Book Was Her Second Word

BOOK WAS HER SECOND WORD | Eleanor loves to read. “Book” was her second word! We’ve been reading with Eleanor since she was born and we try to go beyond just reading the words. We discuss the story and how it might relate to her life: “The caterpillar is eating strawberries. You had strawberries for breakfast!” We
also look for opportunities to count: “How many balloons do you see?”, and search for recurring
characters: “Where is the mouse on this page?” At 21 months, she grasps the storylines and will
even “read” to us by reciting what she remembers.

Eleanor recently received Goodnight, Gorilla from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. At first, I
wasn’t sure if she would like it. The pictures are colorful, but most of the story must be
interpreted through the illustrations. She doesn’t have any other books that have pages without
words. To my surprise, it has become one of her favorites! The first couple of times I read it to
her, I would describe what was happening. Now, she tells me what is happening! Sometimes it’s
accurate, and sometimes she uses her imagination.  I love how it inspires her to be creative.
I’m currently on the hunt for more books that are open to interpretation! Find out more about how to integrate Read and Discuss Stories into your caregiving approach.

By Lizzy Tahsuda

Find out more about why picture books are powerful!

Let’s Talk

LET’S TALK | This month we’ve practiced Talk, Sing and Point in a number of ways.

Titus LOVES the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. As soon as we start singing he is already clapping his hands. He also enjoys playing peek-a-boo. When playing this, we point out body parts like “touch your head, cover your eyes”.

When picking up Titus from daycare, we ask him how his day was. We describe what we see when driving in the car, name the different foods he has at each meal and at times incorporate sign language.

At 13 months, it’s amazing to watch Titus grow and change daily. Now that he’s very mobile and we are in a new home, he is always discovering new things. He watches us closely as well so we make sure to repeat words and be specific about the actions we are doing.

By Terry and Candace Martin

Playful Moves

PLAYFUL MOVES | Children do not need reminders to move, but they do need opportunities to intentionally move through play! My son recently turned three but has developed an interest in basketball. He sees his dad play basketball and often imitates certain moves. Even when his dad is not around, he wants to play basketball! Through these simple replays, he is remembering, imitating, modeling, imagining, and physically moving. His dad has taught him how to hold the ball, bounce, and shoot. Though the basketball goal is higher, he made the connection that he needed to be taller to reach the goal by asking me, “Mommy lift me up.” He also likes to grab his favorite “basketball shoes” he calls them when he plays because he sees his dad wearing them.

Children use these imagination and role-playing skills as they Explore Through Movement and Play.
Often by finding specific activities that your child enjoys, you can follow up with future related activities
that may help to work on similar skills. For example, since I see that he enjoys basketball, even when we
are at home, I like to incorporate other materials to work on using the same skills in movement and play.
One material I have used are socks and a laundry basket. He must run to grab the sock balls and throw
them in the laundry basket. We have also used scrap paper balls and the trash can as well to also
encourage similar movement. The possibilities are endless as long as you find what interests your child
and allow children to have fun while they are moving and playing!

–By Airreia Pierce | Visit Airreia’s website | Follow her on Facebook

Little Helping Hands

LITTLE HELPING HANDS | On December 2, Eleanor became a big sister! While most days she loves baby Claire, she is still getting used to sharing attention. She loves to help with things, so we have found opportunities for her to help with the baby. She will bring Claire blankets, throw away diapers, and turn on the baby swing. She is so proud of herself, and these activities have helped her embrace the big sister role!

She recently has started helping us with laundry, which encourages counting, grouping, and comparing! We sort Eleanor’s clothes from Claire’s and compare the size differences between them. Claire’s clothes are so tiny! Eleanor loves to count socks and we work on matching them in pairs. Who knew a mundane chore could be so fun! Finding these simple, everyday activities to talk about numbers and practice grouping and comparing is an important building block for basic math skills your child will need as they enter school. Learn more about Count, Group and Compare here!

