Preschool Benefits Last Into Adulthood, Study Says

July 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Child Development

AP Medical Writer
Published: Thursday, Jun. 9, 2011 – 11:20 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Jun. 9, 2011 – 1:36 pm

CHICAGO — Preschool has surprisingly enduring benefits lasting well into adulthood, according to one of the biggest, longest follow-up studies of its kind.

Better jobs, less drug abuse and fewer arrests are among advantages found in the study that tracked more than 1,000 low-income, mostly black Chicago kids for up to 25 years.

Michael Washington was one of them. Now a 31-year-old heating and air conditioning contractor, Washington attended a year of preschool at Chicago’s intensive Child-Parent Center Education Program when he was 4.

The ongoing publicly funded program focuses on language development, scholastic skills and building self-confidence. It involves one or two years of half-day preschool, and up to four additional years of educational and family services in grade school. Preschool teachers have college degrees and are certified in early childhood education, and parents are encouraged to be involved in the classes.

Washington lived in an impoverished West Side community and has strong memories of preschool field trips to the library, zoo and planetarium where he learned to love science. He says he’ll never forget the strong influence of his preschool teachers.

“You expect your mom and dad to care for you. But when a stranger, who has no ties to you whatsoever, takes the time to invest in you, takes the time to listen, that makes you open your eyes bigger,” said Washington, now living in Blue Island, Ill. “It was real cool.”

Washington got good grades in elementary and high school, and attended two years of college at Chicago State University. Unlike other kids he knew from the neighborhood who didn’t attend preschool, he says he never tried drugs and was never arrested.

The study tracked nearly 900 children into adulthood who attended the program in the early 1980s, and compared them to almost 500 low-income Chicago youngsters, most of whom didn’t attend preschool.

The results were published Thursday in the online version of the journal Science. They bolster findings from similar, smaller studies and show that high-quality preschool “gives you your biggest bang for the buck,” said Dr. Pamela High, chair of an American Academy of Pediatrics committee that deals with early childhood issues. She was not involved in the study.

Though many preschool kids also got extra services in grade school, including intensive reading instruction, the researchers found the most enduring effects, particularly for non-academic success, were due to one or two years of preschool. The authors theorize that those intensive early childhood experiences built intellectual skills, social adjustment and motivation that helped children better navigate their high-risk environments.

To be sure, the challenges facing the children in both groups were still insurmountable to many. As adults, the average annual income for those who went to preschool is less than $12,000 and almost half of them had been arrested as adults. As dismal as those outcomes, the numbers were still better than for the group that didn’t attend preschool. And experts not involved in the study called the results impressive.

“To still show really any advantage for such a long period of time is remarkable and noteworthy,” said Kyle Snow, director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s applied research center.

The study’s lead researcher, Arthur Reynolds of the University of Minnesota, said the differences between the groups are meaningful and translate to big savings to society for kids who attended preschool.

The average cost per child for 18 months of preschool in 2011 is $9,000, but Reynolds’ cost-benefit analysis suggests that leads to at least $90,000 in benefits per child in terms of increased earnings, tax revenue, less criminal behavior, reduced mental health costs and other measures, he said.

“No other social program for children and youth has been shown to have that level of return on investment,” he said.

Among the study results:

-80 percent of the preschool group finished high school versus 75 percent of the others;
-Nearly 15 percent of the preschool group attended a four-year college, versus 11 percent of the others;
-28 percent of the preschool group had skilled jobs requiring post-high school training versus 21 percent of the others;
-Average annual adult income for the preschool group was about $11,600 versus $10,800 for the others. The low average incomes include zero earnings for those in prison and close to that for adults who were still in college or studying elsewhere.
-14 percent of the preschool group had abused drugs in adulthood versus 19 percent of the others;
-48 percent of the preschool group had been arrested in adulthood and 15 percent had been incarcerated, versus 54 percent of the others arrested and 21 percent incarcerated.

The results are based on public records, administrative data and interviews with study participants.
A spokeswoman for Chicago’s public schools noted that newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel committed during his campaign to ensuring that the city’s highest-risk kids have access to early childhood programs. And despite cuts to state early childhood funding, public preschool and kindergarten programs in Chicago have not been slashed for next year, she said.

