Write for me Wednesday: Preparing Your Young Ones who are Going to School for the First Time

Preparing Your Young Ones who are Going to School for the First Time

First day of school

Your child’s early years are extremely critical in his/her development because it lays the foundation for being ready at life. And this is backed up by science. Recently, researchers have learned that the human brain develops expansively, and is most receptive to learning, between 0-3 years of age. This is why early education plays a big role.

This connection, this link between rapid brain development and peak learning receptivity has spawned many early childhood programs that incorporate books, videos, and activities to maximize this window. What’s great about this is you can now start preparing your children at home to make them successful later on, specifically for school. As a parent, there’s nothing more fulfilling than to see your child able to overcome challenges in his/her life.

Here are some practical ways to prepare yourself and your young ones to attend school for the first time.

Enrol your child to a day care or playgroup.

The closest thing to a structured and formal setting of a school is a day care or a playgroup. In that environment, your child will be able to learn new things and interact with different kinds of people—which he/she will be doing plentifully and more regularly at school.

When choosing a school, tag your child along.

A lot of uneasiness in a child stems from his/her inability to cope up with the sudden change in environment. That’s why it makes sense to let your child see which school he/she might go into before the “first day” starts. This will help your child get familiar with the place and the routine.

Share your own “first day” memories.

If your child already has a concept of “going to school” because you enrolled him or her in a day care, just keep reminding him/her what it was like. But if your child doesn’t have this frame of reference to keep him/her in check, then perhaps the best way to go at it is to share your own “first day” experiences. The very least that this could do is to help your child at setting expectations and that what he/she feels is completely normal. Dr. Diane Levin of Wheelock College said: “Talking about the basic sequence of the day will help your child make a mental movie of what to expect. Kids form pictures in their minds, and reviewing the process in detail will make things more familiar and less scary on the first day of school.”

Talk about “going to school” with your child more often.

Opening up the topic of “going to school” with your child more often can ease up the tension brought about by introducing a big shift in his/her life. Engage in conversation by question-and-answer will help your child imagine what school will be like, and this will also reveal what your child’s innermost thoughts about school are.

Start going to bed earlier.

One or two weeks before school begins, start practicing a stricter bedtime schedule with your child. This will help him/her cope up with the time demands of schooling. Begin by waking your child up 15 minutes earlier every day and going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night.

Learn about the drop-off policy.

Most schools have a drop-off policy. Find out if they allow parents to walk their children into the classroom and how long they can stay. If you think your child will need extra time to adjust, talk to the teacher or administrator before the school starts. But I suggest that you stick to their policy if it won’t cause too much trouble.

Transform their nervousness to excitement.

It’s completely normal to feel the nerves when you’re presented with something entirely new to you. The best thing you can do about this is to divert that energy to a more positive one. For example, let your child pick out what bag or lunchbox he wants. When shopping for school supplies, let your child find the items in the store and check them off on your list.

Prep yourself too.

Most first days can be emotionally charged for both mother and child. If you can’t hold it together, how much more can your child hold up on his own? Plan and play all the possible scenarios that can happen on the first day. Think about what your child needs in a goodbye. What will be most helpful — a quick goodbye, or five minutes of cuddle time with you?

You can also read books about starting school. Some good ones include “The Berenstain Bears Go to School” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, “Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner” by Amy Schwartz, “First Day Jitters” by Julie Dannenberg, “I Am Absolutely Too Small for School” by Lauren Child, and “Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown” by Paula Danzinger.

About the Author

Joanna is an entrepreneur mum blessed with 3 lovely children. She lives in Dubai with her family, and loves to travel and cook healthy meals for her kids. Joanna regularly shares her parenting tips and experiences with Afterschool.ae, an online platform listing all UAE kid’s activities accessible by parents thru web and mobile.

Just Peachy

I was yapping with my partner, father-in-law and brother after lunch today when my son announced that his sister was eating a peach.  I turn around and sure enough she was stealthily eating devouring one of the (very juicy) Ontario peaches that was in the fruit basket that I’d placed on the floor prior to sitting down for lunch.  She ate the whole darned thing (well, minus the pit) in a matter of (dare I say it?) seconds.  She was, of course very proud of herself.  Note to self: next time, place the fruit basket on the counter…

Notice the peach behind her?  That is the one she sampled first.  I gave it to her brother.

