“Screen Time and Our Children” by QACP Parent Educator Jamie Cho, PhD

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Educational apps via screen time

How much screen time and what types of media are appropriate for our children?  In general less television and media is better for young children, and when media is used it should be high quality programming.  Also, commercials and prime time television programming should be avoided since it includes commercialized, violent and/or sexualized imaging (Steyer, 2002).  It is up to parents to monitor screen time usage and content to make sure it is appropriate.  The monitoring of electronic usage only becomes more important as children grow older and engage in social media.  It is important to set the parameters and the rules around good media habits when children are young.

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Utilizing media headphones for flights

I personally believe there are advantages of technology and media.  Schools are moving to include more technology in the classroom.  Homework is done on the computer and can be tailored to children’s strengths and needs.  Our children growing up in this media age seem to be born with the ability to use tablets, computers, and other electronic media.  My kids, after the age of 2, love watching television and now as they get older like to play video games.  Educational programming and the educational apps make learning fun and allows access to other ways of learning.  Conversely youth can become inactive learners in front of a screen.  They can become obsessed with games that encourage them to log in day after day during certain times.

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Conversation break during screen time

In our family, media is very much a part of our lives but we limit screen time, monitor the types of media that is used, and do not watch adult programming in front of our children.  We limit screen time to an hour.  Screen time is a privilege and it is only allowed after school work and extracurricular activities have been completed.  It takes a back seat to other activities such as sports, art, board games, etc.

American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) has the following recommendations for screen media:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.  Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs.  Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
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Toddlers taking savvy selfies

Steyer (2002) also has the following guidelines about what parents can do to control the media’s influence on our children:

  • Establish good media habits- watching television should be a privilege not a habit or constant activity.  Set limits, and pay attention to the content
  • Do not put a TV in your child’s room
  • Set a time limit or “no TV week” and stick to it
  • Teach your child to ask permission to use media
  • Watch and listen with your kids—use this as an opportunity to discuss what you like, don’t like and why
  • Set clear rules about media usage with friends or family when your kids go on a playdate
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QACP’s Parent Educator:  Jamie Cho, PhD

For more information, check out these sources:

http://www.aap.org

http://www.pbs.org/parents/childrenandmedia/article-faq.html

Steyer, J.P (2002). The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on Our Children. Atria Books: New York, NY.

Kiddo Podcasts: Intel from a QACP 3s Class Mom

 

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Hi Fellow QACP Families,

I wanted to share a quick blurb about the various *new-ish* podcasts we’ve been listening to at our house!

During the lull of summer, while desperately trying to find things to keep my child/children entertained, I stumbled across this blog post from “Dirt and Boogers” (click on link to read the article).

The author’s children are a bit older than my 3-year-old preschooler and 3-month-old infant but, since I love to listen to my own set of podcasts, I thought these might be fun for Oliver (currently in QACP’s 3s Class) to try.

We downloaded a few of the items from “Stories Podcast” and they were an instant hit. The Three Little Pigs story is one of Ollie’s favorites.  After that we tried “Wow in the World’s” episode on flatworms and he was delighted to learn that they eat and poop through the same tube.

Gross but informative, right?  My son begged to listen to the same episode over and over until he had absorbed all the new information, giggling hysterically every time the host explained just how the Planarian Flatworm did its business.

The best thing about these podcasts is that they have become a substitute for our screen time, replacing the endless requests for “Paw Patrol” and PBS Kids programming.  If you have a smart phone, one can easily download them there and even play podcasts through any blue-tooth speaker.

I’m looking forward to trying some of the other podcasts out there and introducing my children to more science, history, and literature told in kid-friendly terms that even I enjoy listening to.

Cheers!

Emily Keller, QACP 3s Class Mom

Welcome Back, QACP: Letters from our 2017/18 Teachers & Co-Chairs

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Dear QACP Families,

Welcome to the start of our 2017-2018 preschool year.  I’m looking forward to meeting all of the new parents and children and to re-connecting with returning families.  This year will be bittersweet for me as it will be my 32nd and last year sharing in the lives of so many amazing preschoolers.  When I first came to QACP I taught all of the younger classes (tots, 2’s and 3’s) then in my second year I began teaching all of the classes.  At that time, the oldest class was called the 4’s class (currently called Pre-K) and those children are now in their mid-thirties!  I can’t quite wrap my mind around that fact, but it has been a wonderful journey and I’m really going to cherish this last year with all of you.