Arts & Crafts for Kids

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Arts & Crafts

Kids of today’s times take a lot of interest in the arts and crafts sessions in schools. Apart from the interest in kids crafts, these children also have the creativity and talent which is required to be successful in different forms of crafts. Easy crafts for toddlers can help them learn the basics of logical thinking and decision making at a very young age and this will ultimately benefit them when they grow up. Considering the need for quick and easy crafts for kids, almost all schools have craft lectures. Given below are some interesting and simple kids crafts.

Arts & Crafts for Kids

Painting can be one of the best easy crafts for kids. As we know, many kids have the ability to paint well and hence guiding them in the right direction can help them utilize this talent to the fullest. Teachers and parents can give kids some topics and situations and ask them to paint the same. Painting competitions can be the best way to train kids in this art. Prizes should be given to the best performers and you can also consider to arrange for kid’s painting exhibitions to promote these crafts. Along with painting, sculpture can also be an easy craft for kids. By using materials such as cardboard, straws of different lengths and paper clips, they can make straw sculptures easily.

Making Greeting Cards
Making greeting cards can also be among the creative crafts easy for kids. Attractive greeting cards can be made by drawing funny pictures, writing some good content and messages and using crayons and sketch pens in a proper way. Instead of suggesting patterns and giving instructions to make the greeting cards, you should let the kids decide how they can make decorative cards. This activity can be very fun filled and entertaining during festivals such as Christmas. Craft ideas for boys will give you relevant information.

Colored Rice
Colored rice can also be one of the best easy crafts for kids. In order to practice this craft, you will need food color, vinegar and uncooked rice. The first step is to place the rice in a bowl and then add half a teaspoon vinegar to it. Also add four to five drops of the desired color to it. Now, with the the help of a baking sheet, you need to bake the rice for forty minutes and then glue the grains of rice on to a paper by making use of a white colored glue. With the help of this rice you will be able to prepare letters, some other designs as well as numbers.

Photography can be a good craft for kids who are really interested and have the talent and sense for this craft. If your kid is interested in photography, then you can definitely enroll his name in a photography class where he can learn the basics of this craft under the guidance of an experienced photographer. On his birthday, present a fabulous and brand new camera to him as a gift to pursue this craft extensively. Naturalist photography is an interesting branch and can be a full time career for your child when he grows up.

These were some of the easy crafts for kids which your children can try out. Apart from these crafts, scrapbooking, paper crafts which involve making materials out of paper, making plastic items, interior decorating are some other things which they can enjoy. As a parent, you should guide your child at every point to help him deliver best performance every time. Another thing to remember is that these crafts should be continuously practiced to keep the interest of the children alive. All the best for the same!

By Charlie S
Published: 9/4/2010

Interesting Arts and Crafts for Kids

Making a Comic Book
Making a comic book can be one of the easy crafts for kids which they will thoroughly enjoy. For making the comic book, the kids will have to make their own comic characters. For this, the teachers can give some creative suggestions which would be easy for the students to actually implement. Preparing a comic book will require kids to draw pictures, develop a story line for the book, write the dialogues and present the story in an attractive manner. These tasks can be assigned to students considering their abilities for the same. Once the job is over, then one kid can verify whether the comic book has been prepared as per the set guidelines and suggest changes in case of mistakes. This is an art which requires a systematic teamwork and contribution from all the participants.

Preparing Colorful Masks
In school, birthdays are celebrated with full enthusiasm and energy. Often parties which have a specific theme are organized to celebrate the birthdays in a unique way. Wearing attractive masks is a common idea during birthday celebrations. The kids can prepare these masks themselves by using their skills instead of purchasing them ready made from a shop. They can make masks by using materials such as paper, rubber band, crayons, water colors etc. These masks can add to the fun quotient of the kid’s birthday party.

