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  1. Have you noticed a regression in your child—behaviorally, developmentally or socially—since the start of the pandemic? You're far from alone. Join NPN for a webinar on how to detect and manage COVID regression, whether you have a child with special needs or a typically developing child in the crucial development years of 2–5. In this discussion, you will hear from behavioral specialists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, and psychologists about the typical signs that your child may be experiencing developmental regression due to the pandemic. You will also learn about the strategies professionals are using, services that are available, and what activities you can do in the home to combat COVID-19 regression. Our esteemed panel consists of: Dr. Shay McManus, Neuropsychologist, Eyas Landing, Dr. Chrisna M. Perry, PhD, Founder & Director, Comprehensive Learning Services, Lorell Marin, Founder, CEO & Therapist, LEEP Forward, Nicole Cissell, Clinical Director, BGF Children's Therapy, and Jason Wetherbee, Director of Clinical Services & Program Development, EB Pediatric Resources We appreciate our Supporting sponsors, Comprehensive Learning Services and LEEP Forward A special thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, Eyas Landing
  2. NPN Tareema

    Preschool Philosophies

    Choosing the right preschool for your child can be an overwhelming task, especially in Chicago where there are so many options. With so many different preschool philosophies, how do you know which philosophy works for you and your family? In this discussion you will learn about a variety of preschool philosophies, hear examples of good questions to ask and things to think about when you are researching preschools, and walk away confident in your ability to choose a preschool that is a good fit for your family. Our esteemed school panel consists of Erin Woodhams, Director of Marketing, Admissions, and Communications, British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park, Meg Fitzgerald, Director of Early Childhood Education, Bennett Day School, Samantha Maxwell, Preschool Director, Bubbles Academy Arts-Integrated Preschool, and Andrea Shaffer, Faculty Director, Chicago Waldorf School We appreciate our Supporting Sponsor, Bennett Day School and a special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park. Recorded February 2022
  3. Children are wired for language from birth, and can pick up skills without any formal lessons. Even still, parents play a big role helping their children develop the expert language and literacy skills they need to thrive socially and in school. To learn more about these skills and how parents can nurture them, we sat down with Samina Hadi-Tabassum, literacy and language expert at Erikson Institute. When do children begin learning language and literacy skills, and what are the stages of their development? Babies pick up on the sounds of human voices in the womb. After birth, they begin to recognize these voices and turn their heads towards familiar ones. In their first three months, infants begin to “coo,” as they learn to control their vocal cords and the muscles they’ll need to speak. Around six months, the baby begins to string together vowels and consonant sounds repetitively, such as “mamama” and “dadada.” Most children don’t begin producing words until age two. Before then, they are actively listening and decoding sounds around them. Babies and toddlers catalogue language in their minds, almost like statistics, until they're finally able to voice some of what they’ve learned. By age three, children are typically speaking in simple phrases, (i.e. “blue ball”) and sentences that can sound like directives (i.e. “Mommy give ball”), since the ability to pose and ask complex questions comes later at age five. By the time they enter elementary school, most children can string together sentences like little adults. There are many instances, however, where children don’t begin speaking until much later on (around four or five), even though they have still been perceiving and making sense of language around them. There are many reasons for this, some more serious than others, but parents should consult their pediatrician if they feel there is a cause for a child’s delay. What can parents do to support the early development of their child’s language and literacy skills? The most important thing a parent can do is engage their children in conversation from day one, since infants are perceiving and making sense of the language code. When conversing, parents should look children in the eyes, have them watch and observe their mouths, and teach them about taking turns when communicating. Never rely on technology to help your child learn language; it doesn’t work. They can only learn from other humans, and need to be exposed to rich oral language before they can learn to read or write. [Related: 6 ways to teach your child a foreign language this summer] How can parents partner with teachers to promote their child’s literacy skills? Parental nurturing of literacy skills is critical, as reading is an artificial system that we created to convey messages, and children are not wired to naturally pick up on how to read. Parents should begin reading to children soon after birth and incorporate books into their home environment. Ask children questions about the stories you read to foster their comprehension skills. To promote print recognition, parents can point out the letters that make up their names and take them through the alphabet visually and phonetically. Note that no matter how much you read to your infant or toddler, it takes time for children to learn to read. They need to learn the sounds of letters, how to decode words, and understand the meaning of multiple words strung