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In the last few weeks of our Parent & Child classes, we have explored the world of language development in babies and toddlers under the age of 3. Our weekly themes have included word repetition, letter shapes and sounds, rhyming and story telling.
But why start at such a young age? After all, a poll commissioned by Save The Children’s ‘Read On. Get On’ campaign suggested that up to 61% of parents considered the school years to be the most important learning period for children.
For us, the reason is simple. Here at The Little Gym we believe that it is never too early to introduce babies and toddlers to a wide range of learning concepts. Scientific research indicates that the early years are the most critical in developing a strong foundation for lifelong learning. In effect, they are a ‘lightbulb moment’ and the point in life where children’s brains grow and develop the most rapidly.
Failure to develop adequate language skills in the early years can result in children struggling to in the classroom and lagging behind their peers - with consequences that can last for decades.
Further information about the importance of the early years in speech and language development can be found in Save the Children and the Institute of Child Health at University College London’s 'Lighting Up Young Brains'.
In the past weeks in our Parent and Child classes, we have focused on the different aspects of language development in toddlers. For example, we explored the importance of rhymes and the recognition of letters and letter sounds.
Next week we will be asking parents from our 'Beasts' and 'Super Beasts' classes to choose a story that both they and their little one love and read it seven times in a row! This scenario may be all too familiar with many of you already, as toddlers often want to hear their favourite stories over and over and over again.
So why is repetition so important, and what is the best way to read the story so your little one benefits the most?
Firstly, science has proven that repetition is the key to learning. This is true not only for forward rolls, handstands and cartwheels, but also for everything we learn.
Beyond that repetition is comforting. If you want to read more about the benefits of repetition, you can find a good article here.
A great way to encourage language development is to practice "Active Reading" during story time with your child. Start asking your child questions on each page or at the end to see how much they can remember and comprehend. They can answer using their words, or simply pointing to a picture in the book. Use your finger as a guide following the words while you are reading to teach them that reading goes from left to right. In no time they will sit down with that same book and pretend to read to themselves. Remember NOT to correct their pronunciation, but motivate and encourage by applauding their efforts so they can develop a LOVE of books and confidence in reading.
We are running our brilliantly fun camps for kids over 3 years of age in the week after Easter. Camps are already filling up fast, so don't miss out! The camps are full of laughter, fun and learning and a great way of keeping the kids active during the holidays.
We are already in week 2 of our spring term but it is not to late to join the FUN. Classes are filling up fast, so don't delay and call us today to book your slot
The times, they’re changing, and it’s becoming even more difficult to keep our kids engaged, happy, and well, out of our hair. I know I’m not alone when I say that I have used my friends: television, computer, and tablet as a distraction for my children when I need 30 minutes of peace.
As parents, we know it’s not always easy, but are kids being exposed to too much technology? According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children spend an average of 7 hours a day using media including television, computer, internet, video games, and cell phones. In an ever growing media driven world, it’s becoming even more important to make sure your child is getting active every day.
So, how can you encourage your child to get active? Show them that being active is fun! Exercise as a family by going for a nightly walk, jog, or having a family soccer game in the back yard. You can also get your children involved in activities outside of the home like The Little Gym to help them appreciate a healthy and active lifestyle for years to come. Whether you’re running, jumping, or tumbling, get moving with your child to build the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits!
You know how important it is that your kids eat a healthy dinner every night and we know how hard it is to get your kids to eat the food you want them to eat. If you’re tired of mac & cheese and frozen chicken nuggets, here’s a list of our top five healthy dinners that the whole family will enjoy.
Do children need chores? According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, young children who are given household chores “build a lasting sense or mastery, responsibility and self-reliance.” And what parent doesn’t want that for their child?
The article also found that those who began chores around ages 3 and 4 were more likely to have positive relationships with their families, higher academic success and were also found to be more empathetic and responsive to others needs. Need we say more? Check out these 5 ideas for encouraging your child to help out around the house:
To read the full article, click here.
The Little Gym helps kids develop social skills, which studies find may be the most important factor for long-term success.
Science has confirmed it: nice guys don’t finish last. At least not according to a new study which suggests that kindergarten students who display pro-social behavior may be more likely to graduate college and have steady jobs. The 20 year national study tracked more than 700 children from kindergarten through age 25. The researchers found that young children that scored highest in social competence skills, such as sharing, taking turns, and listening, were four times more likely to graduate from college than those who did not. The study also found that, in some cases, these types of social skills may be better predictors of future success than academic skills.
