What Nutritional Needs Does Your Child Have?

From birth to adulthood, children need the right foods in order to grow and thrive. The brain needs the right nutrition to think correctly and the heart needs the right foods to stay healthy.

The nutritional needs of a child are constantly changing as he ages, and the nutritional needs have to be adjusted whenever there is a growth spurt – such as puberty. When a child does not eat right, it does not just affect him now. If it continues, not eating the right kinds of foods can have lasting effects if not corrected.

Food is energy – and the right foods contain the vitamins and minerals a child needs to do well in life. Poor nutrition affects children physically, behaviorally and mentally. The way a child eats now can play a role in his health as an adult.

Not eating right affects a child’s learning skills and shows up in difficulty paying attention and poor academic performance. A child’s social skills are affected, too. When he is not eating right, his ability to communicate is affected, he will be sluggish and poor nutrition can cause stunted growth and a poor ability in sports or group activities with his peers.

Having a poor diet can lead to a weakened immune system and prevent a child from being able to fight off illnesses. Another danger with children and nutrition is through forced extreme diets.

Any diet that completely removes any food group from the list is dangerous. Diets that are bad for children are diets that are too high in fiber, fad diets, low dairy and low fat or low carb diets.

Children cannot thrive on a diet created with an adult’s nutritional needs in mind. If your child is struggling with a weight problem, focus on eating balanced meals, healthy snacks and moving more physically.

A child’s nutritional needs can be completely met by serving him a diet that is balanced with correct servings for his age from the five food groups. Every child needs a healthy breakfast to start the day right.

Eating breakfast helps children pay attention in school and it also helps with memory and cognitive skills. Breakfast helps prevent irritability and lethargy. Children who eat a poor breakfast or skip it all together are more at risk for weight struggles.

It can be difficult to get picky eaters to want to eat healthy foods of any kind, and one way to get around that is to limit the foods offered to your child to primarily healthy choices, instead of nothing but instant junk food.

But offer him some choices, otherwise, it can become a power struggle. Do not make food boring. Use shapes, colors and colorful, fun dishes to serve the food on. Put vegetables into casseroles, soups and put fruit into blended fruit drinks or cereal.

What Are The Best Early Reading Strategies?

Has your child been showing an increasing interest in reading? Want to know the best early reading strategies to give her a head start on school? Here is an outline of the very best – and easiest – early reading strategies that you can use to help your child start building the foundation they need to start reading, giving them a head start on their education and development.

One of the best early reading strategies you can practice with your child is to read with them and as you repeat the words, follow along with your finger. When children first begin taking an interest in reading, they have little idea that those funny looking squiggles on the page actually mean something.

By following along as you read, perhaps even pausing to sound out a word or two on the way, you will help your child to better grasp the concept of the fact that those marks on the page actually represent what is being read.

If you have already begun working with your child on recognizing her alphabet, then you can make this method even more effective by asking her if she can recognize any of the letters on the page. As she points to the letters she knows, make a point to sound them out, and repeat them along with their companions in whatever word is in question.

Another great early reading strategy is helping your child associate words with their picture counterparts. Children often have a difficult time understanding that words represent things – so by reinforcing the two together in their mind, you will help them to understand that the word and the picture are one and the same.

There are many flashcards you can purchase to help your child when it comes to word and picture recognition. Think about everything you have seen regarding “A is for Apple.” In addition to the memorization a child must endure when it comes to remembering all of the many shapes and sounds of letters, it is important to remember that reading comprehension is an important part of the reading process as well.

One of the best early reading strategies is to help build your child’s reading comprehension. You do this by reading a portion of their favorite story, and then asking them questions which will get them involved in the story.

As your child begins to build their ability to answer more questions about the portion of text in question, read longer portions of the book before stopping. Gradually increase the amount you read before asking questions about the story, until you are able to read the entire book and your child can still recall the parts of the story which correlate to the questions you ask.

The most important early reading strategy you can remember is to read to your child – often. The more you read to your child, the more words she will begin to understand, and the more of an interest she will take in the reading process. It is recommended that no less than 15 minutes a day be spent reading to your child – and more is always better when it comes to instilling a love of books in your child’s heart.

