Time With Your Kids
Parent involvement is fundamental for children's mental health and well-being. The family activities suggested in this section are designed to help you spend, with ease, enough quality family time during your day to ensure that you're involved in every aspect of your preschooler's life. Even the most ordinary events can turn into opportunities for bonding, communicating, and learning!
For more ideas on fun ways to spend time with your children, visit our Family Activities page.
Early Childhood Literacy
Words are EVERYWHERE we live—not just in books and magazines. Children see words on street and building signs; on food, clothing, and toy labels; and on television.
Back to School With New Tools
The new school year often brings new learning opportunities, friendships, and fun activities that may build stronger bonds between parents and children. Technology, if you know how to give it purpose, can actually have a meaningful role in your child’s development.
Building Resilience: Growing Stronger
In life, everyone experiences different levels and types of stress. In fact, minor stress is normal and is necessary for personal development. Studies show that the experience of “everyday” and “tolerable” stress may help children’s development of self-regulatory and coping skills. With the right skill sets and support system in place, young children can better manage stressful times, including traumatic events.
My Holidays—My Family—My World
Parents often wonder how to teach young children skills that will help them to live and play in an increasingly diverse society. But what type of skills help young children become tolerant of and respectful to persons of various cultural backgrounds, races, religious beliefs, languages, and physical and mental abilities as well as to members of gender minority groups? Studies show that before we teach children to be tolerant of differences, they first need to develop positive feelings about their own identity. Children develop their identity and attitudes through daily experiences and their social environment.
The Power of Words: Preventing Bullying
Bullying remains a significant social and emotional issue for children and youth throughout their school years. However, bullying is often perceived as an issue that affects only older children, because during preschool years it is difficult to tell the difference between normal misbehavior and emergent bullying behavior. For this reason, it’s important for parents to help young children develop skills that enable them to form healthy relationships and learn to reduce aggressive behaviors such as bullying.
Social and Emotional Well-Being
Parents of preschool children are focused on “school readiness,” which is a measure of how prepared a child is to succeed in school. This measure of readiness involves children’s social and emotional skills as well as their early literacy and math skills.
Creating Healthy Routines
One of the ways parents can promote social and emotional well-being in young children is by encouraging good habits such as healthy sleeping, eating, and physical activity. Setting the stage with these habits early can have long-term positive effects on a growing child’s body and on children’s capacity to learn.
Reconnect Through the Holiday Spirit
For many reasons, frantic preparations for the holidays often can diminish the messages inherent in them—joy, peace, health, love, kindness, togetherness, and gratitude. Emphasize these messages during your holiday activities by modeling the spirit of the celebration.
Laying a Foundation for Antibullying
Bullying remains a significant issue for children and youth throughout their school years. However, bullying is often perceived as an issue that affects only older children, because during preschool years it is difficult to tell the difference between normal misbehavior and emergent bullying behavior.
Foster Care and Adopted Children—Making a Difference
All children deserve a safe, loving, and permanent home to call their own. Unfortunately, some children, by no fault of their own, may find themselves living outside of their home. This article addresses the reasons that children may be placed in foster care and the ways that they may be emotionally affected by that experience, as well as provides tips for parents to offer a nurturing and safe environment.
Traumatic Events in a Child’s World
As parents and caregivers, we can try until we’re exhausted and still not always protect children from frightening and traumatizing events. This article addresses how traumatic events affects children as well as provides tips for parents to foster resilience in children.
Playtime: To Structure or Not To Structure
Is engaging in unstructured activities a waste of time? We live in a society that implies that we need to make every moment count, and, therefore, we feel the need to fill up all of our children’s time. We are raising children in an increasingly hurried and pressured style that may limit the benefits they would gain from child-driven play or unstructured playtime.
A Special Family Bond—Grandparents
Grandparents play a pivotal role in the development and health of young children. As traditional figures in the life of children, grandparents are typically viewed as the solid and dedicated caregivers in the family unit.
Choosing the Right Books for Your Child
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the joys of reading together with your child. Reading together stimulates exploration and discussion of text and pictures and is a fun way for parents and children to engage with one another. It also promotes children’s healthy development as well as helps prevent behavioral problems that could lead to bullying or substance abuse later in life. Research from the past decade shows the importance of shared reading on healthy brain development and children’s overall success as they grow into adults. (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). In addition, the routine of reading together is enjoyable and sets the stage for a lifetime love of reading and writing.
I CAN DO IT! Raising Confident Children
Children develop self-confidence through their achievements, such as potty training, tying their shoes, or even reciting the alphabet. As children accomplish such achievements, they feel capable, competent, and ready to do more.
Children often seek a sense of belonging at school and will engage in certain behaviors to fit in among their peers (someone in their age group). Even in preschool they are becoming concerned with what their friends think and do. Children want to be well liked and included in a group, which makes them susceptible to peer pressure (influence that members of the same age group can have over each other). Peer pressure has been shown to affect children as early as preschool age and becomes an even greater risk as they transition into middle and high school.
Poetry and Reading
Poems are great pre-reading and early reading tools. Children can be engaged in the sounds of the words that build important reading skills.
The World Around Us
Exploring nature brings awe and wonder into children’s lives. Studies show that experiencing nature is an important ingredient for physical, academic, emotional, and spiritual growth. Making a connection to nature heightens children’s curiosity and develops a desire to explore the world around them. With this knowledge, children learn to protect and preserve the natural environment.
Play Games Together
Many board or online games are excellent tools for teaching logic, reading and reading readiness, classification, sound and color discrimination, and/or memorization. Time spent in learning how to play and in playing quality games is time spent on education.
Make Physical Exercise Part of Your Daily Routine
You know that as an adult you have to exercise your body if you want to stay healthy. Children, too, need to exercise to build strong bones and muscles, have a healthy weight, and be alert during the day and sleep well at night. Exercise, though, isn’t just jumping jacks and pushups. Any kind of movement that increases your heart rate or strengthens your muscles and your bones is exercise.
Being a Good Citizen
Being a good citizen means thinking about others. Good citizens help others—at home, at school, in the neighborhood, and in their communities. Families work together to tackle "good deed" projects. But, it is important to keep in mind your child’s interests and abilities when choosing an activity.
Learning to Love Reading
Learning to read is a continuous process for children that begins early and is greatly influenced by parents and caregivers. The importance of reading to children can’t be overemphasized: it improves brain growth, language development, and academic achievement.
Summer Sun Safety
Summer is a great time to play outdoors with the family. But before you get out the balls, jump ropes, and plastic pools, make sure your child is prepared.
Reading to Children
Reading to children is the most important thing parents can do to ensure success in school. According to "Reading Tips for Parents" from the U.S. Department of Education, there are many things you can do to start children reading.
Many Americans suffer from "portion distortion." It's not so much what we eat that's unhealthy; rather, it's that we eat too much of it. The "super-size" generation is growing up obese. How can we plan for healthy eating? How can we steer our preschoolers away from the idea that "bigger is always better"?
TV Time and Your Children
Television can be a good way for children to wind down after playing outside or spending a full day at kindergarten. But the television should not always be a "babysitter" while parents or caretakers get other things done. Here are some tips for making television time a good time for you and your children.
Tips on Time
One of the most important things you can do to safeguard your children is to spend time with them. When strong ties are formed between children and their families, children are less likely to develop drug problems.