Greeting Cards
Making greeting cards is easy and enjoyable and hence they can be the ideal arts and crafts for kids. The greeting cards can be made of quality paper of different colors. Kids can draw some nice pictures on them and then color them attractively using the sketch pens. If you find sketching too difficult you can consider the idea of making use of stencils for the same. The greeting cards can be given to the concerned person by writing some inspirational quotes which are readily available on the Internet. Hand made greeting cards from kids will receive much appreciation from the people around them.

Gift Wrapping
Though selecting a good gift is essential, the way we wrap it and present it also matters a lot. Kids can take up the craft of gift wrapping by wrapping gifts in decorative materials of various colors. They should take the proper measurements to decide how much decorative material is required for the wrapping and then cut it accordingly with the help of scissors. Once the gift has been wrapped, kids can pack it in a box and have a label with a congratulatory message on it.

These were some of the best arts and crafts for kids to perform. Other than these suggestions, you can find many more new kids crafts by referring to craft books written by noted authors or some renowned websites on the Internet. With a hope that you will utilize this information fruitfully, I would like to sign off here! Good luck!!

By Charlie S
Published: 9/4/2010

Best Toys for Toddlers

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Toys

Toys are an important learning and growing part of any toddler’s life. The kind of toys that are introduced to them in these tender years make a huge impact on their minds and future. These miniature playthings are specifically designed keeping this ideology in mind. During this period, toddlers don’t just grow strong physically, but their physical and intellectual growth is also essential. Along with games and toys made for building their stamina and developing their muscles, certain toys help them understand the world around them, one step at a time. The best toys for toddlers are the kind of toys that are fun, educational, constructive, and creative.

Toddlers, basically between the ages of birth to 3, tend to look at the world in an unparalleled manner, which is altogether different from ours, which is why the kind of toys we bring them into contact with should be carefully selected. Their minds are unbiased towards everything around them and they can grasp onto anything we speak, do, or act in front of them. The variety of toys that are available in stores today can be quite confusing for many. Hence, these fun and educational toys for toddlers mentioned in the article can help smooth things for you. So if you want to know which are the top toys for toddlers, according to their age group, read the article for some helpful suggestions.

Best Toys 2010 for Toddlers

The top picks on baby toys here are given to develop a toddler’s senses and motor skills. The companies that make these classic toys for toddlers also keep these factors into consideration while inventing new toys. And since the concentration on child development has increased in recent years, parents are searching for more education-oriented, creative, and problem solving toys for their kids. Hence, the article will also concentrate on the best toys for toddlers that will enhance and increase their chances of growing to their best.

Best Toys for Toddlers – Up to 12 Months
Babies that are even few months old have the ability to learn and understand their surroundings. These fun and educational toys for infants and children are meant for them to enhance their senses and recognize certain toys.

  • Fisher-Price Classics Two Tune TV
  • Fisher-Price Classics Music Box Teaching Clock
  • Playskool Busy Basics: Busy Poppin’ Pals
  • Fisher-Price Stack & Roll Cups
  • Baby Einstein Baby Neptune Ocean Adventure Gym
  • LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table
  • Bright Starts Start Your Senses Activity Mats
  • Lamaze Freddie the Firefly
  • Tiny Love Classic Development Mobile
  • LeapFrog My Puppy Pal-Scout

Best Toys for Toddlers – 12 to 24 Months
The following toys can grab the kids’ attention with bright colors, large keys, and attractive designs. Also, in these months, they can be introduced to books that teach about words, counting, and stories. And for more best baby toys for 1 year old, read the article.

  • Goodnight Moon Board Book
  • Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Home Playset
  • Fisher-Price Little People Wheelies Stand ‘n Play Rampway
  • First 100 Words Bright Baby Board Book
  • Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway – Ferdinand
  • Imaginarium 75-Piece Wooden Block Set
  • Dusty the Talking Vacuum
  • Fisher-Price Medical Kit
  • LEGO Toy Story 3 Great Train Chase
  • Crayola Beginnings TaDooles in the Tub – Tub Crayons

Best Toys for Toddlers – 2 Years
2 year old kids are really active, like to know about different things, and full of energy. Here are some good toys for 2 year olds that will help them learn new things.

