Encouraging Reading in the Summer

By | Parkland Players | No Comments

Reading during the summer months is often the last thing on most kid’s minds. But encouraging reading even when school isn’t in session is an important thing to do as parents and caregivers. Reading during the summer months can help children to:

  • Retain and advance the reading skills they developed during the school year
  • Develop creative thinking skills and practice healthy imagination
  • Limit screen time activities
  • Learn about new places, things, cultures, stories
  • Foster new interests
  • Develop a love of reading that they can carry with them throughout their lives!

So, how can you encourage reading when there are so many other tempting summer activities out there?? Well first of all, keep in mind that it isn’t wrong for your child to want to be spending the summer months playing outdoors and having fun. Children have the breaks in the school year for a reason. School can be beneficial, but also stressful, even for children, and the summer break plays an important role in having them come back in September refreshed and in a state of mind where they are ready to learn. So don’t overload your child with books or academics during the summer, or suggest to them that they should be reading instead of playing outside in the sun. Everything is about balance. Try to incorporate a little bit of reading into your daily routine, without it being the main focus of your day.

An important place to start for encouraging literacy in the summer, is to find books that your child will actually enjoy! Have a conversation with them about what books they have read and why they liked them. If your child needs a little more encouragement to start a book and display limited interest, then seek out help. Your local librarian or bookstore will have tons of suggestions for you! You can also do some digging online! Good online resources will offer you information about the story, and the target age group. Right now, we are loving this list https://www.weareteachers.com/summer-reading-list-for-kids/ curated by teachers! Also, if your child is a tough sell for reading, try starting with a graphic novel. This genre has a lot of wonderful artwork and interesting storylines, while making the text less dense so that children are more likely to read it.

Some people like to try a summer reading challenge to encourage reading. This site: https://www.readbrightly.com/summer-reading-challenge-for-kids/ has an extensive list of summer reading challenges that you could incorporate into your summer literacy plan. You don’t have to do them all, just pick out the ones that you and your child enjoy! Our favourites are:

  • Set a goal for the number of books you can read over the summer, make a poster and track your progress
  • For vacations, find a book set in the location you are travelling to and read while there.
  • Read a graphic novel or comic book and then using sidewalk chalk (or crayons and paper) create your own illustrated story
  • Build a fort, and then read a book inside it!
  • Read a book written like a diary, then write your own diary of what you did over the summer

A final tip for encouraging reading over the summer is to start with yourself! Role model the behaviour for your children. Read your own book simultaneously when they are reading. Or, read a book aloud together!

For a fun art craft to go with your summer literacy, check out these tie dye bookmarks: https://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Colors/stainedglassbookmark/stainedglassbookmark.html

Happy Reading!!


Emotional Regulation and Exercise for Children

By | Parkland Players | No Comments

What is emotional regulation?

“Emotional regulation is the ability to effectively manage and respond to an emotional experience. People unconsciously use emotion regulation strategies to cope with difficult situations many times throughout each day. When a child experiences dysregulation they aren’t able to diffuse their negative emotions. These emotions can take control leading to over-the-top reactions, outbursts, or meltdowns. This is an extremely common challenge for kids who have Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, or other neurological differences.” (Nicole Day, 2017, link to source below).

For more information on regulation, check out our series on self-regulation: http://parklandplayers.com/self-regulation-defining-self-regulation/

Some children struggle with self-regulation and need assistance regulating their emotions. However, regulation is a skill like any other, with attention and practice children can improve their self-regulation skills.


How does exercise come in?

As an adult, do you find that exercise, even something as simple as going for a walk, can help you to calm yourself down when you are upset or stressed? The same can work for kids!

Let us explain. The stress response is an expression of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn stimulates the production of adrenaline (this hormone is associated with arousal and energy spikes). An increase in cortisol and adrenaline leads to in increase in anxiety, increase in dysregulation, and decreased communication and social skills.

Exercise has been proven to reduce cortisol levels and increase dopamine and other endorphins which are hormones responsible for that positive feels of comfort and satisfaction. Basically, exercise puts the brain in a chemical state where it is better able to regulate emotions!


What can you do?

Our source site (below) recommends a daily 7 minute HIIT in the mornings. Put on some music and get an interval time going (you can usually find an app for this). In the seven minute period set the timer to 45 seconds of active with 15 second rest periods in between. Do as many of the following movements as you can in that period!

  1. Frog Hops
  2. Bear Walk
  3. Gorilla Shuffles
  4. Starfish Jumps
  5. Cheetah Run
  6. Crab Crawl
  7. Elephant Stomps

The mechanism and technique of the movement is less important than actually doing it, so take your own interpretation on each exercise type, as long as you are being safe!

At the end of your HIIT, cool down with some stretches or yoga poses (at Parkland Players, we LOVE yoga for kids!)

Doing this daily will help your child (and even you) start your day with your brain in a place where it is most receptive to learning, in a state of calm, and able to express regulated responses to stressful moments throughout the day!

