Category Archives: Milestones & Learning

A Guide to Supporting Your Child’s Nightime Sleep

A Guide to Supporting Your Child’s Nighttime Sleep

Written by: Caitlyn Chun

It’s hard to overstate the importance of sleep! Research with children has shown that sleep and sleep routines are associated with language development, literacy, emotional and behavioral regulation, parent-child attachment, and family functioning. Sleep affects a child’s development!

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amounts of sleep per day:
• Newborns (0-3 months) — 14 to 17 hours 
• Infants (4-11 months) — 12 to 15 hours
• Toddlers (1-2 years) — 11 to 14 hours
• Preschoolers (3-5 years) — 10 to 13 hours
• School-aged children (6 to 13 years) — 9 to 11 hours
• Teenagers (14 to 17 years) — 8 to 10 hours

Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep
1. Get moving during the day
Regular exercise is a fantastic way to encourage better sleep. To help your child wind down from the day, exercise should be avoided in the 3 hours before bedtime. 

2. Maintain a consistent nighttime routine and bedtime for your child
Prepare for bed at the same time each night. Repeat the same activities in the same order each night. For example, your child’s routine might consist of bathing, changing into their pajamas, brushing teeth, and listening to a bedtime story. Sticking to a consistent routine of calming activities can give your child a sense of predictability and security around bedtime.

3. Limit screen time before sleepingLimit screen time before sleeping
Research indicates that the use of screen media (computers, phones, tablets, and video game consoles) close to bedtime is related to delayed bedtimes, fewer hours slept, and to poor sleep quality for children and youth. Make a habit to put away screens for an hour before bedtime and to keep devices out of bedrooms as much as possible. 

4. Read bedtime stories together
Reading stories about appropriate bedtime behavior can help your child to understand your expectations. If your child has nighttime fears, it can help to read books that deal positively with the dark, for example. Any book reading at bedtime is a great way to increase relaxing quality time with you! 

5. Adjust the environment for sleeping
A dark, quiet room is ideal to encourage restful sleep. A night-light can be used to provide soft lighting if your child is afraid of the dark. It is helpful to be mindful of the noise and the light around your child when they are sleeping. 

6. Maintain a consistent wake time
Waking up at the same time each day will help to maintain your child’s sleep schedule. Letting your child “catch up” on sleep in the morning can push your child’s sleep schedule back, resulting in later bedtimes. When your child wakes up at the same time each day, they will be ready to sleep at their scheduled bedtime.

Sleep Resources
Zero to Three: Sleep Struggles? We’ve got Resources
Nationwide Children’s: Healthy Sleep Habits for Infants and Toddlers
Nationwide Children’s: Healthy Sleep Habits for Older Children and Teens
Seattle Children’s Hospital: Resources for Sleep Conditions (selected resources available in Spanish and Vietnamese)

Bedtime Story Resources
Bedtime Story Prompts for Parents
StoryBerries: Free Bedtime Stories  



 

Eat, Nap, Play, Repeat: Your Child and Routines


Eat, Nap, Play, Repeat: Your Child and Routines

Written by: Caitlyn Chun

Everyone has routines that work for them. Perhaps this morning began like most of your mornings do: shuffle to the bathroom, wash your face, and brush your teeth before making coffee. These regular patterns serve important functions in our daily lives. For instance, our morning routines help us transition from being asleep to being awake and being ready for the day. In general, routines help us with transitions, and they give us a sense of comfort and security. 

Benefits of Routines
For our children, routines serve a similar purpose. Research on routines suggests that they play a critical role in establishing a child’s sense of predictability, stability, and security. When children learn to anticipate a loved one’s return, and when they will nap, play, and snack, they gain a sense of emotional security knowing that there is a trusted adult to help meet their needs. In the toddler years, routines help build independence, trust, and security. For preschool and elementary-age children, the use of routines can reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity and aid the development of self-control. 

Routines and Learning
Routines are repeated, predictable events that form the foundation of our daily lives. These moments provide some of the richest learning experiences for child development. Through routines, you can teach your child a variety of skills. For instance, a regular bedtime routine teaches children important sleep skills, such as how to wind down for the night. In addition, you can teach safety skills through practicing a routine that consists of holding hands with an adult, and then looking both ways before crossing a street. Similarly, children can practice their social skills when interacting with others through sticking to the routine of starting with a greeting, chatting, and ending with a goodbye. 

