Archive for the 'Preschoolers' Category

Kindergarters and School

How is your kindergartener learning?  There is a lot of talk about what kindergarteners’ should learn and what they are really learning.  Does your child get to learn through play and exploring, or are they just taking test and learning things that older children should be learn? What do you expect from your child, regarding what they should be able to learn?  Have you asked your child if they enjoy school, and do they tell all about their day?

I think parents should watch out for school burnout, and pushing children too early.  There needs to be a balance, and we need to help them find that balance.  The child’s natural way of learning is through exploring and playing.  So, ask yourself is exploring, a part of test taking, and does it really help?  I think educators are starting to understand, that children do not learn by tests, and that they need to get back basic and good old Child’s play.  Please give your thoughts.

Children Watching TV, Good or Bad?

Do you let your baby or toddler watch TV, and just what shows are they watching?  A study in the US says that children under two should not watch any TV, and if they do, it should be educational. Read more at LaCrosseTribune.com.

The research involved children younger than 3, so TV is mostly a no-no anyway, according to the experts. But if TV is allowed, it should be of the educational variety, the researchers said.

Every hour per day that kids under 3 watched violent child-oriented entertainment their risk doubled for attention problems five years later, the study found. Even nonviolent kids’ shows like “Rugrats” and “The Flintstones” carried a still substantial risk for attention problems, though slightly lower.

On the other hand, educational shows, including “Arthur,” “Barney” and “Sesame Street” had no association with future attention problems.

Interestingly, the risks only occurred in children younger than age 3, perhaps because that is a particularly crucial period of brain development. Those results echo a different study last month that suggested TV watching has less impact on older children’s behavior than on toddlers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children younger than 2 and limited TV for older children.

Car Seats have Expiration Dates

Did you know that car seats have an expiration date on them?  You may want to check that date, and have your car seat inspected.

And, just like milk and eggs, car seats can expire. The date can be found on the back of the seat.

Inspector Ashley Marchese says there are a couple of reasons why manufacturers put expiration dates on their car seats.

One is the effect that heat can have on the plastic.

“There could be a breakdown to the plastic that you don’t know,” said Ashley Marchese. That can affect the stability and durability of the seat.

Second, car seats continue to evolve.

There is no research that connects the dots between expired car seats and injuries, but the trauma program director at All Children’s Hospital says anything that affects a car seat’s performance could be dangerous.

If you can’t find the expiration date on the car seat, call the manufacturer with the model number.

Safe Toys for your little one

ParentDish has a list of safe online toy stores, for your little ones.  If you have bought any toys from these company, please tell us, your thoughts on them.

Back to Basics with the Activity Cart

Here is a great gift idea for your Toddler, that will keep them busy for a long time, with the Activity Cart.

Back to School Ideas

The start of school can be stressful for both children and parents, no matter how old they are.  Making a check list can help in making sure you have everything covered for the first day of school. Here are a few things you may want to think about when making your checklist for the first day of school. Here are some ideas for your checklist age 3-12 year olds.

One Month before school it is very important to set a routine for bedtime and for getting ready for school in the morning.  By doing this ahead of time, you will save a lot of heartache before the first day of school.  You can achieve this by setting a time that your child goes to bed and wakes up each morning.

Another thing to think about is this is the time to talk to your child about school, and how they are going to make new friends and have new activities. You may want to read books with themes about school and making new friends.  If your child is older then it is a good idea to talk to them about the school year, the extra activities they will be responsible for, homework, practice time, and also their down time. Try to cover safety information like your child’s full name, address, telephone number, and their parent’s names.

This time is a good chance to clear the clutter by the two of you going through your child’s clothes, toys, books, etc. Make sure your child tries on his or hers clothes from last year, to see if they still fit. You can talk to your child about giving the items to donation, and how that my help others.

Two weeks before school is the time to plan how your child will get to school and how they will get home.  If some one else other than your self will take them and/or pick them up, set a meeting place.  Also make sure that your child is aware of how they will go to school and how they will come home. If for some reason there are any changes to the plans for how your child will get to school or home, let them know ahead of time. Also make sure you know the route to school, also talk to your child about how they will get to school.