Positive social skills are something that can be learned and improved upon throughout childhood. Programs at The Little Gym help children grow and develop social skills in a fun environment that provides a different context for learning. Games are purposefully designed to enhance social development and the non-competitive environment encourages children to play with each other rather than against each other. Children learn to become more considerate of one another, more aware of the feelings of others, and more willing to work together for mutual benefit. These essential life skills help children learn how to interact in positive and socially acceptable ways which helps them become well-rounded little people so that, as research now confirms, they grow into well-rounded adults.
Good manners are not something that children will naturally pick up. Children need to be taught, reminded, and reminded again of the importance of having good manners. Good manners help children become well-rounded adults. The trick is to teach your child manners that are age-appropriate so they are able to understand why manners are SO important! Here are 6 manners that are at the top of our good-manners list.
Practice makes perfect – keep practicing and reminding your child of the importance of having good manners. Be repetitive, if your child does not say please then simply make them ‘say the magic word’ and they will begin to catch on! Often times role-playing is a great way to have your child experience the appropriate way to act in certain situations. Great manners go a long way and it is best to begin good practices at a young age!
It starts with a sniffle – next thing you know, the whole household is sneezing, coughing, and passing tissues. If you’re feeling confused about how to treat colds and the flu, you’re not alone. Separate the facts from the fiction and check out the top 3 cold and flu related myths.
Myth #1: The flu vaccine causes the flu: Getting a flu shot may cause symptoms that feel like the flu, but the viruses contained in the flu shots have been killed, or “inactivated.” which means they can’t cause infection. While there may be some achy side effects that can sometimes follow the flu shot, it just means your immune system is responding and processing the vaccine.
Myth #2: You’re more likely to get sick if you’re cold: Despite mom’s warnings that you should bundle up, being cold does not cause a cold. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, infections prevail in winter months because they are spread when more people stay indoors for longer periods of time and are in closer contact with each other.
Myth #3: Hugging and kissing are great ways to spread cold and flu germs: Cold and flu viruses like to enter the body through the nose or eyes, so a hug or a peck on the cheek isn’t likely to be dangerous. Don’t be afraid to give your sick child plenty of affection, and don’t worry that a kiss or hug will spread your germs to him (or vice-versa).
Many parents recognize The Little Gym as a safe and clean place in which to bring their children. We work hard to ensure each and every visit lives up to your expectations. Daily and weekly cleaning and sanitation helps keep our environment sparkly and keeps the germs away. And if your child is feeling a little under the weather, our generous make-up policy allows you to attend a make-up class by simply calling us prior to the absence.
Parents are a child’s greatest influence. As a parent, there are many things you can be doing to establish and strengthen your child’s confidence. Here are 6 tips for strengthening your child’s confidence.
Building self-confidence begins very early in life, it is important to set your child up for success. Use these simple tips to help your child become more confident.
It’s no secret that reading to your child is a good thing – but do you know the positive effects reading has on your child’s development now and in the future? According to a recent study in Time Magazine, reading at home with your child early and often activates the part of the brain that allows them to understand the meaning of language. The study also added that reading has been proven to expand a child’s vocabulary and helps to strengthen the bond between parent and child! Need we say more? Check out these four tips to help make reading together a daily habit:
Everyone knows that physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that it can also go a long way toward children’s brain development? The results of several studies involving grade school children suggest that daily vigorous physical activity can greatly improve children’s development in areas such as a child’s attention, memory, self-control, strategies and goal-setting.
In general, these skills develop rapidly through the elementary school years and then develop at a slower pace during adolescence. The more vigorous exercise a child gets, the more the development of these skills increases and is reinforced. Think of kids on the playground who learn that by pushing themselves to run faster, they can catch who’s “it.” Or consider children shooting hoops who learn that, though it may be frustrating when they miss, the more they practice, the more consistently they’ll make it.
One researcher suggests that:
…in a period when greater emphasis is being placed on preparing children to take standardized tests, these studies should give school administrators reasons to consider investing in quality physical education and vigorous activity programs, even at the expense of time spent in the classroom. Time devoted to physical activity at school does not harm academic performance and may actually improve it. 
So what can you do to help boost your child’s brain through exercise?
Do you read aloud to your child every day? After numerous studies have been conducted to measure the importance of reading aloud to children, The American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new policy in telling parents to read aloud to their children daily.
Reading, singing, and talking to your child starting at birth has a significant impact on your child’s literacy development. During the first three years of a child’s life their brain is like a sponge, soaking up information and growing at a faster rate than any other time in their lives. That is why it is important to begin conversing with your child to enhance that brain development, and to ultimately set your child up for a lifetime of success.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to use the five R’s of Early Childhood Education to help boost your child’s development. The five R’s are;
Reading aloud to your child daily has so many benefits that will help your child enhance their vocabulary and communication skills at a very young age. Use the 5 R’s of Early Childhood Education from The American Academy of Pediatrics to help give you ideas on how to boost your child’s development starting at birth.