Category Archives: Childcare

Routines and Why They Can Help

By: Laura Van Zandt, MS, OTR/L

Routines are very important for all children, but they can be particularly important for children with developmental delays. Routines help provide a sense of certainty and security for children by offering them a predictable pattern that allows them to know what to expect, which will result in less frustration as well as fewer tantrums or meltdowns.

Certain routines are almost universal, such as morning and bedtime routines, but others may exist for specific circumstances or stages of life, such as your family’s weekend morning or school or summer routine.

A great place to start a routine is having a set bedtime. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 3-5 should get 10-13 hours of sleep a day (including naps) and children ages 6-12 should get 9-12 hours of sleep each night. The benefits of getting enough sleep are numerous and include mental/physical health, attention, memory, learning, behavior, and more. The AAP also recommends no screen time 30 minutes prior to bed, no electronics in children’s bedrooms, and having a set bedtime routine.

Setting up a bedtime routine:

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Photo from Take Three Photography

Bedtime routines can be anything you want them to be, as long as they are familiar and predictable. For my infant son, he takes a bath every other day. After his bath (or mom and dad quiet playtime on non-bath days), he gets a nice massage and we read a couple goodnight books. When he shows us signs of being tired, we turn off the bedside lamp, swaddle, and turn on the white noise machine.

This routine is something I hope to keep as he gets older. For an older child, you can do a similar routine but you will need to add in time for personal hygiene and perhaps next day activities such as pick out your clothes, pack your backpack, etc. You can use a similar routine for naps, except they would just be shorter.

Aside from bedtime, morning routines, can also be beneficial. Some families have different weekday and weekend morning routines, but other children may need to have one routine that stays the same regardless of the day.

Mealtime can also present an important routine. An easy place to start is to try to have meals around the same time each day. I know this isn’t always possible- but getting as close to a specific time each day can be beneficial and having everyone sit together to eat.

Additionally, having chores to do in family routines helps children develop a sense of responsibility and some basic skills, like the ability to manage time. These are skills children can use for later in life that you can begin at a young age. One great example is singing the “clean up” song when it’s time to finish an activity and move onto something different.

“Clean up clean up
everybody everywhere.
Clean up clean up
everybody do your share.

Clean up clean up
everybody everywhere.
Clean up clean up
everybody do your share.”

Routines can also be great for teaching personal hygiene. Ever heard a parent sing the ABC song while their child washes their hands? This is just one great example.

Here are some tips if you are looking to introduce routines into your daily life:

  1. Only change one part of the day at a time.

2. Come up with your basic non-negotiables and then give your children some                    choices (bedtime stories together or separate?).

3. Make a poster with the routine, including photos in the right order, to allow for              self-monitoring. In a good routine, everyone understands their roles, knows what              they need to do and sees their roles as reasonable and fair.blog_visual

4. Follow the same routine every single day for at least one month, after which it will         become habit and your older kids should be able to keep themselves on schedule for         the easy routines.

Establishing routines has lots of great benefits that can help both you and your child develop scheduling abilities, and increase the likelihood that your family will have a smooth day.

For more information on Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, visit eastersealsdfvr.org. 

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Pretend Play Activities

By: Laura Bueche MOT OTR/L

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Pretend play is an important piece of development. It promotes social skills, cognitive flexibility, imagination, language, and helps kids process the world around them. When your child participates in pretend play, they are learning the social and emotional roles of life in a fun, hands-on manner. It can stimulate creativity and help them grow to be more comfortable with themselves and the role they play in their everyday lives.

Included below is a list of potential pretend play scenarios to get your creative parent ideas flowing:

Doctor: This is a great pretend game to teach your kids about responsibility, while encouraging them to be proud of “taking care” of someone else!

Kitchen/restaurant/coffee shop/ ice cream shop: This is a great way to help your children learn about food and nutrition, and get them interested in what goes in their bodies and how it fuels their energy.

Grocery store: Another fun way to help them learn about nutrition, while also helping them improve math skills by counting and setting prices for different items being “sold”.

Animal shop/vet: A fun hands-on approach to learn about animals and the important role they play in many peoples lives

Airport: This is a great way to help children understand the different means of transportation and travel people utilize, especially if they have never gone anywhere far from home

Beach vacation: Similar to playing airport, this can help kids understand about travel and the vast and different climates many people live in, especially if your family does not live near a beach.

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Baby bath time/ feeding baby/ baby diaper/ baby bed time:

Similar to playing Doctor, this is a great way for kids to foster an interest in responsibility and taking care of others, while also boosting their confidence in discovering their helpful abilities!