Notice the peach behind her? That is the one she sampled first. I gave it to her brother.

Woot Woot!

You know how there are some days where you can’t seem to get anything done and there are others where everything seems to go your way?  Well today was one of those days.  Today, I felt like a superstar.

It all started at 6:30 with a run.  I ran for 30 minutes consecutively for the first time!  It was sooooo awesome.  I managed to get just over 4km in that time.  I’m really happy (in case you haven’t already noticed) because I had set the goal to run 30 consecutive minutes or run 5k by the end of July and I did it (with 13 days to spare!).

First 30 min run

When I got back, the kiddos were finishing up their breakfast with their dad and I sat down with them.  We played downstairs while I took care of some laundry until it was time for Amélie’s nap.  Once she was down, Charles helped me wash the windows in his room (he was quite proud and started washing everything else in sight in his room as I finished up).  Amélie woke up, we had a little snack and then we left for the grocery store to buy a few things that we were missing for lunch.

Waiting at the red light for our turn to cross.

Waiting at the red light for our turn to cross.

I realized that though these little wagons are super practical, they are also quite hard to pull with 50lbs of kids inside.  Oh well, second workout of the day LOL!.

When we got back, we got lunch going, they took their nap and then, we went to the water park.  It wasn’t super duper hot, but it was hot enough for a bit of water to be refreshing.  And since I can’t go in our pool with two kids at the same time, it was a great alternative.  Charles got wet…and then he got dirty.

He didn’t really care though and his sister was having a blast looking at her brother playing in the sand while she was in the swing.

Notice the feet inside the swing.  This is her preferred method.

Notice the feet inside the swing. This is her preferred method.

It was really great because I saw Charles interact with kids his own age.  This isn’t something that I’m accustomed to seeing because he is usually really shy.  I think that having something in common with his friend helped break the ice though.

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Can anyone spot the common theme?

Both kids were all smiles on our way home…

image…and ready to keep playing once we reached our destination.  Charles kept himself busy with a branch he found (seriously, what *is* it with boys and branches?).

And Amélie was her cute and silly self (when she realized that she wasn’t going to be able to grab my phone from me, she tried to remove her hat, but missed and pinched her cheek instead).

Charles decided to help me finish up my laundry by gathering all of our remaining clothespins in the same spot…

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The Magical Tent

IMG_0077We all know that we should limit screen time for our kids.  But with the amounts of screens that can be found in the typical North American house and the hectic lives that many of us have, it can sometimes be difficult.  We’ve fallen into the trap quite a few times of allowing Charles more time with the iPad than we should.  Each time, we’ve had to wean him off the screen using various methods.

This time ’round, I’m trying to get him to do other things than play with my iPad in the morning.  You see, I rather like to sleep a little later than 6:00 am whereas he is wide awake by that time.  Because he was tired of being sent back to his room when he would come wake us up in the morning (he has a Gro Clock and should stay in his room until 6:15) he figured that if he got up quietly and sat in the living room with my iPad without waking anyone up, he could get up when he wanted (such a smart little man!).

However, since I want to encourage him to do other things when he wakes up, I have decided to set up a “magical” tent.  Basically, when he goes to bed at night, I take 5-10 minutes to set up some of his toys in the tent: a big robot made out of Duplo blocks, his road carpet with some cars…when he wakes up, he just needs to open the tent to see what’s hiding inside.

Getting ready to set up his toys.

Getting ready to set up his toys.

We’ve been doing this for two mornings now and it has been great.  Both times, when I woke up, he was happily playing in his tent instead of sitting on the couch with the iPad.  He wakes up excited to see what will have turned up in his tent.  I’m hoping that in the long run, this will create new habits for him.  Whatever happens, though, I’m having fun with the idea of the magical tent right now and he is too.

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This is what he will be waking up to tomorrow morning.

How do you control screen time with your kids?

Sleepy Toes

I have a problem.  Well, two, actually, but both happen to be in the same area.