It is time to by school gear, before the rush.  Call the school and get an updated list from your child’s teacher or school office and mark the supplies with your child’s name. This includes any school uniform. Visit the school with your child, this way he can see his classroom and meet his teacher.  This will give a chance to explore their new space. If your child will have lunch at school, it is a good idea to practice lunch.  Let your child know what is expected of them and what they may have for lunch.

Plan for homework.  Buy extra supplies just for the home, this will help with homework. Also let your child help pick a homework area, where they will feel comfortable for their studies. This area should be well lit, quiet, comfortable, and isn’t near distractions, like the TV. The last but one of the most important things to do is make sure your child’s medical records are updated and that the school has a copy of them.  Also let the school know of any special medical needs.

One or two days before school decide on a first-day outfit, with your child, for the big day. This is a big day for them, and they want everything to be perfect as well. Plan your child’s breakfast as it is important for them to have a healthy start for school. One way to show how important school is and how proud your are for your child’s first day of school is to make sure they have a energy packed breakfast on the first day.  Also make their favorite dinner the night before.

Make sure your child’s items are pack up and arranged for school in one place. Also make sure that your child’s backpack is supplied and ready for school. Your child should  know where this area is and where the items go. This will help with making your morning run smoother, by not having to look for things.

It is very important to plan your goodbye; if this is their first day of school as a child, then you need to make sure you are also ready for the first day. This can be an emotional day for both of you. Even if you cannot take your child to school every day, try to make a plan where you can at least be there for the first day, as this is an important day.

Setting a bedtime routine can be a daunting thought for most parents, here are some tips for setting a bedtime routine.  If your child is too young to tell time, then it may be easier than you think to get them to go to bed at an earlier time.  If you already have a bedtime routine, then just move it to the correct time for school, but if your child is older, than you will need to have a talk with them about bedtime. Also you will probably have to go slowly with changing the bedtime.

If there is not a routine, then this is a good time to make one. You can set up your routine by having a time for dinner, bath, brushing teeth, reading, and the good night
time. The evening with the family should be a routine, and it should be kept simple, so that you can repeat it every night. After just a couple of nights, you and your child should know the clues to night-night time.  If after a few weeks, your child is having problems with the new bedtime.  It is time to troubleshoot. If your child is falling asleep at the new time, but is having trouble waking up, then you may need to try a earlier bed time. If this does not work, cut our any caffeine (watch out for hidden caffeine) and some evening TV watching.  If your child is still having problems, you may want to check with your child’s doctor.

I hope these tips help you and your child to have a easy, wonderful time going back to school.  This is an exciting time for the both of you, and with a little hard work, you can have a great start.  Just remember that you child is probably excited about school, and that the way it should be.

Rickets in Children

With the study by UAE University, I thought we should look at what happens when children are deficient in Vitamin D. This what the Mayo Clinic has to say about Rickets (name for children’s deficiency in Vitamin D).
Introduction

Rickets is the softening and weakening of bones in children, usually because of an extreme and prolonged vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is essential in promoting absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the gastrointestinal tract, which children need to build strong bones. A deficiency of vitamin D makes it difficult to maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels in your bones.

Your body senses an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in your bloodstream and reacts by taking calcium and phosphorus from your bones to raise blood levels to where they need to be. This softens or weakens the bone structure, resulting most commonly in skeletal deformities such as bowlegs or improper curvature of the spine. Osteomalacia is the adult version of rickets.

If a vitamin D or calcium deficiency causes rickets, adding vitamin D or calcium to the diet generally corrects any resulting bone problems for the child. Rickets due to a genetic condition may require additional medications or specialized treatment. Some skeletal deformities caused by rickets may need corrective surgery.