Camping adventure: This is a way to improve kids outdoor skills, while teaching them about nature and the environment they live in.

Pirate treasure map adventure: This is a fun way to get kids creativity flowing and help them learn about adventures they can take and create in their mind

Haunted house: This can be as scary or safe as your child is comfortable with, and can allow them to explore and set boundaries in their mind for what makes him/her comfortable

Dress up/fashion show:

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This is a fun way to let kids try on a new role for size, and to help give them the experience of “walking in other peoples shoes”

Police man/woman: Similar to playing dress up, this gives kids the impression of what kind of jobs people in their community hold

Gardening/ making mud soup/ building sand castles: A very hands-on way to explore nature and learn about the plants and trees they see everyday

Making toy/Lego cities: This allows kids to be totally free-spirited in constructing what they think a fun space to live/play in would be.LEGO Run Pre-Party 029.JPG

Making puppets/puppet theater: This is a healthy and fun way for kids to express their emotions and feelings, while also allowing them to explore new emotions they may not be familiarized with yet.

Firefighter: Identical to playing police officer, this allows children to try out the role of what a firefighter does for their community.

Pretty mixed race girl and Caucasian boy pretending to be superh

Super hero/ defeat bad guys and save good guys:

This helps kids understand right from wrong and the values you as a family have, while also helping them feel good about the choices they make.

Tea party: This is a fun way for kids to make up their own rules and find out what it means to be “in charge” of a dining situation

Post office: Kids can learn about roles in their community and better understand a job they see people enact daily.

Car washplaying carwash.jpgPerfect for a summer day, playing car wash can show your kids real life chores in a positive way, while also making for a fun water activity.

Fishing boat: This is a great way to get your kids to explore nature in their minds, as well as understand a fun hobby many people enjoy.

Santa’s work shop: If you and your family celebrate Christmas, this is a wonderful way to introduce the holiday to your children and help them understand the tradition of Santa Clause and what that means to your family.

Farmer: Similar to playing police officer or firefighter, this can help children understand a job people either in or out of their community hold, while also helping them develop a healthy relationship with food and animals.

 

Doll house: This is a great way to get your children interested in how a household runs and the work it takes to sustain a healthy lifestyle, as well as be a fun outlet for them to get creative and cultivate different personalities and traits for each doll.

23a_Brady_and_Cooper_CoulterRace track/ train tracks:

Similar to playing airport, this helps demonstrate to children the different means of transportation available to them, as well as foster a desire to explore and travel

Many of these pretend activities/games include props, but always feel free to encourage your children to use their imagination and create props in their mind or with another item in your house, especially if the props are not readily available to you.

My OT Christmas List

By: Laura Bueche, MOT OTR/L

If you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for your child, here are some ideas to give your little one the input they are looking for over winter break. I also included other helpful websites, stores and catalogs for children with special needs.

Heavy Work and Movement

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Cuddle Me Sensory Tunnel– Great for therapy requiring tactile input and crawling practice as well as for sensory seeking kids to cuddle in for comfort. $49.99

scooter-blog.jpgScooter board– Develops sensory processing, coordination, balance and agility skills. $19.25

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Mini Kids Trampoline– Helps with muscle development, coordination and sensory processing. $68.99

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Wiggle Sit Cushion– provides subtle movement input and is a great seating option that often helps with focusing, while developing balance skills and trunk control. $14.90

 Deep Pressure Toys

 

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Weighted toys– A great sensory diet addition that provides comforting deep pressure input. $36.00

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Body Sock– excellent for providing calming/organizing deep pressure input, and for developing motor planning, spatial, and body awareness. $31.98

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Weighted blankets– Can calm anxiety and ease stress for some children with autism, sensory processing disorder, developmental disorders, and more. $ Prices vary

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Vibrating Pillow– Provides a sense of calm. $17.95

Balance and Coordination Toys

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Balance Board– helps develop the necessary skills for normal childhood activities which require good balance and coordination. $19.95

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Velcro Toss– Great for practicing motor-planning and timing skills. $8.49

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Zoom Ballgreat for bilateral coordination, motor planning skills, shoulder stability, and building upper body and core strength. $13.99

balance-stepping_otBalance stepping stones– Helps to improve balancing and coordination abilities. $29.49

 Tactile Exploration Toys

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Fidgets– Great for calming and alerting, to promote focusing and concentration, decrease stress, increase tactile awareness of fingers/hands and as a way to keep fidgeting fingers busy. $ Price Varies

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Water Beads – These make for fun sensory activities. $5.95

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Kinetic Sand– Great for a calming sensory experience and for tactile therapy play. $12.99

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Be Amazing Insta-Snow Jar– great for use in sensory tables for early childhood. $9.89

Adapted Toys

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Santa’s Little Hackers– A seasonal toy drive to adapt toys,  making simple modifications to the electronics of toys and giving them away. These adaptations make the toys accessible to individuals with disabilities so they can play independently.

