Category: Preschool

How to Prepare Your Kids for Kindergarten With Technology

Preparing Kids for Kindergarten With Technology

Kindergarten is a big step for kids and parents alike. It’s likely the first time your child will be away from you in a school setting for most of the day. It’s also the beginning of their intellectual journey.

Most states require kids to enter kindergarten by age 5 or 6, with a few exceptions. Though it might be your child’s first school experience, there are ways you can prepare them for it at an earlier age by using technology.

It’s understandable not to want to have a phone, tablet, or laptop in front of your young child’s face 24/7. But, technology isn’t all bad or damaging. When used the right way, it can make the transition to kindergarten easier for your little one. It might even make it easier on you when you know they’re more prepared and ready to tackle whatever is thrown at them throughout the year.

So, how can you use technology to empower your child as a new student and make sure they are mentally, socially, and emotionally ready for this big step?

Make Sure They’re Socially Ready

By the time your child is ready for kindergarten, they should already have certain social skills. Social and emotional development is extremely important for them to be successful in school – academically and for developing friendships. Some of the most crucial social skills for children that age include:

  • Understanding right and wrong
  • Using words to express needs and feelings
  • Sharing
  • Playing alone or with others without constant supervision
  • Making safe, independent decisions

If you’re worried that your child isn’t meeting these milestones and that they may not be ready, consider using technology to connect with a social worker.

Social workers can counsel children who might need assistance in their education and development. They can also work with you, as a parent, to offer technological tools for your child’s social development.

While your child might be too young for things like social media and texting, you can use appropriate online games to help them with their social skills. Or, download some emotional intelligence apps for them, like Daniel Tiger’s Grr-iffic Feelings or Sesame Street’s Breathe, Think, Do. If you want your child to connect with other kids their age, connect with the parents of the children who will be in their class, and set up video chats so the kids can meet and talk beforehand. It’s a great way to nurture friendships and improve communication skills before school starts.

Meeting Their Physical Needs

Most schools across the country require your child’s vaccination records. Some of the common illnesses kids need to be protected against before heading to school include:

  • Rubella
  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Hepatitis A

Eventually, younger children might even be required or encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Over the last year and a half, you may not have been able to see your child’s pediatrician in person. Thankfully, telehealth has provided an opportunity to connect with doctors via video chat, over the phone, or through custom online portals.

Connecting with your child’s pediatrician online will let you know if they’re up-to-date on their immunizations, and whether they should come in for a check-up before starting kindergarten. It’s a great way to keep everyone safe and socially distanced while ensuring that your child has what they need to protect themselves as they start school.

Getting Them Kindergarten-Ready

There’s so much to think about and prepare for when it comes to kindergarten readiness. Some of the basic skills your child should have include:

  • Counting
  • Showing an interest in reading
  • Going to the bathroom by themselves
  • Recognizing their name in print
  • Being able to hop on one foot

If your child hasn’t mastered all of the necessary skills for kindergarten, don’t panic. Instead, consider using online activities to teach them new skills and give them confidence in the things they already know. There are plenty of kid-friendly games and resources that can spark their interest in areas that they might otherwise struggle with. You can even get some new ideas online for activities you can do with your child to boost their skills and better prepare them for school.

Of course, that doesn’t mean every second should be spent online. Making sure your child stays active and spends time with books, interacts with other kids, and uses their imagination is just as important. But, those are things that are more likely to come naturally. Technology can help them (and you) with the things that might take a bit more effort.

Even before your little one sets foot inside a school, technology can be used to prepare them in a variety of ways. From keeping them safe to boosting their cognitive abilities, consider using some of these technological advances to prepare your child for kindergarten. It’s one of the best ways to ensure they get the most out of their first school experience.

How to Teach My Child Alphabet Recognition

How to Teach My Child Alphabet Recognition

Alphabet, or letter recognition, is a foundational skill that is essential for learning to read and write. Children with a solid grasp of letter recognition can identify both upper and lowercase letters, in different contexts, in any order.  Letter recognition goes beyond singing the “ABCs,” which only teaches children to recite the alphabet from memory.

