30 Tips for Preparing Your Kids for a Successful Back to School Routine

30 Tips for Preparing Your Kids for a Successful Back to School Routine

30 Tips for Preparing Your Kids for a Successful Back to School Routine

Summer is that amazing time of year that we spend most of the other months looking forward to. Especially here in Eastern Canada! It’s filled with fun and excitement and last minute memories made by being flexible enough to jump into just about any activity. It’s hard to imagine that summer planning can be such an important part of preparing for back to school and preparing soon-to-be-students who will be going to school for the first time this fall.

Whether you have kids going to school (preschool, daycare, public school or private and even homeschool) for the first time or you are looking to set yourself for the best year yet after feeling the rush and hectic schedule of last year, we have the back to school tips for setting up a successful school year for you and your family.

The adjustment of diving into summer and returning to the fall routine applies to everyone in the house. As we’ve come to learn, maintaining a summer routine (more about that here) is critical in jumping into a successful start to the school year. It doesn’t need to be as structured as your typical routine throughout the year but listed below are tips to make sure you start the year off strong.

Read On for Back to School Preparation Tips

30 Tips for Preparing Your Kids for a Successful Back to School Routine:

  • Creating Routine
  • Morning Routine and How to Prepare for School in the Morning for a Successful Day
  • End of the Day Routine
  • Evening Routine
  • What to Keep in Mind During the Summer
  • How to Prepare for School During the Summer
  • Preparing Your Home for Back to School
  • Getting Organized
  • Supplies
  • Preparing Little Minds and Hearts
  • Attending School for the First Time
  • Check Ups
  • Social – Emotional Preparation for Children Going to School
  • Setting Children Up with Confidence for Their First Days of School
  • Back to School Preparation for Parents

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

The summer months offer that much needed break from the day to day of school routine of the classroom, much like your vacation from work or home. Although it is always worth every minute and every adventure, think of how you can often feel tired from your vacation, feeling you need a vacation from your vacation! It is very important to rest our minds and our bodies and change is a wonderful way to do that. But preparing everyone for success in the fall can also be a part of your summer and I’m here to help you do just that!

 

30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters

30 Tips for Preparing Your Kids for a Successful Back to School Routine

Things to do to get your child ready for school this fall

Creating Routine

Get your child back into the groove of old routines, or for children starting school, preschool, daycare or homeschool, take the time to integrate and establish new routines. This lets everyone in the house practice the system and iron out what works best for each member in the house. It also allows everyone to know the expectations of each new part of their routine (breaking it down into manageable aspects). Although giving your child a couple of weeks to do this would be great, my friend Kristen of Data Mom and I would argue that maintaining routine all summer long is the best method of success.

Morning Routine

How to prepare for school in the morning

Have quick breakfast plan ready to go! I know at my house, I can power through my to-do list without even thinking of meal planning and it isn’t until the last moment that I think I need snacks for the car, quick breakfasts that are healthy and provide energy to get the morning started and water bottles ready for whatever the day brings. I’ve gotten in a much better habit of preparing breakfasts that are quick and easy and have everything waiting at the front of the fridge so I see it right away.

How long does it take to get everyone where they need to be (just ask Alexa)? Giving yourself a few extra minutes for those hard Mondays, or unexpected events, how long will it ACTUALLY take you to travel where you need to in the morning traffic? Knowing this ahead of time will be so helpful in giving you the time buffers needed. It sounds silly, but giving yourself those few extra minutes puts everyone else at ease if there isn’t an unspoken panic in the car, on the walk, bus or bike (or whatever method of transportation you take) and sets everyone up for a much better day. Think of how you feel when you arrive late for something verses having a few extra minutes. Having your heart race in a negative way like this can create an unnecessary anxiety.

Prepare lunches the night before and have your child be involved (read more on how this increases their independence here). Have aspects of snacks and meals that they can grab themselves to help pack their bag.

Wake at same time each day. This can be tricky with late sleepers in the house but if you gradually wake them a little bit earlier each day, you can establish that new wake up time over the course of a couple of weeks. On the flip side of this is having children learn to stay in bed until it is time to get up. The Gro Clock is an amazing tool for this, teaching kids like mine to stay in bed until the sun shows on the clock. There are so many variations on it, including the adult gentle alarm which mimics the sunrise slowly entering the room. 

Think through the morning requirements for your home and get organized for it the night before. Pack bags, have outdoor clothes ready to go for all weather potential and changes throughout the day, sunscreen ready to be applied before going out the door on those warm days with outdoor play, lunches packed and ready to be taken from the fridge. Anything you need to help get you out the door in a smooth way. Take the time to practice this routine with your kids before the first day of school or care. If you have a mudroom or a set of hooks for everyone in the family, this is a great spot to have everything ready for getting out the door. Get these ahead of time so your little one can get to know that it is theirs. Labels like these are by far the best and come with everything from iron ons, tags for bags and stickers that are customizable, waterproof, dishwasher, microwave and washing machine safe. If that doesn’t cover everything, I don’t know what does! 

 

End of the Day Routine

When school starts, take each evening to talk about your child’s day until this becomes a new part of your family culture. This time provides you the opportunity to talk through any changes to the next day, where each member of the family will be and what is going on during the ins and outs of every day. Having this routine established early on in life and in the school year creates a safe place for conversations about feelings and emotions tied to the day.

Plan for after school. Where does everyone go after the bell rings? Are children coming right home, heading to childcare, getting picked up by a friend or loved one, going to extra curricular events? Whatever the case may be, it’s important that everyone knows where they need to be each day, taking the unexpected away from the child, keeping them in the know, and preparing for if those plans don’t work out with a back up plan. Is everyone comfortable with where they need to go and who (and how) to contact if something was to go off plan?

Along those lines, have established plans for those days when things go off schedule. Someone is home sick, an out of town meeting for mom or dad, or the after school plan falls through. No matter the reason, have a set of back up friends or family to rely on, or care services you can contact with little notice. Kristen shared a recent example of when this becomes so important on her blog, Data Mom.

Eat at same time each day. Set children up for the snack times and meal times they will be experiencing during their day while attending school as well as the suppertime that works for everyone’s schedule at home. Doing this early allows their growing bodies to adjust to the expectation of routine and not being able to eat as they please all day long, as we so often do during the summer. 

 

 

Evening Routine

At the end of the day, ensure that everyone has a responsibility to help prepare for the following day. Picking the clothes to be set out, tidying up the kitchen from supper, feeding pets, packing school bags. Everyone should be involved in making sure that the next day is a great one (more on that here).

Tidy the house the evening before so you start the day off right. Having things decluttered (more on that here) make it easier to find homework, hats and homes for everything, which makes for a smoother start to your morning instead of the panic of lost keys, bags and coats.