By Lizzy Tahsuda, mom of two

Feeling the Love

FEELING THE LOVE | As we think of ways we incorporate the basic, Maximize Love, Manage Stress, into our daily life, many things come to mind. Titus turned one last week and the toddler stage is in full force. Here area a few examples of our caregiving strategy:

  • He has started walking; so we encourage him to take steps and when he gets frustrated and falls, we cheer him to get back up and try again.
  • We cuddle with him and give him hugs & kisses every morning when he wakes up and at night before bed.
  • Playtime gives us a chance to unwind and enjoy family time. We also practice sharing during playtime; Titus will pass his toys to us when we ask and after we say thank you, we give it back to him.
  • As first time parents, finding a routine is next on our list to check off. We’ve started working on this by getting up at a certain time each morning, having a bath time routine and reading bedtime stories.
  • Lastly, when we let Titus try certain foods; his facial expressions will tell us right off if it’s a hit or not. We describe the foods he eats and tell him good job when he tries something new or eats all of his food!

Maximize Love, Manage Stress really is the foundational Basic, providing support for all the other Basics to grow in your caregiving approach.

By Candace and Terry Martin

Photo Credit: Julie H Photography

From ABCs to Reading

From ABCs to Reading | Have you ever wondered why a young toddler can begin to identify words in their everyday environment when going to a grocery store or riding in the car? This is because of the importance of
using environmental print to build early emergent reading skills! Early learners learn the value of print
directionality (reading left to right), letter recognition, and the formation and shapes of letters. Through
repetition, these learners are storing in their memory the words that they are learning and using a skill
known as recall and recognition.

One simple activity that can be done at home is creating an environmental print book or wall.
With my two-year-old, I used his closet door to add the letters of the alphabet. Each week, I would
introduce a new environmental word and use an experience with the word to help him make an
association. For example, he loves to eat Cheerios cereal, so we used cheerios in a fine motor activity to
glue cheerios on the initial of his first name. Afterward, he went to his letter wall, and found the
matching first letter of "Cheerios” and placed it under the letter C. You can also choose to add the child’s
name and picture, and other members of the family’s names along with their pictures as well. This letter
wall with environmental print should be personalized just for your child and what is important to him or
her. It makes learning letters and reading fun for young children! Not to mention, this builds their
confidence that they can read!

Putting environmental print on a wall might be a challenge. As an alternative, this activity can easily
be adapted to create a book of print that can be read. You can use a photo album and add the letters of
the alphabet from A to Z. Then begin to find environmental print labels that your child cares about and
add them to the book. This book can be added to their library, and they can begin to read this book on
their own.  This activity is a great starting point for the Basic – Read and Discuss Stories. Being able to talk through the letters children recognize while reading will nurture early emergent reading skills will support better readers in the future!

–By Airreia Pierce | Visit Airreia’s website | Follow her on Facebook

Lights, Language, and Learning!

Lights, Language, and Learning – Our family recently went to the Greensboro Science Center’s Winter Wonderlights! Eleanor’s favorite animal to visit at the Science Center are the penguins. She loves to imitate their waddle and thinks it is hilarious when they jump into the water. Since Winter Wonderlights is mostly outside, we didn’t get to see the actual penguins, but Eleanor loved the light-up dancing penguins!

At 18 months, she is talking constantly. Sometimes you can understand her, and sometimes it sounds like gibberish (although she is certain of what she is saying – ha!). While walking around the exhibits, Eleanor proudly pointed to and stated all the things she recognized, like “star” and “tree.” She also learned new things as we pointed them out to her. It’s amazing to watch her brain work as we explain something new. Sometimes she repeats the new word immediately and other times she’ll surprise us days later by seeing the same thing and naming it without being prompted. I can’t wait to participate in more holiday activities this year and share even more with her!

Learn more about the Basic – Talk, Sing, and Point

-Written by Lizzy and Colin Tahsuda

Moving to His Own Beat

Titus has mastered crawling, pulling up and we believe he will take his first steps anytime now. Being mobile is a new exploration stage; the floor is his best friend and provides us many opportunities to Explore Through Movement and Play.

Titus has always enjoyed music. He has his own playlist that we listen to daily! Titus loves clapping to the beat and making his own noise aka singing! The noise we love to hear the most is his giggles!