  • Play-Doh: 4 Pack Neon Colors
  • John Deere Turf Tractor with Trailer
  • My Very Own House
  • Boikido Wooden Chunky Clock Puzzle
  • Playmobil 123 Playset: Wild Animal Puzzle
  • Magneatos Jumbo 36 Piece Set
  • Melissa & Doug Deluxe 50 Piece Wooden ABC/123 Blocks Set
  • Step2 Basic Rhythms Piano
  • Colors & Letters Karaoke CD+G
  • Imaginarium 5-Way Giant Bead Maze Cube

Best Toys for Toddlers – 3 Years
3 years; you baby is getting really big. Give your child the opportunity to think and dream big. Let them learn whatever they want, may that be music, drawing, painting, or singing. Here are the some fun toys for toddlers who are now 3 years of age.

  • Crayola 52 Count Sidewalk Chalk Bucket
  • LEGO Gift Building Set-House
  • Imaginarium 75-Piece Wooden Block Set
  • Imaginarium Alphabet & Numerals 36 foot Foam Puzzle Mat
  • Radio Flyer Big Flyer with Safety Flag
  • Crayola Magnetic Double Easel
  • Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wire Puzzle Rack
  • Nerf N Sports Classic NFL Football-Dallas Cowboys
  • Fisher-Price Let’s Get To Work Handy Manny Figure
  • Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set

Well, we have reached the end of our list of best toys for toddlers. Hope the article was helpful and informative enough to help you decide which toys to choose for your kid.

By Sheetal Mandora
Published: 9/6/2010

Best Toys for 1 Year Old Kids

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Toys

As the first birthday approaches, kids begin to become more and more active, not to mention naughtier by the minute. At such a stage, it is very important to keep the child occupied with some good toys. Toys are the medium through which the baby receives his/her physical exercise. Also, with the help of some creative toys, even the brain of the child begins to develop. Hence, we can say that buying some of the best baby toys for 1 year old kids should serve a dual purpose. Not only should they be interesting and entertaining to the children, they should also help in teaching them small, but important and basic things about their surroundings. And with the rate at which kids are maturing these days, it is not really difficult to teach them. So why not see what are the best toys for 1 year olds? Let’s read on…

Best Toys for 1 Year Old Kids

Today, there are so many varieties of toys available in the market, that it really becomes a task to select that one perfect toy for a child. But still, let us make an attempt to see the general ‘types’ of toys that can be bought for 1 year olds.

Vehicles: By vehicles I do not mean the miniature cars and other toys which have small parts. I mean the big ones. Cars, trucks, tractors, dumpers, etc. Choose from the myriad range of toy vehicles available. Most of them are battery operated and move around with lights blinking and emitting shrill sounds. They are probably the best toys for 1 year old boys.

Big Dolls: Giant dolls are one of the best toys for 1 year old girls. They are pretty, colorful and help the girls identify with them. Don’t be surprised if you see your little angel imitating you and trying to put her doll to sleep by singing a gurgling lullaby. You are, after all her first role model.

Fitting Toys: Another pick from the best toys for 1 year olds. For some reason, kids love to either hide things that are outside, or if things are inside, they like to take them out. So, get them a set of plastic cups or containers in different sizes. How they while away their time putting them inside each other, and removing them again, is indeed boggling.

Musical Instruments: It’s never too early to begin imbibing culture into your toddler. And music is one of the inherent parts of culture. So get them a toy drum set, or a toy guitar and watch as they bang and strum around in glee.

Pushers: 1 year olds are on a sort of threshold in their lives. Relax, it’s just that they are soon going to learn (or probably already have begun learning) to walk. You can assist them in this process by buying them some toys like walkers, grocery carts, a movable tea set, etc.

Rocking Toys: No childhood is complete without the classic rocking toys. It could be a pony or any other animal. A rocking crib with a toy mobile hung over it is also a good toy for a 1 year old. They are one of the classic toys for toddlers!

Noisy Toys: These toys may highly annoy you, but when you see that little face light up, like a million light bubs, at the sound that noisy toys emit, you forget everything about the high decibel levels. Take your pick from toys like dolls, vehicles, squeezies, rattles, toy cell phones, etc. and give your kid the best!