Try These Early Reading Activities To Bolster Your Child’s Reading Confidence

Many parents are looking for activities that will help to boost a child’s early reading skills. Here are the top three favorite early reading activities which will not only help you build your child’s early reading skills, but will also help you build his confidence. Each of the following early reading activities should be done together with your child, and can be made even more effective by involving your entire family.

Create Picture-Text Flashcards Together

One of the most important things about reinforcing your child’s early reading skills is being able to help him to understand that there is a correlation between words and pictures. A great way to do this is to create picture and text flashcards together with your child.

The best way to start is to collect several old magazines and have your child go through and identify several pictures that he likes. Clip these out, and help him to glue them to 3×5 index cards. As you glue the pictures to the cards, have your child name each picture and show him how to print the name of the object on the back of the card.

To play, first have your child name the object on the front of each card, and then show him how to sound out the word on the back. As your child gains more confidence, he will begin to identify the words on the backs of the cards more easily. As he does, begin showing him the words on the backs of the cards first to see how many he can identify and sound out without first seeing the pictures.

Writing Letters Together

Another great way to bolster your child’s confidence is to sit and write letters to family members together. Have your child dictate the letter to you, and then holding his hand, help him to trace out the letters for each word.

As your child begins to understand that the letters you are having him write are actually the words he is saying, they will quickly begin to cement in his mind, and you will find that he will actually begin to attempt to write certain words on his own after a while.

Alphabet Memory And Matching

An alphabet memory and matching game is a great way to help your child improve his early reading skills and to bolster his self-confidence in those skills. The best way to do this is to have him help you create two sets of index cards with the letters of the alphabet printed on the back of each one in bright colors. Have him name each letter as you help him to form it.

Once you have both sets completed, lay one set, letter side down on a table in front of your child, and the other letter side up. As your child turns over a single card from the upside down pile, have him match it to its mate on the other side. You can also help to boost your child’s memory, by placing both sets face down on the table, and having him attempt to find pairs one set at a time.

Always remember that with any sort of activities for boosting your child’s early reading skills that it is important to be generous with your praise when your child does well. By praising your child each time he correctly identifies a word, you are helping to further cement that word into his brain. Not to mention that the more praise he receives, the more he will try to truly commit to heart the words and letters in your early reading activities.

Toys For Kids With Speech And Language Disabilities Or Delays

Kids who have speech and language disabilities have a hard time learning things that other kids are learning at the same age. One of the best ways to help them understand words, colors, and phrases better is by investing in toys that will allow them to learn how to pronounce words in an easier way.

Wooden block letter sets are some of the best used toys for kids with speech and language disabilities. There are several different ways you can use letter blocks to help kids.

Many wooden letter blocks have pictures of items that begin with the letter for that object on the other sides. For example, the letter A might have a picture of an apple, ape or ant.

Letter blocks that come with pictures help the kid to remember the letter and what words it can be used to start. You can also purchase wooden blocks with numbers on them. Melissa & Doug has a fifty piece set of letter and number blocks that helps kids learn.

Magnetic letters are perfect for kids who need a little bit of help in the speech and language area. Magnetic letters allow your kid to keep the letters on a magnetic board or the refrigerator and rearrange them as they learn.

It is best to get letters that are brightly colored because it makes learning more fun. Another great toy to help your kid learn is See and Spell by Melissa & Doug.

It comes with sixteen wooden pictures with empty spaces where letters should be. For example, the toy comes with a wooden piece with a picture of a frog on it. Next to the picture is the word “frog” spelled out in the empty space.

The kid finds the letters that match with the hollowed out space and places them inside, creating the word that matches with the picture. This is a fun way for a kid to work on memorization skills and learning words that fit with pictures.

If your kid learns better by hearing first, check out the LeapFrog Text and Learn toy. Kids can press a letter button on the keyboard and the toy will call out words that begin with that letter as well as words that rhyme with it.

