Social and Emotional

Magic Wishes #5: Calm, Quiet, Destress Space for Kids

Play can include a calm, quiet, destress space for kids. One parent’s wish is giving the rest of us something to think about for at school and at home.quiet calm spaceThis month, blog posts are based on answers to the question, “If you had one wish for a preschool or kindergarten or other childcare program left-over from St. Patrick’s Day or a sort-of realistic magic wand you found on April Fool’s, what would you want?” Answers have been varied and really interesting. This wish for a quiet place for kids come from L-A, a mother of two and kindergarten teacher.

Do kids need a quiet retreat at school and at home? Absolutely. Just like adults. What about you? Do you have a place where you can go when you are feeling overwhelmed? For parents, sometimes it’s locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes. At work, it may still be a bathroom or even a storage closet. Anything for a few minutes where the phone isn’t ringing or someone is stopping by your counter or desk. We take coffee breaks, but that’s not the same as a quiet break.

We might expect a calm, quiet space for kids to have dim lighting, soft cushions, furry stuffed animals, and books, but many of them also include sensory materials. A spongey ball, lava lamp, heavy blanket, and squishy playdough are possibilities. Carolyn Feder shares some suggestions in her article Top Ideas to Create a Calming Sensory Bedroom Space for Autism Parenting.

calming glitter bottleAt home or in a care or school center, we may be able to find a room or a corner to make a retreat. Sometimes, a big box or small tent is an option. In the car, this can be quite tricky. A super article gives a list of 40 items you can use to make a calm-down bin. For kids that find public spaces like stores or offices a challenge, you can tuck a few into a bag to take along.

In a child’s own words on this video, “Sometimes I get really frustrated and mad.” After spending 5 minutes in the special sensory calming room, “I go back to class and then everything starts to return happy.”

No wonder a quiet place for kids is a wish from this parent. Is there a calm, quiet, destress space for kids at your house or childcare center?


How to Steal a March #16: Helping Kids Develop Self-Regulation Skills

We all want what’s best for kids, if only we knew–but we do; helping kids develop self-regulation skills is critical for their future and their success. And the most sensitive time to begin that process is during the early years, from birth to the age of 5. The best way is with everyday, ordinary experiences. developing self-regulation skillsSelf-regulation involves coping with emotions, controlling impulses and attention, handling problems, and being able to wait. Early childhood expert, Dr.Ida Rose Florez, has studied young children and the role of self-regulation. In her article, Developing Young Children’s Self-Regulation through Everyday Experiences, she describes it as a sort of internal thermostat that we all use to guide our responses to situations. Children learn how to turn on and off their reactions to situations and to warm up or cool down their interactions. Like any other skills, this takes practice and support. As parents and teachers, we can help kids develop them.

Each day will have countless opportunities for us to model how we control and regulate our emotions and behaviors. For instance, if we are feeling frustrated because the morning is hectic, we can mention we’re getting pretty upset and need to take a deep breath so we can get back to being calm. Out and about, if we have to wait in line, we can talk about how it’s hard to wait for a turn, but that’s what people do.

Children don’t have the words to tell us about their emotions. When we notice emotions building, we can say something like, “I see you are feeling frustrated because you can’t get that toy to work.” Or perhaps, “I hear your voice is quite upset when your sister/brother won’t listen to you. Are you feeling angry?” As well as cues and reminders, a gentle touch or short back rub can help a child regain control.

Books and stories are great resources for sharing examples. There are dozens of titles for many common issues for kids. Maurice Sendak’s, “Where the Wild Things Are,” has been a top choice for decades. developing slef-regulation skills

One of the best opportunities for helping kids develop self-regulation skills is, of course, through play. As children play, they are being constantly challenged to explore their emotions, solve problems, and direct their attention. Development of these skills gives kids a distinct advantage, it enables them to ‘steal a march.’ What can you do today to support learning self-regulation?


How to Steal a March #5: Kids Social Skills Give An Advantage Over Academics

Whenever we think of success at school, we assume that academics is most important, but did you know kids social skills give an advantage over academics? Research is showing us that kids who cope with the social challenges of school are the ones who experience success.

friendship skills for kids

When we think about social skills vs academics it’s maybe not so surprising. Kids need the confidence to ask questions and seek help, the skills to work with others and share talents, the resilience to bounce back after failures, and the perseverance to keep going. We can start the for all of these long before kids get to school.