Fruits and Vegetables: This, most of you will agree, is one of the best educational toys for children. Get a basket of attractively colored false fruits and vegetables. Pick each one out and teach your little one each fruit’s and vegetable’s name. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they pick it up!

That was my take on some of the best toys for 1 year olds. If you have any ideas, they are more than welcome. Tell us about them too, so we can exchange the happiness of making the babies and toddlers as happy as can be!

By Sujata Iyer
Published: 9/6/2010

When do Babies Start to Roll Over?

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Child Development

Both the mom and dad are so excited on getting their bundle of joy that they start wondering when the baby will have control over its head, when the baby will roll over, though they know that they are unnecessarily worrying about it. Each baby needs support under his head and neck, for at least the first two months. A 6 to 8 week healthy and strong baby is able to raise his head slightly while lying on his back. While carrying the baby on your shoulder, it can be noticed that he has got little control over his head and can hold up the head shakily, at least for a few minutes. This is the time when child development will slowly pick pace and your baby will try to roll over on side. Since the question ‘when do babies roll over’ is lingering in your mind, here is the required answer.

When do Babies Start to Roll Over?

The average age of babies to roll over is 3 months. When the baby is about three months old, he will use his arms for support and will lift his head high, when placed on stomach. This mini-pushup exercise strengthens the muscles that are used to roll over. “Around three months” is the simple answer to the question “when do babies roll over on side”. Rolling over is one of the important developmental milestones in a baby’s life.

If the question, “when do babies roll over from stomach to back” is lingering in your mind, then let me tell you that though the answer is three months, it should be borne in mind that the time taken to learn the skill of rolling over may be different for every baby. When placed on back, the baby will amaze you and himself, the first time he rolls over on its side. It is easier for babies to flip from front to back first, but doing it the other way is perfectly normal and equally possible. Your baby will naturally develop his leg, neck, back, and arm muscles while learning to roll over. Once the baby starts rolling over on side, he will try to flip from back to front or front to back. The question, “when do babies roll over both ways” will not haunt you as the baby will soon demonstrate his skills. At 5 months your baby will be strong enough to lift his head high easily, perform push-up exercises on his arms, and raise his back to lift his chest off the ground. It’s a pleasure to watch the baby swaying on his stomach, kicking his legs, and swimming with his arms. All these exercises help strengthen the muscles and are required for quick rolling over in both directions. By the time he’s about 6 months old, he will able to roll over both ways (stomach to back and back to stomach). By the end of the seventh month, the baby will effortlessly roll over both ways.

Motivation and Encouragement

You can encourage your baby to develop new skills through play. You may lie down next to him on one side and encourage him to roll over to get closer to you. If you notice that the baby is trying to roll over, you may wiggle a toy or clap next to the side he is about to roll to. Applauding and smiling will motivate him to learn new skills. Some babies develop skills slowly, there is nothing to worry about this. Rolling over is really fun, but you need to take all the baby safety precautions. Never leave your baby alone and unattended on a bed or table or any other elevated surface. While trying to roll over, the baby may fall down. You should always keep your hand on him during diaper changes, as a measure of baby care. His first rolling-over experience should be enjoyable for him and for you too, it should not result in a serious injury.

It is a fact that most babies roll over within six months but it is also possible that your baby skips ‘rolling over’ altogether and moves on to sitting and lunging. Every baby is a unique baby. Let your baby develop at his own pace. You can always consult the pediatrician if you think your baby is lagging behind. He is the best person to evaluate your baby’s development. As the question, “when do babies roll over” was swirling in your mind, I have tried to provide the answer. I hope you find the information useful.

By Leena Palande
Published: 9/29/2010

Fun Kids Party Games and Activities

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Kids Games

If you have planned a party to which lots of kids are invited, you have to think of some interesting ways to keep them occupied! Although there will be the scrumptious party food to hold their attention, still for most kids parties equal to fun time. And what better way to make the kids enjoy themselves than by planning some interesting party games for them. So, for all those who are looking for some engaging kids party games, given below are the most interesting ones.

