The Myth of the “Educational Toy” Your Holiday Survival Guide

Articles, Child Development, Newsletter
by Stephanie Gomez Does this commercial look familiar? A mother sits happily in front of the television with her bright-eyed nine-month old sitting on her lap. The baby is pushing buttons on a colorful lap-pad placed in front of them as he giggles in delight watching his movements effect a picture on the television. The announcer explains what a wonderful opportunity this toy offers for early learning in addition to “quality time” with his mother. So what is the intended message to parents of young children? First, that quality time with your child is important and, presumably, there is no better way to interact with your child than a television and computer keyboard. Second, by not buying this toy, you may be stunting your child’s cognitive development. According to her…
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In School and Life – Effort Counts!

Articles, Newsletter, Parenting, School Readiness
In School and Life—Effort Counts! By Meg Luce, LMFT What are the characteristics that help children succeed in school? This is a question on many parents’ minds as this time of year rolls around. Parents want to support and motivate their kids, but often they are not sure how. This can lead to grueling homework battles and power struggles. Some parents think if they tell their children they are smart, that will give them the self-confidence to succeed. Others pay their kids for good grades, and others throw up their hands, not knowing what to do. Psychologist Angela Duckworth, winner of the McArthur Genius Grant, has studied the question of who is successful and why, and her work offers clues for parents gearing up for the school year. Duckworth, while…
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Choosing Toys: When Less is Really More

Articles, Child Development, Newsletter, Parenting
By Lindsay Dunckel, Ph.D. This time of year, parents are inundated with advertisements and catalogs showing toys full of pizzazz—toys that light up, talk, even interact. Micro chips are everywhere, and children today can have a roomful of toys that entertain them, wondrous things that we parents never even dreamed of in our childhood. Imagine being able to “compose” music as a toddler, learn your letters from a talking school bus, or play with action heroes that cue you on inventing pretend emergencies! Childhood has changed. But have children? Just before Christmas when my daughter was four years old, I found a wooden box with six little drawers which I filled with art supplies; modeling clay and tools for shaping it, glitter pens, fuzzy pompoms and colored craft sticks, feathers…
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Nurturing Thankfulness in Children

Articles, Newsletter, Parenting, Relationships
By Meg Luce, LMFT Most parents want to give their children the moon. They work hard to provide their kids with a good life, and they don’t want them to feel deprived. Plus, it’s so fun to see children light up with joy when receiving a new toy or gadget. On the other hand,  sometimes parents can give and give, and children don’t seem to value what they receive. This can make parents feel resentful and confused. It brings up the question, how do we nurture thankfulness in children? One good rule of thumb is that children are likely to follow in their parents’ footsteps regarding thankfulness. This gives parents the chance to model an attitude of gratitude for their children to follow. For example, from the time children are…
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Parenting: I Get a Little Help from My Friends

Articles, Newsletter, Parenting
by Lindsay Dunckel, PhD Nobody ever said parenting was easy. Now that I'm 17 years into the journey, I fully understand why. Okay, maybe it was years ago that it dawned on me. Don't get me wrong - it's a job I love and sometimes it is filled with joys that no other aspects of my life can bring me. But let's not kid ourselves (pun intended) - it's a tough job. Sometimes it reduces us to feeling just like this little guy must be feeling:   When you are reduced to this, it's good to remember that others have been here before you. Reach out to friends and family to get some support: support could be someone to take over parenting for a bit while you get a break…
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More information about Step Up 2014

Articles, Newsletter
Step Up to Kindergarten is a FREE program to help get children ready for the big step into school - this year's program begins on Wednesday, June 25 and runs for three weeks, through Wednesday, July 16. Our classes will be held in classrooms at Bell Hill School Scotten School Ready Springs School Deer Creek School Union Hill Each day will begin at 9:00 and end at noon and will include the kinds of activities typical of a Kindergarten class - circle time, story time, small group work time, calendar time, choice time, snack time, playground time. Children will sing, paint, draw, play, build, listen, learn. . . We also incorporate the first 6 lessons of the social-emotional curriculum, Second Step, which focus on "learning skills" such as listening, focusing…
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Readiness Skills for Starting Kindergarten

Articles, Newsletter, Parenting, School Readiness, Uncategorized
Is your child going to be 5 years old by October 2? If so, time for you to register him for Kindergarten! You can find information about kindergarten registration in western Nevada County here and for Truckee here. Children enter Kindergarten with a whole range of skills – no two will be the same. Don’t expect any child to be “ready” for Kindergarten in every area, but here are some things you can work on at home to help your child be ready for ‘big kid’ school. Social and emotional development Your child should be able to express his feelings; ask for help when she needs it; play cooperatively with others – including sharing, taking turns, and helping others; calm himself down when frustrated; follow 1- and 2-step directions; and…
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The Joy of Small Town Living

Articles, Community, Newsletter
by Lindsay Dunckel, Ph.D. I grew up in a city and lived in several others before settling in Grass Valley. I wondered what it would be like living in a small town, what challenges it would bring, what different kinds of joys. I've been here almost 11 years now, working for First 5 for almost 9 and one of the greatest joys I have found is that I get to watch kids grow up. Yup. That simple. Babies who came to my first Baby & Me groups are now 8 years old - and I still run into them around town. It is always a thrill! Just this week, I ran into a couple in the grocery store - their sons are now 3 and 5. The parents participated in…
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Building Your Child’s Vocabulary

Articles, Child Development, Education, Newsletter, School Readiness
Building Your Child’s Vocabulary   All parents want their child to do well in school. One way to help your child is to help them build their vocabulary. Beginning readers use knowledge about words to help them make sense of what they’re reading. The more words a reader knows, the more they are able to comprehend what they’re reading or listening to. Talking to and reading with your child are two terrific ways to help them hear and read new words. Conversations and questions about interesting words (“The book says, ‘The boy tumbled down the hill,’ and look at the picture! How do you think he went down the hill?”) are easy, non-threatening ways to get new words into everyday talk. Sharing a new word with your child doesn’t have to take…
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