Archive for August, 2010

31

Validation

Aug
1 Comment »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Moms

I had an interesting phone conversation with a good friend the other day. She has two small children, and recently quit her job (as a PhD working in the field of training educators) to stay home with her kids. She basically expressed that with all of her friends (and even two sisters) that are stay-at-home-moms, no one EVER mentioned how hard staying at home is. Her frustrations had to do, in particular, with the cleanliness of her house. She exclaimed, “I finally finished cleaning in one month what it took my housekeeper one week to do!” I reassured her that this was normal. She was particularly relieved because she has known me for most of my life, and she knows how much “attention to detail” I pay to cleaning my home. (This is a nice way of saying that I’m anal when it comes to cleaning.) Well, she knows how much attention to detail I USED to pay to the cleanliness of my home. Now that I have to clean in the midst of two small kids, not so much.  We laughed that while cleaning the toilet bowl can be done because it’s a quick task, scrubbing the tub can’t generally be completed without interruption. I have also found that the dusting of lower objects and shelves can be completed regularly if you can convince your preschooler that this is a fun task. This is why if you ever visit my house you will notice that the only objects that are dusted are shorter than about four feet. There are basic tasks that have to be completed for everyday living, such as preparing food, running and emptying the dishwasher, and washing clothes (notice I don’t include folding and putting them away), but by the time these are complete, there is often little time left for other tasks such as mopping the floors and ironing.

This whole conversation gave me a bit of validation. I know other stay-at-home moms feel the same way that my friend and I do. (I can only imagine that being a working mom without a cleaning service is even worse.) I think I just forget sometimes that other people are experiencing this same feeling of failure over what doesn’t get done during the day that I do. I have to work sometimes to remind myself that it is not so much about what I DON’T get done, but rather what I DO get done, both big and not so big. I brushed my teeth; more importantly, I brushed the kids’ teeth. I made my bed. I have fed the children and kept them alive and mostly happy. Also important, I’ve played with my children, enjoying this brief period of time when they are young and tender and actually want my attention. I’ve walked the dog and fed both he and the cat. I have written this blog! I think it is important for my own mental health to keep this perspective, focusing on the positive of what I have accomplished (no matter how small or seemingly insignificant) rather than focusing on the negative or what I have not accomplished for the day (you know, those illusive tasks such as showering).

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25

How do I get my picky eater to eat?

Aug
1 Comment »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Kids

Every once in awhile I find a parent who does not admit to having trouble getting their preschool-aged children to eat. Usually their children are grown and have their own children, so I am not entirely certain that their memories are completely accurate. For the most part, though, every parent I know has at least one child who is a “picky eater.” I don’t know how much help I can be in getting your child to eat, but hopefully some of the strategies we use will be helpful to you. Because I taught preschool and Kindergarten before I had my own children, my husband and I formulated our plans regarding mealtime well before our first child arrived. I started by talking to the parents of the children I worked with who had healthy eating habits. I have picked up a few other ideas along the way from other moms and, admittedly, from signs in the pediatrician’s office.

 Here are some of the guidelines we use in our house for eating. Glean from the list what you want, ignore the rest.

1. We eat dinner together as a family (and we do not answer the phone during dinner).

Both my husband and I ate dinner every night with our families growing up, so this was important to us. It is one of the best ways to stay in touch with the whole family in this busy day and age. There has been more publicity about family meals in recent years because studies are showing that children who sit down and eat dinner with their families on a regular basis do better in school, are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, and have healthier eating habits. http://www.poweroffamilymeals.com/Mealtime_Matters/

 2. NO “kid food!”

This one is important to me because, well, I like to eat. I grew up in Louisiana, which basically means that our lives centered around good food…really good food. I’m not saying that we never eat macaroni and cheese or hot dogs or chicken nuggets, but we don’t eat them on a regular basis. We only eat them if my husband or I decide that one of those items sounds good. Take, for example, pizza. Pizza is considered by some to be a “kid food.” However, it just so happens that pizza is my favorite food, so we usually eat it for dinner once a week.

 3. Mama makes ONE meal.

This is a rule I learned from the mother of one of my students who ate anything you put on a plate in front of her. I asked her mother how she got her kids to eat everything, and she told me this rule. She also told me that if the kids didn’t like what was for dinner they could get a bowl of cereal. (They didn’t keep any sugary cereal in the house.) She said only twice did her kids ever opt for the cereal. They would even eat sushi.

