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CHRISTMAS: 5 WAYS TO GIVE WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 12/15/18

Christmas is coming! And with it, the season of giving! But between your Christmas list, big family meals, and trips to visit far-flung relatives it can also be a season of budgeting and stretching every dollar. You want to give generously, but sometimes it seems impossible to balance generosity with family obligations. Pretty soon what should be a season of joy becomes a season of overwhelming stress.

Don’t stress! We’ve got you covered with our list of top five ways to give more without spending more!

1. AMAZON SMILE

Let’s be honest – we’re all spending a lot of time shopping on Amazon right now. Probably too much time. But did you know you can put all those Amazon purchases to a good cause? Simply start your Amazon shopping spree at Smile.Amazon.com instead of Amazon.com. You will get the same online shopping experience, but when you make a purchase, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the charity of your choice! 

2. MATCHING GIFTS

Does your employer have a matching gifts program? Many large employers offer this as a benefit for their staff – they will match your gifts, up to a certain amount, and many will let you give to the charity of your choice! Employers like Microsoft, Boeing, American Express, General Electric and more all have great matching gift programs. If you’re not sure if you company has a donation matching plan, check with your HR manager. It can’t hurt to ask!

3. IN HONOR GIFTS

Give for good! As you think through your Christmas shopping list, consider in-honor giving as an option. Your honoree will normally receive a special magnet and card notifying them of the difference being made in their name…and that’s something you can both feel good about! 

4. PLANNED GIVING

Annuities. Trusts. Tax benefits. Charitable Rollovers. There are endless ways to put your money to work – both for you and your family, and for the charities of your choice. There are even options that will save you money today. But with all the complicated tax codes and legal rules, it’s difficult to know where to start. Consult with your local tax experts. You never know the savings and giving opportunities they might find for you.

5. VOLUNTEER!

Do you have an hour or two to spare? Especially during this time of year, nonprofits are busy, and would love to have an extra pair of hands to share the load! There are hundreds of organizations with volunteer opportunities which would love to have your assistance. Check with your local community foundations – they’re sure to have ideas!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

4 Tips for Teaching Your Child Good Manners

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 12/08/18

Don’t you love when you come across a polite young child that has impeccable manners? Interacting with a child who consistently says “Please” and “Thank you”, and “Excuse me”, is one of the most delightful experiences possible.

Here are a few tips to help your kid be that polite child with great manners:

1. Understand why it’s important

Being polite and having good manners isn’t just for the people who will receive them. Realize that politeness is a social development that is important for your child’s well-being among his peers as well. A kid without good manners is as undesirable to other kids and playmates as it is to adults. If they’re not good at sharing or taking turns, they’re not going to be well-liked by their classmates. Conversely, a child who is well-mannered and polite will have a much easier time making friends, being seen as likable, and enjoying their day-to-day interactions. Consider sending your child into the world with good manners as crucial as sending him into the world with his lunch or sweatshirt, for his own well-being.

2. Give them the lingo

“Please” and “Thank you” are simple phrases and expressions of politeness that even your 2-year-old can manage. He may not fully “get” what he’s saying, or the concept of being polite, but what’s important at this stage is that you’re programming your child to associate the words with how you begin and end an interaction. Your toddler will realize they’re important words because Mom and Dad say them all the time with a smile. This way, long before social graces are a factor to them, the words and concepts are already implanted, and it won’t be a new concept you’re trying to introduce once they’re older. By then, your child will use his manners automatically, whether at home, daycare, a friend’s house, or out in the world.

3. Demonstrate the correct behavior

Give them the tools, then let them see them in action. If you haven’t noticed, children aged 2-4 do a lot of parroting. They’re trying to figure out what the things to say and do are, and what gets what reactions. Politeness both to and around them at this stage is very important, because they will pick up what they observe from you. Let them overhear a lot of “Excuse Me”, “Please”, “Thank You”, and “You’re Welcome”s, to everyone you talk to. This includes to your partner, as well as to your toddler – treat him or her with great politeness, just like you would anyone else. They’re watching and listening, and whatever you do is what they’ll end up doing.

