What are “STEM” Toys?

Do you know what “STEM” toys are?

 

 

Toys

Toy Fair 2014 NYC sounded like the place to be for anyone who loves toys, buys toys or sells toys.

As a grandmother, I am particularly interested in toy quality and what is educational as well as age appropriate.

I am not particularly bothered by toys that target gender because I buy and encourage my grandchild to play with items whether they are considered “boy” or “girl” toys.

The princess rage does not bother me either…I try to watch the princess stories so I can explain the positive qualities that each character possesses along with the issues that the villain presents to my grandchild.

This all being said…I came across some interesting posts that were driven by visits to the Toy Fair 2014.

toysI was not familiar with the acronym STEM- which refers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Apparently this word describes characteristics, which parents like when shopping for play items.

Samantha Murphy Kelly, describes several toys which teach children architecture, programming and construction…including creating your own robot.

Quite a change from Barbie, as she says!

Another favorite mom blogger of mine Liz Gumbinner from Mom 101 and Cool Mom Picks devoted a piece to toys that she felt were not so gender specific.  Why are we so committed to pink for girls and primary colors for boys or fireman outfits for boys and princess gear for girls?

My wish is that toy manufacturers would catch up to parents, and grandparents, who are looking for toys that do not single out gender but instead help to create a world wide open to boys and girls in their world of play.

 

Related:

7 STEM Toys That Put Barbie to Shame

 

Smart Toys for Girls-No Princesses Pink Aisle by Samantha Kelly Murphy

“Playing” or “Fighting” with Baby…

This video shows a dad “fighting” with his baby. To me this borders on child abuse. I know that dad is trying to be funny but at the baby’s expense…therefore …NOT FUNNY.

Just like teasing this kind of “baby rough housing” seems over the top especially when you make a video of it and you are able to see the baby’s facial and physical reactions to the actions of his dad.

What do you think?

To me, making a You-tube video, “Fighting with Baby“, actually encourages other parents to rough house with the babies in their lives.

This is just not funny…

Babies are learning trust especially in their caregivers; here we see the baby’s father literally throwing him onto the bed…twisting him around his arm and tickling him silly. The baby then tries to defend himself by “hitting” dad in the face only to be thwarted in his self-defending efforts.

I love social media and baby/kid videos but this video makes me sick as I watch it. I would like to see it taken down and a statement from the dad apologizing for using his son to publicize his own career. I would also like him to say that this activity could be emotionally and physically harmful.

Some people think that baby’s are “things” and have very few needs since they seem to just eat, sleep and cry. This is simply not so.

baby

Babies are developing  emotionally and physically at a very fast rate during their first year of life…parents and caregivers have a major role in this development. “Fighting” with baby is something we should not ever consider during this time.

At the very least: This video should come with a disclaimer.

Do Homework Before Holiday Shopping for Kids

Toys

Thanksgiving is tomorrow so I have been hearing and reading a lot about Black Friday and shopping for kids.

When it comes to our children and grandchildren careful thought will go into Holiday gift choices.

I know that screens for kids are somewhat controversial. Let’s face it, eventually your kids will be exposed to the iPad and various other tablets both adult and child friendly. It seems important to know about the various available tablets.

So here is the link to Consumer Reports’ info on tablets specifically for children.

The market for kids’ tablets is growing dramatically. Just two years ago, only 8 percent of children had access to a tablet at home. Today, it’s 40 percent!

Consumer Reports tested six tablets especially designed for children costing between 70 and 230.

You never expect toys to harm your child or grandchild but we know they can… so here is a list of toys that you might want to avoid as they pose a safety hazard to some children.

 

November 26, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — As the holiday shopping season begins, the Illinois Public Interest Research Group is out with its annual list of dangerous toys that parents should avoid.

Illinois PIRG: Trouble in Toyland Report

Shoppers hitting the stores this holiday season should look out for toys that can be harmful to children.

Children with special needs and parents get help with toy choices from aToys R Us website. Thank you Toys R Us.

 

Toys R Us toy guide for differently-abled kids makes it easier to find the right toys for a child with a disability. The prices range from $5 – $100.

The toy guide is available at all Toys R Us stores and can also be found online:

http://www.toysrus.com/differentlyabled

 

Toddler’s Tantrums, Creative Children, Smarter than Adults

Parenting in the Loop Facebook

Janet Lansbury offers many insights into how to take care of your babies and children. She    is a follower of Magda Gerber and her RIE philosophy.

Here are some of my favorite posts from Janet, that recently came across my feed. I hope you enjoy them and realize that as a parent and grandparent you have an awesome responsibility and a wonderful one as you involve yourself in caring for your babies.