Source: https://hes-extraordinary.com/improve-emotional-regulation-just-7-minutes-per-day/


Emergency Preparedness

By | Parkland Players | No Comments

Recently we had a great conversation with our friends over at Himama about emergency preparedness among children.

Blog writer and freelance journalist Diane Peters had some important questions about what steps to take when preparing children for emergency situations, how to have the impactful discussions without being alarming or causing fear in kids, and what things are necessary for daycares/schools and parents to make sure their children know how to respond in a crisis.

We want to thank Himama and Diane for allowing us to participate in such an important discourse and invite everyone to check out her article here Preparing Kids For Emergencies for some great tips and though-provoking information about what you can do to prepare kids for emergencies!

Emergency Kit Image Source: gov.bc.ca (visit this link for videos and tips on building an emergency kit).


The Hundred Languages in Practice: Multiple Intelligences

By | Parkland Players | No Comments

The above quote is a segment of the poem “The Hundred Languages” by founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach, Loris Malaguzzi. In this poem, Malaguzzi refers to the hundred languages of children, which he explains as being a variety of ways in which children experience the world, learn, and express their learning. This assertion is a key aspect of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education, as it emphasizes that children are not only capable of directing their own learning, but importantly, we need to allow them to direct their own learning because the way in which each child learns is unique.

Psychologist Howard Gardner had a similar idea regarding intelligence. He theorized that although formal academics often focus on math and verbal skills in the assessment of intelligence, there are a number of other kinds of intelligences, which a person could possess. Furthermore, most people likely have all of his 8 types of intelligences, just in varying compositions for each. So what are these types of intelligences?

  1. Bodily-Kinaesthetic: this can be understood as using the body as a tool for problem solving. When this type of intelligence dominates, people are likely to excel in sports, or working with their hands. They enjoy using physical manipulatives to learn new concepts, and do best when they can express ideas and feelings with their body.
  2. Interpersonal: the interpersonal intelligence is the ability to relate to others and express empathy or sympathy. Interpersonally intelligent individuals enjoy socializing, and working in group settings, they learn well when they can teach others, and they exhibit good social problem-solving skills.
  3. Intrapersonal: not to be confused with the previous type of intelligence, the intrapersonal skillset applies to those people who are good at looking inwards and reflecting on their own self. Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to work well alone, to have strong self-esteem and confidence in one abilities, and to use these strengths in learning situations.
  4. Linguistic: linguistic intelligence involves using words in an effective and concise way. Linguistically intelligent people are good at reading comprehension and writing, or expressing their learning verbally.
  5. Logical-Mathematical: involves an understanding of numbers and logical reasoning. Logical-Mathematical types, enjoy puzzles and games that involve strategy or logic. They exhibit interest in sequential experiment scenarios and learn well by asking reasonable questions to look for logical answers.
  6. Musical: relate their understandings of the world to music. These types take to learning instruments easily and have highly tuned auditory systems. Putting things to song can help these learners.
  7. Naturalist: exhibit an inherent interest in the natural world (both plant and animal) and the environment. These learners do well outdoors, learning through interaction with nature and observation of the environment.
  8. Visual-Spatial: spatially intelligent individuals excel at visualizing and mentally manipulating objects in space. People with this intelligence do well with remembering visual information and may draw or sketch to demonstrate their understanding of concepts.

According to Gardner, and to Malaguzzi, it is important to understand these different types of intelligences in order to create classroom environments for children that are stimulating for all types of learners. Accordingly, children (and adults) are adaptive and can improve on each of these types of intelligences, even if certain ones are naturally dominant.

So what should you do as a parent with this knowledge? Pay attention to what intelligences are dominant in your child and support them either in school or in extra-curricular activities in developing those strengths further so that they can follow their innate interests and abilities. Also be aware of some of the types of intelligence that can use some improvement and support your child in working on those so that they have a well-rounded base of skills to interact with the world and others.

Source: https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/learning/multiple_intelligences/#.WyFjeLY-I6U



Tips for Limiting Screen Time

By | Parkland Players | No Comments

You probably know by now that “screen time” is not a great thing for your child’s health, or your own! In fact, it is recommended that children should spend no greater than 2 hours in front of a screen per day. The negative impacts of excessive screen time include risk of childhood obesity, aggressive behaviour, low energy, difficulty focusing in school, and exposure to media that may not be age appropriate.

So to combat the side effects of too much screen time, today we are sharing some tips for limiting screen time in the family situation.

  1. Be an Example: if you are limiting your child’s screen time, start with limiting your own!
  2. Be the Parent: the decision to limit your children’s screen time may not be a popular one with the kids, but you are the parent, and your job is to encourage healthy behaviours for your child.
  3. Set Limited Viewing Times: select specific times of day, or reasons to use the screen. For example, if there is a TV show that everyone likes, agree to use the TV at the time it is on each day and for that time only.
  4. Encourage Other Activities: don’t just suggest that your child reads books instead of playing on the tablet; make sure they have the book to read too! Go to the library together and make an outing of it.
  5. Play with Your Kids: this sounds like a suggestion for just the toddlers, but it applies to all age groups! As babies you get on the floor and roll a toy truck or ball, when they are older you can play board games or go outside and play soccer together!
  6. Value Family Meals: avoid watching TV during dinnertime. Have a meal together as a family and discuss your day.
  7. No TVs in Bedrooms: keep the TV out of your room and your kids!