Plan clothing for the following day with the kids involved. Have them set out the next day’s outfit so there is no guess work in the morning. I do this for myself as well to take one more decision away from my morning and let’s me enjoy moments with my daughter rather than shuffling through my closet searching for something to wear.

Get back into your school sleep routine. Preparing for this earlier than the night before school begins allows you to deal with those struggles little ones might have going to bed before the sun sets (more on that here) and gets everyone used to bed times and wake up times that make for a successful day. Using tools like Gro Clock can support you in this effort. It’s so tempting to keep kiddos up a little later, especially when they are offering a snuggle, but those bedtimes remain as important as ever (although wavering from time to time is what life is all about!)

 

 

30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters

To Keep in Mind During the Summer

How to prepare for school over the summer

Routine remains just as important in the summer, read more about that here.

Use handheld screens (and TV) less frequently. When routine wavers we often resort to reaching out to our favourite devices to watch a show, play a game or check into our social media. This is illustrated to our children and becomes a part of their everyday. In preparing for the time our children will be away from screens and devices with school expectations, it’s important to set this standard early on.

 

Preparing Your Home for Back to School

Getting Organized

Create a designated “school work” area in your house where homework or projects can be completed with you nearby for support. We have a small table in our living room that my daughter uses as her work table while I do work at the kitchen table. I can also pick away at a few chores or meal preparation while she works at her table on crafts or her Love of Learning Binder. She has her bucket of pencils and markers, scissors and paper that she can easily grab for any project she wants to create and has this special space for her work. This will set foundation for creating a routine for homework in the school years and establishing the importance of having a space to keep materials and tools for learning.

Make a plan for home spaces used in the morning. In my family, the three of us need to share the single (and tiny) bathroom which normally isn’t a problem. But in the morning rush, we all need in there to brush teeth and hair, and having to all be out the door at the same time makes that tough. While my daughter is young, we’ve come up with a strategy of turn taking to make this work but when she gets older we will have to block time that each of us can be in there so she can easily have her own time and space in without monopolizing the whole room.

Set up a family calendar or area in your house where all forms, paperwork and information for each member of the family can be found. For us, this is the fridge since it is central in the house and is in line from the two main entrances of the house. This gets us in the habit of putting all important information there as soon as we come in the door and marking down where everyone needs to be and when. If you are a technology house or have older children who have tech in their hands, you might prefer to have a shared calendar like what Google Calendar offers (which you can update quickly and easily with Alexa’s help). Then everyone can input their updates in the moment and the information is accessible to everyone in the group. Another tool I have used in the past is Trello (it’s free) which creates to-do lists that the whole family can log into and edit. But at the end of the day I like pen to paper and I like to have a planner that I can take with me where ever I go and LOVE LOVE LOVE my Erin Condren planner. It’s customizable, beautiful and I have a $10 off coupon for you here (*pro tip* if you join her newsletter you get an additional 10% off*) Whatever works for you, keep it all in one place. If you have a mudroom this could be a great place to set up this drop zone.

30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters

 

Getting Your Back to School Supplies

If your school requests that you have supplies with you on the first day, involve your children in choosing those items and make it a fun experience at the store or shop for amazing deals on Amazon, or better yet, shop like the pros in supplies shopping (teachers!) at the Discount School Supply Store ! (my personal favorite and where I shopped for supplies for the daycare!) Backpacks, lunch boxes, pencils and paper don’t need to be brand new if you are on a budget or not looking to purchase something new, but it can be fun to organize all the tools for learning for this new season in your child’s life. Also have some fun and exciting tools for learning at home to enrich the experience and to make homework a breeze. Make sure to label everything with your child’s name to encourage ownership and responsibility (more on that here)

Check sales for back to school clothes and play clothes and assess what you actually need for the year. I love to check out consignment shops so I can feel confident that my daughter can play to her heart’s content and get as messy as she likes without staining a brand new and pricey item of clothing. I make sure I have a few go-to outfits that can be packed in a bag and kept at school, daycare, after school care or where ever she may be, just in case it’s needed, but I also love to treat her to a few cute outfits of her choosing – our favorite – Peekaboo Beans!

30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters

Preparing Little Minds and Hearts

Attending School for the First Time

If your child is starting school for the first time, starting a new school or feeling extra anxious about school beginning again, ask your school if you can visit in the late spring before letting out for the year, or if you can visit the day before school begins while the teachers are preparing for student arrivals.

Check Ups

Make appointments for checkups so that you aren’t interrupting the school year to get their yearly visits in and you can make sure everything is A-okay before everyone gets busy with school and extracurricular activities. Click here on strategies and freebies to making a first trip to the dentist a success!

Social-Emotional Preparation for Children Going to School

If your child is going to school based on their school zone, find out if there are children in your area going to the same school that you can introduce to your child ahead of time. Seeing a friendly face on the first day (on the bus, in the classroom, on the playground) can go a long way to setting your child at ease.

If your child will be travelling to school with someone other than you (bus, carpool, walking), go through the route with them and talk them through about what to expect.

Set them up for the tasks they will be doing independently. Bathroom activities, keeping track of their belongings (name tags help) are all key in ensuring they feel prepared and to prevent overwhelm in those moments at school

Setting Children Up with Confidence for Their First Days of School

Read 20-30 minutes a day with your child is so important for so many reasons in addition to the bond that you are creating. Reading about back to school is a great way to reintroduce this topic and conversation. This provides a great opportunity for talking through emotions and feelings associated with going to school.

To ensure your child feel confident in what they know, spend time each day going over the core concepts that they will be learning in school. Mastering all skills isn’t as important as introducing them and providing a comfort with all there is to be learned. Children are sponges and learn so incredibly quickly and giving them a head start with resources like the Love of Learning Binder is providing them more opportunity and setting them up for lifelong success. 

Back To School _DSeries 125x125

Back to School Preparation for Parents

If you are feeling anxious about the separation of having your child start school, be honest with your child (as noted, books and play provide amazing opportunity to talk through feelings for both parents and children) but be sure to not place your anxiety upon them. Talk to them about the milestone and how exciting it will be, how many opportunities will open for them (new friends, new play, new books and toys, new adventures and so on) and how wonderful it will be to talk about them together at the end of the day.

Have supper plans ready for the week ahead. Involve the kids in this as there is so much learning opportunity, and having the extra helping hands doesn’t hurt. For an awesome freebie on keeping learning top of mind when it comes to meal planning, click here. Planning ahead for supper takes one more decision off of your shoulders, let’s the kids know what to expect when supper time comes while allows things to come together more quickly for those hungry, hurried bellies.

