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Monday 26 October 2020

Making bath time something to look forward too.

For many families bath time is a daily stress filled event. The biggest mistake we can make is to consider bath time a chore that we need to tick off our daily to-do list. Rather take a step back and consider bath time a special time that you get to spend with your little one. Here are some ideas that will hopefully help make the transition to bath time and bath time itself, a more enjoyable and relaxing occasion.

Safety first

Remember that small children need to be supervised at all times, especially in and near water. Sometimes the big bath does feel scary for a little person and then to use a smaller inexpensive tub inside the bath will help them feel much safer. The bath itself can be very slippery and it is scary for both you and your child when they slip. A non-slip mat (or a towel) in the bath can help to reduce the chances of them slipping.


Do your best to make bath time fun. A mirror in the bathroom that is at your child’s eye level when they are in the bath is a great attraction and distraction. Painting with face paint or drawing with bath crayons will also help make bath time more exciting. Having different toys like small containers and spoons, a doll and doll clothes, blocks, toy cars, plastic animals, a small plastic teapot / jug with little cups, different sponges, foam animals, shapes, letters, boats, floating animals or small balls at hand for bath time, are all inviting toys that you can alternate during the week.

Use this play time to bond with your child. The more you speak to them, the more you enrich their vocabulary and language use. Name the objects that they are playing with, mimic the animal or car noises and describe what you are doing by using sentences like: ‘I am pouring tea into my cup’ or ‘let’s wash your blue car’. You can also count the toys, look at the colours and sizes, and do measurement activities while using sentences like: ‘Let’s fill up the cup’ or ‘Oh dear, now the bottle is empty’, to help build their Math’s related vocabulary.


If supper time is generally a chaotic time for your family, then consider planning for bath time to take place earlier in the day, if possible. When I found myself alone at home and rushed for time, I would put a large towel on the kitchen floor, with the tub on top of it and my boys bathed there (well honestly they splashed more than anything else). This allowed me to get supper going, while they were having fun getting clean and when dad got home, things were slightly less crazy.

Sometimes our little people have had a very busy day and we as grown-ups assume that a bath is just what they need, because that is what we love after a long day. But for a little person whose small body is still learning to digest all the sensory input from their day, a bath might just be the trigger for a complete meltdown. Never wake a sleeping child to bath them. You will definitely have self-inflicted war on your hands and it is really not worth it.

Think about their senses

Make sure the bathroom is not too cold, especially for your very small child. Consider having a candle lit in the bathroom, as the softer light will be gentler on their tired eyes and the flame will be a welcome distraction.

Minimising problems

Bubble bath is a great soaker for all the dirt, so that you do not always need to fight with them to use soap and a facecloth or sponge. One of my boys despised having his hair washed when he was small, but once he started wearing goggles in the bath, it became a much less traumatic experience for all us. Telling your child step by step what you are doing is very important. Once bath time becomes a predictable time, they will feel more in control. You can help to establish this routine by narrating the washing process with sentences such as ‘I am rubbing soap on the sponge and then I am going to wash your back’. This will also enrich your child’s body knowledge. And know that sometimes your best bath time strategy is to just sit quietly with them and play with the water.


When bath time is done, don’t just yank them out. Have a predictable three step routine, that is always the same, for when you near the end of bath time. This way their subconscious will know that bath time is coming to an end. Here is one example of such a routine that you can consider adopting:

·         Step 1: Let’s put the soap and face cloth in their places

·         Step 2: Let’s pack our toys on the side of the bath so they can dry

·         Step 3: Would you like to use your blue towel or red towel tonight?

And the bonus for getting out of the bath? They get to blow out the candle (and that might just become the best part)!

It is important that you don’t rush this part of the routine. Small children do not like to be rushed. Do your best to stay calm and stay present. Take them to their room after their bath to dry them and massage them as you rub cream into their skin, all the while talking gently. This will help to set the tone for the rest of your evening together.

Our children are desperate for our physical and emotional presence and because we live such rushed lives we often miss those ques. Bath time is a perfect opportunity to pause life, take a deep breath and just be with your child. They will chat to you and even if you don’t understand what they are saying, knowing that you listen to their small conversations, will lay the foundation for your relationship with them so that they will come to you later with the big stuff too. 