4. Be consistent

For one, you must be consistent with teaching and instilling manners and politeness both in and out of the home. It’s not just for when you’re at a fancy restaurant, church, or a big special event like a wedding or a funeral that they should suddenly be expected to bring out their best manners. Such should be the expectation all the time, everywhere. Similarly, make sure your partner, caregivers, family members, etc., are all on board with this consistency. If your partner allows grabbing toys without saying please or thank you and you don’t, or you allow playing with food at the table but your partner doesn’t, your child has no way of understanding what the overall behavioral expectations are.

Thank you for teaching your child great manners!

Fostering Independence

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 12/02/18

Fostering independence in kids is about teaching them how to make good decisions, and how to do things for themselves. It’s important for you to instill these skills without hovering over them all the time or doing it all for them – i.e. being a “helicopter parent”.

Here are some tips for instilling independence in your children without being a helicopter parent:

1. Provide abundant opportunities to practice making decisions and choices
Big choices and little choices, they all add up to decision-making practice. Let your child start flexing his or her decision-making and independence muscles by giving them a choice between two options that have your approval. Do they want eggs or oatmeal for breakfast? Do they want to go to the museum or the park? Help show them how to weigh options and evaluate the logistics involved in their ideas, and determine whether they still want to do it. Let them choose and then do what they decide on to show they made a good choice.

2. Never do for your child something he can do for himself
Putting his own socks and shoes on may take longer, but build in the extra time so he can do these things himself anyway. Otherwise he will remain overly-dependent on you far longer than he needs or ought to, which isn’t healthy for him or you.

3. Assign age-appropriate tasks
Along those lines, teach your little one to help with his own care for himself and his belongings. Even toddlers are perfectly capable of being taught to clean up after themselves and put their toys away, bring their dirty dishes to the sink, put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, sort laundry, etc.

4. Have routines
If you establish predictable routines, then kids will know what needs to be done every day and night, and can learn to do it on their own. For example, at bedtime, they’ll know they always need to get in their pajamas, lay out their clothes for the next day, and brush their teeth. It makes them responsible for their part in the routine, and eases the workload on the parent while minimizing chaos in the morning and evenings.

5. Don’t swoop in and “fix” everything – let them make mistakes
If your child wants to learn how to do something new, show him how to do it, then set it up and let him try. If it’s imperfect, let it be (so what if there are lumps in the bed? She did it herself! You can teach her how to smooth it out even better tomorrow), or encourage them to do it again. If you’re always there fixing everything the minute it’s imperfect, your child won’t ever get a chance to learn how to do it on his own, and may get discouraged from even trying again. If you see they are getting frustrated or their task is taking longer than it needs to, don’t just take over. Ask if they want your help or help coach them through doing it on their own.

6. Don’t save them from all heartache, discomfort and embarrassment
Kids need to learn the various aspects of life, cause and effect, and what role they can play in each. These things are a part of life; help your kids learn to cope with difficult things or setbacks healthily from the start, rather than trying to save or prevent them from ever encountering them. Having these skills will take them much farther than being packed in an insulated Mom- or Dad-bubble of protection.

It might be hard at first to let your kids deal with some of these things on their own. But remember, independent, self-reliant and encouraged kids are much happier in the short- and long-term than their counterparts who don’t get a chance to develop their independence and resilience for themselves. Help them grow independently from the inside out!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Tips for Teaching Your Child Volume Control

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 11/17/18

As your child grows, it’s important for him or her to learn about personal-volume control, and when to use certain kinds of voices that are appropriate for different situations and environments they are in.

1. Remember that you’re teaching more than just volume control

Teaching your child how to moderate his or her voice’s volume control teaches them other skills as well: self-control, judgment as to what is or is not demonstrating correct behavior. Teach these skills gently and forgivingly in tandem with teaching your child about volume control, and remember they’re only just learning this for the first time so patience and repetition is key, but be mindful that these are great teaching moments for those things as well.

2. Teach by example

Don’t use loud voices in the house or other places you don’t want your child to use his or her loud voice. They are always watching and will learn to mimic whatever behavior you or your spouse are exhibiting in normal life. Remember to be mindful in situations when you may not otherwise think twice about volume control on your own voice, but still sets the example for what is appropriate behavior to model after – yelling for your husband to come help you with something from across the house, or shouting at the referee for a bad call on the sports game. Nuanced situations for you; mixed messaging to your child demonstrating the opposite behavior from what you want to instill.