Check if you have any paperwork that needs to be completed before the beginning of school or childcare. For many first time attendees, there may be information shared from your child’s new teacher (think school supply lists or other updates), or given on those last days of school. Many of these forms can be found on your school’s website if you need a second copy or are looking for recommendations on specific to-do’s for your school. If you are homeschooling, you may want to look into curriculum guides or supports that are helpful for you which can set you up on the right path for your program. If there are any notable dates, holidays, events, it’s a great time to get them on the calendar now.

How Are You Preparing for Back to School This Year?

Ensuring you’re setting everyone in the house up for success for the school year, it’s a great idea to lay the groundwork for the school routine before having to jump right into it using some (or all) of the tips listed. I would love to hear how you prepare for back to school and what you are doing this year to make sure it is a successful one from the start! As always, comment below or reach out to me directly here.

30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters

My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

Why I love Crayola Products I love Crayola products! Who doesn't?! Crayola makes reliable, dependable, arts and crafts products geared toward children while keeping parent needs in mind. And they cannot be compared to in regard to quality. Have you used a crayon at a...

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The Best Teaching Resources That You Can Use at Home

The Best Teaching Resources that Teachers Use at Home that You Will LOVE to Have Around the House! Teaching resources aren't just for the classroom As a teacher, I found ways to make my day run more smoothly in the classroom and to support the children getting the...

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The Best Lunch Boxes for Your Child

Searching for the Best School Lunch Box How Do I Choose the Best Lunch Box? I Ask Another Mom! Little Bee is about to start preschool and I have been searching all over for the best lunch box to send with her each day. Something easy for her to open, but also offers...

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Parenting advice from experts and storytellers. The best TEDTalks for Moms who want the best for their children I want the best for my daughter I am constantly striving to create an environment of learning for my daughter. I feel heavy from time to time, with the...

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30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters
Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking about how a few cubes of ice in the bowl take longer to melt than the one cube that was sitting on the hot pavement turned into a beautiful story about having friends to help us. For me it was a profound eye opener to all that my daughter can learn with these simple invitations and activities. I started thinking about all the ways that we use water to play regularly each day and all that Little Bee learns from it. In this post I’ll be sharing:

  • What is Water Play?
  • What is the Importance of Water Play?
  • The 14 Benefits of Water Play for Children
  • Great Tools for Water Play
  • Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
  • Water Play Safety
  • Books About Water Play

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard

What is water play?

Water play is an open ended invitation to learn through play using water in any form (ideas shared below). By providing these simple but meaningful learning opportunities for your child you are allowing them to investigate, test theories, strengthen their bodies, develop their social-emotional skills and so much more. Read on to learn the 14 benefits of water play for children and some great activities to engage your little learner using the water around them.  

What is the importance of water play for children?

Versatile and unique each time, water play allows this open ended invitation for learning through play and opens up this learning to the rest of the day and into lifelong experience. As you will read in the benefits and development that comes from this incredibly simple activity, you’ll find yourself happily providing buckets and tubs of water for your little one to enjoy all year long! Children are able to develop in all areas, experiment, investigate, and discover, all the wonders of water. Although normally provided to younger children as a learning tool, children of all ages love water play (even adults find themselves pouring and stirring to relax in the beautiful outdoors).

Benefits of Water Play for Children

Click each link below to learn more about the identified area of learning.

1. Develop motor skills and physical strength:

Both fine and gross motor skills are developed during water play while using tools such as cups and bowls for pouring, brushes and sponges for scrubbing and squeezing, spoons and sticks for stirring and splashing, mastering pincer grip (key in pencil holding for drawing and writing), carrying buckets of water across the yard, lifting pots filled with water out of a larger container. Kicking legs and moving arms in the pool, splashing mom and dad in the wading pool or stomping in the puddles. The whole body is engaged and being strengthened.

2. Develop hand eye coordination:

Using the above listed tools for play, children are mastering the messages from brain to muscles to fine tune their coordination through play. These skills are helpful in reading, writing, sports, daily life tasks such as self dressing, just to name a few.

3. Learning about temperature:

Changing forms of water based on temperature. How water cools, or warms depending on the temperature of the air, how those (safely) feel on our skin.

4. Problem solving skills:

Water play expects no specific outcome or pressure for the child and provides hands on learning which promotes faster and more meaningful understanding in problem solving. Playing with the impact water has on well loved toys; those that sink or float, have holes that water flows through are just the beginning in figuring out the power of water.

5. Develop imaginative play and creative thinking:

Working through a complex problem like what to do when a container has a hole in it, or when water needs to move from one place to another, children are able to stretch the boundaries of their imagination and creativity to come up with clever solutions to new but playful problems.

6. Language Development:

Between the shrieks of excitement and bursts of laughter, you will be able to introduce few words to your little ones: splash, wave, wet, damp, dry, weight, bob, sink, drain, flow, pour, drenched, drip, bubble, stir, spill to name a few. Encouraging them to describe what they are doing as they do it allows you to add on to their sentence with these new words, while building their confidence and strength in conversation development.

7. Emotional Development:

Although initially exciting, playing with water allows children to do an activity over and over (such as pouring) resulting in a relaxation and calmness. Playing in larger bodies of water burns incredible amounts of energy by using the whole body in play which is a wonderful stress reliever for children. The beautiful sounds created by flowing water, waves crashing, trickling drips and drops creates an ambiance of peace and tranquility.

8. Concentration:

Doing an activity over and over (using the example of pouring again) allows children to focus on what is going on and take new information away from the activity, while promoting space and time for them to come up with creative thoughts. It’s incredible what conversations can erupt from a simple pouring activity.

9. Social skills:

When playing in the water with a group, children are encouraged to share and cooperate; sharing tools and space and cooperating over the flow of the water to keep it from spilling out of the bucket or table, or pouring slowly so a friend can catch the water.

10. Sensory play (more information here):

Water itself provides an incredible sensory experience, but adding materials of all sorts (ideas listed below) will intrigue your little ones senses and extend this play activity into an amazing developmental one.

11. Science and math (post on math development here) development:

Mixing materials, full, empty, more, less, heavy, light, fast, slow, measure, compare, buoyancy, temperature, movement, float, sink, melt, freeze, estimation, counting, tallying, the way water flows, how many buckets does it take to fill the wading pool, what happens if there is a hole in one of the buckets? It’s so amazing what is covered in what seems to be such simple play. Complex ideas covered in school are experienced in real life and hands on learning while splashing in the water.

12. Dramatic and pretend play:

By acting out real life situations such as washing dishes, scrubbing toys, giving toys a bath, cooking, become a scientist (mad or otherwise), children are given a stage to learn more about the world and people around them and to practice real life skills.

