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Buon Appetito: Sharing a Love of Food with Infants and Toddlers

on Mon, 05/09/2016 - 17:18

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way first: in my Italian American family, I’m the only one who obsesses over dinner while eating breakfast. To say I love food is an understatement. So when my son, Henry, arrived in 2012, I was determined to share my passion with him.

Q&A: What the Research Tells us About Block Play and STEM Learning

on Thu, 04/21/2016 - 12:05

Young children + families + interactive block building = future scientists, architects and engineers.
During a recent event at NAEYC celebrating the opening of the White House-sponsored Early Learning STEM Symposium, Patricia Kempthorne highlighted BLOCKFest, a research-based initiative designed to equip children ages 8 mo.-8 yrs. (and their families) with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills through block play. Kempthorne is the mother behind the idea and the founder of The Twiga Foundation, which supports BLOCK Fest.

Back When You Knew I Loved You

on Thu, 04/07/2016 - 12:36

You knew I loved you back then. And I did. Back when you knew I loved you, we were great friends. You taught me and I taught you. We were companions and while you may have forgotten me, I will never forget you! 

Delighting in My Child’s Interests: Trucks!

on Mon, 03/21/2016 - 11:43

Talk to any parent. Children can get really into a type of toy, a theme, an interest.  For some it might be dinosaurs. For other it might be outer space. For my son, it’s trucks!

Playing with Stories: Using Books to Inspire Play

on Mon, 03/07/2016 - 12:07

Over time I began to use each book as a jumping off point, a path to more play and learning with my daughter. The books inspired ideas for playful activities such as art, crafts, dress-up, doll play, playdough, puppets, scavenger hunts, science experiments, stamping, and storytelling boards. 

Spread the Love (of Books)!

on Thu, 03/03/2016 - 14:33

Yes, you’ve seen me. I was that kid—the one wobbling out of the library, a mass of black hair barely perceptible behind a crooked tower of borrowed books. From the Spot lift-the-flap books, to, later on, the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, I devoured children’s literature. I grew up in a working-class neighborhood that happened to be situated in a wealthy county—though I didn’t own many texts, I never wanted for reading material. Sadly, that’s not true for many children.

The Pinwheels at the Circus Go Round and Round: Thinking About Toddler Thinking

on Sat, 02/20/2016 - 11:30

A mother shares an example of executive function with a real life experience with her toddler.



6 Words You Should Say Today

on Wed, 02/03/2016 - 00:00

Very rarely does one sentence have immediate impact on me. Very rarely does one sentence change the way I interact with my family. But this one did. It was not from Henry Thoreau or some renowned child psychologist. It was invaluable feedback from children themselves. And if I’ve learned anything on my Hands Free journey, it is that children are the true experts when it comes to grasping what really matters in life. 

Unexpected Benefits: What I Learned When I Joined NAEYC and How it Shaped Me as a Parent

on Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:21

I first learned about NAEYC when my kids were in a full-time child care center and their teachers wanted to attend NAEYC’s Annual Conference. With other parents, I helped raise money so they could attend, and I was excited to hear about their experiences when the conference was over. As a parent, my knowledge of NAEYC started and stopped there. 

Did Your Children Receive Tech Gifts? What to Keep in Mind As They Play

on Mon, 01/04/2016 - 12:30

As tablets, smart phones, and large screen televisions connected to the internet transform households across the county, these devices become part of family gift giving. And whether someone purchased a technology related gift for your child or your child used a tablet that was a gift for you, it’s important to think about the quality of the content your children will interact with while using screen media as well as how much time you want your children to spend using tech toys and tools.