Healthy Eating For Young Children

Encouraging children to eat a nutritious, balanced diet early on is important for a number of reasons. Ensuring they get the right vitamins and minerals in their diet will help them grow and develop optimally. They are also more likely to be energised and motivated, supporting their ability to learn. Educating them on healthy eating during childhood will also help them make healthier choices as they become adults.

Despite the obvious benefits, we recognise that there can be challenges when it comes to healthy eating for kids.

What does healthy eating mean for your child?

The term ‘healthy eating’ is very broad and encompasses a range of areas, including the following:

  • enjoying a varied diet
  • having a healthy relationship with food
  • following the Eatwell Guide
  • encouraging appropriate portion sizes.

Enjoying a varied diet

All foods contain different nutrients, vitamins and minerals. In order to get all the nutrients they need, it is important for children to have a varied diet containing lots of different foods. Aim for three balanced meals a day and up to two healthy snacks. Use different protein sources in each meal and different varieties of vegetables.

Having a healthy relationship with food

Ensuring children have a healthy relationship with food will establish a positive attitude to eating in the long-run. Try to teach them about food and nutrition (for example where their food comes from) and get them cooking early on. Kids at Big Foot Preschool have regular cookery lessons that are fun and exciting.

Following the Eat well Guide

Getting the right amount of food groups in their diet promotes health and well-being. The a Guide is a helpful starting point. At Big Foot Preschool, the children are educated on the portion sizes they should be eating for each food group.

Encouraging appropriate portion sizes

Get used to dishing up ‘me-sized plates’ instead of adult-sized plates as this can encourage overeating. Avoid forcing your child to clear their plate if they are not hungry.

Importance Of Outdoor Play

Being outside is the perfect place for kids to be kids with the freedom to shout, jump, run, hop or skip. In fact, by taking your children outdoors and supporting their play, you can help their development. This article covers lots of information about the positive impact and importance of outdoor activities for kids.

The importance of outdoor play for kids

Big Foot Preschool strongly believes that outdoor play has great benefits for a child’s overall development. Young children need the opportunity to use their whole body and develop their gross motor skills. It’s only when they have mastered these that they will be able to control their fine motor skills, such as using a spoon and fork or holding a pencil, for instance. As a result, children playing outside can have a positive impact.

The Play Strategy for Scotland 2013 says: ‘Open space allows children to be physically active and challenge themselves so they sleep and eat well and form healthy habits that will stay with them for life.’

Nature activities for kids

The changing nature of the outdoors makes it an incredibly stimulating and multi-sensory place to play. This is important as young children learn and gain experience through all their senses.

Children who gain knowledge and appreciation of nature are more likely to become adults with a greater sense of environmental awareness. Big Foot Preschool encourages child to do gardening so that they learn and appreciate nature.

A great way to create happy memories of outdoor play and nature is to collect and bring things to the classroom for extended learning, such as twigs, leaves or stones. These can be decorated, put in a keepsake jar or used to make a picture. Keeping items like this in  child’s view for a few days will remind them of their adventures outside and also help with their awareness of shapes, colours and textures. It also helps them retain the knowledge gained from the experience.

Benefits of Taekwondo for kids

Taekwondo is a total learning activity. There are many benefits that children reap from taekwondo. Big Foot Preschool provides quality instruction and service with a view towards the overall health and well-being of every child. Our philosophy ensures that learning will take place in a safe, nurturing environment. Our trainers are qualified and experienced taekwondo couches from Singapore Taekwondo Federation.

How do children benefit?

*Enhance self-esteem by heightening your physical and mental powers.

*Build confidence by encouraging you to succeed and to take control of your life.

*Develop discipline by thoroughly training your body and mind in the tenets and techniques of Taekwondo.

*Teach self-defence by training you to recognize situations in which physical self-defence may be necessary, and teaching you how to control such situations to your advantage.

*Strengthen your mind and body through increased physical coordination and mental discipline.

Lessons are tailored to your child’s age and skill level. Your child begins by practicing basic patterns and forms, board breaking, kicking, blocking, striking, and punching. These fundamental skills increase your child’s physical coordination, flexibility, balance, and mental acumen.

Taekwondo develops your child’s athletic abilities and self-awareness, and improves the child’s capabilities in self-defence and self discipline. The self discipline that develops as a result of learning and practicing the techniques usually carries over into the other areas of a child’s life. Child tend to be more focused, self motivated and are able to work towards achievements.

Taekwondo emphasizes moral development as well. Children learn respect for themselves and others, higher concentration and increased self restraint.

Respect, trust and open communication are the foundations of strong families. Taekwondo training promotes values such as honesty, courtesy, loyalty, and cooperation. Each is an essential component in maintaining a good family structure.

What is Speech and Drama?

Speech encourages communication and drama is an interesting way to express it. For the more reserved child, Speech and Drama develops and builds confidence, quelling the anxiety of public speaking, socializing with peers, and the fear of being ridiculed or standing out as the centre of attention.