To be proficient with letter recognition, children also need to be able to distinguish the physical characteristics of each letter.  Letter recognition can begin at a very young age, with reading babies and toddlers alphabet books.

There are tremendous benefits to reading aloud to children, and books about the alphabet are no exception. Alphabet books provide children with exposure to letter names and their appearance. There are board books, storybooks, and books written in rhyme to choose from.

After your new baby arrives at home, education on letters and words is the last thing on your mind, even though their learning journey as already begun.  As children get older, they may begin recognizing some letters of personal significance, beginning with the letters in their name.

It is not uncommon for children to recognize the first letter in their name and later, to begin identifying others. This is a great starting point for teaching letter recognition. Take advantage of teachable moments to point out letters in the environment. For example, show your child how the letter on the sign is the same as the letter in her name.

Young children can benefit from tactile ways to interact with letters. One way to provide these opportunities is through the use of alphabet puzzles. In addition to the letters, alphabet puzzles often use pictures to represent the sound each letter makes. This is a great way for children to start associating letters with a picture, which can act as a cue to its sound.

Another tactile way for children to use letters is through the use of playdough. They can create the letters, either on their own, or with the help of a playdough mat that shows the outline of each letter.

Alphabet printables provide many different ways for children to work with letters. Choose from activities like mazes, spinners, tracing sheets, letter hunts, and flip books. These activities help children learn the letter names, distinguish their physical characteristics, and begin learning the sound each letter makes.

It can be helpful to have the alphabet displayed for children to refer to. This can be a premade alphabet chart or cards that you purchase from a store. Typically, they show the correct formation of each letter along with a picture that represents the letter sound. Alternatively, you can involve children in the creation of alphabet cards and have them choose pictures or items that represent each letter sound.

Having them choose the pictures can make the activity more meaningful and help them remember the sounds more easily. For example, children may choose to associate the letter “f” with a frog. The hope is that when they see the letter “f” in another context, they will think of the frog and be cued to the correct sound an”f” makes.

When focusing on letter recognition, it is important for children to learn both the upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet. In addition to the activities outlined above, matching provides another way for children to see the physical differences between upper- and lowercase letters. Provide them with opportunities to use materials like magnetic letters, letter tiles, stamps, or stickers to match the upper- and lowercase letters. It can be overwhelming to work with the entire alphabet, so begin with a few known letters and add in one or two new ones.

There are lots of ways to teach children the letters of the alphabet. Choose different activities to keep them engaged and provide lots of encouragement as they begin the exciting journey of becoming a reader!

Do Babies Always Respond to Their Name?

Do Babies Always Respond to Their Name?

Do Babies Repond to Their Name

As parents, we do get alarmed when our children fail to respond to their names. That’s because this could be a sign of autism and other developmental delays we don’t want our little ones going through. Needless to say, children also develop at their own pace, and what you might take as a sign of autism could simply be your youngster operating on their own timeline.

That said, remaining in the dark and hoping for the best is hardly a space that parents want to occupy when it comes to their children. And while we can never be one-hundred percent sure of the answer until we see understanding reflected in our child’s eyes, it does help when we know the signs are mostly pointing toward a positive outcome.

So, do babies recognize their names all the time? No, they don’t. But this shouldn’t be an immediate cause for concern unless your little one is way past this milestone. Besides, you can help speed things up on your end by employing the speech-enhancing tips we’ll be sharing today.

Getting Your Children To Respond To Their Name More Often

For some children, it takes a while to have full recognition of their name. Sometimes, they’ll respond to it right away; other times, they’ll ignore it completely. If an intellectual disability is not the reason behind this, you can get your child to acknowledge their name with the help of the following:

Response in Isolation

There’s no question that children get distracted easily. They might know you’re calling their name yet fail to respond because their attention is on something or someone else. That is why you should first teach name recognition in isolation.

Teach your child to recognize his or her name when there are little to no distractions. Your bedroom or the kitchen could be a good area to start since it doesn’t have any toys lying around or any fun things taking place.

