Friday, April 29, 2011

First Time Books Giveaway

Have you clicked the 'giveaway' tab lately? You might want to...we've got a doozy of a giveaway going right now from First Time Books. And it's for EVERYONE- you don't have to do a thing to win! Read more...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Occupational Therapy: Proactive Parenting Tips and An Autism Success Story!

A hot and humid “Howdy!” from KidsCare Therapy in Dallas/Fort Worth, where the temperatures are getting higher and higher! In our last post you learned all about pediatric occupational therapy—why and how an occupational therapist helps children. This week, we are going to review some of the things an occupational therapist regularly sees when treating patients.  We will also let you know about some of the most important developmental milestones your child should be reaching and at what age these milestones occur. You’ll also learn a few tips from our in-house OT clinical manager that you can use to ensure that your child continues to develop and thrive on target!  And, of course, we’ll have another inspiring success story where you can see the real-life benefits of home health services.

As you know, an occupational therapist treats a wide array of conditions—everything from sensory processing disorder to autism. As a review, below are some of the more common conditions treated by an OT:

  • Developmental delays
  • Cerebral Palsy and other neurologic disorders
  • Autism and other spectrum disorders
  • Down Syndrome and other genetic disorders
  • ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Parent of the Week: Mama Bear

Today we honor the mother we all try to be. The mother who has the perfect lesson for every situation. The mother whose hat always matches her dress (and who always finds time to put on a neatly pressed dress!). The mother who, despite the stress of raising a family of bears, never seems to age a day. I think it's the fur.

Today we honor Mama Bear Berenstain, wearer of blue (and she does wear it well, doesn't she?!).

Mama Bear is the wife of Papa Bear and mom to Brother Bear, Sister Bear, and Honey Bear. But she's so much more than that! She's the moral compass of the family, encouraging her children to count their blessings when they become too fixated on how many Bearbie Dolls and video games they have. 

Mama Bear is involved in the community, too! She's the president of the Bear Country Garden Club and champion quilter. In fact, she's even turned her quilting hobby into a business- can you say super-bear-mom?!

Since 1974, The Berenstain Bears have inspired families to be respectful, honorable, and good citizens- in large part thanks to Mama Bear. Now doesn't that just make you want to give her a great big bear hug?


Monday, April 25, 2011

Unsolicited Mommy Advice: How to Deal

**Update: Due to severe weather in Texas, I'll be on CBS 11 this Friday talking about unsolicited mommy advice, not today :) I'll post the clip then!

Be sure to check back later tonight for my CBS 11 clip on this topic!

Today I'm reposting one of my most read/searched/commented on posts- getting unsolicited mommy advice from others and how to handle it. Enjoy!


You’ve all gotten it.

‘She still uses a pacifier?’ accompanied with raised eyebrows and a glance downward.

‘He sure is…active. My boys were not allowed to run around the store or else we left.’

‘You know you should try…’

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Privacy Policy

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Contact Us

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If you have any questions regarding the content in this website, about the products that are mentioned, or just any questions at all don’t hesitate to contact us at the following address:
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I will reply to all messages as soon as possible. :-)

Imas Kurnia Laela Dewi

About Us

About Us


:-) Hello, welcome to my blog. :-)

I’m Imas Kurnia Laela Dewi. I’m the founder of “singleparent-s.blogspot.com”

I dedicate this blog to provide useful information and tips about the newborn lives. The life is full of joy, love and hope.

I hope you can find useful information in this blog. 

Happy reading :-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Family Traditions

I'm so excited to bring you a guest post from Dr. Abigail Brenner, the co-author of The Essential Guide to Baby's First Year. She's written a wonderful piece on the importance of family traditions and gives parents tips for creating and keeping traditions alive. Enjoy!