It also has educational games that help kids learn how to spell small words and sound out letters. The Text and Learn toy is perfect for kids with speech and language disabilities because it helps kids learn how letters and words are pronounced. It is great for those kids who love to play with cell phones or love noise makers.

Toys For Kids With Sensory Integration Disorder

Moon sand is among the highest rated toys for kids with sensory integration disorder. Moon sand does not dry out and is light to the touch. It can be used several times over and it is safe to sanitize it if you need to.

Moon sand also comes in several different colors including white, blue, purple, and pink. It is great for kids who shy away from touching anything and ones who love to pick up everything in sight.

For a toy that is better for developing motor skills, check out a Koosh ball. Koosh balls are squeezable and are also used as stress balls. They are about three inches in diameter, so they are great even for littler kids, but only recommended for those who are three or older.

It contains natural latex rubber so it has a nice feel and smell to it. Koosh balls come in several different colors and designs so kids can have their pick of them. Another type of ball to look into is a sensory ball.

Sensory balls are similar to Koosh balls, but they are not as soft. Sensory balls are more for bouncing and they are bigger than something a toddler could squeeze. The unique texture that the balls have is perfect for kids of all ages and work well with games like monkey in the middle.

They can also be used for juggling and playing a game of catch as well. They come in different colors and sizes. For those who do not want to play with a ball, but need something for their hands, Perplexus is a toy to check out.

It is a puzzle inside of a sphere that you have to solve by turning and flipping the sphere. There are several different puzzles to purchase, including one called an Epic one that has been labeled as one of the most difficult ones to solve.

Perplexus puzzles help kids develop dexterity and motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination. Because the sphere is smooth, it‘s perfect for those who do not want a lot of texture on their toys.

For younger kids with sensory integration disorder, there is the Kidoozie Hop and Squeak Pogo Jumper. This Pogo Jumper comes with comfort grip handles and can be used both indoor and outdoor. Even though it is in the kids’ section, it can be used by teenagers also.

The jumpers have wide bottoms so kids will not have to fight to keep their balance when using them. The jumpers hold up to 250 pounds so any kid can enjoy a turn on it. It works great for high sensory seekers and kids who have low muscle tone.

Toys For Hearing Or Vision Impaired Kids

Kids who have hearing or vision impairment find it more difficult to play some of the same games that other kids play. They also have a hard time when playing with certain toys.

There are plenty of games and toys you can invest in that will help kids with impairments to be able to learn and have fun at the same time. Tobbles are little spheres that come in packs of six.

Kids can balance and stack them any way they please. They are brightly colored, which makes it better for the vision impaired. They are weighted and have two different textures.

Tobbles are great for kids to learn about different colors as well as size sequencing. They help teach kids patience as well as improve motor skills. LEGO Duplo is another colorful toy you will want to invest in.

LEGO Duplo helps to teach kids their sizes, colors and shapes with all the different blocks and scenes. You can buy several of these and each one is unique with different scenes including, my first fire station, my first garden, and my first circus.

The blocks can be put together by two or more people but can also be put together by one kid. The toy promotes imaginative play, but does not involve a lot of talking.

For kids that are hearing impaired, there is a great set of sign language letters that can help them to be able to master sign language. WonderFoam Magnetic Sign Language Letters have red vowels and blue consonants. They can be used by kids as young as three.

Silly Faces Magnetic Fun sets allow kids to make faces using the different characteristics included in each tin that you purchase. They can create faces with mustaches, glasses, hats, noses and more.

The Learning Journey Learn with Me Color Fun Fish Bowl has two different modes that are great for visually impaired kids. This toy teaches your kid colors through sound. When a kid puts the colorful fish into the fishbowl, the bowl announces the color.

Another great toy is the Learning Journey Count & Learn Cookie Jar. This toy has two modes that will teach kids about their numbers. This speak aloud toy lets kids learn counting skills. It enables them to sharpen their problem-solving skills.

LeapFrog Letter Factory Phonics is great for visually impaired kids. This toy comes with all the letters of the alphabet and each of the letters sings its name as it is put into the letter factory. This teaches kids phonics and helps them to learn letters based on feeling the shape of the letter.