Now that I’m able to run non-stop for longer periods (I’m up to 25 minutes of continuous running!), I’ve noticed that the three smallest toes from my left foot become numb about 10-15 minutes into my runs.  This has been going on for a couple of weeks now and though it is not a big problem for now, it is certainly an annoyance.  At first, I thought it might be because my socks were too thick, so I tried thinner socks.  Then I thought that it was because my laces were too tight, so I loosened them.  But I still get numb toes when I run.  And only in my left foot.

I’ve also been noticing a slight pain in my left foot lately.  It feels as though my bones are compressed (if that makes any sense).  I generally only feel the pain when I’m sitting cross-legged, so I figured that maybe I should just stop sitting that way and it would go away.  It hasn’t.  Then I realized that this pain has only been going on since I started running.

I thought that running was most likely the culprit of the two conditions, but then I remembered that this toe numbness also happens when I rollerblade and when I skate (and has been for many years).  Except, it didn’t really bother me, because I wasn’t going out rollerblading or skating nearly as often as I go running now (which is every 2 days).

Anyways, I, quite obviously, turned to Dr. Google for an explanation for this and here is what I learned.

Cause

Most likely, it is caused by nerve compression in my foot.  It appears that the most common site of nerve compression is between the third and fourth toe (as is happening to me).  It would seem that the numbness can be caused by the repeated pounding of the foot on the pavement, by wearing a shoe that is too narrow or by an imperceptible swelling of the foot during a run (source).  Besides problems with the shoe (like tightening the laces too much or wearing socks that are too thick), foot numbness can also be caused by an injury (that may or may not be caused by not resting enough between runs, having poor running form and logging in more running miles too quickly) or the structure of the runner’s foot (having flat feet or an overly flexible sole puts a runner at a greater risk for nerve compression) (source).

Solutions

So what can be done about this problem?

1.  Start with the shoe.  Try loosening the laces, using thinner socks.  Consider trying another pair of shoes that has a wider toe box.  One of the articles I read even suggested buying shoes one size larger than the shoes you normally wear to accommodate the spread of the toes upon impact and thicker socks, but I personally don’t see the value in this.

2.  Look at your training.  Check if the numbness appears even if you integrate some walking intervals in your training.  Try giving your body longer resting periods between runs.  Make sure you increase your distance and running time gradually.

3.  Turn to the medical field.  One article suggested taking ibuprofen before a run to stop the foot from swelling, but I personally don’t want to be popping a pill every two days just to go running when there are other things I can do.  Special insoles can also be placed under the forefoot to gently spread the bones that are compressing the offending nerve apart.

For my part, I’ve already tried fiddling with my laces and socks to no avail.  I really don’t want to have to put in walking intervals in my runs, because I don’t see this as a long term solution to be able to run (because walking isn’t running).  I know I’ve only been increasing my distance and run times slightly so that  can’t be the problem.  I’m pretty sure my form isn’t the problem either because the same nerve compression happens to me when I rollerblade and skate – two low-impact sports.

Sooo… what’s left for me is finding a new pair of shoes that has a larger toe box (which, isn’t a problem, really, I mean, a girl can’t have too many pairs of shoes, right ;)).  I think I’ll also give my doctor a call.  Perhaps she’ll refer me to a podiatrist or perhaps she’ll have other thoughts on the cause of my toe numbness.

Have you experienced toe numbness during runs?  What worked for you?

They Ate My Breakfast

When I get back from my morning runs, I am usually famished.  Recently, I’ve been enjoying a big bowl of fruit with some (canned) coconut milk and a spoonful of natural almond butter as my post-run breakfast of choice.  This morning, I fancied some raspberries in my fruit bowl, so I sent my superhero (aka Charles in one of his Batman pyjamas) out in the yard with a small plastic bowl to go and pick somefor me.  He was all too happy to oblige.

Working hard to find some yummy raspberries.

Working hard to find some yummy raspberries.

He stayed there for a good 5 minutes finding (and no doubt sampling) as many of the berries as he could.  When he came back inside, he didn’t come find me in the kitchen.  I finished cutting my peach and poked my head out of the kitchen to find this going on.

They couldn't resist some fresh-picked berries.

They couldn’t resist some fresh-picked berries.

I had two little birdies eating part of my breakfast (could you blame them, though?).  I ate my raspberry-less breakfast as I watched Charles make more trips out to fetch some more fruit for his sister and he to share.  Of course, his sister waited patiently for the next wave of berries to arrive between each trip.