“Take the mobile off the bed, take care of their needs, and leave them alone.” This odd sentence was my introduction to Magda Gerberand the child care philosophy that would become my passion. I had given birth a few months before reading this quotation, the only one by Gerber, in an article in L.A. Parent magazine about raising a creative child.

via Magda Gerber and the Creative Child | Janet Lansbury.

Babies and children are always fascinating and sometimes frustrating to me. As a former maternal child nurse, I feel privileged to have been one of the first people to have held some newborns. I always felt that the birth of another little being was a blessing and a miracle. I think I always knew that something special had just happened when a baby was delivered.

GENERATIONS of psychologists and philosophers have believed that babies and young children were basically defective adults — irrational, egocentric and unable to think logically. The philosopher John Locke saw a baby’s mind as a blank slate, and the psychologist William James thought they lived in a “blooming, buzzing confusion.” Even today, a cursory look at babies and young children leads many to conclude that there is not much going on.

New studies, however, demonstrate that babies and very young children know, observe, explore, imagine and learn more than we would ever have thought possible. In some ways, they are smarter than adults.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Your Baby Is Smarter Than You Think – NYTimes.com.

 

Temper tantrums can be very perplexing to parents. This anecdote might help explain how RIE understands the mechanisms of toddler tantrums.

Young children are self-healing geniuses, have you noticed? Sometimes their tantrums are an expression of immediate discomforts like fatigue or hunger. Other times, however, they have a backlog of internalized feelings and will seem to deliberately and (seemingly) unreasonably push our limits so that we will hold steady and resist, which then opens up the escape valve they need to release these emotions. But this process can only work for them when we are able to set and hold limits and bravely accept their feelings.

via The Healing Power of a Toddler’s Tantrum | Janet Lansbury.

What Do Your Kids Do During Summer Vacation?

ice cream cone

 

Instead, I’m choosing to teach them that breaks are a good thing. That they don’t need to wring their brain cells dry to be good students. That their hard work during the academic year deserves the reward of relaxation.

 

I’m teaching them that right now, they should experience fun and freedom and mischief and food and yes, a goodly amount of TV and video games. I’m teaching them that they are good enough, and I don’t expect perfection.

 

I’m teaching them that they’re still kids. And that’s really all they need to learn right now.

via I’m Not Teaching My Kids Anything This Summer | Summer Learning.

 

Truly…I could not say this better myself…as I stare out the windows at the water which beckons me to just go with the flow on any given day!

Summer vacation has always been a time that I valued with my kids and now I continue to value it with my grandchild.

My own Nana, God bless her, taught me that summer was for…

Days full of unscheduled activities as much as possible…

Summer was for days…

Full of ice cream cones, sandcastles, swimming and beaches along with…

Rainy days full of  painting, make-believe and cookie baking.

What better excuse to be a kid myself…

How Do You Know If You and Your Child Need a Play Date Consultant?

IMG_2674

Have you ever heard the expression that “there is nothing new under the sun”…

I was a believer in that saying, until I read about this!

Experts said that kids may need the play-date tutoring because their young lives have become so regimented, with classes in subjects like Mandarin and violin, that they don’t know how to play with others.

via Rich parents hire play-date consultants to help kids play better for private-school admissions – NYPOST.com.

Since when do children need experts to tutor them in how to successfully negotiate a play date? Has childhood really become so regimented that kids don’t know how to be kids any longer?

Or is it that parents do not know how to let kids just be kids?

Play is childhood…it is how children learn about the world and how they develop skills that they will use in day to day life. It is how they first learn to problem solve.

Watching children play is absolutely fascinating…at least in my eyes.

As a grandmother of one…I am having the time of my life…I am getting to have another chance to interact on an almost daily basis with a child. I have learned from experience with my own children “not to sweat the small stuff” that children will figure it out if left to themselves to solve a problem.

Patience and time is what I have on my side. This was not always true and I realize that it is the same for this generation of parents. Like myself, they cannot wait for their children to grow…they want them to succeed…they want them not to have to deal with all the difficulties that they dealt with as children. They want “the best” for them.

In this quest for “the best”, today’s parents may just be denying their children what is best. That is just being a child and being allowed to grow and develop through play activities and imagination.

Can trust be said enough times? Trust should be our mantra. It is the secret to the most successful parenting and also the secret to enjoying it. Trust in our child, along with the magic word “wait”, help us to stay our course when friends, family, and unenlightened professionals imply that we’re not doing enough, and/or our child isn’t keeping up. Trust will remind us to let go of personal expectations for our child and to instead recognize and support the expectations she has for herself. Trust, trust, trust. It will never lead us astray. ~ Janet via Janet Lansbury/Elevating ChildCare

 

Parenting is definitely work and that has not changed.

In many ways, it is even more difficult in today’s world to unplug, wind down, and leave the calendar open to do whatever you fancy for a day now and then.