together. Doing this requires logical skills, which children don’t usually develop until age five or six. If a child is bilingual, how might this affect language and literacy development? Bilingual and multilingual children have a cognitive advantage. By switching from one language to another, children learn to think flexibly and sort the world in different ways. Bilingual children might be delayed in mastering both languages equally, and might struggle to keep up with their peers at first. But research shows that by the time they are in middle school, bilingual children often outperform their monolingual peers. What can parents do to support their development in two languages? The stronger the foundation of the child’s first language, then the easier it is to learn others. For bilingual parents, this means speaking the child’s home language and teaching them to read and write in it. Pass down the culture associated with your child’s native language as well. Research demonstrates that bilingual children who keep their language and culture while learning English in American schools do much better academically in the long run. [Related: How I'm teaching my young kid 4 languages] For monolingual parents who wish their child to become bilingual, consider a dual-language preschool.This provides them with an immersive second-language experience while enabling them to get a solid grasp on their first language at home. What should I do if I feel my child needs extra support in language and literacy? Observe your children as much as possible to recognize any language patterns unique to them. Keep in mind, though, that each child is different, so their language and literacy journey is, as well. Factors such as gender, birth order, and genetics can play a role in language development. Speak with your pediatrician about developmental milestones and whether or not they are noticing differences and delays. If there are delays, there are plenty of experts who can help — including developmental therapists who can come to your home. Parents play a big role in their child’s language and literacy development, but it’s important to know that if you need extra help, it’s not a role you have to play alone. Samina Hadi-Tabassum is a clinical associate professor at Erikson Institute where she teaches graduate courses in cognitive and language development. Her research interests include examining race, culture, and language.
  4. Through this video, you will learn how to make the most of your child’s use of technology, including: 1. How children process information via screens 2. How to minimize challenges for your child when they are learning from a screen 3. What to consider when deciding what is an appropriate and valuable use of technology for your child This webinar is presented by Erikson Institute.
  5. As a kindergarten teacher, I always believed my top priority was to help children fall in love with learning. The joy was getting them to enjoy school, to cherish the memories they make there and embrace the challenges. I felt that if each child could come to school excited for learning, that I would be setting them up for a lifetime of success. With school buildings closed and parents juggling their own work while also managing online learning and homework, I am afraid this priority of mine is in serious jeopardy. How can we, as exhausted and stretched-thin parents, keep learning fun for our frustrated and burnt-out children? How can teachers and the education system maintain rigorous learning while keeping the joys of learning intact? Now, it is more essential than ever to keep learning enjoyable by engaging the whole family in learning, and prioritizing organic learning through play. What exactly does this look like? Read on for some of my favorite ways to play and learn as a family. Play a family game Think of the amount of learning, thinking, and growing that happens when your family sits down to play a game. If they’re old enough, have your children read aloud the rules and repeat them in their own words. Then, as you play, count and describe your play out loud. Take turns saying “Your turn!” and sharing materials. Not only are your young ones benefiting from intentional family time, but they will be learning social skills, strategy, reading, and comprehension skills, too. [Related: Reintroducing playdates in a post-pandemic world] Take to the kitchen Some of the best learning can happen with a hands-on approach in the kitchen. Have your child help you write out the grocery list: encourage them to spell words out on their own or copy the letters from current packaging. Involve your child in the recipes you create by having them read the recipe card to you. All kinds of math takes place in cooking: fractions, conversions, and counting. And don’t forget science! Have your child help you discover the purpose of baking soda, or what happens to yeast in water. Spread some joy We all know someone who could use a smile. Have your child write letters to loved ones, make a book for a neighbor, or read to a younger sibling. Addressing and mailing the letters are half the fun! [Related: You can make eating out with your kids actually enjoyable] Follow their interests Does your child love building? Have them invent a new way to hang the towels in the bathroom or store items in the closet. Have an artistic one? Have them paint a picture, then write a note describing the image they created. Does your child love “search and finds”? Have them find and highlight sight words in a newspaper or magazine. Above all, encourage your children to find their own ways to follow their curiosities. Have them ask questions about things that matter to them, and work to find the answer together. We owe it to our youngest learners to keep this journey exciting for them. Their (and our) future depends on it!
  6. NPN Meredith M

