Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Health Care and Pre-schoolers

Children under the age of elementary grades, including Kindergarten, are considered pre-schoolers. These kids can range in age from 6 months to 5 years in most cases based upon the age limits accepted at pre-schools. Some child care facilities that are sponsored by churches or other registered institutions are typically much stricter on admittance requirements due to liability and other concerns. Pre-schoolers require alot of individual attention, and they can be a handful if personality and individual characteristics require special needs. When you put more than just a few in a room together in a pre-school environment, the child to worker ratio is greater than in regular school classrooms.
As your child grows into early childhood, his world will begin to open up. She will become more independent and begin to focus more on adults and children outside of the family. He will want to explore and ask about his surroundings even more, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Your child's interactions with family and those around her will help to shape her personality and individual ways of thinking and moving. During this stage your child will be able to ride a tricycle, use safety scissors, show awareness of gender identity, help to dress and undress himself, play with other children, recall part of a story, and sing a song.

Three and four-year-old children are often called preschoolers. Preschool children want to touch, taste, smell, hear, and test things for themselves. They are eager to learn. They learn by experiencing and by doing. Preschoolers learn from their play. They are busy developing skills, using language, and struggling to gain inner control. Preschoolers want to establish themselves as separate from their parents. They are more independent than toddlers. They can express their needs since they have greater command of language, according to the University of Illinois. Fears often develop during the preschool years. Common fears include new places and experiences and separation from parents and other important people. You can expect the preschool child to test you over and over again. He or she might use forbidden words and might act very silly. Preschoolers may still have trouble getting along with other children and sharing may still be difficult. Because of their developing imaginations and rich fantasy lives, they may have trouble telling fantasy from reality. They may also talk about imaginary friends. Preschoolers need clear and simple rules so that they know the boundaries of acceptable behavior. More info about development by age can be found at this site: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/babysitting/age-preschool.html .

According to the CDC, positive parenting helps stimulate growth in pre-schoolers. Here are some examples:
•Continue to read to your child. Nurture her love for books by taking her to the library or bookstore.
•Let your child help with simple chores.
•Encourage your child to play with other children. This helps him to learn the value of sharing and friendship.
•Help your child’s language by speaking to her in complete sentences and in “adult” language. Help her to use the correct words and phrases.
•Be clear and consistent when disciplining your child. Model the behavior that you expect from him.
•Help your child through the steps to solve problems when she is upset.
•Give your child a limited number of simple choices (e.g., what to wear, play, eat for snack).

Mothers of pre-schoolers deserve a lot of credit for handling the daily needs of their children. Support groups like MOPS are vital to help these women survive the day. As a mother, the early years of being a mom are just as foundational to you as they are to your baby, and they're filled with unique needs that other moms instinctively understand. If you need help and information, MOPS is a great resource. More info about this organization and what it offers can be found here: http://www.mops.org/page.php?pageid=70&srctype=menu .
 
As your pre-schooler becomes more independent and increases her interaction with the outside world, it is important that you and your child are aware of ways to stay safe, according to the CDC. Remember, safety first! Here are a few ways to protect your child:
•Tell your child why it is important to stay out of traffic. Tell him not to play in the street or run after stray balls.
•Be cautious when letting your child ride her tricycle. Keep her on the sidewalk and away from the street and always have her wear a helmet.
•Check outdoor playground equipment. Make sure there are no loose parts or sharp edges.
•When your child is playing outside, keep watch over him at all times.
•Practice water safety. Teach your child to swim but do not leave them unsupervised in the pool.
•Teach your child how to interact with strangers and how not to interact.

Parents of pre-schoolers know that this age group has special needs, and the more information available to you to help raise them successfully the better your opportunity you have to provide well-rounded growth for your children. The internet has many websites to find material that is very helpful, including the following sites:
http://www.babycenter.com/preschoolers#band3 ; http://www.mypyramid.gov/preschoolers/ ; http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/toddler/ ; http://www.preschoolerstoday.com/ ; http://pediatrics.about.com/od/preschoolagechildren/Preschool_Age_Children.htm ; http://school.familyeducation.com/educational-issues/preschool/34394.html. There are many more.

When your child is potty trained you have the option of sending her to preschool, according to FamilyEducation.com. Most preschool programs last a half day and provide structured activities and some preliminary studies to prepare your child for kindergarten. Preschool is not required. Your child doesn't need to go to preschool to get into kindergarten. For most children, however, preschool can be great. It helps your child make the transition into an expanded world of people and experiences. Very few mothers can consistently provide a structured program of kid-centered activities like those you will find in a preschool. You would drive yourself crazy even trying. And in your immediate neighborhood it's often hard to come up with playmates of appropriate ages for your kids.

According to Family Education, you don't want to be overly paranoid about your choice of a preschool, but it is possible that your child may not be receiving proper care. If your child consistently resists going to the preschool and shows fear, pay a surprise visit to see what goes on when parents are not expected. Children should not be yelled at or spanked by workers or staff. Nor should they be left unsupervised and ignored. You are looking for a positive environment that will be an extension of all the good things you can give your child. You are the consumer. If the preschool does not meet your standards for your child's well-being, do not second-guess your feelings on the matter. Act. Pre-schools are usually registered by the state, even if they are small home based businesses. Do your homework first, and get referrals from other parents. Good pre-schools often have waiting lists, and typically are not cheap. Costs can run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars per month depending on how many children you have at the pre-school.

If you are fortunate to be the parent of a pre-schooler, cherish those days with your child. They see Mom and Dad as superheroes, and show unconditional love to you. Pre-schoolers are like sponges, too. They soak up everything around them. Make time to be a parent, even if your job demands that you use a pre-school while you are at work. Pre-schoolers grow up fast, and before you know it they are going to elementary school. And your time with them will wither as they grow older. Children are precious commodities, and they must be treated with love and care. As a parent, you have limited opportunities to make an impression on your children. Pre-schoolers look to you as their chief provider and caretaker. Laugh with them, learn with them, and most of all love them. They don't last forever. So, don't blow it.

Until next time.

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