GIFTS IDEAS that encourage language acquisition

GIFTS IDEAS that encourage language acquisition

This is the most beautiful time of the year! Christmas decorations everywhere make everyone happy and kids are excited about their gifts from Santa. We need to shop for many different people, including cousins, friends, and kids of friends. For kids, It is important to buy something which is age appropriate and also something that they can play with and learn from. Here are some great gift ideas to help you choose what to give this Christmas.

FOR CHILDREN 0-3 YEARS OLD

At this age children should have toys that encourage interaction with caregivers. This interaction exposes babies and toddlers to the rhythm and sound of language and encourages them to imitate the language models they hear. Here are a few suggestions.

  1.    Books

Books are great at any age, but for babies and toddlers they provide a language model and their repetition and rhyming pattern encourage little ones to attend to the words and eventually imitate what they hear. Focus on books that are heavy on the rhyming and repetition. Here are a few of my favorites: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle; Is Your Mama a LlAMA? By Deborah Guarino; Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow


2.       Montessori Phonetic Reading Blocks

These blocks are great for babies and toddlers. Parents can say the sounds of each letter and the word that the letters make. While the kids use the blocks for teething or just have fun moving them around. Encourage toddlers to say the words too!

 

3.    Mula Shape Sorter

Encourage your little boy or girl to try and say the names of the shapes as you put them in! They’ll want to play with this over and over again, so they’ll have loads of opportunities to label the shapes and colors.

 

4.       A to Z Uppercase Maganatab

A magnetic stylus pulls the beads up to create solid lines for letters. Say the letters as you draw with your child or watch them draw. Encourage them to say their letters as they have fun “drawing”.

5.       Farm Chunky Puzzle

I haven’t run into a toddler who doesn’t love this animal puzzle. We practice labeling animals and making their sounds. This even helps the shyest of young ones begin to use their voice.

 

6.    Fisher-Price Little People Happy Sounds Home

This toy is great because it actually makes realistic environmental sounds. Practice labeling household items without walking around your house. You’re going to be surprised when your toddler suddenly labels some furniture after you’ve been playing with this fun toy for a while.

 

7.       Mozart Magic Cube

Practice listening to and labeling classical instruments. Babies and parents will enjoy humming the tunes while learning about instruments. This will help any baby learn to attend to different sounds, which will eventually help them learn to differentiate speech sounds.

 

8.       Baby’s First Words in Spanish

This is great for infants and Toddlers. Put the CD on and practice singing to your baby in Spanish. Toddlers will enjoy saying all the new sounds and hearing the different intonation, and infants will benefit from the exposure to a second language. I have to admit that I am a bit biased towards this product because it was developed by my wonderful graduate school professor Erika Levy. Give it a try!

 

9.    Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Case

Introduce your baby to the language of technology by encouraging them to tap, swipe and push buttons on the phone while they play one of the iPhone/iPod games recommended in my blog post titled, No More iPad Guilt : 9 Speech Pathologist Recommended, Guilt Free Apps for Kids.

 

10.      Pearhead Ceramic Piggy Bank

With a piggy bank, parents can practice labeling coins and sticking them in the pig’s belly. I picked this piggy bank because many of the more child friendly ones (made of rubber, electronic etc.) had negative reviews about how hard it was to get the money out. When you’re practicing language you want to be able to repeat the activity many times, which will be hard if you can’t get the coins out easily.


FOR CHILDREN 4-7 YEARS OLD

Here are few gift suggestions for kids 4-9 that will enhance language and be fun in the process!

1.     Melissa and Doug Flip to Win Memory Game

Recommended age: 5+

Memory games are great because they’re repetitive. Kids see and say the same pictures, which helps them learn new vocabulary. This game in particular is great because you can customize it by printing cards with photos of family members, sight words or new vocabulary that you want your child to learn.

