Growing up as a picky eater, I can relate to a child who does not want to try new foods. As a picky eater, I truly had a fear of new foods. It was a combination of the fear of a physical reaction like gagging or throwing up and the embarrassment that would come from it. It is still difficult for me today to try certain foods and I am wary of foods where I cannot “see” what is in it. I recently read an article in which I learned that 8 to 12 experiences are necessary for a child to try and then accept a new food. Well I know that growing up I did not give new foods a fighting chance, having probably only tried new foods once, if at all. I was also surprised to learn that Preschool-age children go through a normal developmental phase called neophobia, or fear of new things—in this case, new foods. Preschool children are influenced by the people around them. Parents, siblings, grandparents, caregivers, friends and teachers help to shape a child’s eating habits. Here are a few ideas that can help the picky eater become more adventurous:
- Make food fun
- Keep offering new foods
- Be a good role model by eating new foods with children
- Let children choose new foods
- Help children learn about new foods
- Try offering one new food at a time
- Avoid forcing children to try new food
Most of all be patient with your child.
Music is one of my favorite things. Growing up in the 80’s and being a part of the advent of MTV, music seemed to define all the important events in my life. I hear a song and I am immediately brought back to driving my first car to my best friend’s house or it is six am and I am in my room getting ready for high school. Even now, the first thing I do in the morning is to put the radio on. I know, you are probably thinking…radio? But yes, I still prefer to listen to the radio rather than Pandora or MP3’s that I have downloaded. Yup...that’s me “old school”!
This love I have for music has been passed down to my two children. When my son was little he loved to listen to Christmas music. We would listen to Burl Ives sing "Holly Jolly Christmas" over and over again. My daughter loved instrumental music. Her favorite music was from the Disney movie Fantasia. It wasn’t until Iater that I realized that this love for music was teaching my children valuable skills that would lay the foundation of their learning for years to come. Sure, everybody loves music but what is most amazing about music is what it can teach our children. Preschoolers are especially tuned into music and learn many valuable skills. While listening and playing music, preschoolers learn new vocabulary, listening skills, rhythm and coordination, gross and fine motor skills, reading readiness through rhyming and math readiness through recognizing and repeating patterns.
Singing and playing music also helps children to speak clearly and pay attention. It increases their memory and teaches social skills like taking turns. When I am trying to remember something important, I always turn it into a song. I tend to use the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”, but that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as I was a preschool teacher for 10 years!
Children learn all this and more! Music is a fun way to teach your children some really important stuff and it is a great way to show how much you care.
On the NAEYC for Families website there are a few samples of some great new songs for kids. These are their featured artists and songs. You can take a listen and then go to the artist’s website for even more music! http://families.naeyc.org/songs
As a Christian Preschool, we pray daily and have a weekly Chapel time which is a mini-worship program for all the children and their parents. During the month of December, we told the story of Jesus' birth through an interpretation of the book "The Donkey in the Living Room". This book takes 9 different characters from your nativity set at home and tells the story of Jesus' birth through the eyes of those characters. Of course there are the characters you expect; Mary, Joseph, the angel Gabriel. But there are some you don't expect; the donkey, the cow, and the sheep. It made me think about how the different people in my family feel about Christmas. Do they feel the same as me or do they have a different perspective? What are their favorite things about Christmas and what does Christmas mean to them? As we get older we look back on our childhood experience of Christmas with nostalgia. These memories can evoke feelings of love and comfort. We try to hold on to those traditions and feelings we had as a child. These traditions grow and change over the years as your family changes. Maybe you had to move away from family or as your family grew you had to make changes to what your traditions were. Think about the Christmas traditions you have now. How have they changed from the traditions of your youth? These changes may make you sad but remember, the traditions that you practice now will become the traditions that your children will look back on in the future as their most cherished memories. Everyone experiences the birth of Jesus from their own personal perspective. What an interesting conversation it would be to ask all the people in your family, "What does Jesus' birth mean to you? and What is your favorite way of celebrating His birth?"
I was watching a clip from Super Soul Sunday on the Oprah Winfrey Network the other day. She had on Dr. Shefali Tsabary, the author of The Conscious Parent. While my children are now adults, 20 and 22, respectively, I still feel I have much to learn when it comes to parenting. Dr. Tsabary was explaining that when we have a child, our job is not simply to guide them on their journey through life but that they guide us through our own journey as well. That becoming a parent provides a mirror into our own selves, our short comings, our own issues and we learn and grow alongside our children. This made me stop and think about my own journey as a parent. There were many times I told my oldest child, Nicholas, "I am doing my best. This is the first time I have had a 15 year old child", or whatever age he was at the time. I was very conscious of the fact that I may not know exactly what I was doing. That all my decisions were made out of extreme love for this child but with no experience, may not turn out as I had planned. I was in the process of learning how to be a parent. Throughout the short clip, Dr. Tsabary talked about how we as parents need to remember that our child is a whole person with aspirations, goals, wants and needs that may not be the same as the aspirations, goals, wants and needs that we may have for them. Our job is to help our children grow into their authentic self not into what we or society believes they should be. I was intrigued by what she was saying enough that I purchased the book to read more about conscious parenting. Maybe you will do the same. All I know for sure is that when it comes to parenting, I will always have more to learn.
Oh the joys of summer. Summer is my favorite season for reading. My favorite places to read during the summer are, sitting under a shady tree, curled up on the couch on a rainy summer's day or relaxing under an umbrella on a sunny beach day. Take you child outdoors for some outdoor reading. Grab a basketful of your child's favorite books and spend a lazy afternoon reading. Help your child learn to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of watching a cloud drift across the sky, a ladybug make the long journey up a leaf or listening to the different songs of the summer birds. Below are some of my favorite summer books. Summer goes by too fast. Make sure you take the time to enjoy it.
Spring has finally arrived and it seems as if Summer will arrive tomorrow! Here's a great activity for your preschooler on this wonderful spring day.
Spring Color Treasure Hunt:
Get a few sheets of 8 x 10 construction paper of various colors - red, blue, green, yellow, orange,etc. Go outside with your preschooler and a small bag. Collect some interesting things and place them in the bag. These items may be rocks, flowers, sticks, etc. Once your preschooler is finished collecting. Spread out the sheets of construction paper on a table. Have your preschooler sort the objects he/she collected by color. You can then count the objects for each color. You can see if your preschooler can think of other ways in which to sort the objects - size, shape, etc.
This activity teaches various skills - seasons, sorting, color recognition, counting, critical thinking, hand/eye coordination, physical properties of natural objects, fine and gross motor skills.
It's amazing how much a child can learn while playing and having fun!