Young children do not come with social skills in their brain backpacks. Helping them learn positive ways to interact with others is a huge challenge for parents, teachers, and caregivers. Three basic skills for kids are learning to share, to take turns, and to wait. These are easier for some than for others so we may need to try different ways to support them.taking turns social skill

When it comes to sharing, it’s so funny to see toddlers offer us a bite of something only to take it back. They have only figured out part of the process as they build on our example. Acknowledging a child’s effort is also important. “I see you are sharing,” is a simple comment that echoes deep. Books and stories are a valuable resource. The brain is hard-wired for stories and seems to absorb the message. We need to remember to give kids the words to use and this is one way. When kids play with others, there are many opportunities to share and to learn to ask others to share with them.

Taking turns is a critical part of building relationships. Many games and activities give kids practice at taking turns. We also need to provide the words and example for asking others to give us a turn. “Please wait, I’m not done my turn.” can help kids as they interact with skills for kindergarten

Learning to wait is more than being patient. It involves attention and focus, and being able to keep going while waiting for the payoff or reward. Having a few strategies is really helpful. When we are waiting in line at the bank, for example, we can sing songs together or tell stories. The game I Spy is great for filling minutes when waiting. You might want to choose a color and think of as many items of that color as possible. Decide on a shape and count the number of things of that shape.

To “steal a march on someone” is to have an advantage over them and kids social skills give an advantage over academics. Will your child’s day have some social fun and play?

Change: Friend or Enemy? Helping Kids Cope with Change

Today’s play-of-the-day, helping kids cope with change, is inspired by a move for our family. Change can be really challenging for kids. They barely have their sea legs coping with what ‘s happening on a regular basis. Change can upset the balance and there’s lots of it for kids It might be a new baby … Continue reading Change: Friend or Enemy? Helping Kids Cope with Change

Kids Can Be Friends with Monsters, the Dark, and Other Fears

February is friendship month and kids can be friends with monsters, the dark, and other fears. It’s easier to deal with now than later and we can use play. Being scared is a typical challenge for young children. Some fears, like loud noises, develop from the extra stimulation on children’s senses. Plus, there are so … Continue reading Kids Can Be Friends with Monsters, the Dark, and Other Fears

Kids Need Elderly Friends and Intergenerational Relationships

Kids need elderly friends and intergenerational relationships. Presidents Day has inspired this post; they are not elderly but older than young parents. More and more, we are seeing the importance of social skills and the impact they have on learning and life. With young kids, we think of helping them make friends with children their … Continue reading Kids Need Elderly Friends and Intergenerational Relationships

#2. Friendship Skills: Helping Kids Learn Sharing Skills

January is resolution month, February is Friendship. Friends share, and helping kids learn sharing skills is an important part of making and having friends. We all recognize how sharing is a critical piece of relationships but it’s not easy to see how complicated it can be. When babies and young toddlers first start sharing, they … Continue reading #2. Friendship Skills: Helping Kids Learn Sharing Skills

#1. How Can We Help Kids Learn Friendship Skills? – Taking Turns

January is resolution month; February is friendship. How can we help kids learn friendship skills? What are some basic and important ones? Taking turns is one of the earliest. We all know the importance of social skills for success at school and beyond. Some of them are so common that we do not think how … Continue reading #1. How Can We Help Kids Learn Friendship Skills? – Taking Turns

New Year Resolution Words #7: Gratitude Makes a Day Great for Kids

It’s not easy to fit a new year’s resolution into one word; thankfully, today’s letter is g for gratitude and gratitude makes a day great for kids. Being at home or going back to work, daycare or playschool is hard on a Monday. Especially after the weekend and holiday break, it’s all too tempting to … Continue reading New Year Resolution Words #7: Gratitude Makes a Day Great for Kids

New Year’s Resolution Words: Role Feelings Play in Learning

As parents and caregivers, we don’t get a chance to see the tremendous role feelings play in learning. For this series of New Year’s resolutions in just one word, this post is brought to you by feelings. And, the play-of-the-day is having fun with feelings. What are some ways for your child’s playing and learning … Continue reading New Year’s Resolution Words: Role Feelings Play in Learning