2.    Books

You all know how I feel about books, I love them. They are great at any age. Here are a few of my favorites for this age range:

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema; Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans; James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl; The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobeby C.S. Lewis

3.       Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine

Recommended age: 6-9

A young female engineer created this toy. She felt that construction toys were geared mainly towards boys and decided to make this to “inspire the next generation of female engineers.” This gift can be a way to get kids to learn new and useful vocabulary (sketch, prototype etc.). I will warn you, Goldie Blox has mixed reviews, most complaints were that the child was bored with it after one use. Take a look at the website and see if this would be suitable for your kid. www.goldieblox.com

4.       Phineas and Ferb Quest for Cool Stuff

Recommended age: 4-7

Have a little video gamer in your family? Try this game for Nintendo Wii. Kids build their vocabulary and learn new concepts (Atlantis, hieroglyph etc.) while helping Phineas and Ferb collect items to fill their Museum of Cool stuff.

5.       Robot Turtle Game

Recommended age: 4-15

Robot Turtles teaches computer programming fundamentals to kids 4+ in a way that just seems like fun. In this game, kids are the robot masters, so they do a lot of the directing however they need help to write the program. It’s great for teaching interaction skills (i.e. asking appropriately for what you need).

6. Memorex MKS-SS2 SingStand 2 Home Karaoke System

Recommended age: 5+

 

Karaoke is great on so many levels. You can motivate kids who don’t like reading, to read and learn lyrics of their favorite songs so they can have their own concert. You can also help children who are learning to write and rhyme come up with their own songs to serenade the family! Honestly, kids will learn anything if it means they can repeat it into a microphone.

7.       Create your own 3 Bitty Books

Recommended age: 5-9

Creating a book inspires kids to read, motivates them to write, introduces story language (once upon a time, one day, etc), teaches sequencing and a host of other concepts. With this gift, a child can add personal books to their library.

8.       Lego Duplo Deluxe Box of Fun

 

Recommended age: 4+

I hate stepping on these things, but they’re really great for building language, imagination and play skills. They also come in many different themes I saw Lego beach house, Lego Minecraft characters etc.

9.    GIFTS IDEAS that encourage language acquisition   Oakwood Home

Recommended age: 3-8

Any kind of doll home is great for language expansion. I chose this one because it’s a fixer upper (it doesn’t come with furniture) and would require your child to use more language to request the furniture that they want. Look online and shop for doll furniture while labeling all of the different furniture you see. Kids can also imitate what they see in the house to practice language skills. Does your child have trouble listening at the dinner table? Have the characters eat dinner at the table and listen to their parents, later have the child do the same thing. It’s like practicing, without having all of the pressure on them. I think that play homes are great for boys and girls and this one is good because you can decorate the rooms with stickers of what your child likes, instead of it coming preloaded with hearts or car pictures.

10.  Fire HD 7 Table

Recommended age: 5+

Listen, we live in a technological world. Kids are going to have to know how to use a device, if they don’t already. If you’re buying your child their first personal gadget, load it up with some of the apps I mentioned in my blog No More iPad Guilt: 9 Speech Pathologist Recommended Guilt free Apps for Kids. There are tons of educational games out there for tablets and iPad. Don’t forget to load some fun stuff on there too. Learning is fun, but even kids need a mental break sometimes.

 

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

Briana Evans

How to Talk to Your Teen About Anxiety

There’s a myth that talking about anxiety only makes it worse, as if making someone think about being anxious will make them anxious. This is false, as it assumes that anxiety is only triggered when teens are actively thinking about what makes them anxious. Anxiety disorders don’t work like that. For many, anxiety is more than just moments of stress and nervousness – anxiety is an overarching condition that affects people even when they aren’t actively thinking about it.

 

In reality, talking about anxiety is the first step to helping your adolescent overcome it. Here are some tips for how to go about this without being “naggy” or exerting too much pressure.

 

Let them know that anxiety is normal

 

The first thing you can do to set you and your teen on a positive path is to define what anxiety is and what it is not. Anxiety is a physical or behavioral response to thoughts, usually concerning the unknown. Anxiety is normal and all humans experience it. Anxiety can become a problem when you let it affect your day-to-day life, social interactions, and relationships with others.

 

What anxiety is not is an illness or disease. If your teen knows that their anxiety, while heightened and possibly problematic, is not outside the boundaries of normal thought, they will be more likely to open up to you about it.