Don’t Just Feed – Nourish
As you move through daily routines with your child, take advantage of the time together to be fully present in the moment. You might explain the importance of the activity that you are doing together. You might let them know what you expect of them. You may even share personal stories and experiences from your own childhood. These moments are important learning experiences for our kids, and they are emotionally recharging for both caregiver and child. In these moments, you have the opportunity not just to feed, but to nourish. 

Resources
CDC Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers: Creating Structure and Rules
Family-Based Routine Support Guide: Building Relationships with InfantsFamily-Based Routine Support Guide: Early Elementary — 4 to 8 years



 

Social Skills

Social Skills

Written by: Joshua Blazen

When you enrolled your child in preschool or kindergarten, you may have wondered, “Will my child learn reading, writing and math at their new school?” But did you wonder how your child would learn social skills at school? In recent years, teaching social skills has become more of a focus for schools. To guide schools in supporting social skills for children from birth through 3rd grade, Washington State developed Early Learning and Development Guidelines. According to this resource, key social skills milestones include:

Young infants (birth – 11 months): smiling at others, noticing and copying others’ facial expressions, using noises and facial expressions to interact with others

Older infants (9 months – 18 months): following others’ gazes or pointing, laughing when others laugh, recognizing others and remembering their names

Toddlers (16 months- 3 years): playing turn-taking games, observing and imitating other children’s play, playing side-by-side with others

Early preschool (3-4 years): sharing and taking turns, playing pretend, reacting to others’ feelings, playing in groups with other children

Late preschool (4-5 years): connecting emotions to facial expressions, inviting other children to join activities, switching between an “indoor and outdoor voice”

Kindergarten: accepting new trusted adults (bus driver, teacher, etc.), respecting others’ personal space, resolving some conflicts without adult help 

1st grade: thinking about how their actions impact others, brainstorming and problem solving with others

2nd grade: noticing unfair situations, showing compassion and respect to others

3rd grade: noticing others’ differences in skills and abilities, resolving conflicts without adult help, recognizing that others have different opinions


Why are social skills important
Research has shown that helping young children build their social skills can lead to a decrease in behavior problems such as bullying, hitting and defiance. 
• Children are more likely to succeed in school when they can form friendships, get along with others and communicate their wants and feelings. 

How can I support my child’s social skills at home
• Have conversations
The best way to help your child to build social skills is talking to them! When you talk to your child, they learn the skills they need to have a back-and-forth conversation, such as listening, asking questions and waiting for a response. When your child is talking, give them eye contact and acknowledge what they say with a smile or a nod. Children learn how nonverbal communication contributes to conversation by watching us! 

• Let your child take the lead
When setting up playdates or planning activities for your child, leave some time for unstructured play when your child can take the lead. When children have the opportunity to explore their environment on their own terms, and set rules and expectations, they build confidence to brave new social situations.  

• Coach your child through social interactions
As adults, we often find ourselves speaking for our children by answering questions for them or solving conflicts between them and other children. Instead, we can help children find their voice by coaching them through these situations. When your child has a conflict with another child, encourage them to speak directly to the other child rather than to you. When your child asks you a question about another child, encourage them to ask that child directly instead of you. Some children will need more support than others before they start using these skills on their own, but practice makes perfect! 

• Talk about feelings
It’s important to teach and encourage your child to talk about their own feelings, and also to think about the feelings of others. When you see other children on TV, in books and in the community, you can teach your child to think about others’ feelings by making observations such as, “That child dropped their candy, and now they look sad” or asking questions such as, “How do you think that child feels right now?” Children who have better awareness of others’ feelings tend to have an easier time navigating social situations!

Additional Resources
Social skills resources for parents of children birth to age 3:
https://www.zerotothree.org/resources?

Social-Emotional Health and School Readiness: A Guide for Parents with Children Birth to Age 5 https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/social_emotional_282200_7.pdf

Do you have concerns about your child’s social skills? We have local social skills groups and resources: https://www.wallysplaygroups.com/LINKSOTHERRESOURCES.en.html