–Teacher Linda

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Hello Queen Anne Co-op Preschool Families,

The QACP board is pleased to announce the hiring of Nanci Murphy as a new Teacher.  Nanci has 8 years experience as an elementary school teacher and was an active QACP parent and board member for nine years.  She is very excited to again be a part of our co-op community and to guide our children in discovery.

For the 2017-18 school year, Teacher Nanci will work Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Teacher Linda will work Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The class teaching schedule is as follows:

Tots I – Teacher Linda, Tots II – Teacher Nanci, Twos – Teacher Linda, Threes – Teacher Nanci, and Pre-K – Teacher Nanci/Teacher Linda

We are excited for Nanci to join us and know she will be a valuable addition to our school.  Please help us give her a warm QACP welcome!

Sincerely,

Emily Keller and Casey Held

Board Co-Chairs, Queen Anne Co-op Preschool

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Hello Families!

I am so excited to rejoin QACP.  Our family was involved with this coop for nine years from 2002-2011. We loved our time at the coop.   My three daughters and I enjoyed the daily class activities.  My husband liked hearing stories, being a part of the community, and trying to figure out class when he would substitute. We all benefited from the community and appreciated the opportunity to get to know the children in the school.  My children remain friends with and are in school with many of their preschool companions. You are in a special place.  I am happy to be a part of this community again and look forward to helping your children make discoveries and gain skills.  I also hope to teach parents some new songs and share ideas as we work together to make this a great year!

–Teacher Nanci

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Hello, QACP…introducing Parent Educator Jamie Cho!

Dear Queen Anne Coop Families,

I am pleased to be joining the Queen Anne community and am very much looking forward to working with the cooperative families and educators. This will be my first year with Seattle Central College as a Parent Educator and I will be working with the morning classes (three-year-olds) and afternoon classes (Pre-K) at Queen Anne Coop.

This summer my family and I relocated from the Bay Area, California to Bellevue, Washington. We are slowly acclimating to the changes in weather and cultures. I have three children: two boys and one girl, ages 9, 6 and 3. I have participated in cooperative preschools with my children, and served both in various offices through their school Parent Teacher Associations and on the Board for the Foundation for Pleasant Hill Education.

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I started out working with children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities in early intervention. I pursued a doctorate in Special Education through University of California Berkeley, in which I delved into theories and studies of early learning and development, as well as parenting, family systems and cultural influences on early childhood. I was fascinated with cultural interpretations of family, parenting and education in schools and homes as well as studies of parenting psychology.

Furthermore, during this time I worked in inclusive early childhood environments, witnessed best practices (including family-school partnerships and individualized programming), and research-based practices at work. I was also employed in teacher training, instructing credential students on how to employ best practices in their classrooms with students.

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My academic studies, personal experiences, and professional work with teachers and families have strengthened my belief in the importance of families in guiding children’s early learning. I believe that partnering with families to create a cohesive educational team is essential to school success and that cooperative preschools can represent the best functioning of these partnerships.

Coop education brings together the expertise of parents and teachers to create an educational and rewarding experience for both children and adults. As a parent educator, by offering information, child rearing and educational strategies, and by building community and confidence, I hope to contribute to the growth of this community. I look forward to meeting and working with all of you.

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Best,

Jamie Cho, PhD.

Parent Educator

 

 

Summer 2017 Wrap-Up: QACP News & Updates

*Expertise’s 20 Best Preschools*

QACP Made Seattle’s List for 2017!QACP_ExpertiseAward

“Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool (QACP) is a child learning center in Seattle that has been providing physical, mental, social, and emotional development to young children for over 30 years. The school primarily conducts classes for students ranging from little tots to pre-kindergarten and offers additional curriculum enhancements such as yoga, creative dance, music, and traditional tea ceremony. Parents commend Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool (QACP) for its competent teachers and community-oriented environment.”