 

“Educate yourself about anxiety and its adaptive role in helping humans survive,” says ParentLine.com.  “Explain the physical changes in the human body when danger is perceived (sweaty hands, blood to extremities, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing etc.). By explaining these you are helping to normalize anxiety as well as assisting your child in identifying and understanding the way their own body reacts when anxious.”

 

Let them know that their anxiety is real

 

Whether you think there is any rational basis in your teen’s anxiety is pointless. It is real to them, no matter what you think. It’s incredibly important to make sure they know that you recognize their anxiety as real. If not, they will have a harder time opening up to you.

 

“Does hearing ‘Don’t worry. Relax!’ help you when you’re anxious about something? It probably doesn’t comfort your child much, either. It’s important to acknowledge that your child’s fears are real. Your empathy will increase the chances that your child will accept your guidance and be motivated to work on reducing anxiety,” notes AnxietyBC.com.

 

Encourage a dialog, but don’t nag them to ‘get over it’

 

This is where the delicate nature of parenting really comes into play. You need to encourage an open dialog with your child but you need to prevent yourself from overstepping and moving into the “pressuring” territory.

 

You should empathize with your child’s anxiety but you should not encourage it. For example, you should tell them you understand that they don’t want to go to school today for whatever reason, but you should not let them stay home from school.

 

Be specific about the anxiety

 

When discussing anxiety with your teen, it’s not enough to just accept that they are stressed out, nervous, or scared. You need to do what you can to make the anxiety as specific as possible and provide encouragement in the form of possible solutions.

 

Here’s an example: If your teen is worried about falling behind at school and expresses specific anxiety about not understanding coursework, then you can provide a specific solution like tutoring (don’t worry; you can usually negotiate on price) or talking to the teacher. If your child just says they are nervous about school, it’s hard to help.

 

The bottom line is that you must normalize, accept, but also eventually push back against your teen’s anxiety. In order to do any of this, however, you must build a comfortable situation where teens will be responsive to a dialog. Once you begin talking about the specifics of anxiety, you’ll be able to offer possible solutions.

Author

 

Noah writes for WellnessVoyager and enjoys offering his travel expertise to readers.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Free Public Library in Jersey City

Free Public Library in Jersey City

Regional Branches

Regional Branch Hours

Monday: 9:00am – 8:00pm

Tuesday: 10:00am – 6:00pm

Wednesday: 10:00am – 6:00pm

Thursday: 10:00am – 6:00pm

Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Saturday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

Main Branch (* This branch & the Children’s Room are currently closed due to renovations)

472 Jersey Ave.

Jersey City, NJ 07302

(201) 547 – 4501

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

 

Glenn D. Cunningham Branch 

275 Martin Luther King Dr.

Jersey City, NJ 07305

(201) 547 – 4555

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

 

Five Corners Branch

678 Newark Ave.

Jersey City, NJ 07306

(201) 547 -4543

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

 

Greenville Branch

1841 Kennedy Boulevard

Jersey City, NJ 07305

(201) 547 – 4553

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

 

Heights Branch

14 Zabriskie St.

Jersey City, NJ 07307

(201) 547-455

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

 

Miller Branch

489 Bergen Ave.

Jersey City, NJ 07304

(201) 547 – 4551

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

 

 

Pavonia Branch

326 Eighth St.

Jersey City, NJ 07302

(201) 547 – 4808

Neighborhood Branches

 

Neighborhood Branch Hours

Monday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Tuesday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Wednesday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Thursday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Saturday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

 

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

 

Lafayette Branch

307 Pacific Ave.

Jersey City, NJ 07304

(201) 547 – 5017

Free Public Library in Jersey City

 

 

 

Marion Branch

1017 West Side Ave.

Jersey City, NJ 07306

(201) 547 – 4552

West Bergen Branch

476 West Side Ave.

Jersey City, NJ 07304

(201) 547 – 4554

Programs can be found on the JCPL website calendar http://www.jclibrary.org/ under ‘Programs & Exhibits’

 

NANNY SHARE IN JOURNAL SQUARE?