Once in this isolated environment, sit your child down and start the name-recognition process. To do things correctly, you must prepare something your child likes as a reward. It could be their favorite food, toy, or gesture from you.

Wait for a specific time when they’re looking away before you call out their name. If they look your way, hand over a reward. If they don’t respond, call their name out again louder, accompanied by some sort of commotion, like clapping, waving, or tapping on the table.

Whenever you present a reward, make sure your little one knows what it’s for. Do this repeatedly, using just their first name and only use waving and clapping when they fail to respond the first time.

Response in a Structured Setting

Now, it’s time to dial up the distraction levels and see how your child fares. After all, distractions are a reality your youngster eventually has to deal with. Your child should learn to recognize their name with distractions present.

To do this, take your child to a room where an appliance or two is running. It could be the television or radio or some toys lying on the floor. Repeat what you did in the previous method and call out your child’s name to see if they respond. If they do, reward them. If not, say their name again louder, accompanied by some tapping and clapping.

Of course, the presence of distractions means it might be a bit harder for your little one to focus on what you’re actually saying. Thus, give them a little more time to respond. You just have to keep calling out their name until they eventually look your way. Keep on practicing this method until you’re satisfied with your child’s level of response.

Response in an Unstructured Setting

You could be feeling a little bit better about the situation once your child nails the second method. However, things aren’t quite done just yet.

The third lesson involves getting your child to react to their name with any or all distractions present. So, in this case, you might want to bring them to a room that has all their favorite toys, people, and things to do.

Unleash them into the room before you call their name out. Make sure to stand close to them when you do and wait a moment for a response. If they recognize their name, proceed to hand over the reward and let them know what it’s for.

Though keep in mind that your child might not look your way all the time. What’s important is that he or she responds enough times for you to know that he or she absolutely recognizes the name you gave them.

Children and Their Unique Timelines

While a child has milestones you expect them to reach at a certain age, delays can often happen. Your child might not talk, respond, or act like their peers, and that could be perfectly okay and normal. Your child might simply be biding their time and will catch up eventually.

Though we also understand how this might keep you from getting some sleep. And in that event, you’d do well to get in touch with a speech language pathologist to help address the situation you suspect your child is in.

Expecting a baby? Explore tips on how to prepare before your baby arrives.

Internet Safety Checklist for Preschoolers

online safety for children

Here’s What Parents Should Teach Their Little Ones… Almost a decade ago, parents and caregivers didn’t have to worry about teaching their preschool aged children’s online safety. It’s the opposite today. Children are now being raised in the digital age.

Today, kids grow up learning how to use technology just like learning how to speak or walk. In fact, if technology isn’t a part of their lives, they would be unusual in society.

Touchscreen technologies have made the internet far more accessible than it used to be. It’s quicker and easier to use on a tablet or an iPad since you don’t need a mouse and a keyboard to navigate.

Some online safety risks for preschoolers

Not all parents believe there is a need to navigate and control how their 4 to 5 years old kids use the internet. Because what can go wrong. They are not using social media and they are barely spelling anything right.

It’s true, preschoolers don’t usually get exposed to as many risks as older children since they are usually using the internet under the supervision of an adult. However, that doesn’t mean parents can excuse themselves from taking certain practical internet safety precautions. Even if your preschooler goes online to play games or watch videos, they are still at the risk of accessing inappropriate content.

Raising Children Au says, there are three kinds of internet safety risk for preschoolers – content, contact and conduct.

  1. Content: This includes the content that children might find upsetting, uncomfortable, or disgusting. Examples are images of animal cruelty, violence, pornography or videos that are meant for older children.
  2. Contact: Children might come in contact with people they don’t know. For instance, they might end up on a communication app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp and send some personal photo or video to one of your contacts or even a stranger (on Facebook).
  3. Conduct: This risk includes children acting in a way that might hurt others. For instance, they might end up deleting some important file or accidentally make in-app purchases.

Children know more than we think!

If you think your preschooler isn’t smart enough to understand what the internet is, read the results of this study where 70, four-year-old children were asked what they know about the internet. 40 percent of the children in the study were able to describe what the internet is. Their understanding of the internet was associated with the experiences of going online and using technology with their family. They defined the internet as something they use to play games; something that mommy uses for work or big sister uses for sending emails and more.

