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Recent Posts

Recipe for Success: Why does family dinner matter?
Apps for Kids: Top 5 Tips for Parents
Group Tutoring: Getting by with a little help from your friends!
Your Child and the Mid-Winter Blues
Understanding the value of reading and writing


Keeping up with the Kids
Math and Language Skill Development
Reading and writing in the early years
Reflections on the Magic Years
School Events
Studies in early childhood education
Study Skills
Technology and Your Child
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Our Bird Blog

Recipe for Success: Why does family dinner matter?

From birth, children learn eating habits for life. We live very busy lives. Even so, it is essential that parents consider how decisions about meal time may influence nutrition and family connections. 

A study conducted by Cornell University looked at the positive socialization skills developed through family meals, and concluded that eating together as a family can diminish the likelihood of overeating significantly. By eating together on a regular basis, the overall health of a family improves - by practicing healthy eating habits that will likely influence children in a very positive way.

Step 1: Begin with scheduling daily family dinners. Even if every member of the family cannot join in for meal time (i.e., one parent is working late) for every evening meal, designating a time and location for family dinner time is essential. Gathering around the dinner table with a special place for each family member shows children that this is an important way to connect with one another. 

Step 2: Add nutritious and delicious food. Studies show that food habits develop early. Parents who provide regular, healthy meals find their children have fewer behavior issues and better concentration. Eating treats and carbs will have a detrimental impact on children's sugar levels (highs and crashes) that will surely make them cranky and out of sorts. Support your child by keeping the 'sometimes' foods at bay and modeling healthy eating behaviors yourself.

Step 3: Mix well and repeat (on a daily basis) for life. Studies like the one mentioned from Cornell prove that children who share family meals at the table with have fewer social and emotional issues than their counterparts through adolescence. Give your children the gift of family time together now and your investment will continue to pay off forever. Isn't that an investment worth making?


Apps for Kids: Top 5 Tips for Parents

With summer vacation fast approaching, parents will be faced with the dilemma as to how to fill the time! Beside summer camps, tutoring and family vacations, there will be plenty of spare moments in which parents will turn to the almighty iPad or tablet for assistance. :-) Here are 5 tips for parents when selecting gaming applications for young children:

  1. Try before you buy - Most apps offer two versions: paid or free.Before investing in a game, parents should always play the free version themselves so that they can evaluate if the game will be suitable for their child or children.
  2. Nothing in life is really 'free' - Opting for the free version of a game comes with the price of commercials or other marketing to you and your family. Often times, a free game will stall or be interrupted at certain points for an advertisement. This can be very disruptive to the game and frustrating to a child.
  3. Check the learning value - There are numerous apps that market themselves based on learning value. Before choosing an app, ask yourself two questions: 1) what is this really teaching my child? and 2) how will playing this game help my child's education? If you answered 'I don't know', then the app is more fun than educational and should be treated accordingly.
  4. Determine the playing time - Most game apps are designed to be completed in a short amount of time. Parents will want to know the timing of the game, as longer games need to be balanced with shorter games in relation to playing time. Studies show that children under the age of 12 should not spend more than 45 minutes per day on gaming apps, as it can be detrimental to other areas of development - especially social and emotional learning.
  5. Moderation is the key - As easy and wonderful as it is to simply hand over a digital device to entertain your child or children for a few minutes, parents should be mindful of how children's behavior can be affected by this act. The more frequently gaming is allowed, the more difficult it will for children to 'game in moderation.' The fun, quirky apps on the market today can be addictive for players of all ages. This is especially true for young children. So to avoid tears and frustration, just like candy, gaming opportunities should be a 'sometimes' activity. Ensuring balance will benefit both children and parents in the long run.

Group Tutoring: Getting by with a little help from your friends!

When it comes to learning and studying, group dynamics play an important role. To keep your child motivated for major projects, invite a few of his/her friends over to work on the project together. This approach often works best with an adult anchor. Having an adult guide the planning and execution of key aspects of the same project will ease the burden for every child, and add a bit of fun! Make sure delicious and nutritious snacks are on hand to keep the children focused on learning. Water bottles are essential to enhance young brains.

For more tips on group tutoring, or to schedule a Group Tutoring session with Dr. Twigg, contact us today!

Your Child and the Mid-Winter Blues

Mid-winter break is over and the kids are back in school. You have noticed a change in your child that you have not seen before...joy and excitement is lacking. What could be wrong? No doubt, it has something to do with the weather! Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very real for both adults and children. We have been hit hard this year and winter seems never-ending. How do you reignite the flame in your child? Here are a few suggestions that might help your child (and the rest of the family) to re-energize:

  • Start exercising for 20 minutes a day. Go on a mall walk or head to the YMCA. The weight of winter will lighten with a bit of cardiovascular activity!
  • Change your bedtime routine. Power down electronic devices by 7pm so that your body has time to get sleepy. Read a book and drift away with a splash of lavender oil on the pillow. Sweet dreams of springtime are sure to come!
  • Learn something new. This is a great time of year to begin a new hobby that you will enjoy in the spring and summer months. Photography can be done indoors or outdoors, planning your spring garden is also a good and uplifting activity.
  • Organize a family play date. Get everyone involved and meet at a bowling alley or roller rink. You can even pair up with another family for added fun!
  • Plan your summer getaway. Nothing brings more excitement than thinking about where you will go and relax in the summer months! There are great deals to be had when booking well in advance. Let your child in on the planning, too.

With these suggestions, warmer weather will feel closer and give your child and the rest of your family a new lease on life!

Understanding the value of reading and writing

For many parents, it is difficult to remember a time before they were able to read and write, Research has proven time and time again that reading and writing significantly contribute to a child's ability to function in daily adult life. Math skills also enter into play here, and can also have a major impact on a child's future.

Children who struggle with reading and/or writing often lack overall confidence in school. These children require additional support on specific skills in order to develop appropriately alongside their peers. Pre-readers and emerging writers can be likened to native English speakers travelling to a country whose main language is different. Working with a professional educator that understands the best approach for supporting your child's learning style and academic needs is critical.

In addition to language and literacy support by a professional, parents can also encourage children to find opportunites to read and write at home in a less formal manner. Reading with your child every day is also very important - regardless of his/her age. Have your child help develop a grocery list with something special they want from the store. Write emails to family members (rather than text messages) - using a keyboard on a tablet or computer will reinforce letter recognition skills. 

These are just a few ideas. For more information, sign up for the Treetop Tutoring eNewsletter!
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