Top 5 Tips To Help Increase Your Child’s Early Reading Skills

Looking for the best ways to help improve your child’s early reading skills? Want to give your child a head start on their education by helping them to become an early reader? Here are the top five tips for helping your child to increase his or her early reading skills, and get a head start on their education:

1. Use Flashcards With Text And Pictures
One of the best things you can do to help increase your child’s early reading skills is to purchase or create flashcards which incorporate both pictures and text. By reinforcing your child’s recognition of pictures with the word that corresponds to it, you can help them to better understand that words mean something – that they represent something more than squiggles on a page.

2. Make Reading A Family Event
With all of the new toys on the market these days that will read to your children for you, it is easy for parents to forget that their children need to actually be read to on a repeated basis by a live person.

Not only should you make a point to read to your child on a regular basis, you should also get your whole family involved in the process. Taking a family outing to the library is a great way to get your child excited about reading.

3. Start Early Teaching Them To Write
Even though your children may not yet understand the purpose of letters, it is never too early to start teaching them their alphabet. Children love learning to write their names, so teaching them to print early is a great way to enhance their reading skills.

Even if they do not understand the full concept of the letters, they are easily able to recall the fact that certain letters mean their name if you work with them long enough. Children will begin to develop their writing skills on their own.

Most children will start pretending to write long before they actually understand what letters are. Once you notice your child doing this, it is a good sign that he or she is ready to start learning to write their name.

4. Teach Your Child Phonics
One of the biggest mistake that parents, and even some teachers, make is failing to teach their children phonics. Teaching phonics is actually a much simpler process than many would have you to believe. It is no more than teaching your child the sounds that individual letters and letter combinations make.

By teaching your child what each letter sounds like, and teaching them to sound out words as they read, you will be giving them a tool which will help them throughout each level of their education.

5. Be Consistent
If you are serious about increasing your child’s early reading skills, then the most important thing you can do is remember to be consistent. Children need repetition in order to solidify the sounds of words and letters in their heads, as well as the concepts that words create.

By making sure that you make reading a part of their daily life, you are helping to reinforce these concepts in your child’s mind, and allowing them to grasp more difficult concepts earlier than their peers who do not experience this repetition.

Above all else, the most important thing to remember if you want to increase your child’s early reading skills is to make the reading process fun. If your child sees that you enjoy reading, both to them and to yourself, they will take a greater interest in the process and learn much more quickly.

The Best Toys For Kids With Autism

When it comes to buying toys for kids with autism, make sure to focus on toys that will stimulate their senses. Because most kids with autism have sensory problems, they have to be introduced to tangible things in a non-threatening way and in such a way that they can understand and remember.

Kids with autism sometimes have a difficult time with social interactions. Board games are an excellent way to teach kids about sharing, taking turns, and listening to others.

Give Me 5 is a board game with eight different categories for social skills. The categories are targeted to help kids learn about themselves and each other. For example, some of the categories include calming emotions, the big picture, what others are thinking and self-presentation.

The game uses role-playing and visual cues to analyze social scenarios that kids may come across or have already come across. The game is intended for ages eight and up.

You can also check out construction sets or LEGO blocks that allow kids to build houses, buildings and more. There are sets where a kid can build a castle or airplane.

Building things helps a kid learn to work with instructions and directions to get the desired result. A lot of kids with autism have a hard time following verbal instructions so learning to work on building something can help increase the kid’s awareness of needing to follow directions.

A lot of kids with autism have difficulty learning words for senses. 3D Feel and Find by Guide Craft is a great toy for those who have problems with the senses, particularly the touch sense.

Feel and Find comes with twenty multi-colored wooden blocks that are shapes, people, or animals as well as the wooden panels that match them. With Feel and Find, the multi-colored blocks are put in a bag and your kid pulls out one of the shapes and matches it with a wooden shape.

Being able to identify a shape by the feel rather than by sight of it will help your kid learn and memorize what they are. Another great toy to use is Melissa and Doug’s Sandwich Stacking game.