Source: https://www.expertise.com/wa/seattle/preschools

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*Positive Parenting and Tantrums* 

Summary edited by a QACP Parent Educator

Earlier this year a QACP parent attended a “Positive Parenting” class to help understand how to manage kids and their big emotions. The class was three hours long and talked about how kids’ brains are still developing in toddler’s stage and that their emotions are triggered by their lower brain.

A few things that could help families with toddler tantrums:

Do not try to put a stop to the tantrum with threats

Do not try to rationalize the tantrum away

Understand the workings of the brain under the influence of emotions

Remain calms as best you can

Say very little

Watch for signs of that the emotional storm is winding down

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*Congrats, Pam Mcelmeel*

QACP’s Long-time Parent Educator Retires!

Pam J. Mcelmeel, M.Ed. has enjoyed working as one of the SCCC parent educators assigned to QACP since 1987. Before joining the SCCC Parent Education Program staff Pam was simultaneously completing her Master in Education at the University of Washington and parenting two preschoolers.

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Previously, as a young high school biology teacher, Pam realized that the foundations for school success were set in place long before the students reached her classroom. After moving to Washington from Illinois in 1977 with her husband she sought out a masters program that focused on school success.

Pam’s experience as a new parent in the NSCC Parent Education Program really brought the UW Masters Program theories into practice. The parent education/cooperative preschool model combined early childhood development information and research-based child-management techniques. This combination creates a community for families interested in opportunities for the parents to practice and share what they learned as well as get guidance from professionals.

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All of Pam’s post-graduate work has been in the fields of early childhood and adult education to stay current with research in both of these fields. Through the years Pam has seen many QA families benefit from the support and education they find at QACP. By helping parents strengthen their parenting techniques and confidence, Pam indirectly plays a role in guiding children toward school success. More importantly, QACP parents increase the skills needed to launch compassionate and competent citizens.

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Pam’s final year at co-op was 2016-17 and the QACP Board threw her a farewell party during August 2017.  Fun was had by all and many members plan to remain in close touch with her.  Congratulations to Pam from all of us in the Queen Anne community!

“What’s the Secret of Happiness?” by QACP Parent Educator, Kate Calhoun

George Vaillant was the psychologist presiding over the Harvard Study of Adult Development which followed research subjects for 75 years.  The study goal was to discover ‘What makes people happy?’  The only consistent finding was that successful friendships that connect family and friends are what predict people’s happiness as they make their way through the stages of their lives.

Friendships are a better predictor of happiness than any other single variable.

It is urgent that parents guide children to develop the social/emotional skills that lead to successful relationships.  Children need parents to teach them how to socialize effectively – how to make friends, and how to keep friends.

Many ingredients go into creating socially smart children. The following two skills are the most predictive for social competency:

  • Emotional regulation – Children who learn to regulate their emotions have deeper relationships than those who don’t. They also have skills to calm themselves more quickly when they experience strong feelings. Emotional regulation also involves the ability to stop, think and wait – to have impulse control.
  • Empathy – Practicing the ability to read tone of voice, facial expressions and body language helps children develop empathy skills. It is important for young children to learn to be empathetic, to see another person’s perspective. Being empathetic leads to more ability to have impulse control.

In addition to satisfying relationships, other behaviors that predict happiness include:

  • Doing altruistic acts
  • Making lists of things for which you are grateful, which generates feelings of happiness in the short term
  • Cultivating a general attitude of gratitude, which generates feelings of happiness in the long-term
  • Sharing new experiences with a loved one
  • Being willing to forgive when loved ones slight you

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Article authored by Kate Calhoun of Edmonds Community College & Seattle Central Community College during Winter 2017.  Material based on John Medina’s presentation for educators in Everett, WA on January 8, 2011, and in his recently updated/expanded book entitled: Brain Rules for Baby – How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, Pear Press  2014.