 4. You must try one bite of everything on your plate.

If you try it and don’t like it, then you don’t have to eat any more of it…for the night. Sometimes my children will tell me they don’t like something, but when they try it, they are surprised to find it tastes good. Also, according to a sign from Gerber foods in the pediatrician’s office, it can take 10 to 15 tries of a new food before a person develops a taste for this food. (http://www.gerber.com/AllStages/Nutrition_And_Feeding/Trying_new_foods.aspx) This is why I keep making certain foods even when my children tell me they don’t like them. Two specific foods that we have had dramatically noticeable success with in our house are salmon and spinach salad. Also, it is very rare that a small child will choose to go hungry. They will generally eat at least one of the things you have made for dinner.

 5. You are not required to finish everything on your plate.

When you force your children to “clean their plates,” you are essentially teaching them to ignore the signals their bodies are sending. This can lead to obesity later in life (and even early in life). Here’s the thing, young children are excellent self-regulators when it comes to eating. You have probably already noticed that they go through fazes of eating a lot and then eating a little. (My kids follow this cycle when they go through growth spurts. They tend to sleep a lot after they go through a period of eating a lot.) HOWEVER, if your children refuse to eat much dinner, but then want a snack 30 minutes to an hour later, you may have to do a little more encouraging. I recommend letting your child know that if they are truly full, then they may be excused from the table. BUT if they are hungry again later, their unfinished meal will be waiting for them.

 6. Offer at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal.

This is a good way to make sure you and your kids are getting at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day. Offer them as snacks as well.

7. Your kids will be better about eating a variety of foods (read “vegetables”) if you are willing to try different foods.

This last rule is a tough one, but like most things in life, your children learn by example. You may be surprised by the things you now like. I didn’t grow up eating bell peppers because my father is allergic to them. I always thought I didn’t like them or only liked them cooked. I have since discovered that I really love peppers. My kids can’t get enough of them. They are now one of our favorite snacks. Keep in mind my earlier comment about trying things several times before developing a taste for them…this goes for you too.

 If you are having trouble getting your children to eat a variety of vegetables (or in some cases, any vegetables at all), try this trick I learned from another mom (who learned it from her daughter’s pediatrician). When you are making dinner in the evening and your children begin to circle the kitchen because they are hungry and can smell the dinner aromas, give them raw vegetables to eat. If they are young enough to still be in a high chair, strap them in and place a few raw veggies on their tray. If they are out of the high chair have them sit at the table with some raw veggies and ranch dressing or hummus for dipping. Also, frozen peas (or other smaller frozen veggies) feel great on teething gums. My mom told me she used to give us frozen veggies as a snack and for relief for sore gums when we were toddlers.

 This is just my two-cents on the matter of eating with small children. I hope you found something useful in all of my ramblings. I also have suggestions for dealing with low-blood sugar. I’ll save those comments for another post, though.

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23

ADD & ADHD

Aug
1 Comment »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Education

(I began writing this blog on Thursday, but my day got out of control before I could finish it. I have since finished and revised it. I’m still working on meeting my weekly goals. Maybe someday I’ll accomplish them…when the kitchen remodel is finished, painting the rest of the house is done, and the kids are a few years older. )