This can be played alone or with a partner. The game comes with twenty cards and fourteen sandwich fillings along with four slices of bread. The bread is designed to be used as gloves, but they do not have to be worn if the kid does not want to.

The kid looks at a card that has a sandwich designed on it and then uses the picture on the card to design a sandwich of his or her own. The kid can design the sandwiches on his own or two kids can race each other to get their sandwich done first.

The Best Toys For Kids With ADD Or ADHD

Kids with ADD or ADHD have a tough time keeping still and concentrating on a specific task. Some of them have a lot of trouble learning new things or accomplishing schoolwork because of this.

Investing in some toys for kids with ADD or ADHD can help them work through their attention problems and learn how to focus. Kinetic sand is a great toy for those with ADD and ADHD.

It is textured and easy to use. It stays moist without having a slick or oily feel. It does not stick to hands or furniture and it is relatively easy to clean up. The texture is also very soothing on hands and it is nice for kids who feel like they need to fidget or constantly play with something.

When kids with ADD or ADHD have something to move around in their hands, they often have an easier time concentrating on other things. Brain Food is another toy that can keep hands busy during activities that require the kid to sit still, like schoolwork or a lesson.

Brain food is similar to putty but without being sticky or wet. It is dry to the touch and you can mold it or pull it apart. It always goes back to its original form when you put it back together.

It helps build motor skills and strengthen hands as well. Another toy that is excellent for kids with ADD or ADHD is Nanoblocks Sites to See. There are several different sites you can purchase, like the Sydney Opera House, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and Castle Neuschwanstein.

The instructions allow kids to build miniature replicas of these famous landmarks and it does not take too long to get it completed. If your kid wants something bigger than a small replica, try a Roylco straws and connectors jumbo set.

These sets come with different amounts of pieces, but Fat Brain Toys sells a 705 piece that is reasonably priced. The set comes with 390 straws and 315 connectors.

The straws are eight inches long so there is plenty of length to build something big. The set works well to keep hands busy and it can be played with on the kid’s own or with a friend or parent.

The straws and connectors come in different colors and are easy to snap together and take apart. There is no end to what can be built with these, including building a small house and tossing a sheet over it to make a tent. Not only is it good for helping to lengthen attentions spans, it also teaches kids about architectural designs and spatial designs.

Teach Your Child To Practice Good Dental Hygiene

Children need to be taught the proper way how to care for their teeth as soon as their teeth begin to develop – and if you start them on the habit early, they will have good dental hygiene as an adult.

You will have to carefully brush a baby’s teeth with a soft brush and do not use any toothpaste until your child is aware that the toothpaste should not be swallowed. For most children, that awareness is around the age of two.

By this age, under adult supervision, children should be in the habit of brushing their teeth – and if you make it fun, children will want to brush their teeth. By the time a child reaches kindergarten age, he should be able to brush his teeth without adult supervision.

Children should avoid sugary snacks like lollipops that coat the teeth with sugar for long periods of time – and they should also avoid high sugar beverages that can damage the tooth enamel.

Though it is a fairly common practice, discourage your child from thumb sucking, which can lead to buck teeth and poor tooth alignment. Teach your child to keep his fingers out of his mouth, since this is one of the main ways that children pick up germs.

If your child is very young, to help him understand and get into the habit of taking care of his teeth, use a colorful chart to teach about good oral hygiene. You can use a blank calendar that has squares for every day of the week and let him put a check mark in the box every time he brushes his teeth.

Children should learn about flossing as soon as they are able to hold the floss and should floss every single day. Regular dental visits should begin as soon as your child starts to have teeth because regular visits can catch small problems before they become big problems.

Children should brush at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. If your child is not old enough yet, and you need to brush for him, brush the outside of the teeth first from the back to the front and then switch to the back of the teeth. Make sure you brush the tongue as well.

Your child’s toothbrush should be changed regularly – every twelve weeks – or sooner if the bristles are damaged. Also, your child’s toothbrush should be changed after every illness because the bristles can house the germs that caused the infection. Do not store toothbrushes in covered containers, since this provides a breeding ground for germs.