Other Adapted Toy Resources:

Adaptive Tech SolutionsAdaptive Tech Solutions is a therapist owned and operated company that provides adapted equipment for individuals with disabilities at affordable prices.

Beyond Play: Features switch toys which are wonderful way to teach cause and effect and can help children develop a sense of control over their environment and self-esteem.

Other Resources:

I’m looking forward to checking out this new store in the Chicago area, Spectrum Toy Store.

Toys R Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids – Prepared by the National Lekotek Center, the catalogue is available at your local “R” Us store.

And last but not least, view our Amazon Wishlist for therapist recommended toys and games for all children’s developmental stages at bit.ly/eswishlist.

Getting Back to the Basics this 4th of July

By: Kelly Lopresti, Director of Child Development, The Lily Garden Child Care Center

The warm summer weather is perfect for a Fourth of July celebration that incorporates easy patriotic activities. Think back to your own childhood outdoor experiences in the summer months with nights playing kick the can and flashlight tag.  4thWe can show our kids how to have a great 4th of July celebration by adding a few throw back activities from our youth.  Below is a list of list of easy activities that will keep kids busy, laughing and having a ton of fun during your holiday weekend.

Potato Sack Race: Bring back the classic potato sack race for your Fourth of July party. All you’ll need is a handful of bags (even old pillow cases will work) and a group of people. Line up the bagged participants and send them on their way laughing toward the finish line.

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Fun with the Brady Bunch kids.

Fun Tip: Choose festive bags, such as red, white, and blue pillow cases, or decorate your own potato sacks with the image of the flag or the Statue of Liberty.

IMG_1410Spoon Race: We named this Fourth of July game for one of our nation’s founding fathers, and it’s sure to be a hit. It’s the Abraham Lincoln Spoon Race.

  1. Divide the kids into two teams and designate a starting point and finish line.
  2. At the starting point, place a bowl of pennies and two spoons or ladles (one for each team); at the finish line, place two empty bowls (one for each team).
  3. One at a time one person from each team must fill the spoon with as many pennies as possible and then race to the finish line to discard them into the team bowl.
  4. Here’s the catch: Any dropped pennies must be picked up and returned to the spoon, and the player must return to the starting point. The first team to transfer all the pennies to the bowl at the finish line wins.
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Photo from Oriental Trading

American Flag Relay: Fill two large plastic buckets or bins with sand and insert small American flags. Use the same number of flags as participants.

  1. Designate a starting point and a finish line, placing the buckets at the finish line.
  2. Split the kids into two teams and have them form two lines at the starting point.
  3. On your “Go,” the first person in each line races to the bucket, grabs a flag, and marches back (for safety reasons, don’t allow children to run with the flags).
  4. The next person in line cannot go until the previous person has returned with his or her flag.
  5. The first team to capture all of its flags wins.

 

Other ideas:

  • Bike Decorating contest: Get the streamers and balloons ready and start decorating.
  • Hula Hoop Contest: Grab some Hula Hoops and a few wiggly participants to get the contest started. The person who can continue to hula the longest wins.
  • Baseball Throwing Contest: Incorporate America’s favorite pastime in your 4th of July celebration. The person who can throw a baseball the farthest wins. This game is best played at a park with an adult marking the distance each time.
  • Tug-of-War Contest: Create two teams to tug on opposing sides of a rope. Make three knots in the middle of the rope and a line on the ground between the teams. The team who tugs the furthest knot across the line wins
  • kiteFly a Kite: Let your patriotic spirit fly high into the sky this July Fourth. Make and decorate kites as a family and fly them in the backyard or at a park.
  • Baseball: Baseball is widely considered the all-American sport, which makes it a perfect Fourth of July game. Designate team captains and mark bases with bags of sand or painted twigs.
  • Patriotic Scavenger Hunt: For a festive and fun July Fourth game, send players on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. Include patriotic items on the list, such as red, white, and blue items; a nickel, in honor of Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence; and mini American flags.

For more ideas for a fun 4th of July weekend visit:

To learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s Lily Garden Child Care Center visit eastersealslilygarden.org.