Hum, I wonder if he's coming back soon.

Hum, I wonder if he’s coming back soon.

All in all, I had a pretty good breakfast.

Maybe I Should Just Try Benadryl

Usually, Amélie goes down for bed at 7.

Usually, after our short bedtime routine, I just pop her in her crib with a kiss, leave her room, close the door and spend the next 2-3 hours before my own bedtime picking up the house and having some me time.

Sometimes, she’ll be overtired and will start crying as soon as I put her down.  Usually, all she needs is for me to rub her back for about 5 minutes before she falls asleep.

But tonight, oh tonight.

It’s now 9:15 and she’s still not sleeping.  The dada and I have formed a tag team.  None of our strategies have worked.

Not one.

Rocking? Nope.

Walking? Nope.

Nursing? Nope.

Singing? Nope.

Holding? Nope.

Nope. NOPE. NOPE!

I put her down, she cries.

I rub her back, she squirms.

I try to apply a bit of pressure on her hips to stop her from moving, she screams.

I pick her up, she puts her thumb in her mouth and puts her head on my shoulder.  *Yes!*

NOPE!

Ten seconds later she’s squirming, pulling my hair, pinching me, headbutting me.

I seriously tried everything short of giving her Benadryl to make her drowsy.  (I almost seriously considered it)

The last time the dada came up to take over, I all but threw her in his arms.

Then, I went outside, on the balcony and closed the door.

Silence.

The dada managed to put her down, by the way.  It’s now 9:20 and she’s alseep…for now.

Dads are awesome like that.

Ten Thought Tuesday: June 23rd 2015

TTT1.  Next year, I’m set to teach English, Science and Phys. Ed. on top of teaching resource.  I’m planning on picking up the books they are going to use at school next year so that I can take advantage of the summer to do some lesson planning.

2.  This morning, Charles came “jogging” with me.  Basically, he sat in the double Chariot carrier that a colleague gave me last year as I pushed him.

3.  I realized that it was much harder to run while pushing a chatty 2.5 year old than it is to run alone.

4.  One of Amélie’s bottom first molars has cut (because, you know, who wants to follow a teething timeline when you can just get them all in quickly).  This time around, I’ve been using Camilia (a homeopathic medicine) instead of Advil or Tylenol for dealing with the pain at night.  I never thought I’d say this, but this stuff is working wonders so far!

5.  I ordered my very first pair of Soft Star shoes, well sandals actually.  These cute sandals for Charles should be in any day now.

6.  I’m planning on making a weighted blanket for Charles to help him to calm down and actually sleep during nap time (because he definitely still needs a nap).  I just have to figure out how to thread the old sewing machine that I have downstairs.

7.  I’m planning on starting a series of recipe posts soon and I’m going to need your help to write them.  Look for more details in the days to come.

8.  It hasn’t been warm enough for us to be able to use our pool yet, but we’re getting there!

9.  Now that Amélie’s seriously cruising, I’m thinking she’ll be walking before her first birthday.  She’s just so intent on following her big brother everywhere (much to his chagrin sometimes).

10.  Tomorrow’s a statutory holiday for Québec, which means that the dada will be at home.  We’ll likely go to the Ecomuseum in the morning with the kiddos and then go to his parents’ place.

YES!!!!

Today’s run has been at the back of my mind since I first started the Couch to 5k running program.  Before today, you always alternate between running and recovery periods.  Before today, the longest consecutive minutes of running I had ever done were 8 minutes…two days ago.  Before that, the longest consecutive minutes of running I had ever done were 7 minutes…back in 1999 when I first participated in a 5k run at school.

I’m sure you understand that when I saw that the Week 5, day 3 program was to run 20 minutes without any recovery time I thought there was a mistake.  Upon consulting Dr. Google, I realized that 20 straight minutes was indeed the program and I almost gave up, right then and there.

But I kept at my training.  Week after week, running got easier.  I came to a point where I told myself that I would be able to do 20 minutes of running eventually.  But you know what?  I did it!  On my first try!  I just got back.  Today, I was able to run 20 minutes without even feeling the need to slow down.

All I can say is: YES!!!