3. Play whispering games

Playing a whispering game with your child in quiet moments is a great way to teach and reinforce to them what it sounds and feels like to listen to and speak in a low-volume voice. Switch off with speaking in whispers, and turn the volume gradually down as low as you possibly can while still hearing each other. Make it a fun game, and they’ll love the chance to practice their new skill with you!

4. Give them the opportunities to shout it out as well

By letting and encouraging your child to yell and shout at times and in places where appropriate – like the schoolyard, or a playground, or a sports game – not only helps them get their sillies and energy out, but it also helps your child learn that loud voices are appropriate in some environments and situations as well.

5. Don’t call it “indoor/outdoor” voice

Although “Shh let’s use our indoor voices” is a common phrase, perhaps a better way to phrase it to your child is “quiet/regular” or “loud” voice. If your child is at a video game arcade, or a restaurant with lots of play area and games, they’re not expected to use their “indoor voices” only. Similarly, a wedding or a funeral may be outside, but their “outside” voice still wouldn’t be appropriate here.

6. Diversify their experiences

Taking your child to many different environments is a great way to help them practice with making the connection that different places require different volume levels and behaviors. Young children will need reminders, and consistent feedback, but they are also able to distinguish between different environments and situations from a young age. The more practice they get, the better!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

How to Talk to Your Toddler About a Death

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 11/03/18

Death may be a normal and expected part of the circle of life, but it is almost never an easy thing to experience or talk about, and often comes suddenly and without warning. It can be a big experience for a toddler when they encounter death for the first time. Whether it’s a parent, spouse, friend, sibling, or other family member, chances are you’ll be grieving and navigating your own feelings and understanding about the death, and you’ll need to provide information, understanding, and support for your toddler too.

But how do you talk to a little one about death? What are some ways to break the news, provide comfort and support, and include them in any memorial services or funerals without scaring, confusing, or traumatizing them? It’s a big topic, so we’ll cover it in a few installments.

Here are some tips for starters for helping little ones learn about and deal with the death of a loved one, family member, or even just acquaintance to them:

1. Be simple and clear

Don’t get real elaborate or flowery in your words. When you have to tell your toddler that someone has died, say it simply: “I have some sad news. Grandpa died last night.” Give them a moment to process these words before going into anything else. Use direct language, not euphemisms or ways to describe it like, “it’s like Grandpa’s gone to sleep forever,” because you may inadvertently plant fear that if they go to sleep, they’ll die too. You may have the inclination to give them lots of information right away to try to make the process easier for them to understand, etc., and pre-empt their questions so they’re not worried, but it can be helpful to just give them simple words that are easy to understand and give them a little bit to process that first, before moving on further.

2. Be there to listen and be comforting

Kids at a young age don’t have pre-programmed ways to cope or respond to this sort of news, especially if this is their first experience with loss. They may or may not cry, or react at all, they may just have a lot of questions. Take the time to sit with them and answer questions they may have as best you can, or just hang out with them for a while as they work through it. There’s no right or wrong way for them to respond, you’ll just have to play it by ear depending on how they do.

3. Do continue to listen and support for the days, weeks, and months to come

Beyond the first day of the news, and even beyond the services, help your child put emotions into words, and acknowledge your own too. Encourage them to talk about what they’re thinking and feeling after the loss, and share your emotions and thoughts with them too, because it will help them become more aware of and familiar and comfortable with theirs as they continue to process. Sometimes it will take a while for it to kick in the actual implications of the loss – like that “Grandpa dying” means he won’t be there for Christmas or birthdays anymore, or even this year.

Death may never be an easy thing to experience or talk about, but above all let your little one know they’re loved and safe and offer lots of comfort and hugs if needed, and sometimes that’s the best thing you can do.

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

TRICK OR TREAT? Tricks for Dealing With Halloween Treats

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 10/27/18

Children’s Halloween dream -- to get lots of candy -- can be their parents’ nightmare. But pediatric dental experts say Halloween can be a time to teach your children good oral health habits for life, without depriving them of Halloween treats (think moderation). Here are their five best tricks for healthy teeth.