Help Your Little One Love to Swim!

By: Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT

Summer months are just around the corner which means neighborhood pools and splash pads are opening.  Toddlers are so curious about the water but are often a bit scared to take the plunge and go in the pool.  Here are some fun and easy ways to get your child to learn to love the water. 

1)      Treasure Hunt: When children can sit up by themselves (about 6 months old), sit by them in the kiddie pool or a blow up pool in the backyard.  Place fun things at the bottom of the pool, such as plastic fish, rings or some of their favorite bath toys.  Pools with a zero-depth entry where you can walk in on a gradual decline are excellent for making a trail of toys into the water for your little one to follow. 

2)      Peek-A-Boo!: Once your little one is in the water, putting their face in can often be a scary thing. Playing Simon Says or Peek-A-Boo can be a fun way to break the ice.  Kids love to mimic their parents, so placing your face in the water covering your face, then lifting your face out of the water making a funny face at your child can be a hit.  Practicing blowing bubbles through a partially submerged straw is also fun for kiddos. 

3)      Getting comfortable on their back:  Floating on their backs is one of the first things that kids learn in swim lessons.   While you are supporting them under their mid back, asking kids to describe shapes of the clouds, sing songs and even looking for airplanes are ways to help children ease into this skill.  Practicing back float in the bathtub is also a good way to practice this life-saving skill.

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Photo Credit: Kristi Hughes

4)      Fun with Noodles: If your pool allows noodles, having your children straddle the noodle while supporting them at their waist can be not only fun for your kiddo but also a great way to strengthen their core and leg muscles.  Have your child hold onto the noodle with two hands in front of them and pretend that they are riding a horse or biking to their favorite toy store or ice cream shop. 

5)      Listen to Your Child:
If your child cries during swim lessons or has tantrums when you are trying to get them into the pool, do not force them to go in the water as this can make it worse.  They may need a few sessions of watching other kids from the deck on the side of the pool to realize that swimming is not a scary thing.  Make sure to pick a time where your child is not tired or hungry.   Let them pick out a swimsuit at the store and fun pool toys so they feel like they have some control over this new experience. 

Swimming is one of the only sports that people can enjoy for their entire life-span.   It can also be life-saving and build confidence in your little one.  So, make sure to be positive and motivating with your little one in the water and help them learn to love to swim.

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Photo Credit: Joann Hartley

 

To learn more about Aquatic Therapy and other
Community Based Therapy Programs at
Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, click here.

Cover photo by Chris Pestel

 

My Child is Stuttering; Will He or She Grow out of it?

By: Valerie Heneghan, M.A., CCC-SLP/L

You may have noticed that your child appears to be getting stuck on words or repeating words and sounds recently, what do you do?  Your friends and/or family may have told you not to worry about it as they will likely grow out of the problem, is this true?  How can you tell if my child is stuttering?  When do I seek help for this problem?

In this post, you will be provided with a brief summary addressing questions related to childhood stuttering.

Prevalence

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), in preschool age the prevalence of stuttering can be as great as eleven percent. The prevalence of stuttering is also greater in boys than girls up to 4:1 as the stuttering progresses.

Characteristics of Stuttering

Disfluency is anything that interrupts the forward flow of speech. Stuttering occurs when this disruption occurs within a word.

There are two forms of stuttering:

1) Sound/Syllable Repetition: repeating a single sound or syllable (e.g., g-g-g-going, bi-bi-cycle, etc.) and 2) Sound Prolongations; pausing or stretching out single sound (e.g, g__oing, ____bicycle).

Associated and/or secondary characteristics may also be present for a child who stutters.  These are described as movements as a reaction to the stuttering including but not limited to: distracting sounds, facial grimaces, head movements, movement of the extremities, etc.

Risk Factors

Stuttering is a disorder of childhood with typically emerges between the ages of two and a half and five years old. While genetics and neurophysiology appear to be related to the underlying causes of stuttering, environmental factors, temperament, and speaking demands may influence a child’s reactions to stuttering.

Recovery

80% of children will outgrow stuttering within four years.  During the first year however, 12% recover spontaneously.  Indicators that your child may continue to stutter includes but not limited to: no changes in frequency of stuttering, changes in stuttering type, duckpersistence of associated behaviors six months post onset, family history of stuttering, increased communication demands, etc.

When therapy is recommended

If you notice that your child is stuttering, mark when you first noticed the problem begin.  Initially, do not draw attention to the stuttering, decrease the communication demands and model slow and smooth speech when speaking to or near your child.