He has a music activity board that features sounds of drums, piano and guitar, can switch to three different languages and covers the alphabet and counting. The interactive feature and bright lights encourage Titus to make his own sounds and beats! He has smooth dancing bop!

Titus will be one next month! Not sure how time went by so quickly but we are excited and can’t wait to party, play and dance together!

Learn more about the Basic – Explore Through Movement and Play

by Terry and Candace Martin

UNCG Professor’s Research Offers Tips for Parents and Children

Megan Fields-Olivieri is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a mother of two young children. Dr. Fields-Olivieri has specialized training in early childhood mental health, and her research focuses on child emotion, and how it influences both language development and parent/child communications. Since 80% of a child’s brain development occurs from birth to age 3, the work of Dr. Fields-Olivieri intersects with The Basics Guilford in two important ways. First, the Basics emphasize the importance of language development through concepts like Talk, Sing, Point or Read and Discuss Stories for example. Secondly, these concepts also zero in on parent strategies to Maximize Love and Manage Stress.

Because emotion is the language of a baby, emotion and language are interconnected communication systems. As children’s brains are developing with language skills, their emotional capacities to self-regulate are also developing, yet our culture doesn’t often consider the impact of emotion on language development (or vice versa). For example, emotions may directly impact how well the important ‘serve and return’ language exchange between caregivers and infants/toddlers operates.  

Dr. Fields-Olivieri described previous studies, conducted by other researchers, finding that toddlers that have more negative emotions or may be considered “difficult” tend to have worse language skills or develop their language skills more slowly. Curious about why this might be, Dr. Fields-Olivieri and her team have examined how toddlers’ emotions might influence- or be influenced by- parent-toddler verbal communication. They found that toddlers’ positive emotions seem to encourage parents to verbally communicate with their toddlers, whereas parents tend to be less responsive to negative emotions like crying or whining than they are to language attempts. However, parents’ verbal responses to negative emotions appear to help toddlers shift from communicating with negative emotion to communicating verbally. 

At the heart of this early childhood research happening right here in our community is work that may help parents understand how to better respond to a child’s negative emotions and to deal with their own stress. Dr. Fields-Olivieri wants parents to remember several strategies:

  • Remember that frequent, intense negative emotion expression is expected and developmentally appropriate in the toddler period. Think of it as a developmental milestone just like learning to walk or talk! 
  • The middle of a tantrum is not the time to teach your toddler about emotions or emotion regulation strategies– no one, especially toddlers, has the capacity to listen and learn well when they are very upset! 
  • What can you do in the moment, then?
    • First, take a moment to calm yourself down. Take a few deep breaths or use another strategy that is helpful for you.
    • Next, briefly acknowledge your child’s feeling or the situation that seems to have triggered that feeling (even if you think it’s silly!). Try something like “Wow, you’re feeling so sad about that” or “You really wanted the blue cup”.
    • Remember it is possible to acknowledge or validate your child’s negative emotions AND hold firm boundaries. You can say something like “It’s okay to feel mad. It is not okay to hit.”
    • Remember that it is not your job to “fix” your child’s negative emotions. Sometimes the best thing to do is to be a calm presence for your child, and ride out the emotional wave with them.                                 
  • Take advantage of calm moments (without a meltdown) to connect verbally with your child. This can include talking about emotions using books and stories, or talking about past or future events in their life that may cause negative emotions. 
  • Don’t be hard on yourself – remember that anytime you get your child to engage in a back and forth conversation, you will be building their language skills – don’t worry what you actually talk about!  
  • Remember that every child is unique and develops both emotional and language skills at different rates, so there is no “one size fits all” strategy. Be creative and flexible in communications with your child- and have fun!

Want to learn more about this research? Visit TALK Lab (talklabuncg.com)

STEM Skills Start Early

Start Building STEM Skills Early

Construction paper and teddy bears are good for counting and sorting! How? Let me explain. My two-and-a-half-year-old son started being interested in learning his colors. We would start by identifying colors in his natural environment and the colors on his clothes. One day, he began playing with the teddy bear objects and asking their colors. This simple observation led to helping him visually discriminate between colors and learn the color names. I used the same colors of construction paper to match the teddy bears that he played with. I then laid down each piece of paper side by side on a table and let him decide where to place each teddy bear by looking at their colors.