    40+ Mom Outing in the Park

    until
    Moms always need a break - here is your chance to gather and gab in person with moms who are as entertained and frazzled as you are with your little wonders. NPN member and volunteer, Cathy, has coordinated a 40+ mom meet up at Horner Park on Sunday, June 13th at 2 PM to to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as toddler moms. Please note that this event is for NPN members only for moms 40+, and our host requests that you wear masks to Horner Park. Parking is on California, we hope to see you there!
  7. NPN Meredith M

    Toddler Moms Night "Out" - Virtual Get Together

    until
    As part of our All About Baby's programming, we are excited to host a June Virtual Toddler Moms' Night "Out!" Toddler moms always need a break - here is your chance to gather and gab with moms who are as entertained and frazzled as you are with your little wonders. Grab your favorite beverage and join us Wednesday, June 9th at 8PM! NPN member and volunteer, Cathy, will lead a Zoom chat for moms with children between 18 months and 3 years to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. This event is for NPN members only. Please register once. You will receive an email confirmation after you register with the Zoom link. For non-members, as part of our June All About Baby programming, you can join NPN for $30 using the promo code AllAboutBaby to receive a discount. Questions? Contact NPN Program Manager Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparent.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline at 1.888.431.2229, staffed by our warm and caring family/infant specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  8. NPN Meredith M

    Toddler Moms Night "Out" - Virtual Get Together

    until
    Toddler moms always need a break - here is your chance to gather and gab with moms who are as entertained and frazzled as you are with your little wonders. Grab your favorite beverage and join us Wednesday, May 12th at 8PM! NPN member and volunteer, Cathy, will lead a Zoom chat for moms with children between 18 months and 3 years to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. This event is for NPN members only. Please register once. You will receive an email confirmation after you register with the Zoom link. For non-members, as part of our June All About Baby programming, you can join NPN for $30 using the promo code AllAboutBaby to receive a discount. Questions? Contact NPN Program Manager Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparent.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline at 1.888.431.2229, staffed by our warm and caring family/infant specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  9. NPN Amy J.

