math practice

math practice

Q: My young child is struggling with basic math. She has no trouble with letters and reading, but math just isn’t clicking yet. Her teacher doesn’t think my daughter has a learning disability, but just needs more time and practice. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on this?

A: It is not unusual for children to develop math and literacy skills at different rates. It is just how our different brains work! True, huge discrepancies in development can be an indicator of a potential learning challenge, but it sounds like your daughter simply needs practice and time. Easily done!

Math is much like a sport. It must be practiced, practiced, and then practiced some more. This sounds like a lot of work and it is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Skip the skill and drill workbooks and grab …Continue reading

a deck of cards.

Side note: a deck of playing cards is one of the best “toy” investments you can make. They are easy to transport, can be played with just about anywhere, are easy to store, and can be used with just about any age. They reinforce brain development, don’t cost a fortune, and provide fun rather than work.

If your child has never played with cards before, make sure you allow her free exploration time with the deck of cards. Let her sort, stack, and freely explore. You may be surprised by the connections she makes independently. Sorting by suits, ordering by numerals, matching numbers- these are forms of math!

Once she has had an opportunity to explore the deck, then it is time to begin some games. Of course “Go Fish”, “Crazy 8s”, and “Concentration” are all great card games, but there are some teacher invented card games that focus specifically on math skill development. Growing the Whole Child’s next post will explain several of these games.

Get your cards ready!

offensive comment in the carpool

offensive coment in the carpool

Q: I was driving a car full of elementary schoolers recently and one of the children made a racially offensive remark. I was shocked and caught off guard! The remarking child was not a regular carpool member and I don’t know his parents well. I ended up telling the child that his remark was unkind, but I wanted to say more. What should I have done? Say something? Let it go?

A: I’m glad the child’s remark offended you! And I’m glad you said something to the child. We need more people in the world to understand that people are people. Period. Sadly, the child in your carpool hasn’t yet figured this out. But there is hope:

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Children generally make potentially offensive remarks for three different reasons: attention, ignorance, or learned/mimicked behavior.

Attention: If the child’s remark was aimed at getting attention from the captive audience in the car, then not overreacting on your part was a good idea. For some children negative attention is only kind of attention they know how to seek. It is difficult not to overreact about a passionate subject, but if the remark was made for attention purposes then best not to reward the remark beyond your tame reaction.

Ignorance: It may be hard to believe, but there is a chance that the child truly had no clue that their remark could be interpreted as offensive. When we know better we do better. Pointing out that his remark was unkind and offensive helps the child learn and become a more thoughtful person.

Learned/Mimicked Behavior: It is more than likely that the remarking child has heard racially offensive comments from someone in their life (probably a parent). You are unable to undo 10 years of parenting during a car ride home from a soccer game, but you can provide an opportunity to expose the child to a different way of thinking.

You are the adult in the car and it is your duty to provide a safe (physical and mental) environment for the children who are in your care. Speak up. By calmly reacting to his comment and expressing an alternative view, you might just plant a seed of kindness in all the riders in the carpool.

help for stained teeth

help for stained teeth

Q: My children take a natural vitamin daily. It is chew-able and they love it, which helps them to remember to take it, but it is staining their teeth! Their teeth are turning a grey-green! I’ve tried other vitamins, but my children don’t like the taste, and then it becomes a battle to get them to take it. Any idea how I can safely get the stains off of their teeth?

A: It is great that your children enjoy taking their daily vitamins, but make sure they are not overtaking them. Taking too many vitamins can actually do more harm than good. If they are chewing one vitamin per day and still getting stains on their teeth, there are some safe teeth cleaning option you may try.

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Hopefully your family has healthy brushing (and flossing) habits and have regular visits to a dentist, but with some teeth stains a bit more is needed.

Abrasive: To scrub the stains from your children’s teeth you will need to use a natural abrasive. Baking soda has been the go to choice for decades. Baking soda on a wet tooth brush can scrub away tough stains, but it takes some getting used to. A toothpaste that has baking soda in it is also a good (and more mild) option.

Rinse: A mouth rinse after the natural abrasive scrub helps to whiten the teeth and address the stubborn stains. Use a food grade or “oral wound” grade hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse, but it is important that this rinse NOT be swallowed. (Practice with water until your children develop a rinse and spit technique.) It is also a good idea to clean the toothbrushes in hydrogen peroxide so you are not reapplying the stain!

These two steps should help return your children’s teeth to a clean appearance, but should only be used once a week (or less) unless your dentist advises otherwise. (I checked with mine before writing this post.)

Additionally, you might want to begin teaching your children to swallow a vitamin whole and thus avoid the stains all together!

disproportionate portrait


disproportionate portrait Q: When my preschool age child draws a picture of our family, he is much larger than everyone else. My husband is a large man and my son always draws himself larger than my husband. Does this disproportionate drawing mean anything?

A: Yes, in fact it does mean something.

It is not at all unusual for preschool age children to draw themselves larger than anyone else in their family (regardless of the true size of family members). This type of disproportionate scale can be a sign of the child’s cognitive and emotional development. And it is quite normal!

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Traditionally, a preschool aged child is egocentric. This is not a sign of an unruly tweenager to come, but perfectly normal and reflective of their development. They have not yet developed the ability to think much further than their own needs/wants. In their state of egocentricity they see themselves as the largest member of the family or at least the most important in their interpretation. NORMAL!

Do not be concerned about your son’s disproportionate family portrait; be thankful he remembered to include all family members- no matter their size!

Enjoy the healthy self-image your son displays. As children grow their abilities change and so will their family portraits.

the after christmas tree

the after christmas tree

Q: My children love having a Christmas tree in our house, but quite honestly by the time December 26 rolls around, I’m tired of sweeping up the needles and am ready to reclaim the livingroom. My children are always sad to see the tree go. Do you have any suggestions to make it the inevitable easier and me seem less like a grouch?

A: There is something magical about having a decorated tree right inside your house, but you are right- you can’t keep a Christmas tree up all year long. At some point the tree must go.

Instead of heaving your holiday tree onto the curb, perhaps you could consider giving the tree a new (and outside) purpose.

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In January, outside the window of my preschool classroom, I used to place a discarded holiday tree (in a make shift stand so it stood up right). My preschoolers and I would make all sorts of bird food decorations and popcorn garland. We would decorate our window tree and watch for the birds to discover the treats we prepared for them. We kept a running list of the varieties spotted and began a study of backyard birds.

Your family might enjoy doing the same! A book that pairs nicely with the re-purposing of your tree is The After-Christmas Tree, which might be nice together as a way of encouraging/suggesting a non grouchy idea for your After Christmas Tree.

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