For more tips on limiting screen time visit (source): https://www.becomingminimalist.com/how-to-limit-your-childs-screen-time/




Educator Spotlight Interview

By | Parkland Players | No Comments

Today we are excited to share something a little different for our blog post! Recently the wonderful people at himama.com reached out to have our Operational Manager, Shohreh, featured in one of their Educator Spotlight Blog Posts and that post is up now!

In the post Shohreh shares a little bit about her passion for early childhood education, her goals for supporting the community, and her journey in the field.

Check out the full article here: https://www.himama.com/blog/educator-spotlight-shohreh-mansourian

Thank you to Himama for presenting us on this awesome part of your website and including us in your community of Early Childhood Educators!


Summer Reading Guide 2018

By | Parkland Players | No Comments

With the summer right around the corner and the weather constantly improving it is often easy to neglect literacy goals, or choose other activities over spending some time reading.

For that reason, today we wanted to direct you to an awesome resource for keeping reading in mind this summer!

Reading Rockets is an organization based in the United States that provides information and support for education and literacy for both parents and teachers. The put out a summer reading guide every year and have recently shared their guide for 2018!

This guide is great because it not only suggests books for readers age 0 to 12 but also breaks down these books by age and provides a brief description of each so you can decide what you are interested in before heading to the local library or bookstore.

Check out the guide here: http://www.readingrockets.org/books/summer/2018

What do you do to keep reading during the summer months? Are books something you take with you on vacation? We hope you enjoy this resource as much as we do!



6 Types of Play Important in Early Childhood Development

By | Parkland Players | No Comments

Researchers are increasingly finding that play is essential to development in the early years. As a parent, you likely see recommendations from all kinds of places to engage your children in more play in order to stimulate healthy development.

However, it is important to also understand that play is not limited to the conventional activities we see on the playground during recess and lunch. Play is a dynamic action that can take a variety of forms and changes with your child’s development over the years.

According to American sociologist Mildred Parten Newhall, there are actually 6 general types of play that are applicable for ages 2 to 5 years old. These various types of play each have a variety of benefits for the child, and learning about these distinctions can help parents better understand how to guide and support their child’s development through play in the early years.

  1. Unoccupied Play: although Parten defined this as not truly play, this is actually the most basic level of play. At this stage babies and toddlers are starting to figure out what play is. Their play behaviours are disorganized and mostly involve creative body movements, but there is a lot more going on during this kind of play than meets the eye. Children engaged in unoccupied play are not only developing their play skills but also developing their understanding of the world through movements, the senses, and exploration of the environment.
  2. Independent or Solitary Play: This stage or type of play can be understood as the play that happens when children are on their own. Solitary play can take a variety of forms, for the more introverted child, it may mean reading a book quietly in the corner of a cozy room, for the more energetic child, it may involve running around outdoor and engaging with nature, picking up sticks and observing insects in the garden. Whatever form independent play takes, it is important for the development of self-concept and self-esteem. Children need to be comfortable with themselves in order to have successful social interactions in the later years.
  3. Onlooker Play: most parents are familiar with that moment when their child sort of freezes and gets lost in watching mom or dad do something they find interesting. Eventually, they may even begin to imitate the actions that they have observed! This kind of play is good for learning new skills, finding new interests, but also bonding with parents. If parents can get their child involved when they are playing in the onlooker style, then parents and children can play together and this will strengthen attachments.
  4. Parallel Play: parallel play can be understood as playing beside other children, rather than with others. Children may share the play space and toys but their play is still mostly independent. This kind of play is the first step in learning how to engage in more social kinds of play. Children develop important communication skills like sharing with others and giving other children enough personal space.
  5. Associative Play: At this stage, children begin to play with others, but their goal-directed behaviours within playing may be different. For example, children my enjoy making art together, they will use the same supplies, share their work, but their individual artistic goals are different. Children begin to develop this sort of play around age 3. This is important for expanding social experiences and lengthening attention spans.
  6. Cooperative Play: in this sort of play, children have already practiced a lot of their social skills and are now ready to incorporate teamwork into their play activities. Children are capable of playing together with a common goal or purpose. For example, a group of children may decide to play a game of soccer together. They all know the rules of the game, agree to follow them and attempt to play according to this structure. This stage of play helps to further develop social and emotional skills like communication, problem-solving, compromising with others, positive attitudes towards teamwork, creating friendships and building confidence and self-esteem.

There you have it, six types of play in early childhood! Although this kids of play are presented as though they are stages and children graduate from one to the next, this is not always the case. Play is fluid and children may exhibit various types of play all at one age, just in different settings.

So, keep encouraging your children to play, and when you get the chance, play with them! The benefits are endless, and you just might have some fun as well!

Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/types-of-play#11