Hello! Does anyone have a nanny they love and interest in sharing her services starting May 1, part-time to full-time? Our daughter is 17 months and on the waitlist for daycare, so we are looking for a solution in the interim (but if it works out well, could be more permanent). We live on JFK close to Saint Peter’s, and would be happy to drop off our girl at your place with her own food and diapers (could also provide her pack n’ play for napping), so your little one’s routine would be minimally affected. And hopefully he or she will make a new friend along the way, while you also get the benefit of saving a bit on childcare. We can give you references and answer any other questions, as well. Would also appreciate references for you and your nanny. If this sounds like something that might work for you, please shoot me an email: [email protected] Or if you have any recs for other childcare solutions, let me know. Thank you!

5 stars Birthing Center: Hoboken Medical Center Carepoint’s pampered pregnancy

Hoboken Medical Center Carepoint’s pampered pregnancy

Coming up with a birth plan isn’t easy. One of the primary considerations is where. In the metropolitan area, we are lucky to be surrounded by lots of options that transcend the home versus hospital debate. Here in Hudson County, we are fortunate to have dozens of options in terms of medical facilities. Just ask Siri.

And it’s not an easy choice, right? No one knows how long their labor will be, so they don’t want to drive too too far, but how far is that? Also, it’s a pretty momentous occasion, so it’s supposed to be special, so if there’s a prettier, or more luxurious option, it’d be nice to know that too. And also there’s the question of your ability to speak for yourself as opposed to being funneled through someone else’s plan, or worse, on their timeline. You want to be in charge as much as possible. But how on earth are we supposed to wade through that information?

Hoboken Medical Center Carepoint's pampered pregnancyRest assured. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably in Hudson County. And if you are, I have at least one terrific option that won’t disappoint: The Hoboken University Medical Hospital (which is Care Point, and was once St. Mary’s.)

Long story short: It’s beautiful. In the past three years, they’ve spent bundles of energy updating and beautifying the maternity ward. Their goal? To create an environment that is more hotel than hospital. Because you’re not sick, you’re in labor.
Hoboken Medical Center Carepoint's pampered pregnancypic.:Hoboken Medical Center

And it shows. The room does look like a hotel. There’s a concierge type finish overall. The bed is made up with regular (plush) blankets. Every piece of furniture is configurable. For example, the couch pulls out length-wise to fit more guests, and it also squares itself into a bed. There’s a bassinet in the room, and a spa-like robe waiting for you on the armchair. They changed the gown: it opens in the front so you don’t have to disrobe to nurse. There’s a celebratory dinner, complete with flickering (albeit flameless) candle. And they leave a pack of aden+anais swaddle blankets as a gift for your little one which are so cute.

Hoboken Medical Center Carepoint's pampered pregnancyIt’s a comprehensive package with a city-view. Yes, please.

The upgrades go beyond the decor, although I have to admit the aesthetic was enough to sell me.

If you’ve had a child (or you’ve spent any time in hospitals), you know that it’s all about the nurses. If the nurses are with you, you’ll be fine. No matter what. There’s no substitute for an amazing nurse.

At CarePoint, the nursing philosophy is twofold:
1. When a woman is giving birth, it’s her Christmas. They recognize that, they’re mindful of it, and they’re emotionally generous in that spirit.
2. Women ought to be empowered to make, change, disregard, or adhere to their birth plans whenever they want. (Unless there’s a concern about the health and safety of the mother or baby.) This means that if you want an epidural, you got it. If you don’t, that’s cool too. And if somewhere along the way, you change your mind, no problem.

There’s a lactation consultant, the option for the gentle c-section, a Level 2 NICU and perhaps most beneficial to postpartum moms – the New Mom Support group on Wednesday mornings.

Hoboken Medical Center Carepoint's pampered pregnancyWhere and how you’re going to give birth is a conversation that begins in pregnancy, and with any luck, all goes according to your well-thought-out plan. Many unsolicited advice givers tell pregnant women to have a couple of plans “just in case.” So in this case, CarePoint in Hoboken is charming, modern, close to home, and staffed by smart and compassionate women (and men) who want you to leave happy and healthy. Check, check, check.

Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at www.urdoingitright.com.

How to Say, What to Say: Talking Race

Mel Kozakiewicz talks to child and family therapist Divya Dodhia about raising children in an age of racial and ethnic intolerance.

Back in September when bombs exploded in trash cans around New York and New Jersey, I called (who else?) my sister. At the time, her city (Charlotte, NC) was reeling from the death of Keith Scott, a black man fatally shot by the Charlotte Police Department. In both of our cities, racial and ethnic differences and presumptions seemed to be on everyone’s mind.

Like moms across the country, my sister and I contemplated what (if anything) to say to our little ones about race, diversity, and the United States of America. We desperately wanted, like generations of mothers who came before us, to raise children who could be kinder and carry less prejudice than the generation before. But how?

I didn’t want to scare or create anxiety in my children by bringing up issues that they couldn’t possibly understand. But at the same time, I didn’t want them to overhear confusing discussions by perfect strangers on the Light Rail. So maybe I should just answer whatever questions they might bring up instead of saying anything preemptively? Would that work? And then I could try to answer them in a way that makes sense to them. You know, like be honest but not traumatizing.

None of this was in the manual.

So I sat down with child and family therapist, Divya Dodhia for some guidance. Long conversation short, there are no easy answers. (You’re welcome.) Most of her advice was preemptive, but not in an event-specific way. Her advice centers around the ways we talk to our kids in general – how we interact with them. Here’s some of the greatest hits:

  • These are the conversations we need to be having. It’s our job to be able to stand up to injustice, in whatever form that takes – whether it’s racism or mental health or whatever the case is.
  • Talk at their level. Use examples from their own lives. When a person is discriminated against, that means the person is being left out. They’re so young, they won’t understand racism, or xenophobia. But they do understand feeling left out. Or bullying. Start there.
  • Begin with very small with very basic concepts of humanity. Start with simple things such as empathy and making good choices. Get them to think about how the other person feels.
  • Use these conversations to encourage and explain empathy. Empathy is so important. Let’s say for example your child hears someone saying this or that about the police. It’s confusing for that child because we’re supposed to trust the police, but you and I know that these situations are complicated. In that case, bring it back to the individuals. Tell them that not everyone will have the same experiences and that a lot of what people say is based on their own personal experiences.
  • Talk about feelings and the choices that go with them. What can you do with the experiences that you have? Let them bring up the examples. You might ask, “Can you think of a time when you felt ____? Then what happened?”
  • Help your child understand that just because one person thinks one way, not all the people think this same way.
  • Teach simple skills such as sharing and using kind words and even using your manners such as hi, hello, and goodbye. It’s a foundation of you being a human being. You can take it to the next level and talk about what it means to be nice.
  • Instill that good choices lead to good consequences. Even at a young age, they have a right make your own choices, but they also have to deal with the consequences, and those consequences might impact other people. You can do this outside of these larger conversations, and you should. Use examples like ‘If you don’t wake up and brush your teeth, how do you think the rest of the day is going to go for you?”
  • Replace “Don’t do that” or “Don’t say that,” with try “How do you think this person is going to feel if you do that?”
  • Remember that behavior is a method of communication. Children have a difficult time articulating feelings, especially when they have negative feelings like guilt, fear, or embarrassment. Learning how to deal with those are the foundations. Anger is normal, but how you display it matters.
  • Finally, give them the language. For example, you might say, “People from different parts of the world will have different foods, different cultures, and look different – that’s called diversity.”

How To Say, What to Say: Talking to Kids about Race

Back in September, when bombs exploded in trash cans around New York and New Jersey, I called (who else?) my sister. At the time, her city (Charlotte, NC) was reeling from the death of Keith Scott, a black man fatally shot by the Charlotte Police Department. In both of our cities, racial and ethnic differences and presumptions seemed to be on everyone’s minds.