Thursday morning I had a rare moment of watching the news. If our television is on, it is generally tuned to whatever station is broadcasting the cartoon of choice. I was pretty tired, and the girls went to the playroom to play. I was zoned out watching Dora when it occurred to me that I could watch the news if I wanted…and no one would complain. I switched over to the Today Show (my favorite of the morning news shows). Just as I turned it on, the hosts were giving plugs for upcoming stories and announced they would be doing a segment on a new study from Notre Dame regarding the over-diagnosis of ADHD. I was hooked. I then started praying that the plumber wouldn’t show up or the kids wouldn’t need me until the segment came on. I am always interested in any new research on young children, particularly when it relates to educational matters.
Well, my prayers were answered. I was able to watch the segment undisturbed. This new study affirms something I have always suspected: people (more specifically doctors, often at the insistence of parents) are diagnosing normal, healthy, active young children with ADHD incorrectly. Here is my diagnosis of the problem. Adults have inappropriately adjusted their expectations of children. Young children are active. Period. How many times have you said, “Imagine what I could do if only I had half of my kids’ energy.” Why do we expect really young children to be able to sit in a classroom and pay attention for long periods of time without taking breaks to move around some? As I said in my blog about finding a preschool, young children learn best through play.
I think most adults have skewed memories of their early childhood experiences. Kindergarten was originally the year before formal schooling began, where young children learned social skills. Formal schooling now begins in Kindergarten, and socialization is not emphasized as much because there is no time for it. Adults now expect young children to instinctively know how to adjust and behave in a school setting, and they have greater academic expectations of these children. How is a five-year-old who has never been in a school environment and has no books in her home supposed to learn to interact appropriately with other children at school AND learn to read in a nine month period of time?
Adding insult to injury, many schools have now taken away recess to make more time for academics. In this day and age, many children do not have the opportunity to run, play, and explore outdoors at home like children did when I was growing up. This phenomenon has many causes, including safety, busy schedules (sports and extra-curricular activities that eat up most of your free time), lack of outdoor space, the lure of television and technology, and, sadly, parental laziness (something I am guilty of at times). Even adults have trouble focusing when they have too much energy pent up inside. Try to imagine what this is like for young children who have infinitely more energy than we do.
This study points out that boys are more likely than girls to receive a diagnosis of ADHD. I taught five girls and TEN boys in my first year teaching Kindergarten. I had a great time, but I had to adjust my tactics to keep their attention. If you are the parent of both boys and girls, you may have noticed that young boys are often engaged in more active play than girls. I am not saying that girls are not active or don’t chose to get involved in more rowdy types of play. (Believe me, I have two older brothers. I loved playing and rough-housing with my brothers, and I could usually hold my own with them.) What I am saying is that after a few years of teaching, watching my friends and their children, and having my own children, I have observed that boys tend to chose more lively activities (such as wrestling or jumping off of the roof of the house.)

Finally, one of the main discoveries of this study was that the younger children in a classroom are a lot more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. This seems sadly obvious to me. If you have people wrongly diagnosing children with this disorder, it is probably because they are failing to recognize normal activity levels and attention spans in young children. Here is something to keep in mind, children develop in different areas (cognitive, social-emotional, large motor, small motor, etc.) at different rates. Developmentally speaking, children tend to level out by age eight (or around third grade). Here’s my advice. If you are truly concerned that something is wrong with your child, talk to your doctor (while keeping in mind that really young children are very active). If your child is doing well academically speaking in school, it may be that they are causing trouble due to boredom. If they are struggling in school, be sure to research all of the possible causes. Treatment generally goes better when you get an early diagnosis of many disorders and learning disabilities. I have a few friends who were diagnosed with ADD (or ADHD in one case) while in high school and college. They have told me that getting treated made a huge difference in their ability to focus while at school. However, ADD and ADHD in young children are really tricky to diagnose, so you may want to give your child time to mature a little before choosing to medicate your child.

Here is the link to the article from the TODAY Show.
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/38740077

NOTE: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. The above statements are expressly my opinion. Please talk to your doctor, or even several doctors, before you make any decisions about treating or not treating your child for ADD, ADHD, or any disease or disorder.

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18

Progress

Aug
No Comments   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:General

My goal is to blog five days a week. As you can see from the number of days between posts, I am not currently meeting that goal. I guess that’s why it’s called a goal and not a requirement. I am sincerely apologetic for my deficiency; I hate to disappoint (all four of my followers). I do have a couple of excuses for failing to meet my goal. Whether they are good excuses or just excuses remains to be seen.

On a positive note, excuse#1, the kitchen, will theoretically be done today. By that, I mean the part that the contractors are doing. We still have just a few things to do: finish painting, clean the floors and cabinets, line the cabinet shelves, put doors on the pantry and half bath, install the new sink, toilet, and towel bars in the half bath, oh, and put everything back into the kitchen. I really cannot complain at all. The contractors will have our kitchen gutted and renovated in two weeks time total. Strangely, I have not been able to write more despite the fact that I have been trapped in my house just about every day for the past two weeks.

My second excuse is not much of an excuse. My mother-in-law was visiting for five days. The reason I include it in my lame list of excuses is because sometimes I feel guilty about being on the computer too much when we have out-of-town guests. The reason her visit is not a good excuse is that she is a HUGE help. She did laundry, ironed clothes (a chore I despise doing), washed dishes in our laundry room utility sink, helped clean up the six inches of construction dust that has accumulated on everything in the house, and kept the kids entertained. She was such a blessing to have here that you can see why my second excuse is a little dodgy.

Hopefully, I can get back on track with my goal on blogging. The good thing about having taken a bit of a break is that I now have several more blog topics in mind.

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13

Road Trip!!!