“Caught & Taught Behavior” by QACP Parent Educator, Kate Calhoun

 

‘TAUGHT’ Behavior – Creating Rules That Stick

We can teach many things to children when we use simple, clear words to explain and enforce rules and guidelines.  With young children it’s best to choose only a few words to tell about the rules. Their attention span is short and they will not listen for long. Make every word count.

Put the verbs, the action words first in your request or direction. Say: ‘Keep the sand in the sensory table’, rather than ‘Don’t throw the sand!’    Say: ‘Touch the kitty gently’, rather than ‘Stop that! You’re hurting the kitty!’    Say: ‘Draw on the paper’, rather than ‘You’re getting crayon marks all over the table!’

It’s best when your words and actions are congruent and give the same message.

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‘CAUGHT’ Behavior – Kids Learn Behavior by Watching You

We are constantly teaching our children how to behave, even when we’re not actively teaching with our words. Children’s brains are designed to learn by watching. They learn new behaviors by continually observing their parents and others in the environment around them.

What are you teaching your children when they see your everyday behavior?

  • Do you smile or laugh a lot?
  • Are you patient or impatient, soft-spoken or loud?
  • Do you exercise, eat healthy, take some time for yourself?
  • Do you make eye contact when you talk?
  • Do you and your spouse express affection, have fun, argue, or problem-solve together?
  • Can you calm yourself down when emotions run strong?
  • Are you consistently distracted by your phone and other devices?
  • Do you have meaningful relationships with family and friends?

Become aware of which behaviors you feel proud to pass on to your child. Decide which behaviors you’d prefer to change or eliminate.

Remember that ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Make sure that the actions your child observes you doing are the behaviors you intend to teach.

Author Kate Calhoun is a Parent Educator for Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool (QACP). She regularly works with co-op families via her teaching assignments through both Edmonds Community College and Seattle Central Community College. This article was a part of Kate’s Winter 2017 educational series. The material she references is based on John Medina’s presentation for educators in Everett, WA (January 8, 2011) and in his book entitled: Brain Rules for Baby – How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to FivePear Press  2010.

“Letters From QACP Teachers: Linda Capps & Amy Wathey (May/June 2017)”

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Dear Parents:

Each year when May rolls around and we prepare for the spring pageant I am shocked that the year has disappeared so quickly.  I have had such wonderful classes this year, both children and parents, and I’m looking forward to so many of you sharing your children with me again next year.

As my Pre-K class moves on to kindergarten I wish each child a happy and exciting new school experience.  For all of you parents, as you watch your little person become one of the “big kids” I wish you peace as you let go and comfort in knowing you have been amazing parents and your child is so ready for this new adventure.

Have a wonderful summer!

Teacher Linda

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Growth in Imagination:

Just looking at the cubbie pictures of the children from the first weeks of school, shows how much they have grown.  My hope is that all of us have grown as well.  There have been leaps and bounds of growth in friendships, independence, group skills, creativity and more.

One area of the room that has been a delight to explore and enrich for the children this year has been the dramatic play area.  In the fall we purchased some new furniture for the house and the grocery store. The children truly enjoy the new strollers, high chairs and cribs for the baby dolls.  The grocery store has been used constantly and remains a favorite for all the classes.

For a change of pace the dramatic play area has transformed into various situations. We’ve had a tree house, haunted house, doctor’s office, post office, an ocean, a longhouse and a rainforest.  Each situation has sparked imagination.

May this summer bring new opportunities to explore and expand dramatic play with your little ones.  When using your imagination, the options are limitless.

May you all continue to grow and learn!

Teacher Amy

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Biographies for both Teacher Linda and Teacher Amy may be found on QACP’s website at: https://queenannecoop.org/about-2/teachers/

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“How Our Two-Year-Old is Learning to Read” by QACP Parent, Erika Brown (3.9.17)

Late in 2016, I decided that I would make teaching my daughter how to read a priority. By year’s end, I declared, she will be able to read short phrases and multiple sight words. Ambitious? Nah. I would use the methods my teachers used with me, which were also how I learned to teach reading when earning my Masters of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education, and how I eventually taught my own students during my 12 years of both classroom and tutoring lessons. My plans were to first teach her the alphabet, next explain that each letter makes a sound, follow up with consonant blends, instruct her to sound out entire words, and drill her on sight words. Later, I would provide her with the reading strategies like identifying text-to-self or text-to-text connections, predicting, and inferring. If it worked for me, it will work for her! This was until I came across Steven Bialostok’s Raising Readers: Helping Your Child to Literacy at a used bookstore, which has completely challenged my way of thinking___and teaching.