Like moms across the country, my sister and I contemplated what (if anything) to say to our little ones about race, diversity, and the United States of America. We desperately wanted, like generations of mothers who came before us, to raise children who could be kinder and carry less prejudice than the generation before. But how?

I didn’t want to scare or create anxiety in my children by bringing up issues that they couldn’t possibly understand. But at the same time, I didn’t want them to overhear confusing discussions by perfect strangers on the Light Rail. So maybe I should just answer whatever questions they might bring up instead of saying anything preemptively? Would that work? And then I could try to answer them in a way that makes sense to them. You know, like be honest but not traumatizing.

None of this was in the manual.

So I sat down with child and family therapist, Divya Dodhia for some guidance. Long conversation short, there are no easy answers. (You’re welcome.) Most of her advice was preemptive, but not in an event-specific way. Her advice centers around the ways we talk to our kids in general – how we interact with them. Here’s some of the greatest hits:

  • These are the conversations we need to be having. It’s our job to be able to stand up to injustice, in whatever form that takes – whether it’s racism or mental health or whatever the case is.
  • Talk at their level. Use examples from their own lives. When a person is discriminated against, that means the person is being left out. They’re so young, they won’t understand racism, or xenophobia. But they do understand feeling left out. Or bullying. Start there.
  • Begin with very small with very basic concepts of humanity. Start with simple things such as empathy and making good choices. Get them to think about how the other person feels.
  • Use these conversations to encourage and explain empathy. Empathy is so important. Let’s say for example your child hears someone saying this or that about the police. It’s confusing for that child. A conversation with your child is the key to truly understand what they are thinking. Situations that create conflict are not easily resolved all the time. Tell them that not everyone will have the same experiences and that a lot of what people say is based on their own personal experiences.
  • Talk about feelings and the choices that go with them. What can you do with the experiences that you have? Let them bring up the examples. You might ask, “Can you think of a time when you felt ____? Then what happened?”
  • Help your child understand that just because one person thinks one way, not all the people think this same way.
  • Teach simple skills such as sharing and using kind words and even using your manners such as hi, hello, and goodbye. It’s a foundation of you being a human being. You can take it to the next level and talk about what it means to be nice.
  • Instill that good choices lead to good consequences. Even at a young age, they have a right make your own choices, but they also have to deal with the consequences, and those consequences might impact other people. You can do this outside of these larger conversations, and you should. Use examples like ‘If you don’t wake up and brush your teeth, how do you think the rest of the day is going to go for you?”
  • Replace “Don’t do that” or “Don’t say that,” with “How do you think this person is going to feel if you do that?”
  • Remember that behavior is a method of communication. Children have a difficult time articulating feelings, especially when they have negative feelings like guilt, fear, or embarrassment. Learning how to deal with those are the foundations. Anger is normal, but how you display it matters.
  • Give them the language. For example, you might say, “People from different parts of the world will have different foods, different cultures, and look different – that’s called diversity.”
  • Be a positive role model yourself. Model behavior that shows kindness, respect, and acceptance of others.Talk to you children about how they can have a positive impact on their schools and community.
  • Give them the voice to share their thoughts and feelings with you. Ask them questions.
  • Limit their exposure of negative social media.
  • Strengthen their core beliefs of mutual respect, and kindness.
  • Provide experiences where they are exposed to diversity, and help them feel safe, optimistic and motivated that they can make a difference, and they are part of this world.

Divya Dodhia is a child and family therapist.
Mel Kozakiewicz is an editor, writer, and educator.

 

Holiday Travel Tips for Toddlers

Many Jersey City families are planning extended trips home over the holiday season. If you haven’t had an opportunity to travel with your little ones yet, or if you have but wish you would have done it differently, take a look at our travel tips. And as always, reach out to us with tips of your own that have worked for you!