If you are concerned about your child’s stuttering, have them evaluated by a Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in assessing and treating children who stutter.

Using visual schedules: A Guide for Parents

By: Jessica Drake-Simmons M.S. CCC-SLP

Using visual schedules allows your child to see what is going to be happening in their day and the order of events.  Visual schedules can be customized to meet the needs of each child.  Getting started with a visual schedule can seem overwhelming, so this blog will help you recognize if your child would benefit from a visual schedule with ideas on how to get started.

7 Benefits of visual schedules:

  1. Provides structure and predictability:  Visual schedules prepare a child for what is coming up, which can reduce anxiety. 
  2. Eases transitions: Visual schedules are helpful in easing transitions from one activity to the next.
  3. Reinforce verbal instructions: Most children process visual information better than auditory information.  Words disappear after we say them and the visuals give language a lasting component. 
  4. Supports literacy development- Consistent exposure to written words can enforce reading of sight-words and provide an opportunity to practice reading through decoding.   
  5. Supports development of executive functioning: Visual schedules enforce planning, sequencing, completing tasks independently and the natural consequences of time management.
  6. Supports conversation skills: Many childrenn have difficulty recalling and retelling previous events.  Providing the visual framework of the schedule can help kids answer open-ended questions like: “What did you do today?” or “What was your favorite activity?”
  7. Helps caregivers:  Having a plan in place can be calming for adults.  Creating a schedule helps the caregiver prepare for the day and use time effectively.

Decide on the format

Visual schedules come in all shapes and forms.  When selecting a visual schedule format, consider which would be most functional for you to use, along with what would be most beneficial for your child.  Some schedule forms take more preparation while schedules like line drawn images or written words can be done quickly and on the fly. 

  Here are some different types of visual schedules:

all+picApps on phone/tablet   Tangible pictures with Velcro Line drawing images  Written words

Decide on the length The length of the schedule will be based on your son or daughter’s needs and abilities. Some children may be able to use a whole day schedule while others will be overwhelmed by this amount of information and will need to see just one or two items at a time.

First/Then-This can be an effective format to introduce visual schedules without overwhelming the child with too much information.  It can assist a child in getting through the non-preferred first activity by seeing that next, she will get a preferred choice.

day
Part of the day with more specific activities                                              Monthly Calendar

 

 

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Whole day with more general activities

It is beneficial to include your child as part of the process of creating the schedule.  The slowed down, one step at a time, verbal explanations paired with visuals helps the child understand and prepare for upcoming activities.  It can also be a nice opportunity for the child to have some autonomy and make choices about what their day will look like. Don’t feel that making a schedule means that you have to rigidly follow it.  Life is unpredictable and having a change in plans is something that we all have to adapt to.  The visual schedule can be a great tool to teach your kids about flexibility.

Learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley resources here: https://eastersealsdfvr.org/.

Stir Crazy Kids: How to Stay Active this Winter

By: Laura Bueche, Occupational Therapist

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Oh the weather outside is frightful, and we are going crazy indoors. Just because there is snow and ice on the ground, does not mean your child’s arousal level is any lower.  On the contrary, it’s probably reaching a boiling point and you are looking for ways to get your kids the sensory stimulation and gross motor activity their little bodies are craving.

Getting your kids up and moving has a lot of benefits. The Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week, preferably daily. As an occupational therapist, I love physical activity because of the regulating aspects of proprioceptive input*, as well as development of coordination skills and strengthening opportunities.

*Proprioceptive input are sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that underlie body awareness. Input can be obtained by lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy objects, including one’s own weight. For example, climbing on a jungle gym, swinging across monkey bars, or pulling a wagon.

15_Brady PembrokeWhy is it helpful? Providing your child with more proprioceptive input throughout the day can help them:

  • Tolerate sensations and situations that are challenging
  • Regulate emotions, alertness and increase attention span
  • Reduce unwanted sensory seeking and sensory avoiding behaviors
  • Handle transitions with less stress (sensorysmarts.com)

For more information about sensory processing check out the post, How Sensitive is Too Sensitive?

In these bitter winter months, it is difficult to get your kids the physical
activity they need. Here are just a few ideas for indoor activities to give you and your family a much-needed break from being stuck at home.