For exuberant children, Drama especially assists in channeling their energies through creative expression and innovative methods.The fantastic thing about Drama is that one piece of text can be interpreted in so many ways because a child gets to act it out rather than just reading it. Through experience and added exposure to the written word, Speech and Drama instills a greater love of literature.

For example, children at Big Foot Pre School recite well-known rhymes and poems, and phonemic books are read to the children before their drama. This not only makes children aware of the literature, but it also helps them to articulate speech sounds correctly.

Teachers at Big Foot Preschool read these interesting books to the children before they proceed to act the story out. This not only is very fun, but also acts as a support to the children as they remember the story, sequence, words and actions which helps them their drama.

The positive impact Speech and Drama classes have on young children’s development are often far greater than most parents expect and will only be realized by allowing children to participate.

Speech and Drama can make your child become self-confident and a good communicator.

The Benefits of Speech and Drama

Accurate speech and good communication skills.Speech and Drama lessons help children to become more articulate while it builds their vocabulary and grammar which in turn makes children more willing to communicate their thoughts. Having this, a strong foundation is forged for the skills required to present and speak publically throughout their lifetime.

Oral presentation and performance skills – boosting self-confidence.While some parents may think that the focus of Drama is on acting, the focus is actually aimed at teaching children to speak properly and being able to express themselves, using Drama as the tool. More importantly, it nurtures and develops confidence, which has a very useful place when it comes to being brave enough to ask questions in class which naturally aids the learning process.

Improving reading ability and instilling a love and appreciation for literature and the arts. Whether a child is standing on a stage delivering a famous monologue, or merely tasked with reading a passage out loud from a book, they will be developing solid language skills by hearing the language in its spoken form on a more regular basis.

Social skills – having the courage to step outside of the box.Adults are judged on how they express themselves and their style of speech every day. In instances, puppets can be used to alleviate this initial fear until their confidence grows.Their new found self-esteem also allows them to overcome shyness and be more assertive and adaptive when it comes to making friends and understanding people. Speech and Drama is thus a fun way to build an awareness of social skills.

Imaginative, creative and expressive play.Through drama, children are encouraged to inhabit a world different to the one in which they live. Outside of a scripted play, their imagination grows as they learn to portray or dramatize various given scenes or scenarios.

Speech and Drama is a lot more than just remembering words or actions. The memorization tricks children will teach themselves through the way they learn to multitask on the stage will have a huge impact on the way they study, work or organize their mind as they mature.

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Benefits of phonic for young children

The teaching of phonics in schools in many countries around the world is very common. Whilst there are alternative methods for teaching children to read and write, phonics is widely regarded as being one of the most effective. As a teaching method it is thought to provide many benefits to children who are just beginning to understand how sounds are associated with individual letters, groups of letters, and full words.

The teaching of phonics is very effective at raising a child’s phonemic awareness. Every word is made up of individual components which can be sounded out. These are known as phonemes, and they represent the very essence of how phonics education works. Phonics allows children to hear phonemes, identify them, and understand how the sounds and their associated letters correlate with one another.

The teaching of phonics has been shown to give children a comprehension of how words are constructed very quickly. It helps them to develop text recognition skills, which in turn leads to attaining the ability to read and write. By breaking down words into individual components phonics has also been shown to be very effective at providing children with the skills they need to be able to spell correctly.

Phonics encourages children to recognize text fluently by teaching them certain specific language rules relating to the pronunciation of words and how they are represented in a written form. As these rules are learned it results in an ever expanding vocabulary. Children develop the ability to be able to recognize specific patterns within words, which allows them to identify other words with similar phonemes.

It can be seen, therefore, that from an educator’s perspective phonics has generated extremely successful results. However, one of the most important benefits of the system is the learning experience offered to the children who are being taught. The teaching of phonics incorporates many essential language skills which are required throughout life, and whilst this responsibility is extremely serious, the method of teaching need not be.

Put very simply, the teaching of phonics is often designed to be fun for children. It is believed that this enhances the learning experience, and ultimately results in a more thorough development of reading and writing skills. Therefore, at Big Foot Pre School, there are often games involved with lessons, for example when blending individual phonemes together or identifying rhyming words. The lessons are usually very vibrant, with clear visual representations of words such as “dog”, “duck”, “drum”.

For the children themselves the lessons are a fun experience, and as their skills develop they will take great pride in their growing vocabulary and their new found ability to read, write, and spell.

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Understanding Emotional Development in Children

The significance of social and emotional development is seen in every area of a child’s life. A child will have a strong foundation for later development if he or she can manage personal feelings, understand others’ feelings and needs, and interact positively with others. Differences in social and emotional development result from a child’s inborn temperament, cultural influences, disabilities, behaviours modelled by adults, the level of security felt in a child’s relationships with adults, and the opportunities provided for social interaction.