Halloween Candy vs. Cavities: Don’t Make Kids Choose

Don't deny your children the Halloween experience. That can send the entirely wrong message -- deprivation -- and make candy seem even more irresistible, leading to other problems. They may end up sneaking sweets or eating too much candy once they're out on their own. Instead, let them have the joy of Halloween in all its sticky goodness and the experience of going to a party or trick-or-treating.

After your children get back from trick-or-treating or a party, go through their bags of Halloween candy together. Tell them to each pick the 10 or so (whatever number you decide, based on factors such as age) treats they want the most.

Get the unpicked treats out of sight. You can donate them to a food bank or freeze them if you can't bear to throw them out.

This can also be a good time to teach (or remind) children that it isn't just excess sugar that can lead to cavities. Snacks such as pretzels, with starches that stay in the mouth longer, can also lead to cavities, as can fruit juices.

Letting children help decide what is a reasonable amount of candy to keep has benefits beyond good oral health. The message isn't "candy is bad," but that candy and other sweets, in excess, can lead to cavities.

Children learn two important lessons:
How to control their diets That what they eat relates to oral health, not just physical health

Preventing Cavities in Children: 
Set a Treat Time With your child, set a time of day to eat Halloween candy. This ritual “treat time” may last long after Halloween and help promote healthy thinking about treats:

Children learn that eating sweets shouldn’t be an all-day feast. Moderation is key. Knowing they have a specific sweet time can help make children less inclined to think about eating sweets at other times of the day.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN


Halloween Party Songs and Rhymes

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 10/20/18

Five Little Pumpkins

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate (hold up fingers for pumpkins)
The first once said "Oh my! It's getting late"(slap face ala Home Alone)
The second one said, "There are witches in the air"(point)
The third once said " But we don't care"(shrug shoulders)
The fourth once said "Let's have some fun" (throw hand in the air)
Then " Ooooooh" went the wind (say softly)
And OUT when the lights (clap hands to the word "out" and say loudly)

Eight days of Halloween

On the first day of Halloween my true love gave to me:
An Owl in a dead tree
2 trick or treaters
3 ghosts a booing
4 shaky skeletons
5 scary spooks!
6 bats a flying
7 ghouls a groaning
8 witches cackling

Extending preschool learning at home

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 10/07/18

Preschool is a great time for kids to be learning through fun, observation, and play – and the best thing you can do for them is to keep that fun and learning going at home.

Here are some ideas for extending preschool learning at home with your kids:

1. Go on an Observation Walk

Go for a walk together, and as you walk ask them different questions. Ask your child to look at and tell you about different things they see, such as how people are moving: (running, walking, driving, biking), or what things have the color green (grass, house, mailbox, car), or what has a round shape, or things that grow (trees, grass, dogs, people, etc.). Ask things like whether rocks or cars grow to challenge them. Maybe have a theme for each walk, and do lots of walks – maybe few a week, or one a day!

2. Learn science at the museum

Kids often love learning about science at home with parents because it can be a lot of fun doing experiments at home. Find some simple experiments you can do at home (make a bubbling volcano, drop some food coloring in milk or water and see what happens, running a magnet through sand, etc.), then take it to the big time with a trip to a science museum to cap it off. Science museums are great places to learn about electricity, magnets, the body, water and other natural forces, and more!

3. Outdoor Adventure: Bug Hunt

Get your child a magnifying glass and go bug hunting together. Tell them to look closely and carefully at the different bugs and talk about what they see. Ask them questions, like does the bug have many legs or just a few, what kind of bug is it, how does it move around – does it fly, walk, both, or something else, is it fast, slow, etc.?

4. Talk about the Holidays

Instead of just telling them it’s a “holiday” when they don’t go to school, sit down with your child and talk with them about what the holiday is all about. Tell them stories about the holiday and why we celebrate it, and about how different people around the world may celebrate it differently. Or explain that some cultures may not celebrate this holiday but have other, different holidays altogether. Tell them about those holidays when they come around too, even if your family or culture doesn’t personally celebrate them. Try the different traditional foods, dress, customs, songs, etc. with your kids for fun and education. Find fun movies or shows that they might enjoy about the holiday, and watch with them!