Banned Movements
Ask all the players to stand in a circle. Next, instruct them on the rules of this fun games for kids. The players have to follow all the movements that you (or any child you choose as leader) make while standing in the middle of the circle. Say, if you clap twice, the children have to do the same and so on. Except for when you make two “banned movements”. These banned movements are pre-decided, say when you touch your nose and when you waive your left hand. When you make these movements, the children can make any movement but not the one that you are making. Those players who forget this rule and repeat these “banned movements” after you, are declared “out”. Tip to make this party games for kids even more interesting – the leader should make rapid movements!

Impromptu Talent Show
Another of the fun indoor party games is an impromptu talent show. To play this game, you need to prepare a number of paper chits on which things like “dance for two minutes” “jump fifty times” “sing a song” “act like a monkey”, etc. are written. Fold these chits and place them in a container. Ask the kids to sit in a circle and pass the container as the music is played. When the music stops, the player who has the container, has to pick one chit and do whatever is written on it. As the kids indulge in this impromptu talent show, it can be quite a treat to watch them!

Water Race
If you are looking for some interesting outdoor kids party games, then a relay water race fits the bill completely. For this game, some of the things you will need are buckets filled with water, sponges and a large bowl. Divide the kids into teams of three to four each. Give each of the teams a bucket of water. At a distance of about twenty feet, place the empty large bowl for each team. The kids, with the help of the sponge, have to soak water from the bucket, run towards their team’s large bowl and squeeze out the water in it. The rule of the game is that all kids have to participate, so as soon a kid comes back after squeezing out the water, he has to hand over the sponge to the other kid in his team and so on. The team which fills its bowl first is the winner of this outdoor party games for kids.

Left Toe Right Toe
This game is played with two children at a time. The players have to take off their footwear and sit down on the floor. Next, place two plates in front of the kids. One of the plates is empty, while the other has ten grapes. Now, the kids have to pick up the grapes one by one and place them in the empty plate. The catch is that they can not use their hands, they can either pick up the grapes with their mouth or their toes and place them in the other plate. The participant who finishes first is declared the winner of this indoor party games for kids.

Besides the ones mentioned above, you can keep some of the familiar kids party games, such as musical chairs, scavenger hunt, Chinese whispers, dumb charades and freeze, which the kids already know of and thus will immensely enjoy. When planning kids birthday party games, make sure that you give away prizes to each and every kid. Although, there will be some winners and some losers, but to keep the spirits of all kids high, give everybody a candy or a goody bag, to take home the happy memories!

By Aastha Dogra

How To Successfully Teach Your Toddler To Use The Toilet

September 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Potty Training

Date Published: 03rd September 2010

Author: hankdaly

Sometimes toilet training can be a difficult and frustrating task. This article offers some tips to parents and carers to increase their success at toilet training a child.
What are the ten tips for toilet training?

1) Consistency: It is very important that you are steady and unrelenting in your task to toilet train your child. It will not always be easy and there will be times when it is tempting to go back to using nappies, don’t. If you do the child will become uncertain about what they are being told and your efforts will lose their strength and the training will lose its effectiveness.

2) Praise and Rewards: Giving the child support and encouragement goes a long way. It’s a step for the child into new territory and they will benefit from your support and encouragement.

3) Boundaries: Take your time to get it right. Too soon and it may fail. Wait for the right time and there will be much greater chance of success. Look for the signals that the child is ready before taking off the nappies at night.

4) Routine: Follow a steady routine that is not too quick and rushed. Give the child plenty of time and endeavour to remind your child about using the toilet as often as you can.

5) Explanations: Explain the process as clearly as you can to the child. Give demonstrations and talk them through it so they are fully aware of how it feels when they need to go. Teach them about cleanliness too.

6) Warnings: Ask the child if they need to go continuously throughout the day, so they have plenty of warnings.

7) Discipline: It is unnecessary to discipline them, accidents will happen. Use positive reinforcement to encourage them.

8) Restraint: Don’t get angry with them if they are not doing what you’d like. Give them space and privacy if they require it.

9) Relaxation: Be calm and friendly in your attitude to toilet training.

10) Responsibility: Teach your child to do things by themselves, such as wiping and washing.