    Virtual 40+ Moms Group

    until
    Attention moms over 40 with children between 2 months and 3 years old - this is the group for you! Please join PN member and volunteer, Cathy, who leads a Zoom chat for moms 40+ to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. Please sign up for this group to attend one or all of these April meetups and drop in for as long as you can! This group will meet at 12:15 - 1:00 PM on Fridays, April 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th. You will receive a Zoom link the day before the meeting. NPN members only. Please register once for you and your child(ren). You will receive an email confirmation after you register. Questions? Contact NPN Program Manager Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparent.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staff by our warm and caring family/infant specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  10. So your child is about to begin this huge stage of independent self-care and you have a million questions. Are they ready? Is it going to be a complete disaster? Will they cry? Will you? On the flip side, there’s the glory of no more diapers. Ever. Think of all the saved money you can stash away in that college fund. Not to mention, you really need a break. Plus, most preschools won’t let you drop off a kid who isn’t fully potty trained. Clearly, this has to happen. You survey your friends about what they did and then read a couple of potty training books you don’t have time to read. And yet, it still seems confusing and like a huge drag you’d rather put off till another day, month, year...perhaps forever. But what about preschool? This has to happen. When getting ready to potty train my own son, I had a crazy thought: Was there any way to make this fun? Not only for myself, but because I still vividly remembered a graduate psychology course in which we learned about Erikson’s second stage of development: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. Usually completed between 18 months and three years old, it’s the period when children first encounter shame — the message of “You are bad” instead of “You made a bad choice.” Without even realizing it, parents and caregivers often use shame in potty training, not understanding how it can affect their littles. [Related: Potty Training for All Abilities (members-only video)] Knowing this, I was determined to make potty training a shame-free and fun experience. Pictured is the exact behavior chart I used. The result? A fully potty trained kid in no time. Quick note: I also had a second chart just for potty training when out and about. Because children have different things they struggle with — one might fear pooping in general, while another won’t go to the bathroom at school — feel free to get creative and make a chart that fits your child’s needs. 1. Get out all of your craft supplies and involve your child in the process. 2. Draw a fun shape like a circle or star and section it off into however many days you choose. 3. Write a reward in each box. I tried to create as many non-food rewards as possible and added special “bigger” rewards along the way; for example, making slime was a big hit, as was “phone” time. 4. This is the most important step: Buy or gather all of the rewards and place them in one spot in your home. Make sure your child can see everything. The idea behind this is that they will not have to wait to get their reward. When my son saw everything lined up on top of the hutch, he immediately bought into the program and said, “I’m going to get everything on my chart.” [Related: Best Chicago playgrounds for the potty-training toddler] A few things to keep in mind: No time like the present Summer is a great season to start this adventure because your kiddos can be naked without freezing. Less clothing to fuss with in and out of the bathroom is a win for everyone. If you can, take a couple of days off or a long weekend to potty train. Stay close to home, play board games, go to the park, and enjoy time with your little one outdoors. (Added bonus if you’ve got a boy: they can always pee on a tree in a pinch.) That said, always consider... Timing The best potty training advice ever given to me came from my pediatrician, who said to wait for the child to show interest. I took my son shopping for undies and then asked him every day for almost a month if he wanted to wear a diaper or undies. After Day 26, he finally said “undies” and I had them on him so fast he never had time to look back. Patience This is not always a quick process. Try not to get discouraged or frustrated. I quickly learned that if I got upset so would my son. Children feed off of our feelings. I began to act like it was no big deal and with the pressure off, there was room for fun. Phrases to have ready “I would never ask you to do something I didn’t think you could do.” “We all make mistakes; it’s part of learning.” “You’ve got this potty training thing down.” Humor Dance parties were the biggest part of our success. Every time he went to the bathroom, we would celebrate. He even had his own potty touchdown move. Take your time with the process so you can appreciate the joy of watching your little one accomplish this huge milestone.
  11. While nighttime control often occurs years later, mastering daytime bladder and bowel control is a process which takes, on average, six months for a child to complete. Urine and stool accidents are common during those months and should be expected. Toilet training regression, however, is defined as loss of these daytime skills long after the process is complete. It is understandably frustrating and concerning for parents when their child, several months diaper-free, suddenly refuses to use the toilet, begins having frequent accidents during the day, or develops some other unusual elimination behaviors. [Related: Best Chicago playgrounds for the potty-training toddler] If these daytime skills were truly mastered before the onset of regression, the first step is to rule out medical causes by meeting with your pediatrician. If the doctor determines there is no physical cause for the regression, emotionally stressful changes in your child’s life should be considered. Some common examples include: Fears (monsters, loud flushing noise, falling into the toilet, being sucked down the toilet) Illness of the child or a family member Pregnancy or birth of a new sibling Change in childcare environment Moving to a new home Parents’ marriage ending In such situations, it is important to remember that rather than lashing out physically with violence or tantrums, your child has found a relatively healthy way to cope with this stress. Using the following approach, however, you can help your child find even better ways to manage. Tell them you’ve noticed the change Do this with as much ambivalence in your voice as possible. Shame and guilt will likely be your child’s first reaction to learning their behavior has not gone unnoticed. It is therefore important you remove any hint of judgement from your tone and choice of words. Talk to them First, explain you aren’t mad at them, and it isn’t their fault. Next, ask if they know why this is happening. Depending on the verbal skills of your child, you may not be in the habit of asking their opinion yet. Even if they don’t have the words to explain what they are feeling, hearing you are interested in what they think is empowering. If they do offer any type of meaningful response, listen carefully to what they say, thank them for telling you, and sympathize with them as much as possible. Tell them you are proud of the good work they have done up to this point and that you know they will do better next time. [Related: How to make potty training your toddler fun. Yes, fun.] Brainstorm creative solutions alone as parents and also with your child Any practical steps to solving the problem are worth trying. Removing fear by making the toileting fun with songs or games. Spend special time together with your child separately from the new baby. Explore the childcare facility bathroom with your child and separately discuss the issues you’re having with their childcare or caregivers. Surround the potty with familiar objects or toys. Positively reinforce successes with sticker charts or other reward systems. If your child contributes any ideas, be certain to try them as well. Consider taking a break If your creative solutions don’t seem to be working (or, worse: creating stress and anxiety surrounding toileting), consider taking a break and returning to pullups for a few weeks. Sometimes taking a backseat for a bit allows your child to recognize they are responsible for learning this important skill. Encouraging this independence can be liberating for your child and lead to lasting success.

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