World Health Day: The Immediate Effects of Junk Food on Kids

World Health Day is Monday, April 7, 2014. Do your part this year by educating yourself and your children or your students about the immediate effects that fast food has on kids and work to decrease their intake accordingly.Select The Right Food For Your Kids on This World  Health Day

Encourages eating
Humans are hard wired to crave high calorie foods in order to survive. As such, junk food has an addictive nature because it has large quantities of sugar, salt and fats. These ingredients activate dopamine in the brain which results in more cravings for junk food. Additionally, children who eat fast food consume fewer nutrients and more calories for the remainder of the day.

Immediate arterial damage
It is well established that junk food is harmful for the arteries when it comes to long-term health. More recent studies have found that the damage can start on the very day that a person eats a fast food meal. Within just a couple hours, the arteries may dilate as much as 24 percent less than they would normally.

Brings about depression, irritability and constipation
Junk food is high in sugar and low in antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber. When kids have fluctuating blood glucose levels and low positive energy, they may be sleepy, edgy, irritable or depressed. Without sufficient fiber levels, they are also highly susceptible to constipation. Under any of these conditions, children have no motivation to be active, which can be detrimental to their general health as well as their school work.

The bottom line is that in order to improve children’s health, you must avoid fast food restaurants as much as possible. Eat most of your meals at home, and make smart choices when planning meals and snacks. When you do eat out, select healthier restaurants and order nutritious meals.

10 Strategies That Help Autistic Kids Adjust in Preschool Classrooms

Preschool classrooms are an ideal setting for young children to learn how to follow directions and routines, work on social skills, and learn pre-academic skills such as letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Typically, autistic children do not have the same social skills as their peers. Regular classroom integration and strategies allow them to work on and improve their social skills. Here are ways to do so:Strategy for Autistic kids in Preschool

Picture schedules. Provide a picture schedule of daily activities so that the child can stay on track and prepare for transitions.

  1. Social stories. Write social stories for specific difficult situations to increase understanding of social cues.

  2. Visual aids. Label items around the classroom and school such as desks, cubbies, and stairs. You can also provide pictures that illustrate the actions for particular areas, such as sitting on the rug for story time.

  3. Concrete language. Give simple directions with clear steps that are paired with pictures and modeling.

  4. Minimal distractions. Pay attention to factors that can be distracting for autistic children, such as extreme temperature and bright lights. Minimize them whenever possible.

  5. Coaching. Coach a child during unstructured play to develop skills such as taking turns and sharing toys.

  6. One-on-one aide. Some schools provide one-on-one aides to assist children with engaging and interacting with peers and teachers during various activities.

  7. Buddy system. Pair children up with peers based on skills and levels. For example, it can be beneficial to pair a quieter, shy child with a child who is talkative and confident.

  8. Positive reinforcement. Help children stay motivated and focused with items and activities of interest such as stickers and time on the computer.

  9. Parallels at home. Whenever possible, parents and teachers should be on the same page with strategies and materials so that children have consistency between home and school.

About Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and child care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

4 Healthy Snacks Ideas for Your Kids’ Lunch Box

Running around first thing in the morning can be very hectic and you may be tempted to throw a package of processed cheese and crackers into their lunchbox for a snack, in the interest of saving time. However, processed packaged do not contain the nutrients that a child needs to get through a long day at school without a mental crash.

Here are four clever snack ideas:

  1. Peanut Butter and Apple Slices

    Healthy foods for your kidsA small tupperware container full of peanut butter and some apple slices in a separate zip-locked bag will provide your child with Vitamin C for alertness and protein to regulate their metabolism. Further to that, peanut butter goes great with apples, as the peanut butter cuts the acidity for a nice balance. Your child will be excited the next time you pack it for them.

  2. Sharp Cheese and Crackers

    Sharp cheese has more flavor than regular American cheese and children generally do not have the pallet for Swiss cheese until they get a little older. Spice up your traditional serving of cheese and crackers by including crackers in one container and cheese in the next so that your child can assemble the sandwiches as he sees fit. Include a piece of fresh fruit to wash it down.

  3. Almonds and Orange Slices

    Oranges are very high in sugar and will raise your child’s blood sugar before he crashes from breakfast, just in time for his break and right before his next class. Almonds are high in protein, which will allow him to maintain physical and mental endurance by regulating his metabolism.

  4. Coconut and Dark Chocolate

    Healthy snacks don’t need to taste healthy. Coconut is one of the most nutritious fruits in the world and dark chocolate causes the release of endorphins which increase brain wave activity and cognitive function.

Fun Ways to Celebrate This St. Patrick’s Day With Your Kids

Saint Patrick’s Day is a fun-filled holiday for all ages but it’s not always easy to keep kids entertained.