13. Nature connection:

Take this play outside and use the natural items around you to engage with the water. Leaves that float, rocks that sink, wind blowing bubbles, what happens when the sun shines on icicles hanging from the house? You don’t need to spend a fortune to have engaging and meaningful water play.

14. Apply to everyday activities and connect to real world:

Using a bucket of water outside and adding anything from mud to flour, you can allow your little one to learn about how the consistency of the mixture changes, how it becomes more difficult to stir. This is a great time to take conversation to what they might know about in the kitchen when baking or when using paint. What happens when we stir two things together? Then, when you are together in the kitchen making supper or a special treat, you can easily transfer this information to what they see before them (great freebie downloadable activity for that here). Taking the play conversations to other activities extends the learning and supports your child in making connections about the world.

Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard
Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard

Great Tools for Water Play

Although certainly not necessary, there are amazing toys on the market that can extend playful learning with water.

Green Toys Seaplane Green
Green Toys Tide Pool Bath Set
Science4you - Water Experiments
Splish & Splash Water Play Set

Activities that you can easily do at home to enrich water play

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers We love playing with water in any form (and there are lots!):

  • Buckets and tubs of water on the kitchen floor, in the backyard or driveway
  • Water balloons (adding color to burst on white paper when thrown, or simply enjoying the movement of water inside the balloon)
  • Sprinkler fun
  • Watching ice cubes melt
  • Tea party
  • Painting with ice cubes
  • Creating in the snow, painting snow, bring snow inside
  • Watering plants (indoor and out)
  • Creating mud pies
  • Splashing in the tub
  • Jelly water beads (these are a favorite at our house)
  • Swimming at the pool
  • Jumping in puddles
  • Making rainbows in the sunshine by spraying the hose
  • Blowing and creating bubbles
  • Local wading pools and water parks
  • Washing dishes (and toys) in the sink or outside
  • Playing in a nearby pond, lake or beach
  • “Painting” with water (this helps to get lawn furniture super clean, or the side of the house!)
  • Spray bottles
  • Funnels and tubes. How can you connect all the funnels and tubes to make a long path for the water?
  • Watering cans
  • Creating your own waterfalls by building a rock or wooden wall
  • Making paper boats to race
  • Making paddles out of wood
  • Adding sparkles, rocks, sand, dirt, grass, flour or rice
  • Pasta (cooked or raw)
  • Food coloring (I know this sounds messy but read this to learn about the benefits).
  • Extend the play by handing your child a mop
  • Taking standard indoor toys outside and see how they deal with being immersed in water
  • Popsicle sticks soaked in water overnight and then shaped along the inside of a tin can (when it dries in this form it becomes a bracelet which you could paint!)
  • A bar of soap and liquid soap
  • Using kitchen items (spoons, bowls, pancake flippers) makes for a world of fun.
  • Throw all sorts of items in the water and see which float and which sink. This is a great activity to use a tally sheet and count each item and then separate and compare. Amazing math skills being learned here.
Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard

What to keep in mind for water play with children – water play safety

  • Adult supervision – water is always dangerous for children, even small amounts of water. In addition to how much more meaningful it is to have you involved in the play it is critically important that you stay nearby for safety. If you’re swimming in a body of water, pool or splash pad and don’t feel confident around water yourself, ensure that you are somewhere that a lifeguard is employed and is properly trained.
  • This is a good chance to also talk about water safety without creating a sense of fear. Having a respect for water can go a long way to ensure lifelong safety around water. You are never saying this too often and reminders as your child gets older (despite rolling eyes) is well worth it.
  • Lifejackets and floatation devices are wonderful but they are not all created equal. Make sure to check that it fits properly, has not expired and is not damaged before using and a proper safety tool like this should be marked with your country’s safety standards.
  • Although it doesn’t always need to, water play tends to be outside. To stay safe in the sun ensure you are using a good quality sunscreen like our favourite one here.
  • As always, using small toys (or learning tools such as ice) poses a choking hazard for children. Use caution and be an active member in the play.
  • Slippery when wet – yup. Everything gets slippery and sloppy and messy. Towels everywhere make this much better but a good spray with the garden hose first helps. If you’re playing inside it goes without saying (even though I am indeed saying it now) that the floor will be a mess and very dangerous to walk on for feet of all sizes. More towels. All of the towels.
  • Have the children take part in the clean up as part of the activity and setting the stage for responsibility (read more about that here).
Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard

Amazing books about water play

Have a look at Big Sarah’s Little Boots by Paulette Bourgeois (Published by Kids Can Press), The Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch (Annick Press), or D.W. All Wet, by Marc Brown (Little, Brown).

With a beautiful summer ahead of us, Little Bee and I have many more days of water play ahead and will update the list as we come up and test out more activities.

 

I would love to hear from you on how you use water play to engage your child at home. Do you like to make it extra messy and add fun ingredients to the water or keep it simple and splash around with toys and tools?

My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

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The Best Teaching Resources That You Can Use at Home

The Best Teaching Resources that Teachers Use at Home that You Will LOVE to Have Around the House! Teaching resources aren't just for the classroom As a teacher, I found ways to make my day run more smoothly in the classroom and to support the children getting the...

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The Best Lunch Boxes for Your Child

Searching for the Best School Lunch Box How Do I Choose the Best Lunch Box? I Ask Another Mom! Little Bee is about to start preschool and I have been searching all over for the best lunch box to send with her each day. Something easy for her to open, but also offers...

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Parenting Advice from Experts and Storytellers

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Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

I recently took Little Bee to the dentist for the first time. It had been one of those things I just never had the time for when we were busy running the daycare and I felt awful for not having gone sooner. She is already 2.5 and it is recommended by the Canadian Dental Association that children go within six months of their first tooth popping through. Oops… But we really didn’t have any concerns about her oral health and we have a dentist in the family who had taken a look a few times over the last 2 years. She’s been so great to brush and floss each day since we had made that a part of her routine (read more about the importance of routine here) so early on in her life.

But it was time to take her before fears and messaging from others led her to believe it was a negative experience, when it most certainly doesn’t need to be. We’ve read so many wonderful books that focus on tooth care and dentists that she was gaining interest on her own and I wanted to run with it. I also knew that the dentist office was not an environment like any other she had seen before and she is very sensitive to noise, which there can be a lot of at the dentist. But it needed to be done.

In this post I’ll be sharing:

  • 20 Tips for Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist
  • The Best Books for Introducing the Dentist to Your Child
  • What You Can Expect From Your First Visit to the Dentist – Our Experience
  • Fun (and Educational) Activities You Can Do with Your Kids at Home to Learn about the Dentist and Tooth Care (with freebies to download!)
  • Amazing Videos and Songs to Support You in Preparing for Your Child’s First Dentist Trip
  • Songs to Print Off and Sing with Your Kids to Make Tooth Brushing a Little Bit More Fun (free download)!