One-year-olds are just learning to recognize and manage their feelings. They experience a wide range of emotions and have tantrums when they are tired or frustrated. They may also respond to conflict by hitting, biting, screaming, or crying. One-year-olds seek autonomy and may say, “No!” to adult suggestions or insist that they, “Do it byself!” Then, moments later, they might cling to an adult’s leg or ask for help.

Signs of Emotional Development

  • Shows pleasure when familiar adults are nearby. Has developed close attachments with parents and other frequent caregivers; uses these relationships as a secure base to explore (e.g., digs in the sandbox but runs back to dad for a cuddle from time to time).
  • Knows own name. Uses “my” and “me” often, and with pride (e.g., says, “MY mama!”). Shows beginning signs of self-consciousness (e.g., hides behind a chair and looks ashamed after breaking an ornament).
  • Is keenly observant of others’ emotional reactions. Checks parent’s facial expressions (e.g., considers climbing up a ladder at the playground, but first looks back at mother’s face for encouragement or warning).
  • Experiences a wide range of emotions (e.g., affection, frustration, fear, anger, sadness). Tends to express and act on impulses; has tantrums when tired or frustrated. With adult help, begins to use strategies to control emotional expression (e.g., goes to get teddy bear or another comfort object when upset so he or she can calm down).

How to build social development in children?

Like any developing skill, social skills require support, practice and repetition.  The desired behaviors are learned and taught through a variety of accumulating experiences stemming from the earliest years of childhood, between birth and age 6, when children grow and develop faster than during any other stage in their lives.

Children rely heavily on adults and other caregivers to help them acquire social skills and establish pathways for meaningful learning.  To that end, researchers have found that when children are provided with positive and caring experiences in these early years, the connections in the brain for feeling good and learning are strengthened, self-esteem and confidence rise, and children are more equipped to cope with life’s challenges.

So whether you’re a parent or an educator, the following strategies will help promote social development in young children, while helping them learn to use their own minds:

Model Appropriate Social Behavior

Take advantage of everyday routines to “show and tell” children what your expectations are for appropriate behavior—for example, how to greet someone new or how to share a toy during play.  By talking about what you’re doing as you’re doing it the child will better understand how to manage the situation and replicate it, even when you’re not there.

Support Self-Esteem

Positive self-esteem is critical to healthy social development.  Make it a point to compliment children on their behavior, how they look, and progress they have made toward goals.  When you acknowledge these attributes, children learn how to perceive and act upon their feelings in a healthy way.

Build Problem Solving Skills

Problem solving is a skill that employs reasoning, creativity, inhibitory control and decision making.  Children are prone to making mistakes as their abilities emerge and the frontal lobe develops.  Exploring solutions to problems by asking children “What would you do?” or offering alternative strategies will help them develop effective reasoning skills and mental flexibility.

Encourage Exploration

As a child develops confidence and control over her body in motion, she becomes more and more eager to venture into the world around her.  Aid her natural curiosity by organizing activities that promote safe exploration, both at home at school and while out.  Examples include asking children for help while preparing a meal or tasking them with finding an item at the grocery store.  When you gradually extend opportunities to be involved with more complex activities, children will rise to the occasion.

Play! 

Time spent playing with children can be one of the best investments you make in their educational future.  One of the easiest ways to help children develop socially is by the simple act of playing.  Joining in play builds relationships in a climate of fun and puts you in a great position to teach skills for sharing and cooperation, introducing concepts like winning or losing, and it also gives children a chance to learn about more subtle social cues, like body language and vocal intonations.  So don’t be afraid to turn up the music for a little song and dance, put on a puppet show, or pull out some favorite board games and have fun!

Self-Esteem

What is self-esteem?

The judgements we make about our own worth and the feelings associated with those judgements. According to Morris Rosenberg (1979), “a person with high self –esteem is fundamentally satisfied with the type of person he is, yet he may acknowledge his faults hoping to overcome them”

High self-esteem implies a realistic evaluation of the self’s characteristics and competencies, coupled with an attitude of self-acceptance and self-respect. Self-esteem ranks among the most important aspects of self-development, since evaluation s of our own competencies affect emotional experiences, future behaviour and long term psychological adjustments. As soon as a categorical self with features that can be judged positively or negatively is in place, children become self-evaluative human beings. For example, at age 2, they seek for a parent’s attention to an achievement, such as completing a puzzle, by pointing and saying, “Look mom!” In addition, 2 year olds will smile when they have succeeded at something or frown when they failed (Stipek, Recchia and McClinic, 1992). Self-esteem is developed early and its structure becomes increasingly elaborate with age.

The structure of self-esteem depends on information available to children and the ability to process the information. By 6 to 7 years, children would have formed at least 4 self-esteems – academic competences, social, physical appearance that becomes more refined with age (Marsh 1990).

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