Summer Ideas from EC Parent Advisory Council

The Early Childhood Programs at Hopkins have a parent advisory council which has been instrumental in creating positive experiences for our families.  By volunteering to work with this group, you are able to give back to the early childhood programs your child so enjoys.  In addition, you have the opportunity to meet and befriend active and engaged parents from your school district.  The advisory council is a great way to make a difference in the lives of your children and the children of your community.

The advisory council has created a facebook page which offers a list of summer activities and events going on throughout the Hopkins School District area.  It is updated regularly to reflect the many wonderful family friendly opportunities that summer-hungry children are looking for.  For example, they have recently provided information and links to activities such as the Golden Valley puppet wagon, the Paws to Read library program and the farmer’s markets being offered in the area.

Intrigued and looking to find out more?  Follow this link to the council’s Facebook page:

Early Childhood Advisory Council Facebook Page

This council is comprised of a dedicated, hard working group of people invested in helping their children and the community’s children get the most out of their early childhood school experience, and they have a great time doing it!  If you are interested in learning more about the council, and possibly volunteering, feel free to call the Harley office to be connected with Christine Fehst, our coordinator, at 952.988.5000

Reggio-Inspired Preschool Program Openings for Fall 2011

Needing quality, engaging, preschool programming for your child? Hopkins Public Schools has two choices to meet your family needs…

Part-day, part-week Kaleidoscope Preschool classes are available for children ages 3-5 at our Harley Hopkins location.  Call 952.988.5000 for more information or to register.

Looking for full-time programming for your year before kindergartener?  We’ve only a few openings still available for fall in the Hopkins Public Schools Stepping Stones program located at Gatewood Elementary School!  Open 6:45 am to 6 pm, Mondays through Fridays.  Check us out at www.choose!


How To Get From Here To There (Safely)

Summer is full of play dates and camps and vacations and adventures.  Because of all the activities, parents often spend a lot of time in the family car. The Hopkins Early Childhood Staff would like to send a reminder to all families that car seat safety is an important issue for every ride in the car –even when it feels like it will be such a short trip that the fight over getting buckled up is just not worth the time.

Children perform at their best when they know they are expected to follow a consistent routine. Therefore, keeping the routine of buckling into the car seat or the booster each time you enter the car will eliminate the arguments that begin with “But you let me last time!”

There have been significant shifts in the laws and recommendations over the last few years, so a review of what is now recommended may be in order. A rear facing car seat is where your infant should sit, in the backseat of the car, until she has reached the manufacturer’s maximum height or weight requirement. This means that a twenty pound baby who is one year old is not automatically turned around to a forward facing car seat. Instead, that child would remain rear facing until she reaches the limits of the car seat’s capacity. Only after she exceeds these limits would she be placed in a forward facing car seat (remaining in the back seat of the car).

For more information on the most up-to-date recommendations for car seats, read the information provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

A booster seat is recommended after the child outgrows the maximum weight or height capacity for her forward facing car seat.  In Minnesota, the booster is then used (in the backseat) through the age of seven, unless that child is already 4’9″.  Because a seat belt is made for an adult shaped body, the booster seat allows the child to be correctly positioned within the belt in case of an accident.  For this reason, some recommendations go beyond the age limit or height limit and offer a “positioning survey” instead.  By meeting all the requirements of the survey, the parent is assured that the child is safely clicked in with a seat belt alone. Some children do not meet all the requirements until they are ten or twelve years old. Find the survey at SafetyBeltSafeUSA, and click on “Boosters and Belt Fit: 5-Step Test, located under the Parents’ Corner heading.

Minnesota has recently revised it’s laws to better align them with updated recommendations.  Learn about the legal requirements for car seats at the web site for the Office of Traffic Safety, which is a division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Nobody wants to be stuck in a car on a beautiful summer day, and so bicycle riding is becoming more and more common throughout the neighborhoods. Minnesota is a city that welcomes bikers of all ages, and generally accommodates recreational as well as commuter biking. Help those stuck in cars while you are feeling the wind in your hair by following the bike safety recommendations of the NHTSA–and don’t forget that a properly fitted helmet is important for protecting your brain.

Have a safe summer!

Building Cooperation at the Playground?

Our young children are exuberant when the summer sunshine fills the air.  Running, shouting, sliding, digging, swimming, jumping……cooperating?

Parents remember that rush of freedom when we as children were finally able to spend those lazy days at the playground or the community pool.  We remember the long afternoons of playing together with the neighborhood kids and the thrill of feeling unbridled by responsibilities.  We want our children to have that same sense of summertime freedom, but we also need to temper that with our expectations for appropriate behavior.  If we were able to REALLY look back on the “good old days” we would remember that it wasn’t all just fun and games–we still had chores and routines and bedtimes and the opportunity to experience discipline when we pushed the limits too far.

In the words of one wise woman I know, a child’s summertime experience should be like that of lying in a hammock. The child is able to lay suspended and feel as though he is floating in the summertime breeze of carefree cloud watching.  However, that hammock needs to be suspended between two strong trees.  The trees are what keeps the child secure in his floaty dreaminess and also grounded to the expectations of the world around him.  If the trees that hold the hammock are not strong and tall, the suspension of the child comes crashing down with a rude bump!

How to build cooperation and maintain an expectation of positive behavior throughout these months?  The early childhood staff at Hopkins have access to some helpful hints provided through the Family Information Services organization.  Use these techniques to help your family work together to build cooperation into your lifestyle.

1. When observing a problem, make a simple statement and wait for your child to respond. (They often do!)
Example: “Your crayons are on the floor” or “Your hands are so dirty from playing in the garden.”

2. Use Grandma’s Rule:  You may _____________ after you ________________.
Example: “You may play outside with your friends after you have cleared your plate from the table.”

3. Give clear instructions. Be more explicit than you would be with an adult.
Example: Rather than “Get ready to go” say “But your sandals on, put your hat on your head, and pick up your beach bag.”

4. Give a choice.  Allow for just two options. Be willing to accept either option.
Example: “Would you like to read a book under that tree or here on the blanket?”

5. Make it brief–limit your request to just a few words.
Example: “Let’s pick up your blocks.” or “We will leave the park after one more slide.”

6. Make something talk–use a funny puppet voice.
Example:  “I’m such a lonely beach shovel, I wish I could sit inside my beach bucket!”

7. When you say it is time to go, mean it.  Offer a warning about the impending departure, and then follow through.
Example: “We will leave the park after I push you on the swing three more times.  3…..2…….1. Time to go. I know it is sad to leave the park.”

8. Ask helpful questions. Children feel competent (and cooperative) when they can demonstrate they know the answer.
Example: “There is spilled lemonade on the table. How will we solve this problem?”

9. Use humor.
Example: Sing a silly song about what you would like the child to do.  Suggest both you and the child “dance” or “hop” or “wiggle” your way through a task

10. Stick to your routine as best you can.  Summer requires flexibility, but children also need to feel a certain amount of consistency throughout their day to feel secure about what to expect.  Feeling better allows children to act better.
Example: “We are having such a great time on our nature walk. We are going inside after we collect one more leaf because it is nap time.”

Enjoy your summer, and help your child to enjoy themselves too by balancing the freedom of this wonderful season with the expectation of cooperation with your family’s limits, rules and routines.