5 Ways to Create Family Tradition and 5 Reasons Why We Should
By Abigail Brenner, M.D.
Co-Author of The Essential Guide to Baby's First Year

Life today is so fast-paced and demanding, it’s important that we find ways to reconnect with each other on a daily basis. Establishing family traditions helps us do just that. Traditions are those special times that bring families together, allowing us to express unity as a family and to create bonds that last a lifetime. Since every family unit is unique unto itself, the traditions created by each family are sure to be unique and special to the whole family unit as well as to each of its members individually.
Focus traditions around daily activities
You can utilize every day rituals, the activities and routine of daily living, to establish family traditions. These might include rituals surrounding bedtime. Talking, reading, snuggling up together, and saying a prayer are things to look forward to on a regular basis.
Spending time alone with each child, such as having dinner with individual children or doing a hobby or project together personalizes experiences and affords parents the opportunity to recognize and encourage each child’s special qualities. Weekly family meetings (perhaps with a favorite dinner) allows for discussion of upcoming schedules and activities for each family member and provides a forum to air differences, raise important issues, and plan ahead for the family.
Create a yearly family tradition
These outings can include camping, hiking, or going fishing at the first sign of spring. The first ballgame of the season is often an event anticipated weeks ahead of time. A picnic to a favorite place or a backyard BBQ for friends and neighbors can create an atmosphere of cooperation in the planning and preparation for the event.
The entire family can participate in a “spring cleaning” day around the house, or perhaps a day annually or monthly to lend a hand within the community.
Take an annual family vacation
Family trips can include traveling to reunions to visit with extended family. An annual vacation may be purely for rest, relaxation, and fun, or may have an educational bent, such as a visit to a cultural/historical site or one that reflects a specific place or event that is being studied in school.
What’s important is that each family member has an opportunity to weigh in on choosing where the family should go. Family trips can also have themes, such as ecology, learning about the environment, working on a farm or ranch, or “service trips” such as helping a community at home or abroad.
Use your family history
These traditions provide a sense of continuity and cultural identity and allow us to explore the similarities, the things that resonate within each of us individually, with our ancestors. Visiting the cemetery to the gravesites of family members is common to many cultures and affords the family a time to honor and remember those who have gone before us.
Beyond hearing stories about one’s ancestors, making a trip of “discovery” to the mother country, the home of one’s ancestors, puts families up close and personal with the land and landmarks of one’s relatives.
Family objects and artifacts, things inherited from family members (Bibles, wine cups, candlesticks, baptismal outfits, Christmas ornaments, etc.) can be incorporated into family rituals and ceremonies.
Start a holiday tradition
Birthdays, anniversaries, and other personal family events are occasions to establish any number of traditions, such as a favorite cake or meal, or visiting a place closely associated with the event.
Annual religious and national rituals and ceremonies provide unity in community, celebrating with those who share ideas and beliefs. Beyond what we have in common, though, families can learn together about other spiritual traditions by visiting local houses of worship and participating in holidays and celebrations of other traditions. This practice encourages tolerance, acceptance, and diversity.
There’s no doubt that the benefits of establishing family traditions go well beyond spending time together. These are five reasons why we should create family traditions.
  1. Traditions establish and strengthen family bonds by providing a solid structure, a sense of continuity, and a feeling of belonging.
  2. Family teaches values. Traditions support and communicate a family’s belief system. They instill faith and convey the family’s perspective on life experiences.
  3. The immediate family serves as your witnesses through life’s transitionssharing and committing to each other in times of joy and celebrations and lending support and comfort through crises, disappointments, and losses.
  4. A healthy family unit is a vital force in the nurturing and molding of a child’s identity. Family traditions are a sound way to foster a sense of stability and security and this contributes to the emotional health, self-esteem, and self-respect of family members.
  5. The family serves as the model for all interpersonal relationships. The way an individual is cared for, supported, encouraged, allowed to express and be themselves in the family, or not, enormously influences the choices and decisions an individual makes moving into the future.
Family traditions are part of the “language” of a family, a short-hand, symbolic way of relating that everyone understands. As life moves forward and people grow and change, family traditions keep us connected. For sure, they create memories for everyone to share for a lifetime, and even beyond.

Copyright © 2011 Abigail Brenner, M.D., co-author of The Essential Guide to Baby's First Year.

Author Bio

Abigail Brenner, M.D., co-author of The Essential Guide To Baby's First Yearis a board certified psychiatrist currently in private practice as well as an ordained interfaith minister who helps people design, create, and perform personally meaningful rituals. She is also author of  SHIFT: How to Deal When Life Changes, and the author of Transitions: How Women Embrace Change and Celebrate Life.

