Posted in Must Have Monday

The Perfect (Educational) Gifts for your kids – finding them and ‘gift-listing’ them.

I am often asked by parents where to look for quality (educational) gifts for  their children.  Parents today are faced with hundreds if not thousands of choices when it comes to purchasing toys, books, dvds and video games for their children.  Walk down an aisle in Target or BabysRUs or any store for that matter and you will see the extent of the options.  In addition, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, friends and your children’s peers ask you for wish lists around birthday and holiday time. 

Today, we will address these two topics:  where can parents find information on quality products for children and how can parents’gift-list’ them for those that would like to buy their children a present?


In doing product research, I found the Parents Choice Award.  This award is given by The Parents’ Choice Foundation. “It is the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality toys and media.”  “The Foundation’s purpose is to search out and recommend products that help kids grow – imaginatively, physically, morally and mentally—fairly priced products that are fun, safe and socially sound.”  The group has given these awards in the following categories:  audio, book, dvd, magazine, software, television, toy, video game and website.  The foundations principles include: children deserve material to sharpen young minds not blunt them, children learn most easily when they enjoy it, knowledge gives parents confidence to teach their children.  Parents can access the website for the Parents’ Choice awards here  The website is a great resource and provides guides for parents, adventures in your area news and recalls plus information on reading, learning and play.

So now that you have identified some great gifts, where do you store the information and share it?  Amazon is a great place to search for the toys.  Amazon now has a great feature called Universal Wish List.  It allows the user to find items on ANY website and then add it to their Amazon Wish List.  Therefore, all the great toys you find on the Parents’ Choice website or else where can be stored on one personalized list and shared easily with Grandparents and friends. Instructions are listed here

Universal Wish List

Happy Shopping and Enjoy Playtime!

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Children's Literature Series

Make Reading a Habit for You and Your Child (action steps included)

During my time as a Board Member of The Children of Bellevue, which initiates, develops and funds special programs for the children at Bellevue hospital and their families, I learned about the Reach out and Read Program and in turn the benefits of reading for your children.  Language, school performance and curiosity are just a few of the many benefits to reading to your child and encouraging your child to read.  The more words parents use the greater the child’s vocabulary.  No matter where you look the positives are endless.

In Reach out and Read, volunteers sit on the floor with children.  Kids are allowed to touch the book, to look at the pages, they are encouraged to ask questions and discuss what is happening to the characters in the book.  In this way the volunteers are modeling great reading skills to parents and encouraging curiosities in the children as well as a love of reading.

So the question is what are the benefits of reading correlated to?  Is it having books in the home?  Is it actually reading them?  Or is it modeling reading behaviors.  According to Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner in their book Freakonomics (pg 167) there are many factors correlated with test scores including many books in the home but also including parental age, income and involvement.  What is clear after reading through the websites and statistics is that books are important for you and for your child.  Currently fewer than half (48%) of American children are read to daily (Reach out and Read)

Why not take the time to read a book to your child each day?  Carve out time for personal reading as well.  Your child will see that this is an enjoyable, relaxing activity that is worth your time and theirs.

Action Step –  Want to make reading a habit?  Try  Enter your goal to read to your child or carve out personal reading time.  The website will check in daily on your goal.  It takes 21 days to form a new habit. Start now!

Taking it an ‘Action Step’ Further – Find a series that your child is interested in and buy the whole series.  Instead of tuning in every night to a TV show, tune in to reading the series.  Some examples are ‘The Magic School Bus’ or ‘Captain Underpants’

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Child Development

Your Child’s Development – On a Handout!!



I came across a great website ( They have created 9 spreadsheets detailing your baby’s development.  They review the following –

  • A chart that helps you know what to expect developmentally from your child, and how you can help your child learn at each stage
  • Frequently asked questions and answers
  • A spotlight section that goes into greater depth on a common issue or challenge for each age
  • A research summary specific to each stage of development, and what it means for parents

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Child Development

New Years Resolutions for You and Your Kids

As we cross over into the New Year many of us make resolutions to make the new year even better.  Here are some helpful tips for parents and your kids.

Parents:  Studies show it takes 21 days to form a new habit.  Just writing a list won’t cut it.  I found a website that will help keep you on track.  You name your goal and the website will email you daily to check if you completed your goal that day.  They will keep your stats.  It’s a great fun way to hold yourself accountable.

For your kids:

Below I have posted a list of healthy New Year’s Resolutions to guide your kids in the goal setting process.  The following are tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.)



  • I will clean up my toys.
  • I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I won’t tease dogs – even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.

Kids, 5- to 12-years-old

  • I will drink milk and water, and limit soda and fruit drinks.
  • I will apply sunscreen before I go outdoors.  I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.
  • I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!
  • I will always wear a helmet when bicycling.
  • I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car.  I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
  • I’ll be nice to other kids. I’ll be friendly to kids who need friends – like someone who is shy, or is new to my school
  • I’ll never give out personal information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet.  Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without my parent’s permission.

Kids, 13-years-old and up

  • I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day, and I will limit the amount of soda I drink.
  • I will take care of my body through physical activity and nutrition.
  • I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities.
  • I will help out in my community – through volunteering, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.
  • I will wipe negative “self talk” (i.e. “I can’t do it” or “I’m so dumb”) out of my vocabulary,
  • When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find constructive ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or discussing my problem with a parent or friend.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk with an adult about my choices.
  • When I notice my friends are struggling or engaging in risky behaviors, I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.
  • I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without coercion or violence. 
  • I will resist peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol.
  • I agree not to use a cell phone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.

American Academy of Pediatrics, 12/09

Used with permission from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Child Development

Age Appropriate Guide to Play

Playing is an important part of your child’s life.  Play can help with the development of relationships, language, creativity, physical development, thinking and social skills.  The following guide from TRUCE discusses age appropriate practices for playing as well as toys to avoid for infants and toddlers.

© 2010  All rights reserved.