Aug
No Comments   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Moving Tips

While this topic would probably have been more helpful earlier in the summer, I only just recently started blogging, so you are getting it now…right before school starts. However, if you are taking a last minute trip before the beginning of the school year OR if you are moving, I guess now is a good time. When we move, I put a good deal of time and effort into planning for our time in the car. On our most recent move  I somehow tricked my husband into travelling to our new home with both of the kids, the dog, AND the cat in the car with him. I, on the other hand, drove blissfully by myself. (Please see earlier post entitled ALONE.) Because I love my husband and would like to stay married to him, I made plenty of preparations for the car. Fortunately, the kids (and animals) were well-behaved the entire trip. Unfortunately, what should have been a seven to eight hour trip turned into a twelve plus hour trip because of New England traffic jams and sneaky exits that don’t have re-entry ramps. At least the children weren’t the cause of his stress…this time.

Before I begin telling you how I plan for sanity while travelling in the car with small children, I must tell you that we are one of those “weird families” who actually chose not to have a DVD player in our new car. Despite one or two rough car trips, our kids are generally great travelers. When purchasing our new car we decided that the kids would see more and experience more without watching movies while we drive. That being said, I won’t judge you for having a DVD player in your car if you won’t judge me for not having one.

On to the entertainment!…for the kids, that is. The first time I prepared for a move with the kids was a doozy. We were driving 24 hours (not including the vast amount of time it takes for pit-stops) with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old. I started by searching the internet to find various ideas. The best site I have found is http://www.momsminivan.com. This is a very comprehensive site. Some of the other sites I found include http://www.activitiesforkids.com/travel/travel_hints.htm  and http://travelwithkids.about.com/cs/carplanetips/a/amusekids.htm. There are more sites and ideas out there, but these are a good place to start. I had to search a few sites because planning for really small children is a lot different from planning for school-aged, who are easier to plan fun car activities for. (Let me tell you, trying to plan fun things for a one-year-old is really tricky. The one saving grace was that I knew I could count on car naps, so I didn’t have to plan as much for the one-year-old as I did for the 3-year-old.) I mostly stuck with easy crafts like crayons and paper, lacing beads, and pipe cleaners. My kids also enjoy sticker books, and, believe it or not, they still make Colorforms! My kids LOVE these. New books and small toys are a big hit as well. Also, my mother-in-law bought Taby Trays for the kids’ car seats, which makes coloring, activities, and snacking easier. (You can find them at http://www.onestepahead.com.) We try not to accumulate too much kid gear, but these have been great to have.

While activities to keep the kids entertained are important, good snacks are essential. Seriously. I spend almost as much time planning snacks as I do activities. Good car snacks are snacks that are not sticky and don’t stink or melt when your kids drop them in the cracks of the seats. Fruit snacks are great; fruit roll-ups are not so great…as is anything made with chocolate. Snack packs of crackers and cookies are also good. If you are hoping to give your kids fruits or veggies while driving, take my advice (based on experience), save these for when you are stopped and can wipe the kids down…or keep them from choking on the chunks of carrots they didn’t chew into small enough pieces.

Once I have bought or gathered all of the activities, toys, books, and crafts I am planning on bringing, I wrap them all up like presents with whatever spare wrapping paper I have lying around. I have some way of distinguishing which “presents” are for which child, such as different paper or writing an initial on the paper. I put them all together in a container in the front seat where I can reach them…right next to the snacks. Then, every so often throughout the trip they get to open up a new present. This keeps them from getting too bored and whining incessantly. Well, usually.

I hope some of these tips help. Let me know if you have any others!

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11

Afternoon Madness

Aug
4 Comments »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:General

Even before becoming homebound because of kitchen renovations, I have noticed that lately I start to feel like I am going crazy in the afternoons. The only way I can think to describe it is that I feel like I am going to crawl out of my own skin. I have tried to determine the cause. Am I tired of the kids? Well, sometimes, but generally I enjoy being with them. Is it anxiety over the tasks I have not yet accomplished this late in the day? That is a distinct possibility. Is it a lack of routine in a new place during the summer? That could be. Who knows?

After much consideration, I have decided that some of my afternoon madness could be caused by a lack of adult interaction. I think the lack of contact with other adults is one of the hardest parts of staying home with the kids. I try to meet up with friends at the park or have friends over, but there are some days (especially when we first move) that it just isn’t possible. There are times I am so ready for my husband to be home that I can hardly stand it. (There are other times when I am in a complete panic that he is on his way home, but that’s generally because the house is a complete wreck, as are the children and I.) My eagerness for him to come home is not so I can hand off the children to him, although he does his fair share of taking care of the kids when he’s home. I crave having a face-to-face conversation with another person who has mastered the English language. Even if our conversations are centered on the children or his day at work, I don’t have to guess at what he’s saying. There is no, “I don’t quite understand what you are saying. Can you show Mommy what you are talking about?” or “Why are you crying? Take a deep breath. I can’t understand between the sobs.” Talking on the phone to other adults helps, but it’s just not quite the same.