For more information please visit http://www.abigailbrenner.com and follow the author on Twitter or Facebook


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parent of the Week: Karen

Today we honor Karen, an amazing mother of 3 who shares her story of finding out that one of her daughters had a rare muscle disorder- what that meant for her, her daughter, and the rest of her family. Read on in admiration at her strength, positivity, and confidence in her daughter. It will truly warm your heart. 

REMEMBER: If you’d like to be a Parent of the Week, or if you’d like to nominate someone, simply email me at deluna.jamie@gmail.com. It’s that easy!

Enabling Faith

How truly exciting it was to be asked to be Parent of the Week. Being a mom of three, with one being special needs, I welcome any opportunity to share my story in hope of helping other families and raising awareness.

My name is Karen. My amazing husband and I live in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, and we have three wonderful angels for children. They range in age from 14 to 10 years.

My life drastically changed with the birth of my youngest daughter.  Having no warning at all, she was born with a rare muscle disorder called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC).  Unfortunately, she was born with a severe form of it involving fused ribs, fused spine, inability to swallow, and brittle bones.  The prognosis was extremely bleak, with the physicians giving her six months to live, tops.  Being a Christian woman, and from a wonderful supportive family, I told the doctor ‘thank you for your “prediction”, but I’ll take it from here’.  I refused to accept his prediction.  We went for five months before I was able to get her an appointment at the amazing Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. There, the orthopedist diagnosed her with AMC and filled us in on what the disorder was.  I immediately began researching and looking for those familiar with AMC and how to treat it in the best way possible to give her quality of life. It was a long challenging road due to the rarity of the disorder.  However, while doing research one night while sitting up with my daughter, I ran across a wonderful website.  Low and behold, an actual support group for AMC.  I sat and cried and cried.  What a relief to finally find others that have experienced all the trials and tribulations I have.  From that day forward I have benefited from knowing other families from around the world, sharing ideas, contacts, joys and yes, even sorrows.  The support group has become my extended family by all means. 

Little did I know that my life would soon require me to do juggling acts.  Forty hour work weeks, soccer practices, football practices, parent conferences and the never ending scheduling of seven different physicians, four different therapies and 120 hours a week of nursing schedules, sleep was hard to come by.  Somehow though things fell into place, and my children got what they needed. 

My oldest two children have had huge adjustments in their lives. From being the babies and having a lot of mom’s attention, to having to “wait their turn” to get attention from mom.  The never-ending revolving door of nurses in our home day and night for years had their toll on everyone.  However, my children are extremely strong and have learned so much from their little sister, and likewise I’ve learned from my children.  The experience has given everyone a whole new view on life; more compassion, care, patience, and a better understanding of what life is like for a disabled child and to be his/her family.

Throughout the years, I have had low times where I asked why God would put us through this? Why he would put my daughter through this? I feel that angels are sent to us in disguise.  Maybe to give us a wakeup call, saying ‘hey, you are not on the right path, there is much more for you to do and see’. I truly believe I was sent an angel to teach me, and I am extremely blessed to be one of the chosen ones.

For more information on Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita: 

AMC Support Group: www.amcsupport.org
Facebook group as Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita Support, Inc.
AMC Documentary in progress: http://www.amcdocumentary.org/

Karen and past Parents of the Week, feel free to grab the award badge:


Monday, April 18, 2011

Depressed Teens

Depressed Teens Reviews
Executive summary about depressed teens by Gayle Jacobson

Research is showing that depressed teens are more likely to suffer with mental health problems as adults. Of course more research is needed to determine if teenage depression actually contributes to more serious problems later in life. If you think that you may be a depressed teens, you are definitely not alone. If you think that you may be the parent of a child who is a depressed teens there are some common problems and symptoms they may be experiencing. Depressed teens often fell that things are hopeless. Find someone to talk to. If you feel out of control make sure that you stay with someone who will help if you need it.

It's not your fault you a depressed teens. Talk often to someone whom you trust. The stresses of school work can take a lot out of a depressed teens. If you are feeling overwhelmed about your school work find a teacher or a counselor you can confide in if you can't talk to your parents.