Here are some simple and fun-filled ways to keep your St. Patrick's Daychildren entertained and the spirit of St. Patty’s Day alive!

• Leprechaun Trap
The night before Saint Patrick’s Day, create a leprechaun trap. A deadfall using a shoebox and whatever your kids think leprechauns might like to eat. You might even leave a trail of breadcrumbs or gold confetti leading to the trap. Imagine the excited look in their eyes as they settle into bed with the hopes that there might be a leprechaun running around in the trap by morning!

• Green Drinks
Prepare clear juice drinks and apply edible green food coloring to them before serving them at a party. Kids will love this green treat as they all play Saint Patrick’s Day games together. You could also use the food coloring in your children’s water. When they look around at mealtime, add the color to their drinks and tell them a leprechaun must have run across the table.

• Decorations (requires supervision)Fun Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day
The four-leaf clover brings good luck! Acquire a template and trace four-leaf clovers onto green construction paper. Have your children cut them out of the construction paper and tape them all around the house. You could also use string. Tape one end of the string to the four-leaf clover and the other to the ceiling. That way they can walk around the house with four leaf clovers all over the place.

• Scavenger Hunt
A leprechaun’s gold is usually buried under the rainbow but who needs a rainbow to have fun? Hide sweet Saint Patrick’s Day treats around the house and leave clues in obvious places for your children to follow the buried treasure.

About Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three Preschool and child care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

Buying Your Child’s First Pet: A Guide

Finding the right first pet for your child is going to be an exciting and crucial time in your child’s development. This is an opportunity to teach responsibility and taking care of another living being but it is important to gage the type of responsibility your child can handle and that means deciding the right kind of pet. What kinds of animal companions make for great first pets for children?

Here is a quick reference guide below:

• Small animals. Pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils are easy to care for because they have a designated cage. However, that cage will have to be cleaned and maintained. Small pets like these are typically good for children who are older and understand that because the animal is small, they can’t rough house as much with them.

• Fish or aquatic animals. This is a very good starting point in Fish in Aquarium teaching responsibility and taking care of something. Fish only need to be fed about twice a day or less depending on the type of fish and their tanks cleaned every couple of weeks. The only downside is that your child won’t be able to cuddle a fish! Although, there are also different types of turtles to consider.

• Cats. A feline companion is great for almost any Catchild because of how independent cats can be. They need minimal training. Use a litter box and can grow alongside your child to become a beloved companion. However, a cat wouldn’t be best for a younger child because cats can bite and scratch.

• Dogs. This is best for older childrenDog - A Friendly Pet or children who already have chores and responsibilities they can handle independently. Dogs require lots of attention and training but can make for wonderful companions.

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About Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and Child Day Care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

Overweight and Obesity in School Aged Kids: A Study and the Findings

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is stating that close to 50% of children who are deemed obese in eighth grade were obese children before they even entered kindergarten. Obesity prevention needs to start earlier or the childhood obesity epidemic will continue to grow.

A third of children in the United States are overweight or obese.

We have known for a long time that the percentage of children who are overweight or obese continues to rise in the United States. An increase in dependence on fast foods with a decrease in overall physical activity has been to blame. But little information has been discovered to identify which children will become obese and the age at which it will develop.

Solveig Cunningham from Emory University believes that the risk of obesity begins early on in life set by large birth weight and environmental factors. The new study appears to support this claim and efforts to reach children before they enter kindergarten will need to improve.

The obesity study tracked 7,700 children spread throughout the United States as they went through grade school. In their first year of school twelve percent of children were obese and fifteen percent were overweight. Once these children reached eighth grade seventeen percent were overweight and twenty one percent were obese.

The study showed that race was a factor in the increase of obesity rates among children as they went from kindergarten to eighth grade. Obesity increased in whites by 65%, 50% in Hispanic children and close to 120% in children who are black.

Income played a factor in obesity rates as well. Children from wealthier families had the lowest obesity rates while obesity was the most prevalent in students who were close to the bottom of the income brackets.

About Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and child care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and Child Care Programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

5 Safe Sites for Your Kids to Sharpen Their Social Networking Skills

In this day and age, we revolve around all things social. From Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn and other sites. These sites are not for children under a certain age though – which usually becomes a topic of conversation for your little ones. The “why can’t I join” question comes up a lot. Instead of just saying no, you could consider letting them join a site, but one that is specifically for kids.

These sites take care of parental worries such as talking to someone that is really an adult, bullying, the use of bad language and much more. If you want your kids to be social, but safe, these sites mentioned below are some of the best sites online for the younger generation.

1. Club Penguin: This website allows your kids to chat with other kids on their list. But, they can only use words that have been pre-selected. There are 300,000 words though. It also has parental controls, games and is best suited for kids 8 and up.

2. Ever Loop: This is a site that is for children 10 and older and parents can control various permissions on the website. Kids can chat, post messages, play games and upload videos via the website.