In short, the author, then reading/language arts specialist for the Sacramento-area school district and now a professor with a Ph.D. at the University of Wyoming, advises parents that the best way to teach their children to read is simply this: “talk to your child, provide experiences for your child, and read aloud to your child” (141). It could not be that easy, could it? I talk to her daily, we regularly enjoy our outings, and of course I read to her! Give me more strategies, Man! Instead, his message to us parents of preschool-aged children is not to stress about how early our children will begin actively reading because in the same way that we trust our children will crawl or walk when they are ready, so can we expect them to “emerge naturally into reading” (47). I know what you’re thinking—“Say what?!” In fact, he affirms, “The reason that walking and talking occurs without much worry is because we trust children. We trust that they’ll learn to walk and we trust that they’ll talk. We must also trust that they will read” (55). [Enter shocked emoji here.]

Now, being an experienced educator who proudly sees her daughter as her sole pupil, trusting that my toddler will read when she is (ahem) “ready” challenges all I have learned and practiced. How, tell me how, will this happen? Still, as I read on, his arguments began making total sense. For example, he points out that too much emphasis is given to teaching phonemic awareness first rather than teaching the child to use an array of skills to determine the meaning of the text as a whole. He illustrates this by pointing out how difficult it would be for an individual to put together a jigsaw puzzle if she was only given the pieces without giving her a chance to study the image on the box cover. This would cause the participant to become disinterested in the objective as a whole since it would become too difficult to complete (similar to one losing interest in reading because too much focus and distraction is placed on a single word’s phoneme).

Remember asking what a word said and hearing, “Sound it out,” as a response? This is how teachers and parents place too much emphasis on phonics when instead, we could offer to help our child to gather hints from context clues, illustrations, and even use the first letter of the word in question to help solve its pronunciation. While he does believe that phonics is indeed a tool an emerging reader can utilize when reading, his argument is that it should not be taught first. Instead, parents should be teaching children to infer meaning of the context or a word by using skills like predicting, discussing the context or setting, and providing hints constantly during story time (when caregivers read stories aloud to children) and especially not wait to teach these strategies until they learn what sounds the letters make. That is, we should be using these moments with our children to model good reading strategies from the start and eventually, trust that our children will engage in reading organically.

Almost immediately, my husband and I put Bialostok’s advice to work at home. We now practice Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) time where we sit and model that we too are readers by diving into our own books while she sits nearby and “reads” her stack of books—something I did not think she was capable of until she was much older. Rest assured, after some initial tears, “Mommy sit and read” requests, and telling me about her book repeatedly, she eventually understood that it is a quiet time when we both sit and read independently, which she can now do for 40 glorious minutes. Forty, People. We have also increased the frequency of reading books with repeated phrases and now, she regularly “reads” what she recalls aloud. Other times, our daughter will rely on her memory or use the illustrations for clues as to what the text might mean. This is precisely the reading skills Bialostok encourages us to teach because the child is then reading for meaning, not just pronunciation. Then, it happened. Just last month, our two-year-old picked up a book we had never read to her exclaiming, “A good night book!” The book was Good Night, Gorilla. We believe she was able to recognize “good night” from her plethora of books with that exact phrase. [Enter weeping emoji here.]

So although Bialostok published his book back in 1992, we strongly adhere to his advice since we are am now witnessing the very stages of reading he believes will take place naturally if we just make story time a priority and ultimately trust that our child will one day become an engaged reader.

“Raising Happy and Responsible Children: Instincts, Foundations, & Guidelines” by QACP Parent Educator, Kate Calhoun

“The behavior you consistently surround your child with will profoundly influence how your child turns out.”