Choosing Your Battles

Choosing your battles. If you fought every battle with your child, you’d never stop fighting. If you didn’t engage in any negotiation, you’d miss valuable, ahem, teaching moments in which your child learns to get along, trust, and let others lead. So, what’s the right balance? Here a few tips for the exhausted momma (and daddy) on choosing your battles:

1. Safety – When it comes to safety, it’s a no-brainer. Engage in the battle. You’re the parent and you’re responsible for seeing to it that your child does not hurt him/herself or another child. This includes physical hurts as well as emotional hurts.

2. Say yes when you can – Children like to have control over their own lives and feel like they are making important decisions that affect them. Saying yes to everyday battles like what to wear to school outside staying outside 5 more minutes saves you the heartache of argument and allows your child to exercise independence. Say something like, “I can hear that you are really having a fun time with your friends outside and would like to finish up for a few more minutes. I’ll set the egg timer for 5 minutes and when it goes off, it will be time to come inside and hop in the bath.” Quick tip: think to yourself ‘Will it hurt my child? Will it greatly affect the rest of our day?” If the answer is no, challenge yourself to say ‘yes’.

3. Listen to your child’s opinions – Even if you know that the eventual answer will be ‘no,’ listen to your 7-year-old’s reasons for wanting to stay up past midnight on a school night or your 5-year-old’s argument for why it really would be a good idea to get 4 family puppies. Just like adults, when children feel heard, the let down is much easier. When appropriate, offer an alternative- say, staying up until 10pm on a Friday, or going to visit the SPCA one weekend.

4. When you negotiate, really negotiate – Children, even young ones, understand when their ideas are being considered versus when they’re being shut down.
  • First, use phrases like “I hear that you want...” and “It sounds like what you’re asking for is...,” followed by “Is that right?” This way, you make sure you’ve got all your facts straight.
  • Next, state your side (if different from your child’s) by saying something like “My issue is that if we...then....” or “Hmm, I’m concerned that...”
  • See if your child has any solutions, or introduce a possible solution with a phrase like “Here’s an idea:”

Battles and power struggles with kids can be tricky, but don’t always have to be stressful. Knowing when to let go and knowing how to handle the ones you choose to take on can make all the difference! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy National Occupational Therapy Month!

April is National Occupational Therapy Month! Here at KidsCare Therapy, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to partner with Avant Garde Parenting to educate parents all over the country about this incredible service we’ve been offering children in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Perhaps you’ll even discover how occupational therapy can help a child you know succeed in everyday life!

When you think of occupational therapy, what comes to mind? What do you think an occupational therapist does? (Hint: they do not help people choose a career!) Of the three disciplines KidsCare Therapy offers (speech, physical and occupational therapy), there seems to be the least familiarity with the role of occupational therapy, especially in pediatric patients.

In its most basic form, occupational therapy helps people fully develop the tasks that occupy their time. What do you spend most of your day doing? Most of you would say work occupies a majority of your time, whether that is in a professional environment or in the home. An occupational therapist assists in the development of skills that are crucial to success in this area. In pediatric occupational therapy, the goal is to help children develop into fully-functioning independent adults by developing necessary life skills. And what better way to accomplish this than through what occupies most children’s time—play! Playing is essentially the job of a child, after all. By creating games and activities that incorporate the development fine motor skills—grasping and pointing, just to name a few—occupational therapists are laying the groundwork for mastery of important tasks such as handwriting, using utensils to eat, and bathing.  

And because our daily interactions are not just limited to objects, occupational therapists also focus on how children relate to other individuals. Activities can be centered around learning to take turns and increasing comfort while engaging in social exchanges with another person. They will also address attention deficits and behavioral concerns. Therapy helps prolong attention to, and increase participation in, everyday tasks.

The ability to thrive requires problem-solving skills as well. Occupational therapy is instrumental in helping children not only recognize a problem, but also fully comprehend the issue and develop a strategy to overcome it. Occupational therapists also address trunk and upper extremity weakness, or a lack of strength in the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and torso. Without first developing the muscles in these parts of the body, everyday tasks are nearly impossible.

