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Make this March Break the week you take a step back from your busy schedule and spend some quality time with your family. Plan a few activities but keep it simple and relaxed and you’ll be sure to have a great time together.
Use their week off to find that work/family balance. Take some time off work, if possible, and go out of town. If travel isn’t in the forecast, act like tourists in your own city. Visit the landmarks, go to some local events and exhibitions, and let the kids help plan the activities they want to do. Having them involved in the process will help the excitement grow leading up to the outings.
If you’re looking for a creative outlet, let your kids redesign old pieces of clothing. Give them fabric paint, beads and other embellishments to decorate pieces. Or visit a pottery shop where you can all paint your own ceramics, customizing them however you want. If a sibling or friend’s birthday is coming up, suggest making something as a gift, but any creation of theirs will be a great keepsake.
Another way to spend quality time together is to stage your own blackout. Unplug your electronics and leave technology behind for a night. Use flashlights and candles, play board games, tell stories and snack on homemade treats you whipped up together earlier that day.
Cooking with your kids is another great activity. Whether they’re helping you bake a batch of cookies, make dinner or plan a meal, they’ll learn how to work in a team, develop their fine motor skills and become more independent in the kitchen. For an added learning opportunity, ask them to pick a country and then make a food that is specific to that culture. Find some music associated with the region to listen to and learn some interesting facts about the area to discuss when you sit down to eat the meal you’ve prepared together.
A week may seem like a long time, but it will pass before you know it. Make sure to spend that time together, doing things that you normally wouldn’t have time for.
When it comes to toys, how do you choose the right ones for your baby? What are the key components you should be considering? Childhood development expert, Dr. Deborah Weber shares some key points.
Q. When toys are labelled with ages, are the labels for safety, or are they based on research on developmental stages?
A. Thank you for asking this very important question! Age recommendations are guidelines for parents and gift-givers to use when purchasing toys for children. The age recommendations on Fisher-Price toys are based on the following factors: safety guidelines, sound knowledge of the developmental stages of children, observations of children interacting with toys, input from parents of young children regarding the age-appropriateness of toys and history of similar toys. So you can see that much consideration, deliberation and testing goes into establishing the age recommendation for toys. In addition to following the age recommendations for toys, parents need to instruct older children to keep their toys out of reach when younger children are around, as there could be small parts which could cause a choking hazard.
Q. My friend’s baby seems to be learning/developing quicker than mine. Should I be worried? Does this mean my baby is less intelligent?
A. Children develop at different rates and go through developmental stages at a different pace. The best way for babies to learn is through their interactions with you. Talk, read, and sing to them throughout the day—use descriptive language because that provides the foundation for learning. In addition, there are many toys on the market which have learning components integrated into them for a child your baby’s age.
Q. How can I encourage my baby to use their imagination?
A. The Laugh ‘n Learn toys provide a great opportunity for babies to use their imagination. They are early role play toys with themes to introduce baby to pretend play in a fun and familiar way way—some examples are a Tool Bench, Farm, Kitchen, Tea Set, Vacuum and Lawn Mower—these toys jump start baby’s way to imaginative play. Engage in play right alongside of your baby—it’s a great way to get them engaged and encourage them to use their imagination—“What can we build today? Would you like a cup of tea? This room is messy—we sure do need to vacuum—let’s do it!”
Q. What type of stimuli should I be exposing my baby to and at what stages? When are colours most important? Sounds? Touch?
A. The youngest babies are sensory learners, so exposing them to a variety of sounds, sights, and textures is appropriate. Playful music as well as soothing music of different styles, bright colourful high-contrasting toys or objects, and texture that is smooth, bumpy, silky, furry, or soft. Describe the sounds, sights, and textures to your baby as they interact and experience them. Introducing the older baby to colours provides them with the understanding of the colour names and that objects are made of different colours. It gives them the language to use to help describe objects.
Q. Can a child have too many toys?
A. A child can have too many toys if there is no place to store them properly. Clutter and disorder can be over-whelming and cause frustration making it difficult to play appropriately. Keeping toys in order on shelves or in containers is important so that when it is time to play, the toys will be ready, and when it is time to clean-up, there will be a place to put the toys away. When a child outgrows a toy, it can be an emotional parting for the child. If your child is old enough to understand, involve him or her in the decision about what to do with the toy. You’ll have an indication of when it is time to part with the toy, to save it for another child, or to give to charity, when you’re child no longer uses it for several months.