spaces where students in our care feel that their ideas, opinions and personhood are valued,” (p. 49). Every chapter offers an “Into the Classroom” that features how one teacher applied the principles being taught. This chapters offers strong examples.

“Assessing Our Spaces and Ourselves” begins with the question, why do we send children to school? The short answer = opportunity. This chapter takes readers through a 3-step personal development self-audit. The remainder of the chapter examines learning contexts in the classroom.

The final chapter, “Transforming Writing Instruction: Where Do We Go from Here? suggests that restorative justice practices are a great place to begin. English education “…provides opportunity to engage in difficult dialogues

Four Appendixes support the chapters’ content followed by a notes section, annotated bibliography, references and an index. This comprehensive book for ELA could easily be adapted by educators in other content areas. The book strongly explains restorative justice and what those principles can look like day-to-day in the classrooms.

Pushing Students Out of School: How Did We Get Here?

 

Why did laws intended to make schools safer backfire?

Zero Tolerance. In 1994 schools across the United States implemented Zero Tolerance policies chid handcuffed [flickr.com]after federal legislation required expulsion for one year when students brought a weapon to school. Many schools expanded this policy to reduce possession or use of illicit and prevent violence.

A multitude of “misbehaviors” escalated to more than 3 million students suspended from schools in 2010. This is double the number of suspensions in the 1970s. Traditional punishment is not working in schools across the country.

Why are American schools pushing students out of school?

Downward Spiral. The increase in suspensions has created a downward spiral for countless students. Students are suspended, often unsupervised which allows opportunities to get into further trouble. Students return to school but their behavior is not only unchanged, they often return angry and resentful. These students typically continue inappropriate behaviors which results in more suspensions.

Why do American schools suspend so many students?

School-to-Prison Pipeline. Every day that students miss school, they fall further behind. The more class they miss, the less likely they are to graduate. Those who miss too much school often end up dropping out and find themselves in trouble with the law. This practice of pushing students out of schools towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems is referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline.

Is there any hope for students?

Restorative Practices. Restorative Practices (RP) has its roots in Restorative Justice. This is a newer field of study that is being used in schools to improve student’s accountability, repair harm, and restore relationships. Many schools are effectively using RP to address the school-to-prison pipeline. RP is used with all students, beginning with building community amongst students and staff.

What can reverse this trend?

Innovative Success. We need to explore alternatives to traditional discipline that increase student responsibility, and decrease classroom disruptions, suspensions and expulsions. To find out more about these innovating strategies that are positively changing the lives of students on my web page http://fromdiaperstodiamonds.com/restorative-practices/

To view your U.S. school district’s suspension rates visit http://www.schooldisciplinedata.org/ccrr/index.php

Image source: child handcuffed [flickr.com]

 

Key to Winter Bike Riding

In  just over two months I plan to ride 40 miles in Reedley’s Blossom Ride on Mar 7th. There’s just one problem. I’ve only ridden 5 miles since December 1. Four years ago, I rode 145 miles during January and February before the Blossom Ride.

2016 Ride

Second Grade Math. I do the second-grade math I learned in my grandson Parker’s class. I have to “decompose” (isn’t that what happens with dead things?) the tens to get my answer. I still need to ride 140 miles. That doesn’t sound too unrealistic. I have almost two months.

But here’s the problem. I have to actually get on my bike. The progression on reaching that goal looks something like this.

Attempt #1. Think about it. At the end of the day I say to myself, “At least I thought about riding. That’s better than not thinking about it at all.”

Attempt #1 Results = No bide ride.

Attempt #2. Schedule it. I actually write, “bike ride,” on my calendar and “to do” list. I see it written down. I periodically glance at the reminder. “I need to ride my bike today,” I tell myself when I get up and throughout the day.

“Oh, no. I can’t ride now; I need to get ready for my appointment.”

After the appointment, I rationalize, “Cali-Cat hardly ever lets me pet her. Since she’s so happy that I’m petting her, I dare not stop.”  Cali eventually moves away; however, my rear remains on the couch.