Just perhaps parents should schedule themselves to unschedule and let themselves and their children stop and learn to play.

 

 

Ways to Have Fun Reading with Kids

Where the Wild Things Are

Children’s literature is one of my personal joys….

Thank you, dear granddaughter

for sharing this joy

Thank you, Toddler Approved for your “Virtual Book Club”

 

Our July Virtual Book Club for Kids author is Jez Alborough!

Each month for Virtual Book Club for Kids we feature a new author. You can find many of the posts we’ve shared over the past year on our VBC Pinterest Boards. Below are a few of the authors we’ve featured. We’ll be announcing our author line up for 2013-2014 in a few weeks!

Week in Review from ParentingintheLoop

It’s Friday, so here are some quick, informative reads that I came across this week.

  •  Do you ever wonder what your pediatrician would like you to do for your preschooler?
  •  Below is a quick highlight of a post from one of my favorite sites Baby Center.

Top 5 things doctors wish you’d do for your preschooler | BabyCenter.

1. Don’t make potty training a battle

2. Have two-way conversations

3. Stop germs at the sink

4. Enforce the helmet law, even at home

5. Don’t use the doctor as punishment

 

  • How do you raise children without using punishment when their behavior gets out of line?
  • I found a blogger, who does just that…read her tips for a punishment free home!

What does a punishment-free home look like?.

What we have in our home is a lot of love, a lot of respect, a lot of empathy, and a lot of communication.

 

  • We are a tech savvy home and we have books everywhere including on e-readers.
  • In particular I have a series from the Smithsonian Institution about T-Rex, Penguins and Polar Bears, my 4 year old grandchild loves these books on my i-Phone…you can read them yourself or you can listen to them being read to you. They are delightful.

Should Your Child Be Using an E-Reader? | CSH Greenwich Middle School Parent Blog

Adults with e-readers and tablets continue to report that they’re reading more, a trend that we can hope trickles down to younger readers. After all, we should always be happy seeing children reading, no matter the format.

 

 

 

Preventing Sports Concussions Among Children…Some Ways To Help

I see those positives. Yet if it were my call, those millions would be playing touch football instead. Many would be learning the fundamentals of tackling and other football skills. But they would not be playing tackle football until they turned 14.

via Preventing Sports Concussions Among Children | CSH Greenwich Middle School Parent Blog.

 

This is a statement made by

Robert C. Cantu, a clinical professor in the department of neurosurgery and a co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine, is a co-author with Mark Hyman of the new book “Concussions and Our Kids.”

After reading this blog post from a parent blog at Greenwhich Middle School, I could not help but agree with Dr. Cantu from a medical point of view.

It seems to me, many parents do not realize, their children are not just small versions of adults. Fact: children are still growing and their bodies are not strong enough for contact sports until around age 14.

So why do I see so many “little” kids playing soccer all over our town…where many of the parents are in fact doctors…shouldn’t they know better??? I would think so!

Why is it that sports play such an important role in our lives even when the statistics show that injuries in childhood can have long lasting effects later on in life?

Shouldn’t parents be advocating for stricter playing rules for contact sports that are played by children younger than fourteen years old?

How do we as parents and grandparents call for rule changes for contact sports,  given all we now know about sports injuries in childhood?

Concussions are serious and traumatic encephalopathy is not something to be taken lightly.

Even broke bones can be much more serious in childhood because the growth plates can be injured causing a much more complicated healing process.

Schools, sports groups and parents should be aware of the seriousness of contact sports injuries.

Maybe when insurance companies and sports groups realize this is as a new area of  culpability, things will change and kids will not be put at risk. Risks that children, themselves are unaware of…after all if kid’s  parents encourage these sports, they should be safe to play…right???

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Dr.

Preschool Problems…

I recently read a post which discussed whether we should be teaching our kids to hit back when another child hits them in preschool.

Personally, I think hitting back in school should not encouraged at any age much less in preschool. If a child is being hit at school, it seems to me that the teacher should intervene. If the offending child keeps hitting that calls for parent/teacher discussions.

Our preschool does not tolerate hitting and deals with these issues directly with the offending child’s family. Apologies are expected from the child doing the hitting to the child or children that he/she hit. That is usually the end of it. I am not sure what happens if this type of behavior continues.

It seems that encouraging a child to hit back does nothing to solve the problem…it merely tells another child that hitting is okay in certain instances. To me, preschoolers, do not seem to have the ability to differentiate between when hitting back may in fact be appropriate.

I think preschoolers should defend themselves by telling the teacher and telling their parents.

The parent should then make sure that this is resolved swiftly and appropriately.

What do you think about teaching your preschool child to defend him/herself? Would you encourage hitting back? If so under what circumstances would you think hitting back was okay?

Do dads feel differently about this problem?