As children are comparing by color, it is important to resist the urge as parents to do it for them or quickly correct. Encourage and celebrate them when they can match correctly, let them figure out when it is not correct, what is different? Your role is to facilitate. Ask questions such as “What color looks the same as the object?” This can help them visually process and self-correct if they get it wrong. Another role is to build their language. Math literacy skills are equally important is reading ability. They can learn key vocabulary words like “compare,” “same,” or “different.”

Even if you do not have teddy bear objects, any multi-colored item can be used in this simple activity. You can try using colored cereal, large beads, toy cars, blocks, or any other item that you have at home. Most of the time finding objects that you already have and using them to teach important skills is most convenient. Giving children experience with Count, Group, and Compare provides an important foundation for building lifelong STEM skills.

By Airreia Pierce | Visit Airreia’s website |  Follow her on Facebook

 

Recognizing Feelings, Growing Confidence

Recognizing Feelings, Growing Confidence

By Jasmine Faison and Jonathan Linton

As a toddler, it is important for Jade to know that she is safe, protected, and loved. She is much more in tune with her feelings now and is able to be more expressive about what she needs emotionally. Strategies to Maximize Love and Manage Stress are helping us to show Jade just how much her feelings matter. It also helps as we guide her on how to treat others. 

She loves to share, take turns, and be kind to others. We encourage her to try new things, while we talk out loud about our feelings and act out emotions so she can see that it is ok for her feelings to change. She is already quite the sweetheart and we enjoy watching her grow more secure in her feelings and confidence. Whatever makes her feel happy and confident is our number 1 priority, even if it means that she continues to wear her Happy Birthday headband- 5 months after her birthday!

Hot Baby Summer

Hot Baby Summer

By Terry and Candace Martin
It’s summertime and we’ve been outside! Titus took his first dip in the pool; he was a little nervous, but once he got comfortable, he started splashing water everywhere. He also attended his first Greensboro Grasshoppers game. We pointed at players and clapped & cheered during home runs!
Titus has learned to use his voice – full of babbles! We’ve created Titus a playlist of music that covers the alphabet, colors, nursery rhymes and counting. He LOVES Gracie’s Corner music!
Titus is curious of all things; he reaches and grabs for anything that’s near him. We use Talk, Sing and Point to discuss what things are and how we use them. We also talk to him about various activities and daily routines. Whether it’s good morning when we wake up, to opening the blinds, picking out his clothes for the day and getting in the car to head to school.

Describing Life

Describing Life

By Jennifer Scotton

Until I became a parent, I never understood how much talking the role would involve (for me). I now know how important it is to narrate what I’m doing for my one-year-old because it helps her understand how her world works.

My daughter is just beginning to try sounding out words other than mama and dada, so I’ll tell her what I’m doing as I go along, pointing to objects and trying to entice her to say the word. One of our favorite activities is visiting the plants in our garden to check on how our vegetables are growing. We go out to the garden and she touches the leaves of the plants while I water them. I tell her “Mommy is giving our plants some water so they can grow big and beautiful! Can you say wa-ter?” We pick tomatoes together and I teach her that we leave the green tomatoes until they turn red so they will be nice and juicy, showing her how to gently pluck the fruit from the plant. I love watching her confidence grow with her understanding of the world around her.

Reading Time

Reading Time

By Glasher and Ray Robinson

Logan and Lauren were excited to read What Will Kami E Bee? In the book, the main character Kami E searches to determine what occupation she will have in the future. Through exploration of different paths and conversations with friends who can be found in nature, Kami E learns about various careers. For Logan and Lauren, the best part of the book was the fact that Kami E looks like them, an African American young lady. Representation Matters!