The very nature of occupational therapy makes the home an ideal setting in which to administer it—therapists are able to incorporate objects from the child’s own home into treatment. This means that a child is able to learn how to correctly use their own toys. In addition, they are learning to eat at their own table, with their own utensils, and they are potty trained in their own bathroom.

As you’ll learn in the following success story, many children seen by occupational therapists suffer from sensory-processing disorders. Home health has proved to be extremely successful for these patients, and one of our occupational therapists will explain how she worked in the child’s natural environment to overcome many of the problems he was facing.
Three-year old Chris was referred to occupational therapy by his speech therapist due to concerns with his poor behavior, decreased attention, and possible sensory processing difficulties.  When he began OT services, he frequently bounced between activities, was overly focused on certain play items (Thomas the Train, Cars), used only a few intelligible words, was sensitive to touch (disliked brushing teeth/hair and haircuts; didn’t like messy hands), and was sensitive to sounds (held hands over his ears often).  He was a picky eater, delayed in potty training, behind on fine motor skills (grasp, drawing, snipping, & stringing beads), frequently threw tantrums, and preferred to play alone. 

OT treatment involved structured play which incorporated his special interests to increase his focus and motivation to try new things, alternating between sit-down and movement activities to increase his attention, play with textured or messy materials, and the use of songs involving touch (“Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes”) to decrease touch sensitivity. Also utilized were oral-motor/mouth activities (horns, whistles, bubbles, food play) to decrease sensitivity for brushing teeth and eating different foods, Therapeutic Listening ® (the use of modulated music on headphones) to decrease sound sensitivity and increase language and attention skills, practice of fine motor and self-care skills, behavior modification strategies (structure, choices, rewards, limits), and modeling of proper social interaction skills.  With skilled OT intervention, home activities, caregiver education, and coordination with his treating Speech Therapist, Chris was discharged from both OT and ST services after one year.  He is now able to participate in all age-appropriate tasks, has normal language skills, has fewer behavioral outbursts, attends well, and can play appropriately with his family and peers and with increased interest.
Be sure to check back for our next posting, where we’ll talk about some of the more common conditions seen by occupational therapists, developmental red flags of which you should be aware, and some tips from our in-office occupational therapist to assist your child in proper development. In addition, we’ll be sharing another success story where you’ll learn about how OT services helped a child overcome some of the problems that come along with Autism. You won’t want to miss it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Parent of the Week: Kim

Today we honor Kim, an artist momma (check out her website) with two blonde cuties! She’s adventurous, fun, and funny- you’ll just love her J

REMEMBER: If you’d like to be a Parent of the Week, or if you’d like to nominate someone, simply email me at deluna.jamie@gmail.com. It’s that easy!

Tell me a little about you- Who are you? What do you do? Hobbies? Do you dance in the car?
My name is Kim and I am a fun-loving, free spirit, active kind of girl.  I’m not afraid of having my kids think that I am a little crazy and yes, I absolutely dance in the car! I’m also an artist who recently opened my online boutique called Pretty Keepsakes. I make and design custom accessories for special occasions. I have a really unique and fun product line for Flower Girls, princess parties, birthday gifts, weddings and so forth. It’s my newest adventure and I’m really excited about it!

Tell me about your children
My husband Stefan and I have two crazy-fun kids that we adore.  We are one of those families that does everything together. We hike together, bike together, play together and laugh an awful lot together. Jake is our oldest and he just turned 6 ½ last week. We celebrated his half birthday with a gigantic donut. Ava is our youngest and she is 4 ½ . The kids are best friends and they are wonderful influences on each other. Jake is more reserved, athletic and everything that you would expect from a little boy. Ava is gregarious, fearless and all girly girl!  Together, they push each other in ways that they both benefit from individually and we grow and learn as a family. Living in the moment and being active in their lives means everything to us and so we try our best to be completely present with them whenever we are together.