3. Fantage: For kids ages 9 and older, Fantage.com can play games, go on a variety of quests, and send messages via IM. Messages containing profanity and personal information are blocked.

4. Frank Town Rocks: If you have a child that loves music, they will really enjoy this website because it’s geared towards music. Kids can also play games and earn franks when they win. These franks can be used to buy items in the virtual world FTR.

5. KidzWorld: If you want a site that really controls things like unwanted solicitations, bad language and bullying, Kidz World is the site for your children. Check it out today!

About Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and Child Day Care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

4 Activities That Promote Teamwork Among Preschoolers

When a kid attends preschool, his or her life becomes a life of learning. Preschoolers have to learn how to work as a team with their classmates and many times this can be a challenging activity since many kids have not learned the laws of communication, cooperation and collaboration. That is why teachers should make it a point to use fun and interesting games and activities to build teamwork among preschoolers.

Here are some fun activities that will help teachers immensely:

1. Maze for a Large Group. Use a large cardboard base to create a maze that the kids have to navigate using a toy car. The point of the maze is to work as a group and in pairs to get from the entrance to the exit without running into any dead ends. This can be fun and challenging for little kids and will teach them how to collaborate and work as a team.

2. Rolling Ball and the Box. The point of this activity is to keep the rolling ball in the center of the box. So, the kids have to hold the box and then tilt or steady it to achieve their goals. It can be fun for kids and this activity will teach them how to work together to meet their goals.

3. Circle Songs. Preschool means lots of singing and many young children love this. One of the best ways to inculcate teamwork is by getting the kids to form a circle and sing songs such as The Farmer and the Dell. This will show them the importance of being part of a community and working together as a team.

4. Building Blocks. It is important to remember that in a preschool, kids love playing with blocks and other toys and use these to develop their communication and cooperation skills.

By using fun activities, you can put an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration which both are not possible without communicating with one another. These games also help kids choose the right words and get their message across. Try out these fun-filled activities with your preschoolers and teach them not just teamwork but also the importance of coming together to meet a common goal.

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About Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three Preschool and child care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

Safeguarding Your Preschooler’s Teeth by Teaching Healthy Habits

If visits to the dentist are traumatic for you as an adult, imagine what they must be like for your younger children. It’s tempting to ignore the early years of a little ones dental health on the assumption that adult teeth will come in soon enough and a guppy smile won’t matter. However starting your children off at a young age will build good habit in the long run.

You may think that sugar alone is the culprit but it’s actually when and how your children eats that causes cavities. Sugar hides in carbohydrates as well as chocolate and sodas.

Here are few tips to keep your preschooler’s teeth in tip top shape:

  • Help your children clean their teeth. Little hands find it hardSafeguarding Preschooler's Teeth to manipulate a brush effectively and preschoolers need a bit of assistance not to miss the back teeth. A good rule of thumb is to help them brush till they either lose their first tooth or they have hit the age of 6 or 7 and begin to understand the importance of a clean mouth.
  • Don’t clean teeth just after eating. The acids fruit in particular oranges and grapefruits can weaken enamel on the teeth. Without enamel this leaves your child susceptible to cavities. If your child likes a bedtime snack or drink then make sure they wash their mouth out with water before they brush.
  • Be wary of no added sugar. Sweeteners can cause just as much damage to children’s teeth as sugary sodas do. Milk and water are best for a child and also try to limit their sweets intake.
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About Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and Child Day Care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

Top 7 Tips to Nurture Your Child’s Music Skills

Is your child expressing interest in music? Are you looking for a way to help?

Here are seven things that you can do to help your child develop their music skills.

Try Some Lessons Enhance Your Child's Music Skills
Children need encouragement in order to improve in anything they do. If your child really wants to learn music, putting them in music lessons will be beneficial.

Hire an Instructor
A seasoned music instructor will help your child develop their music skills. Be sure to hire one who will be attentive and sympathetic to feelings of frustration.

Encourage your children
Set some time aside each day for your child to practice and help them set reasonable goals for themselves. Reasonable goals build confidence. High expectations may burn them out.

Play For Me
Ask your child to play their learned music for you. It will build their self-confidence and you will be pleased with how far they have come with their music abilities.

Music Time
Let your child play music just to play. Whether off beat of in perfect synchronization, let them try out the many different tones their instrument can make.

Promote Passion
Encourage your child to talk about music with you. If music truly is their passion, don’t interrupt their train of thought. The more they talk about music the more passionate they will become.

The Art of Denial
You may notice that music has become an all-consuming force in your life and in your child’s life. Is this because they really want it or it is because this is what you want for them? If their interest in music begins to fade, ask them why. If you notice that this was more of your dream instead of their, do not push it on them any further.

About Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and Child Day Care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.