“Most parenting successes are a result of what parents DO when emotions run hot and when things are difficult.  Actions speak louder than words.”

“Brains are pre-loaded with an innate moral awareness. (Loyalty, justice, empathy, respect for authority, and prescriptions against social violence.) How we parent makes the difference in whether moral behavior will develop.  Moral awareness does not equal moral behavior.  It has to be ‘taught’ and ‘caught.’”    -John Medina

Imitative Instincts

At birth babies have the ability to learn by watching and imitating behavior.

Example: A forty-two minute old baby who watches someone stick his tongue out will copy the behavior. Brains are designed to learn by imitating observed behavior.

Example: At about 14 months old, a baby develops the ability to understand ‘object permanence’. They learn this when parents play the ‘Peek-a-Boo’ game. Children delight in learning that things that can’t be seen are still there.

Children continue to learn by reading faces and body language, and by observing what other people are doing.

Laying a Strong, Firm Foundation for Young Children

“Parents must lay down the ‘bricks through the swamp’ to offer kids a solid foundation. Children develop social skills when parents lay down the rules and structure kids need to know to navigate the social world.” –John Medina

12-14 months  – Kids think: “The whole world revolves around me.”

14-24 months – Kids are learning: “There are rules and different perspectives.” They begin to realize that other people have a different point of view than they do.

24 months – Kids explore and test to see how stable and consistent the rules are.  KIDS MUST TEST THE RULES OVER AND OVER. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Terrible Two’s’…kids at this developmental stage need to test rules to make sure things are okay and stable in their world.

Toddlers test to get a predictable, consistent response. It’s not helpful or emotionally healthy to yell or use a loud voice. Stay calm. It helps when parents learn to say ‘no’, ‘stop’, etc. in a calm, firm voice with body language that offers a congruent message. This is not the time to give in to your child, or to let your toddler’s behavior influence your rules. Kids’ feel emotionally safe and their behavior improves when parents use clear and consistent limit-setting and guidance strategies.

Guidelines for Teaching Rules to Preschool Age Children (3-5)

HAVE CLEAR RULES – Use clear and simple language when telling your child about a rule. Make sure both parents and additional caregivers use the same rules as often as possible.

EXPLAIN THE RULES – Teach your child the importance of the rule. Give a simple explanation that tells why you have the rule. Children ages 3 to 5 are more compliant when rules are understood. They are more able to reason and make decisions based on information.

BE KIND AND FIRM – When telling the rules and setting your boundaries, use a tone of voice and actions that show your child that the rule is important, that you care about his feelings, and you that intend to stick to your rules. Being kind and firm at the same time takes some patience and practice. Think of yourself as a coach. You are on the same team with your child. You expect your child to learn new skills with the support of your teaching and guidance.

BE CONSISTENT – Once you decide on your rule or strategy, it’s essential that you make a big effort to follow through and be consistent. When your behavior is consistent your child will find it easier to follow the rules and become more compliant. Children feel emotionally safe when they can predict what behavior is expected of them.

“Parents need to be the source of stability for kids. Consistent parenting rules increase brain development. If rules are not consistent, there is an increased likelihood of pediatric psychiatric disorders.”  -John Medina

Hold steady to your rules. Having rules and routines that are stable helps young kids handle everyday life events, including changes within the family.

Kids can learn, adapt and respond to different people and their rules. They will learn Mom’s rules, Dad’s rules, and the teacher’s rules.  It helps when parents and other caregivers are consistent and use the same rules as much as possible.

OFFER PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT – Remember to notice your child’s effort to follow rules and guidelines. Encourage your child with a hug, ‘way to go!’, ‘you did it!’, thumbs up or high-five to show you appreciate her effort and compliance.

Author Kate Calhoun is a Parent Educator for Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool (QACP). She regularly works with co-op families via her teaching assignments through both Edmonds Community College and Seattle Central Community College. This article was a part of Kate’s Winter 2017 educational series. The material she references is based on John Medina’s presentation for educators in Everett, WA (January 8, 2011) and in his book entitled: Brain Rules for Baby – How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, Pear Press  2010.