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Preparing for the First Trip to the Dentist with Your Child

 

20 Tips for Preparing Your Child for their First Trip to the Dentist

  1. Make oral care a regular part of your routine (more on the importance of routines here). Brushing and flossing every day is a great chance to talk about our teeth: why they are important and why we need to take care of them. Brush your child’s teeth to ensure they are cleaned correctly and then let them follow up on their own (post about buildling independence and responsibility here) while you watch and support. Do this until they get the hang of it and check in often to make sure it is being done correctly. 
  2. Let them see you taking great care of your own teeth! Tell them why you brush when you do, what it looks like to see you flossing and how it’s a part of your everyday as well.
  3. Read about the dentist and taking care of our teeth (recommendations below). Including the tooth fairy (optional to your house and beliefs on these things) was an aspect that peaked my daughter’s interest. Why would a fairy want me to brush my teeth?! It was a fun reason to dive into more books!
  4. Watch videos about what they will see when they go to the dentist (provided for you below) so your child can see and hear what they will encounter: chair, equipment, noises.
  5. Some people recommend having your child join you for an appointment of your own but I didn’t opt to do this. My daughter is a social butterfly and I knew she would be in the office’s lunch room chatting it up with anyone she could as soon as I was under the lamp and mid way through a cleaning. It just wasn’t going to work for us. If I had been able to bring someone along to have her see the beginning of my visit, I might have done this but I knew my office was willing to offer a meet and greet that was all about her.
  6. Remind your child about what they will see and hear at the dentist before their appointment, keeping it positive, light and simple and in line with their development and age.
  7. Stay positive about the whole experience. From every tooth brushing, story read and appointment made. I know that lots of people have stories that would give you goosebumps about the dentist but it really doesn’t need to be that way if you find the right care. Be a positive role model for a great experience. 
  8. Go to the dentist early on in your child’s development (this is one of those “do as I recommend, not as I do” points… *mom guilt cringe*)
  9. Choose a dentist office that works well with children or specializes in children. Ask your friends where they go, reach out to local Facebook groups for recommendations, check a few out online and make calls. Don’t hesitate to go in ahead of time and check it out if you haven’t been there before.
  10. Play dentist at home! Let you child check your teeth, print off the freebies I’ve included in this post and set up a dentist office in your living room or playroom. After watching a few videos, let your child take the lead on what they want to act out (more on that here) and listen for hesitation or questions in their play. Be there to answer questions through playing along. Check everyone’s teeth in the family (with their consent) and favorite stuffed animals who may be due for a check up.
  11. Let your dentist know ahead of time of any concerns or habits that may impact healthy oral development like thumb sucking or going to bed with milk or juice. That way they can be prepared with excellent information for you and not have to discuss it in front of your child if you preferred they didn’t.
  12. Talk with your dental office about what they do during a first visit as each office offers something different. I’ll go through what happened at ours further on in the post. But knowing ahead of time prevents a surprised Mama face for your child, and allows you time to reassure and prepare both your child and yourself.
  13. Use fun toothbrushes (like this awesome light up timer brush that’s super reasonably priced) that are appropriate for children but make tooth brushing time engaging.
  14. Use floss that takes the intimidation of having a giant set of adult hands in their mouth like these amazing flossers that we use
  15. Find out if your local water source adds fluoride to the water. Many communities do but lots do not. It’s extra important to use flouride early on especially if you don’t have flouride in your water (more on that here from the Canadian Dental Association).
  16. Use a toothpaste with fluoride, (in the smallest amount you can get on the brush – smaller than a pea – see previous point) especially if your child doesn’t spit it out)  keeping in mind a little goes a long way. These kits are awesome for stocking up on toothbrushes and paste with characters your kids love.
  17. Avoid starchy and sugary foods as they can cause issues with decay. I know right, your child lives on pasta and crackers like mine, but here’s a post and activity that will help with that.
  18. Prepare yourself for non-standard behavior from your child and just roll with it. Part of the preparation really is within yourself and being relaxed. There is a lot going on in a dental office and it’s not unreasonable for your child to be uncomfortable (and they always have an exciting way to show you that emotion, don’t they?). You don’t need to accomplish anything in particular at this appointment. The goal is a warm introduction and not a series of successful tests. It’s all about your child and letting them come to understand what happens at the dentist. If you need to leave early, that’s fine. Anything the office needs to know they can collect over the phone after if your time is cut short.
  19. Bring along a favorite stuffed animal or comfort item and let your child know that you will also be there every step of the way.
  20. Have fun with it, take pictures and enjoy yet another incredible milestone. Our children grow to fast and this is a big step in setting them up for lifelong success. Pat yourself on the back for being an amazing mom!
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips
Back To School _DSeries 125x125

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Introducing the Dentist to Your Child Through Books

These are the best books we have in our home library about the dentist and they are in high rotation.

Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips

What to expect on the first trip to the dentist with your toddler or preschooler

Our experience was really wonderful. After spending lots of time talking about teeth and taking care of our teeth each day, I knew Little Bee was eager to see what it was all about and the meet and greet my dental office offered was perfect for this!

Going to the Dentist for the First Time

We decided to go early enough that I could fill out the required paperwork for a first visit (which just ensures that there are no health problems or concerns) and to let Little Bee take a peek around. But I knew not to go so early that she would be having a difficult time waiting for her turn for something she was now excited about.

Choosing the Right Care for a First Dentist Visit

Although it is often recommended to go to a paediatric dentist, I opted to go to my normal dentist and dental hygienist as I knew them well and felt they would work wonderfully with my daughter. This was my choice and I have heard from many friends that they were pleased to go to a special dentist geared toward children. I think this is a preference thing. I knew my daughter would be more than fine at my office (and my office more than fine with her) so I didn’t want to have to switch her care after she outgrew the children’s dentist.

Warmly met in the waiting room by our fantastic dental hygienist, Pierre, we were led into the well known version of a dental office: the chair, light, equipment and sounds. Little Bee can be sensitive to noise and this was the only area I thought would be a problem. But, after telling her that the noises around her were suctions like the vacuum we had at home and clicking drawers and tools being used to help people, she seemed to be happy with the explanation and moved onto wondering about the chair and why it was so big.

What happens at a child’s first dentist visit

This visit was all about an introduction and when I had called to book the appointment the receptionist reminded me of the expectation that it would be quick, simplified and talk through all the normal activities of a dental checkup; perfect for us.