I have tried to ascertain the best way to combat this madness. I have come up with two possible solutions. I can either take up running in the late afternoon, OR I can start drinking. Running would be healthier, but drinking would be a whole lot easier. It’s still a toss-up at this point.

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09

Playground Stalking

Aug
3 Comments »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Moving Tips

In addition to giving your children something to do, visits to local playgrounds are another opportunity to meet new people. This is probably common sense to you if you have moved enough times. However, if you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend you give it a try. If you haven’t seen any playgrounds as you’ve driven around your new area, Google is your friend. (Keep in mind that Google is always your friend when you move to a new area.) Look up the website for your new city and go to the Parks and Recreation section. The website should have a complete listing of all parks and playgrounds in the area. This is assuming that your new city has a website, and you aren’t living out in the sticks. Once you find a suitable park and get there, let your kids start playing while you stalk…I mean, scope out other moms to talk to. If you start talking to a mom and feel like you hit it off, exchange email or phone numbers. I try to keep business cards with my basic info (name, phone number, and email…but not address) in my purse and stroller. I recently met a really cool mom with kids around the same age as mine at the park down the street from us this way.

P.S. Please note, finding a “suitable park” is important. The park closest to our last home (but not too close) was a favorite evening recreation site for drug users. While it was fine during daylight hours, it was hard to find a way to explain to the kids, “We can’t use this slide today; there are too many needles in the landing zone.” If there aren’t a bunch of kids already playing when you get there, you may want to do a cursory check of the equipment before you let the kiddos loose.

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07

Alone

Aug
1 Comment »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:General

What is going on? Wait…I remember what this experience is…I’m awake and having coherent, uninterrupted thoughts. I AM ALONE…and loving every minute of it. (Well, alone except for the electrician in my kitchen, but he’s not talking to me or at me or asking for anything.) I cannot remember the last time I was alone for longer than it takes me to take a quick shower before I go to bed. If you have small children, you know that even trips to the bathroom are usually accompanied. My youngest still wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes, so even my sleeping hours are up for grabs. Writing a blog entry without having to stop to feed someone, find something, or take someone potty is a new experience for me. You may be wondering how I managed to acquire this moment of peace.

It all started when we moved to a new city in a new state and decided to buy a house. We knew when we bought our house that we were going to have the counters and flooring in the kitchen replaced. Then we decided that, realistically, moving and buying a home were not stressful enough…let’s renovate the whole kitchen! Okay, so the decision process didn’t go quite that way. We, or mostly me, felt that it would look kind of cheap to replace the counters and the floor, but not the circa 1969, original-to-the-house, poorly arranged cabinets. It pretty much snowballed from there. Currently, we are without a kitchen. (I do have my toaster oven plugged in the laundry room, though, so we can eat a few meals I prepared ahead of time at home…if only I had a microwave and a hot plate, I’d be set.) We did not think that things would move along quite so quickly, otherwise we would have planned better and not had out-of-town guests during the renovations.  So the reason I’m alone for the moment is that I “sacrificially” volunteered to stay home with the electrician while everyone else went out to eat lunch. “No, no. You guys go on ahead. I’ll be fine. I’ll find something…but maybe you could bring me back some cake?” I am such the martyr.

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06

Moving List

Aug
5 Comments »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Moving Tips

Because we move so frequently, my husband decided to compile a list of things we have to get done in preparation for moving. I have always been a list-maker, so this sounded like a great idea to me. (If you don’t believe me when I say “always,” ask my mom about the list I made when I was a kid entitled “Pets I’ve Had That Have Died”…I wish I were kidding. Sadly, it was a pretty long list.) Because my husband is anal…I mean, a great planner, the list is pretty comprehensive. Feel free to use our list and add your own items. We have ours saved on the computer so we can pull it up when we move, which lately seems to be about every year or so. (I also like to leave our house cleaner than it was when we moved in, so I have a cleaning list too…you know, just in case you’re interested. Truthfully, my husband isn’t the only anal one in our house.)