Throughout the book, Logan points to pictures and says the names and roles of Kami E’s friends. Lauren made predictions about what career Kami E would choose and why. Logan then attempted to reread the book herself based on what she remembered, using the pictures and adding her own details on occasion. In the end, the Robinson girls concluded if Kami E can, so can they! Logan decided she wants to be a doctor and Lauren a medical professor. This was absolutely fitting since the author, Dr. Jasmine Weiss, works in both of those capacities as a pediatrician and an assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill Department of Pediatrics. The icing on the cake is that Dr. Weiss also looks like them. We highly recommend this book, which we purchased on Amazon.

Point and Repeat

Point and Repeat

By Lizzy and Colin Tahsuda

At 14 months, Eleanor is consistently mimicking words. She points at everything, signaling that she wants you to name the object. She then tries her best to repeat what you said, mostly just saying the first syllable at this point. Not only is it adorable, but it is fascinating how she watches how your mouth moves as you speak and then tries to imitate. We have a little parrot on our hands!

Eleanor started pointing relatively early, so we have been naming objects for awhile now. We try to use a lot of repetition and are always amazed when she points at something and states what it is without being prompted. Pointing and talking has made a big impact on her speech development so far!

Building on Communication

Building on Communication

By Jasmine Faison and Jonathan Linton

Now that Jade is over 1 year old, her communication and social skills are growing each and every day. From using the sign language symbol meaning “to eat” to let us know she is hungry, pointing at objects she wants, letting out a great big scream when she’s excited, repeating phrases and learning new words, our little one has quite the personality accompanied with a unique and versatile communication style.

Talk, Sing and Point is in full play as Jade is discovering more about the things around her and eager to show/tell someone what she’s learned. As we enter into the second half of the year, it is important for us to pay attention to what she is showing interest in, so we can start to cultivate those interests on a deeper level. Talk, Sing, and Point is helping us do just that!

Story Time Fun!

Story Time Fun!

By Terry and Candace Martin

When we first found out we were expecting, we knew we wanted to get as many books for our baby boy to enjoy. Now at 7 months, Titus has a collection of books; some classics, some new and diverse that include stories and characters that look like him.

He loves books that have touch and feel, makes sounds and lots of images. We have recently been reading My First 100 Words, a board book filled with colors, words and pictures that describe each word.

Titus loves to help turn the pages and even hold the book himself. We read each page using different voices and sounds and discuss the illustrations on each page.

We also took advantage of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library that sends him a FREE book every month until he is five years old. It is always exciting each month to see what book he will get and add it to his bookshelf.

 

Identifying Objects

Identifying Objects

By Jennifer Scotton

Our daughter is nearly a year old and busier than ever. It’s a joy to watch her try out new skills and make discoveries on a daily basis.

Children learn by watching what we do, so we have begun to point out and identify objects for our daughter while we move through daily tasks. As she is discovering new items, I will name the object and describe its use for her while she turns it over in her hands: “this is a watering can, it helps us give our flowers water so they can grow big and beautiful.” I demonstrate how the object is used and then let her try it on her own. Her confidence is blossoming with every new skill she learns.

Summer Fun Friday

Summer Fun Friday

By Glasher and Ray Robinson

Velocity 360 Fun Zone is becoming a new favorite activity in the Robinson household. Logan and Lauren fell in love with the trampolines during our last outing. This visit there was a lot of time spent exploring the obstacle course. Lauren led the charge and Logan aimed to keep up. I strived to push Logan to try some things that, based on her facial expression, she was unsure about. With each word of encouragement, Logan began to climb higher and higher (also with the assistance of her big sister). When she finally made it to the top, there was a round of applause. Logan shouted “I did it”! A very proud moment.

Making it through the obstacle course once was enough for Logan, so they slowed down a bit and played in the ball pit. Logan then made her way to the Toddler Center where she flourished playing with toys that were targeted for her age group.

Summer Swim Lessons

Summer Swim Lessons

By Lizzy and Colin Tahsuda

Eleanor participated in swim lessons this month at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. It was such a fun summer activity that was brand new to her! Being in the pool allowed her to explore how her body moves in water. She loved splashing, kicking her feet, and leaning back to feel the water on her hair. She seemed comfortable in the water from day 1!

She also enjoyed going under water! Before going under, we counted to 3 so she knew to close her eyes. It only took a couple of times before she knew exactly what to do. When we got to “2”, she smiled and got excited knowing she was about to go under. It was an unexpected way to teach her more about counting and numbers!