Ideas for Local Indoor Activities

Ideas if You Can’t Leave the House

There is a crazy blizzard outside, what can I do with what I have at home? Here are some ideas to get kids some movement breaks when stuck indoors:

  • Build a furniture fort by pushing and pulling furniture and cushions from around the house.
  • Make an obstacle course by army crawling, jumping and doing jumping jacks to get to the finish line in record time.
  • The floor is hot lava! We all know this favorite.
  • Animal walk relay races: bear walk, crab walk, wheelbarrow, and penguin waddle across the room to roll the die of a board game or get stickers for a craft project.
  • Jump and crash into a pillow pile or onto the bed.
  • Jump rope with rhymes and songs.
  • Squeeze, squish, and smash Play-Doh.
  • Use a scooter, tricycle, or scooter board to propel through the house.
  • Squish your kids in a pillow pile; making sandwiches.
  • Swing your toddler in a blanket between you and another adult.
  • Push a vacuum or mop, collect the garbage, wipe down the table, load the laundry, and push the laundry basket.Cooper

Halloween Safety Tips

By:  Kelly Lopresti, Director of Child Development

Children are our most valuable investment.  Ensure that your child is aware of all the safety tips and rules this Halloween. Drive carefully as some children may dart into the street and may not be easily visible due to dark costumes. Please take the time to review the following safety rules with your child.DSC_2483

  • Make sure young children are accompanied by an adult or responsible teenager when they go door-to-door.
  • If children are going to be out after dark, me sure they carry a flashlight.
  • Walk, slither, and sneak on sidewalks, not in the street! If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
  • Instruct children never to eat anything until they are home and the treats have been carefully examined. Throw away anything unwrapped.  Check the wrapper of commercial treats for evidence of tampering.
  • Leave your porch light on so children will know it’s okay to visit your home.
  • Decorate costumes and treat bags with reflective tape for easier night visibility.DSC_2549
  • Be cautious of animals and strangers.
  • Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes.
  • Accept your treats at the door and never go into a stranger’s house.
  • Plan a route on well lit streets and share it with your family.
  • Don’t hide or cross the street between cars.
  • Cross the street only at corner.

Have a safe and fun filled Halloween!!!

For other fun resources, check out the Power Ranger Megaforce Halloween Safety video!

Or read more about Halloween safety at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

Learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s Lily Garden Child Care Center at: http://www.eastersealslilygarden.org/page.aspx?pid=678. 

Top Reasons Kids Make Great Gardeners

By: Vanessa Doyle, Lead Teacher in the Lily Garden Child Care Center Infant Room & Horticulture Coordinator

Pop quiz! Which of these would you like your child to improve on?

  1. How to make healthy food choices.
  2. How to cooperate well with others and engage in teamwork.
  3. How to increase their confidence and self-awareness.
  4. How to interact and connect with the natural world.

If you agree with one or any of these statements, your child would be a great gardener.

Gardening Blog1Gardening has been around for so long that people may not realize the positive effects it can have on our children and us. With more processed and highly sugared foods hitting the table, we are further away from where our food comes from than ever before.

Everyone agrees that eating healthy is good. It makes you feel better, gets you a good doctor’s report and prevents disease. But it can be really hard sometimes. After working all day and picking up the kids from school, going to soccer practice, therapy and homework; taking a swing threw the drive-thru seems like the only option available. But this option is causing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease not only in us but also in our children.

So what can we do to turn that around?

We can start by establishing healthy eating habits young. These habits will last a lifetime.

Garden Blog3.jpgGardening is a great way to incorporate real fruits and vegetables into your home. It provides a learning opportunity for children to see where their food comes from. School or community gardens also offer an opportunity to interact with a group to practice socialization and teamwork. Once youth are involved in the growing process, they gain a sense of pride and ownership of what they created. This makes them more willing to try new foods and share. Often school can be an overload of sensory input. The garden provides a relaxing environment for everybody. Children can explore their senses by smelling flowers and hearing the sounds of nature around them.

How do I get started?

  • Gardeners are great sharers! Ask friends, family and even us here at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley. Somebody usually has an extra plant or two to spare or a packet of seeds to share. If you can’t find any, your local nursery can help or you can order seeds online at Rare Seeds.
  • Dedicate an area of your yard to be the garden. If you don’t have a plot of land to dedicate to a whole garden, that is okay too. Containers work well and can grow plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
  • Make it easy on yourself. If you have never gardened before, it is as simple as putting a seed into the dirt, giving it sunlight and water and watching it grow.

Happy Planting!

Come by and check out our very own school garden grown by the kids in the Lily Garden Child Care Center at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley in Villa Park.

Other Resources:

http://www.letsmove.gov/eat-healthy

http://www.chicagobotanic.org

http://www.earlysprouts.org