Moving To Do List

  • Notify landlord of date vacating house
  • Stop utilities
    • Water
    • Sewer
    • Electricity
    • Heating oil (This is a holdover from our stint in New England.)
    • Trash
    • Phone
    • Internet
    • TV/Cable
  • Start utilities at new home
    • Water
    • Sewer
    • Electricity
    • Heating oil)
    • Trash
    • Phone
    • Internet
    • TV/Cable
  • Change Address
    • Magazines
      • (list magazines here)
    • Credit Cards
      • (list all credit cards)
    • Miscellaneous Services
      • Netflix
      • Amazon
      • Paypal
    • Banking & Investment Accounts
      • (list accounts)
    •  Insurance Accounts
      • Car
      • Life
      • Renter’s/Home Owner’s
    • Cell Phone
    • Pets’ Microchips
  • Forward Mail with Post Office
  • New tag for Pets
  • Medicine for Pets (ensure a few months worth of flea & heartworm meds)

 

Things to Bring with Us…

  • Pack ‘n’ Play with sheets
  • Sleeping bags with air mattresses
  • Toys for kids
  • Books for kids
  • Litter box with scoop
  • Pet food
  • Food & water bowls (for the pets, not the kids)
  • Clothes hanging bar
  • Bike carrier with holding brackets
  • Cameras
  • Fire safe
  • Checkbooks
  • External hard drive
  • Chargers/docks/etc.
  • Special items we don’t want damaged, lost, or stolen
  • Clothing
  • Computers
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Ice chest
  • Towels
  • Children
  • Pets
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05

Finding a Preschool

Aug
9 Comments »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Education

One of the first things I do when we move is make dentist appointments because it usually takes an eternity to get an appointment. I don’t have any good advice on picking a dentist, though. This year I selected the dentist whose office is in walking distance of my house. Whether or not he’s a good dentist remains to be seen, but my criteria for choosing resources in my current residence revolve around the ability to get there on foot. So since I can’t help much with the whole dentist thing, I’m choosing to focus on preschool selection instead. This is one of the other “first tasks” I do when we move. (This ranks up there with hanging shower curtains, buying toilet paper, and changing the address on the dog’s microchip so when he escapes we can get him back.)

Before I go into the details of how I find prospective preschools, I will lecture you a bit on Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP). Okay, I’ll try not to lecture, but instead use my extensive education to dazzle you. Basically, DAP is the practice of teaching young children in the way they learn best. That is a very broad definition, but it sums it up nicely. For starters, preschool-age children learn through play. So if you have ever observed a preschool program and thought, “all they do is play the whole time.” That is a good thing. A DAP preschool program usually involves a classroom environment that is set up for exploration through the use of learning centers. Generally a good portion of school time is devoted to the children being able to choose freely which centers they want to play in. Some other portions of the schedule include circle time and outdoor play among other things. While you may be thinking, “but I want my kid to know her alphabet and be able to count to 100,” I’m here to tell you that the best way to achieve that goal is NOT through making him or her sit at a table doing worksheets for long periods of time. If you enroll your child in a good DAP program you will be amazed at the things he or she will come home talking about. (For example, after a few weeks of school, my preschooler came home telling us, “The sun is a star!” At a visit to an aquarium she delighted in pointing out the various rays swimming around in the big tank.) Okay. Enough of the philosophical lecturing. On to the good stuff.

There are two websites I visit when looking for a new preschool. One is the website for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This is THE organization for early childhood education. They are at the forefront of research, advocacy, and policy-making for and about young children. They have an extensive accreditation program. To find accredited programs in your area, visit their site http://www.naeyc.org/accreditation/search.

The second website I always visit is the site for the United Methodist Church. One thing I have learned is that Methodist preschool programs are always developmentally appropriate even if they aren’t accredited. I start by using the website’s church finder http://archives.umc.org/Directory/ChurchDirectory.asp?ptid=1&mid=222 . Once I find churches in my area, I look to see which ones have preschool programs. This method of finding a great preschool has worked for me two moves in a row, so I highly recommend it. Also, in case you are wondering, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t a member of the Methodist denomination. (We aren’t either.) They aren’t exclusive…they even let us in.

I hope some of this advice has been helpful. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any more specific questions. I’ll try to answer them, or at least I’ll try to sound intelligent while making something up. Also, if you would like to read more about DAP, I suggest the book Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs edited by Sue Bredekamp and Carol Copple. It is not the most riveting book you will ever read and there may be others that are more user-friendly, but this one is extensive and is basically the handbook for DAP.

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