Pierre showed Little Bee how the chair moved up and down, some of the commonly used tools (mirror, water, suction, polisher) and let her investigate them as she wished. He gave her a glove to hold onto and to keep her hands busy, took images of her teeth with a tiny camera and showed her the pictures on the screen. He was clear to explain exactly what he was going to do before he did it and watched for signs of hesitation from my daughter. I really can’t say enough about his approach with children and the care he took to make sure she was comfortable, asking the millions of questions she had for him. Thank you, Pierre!

After going through the basics with her, he gave her teeth a quick check and talked with me about our oral care routines at home. To include her in the conversation, he brought out a giant set of teeth for her to brush with an equally oversized toothbrush – the highlight of the trip! He used the opportunity to talk to her about healthy brushing habits and the importance of flossing. He offered to polish her teeth, which she welcomed for a few pearly whites but lost interest in that pretty quickly. That was more than okay because we had already achieved what I had hoped for in a pleasant and positive first visit.

An Easy First Experience (for both of us) at the Dentist

After all was said and done, Pierre let Little Bee pick a toy from a box and a new toothbrush of her choosing (along with some other loot which she wasn’t as excited about; floss and toothpaste made for kiddos! Momma Bee on the other hand was pumped for the free stuff!), we were led back out the way we came with high fives and smiles from everyone we encountered. I paid the bill, booked the next appointment in 6 months time and we were done!

It was quick and easy; a relief for me and an adventure for her, and a reminder of why I love my dental office so much.

Activities You Can Do at Home with Your Child to Talk About the Dentist and Taking Care of Their Teeth

Learning through play is a huge passion of mine (more about the benefits here), so creating opportunities to talk with Little Bee while we play goes a long way in preparing her for big events in her life, like going to the dentist for the first time and taking on the care of her teeth as she gets older. Talking about why it’s important to brush our teeth might not be the most enthralling discussion for a 2.5 year old, but paired with a fun activity, it can easily become a story all on it’s own.

 

Great ideas for learning through play about tooth care

 

Cleaning Teeth (using a toothbrush)

 

Using the freebies provided, which you can download now by clicking the purple and teal buttons below, you can print off a great big tooth to be laminated (or not, your preference). If you are going to laminate the tooth, you will be able to do this activity again and again by having your little one (or you) draw or write (depending on age) all the foods that can stain or damage our teeth with a whiteboard marker. Then with a toothbrush (that you are no longer using for brushing teeth) you can wipe away the words, pictures and marks that had been made on the tooth!

 

If you decide not to laminate, or print additional copies on paper alone, you can use your toothbrush and floss to paint your tooth (finger paint recipe here) with fun designs, getting your child comfortable manipulating the brush and floss, getting to know them and allowing for conversations to happen naturally around tooth care.

 

Playing dentist

 

Printing off the bits and pieces that you may find at the dentist office in the freebie provided, you can turn your living room or playroom into a dentist’s office! Let your child watch the videos provided below and give them the printed (and laminated for lasting play) aspects of a dental office. You can tell them the name of each and model how to use them on a teddy or sibling (match the word and object with older children for an additional literacy activity). Let your child take charge of the play if they are interested or simply leave the printables out and watch the play unfold when you least expect it! When inviting play like this, it’s best to keep your eyes and ears available to hear any hesitation, questions or concern you child plays out and take the opportunity to jump into the game and reassure your little one through positive reminders and support about the dentist and dental hygienist. Your voice, body language and comfort with “playing dentist” will go a long way to set your little ones at ease for their own experience.

 

Songs about our teeth make brushing more fun!

 

I discovered these amazing songs from Family First Dental’s website and thought they were too good not to share so I created my own printables of their songs (with a few changes to make it our own)! How cute are these?! Feel free to download your copy and sing along with your kids when it’s tooth brushing time!

 

The Best Videos That Introduce Your Child to the Dentist and Tooth Care

This first video is really sweet – it walks you through a little boy’s first adventure with the dentist and then goes into more information about teeth and taking care of our teeth. It’s a pretty old clip – think back to when YOU probably watched it on TV when it first aired… but the information is all great and worth watching with your little one.
 
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips

Awesome stories and songs about going to the dentist and taking care of teeth to watch with your children

After having this first visit under our belt, Little Bee and I plan to go twice a year to the dentist until they recommend otherwise. Keeping the care of her teeth top of mind we will continue to implement the routine of brushing and flossing at least twice a day (more if a sugary or sticky meal has been enjoyed because let’s get real, it happens). But key to all of this really is the nutrition we provide our children, critical to their physical, mental, psychological, and oral development. Choosing foods and drinks that partner with healthy tooth development and maintenance continues to be important in her overall development, and mine too. That part is hard to remember when you have a soft spot for cupcakes like I do…

I would love to hear about your first experiences at the dentist with your little ones or what you have on your mind as you think about taking your child for the first time.

A beautiful resource for homeschooling, and enriching learning through play at home with toddlers and preschoolers, which will take them into adulthood. Builds upon core concepts that are increasingly challenging so as your little ones grow and knowledge expands, you have the resources to support them all in one place.

Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,

The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.

Here for you, Momma!

My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

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The Best Teaching Resources That You Can Use at Home

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The Best Lunch Boxes for Your Child

Searching for the Best School Lunch Box How Do I Choose the Best Lunch Box? I Ask Another Mom! Little Bee is about to start preschool and I have been searching all over for the best lunch box to send with her each day. Something easy for her to open, but also offers...

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Parenting Advice from Experts and Storytellers

Parenting advice from experts and storytellers. The best TEDTalks for Moms who want the best for their children I want the best for my daughter I am constantly striving to create an environment of learning for my daughter. I feel heavy from time to time, with the...

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Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

With an amazing freebie to boost the summer fun, we walk you through the ways you can keep a routine and plan for an amazing summer with your kids even with all that summer uncertainty #planning #toddler #preschoolers #summerbucketlist #freedownload

Summer Days with Kids

Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that the colder months of the year tend not to allow. It also means we are all over the map when it comes to our schedule. Well, not this year! This year I vow to maintain some consistency to my days, and you’ll soon hear why my friend Kristen Evans and I believe so strongly in routine and how to work around the challenges to keeping one in the summer.