Up and Moving

Up and Moving

By Renee Harvey

Ten months has certainly been exciting for Wesley…and a new adventure for mom and dad. Between mastering crawling and getting really close to walking, he is finally able to explore this great big world around him.

Last week, we brought his new walker to the backyard so he could really experience some independence. He’s always loved being outside and, like most kids, is fascinated by all the sounds and movement. It didn’t take him long to realize he could now go wherever he wanted, and he was thrilled! I let him take the lead and gave him words for the things he was touching or gesturing toward. He was able to experience opposites, colors and movement all for himself.

In the end, despite all the fun new things in the yard, his favorite thing to go after was his current best friend – our dog!

Getting Creative with Tummy Time

Getting Creative with Tummy Time

By Candace and Terry Martin

Tummy time was one of the first things we started when we brought Titus home. Starting at 1 to 5 minutes a day, now at 6 months he spends multiple times each day on his activity mat and it helps us get creative with tummy time!

The high contrast patterns, colors and textures help Titus with exploring through movement and play. He enjoys seeing his reflection in the mirror. When on his back, he loves reaching for toys that make noise! He loves to push up and just look at things from a different view (and be a little nosy!) 

Titus is very active – moving hands and kicking feet; we’re sure to have a crawler and walker on our hands soon and we’re excited!

 

Plan to Avoid Stress, Especially on Vacation

Plan to Avoid Stress, Especially on Vacation

By Jennifer Scotton

To help reduce stress, we like to keep our children on a regular schedule. This prepares them for what is to come and gives the kids a sense of security. We know that when their schedule or environment changes, we must be proactive and plan ahead to avoid stress.

We devised a strategy to reduce our 10-month-old daughter’s stress as we prepared to embark on a recent family vacation, the first for her. We knew we’d have a long car ride ahead of us, and she’s not used to spending so much time in the car. I spent time looking for engaging activities to keep her entertained on the 11-hour car ride as we planned our trip. I gathered some of her brother’s hand-me-down toys that she had never seen before and devised some creative activities to keep her occupied. We planned an overnight stop to break up the 11-hour drive, as well as rest stops along the way to give the kids a break from the car. It may appear to be overkill, but the extra planning ensured that the trip went as smoothly as possible when our daughter’s patience for the ride wore thin.

Exploring Sports

Exploring Sports

By Ray and Glasher Robinson

Logan kicked off her athletic career this Spring playing soccer for the Hayes Taylor YMCA Sharks for 3-4 year olds. Bless her Coaches, The Bridges for their patience with Logan and her teammates. The Bridges learned pretty quickly after the first attempt at a drill that the key terms like “one at a time” and position words such as, “kick around your teammate” were not inferred and to be explicitly stated. When directions were not as specific as possible things became chaotic.

The coaches modeled dribbling (kicking the ball while running), how to stop the ball, passing, and then kicking the ball into the goal. Parents have assisted the coaches at practice with modeling how to do each of those items, too, because it’s two coaches and twelve 3-4 year olds. It’s been surprising to see the children even attempt to guide one another and act out skills for visual aid support.

I can honestly say we have seen a lot of progress from the team as a whole this season. With one more game left in the session, the Hayes Taylor Sharks are currently undefeated.

Pointing at Penguins

Pointing at Penguins

By Lizzy and Colin Tahsuda

Eleanor turned one a few weeks ago! We can’t believe our baby is officially a toddler. To celebrate, we took her to the Greensboro Science Center for the first time. She had a blast! We started in the aquarium. We talked about all the various colors of the fish and counted seahorses. The penguins were her favorite! She laughed as they waddled around and dove into the water. We probably could have spent the entire afternoon just hanging out with the penguins!

Outside, we spent time with the meerkats and the red pandas, but her favorite were the maned wolves. We think she thought they were dogs. 😊 She squealed at them just like she does when she sees our dog at home or dogs on walks! At the end of our visit, we rode the carousel. We identified the different animals, and she chose to sit on the tiger. All in all, it was a great day!

Guilford Basics