And as life with children are, even when you do all of the above, you will still have those absolute insane evenings, but hopefully with these tips they will become few and far in between. Enjoy this time. Our children grow up fast and then we can only return to these memories, wishing we had more.


Sunday 18 October 2020

DEVELOPING LIFESKILLS: ‘Mom and Dad, I want to dress myself’

Dressing themselves is a life skill that our children need to develop at a young age. We can support them to achieve this important milestone by creating an environment where they can experience success. Here are a few tips on how you can help them on the road of independent dressing:

·       Firstly, make peace that your toddler and young preschooler (and later your teenager) will not necessarily have the same fashion sense as you. Consider it their creative expression of who they are.


·       A full length mirror is a great asset in any young child’s room and is beneficial for their physical, cognitive and emotional development. It helps them to develop their sense of self and generally they also enjoy their reflection ‘imitating’ them. It is good practice for visual tracking as their eyes follow their own movements in the mirror. And it also helps to develop their spatial awareness of their own body and their body in space.


·       Have a low shelf, drawer or basket with a few matching clothing items in there for them to choose from. Keep in mind that they will mix and match how they see fit and may even wear all of the outfits at once and that is perfectly okay. Anyone who has ever spend time with a young child will completely get it and won’t think any less of you as a parent.


·       Make sure that their clothing is easy to put on and take off. This is especially important during toilet training.


·       When you dress your child, or attempt to help them, let them face away from you. This will make the transition from being dressed to being able to dress themselves easier. Trying to convert the getting dressed process from how it works when they face you to when they have to do it themselves can be very challenging.


·       Teach them the order you want them to get dressed in, for instance first put on your underwear, then your t-shirt, pants, socks and lastly your shoes.


·         Show them their clothing tags and teach them that it has to touch their backs.


·       You can cut a large sticker into two pieces and stick one half in each of their shoes so when they put their shoes on (left and right) next to each other, the picture is completed correctly. It is a great visual aid to help them know which shoe fits on which foot.


·       Simple directions in the form of a rhyme, song or chant will help them remember. Use the same one every time you dress them and once they are ready to do it on their own they will be able to recall the ‘instructions’. Repetition is key.


Here is an example for when they put on their pants or skirt

I sit on my bottom,
Flat on the floor.
I put my one foot in,
I put my other foot in,
And wiggle all the way,
Until I see my toes.
And then I stand up straight.
I pull it over my bum.
I turn around and say (with thumbs up): ‘That is done!’

            Here is an example for when they put on a t-shirt

I put my head through the big hole,

My one arm through a smaller hole

My other arm through another hole.

Now look at me!


Developing the life skill to dress themselves does take time and sometimes we want to rush our children by helping them. But the immense pride they will experience, knowing that their grownup trusted them to do it all on their own, is priceless. By consistently showing trust in their ability, you will see their competence increase over time, they will become more and more independent and handle future challenges with confidence. It is worth the mismatched outfits and every questionable fashion sense memory that you will collect along the way.


Sunday 11 October 2020

Busy Teacher? Busy Parent?

Steph from The Secret Slob (mom of 3 kiddos), have very practical and easy tips helping us busy grown ups and sometimes very overwhelmed grown ups, to keep on top of our homes. Here is the link to her blog and you can also visit her on You Tube. The Secret Slob. As Steph says, its all about progress, and not perfection.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Tips for introducing more ease into your mornings with kids

Mornings can be very rough in a household with little people, but there are a few changes you can consider to help make your mornings a bit more manageable.

·         Consistent routines
I cannot emphasize the importance of a consistent routine enough. Even though life will still happen and all your good intentions might on occasion fly out the window. Once you have established a consistent routine, children will start to follow it automatically - even on the rough days. It is similar to following a map. Even if your car breaks down or you have a flat tire, you still need to follow the map to get to your destination.

·         Be organized
The best tip a friend gave me when our boys were very little, was for me to get up before them so that I can get myself sorted first. Although I wasn’t too keen at first, I quickly recognized the difference it made and kept to it. As they have grown older and become more independent, it has become easier. I now no longer have to get up before them and every now and then can even enjoy a sleep-in.