Kristen and I will share:

  • What a flexible summer routine could look like with little ones at home
  • Dealing with the challenges of creating and maintaining a summer routine
  • Great ideas for activities to do with your children throughout the summer to help support and maintain your schedule while creating amazing memories (with a printable to download and check off as you do them!)
With an amazing freebie to boost the summer fun, we walk you through the ways you can keep a routine and plan for an amazing summer with your kids even with all that summer uncertainty #planning #toddler #preschoolers #summerbucketlist #freedownload
With an amazing freebie to boost the summer fun, we walk you through the ways you can keep a routine and plan for an amazing summer with your kids even with all that summer uncertainty #planning #toddler #preschoolers #summerbucketlist #freedownload

The Challenge of Maintaining a Routine in the Summer with Children

Kristen and I are both passionate about routine when it comes to our little ones, knowing full well the benefits that come from a flexible structure to those we love so much. This can be a bit more challenging in those summer months when you are flying by the inspiration of the day, maybe even sneaking an ice cream cone in before supper and often falling off a bedtime routine. Things always seem a little more in flux in the summer as you spend more time outside, getting grass stains on knees and soaking in the sunshine, all of which is so important to those memories made and learning opportunities to be had. Even among those moments of beauty, toes in water, warm breeze blowing your hair in every direction, there remains importance in consistency, and expectations set. Kristen was just the person to talk to when it came time to coming up with a routine to fit into our summer.

A Guide to Creating Routine with Children in Mind

Kristen speaks with such experience on her blog Data Mom, where she shares the importance of putting our children’s needs in the forefront using what we know about them and how it impacts their day. Her passion for supporting and empowering children by using the information they share with us to help us shape a plan for them is so clear in her writing. I knew she would be a wonderful guide in taking steps to create our summer routine, so I asked her a few questions:

https://datamomkristen.com/home/three-simple-tools-to-improve-daily-routines/

Why is it so important to have a routine, even during the summer when we often think of it as a time to run barefoot in the grass?

Having a routine or loose schedule gives our kiddos a framework of what to expect during the day or upcoming week. This can be even more important during summer when the week is not shaped by the school schedule. This can help transitions from one activity to the next go much more smoothly. For example, we will run barefoot in the grass as soon as we finish eating lunch.   Especially as families plan travel and other activities during the summer, it’s important that we let our kiddos know, on a level they can understand, what we will be doing (Read more in Kristen’s amazing post: Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: Why Kids Need Schedules and Routines for Summer).

What are the main areas we should focus on keeping structured and which areas could we be more flexible on?

Especially for our little ones, eating and sleeping routines should stay pretty structured. My kiddos tend to need their sleep. Even Lucy who’s almost 5 doesn’t do well if she is kept up past her bedtime. I also like to keep a loose morning routine of getting up and getting dressed even if we don’t have specific plans. This way if a play date or errand does come up, we are ready to go.   Chores and errands are another area I like to keep structured. While our kiddos should have more opportunities for fun during the summer, that doesn’t mean Mom and Dad get left with all the responsibility. With kiddos at home and playing outdoors or having playdates, there are likely more dirty dishes and more laundry. I describe lots of ways kids can help with daily chores in Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: How to Build a Summer Schedule.   Flexibility comes as we take advantage of all the activities summer gives us an opportunity to do as a family, whether you are going on vacation, visiting friends and family, having play dates, exploring museums, or of course enjoying the great outdoors. If you are traveling, be sure to pack some of those structured routines with you to give your kiddos comfort when in a new place.

What can we do to support a routine when something unexpected comes along (visitors, illness, change in location)?

Especially if you have younger kiddos, it can be helpful to proactively ask family and friends to give you a heads up before stopping by. This way, you can give your child a head’s up, for example, “Grandma is going to stop by on the way to the store. It will be fun to see Grandma!”   When the unexpected does happen, you can let your child know how the event fits in with the routines they were expecting, for example, “Grandma surprised us with a visit! We’re going to visit with Grandma for a little while, then eat dinner and take a bath.”   A little explanation can go a long way in reassuring your kiddo that the activities they are expecting will still get done. When a kiddo is sick, that might sound like this: “You need to rest today since you don’t feel well. We’ll go to the park another day.”   If possible, bring your routines with you when you travel. Reading a favorite bedtime story and doing the expected bedtime activities in the same order can help your kiddo feel more comfortable going to sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room or relative’s home.

Do you have any resources to help us create and maintain routine with our little ones?

I talk about three of my favorite schedule and routine resources in my short guide, Three Simple Tools to Improve Daily Routines. In addition to those, I recommend explaining to our kiddos what the plans are and following through with what we said would happen. There are a number of other cues that can signal the time to change activities, such as a clock chiming or even the dryer turning off. I give examples of what this looks like for my kiddos in Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: How to Build a Summer Schedule.

What does your summer routine look like with your children?

Because my husband and I both continue to work over the summer, Liam continues to go to daycare and Lucy stays with a family friend while school is out. Their summer schedule changes from the school year schedule; this year, we are trying three longer days of care so we can have longer weekends for family time, play dates, and other summer activities. I will be taking weeks off here and there since the families I work with have summer plans of their own. During our long weekends and other days off, we typically get up, have breakfast (I joke that my kiddos are awake by 6 and starving by 6:01, so breakfast happens very shortly after eyes open at my house), get dressed and such in no particular hurry, run any errands we have to run, then have the rest of our day for play, play dates, and other activities.

What are some fun ways you and your children like to spend your summer days?

We love to visit a nearby zoo, go to the library, and spend lots of time with friends and family. We are very fortunate to have two wonderful families living next to and across the street from us. Between the three families there are seven kiddos so there is never a shortage of friends to play with! There will also be lots of visits with grandparents (my parents live just a few miles away and my husband’s parents are a few hours away).  Lucy has a few close friends at preschool she is looking forward to having playdates with, and we are also planning her 5th birthday party this summer. 

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Kristen

Kristen

DataMomKristen.com

I am a former special education teacher and practicing behavior analyst. My favorite and also most challenging position is Mom of two young children. I find myself eating lots of humble pie after years of giving parents advice that I must now give myself! My professional and personal experiences have taught me that parenting is not a spectator sport: it is hard work. My goal is to provide resources and strategies to parents who are willing to put in that work and watch their kiddos experience success as a result.

~Kristen

Kristen beautifully explains how important it is to continue those processes that become our routines, especially with eating and sleeping as they set the stage for the rest of the day. She walks us through how easily we can continue to do this even with the unexpected and often interrupted days that summer brings and that with planning it can still allow us to enjoy our summer and make amazing memories along the way! Let Kristen and I know how you plan to spend your summer and what techniques you apply to keep up your routine with little ones while taking in some of that amazing sunshine!
With an amazing freebie to boost the summer fun, we walk you through the ways you can keep a routine and plan for an amazing summer with your kids even with all that summer uncertainty #planning #toddler #preschoolers #summerbucketlist #freedownload

A beautiful resource for homeschooling, and enriching learning through play at home with toddlers and preschoolers, which will take them into adulthood. Builds upon core concepts that are increasingly challenging so as your little ones grow and knowledge expands, you have the resources to support them all in one place.

Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,

The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.

Here for you, Momma!