Signs and symptoms

Vitamin D deficiency begins months before physical signs and symptoms of rickets appear. When rickets symptoms develop, they may include:

  • Skeletal deformities. -These include bowed legs, abnormal curvature of the spine, pelvic deformities and breastbone projection in the chest.
  • Fragile bones. -Children with rickets are more prone to bone fractures.
  • Impaired growth. -Delayed growth in height or limbs may be a result of rickets.
  • Dental problems. -These include defects in tooth structure, increased chance of cavities, poor enamel and delayed formation of teeth.
  • Bone pain. -This includes dull, aching pain or tenderness in the spine, pelvis and legs.
  • Muscle weakness. -Decreased muscle tone may make movement uncomfortable.

Causes

Vitamin D acts as a hormone to regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in your bones. You absorb vitamin D from two sources:

Sunlight. Your skin produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. This is the most common way for most adolescents and adults to produce the vitamin.

Food. Your intestines absorb vitamin D from the foods you eat or from supplements or multivitamins you may take.

In the past, dietary vitamin D deficiency was the most common cause of rickets in the United States. Now, with the increased use of vitamin supplements and the variety of foods fortified with vitamin D (such as orange juice and breakfast cereals), vitamin D deficiency cases of rickets have fallen.

Currently in the United States, conditions that impair vitamin D absorption such as the surgical removal of all or part of the stomach (gastrectomy) and celiac disease, in which the small intestine doesn’t absorb certain nutrients from food, cause most cases of rickets.

Other causes of rickets include:

Hereditary rickets (X-linked hypophosphatemia), an inherited form of rickets caused by the inability of the kidneys to retain phosphorus, or a complication of renal tubular acidosis, a condition in which your kidneys are unable to excrete acids into urine.

Lack of exposure to sunlight, which stimulates the body to make vitamin D

Risk factors

Children 6 to 24 months old are most at risk of rickets because they’re growing rapidly, and vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus play a major role in the growth process.

Risk factors for rickets include:

Lack of vitamin D. Breast-fed infants who don’t receive supplemental vitamin D are at increased risk of developing rickets. While exposure to sunlight could produce the necessary amounts of vitamin D, sunburn and skin cancer are real dangers for young children. Sunscreens also markedly decrease vitamin D production.

Lack of calcium and phosphorus. Children who don’t get enough calcium and phosphorus in their diets are at increased risk of rickets. The availability of milk and other products that contain these minerals make this cause a rarity for rickets in the United States and other developed countries.

Screening and diagnosis

Your doctor or your child’s doctor may diagnose rickets by:

Physical examination. Your doctor will check if the pain or tenderness is coming directly from the bones, instead of the joints and muscles surrounding them.

Blood tests. These measure calcium and phosphorus levels to see if they’re normal.

X-rays. Your doctor may take images of affected bones to look for softening or weakness.

Medical history. Kidney problems, celiac disease or diagnosis of a sibling with rickets may help lead your doctor to a rickets diagnosis.

Complications

While easily treated once it’s diagnosed, rickets has a severe list of complications if left untreated. Untreated vitamin D deficiency rickets may lead to:

Delays in your child’s motor skills development

Failure to grow and develop normally

Increased susceptibility to serious infections

Skeletal deformities

Chronic growth problems that can result in short stature (adults measuring less than 5 feet tall)

Seizures

Dental defects

Treatment

The aim of treatment for rickets is to solve the underlying disorder. If deficiencies in vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus are at fault, replacing vitamin D and those minerals generally eliminates the signs and symptoms of rickets, such as bone tenderness and muscle weakness. Improvement may occur within weeks.

Your doctor may prescribe a vitamin D supplement or ask you to increase your intake of vitamin D-fortified foods, including fortified breakfast cereal, orange juice, fish and processed milk. Your doctor may also recommend that you get a little sun. Remember that moderate exposure is the safest, and don’t expose infants under 6 months to direct sunlight.

Getting a sufficient intake of calcium is crucial to maintaining healthy bones. Your doctor can suggest an appropriate level of calcium intake depending on your age and whether you have absorption problems. The combination of increased vitamin D intake with calcium may be enough to eliminate the effects of rickets entirely.

Treating complications

For some cases of bowlegs or spinal deformities, your doctor may suggest special bracing to position your child’s body appropriately as the bones grow. More severe skeletal deformities may require surgery.