  1. Resist the urge to immediately hand over the iPad. (Or your phone, or whatever screen you have handy.) Even animation and apps get boring after a while and you’ll want to save this secret weapon for when you really need it. Don’t wear it out right away.
  2. Let got of expectations. Traveling with toddlers is going to take longer, create more crumbs, and include more tears than your pre-kid trips. That’s ok. Be ready for it. And don’t apologize for it. It’s life. Allow the 3 hour journey to take 6 hours – it doesn’t matter.
  3. Plan breaks. Especially if you’re in a car. Look at the map ahead of time and see what might be a good place to stop. Or skip that step and simply know your kids. Will they run around a McDonald’s for 45 minutes? What about an empty parking lot? Got any sidewalk chalk?
  4. Choose your battles. This is not the time to hate on McDonald’s. They have clean bathrooms, toys in the same box as chicken nuggets, and COFFEE. Don’t mind if I do.
  5. Anticipate bedtime. Your friends and family probably won’t notice the subtle tugging your child does when s/he’s ready for bed, but you do. When you see the first sign of sleepy-eye, high-tail it to bed. There’s no need to bring out the overtired titan that resides inside all of our children if you don’t have to. You’re the one who will have to manage it; be as proactive as possible.
  6. New toys. Have a kid-sized backpack full of toys still in the packaging (remember that the packaging is part of the fun) for your child to bring along everywhere you go. Include small and generic toys like crayons, notebooks, matchbox cars, ponies, playing cards, stickers, books, bouncing balls, etc. Feel free to roll these out over time if that works for you too. (DO NOT get excited and show them the stuff before you start the trip. Their magic is in their newness.)
  7. Get your diapers delivered. If there are things you’re going to need for sure (like diapers, squeezies, formula, wipes, pacifiers), consider using a service like amazon prime or diapers.com to have them delivered ahead of time to your destination. Then pack a few more than necessary for the journey and use the new ones upon arrival. That will save room in the car (or in your luggage) for comfort or for that extra item you wanted to bring.
  8. BYO kid cups. Or bottles. Or silverware. (Or order the with the diapers.) Get or bring whatever it is that makes your child a more comfortable and pleasant soul. It’s not easy to be in a new environment, especially one that might not be kid-friendly, for kids or for parents. Bringing small things like cups can help.
  9. Pack complete outfits into ziplock bags. It might add a little bit of time to the packing part of the trip, but you won’t be dismantling your suitcase in a fit of rage looking for baby socks first thing in the morning or immediately following a diaper blow-out. (Just like the iPad, right? Let’s save the mommy-meltdowns until absolutely necessary.) Don’t have time to ziploc outfits? At least put the clothes in plastic bags to avoid getting them wet if it rains while they transfer the luggage to the plane.
  10. Take extra clothes for your little one if you’re flying. Have it handy in case of an accident. And bring an extra for you! You do not want to smell like milk for the majority of a 10 hour flight.
  11. Eat and change diapers before boarding. You never know how long you’ll be sitting before the food is served. (If there’s food…) Make sure you and your kiddo won’t be hungry, at least through take off. And changing tables on airplanes are as cramped as can be. Try to avoid starting the trip there.
  12. Airplane headphones don’t work for kids. They’re either too big or they’re ear buds. They don’t fit. Get some before you go. You’ll be glad you did.

Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at www.urdoingitright.com and has been living in Jersey City since 2003.

The Low Down On: Baby Sign Language

Baby Sign Language therapist in Jersey City

What is baby sign language?

Baby sign language is a communication tool to be used with preverbal babies. Babies naturally use gestures before they can speak (reaching for a toy, pointing etc.) so expanding upon those gestures by teaching them sign language is a great way to start building communication skills. In North America, baby sign language instructors typically use ASL (American Sign Language) signs as the basis for teaching. It is important to note that, although ASL signs are used, you are not teaching your baby American Sign Language. You are simply using the exact sign for the exact English word.

Is my baby too old or too young for baby sign language?

I suggest starting baby sign between 6 months to 1 year of age. Although babies are listening to and deciphering language even in-utero, they do not typically respond to language until about 6 months. Waiting until this time increases the chances that the baby will respond to and possibly use the signs, which encourages parents and caregivers to continue to use signs consistently.

Why should we learn baby sign language?