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Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Another Mealtime Misery

Here we go again. It’s nearly suppertime and I have no idea what I’m going to make. Just another decision for poor ‘ole mom to make in her million decisions a day. What difference though right? No one eats what I make anyway, or if they do, it’s because I’ve made a different meal for everyone. I’m totally over it.

Enter, genius idea and a freebie to help you make it happen.

A Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters!

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Here is an amazing printable freebie activity to help you plan ahead for meal time and involve the kids in the process - one less big decision to make in coming up with another meal idea and provide an incredible learning experience at the same time! #learningathome #mealtimestress #pickyeaters #toddler #preschooler #mealtimemisery

Here is an amazing printable freebie activity to help you plan ahead for meal time and involve the kids in the process - one less big decision to make in coming up with another meal idea and provide an incredible learning experience at the same time! #learningathome #mealtimestress #pickyeaters #toddler #preschooler #mealtimemisery #kindergarten #firstgrade #home #cooking #meals #easy #fun #educational #culturallearning #passport #flags #dinner #tips #recipes

Picky Eating Preschooler – Inspiration for Creation

 

Little Bee, my former superstar eater, has recently thrown me a curve ball in opting to have particular preferences when it comes to what she will see on her plate. Once favorite meals have been met with an upturned nose and try as I may, she just won’t see my side of the pleading. Sound familiar?

 

Avoiding Mealtime Stress

 

She will eventually eat whatever is there because we run a tight ship of “that’s what’s for dinner” at my house as ice cream, her current request (morning, noon and night) is not one of the core offerings at Maison Jessica. I don’t force her to eat anything if she really doesn’t want to, because I come from a background of complex and negative thoughts around eating and don’t want the same for her. I encourage her as much as my patience can handle, to try a bite of everything, working the angles of: it’s good for you, it will help you grow, Mommy made it especially for you, and all the others I know you’ve tried too. I want her to appreciate meal time for the slow moments and colorful food, the conversation, shared time and increased responsibility and involvement in the family, not to create a scenario of stress in all of us and potentially disordered relationship with food (read more about an amazing documentary on what our young girls and boys face from media pressure here). But, I’m also not going to serve goldfish crackers for supper (every night). Those are for me, after everyone goes to bed. They pair with a Sauvignon Blanc beautifully. Just kidding… maybe.

 

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Help for Dealing with Picky Eaters

Now I can’t promise I have the “perfect” solution, because kids are crazy hard to predict. I can’t promise that everyone will eat everything but I do find that having little ones involved in what they are eating is a HUGE help. When I was running the daycare, having everyone play a part in planning and creating the meal went a long way in having them eat it, even if it was normally not something they would try. Plus having tiny helpers in the kitchen makes for a really amazing learning experience. Which is where my amazing idea (and freebie for you) was born.

My first step was to get Little Bee more involved in making her meals, from start to finish. After doing a lot of research in how to best approach my new issue at mealtime I came to discover amazing benefits in having the kitchen be a place for hands on learning as well as supporting the issues I was having with my little sous chef.

 

20 Benefits of Having Children Help in the Kitchen

(click the links within the list for more great activities and freebies related to the topic!)

  1. creates a connection to varieties of foods
  2. increased vocabulary in talking about foods using descriptive language
  3. increased literacy and comprehension skills; reading and following directions
  4. using their senses in learning – so important (see post here)
  5. math and science experience in measuring and pouring, the reactions of ingredients mixing and changing (STEAM)
  6. increased imagination – using what they know to build upon and create new meal ideas and recipes
  7. learning life skills, cutting, sharing, sorting and of course cooking skills
  8. connections to healthy food and healthy body
  9. taking part in something the whole family benefits from
  10. learning responsibility as a member of the family (awesome post here)
  11. fine motor development
  12. hand eye coordination development
  13. wonderful connection with family time (shared cooking experience) creates an environment where conversations naturally occur. 
  14. learning about meal planning, budgeting, buying and collection food and materials
  15. seeing the connection in processes (what starts as ingredients and efforts, ends up in a beautiful meal – cause and effect)
  16. increased self esteem through learning a new skill and developing it, so that everyone benefits
  17. sensory experience (lots of ideas to support that here)
  18. more likely to to eat what they have taken part in creating (even more so if taking part in choosing, growing, and cultivating the food)
  19. learning about where food comes from and how it can be used in different ways
  20. learning about family traditions in the kitchen

Bonus Benefit: It’s fun!! and encourages learning through play!

Mapping Out a Plan to Make This A Positive Experience for All of Us

I started to work with what I know. I know Little Bee is just like all her friends in that she loves to learn in as hands-on approach as possible. She loves to be involved and she loves to take part in decisions that impact everyone. She’s a take charge kinda gal, and so long as I support the charge she is taking, it’s all good with me.

Back To School _DSeries 125x125

Meal Planning Ahead While Inviting Learning Through Play

I built out an activity that can have us planning a few meals for the week and makes a big deal out of the whole experience from start to finish, plus takes a little weight off of my shoulders in coming up with another great idea. With the freebie I share with you, you can print out a Learning Passport and a few flags to get you started on your own journey to the end of mealtime misery.

Having your littles pick a flag out of an envelope or bowl, you can start the experience of learning a little bit more about the place of choice.

Of course there are endless activities that can be paired with this and I’ll build on them soon in another post, but for now, let’s focus on this one – you can download your own Learning Passport Activity by clicking the button below.

Here is an amazing printable freebie activity to help you plan ahead for meal time and involve the kids in the process - one less big decision to make in coming up with another meal idea and provide an incredible learning experience at the same time! #learningathome #mealtimestress #pickyeaters #toddler #preschooler #mealtimemisery

What We Use to Make Helping Easier and Safer for Children in the Kitchen

The Reality of Having Kids Help in the Kitchen

Sure, it’s going to be messy, it’s going to take longer, you’re going to have to watch every move because it isn’t a traditional “place to play” but it’s so very worth all the benefits and more. Creating interests early lead to lifelong skills and lifelong interest in healthy eating and connection with family and self care. Start with what you know they can do; pour from a cup, stir with a spoon, use a butter knife to spread peanut butter on toast, and then build their skills from there as they watch and learn from you. Although it’s tricky to hand over the process now when they are so young, these are the stepping stones for increased responsibility and self confidence (read more about that here), those skills that are critical long after the moments of wiping up spilled flour on the kitchen floor.

 

I’d love to know what you think of the Learning Passport and what amazing recipes your family creates with the passport inspiration!

 

 

My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

Why I love Crayola Products I love Crayola products! Who doesn't?! Crayola makes reliable, dependable, arts and crafts products geared toward children while keeping parent needs in mind. And they cannot be compared to in regard to quality. Have you used a crayon at a...

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