5. Go on “Animal Safari” to the Zoo

Kids love animals. A great way to extend their learning at home is to read (or create!) stories to learn about animals. Or you might watch a favorite TV show or movie (Brother Bear, the Jungle Book, etc.) that has plenty of animals in it – then go to the zoo to the see the real thing in person. Have them point out things they observe about their animal friends, like what kinds of ears they have, what kind of skin or fur, how their body is built, etc.

 For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Teaching Your 18-24-Month-Old

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 09/29/18

Many people are curious about what they should be teaching their toddler at each age interval. Toddlers in the 18- to 24-months range are a lot of fun and easy to teach! What they should be learning most can be found in all the teachable moments found throughout the day in just normal life with you.

Toddlers love to be with their parents. They love learning to help and be involved in the household, your life, and the world around them. The best thing you can do to help teach your child things at this age is to enjoy being with them, and just keep sharing and exploring the world with them.

Talking to them throughout the day is especially important. They may not be able to converse back with you yet, but they understand so much more than they can say. Explain and name all the things you’re doing as you go through your daily routine. If you’re putting laundry in the laundry machine, tell your child, “I’m putting laundry in the laundry machine,” etc. They will pick up on what these things mean and start to be able to mimic what you’re doing if you give them verbal instructions.

By 18 months old, you’ve probably found that they’re able to follow simple and even increasingly complex directions or games that you give them. If you just naturally involve them in your activities, they can learn even more, and even start to help out a bit!

Additionally, toddlers often enjoy certain things in batches. If you find that your child is taking an interest in music, indulge that new interest and explore it with him from lots of different angles. You can sing songs to him and play songs on the radio one day. The next day you could make a makeshift instrument out of pots and pans or things that can make a shaker, or play him a real instrument if you have one, show him how to play something simple like the xylophone or a recorder, etc. Another day you could go to a concert in the park, or something of the like. You can read books and stories about music. Or watch a tv show or movie specifically about music, or play a game. Get creative and find all the different angles you can share more about whatever is interesting them.

You can also incorporate life changes in a similar way – if you want to get a small pet for the family, like a fish, you can similarly read books about fish, do fish art, visit the aquarium, do a fish puzzle, cut out fish and fish-related shapes for a storyboard, make fish faces at each other at dinnertime, watch a fish movie (Finding Nemo is always a favorite, of course!), etc., and then follow it all up with the big climax: buying your fish at the pet store and bringing him home!

Teachable moments exist everywhere in everything for an 18-24-month-old. Get as engaged with them as you can, and have fun with it!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Fight the Chill

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 09/22/18

Bundle up…it’s cold outside!

Winter can be such a fun time for kids! Playing outside in the snow, making snowmen and sledding are great activities for family and friends. However, we need to make sure the little ones are properly dressed and protected from the cold weather. Below are some cold weather tips when you are preparing the kids to go to school or just play outside.

Cold Weather Tips

Bundle Up: If your kids wait outside for the bus or play outside during recess, make sure they are wearing proper winter clothing. Warm layers, hats and gloves are needed when playing outside. Lay out long sleeves, sweatshirts, puffy jackets, gloves, hats, socks, boots and anything else your child may need the night before. This reduces the amount of time you spend searching for everything in the morning.

Safety: Yards and hills covered in snow are irresistible for many children. However, before you send them out with sleds, makes sure they are being safe. Sledding down a large hill can be fun but very dangerous for kids if they are reckless. Talk to your kids about safety in the snow and teach them the proper way to play with their snow toys.

Limit outside time: If you notice your child shivering or getting too wet from the snow, bring them inside for a little while to warm up and dry off. You can entice them with a cup of hot chocolate or soup! Bring their temperature up and dry off their clothes before sending them off to play again.

Sunscreen: Just because you aren’t on the beach doesn’t mean the sun can’t still get you! If your kids are outside for a while (especially when the sun is out) put some sunscreen on their little faces to prevent sunburn.

Smiling Stars Daycare