What surprised you most about parenting?
Well, I am constantly surprised and amazed by the amount of laundry I do! I am also astonished by how quickly our home can go from clean to totally destroyed and I’m stunned when my kids they look at me as though I have twelve heads simply because I asked them if they want to eat the exact same thing that they have lived off of for the past two weeks. However, although the day-to-day things surprise me, I think that what surprised me the most about being a Mom is the sheer magnitude of how having a child changed every aspect of my life.  Having kids was never something that I dreamt about or dwelled upon. I was a 34 year old ski instructor, mountain bike guide and a Realtor who thought that I had it all when I married my husband. We loved our life, decided that it would be fun to have kids. I thought that my life really wouldn’t change that much when we had kids-I just thought that kids would be the “icing on the cake.”  Well, almost seven years later, it’s difficult to even recognize the person who I was before I had my kids! I had no idea that becoming a Mom would be so monumental and such an all-encompassing on-going experience. It has changed my priorities, heightened my life’s goals, expanded my ability and desire to love, care and nurture others and the list is never-ending. 
How have you had to be Avant Garde as a parent?
I believe that some of my most innovative parenting moments have come out of sheer desperation. For example, last spring break, I took the kids on a hike to a waterfall. The hike ended with a big uphill climb. I knew that I couldn’t carry both of them and my backpack up that hill and I also realized that they would be tired by the end of the hike. It was close to Easter, so before the hike, I covertly packed some plastic Easter eggs into my pack. After a long day of hiking, throwing rocks into the river and playing, it was time to head back to our car.  About ½ way up the ascent, I yelled with great enthusiasm “there goes the Easter Bunny!!!” I pointed in one direction and simultaneously placed an egg down on the ground in the opposite direction. After the commotion, the kids found the egg and started looking for more. I continued this all the way up the hill and my kids practically ran up the hill with all of their enthusiasm! They even yelled that they had just seen the Easter Bunny at times! It was so fun! You could call it Avant Garde, innovative or just plain loony parenting, but I feel that a little creativity can go a long way in regard to keeping everyone in the family happy. I realize what my desired goal is and if I can have a little fun reaching that goal instead of a major meltdown along the way, we all win!

Kim and Past Parents of the Week: Feel free to grab the Parent of the Week Badge:


Monday, April 11, 2011

Helping Children Break Bad Habits

Add caption
Picking noses. Biting nails. Twirling hair. Bad habits in children can be downright frustrating for parents. But what’s the right course of action? Here are a few tips to help you decode your child’s behavior and get him or her on the right track!

  1. Figure out what’s behind the behavior - Lots of kids (and adults!) bite their nails or twirl their hair because they are bored are stressed. If this is true for your child, find a positive outlet for the stress or an activity to keep her hands occupied, such as:
    • Stress balls
    • For girls, get a manicure- having freshly polished nails may make her less likely to mess them up!
    • Silly putty
    • A note pad and colored pencils
    • A few pretty fashion rings
  2. Remember: kids are still learning – and a booger in your nose is annoying! Even though, as adults, we instinctively reach for a tissue, young children don’t have the mental toolbox to remember even simple alternatives to nose picking like grabbing a tissue.
    • Give a gentle reminder. Every time. Even though it’s frustrating to say it 934390589308 times, remind yourself that your child is not picking his nose to spite you.
    • Consider purchasing a travel pack of tissues for your child to keep in his pocket (or her purse!).
  3. Let your child make real choices - Sometimes bad habits reflect your child wanting to be in control in other areas of his life.
    • Letting your child make real choices whenever possible will help him feel in control and reduce stress and frustration.
    • Let your child have a say in choices such as:
      • What to have for meals
      • What to wear each day
      • Which flavor of toothpaste to use (keep one or two on hand)
      • Whether to go to bed at 7:30 or 7:40 ß see this simple way to let your child make a real choice?!
  4. If you are concerned, seek help

Thursday, April 7, 2011

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Series on In-Home Therapy and Special Needs

One of the questions I'm asked most often is about special needs. What are the red flags, what are good resources, what are treatment options? The quick answer is: special needs could be (and often is) an entire blog or website on its own! Truly, though, special needs is a topic that Avant Garde Parenting should cover, so guess what? I’m bringing in the experts! 