·         Adapt to your child
Every child is unique. If your child is not a morning person, don’t rush them. Let their mornings be relaxed and calm, because the more you fight them the tougher it will get. If your child needs cuddles in the morning, sit down or get into bed with them to have a bit of cuddle time. Maybe read a book together or spend some time outside. Use your morning time to feed your child’s soul. Your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. If your child has a soul fed morning, they will be so much more receptive to learning at school and you yourself will have a much better day too.

·         Encourage independence
If they want to feed themselves, let them. If they want to dress themselves, let them. If they want to brush their own teeth, let them. Independence encourages confidence and confidence encourages good self-esteem.

·         Don’t sweat the small stuff
Pick your battles. If your child wants to go to the shop wearing their fairy wings, let them. If your child doesn’t want to wear shoes, let them. Rather challenge your child about things that really matters like good manners and being kind, as those are the things that will ultimately make them better people and help them to make a difference in our world.

I do hope that these tips will help you bring more ease and calm to your mornings. Don’t forget to live in the moment with your little people and on the days when your mornings do go wrong, remember that this will not last forever.

Sunday 4 October 2020

Helping little ones develop their concentration

As parents and educators, we often forget to have realistic expectations of our children and their ability to concentrate on activities. It is only natural that the younger our children are, the shorter their concentration will be. I have found that a predictable routine helps make a positive difference in children’s lives, because when a child knows exactly what to expect of someone, or a place, they are calmer and more focused. There are several things that we can do to help little ones develop concentration.

Carefully consider the time of day, because children’s concentration is usually better in the morning than in the afternoon. It is therefore better to plan academic work for the mornings. Make sure your child has a good breakfast with little or no sugar, because a child will struggle to focus after they have had a chocolate or packet of sweets. It is important to limit screen time, because it can negatively affect your child’s concentration.


Daily movement and exercises like riding bicycles or playing ball outside can significantly improve your child’s concentration. Going for walks and looking for things like twigs and rocks will also help your child to become more observant and aware of their own environment. During story time ask your child to look at a picture and encourage them to find specific detail. Doing handwork (like threading), making crafts and playing board games are all beneficial ways for children to develop their concentration skills. Building puzzles together takes focus, problem solving skills and good observations from the puzzle builder. Look for a picture of a landmark like the Eiffel Tower and encourage your child to build that from blocks. Sensory bins are great ways to help your child to informally improve their concentration. Sensory boxes can be filled with coloured pasta or rice, small spoons, tweezers and containers for them to scoop or pour. 

Finally, when sitting down as a family around the dinner table, we can talk about our day, which will help our little friends learn to slow down, sit still, concentrate and focus on their family members while participating in the conversation.

 Here is another great article to read on this topic:Child development and concentration.


Cultivating learning

I strongly believe that, as a teacher, I need to adapt to each of my learners’ needs and way of learning. This requires me to constantly evolve my teaching strategies and keep up with the ever changing education landscape.

One of my favorite ways to involve my little friends in learning is through movement and music. Singing and movement go hand in hand and gives young children a chance to be creative, have fun, collaborate and channel their energy in a positive manner. It also improves their coordination and language skills. Exposing them to different instruments and music expands their world and encourages sensory awareness.

Learners need to be presented with controlled choices from a young age as it gives them a feeling of empowerment. When my little friends arrive in the mornings, I have engaging and inviting activities set out for them to choose from and they get to decide how much time they want to spend at each one until our first circle time takes place. I make sure to incorporate their varying interests when setting up and try to create opportunities for them to discover and learn through hands on experiences.

As young learners are very egocentric, it is important that they are exposed to situations where they will experience success through self-motivation (avoid rewards) and collaboration (learning from others).

Using these basic principles helps me as a teacher to prepare my lessons and create an engaging, happy and organized classroom environment where my little friends can develop successfully in all areas, while playing.

Printed Shape and Number posters in my classroom are all from Pocket of Preschool.


    As parents, it is always important to remember that when it comes to our children, that we NEED to be on the same team, and that we ...