Baby sign language is beneficial for you and your baby because it allows you communicate with each other. Rather than the parent guessing what the baby wants, the baby can communicate exactly what that need or want is. This can reduce the amount of frustration for the baby and parent or caregiver. Studies also show that signing babies tend to have larger vocabularies as they get older. One of the biggest reasons to start signing with your little one is the quality time you get to spend learning something new with your baby.

Will signing delay my baby’s speech?

The simple answer is no. There are no studies which link early signing to speech delays. Typically, if a child learns to sign and does not develop age appropriate language skills, it may be an indication of a pre-existing condition.

What can I expect from a baby sign language workshop?

Here at Speech Quest JCNY, workshops are one hour a week for 6 weeks. Parents and babies will come to class and learn together. Each parent is provided with a book and a CD for practicing at home. During each class you will learn new categories of signs (family signs, food signs, animal signs, etc.), signs for nursery rhymes and signs for some new songs! If there is time during the class you may also learn how to sign words from simple children’s books. Our baby sign language classes are unique because they are taught exclusively by licensed and certified speech language pathologists. We reserve time during each class to discuss any developmental questions about language that parents may have. We also encourage parents to get to know each other, which is why we reserve 10 minutes at the end of each class to mingle, it’s called our ‘Talk for 10’. You and your baby will leave each class knowing new signs and having a stronger connection with each other and the

I love this! Where can I sign up?

Head on over to www.SpeechQuestJCNY.com to register or to sign up for a free 20 minute preview class!

 

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at- school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life

Website: www.Speechquestjcny.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/SpeechQuestJCNY/

Email: [email protected]

for jcfamilies.com

10 Tips to Get Seats Together on Your Next Family Flight


For a lot families, I think flying can be the biggest stress of their vacation.
Adding to the stress is making sure you will all have seats and will be able to sit together. I recently had this issue.   Since our trip was last minute when I tried to find seats all that was left were middle or the “Even More” seats.   I know that the airlines are notorious for manipulating the seating chart to get people to pay for the upgraded seats.  I decided to take a chance and get seats together at the airport.  We were lucky and were given the “Even  More” seats and did not have to pay extra.  But on the way back, there was a snow storm which had caused a lot of delays and cancellations, so I did not want to take a chance and paid for the seats to sit together.  That meant an extra $105.

I find it very frustrating that as customers we have to jump through all these hoops just to get a seat, let alone to make sure we are sitting with our own children.  So, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks to help take some of the stress out of your next flight.

  • Try to book early, when more seats are available. Especially, if you have a large family. If your are booking  6-8 weeks out when prices are usually cheaper, you can usually find seats.
  • When pricing your flights make sure you add any baggage fees, but also think about budgeting for seats. This is for everyone in your party and in both directions.  If you choose an airline like Jet Blue or Southwest at least you will not have pay for checked bags.
  • Look at airlines that offer “open seating” like Southwest or that have more transparent seat-selection policies.
  • Check out sites like Seatguru for seating charts and advice on making sure you have the right seat for you and your family.
  • If there are not seats available when you are booking, get on the phone and call the airline directly. They have access to information that is not available on the internet.
  • Make sure to double check your seat assignments the week you are flying. There are times when the airline might switch the type of aircraft assigned to your flight. If this happens then all the reserved seats are re-assigned and you and your family might be split up.
  • Another reason to check the week you are flying is that usually the airlines will release seats that were previously unavailable.
  • Check in early. When you get your check-in email 24 hours before your flight make sure to complete your on-line check in. If not and you wait to get to the airport you might find that the airline has changed your seats.
  • Sign up for an airline credit card. Through your purchases you will build frequent flyer miles, but there are also perks like no bag fees, free upgrades, etc. Having this card puts you higher on the perks list making it easier to get seats as well.
  • Sign up for the airline frequent flyer programs. If there is a frequent flyer number attached to your reservation again this puts you higher on the perks list, even if you do not fly that often.  Also, make sure to sign up the kids as well.

Bonus Tip:

  • The final option if all the above has failed and you are not sitting together is to ask the kindness of a stranger.  I have found there is still kindness in strangers.  You might also a offer a Starbucks gift card or offer to buy them a snack or drink.

I hope you find these tips helpful.