“Really? It’s already past 4:00? I can’t ride now. It’ll be too dark before I get home.”

At the end of the day I justify, “At least I tried to ride my bike today. It just didn’t work out with my schedule. Maybe tomorrow.”

Attempt #2 Results = No bike ride.

Attempt #3. Get ready for it. I decide to get dressed in my bike clothes. This is a practical idea. Why have to change later? I’ll put my bike clothes on now and be all ready for my ride. What’s the temperature? When are no-rain hours? I select the “best” ride time.

I feed the pets. Read email. Send a few emails. Edit my last blog. Pet adorable Cali-Cat sitting near my laptop. These bike clothes are getting too hot. Plus, Cali’s getting her fur all over my black bike pants. Remove outer layers.

I better finish the restorative practices training handout. And update the PowerPoint too. These clothes sure are snuggly and warm on a cold day. Makes me want to take a nap. Or at least relax before my ride.

“It’s raining? Bummer. It wasn’t supposed to rain until 5:00. I can’t ride in the rain.”

At the end of the day, I rationalize, “I was all dressed to ride. Too bad it rained. I was going to ride my bike then.”

Attempt #3 Results = No bike ride.

Attempt #4: Get on it. And ride. I can think about it . . . all day long. I can schedule it . . . and keep changing my schedule. I can get ready for it . . . and still find other things to do, especially in my comfortable clothes. Or I follow the key to winter bike riding. I get on my bike and ride.

I don’t worry about how far I’ll go. I don’t calculate how much faster I want to ride. I don’t wonder how long it will take me. I simply get on my bike and start pedaling. Then I can set goals . . . but I prefer to “just ride.”

Attempt #4 Results: I get on my bike and ride.

The key to winter bike riding is the same as for all seasons: get on my bike and ride. The more miles I ride, the better I get, the faster I can go. Whether I ride in the Blossom Ride or not depends on how many times I get on my bike and just ride.

What do you think about but don’t get done?

What do you schedule and still don’t get done?

What do you get ready for but don’t complete?

What do you need to get on and do? That’s the key in any season.

 

Christmas Toys for Endless Fun

ted-the-bear-3-1367103 [freeimages.com]Are you still shopping for Christmas toys? Are you overwhelmed with so many toys to choose from? Do you want something kids won’t toss aside after a few weeks? Here are some tips on buying toys for endless fun.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a toy, such as safety, the child’s interests, durability, and your budget. Because toys are already subject to safety tests, my best advice is to purchase developmentally age-appropriate, open-ended toys. What do all these words mean?

Developmentally Appropriate

Age-appropriate means the toy matches the child’s developmental level. Children generally develop within a predictable sequence, but some develop earlier while others develop later. For example, some children walk before one year while others walk after one year.

Age Suggestions & Safety

All toy manufacturers must indicate age suggestions on the packaging, such as six to twelve months, three to five-years, etc. Parents and grandparents are often tempted to purchase toys that are intended for older children because the child is “so smart.” The child may be bright, but the manufacturer suggestions provide the best safety for children. For example, preschool toys may have smaller pieces that would be unsafe for toddlers.

Variety, Creativity & Budget-friendly

Alongside choosing age-appropriate toys, choose toys that are open-ended. This means toys that provide different ways children can play with them. A jack-in-the-box is a closed-ended toy. There is only one way to play with a jack-in-the-box, over, and over, and over again. Open-ended toys offer more variety and creativity. A jack-in-the-box will be interesting for awhile, but open-ended toys can provide fun for several years. This makes open-ended toys more cost effective and budget friendly.

Endless Possibilities

Open-ended toys offer children endless play possibilities. Items children can build with or create anything they want are ideal for their imaginations. Possibilities include dress-up clothes, wooden blocks, Duplos, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Mega blocks, and magnetic blocks. One day children create a zoo and dress up as a zoo keeper while another time they construct a ferry. Open-ended toys facilitate endless possibilities for fun.

 

Image: ted-the-bear-3-1367103 [freeimages.com]