Internet safety checklist to follow

Before children make up their own meaning about the internet, why not tell them what the internet is? Experts say you can start by teaching them that the internet is a net of technology we used to “talk” to each other. Once they understand that then we can move towards teaching them how to protect themselves online.

Here is a checklist that can help parents teach their little ones about internet safety:

  • Explore the internet together: Start by exploring the internet together with your children. They will learn when you are exploring with them. Show them interesting websites, ask them to show you how to play their favorite game, or you can even simply talk about the video they were watching.
  • Be involved: Encourage your children to use devices in the lounge or the kitchen. This will let you keep a close eye on how they are using the internet and monitor what they are watching. Don’t forget to be involved in their enjoyment.
  • Use passwords: You must know when your child is accessing the internet and a smart way to do that is to set passwords on all internet-enabled devices. Make sure these devices are out of your child’s reach. They will have to go through the process of asking permission to access the device and making you put the password so that they can play a game or listen to nursery rhymes. P.S. Don’t share passwords with them.
  • Activate safe search settings: Your toddler will probably use Google and YouTube to do their thing on the internet. Enable safe search settings on both of them. This allows you to apply restrictions on inappropriate search results.
  • Select the right content: Help them choose safe, educational, and fun games or videos. Research games or shows that would be appropriate for your child. You must be confident about the content your child is watching because they will be learning a lot from it.
  • Teach them good and bad: It’s totally okay to talk to your child about good and bad content on the internet. Encourage them to come to you if they see something scary or upsetting. Here is how you can start the conversation: “Some videos on the internet can be scary. Tell mommy/daddy if you see something that scary or makes you unhappy.”

Put yourself in control

Don’t be afraid to use parental controls. There are plenty of child monitoring apps that allow you to set parental controls to manage and control what content your child sees online.

Lots of parents take refuge in monitoring apps for children. It’s being used for monitoring and supervising online behavior of preschoolers and older kids alike. In short, it puts you in control of the online activities of your child and ensuring their safety by providing online protection of your little ones:

  • Manage Web Browsing: Usually, kids directly go to YouTube or the game that’s installed on their tablet. But some are smart enough to browse through Google, too. Parental controls allows you to check the web browsing history of your child’s tablet from a remote location. This feature is also useful if your child is with the nanny and you are just curious about what they are making your child watch.
  • Set boundaries: It is never too early to set boundaries on how much internet or screen time your child gets access to. Set rules regarding how much time your child spends online. You can set screen-time limitations by locking their digital devices altogether. Practice this when it’s time to eat so that they develop the habit of eating without a screen in front of them or when it’s bedtime so they could sleep without any distraction.
  • Block Apps: If your children share a tablet or phone, the apps that your older kid uses may not be appropriate for your toddler. With parental controls you can block the apps that you find inappropriate for one or both kids and let them spend the right amount of time on the internet, worry-free!

Monitoring apps as the likes of Xnspy are great for working parents who leave their kids and their tablets with babysitters and don’t know how much time they are spending online or what they are doing online.

Other things to teach

You mustn’t forget to teach your child how to protect themselves one. Tell them to:

  • Seek help whenever they see a pop-up in the middle of a game or video
  • Be near an adult whenever they are using a device
  • Only click on the tabs or apps your parent or babysitter has set up for you
  • Don’t share personal information (like photos or videos) with anyone

It makes sense to set boundaries to stay safe from internet dangers.  The internet is a large part of the daily lives of many young ones. They don’t just watch their favorite YouTube clips and play games online but also talk to long-distance relatives over video conferencing. Security and safety begins by teaching kids how to stay safe online from a young age.

Now let’s explore how parents can be involved in making sure their kids are safe at school.

Safer Search

What does it take to provide a safer web experience for kids? It takes a combination of tools and resources working together in unison: internet filtering, safe and secure browsing, parental control apps, and education. That is our mission at Safe Search Kids as we work to deliver these four cornerstones of online safety to parents, teachers, and students.