I couldn’t be more excited to announce a new collaboration with KidsCare Therapy. KidsCare are the home health experts in Dallas/Fort Worth- they provide in-home speech, physical, and occupational therapy to children with all sorts of needs. They’ve so kindly agreed to partner with Avant Garde Parenting to bring you top notch information regarding:

  • Common and not-so-common conditions
  • Benefits of in-home therapy
  • State of the art treatment options
  • Developmental milestones for young children
  • Common warning signs to be aware of
  • Success stories from real parents and children with special needs

So, in addition to the great posts about parenting and child development that you’re used to on Avant Garde Parenting, over the next three months you’ll also get to read about how three types of therapy- occupational, speech, and physical- enrich the lives of children every day. 

Get excited Avant Garde Parenting readers- and get ready for some great information!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Parent of the Week: Grandpa Joe

The Grandpa Joe we all know and love, from Mel Stuart's
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (played by Jack Albertson)

Not my Grandpa Joe- I’m talking one Charlie Bucket’s Grandpa Joe- you know, from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This was, hands down, my favorite book as a child and if there was ever a campaign for fictional grandfather of the year, I would nominate Grandpa Joe.

If we overlook the fact that all four of Charlie’s grandparents slept in the same bed (can we overlook that? Do it for Grandpa Joe, people), Grandpa Joe is the quintessential perfect grandfather. Think about it:

1. In the movie, Charlie didn’t have a father (in the book, he did). We don’t know why. I always just assumed he died. But every time Charlie came through the door, Grandpa Joe was waiting with a smile and a listening ear. He was the male role model Charlie needed and Charlie embraced him.

2. Grandpa Joe was fun, the way grandpas are supposed to be. He snuck chocolate. He danced around the shared family bed (I guess I can’t quite overlook it) and freaked out the other grandparents. He put on his coat and hat over his pajamas.

3. He supported Charlie and let him lead. Grandpa Joe let Charlie make decisions in the Chocolate Factory about where to go and what to do- in fact, he encouraged it! Now, this got them into teeny, tiny bits of trouble (and by teeny, tiny bits, I mean very large amounts- which they slyly dodged and neatly resolved by the end of the story) at the Chocolate Factory.
Grandpa Joe and Charlie (from Roald Dahl's
book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

So today, we honor you, Grandpa Joe. As a child I danced around my own bed singing ‘I’ve Got a Golden Ticket!’ and read my paperback copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover to cover until it was bent from wear. Current and future grandparents- take a lesson from Grandpa Joe: be available, be fun, and be supportive.

Monday, April 4, 2011

For Children, Play=Learning

'Play is the work of the child' - Maria Montessori

'Play is a child's work' -Jean Piaget

Two very famous quotations, at least in my field of work, and both very true. However, I recently came across another quotation that I think does a fantastic job of elaborating upon what Montessori and Piaget meant:

'Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn.' -Fred Donaldson

Fascinating, isn't it? And so true. The research tells us it's true and you as parents know it's true from watching your children discover things about the world every day while playing. The grass is wet in the morning. That's called dew. If I stack the blocks too high, they will probably fall over. The dog doesn't like it when I pull on her tail.

But did you know that how toys are presented to your child can affect how they explore and learn about them?

Just last week I read an article that tackled the issue of whether children learned more when toys were presented in a playful way or a 'teaching' way. 

Researchers took a toy to different classrooms with 4 year-olds. The toy had various attributes- it squeaked if you pulled a tube, played music if you pushed a button, had a hidden mirror, etc. For some children, the researcher presented a toy in a 'teaching' way- she said "Look! I have this toy. If you pull here, it squeaks." For other kids, the researcher presented the toy in a playful way- they said "Look! I found this toy! I wonder how it works?" She then pretended to discover the how to make the toy squeak and acted surprised when she figured it out.

So who learned more about the toy? 

Kids who were presented the toy in a playful way were much more likely to discover the other fun things the toy did than kids who were shown the toy in a 'teaching' way. But why?

I had the good fortune of getting to hear the researchers of this study speak recently, and they speculate that, when children this young are instructed directly, they assume that the person instructing will tell them everything they need to know. That is, kids may have thought that if there was something else cool about the toy, the 'teaching' researcher would have told them.

So what does this mean for play?  

Well, that it's important. That children really do seem to learn through true play. That it's okay (and good) to let your child discover toys on their own and at their own place. 


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