Prevention

Although most adolescents and adults receive much of their necessary vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, infants and young children need to avoid direct sun entirely or be especially careful by always wearing sunscreen.

Vitamin D supplements

In light of these factors, and because human milk contains only a small amount of vitamin D, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breast-fed infants receive 200 international units (IU) of oral vitamin D daily beginning during the first two months of life and continuing until the daily consumption of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk is two to three glasses or 500 milliliters (mL).

Vitamin D supplements for infants generally come in droplet form. Use only supplements that contain up to 400 IU of vitamin D per mL or tablet. Avoid supplements containing a higher concentration of vitamin D (some forms come in levels of up to 8,000 IU/mL), because they’re unsafe for children.

Getting enough calcium

Calcium and phosphorus consumption are also important for bone formation in childhood. Breast milk is the best source of calcium during a child’s first year of life. Most commercially available formulas also meet calcium requirements. Because of these factors, infants in the United States generally achieve 100 percent of their recommended intake of calcium. Unfortunately, this trend stops as children grow into adolescents and adults, and many fail to take in enough calcium, an essential component of skeletal formation. This lack of calcium may lead to osteomalacia, a form of rickets in adults.

Recommended daily intake of calcium is as follows (serving sizes vary with age):

1 to 3 years of age. 500 milligrams (mg) (two servings of dairy products a day)

4 to 8 years of age. 800 mg (two to three servings of dairy products a day)

9 to 18 years of age. 1,300 mg (four servings of dairy products a day, as most bone mass production occurs during this period)

19 to 50 years of age. 1,000 mg a day (three servings of dairy products a day)

Milk accounts for three-fourths of the calcium in the food supply of the United States. If you’re not drinking milk, be sure to find another source. Remember that low-fat can still mean high-calcium. Other sources of calcium include leafy green vegetables (spinach), fortified orange juices, fortified breakfast cereals and calcium supplements.

Children Podcasts

I found this website with a great collection of podcasts for you and your children, called Educate.  The podcasts start for age 5 to college age.

Toy Fair

There will be a Toy Fair in Dubai on 13-15 of May. I have not received the timing of the event, or prices, but when I know, I will post them here.

Ear tubes not needed to promote learning, study shows

For a long time it was believed that if a child had many ear infections or had a severe infection, had to get tubes put in their ears. Now a new study says that may not be necessary. The study done by Pittsburgh-based researchers says that the tubes made little differences in language development, hearing lose, and damage to the eardrum.

Implanting ear tubes in most toddlers with frequent infections will make no difference in their learning or behavior through primary school, according to a study challenging one big reason for these common procedures.

Repeated ear infections — even some colds — can leave a fluid buildup that specialists long feared would dampen hearing and slow language and other learning. However, it now appears the hearing loss is too short-lived and mild to interfere with learning, at least in the vast majority of children.

“Children are basically pretty resilient and can withstand … that little amount of problem,” said study leader Dr. Jack L. Paradise, a pediatrician at the University of Pittsburgh.

The children in the study were tested for skills in hearing sounds, reading, writing, socializing, conduct and intelligence. Children who got ear tubes quickly did no better than those who waited up to nine months to check if the fluid remained — and only then got implants if needed.

The plastic tubes — with a diameter the size of a pencil lead — are implanted in the eardrum to ventilate the middle ear, cut down on future fluid, and drain it when infections develop. The surgery has small risks, including those of general anesthesia and possible hearing loss from damage to the eardrum. Ear tubes generally fall out after a year or so.

There are no reliable current estimates on how many ear tubes are implanted each year. About 550,000 were placed in 1996 — about half in toddlers. It has been the No. 2 surgery in the nation, after circumcision. Today, the surgery can cost $3,000 or more.

Berman believes tens of thousands of surgeries could now be considered unnecessary each year. However, a minority of children with severe hearing loss will remain candidates for the surgery. Also, many tubes are implanted to cut down on the infections themselves, rather than fluid. They can reduce pain, and that justification remains valid.

The study was backed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and drug makers GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.

Read more at CNN Health.