Pools, lakes, ponds, and beaches mean summer fun and cool relief from hot weather. But water also can be dangerous for kids if parents don't take the proper precautions. Nearly 1,000 kids die each year by drowning. And most drownings happen in home swimming pools. It is the second leading cause of accidental death for people between the ages of 5 and 24.
The good news is there are many ways to keep your kids safe in the water — and make sure that they take the right precautions when they're on their own.
Kids need constant supervision around water — whether the water is in a bathtub, a wading pool, an ornamental fish pond, a swimming pool, a spa, the beach, or a lake.
Young children are especially at risk — they can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimeters) of water. That means drowning can happen where you'd least expect it — the sink, the toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rainwater. Always watch children closely when they're in or near any water.
If you're not a swimmer yourself, it's a good idea to take lessons and learn how to swim. And kids over 4 years old should learn, too (check the local recreation center for classes taught by qualified instructors). Kids who are younger (but older than age 1) also might benefit from swimming lessons, but check with your doctor first.
Don't assume that a child who knows how to swim isn't at risk for drowning. All kids need to be supervised in the water, no matter what their swimming skills. And infants, toddlers, and weak swimmers should have an adult swimmer within arm's reach to provide "touch supervision."
Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests) and have kids wear them whenever near water. Check the weight and size recommendations on the label, then have your child try it on to make sure it fits snugly. For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support — the collar will keep the child's head up and face out of the water. Inflatable vests and arm devices such as water wings are not effective protection against drowning.
Don't forget the sunscreen and reapply often, especially if the kids are getting wet. UV sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing also can help provide sun protection.
Kids should drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, to prevent dehydration. It's easy to get dehydrated in the sun, especially when kids are active and sweating. Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea are just some of the signs of dehydration and overheating.
Water temperature is important, too. Enter the water slowly and make sure it feels comfortable for you and your kids. A temperature below 70°F (20°C) is cold to most swimmers. Recommended water temperatures vary depending on the activity and a swimmer's age, as well as for pregnant women. But in general, 82°-86°F (28°-30°C) is comfortable for recreational swimming for children (babies are more comfortable when the water is on the warmer side of this temperature range).
Body temperature drops more quickly in water than on land, and it doesn't take long for hypothermia (when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it) to set in. If a child is shivering or has muscle cramps, get him or her out of the water immediately.
Ready to Explore..
Kids ages 3-5 have tons of energy and are eager to walk, run, dance, and play. It's a great age for exploration too. Preschoolers learn a lot when given the chance to investigate their environments (with supervision, of course).
There's much for preschoolers to explore. Now that they're older, they can focus their energy and tackle more complex activities like playing dress-up, riding trikes, planting seeds, or building something out of snow.
With patience and some imagination, you can help your preschooler be a safe and happy explorer.
There are hundreds of articles on the internet that provide checklists and guidance to parents when choosing a preschool for their child. We have provided links to some great ones at the end of this article. One thing they all have in common is the importance of parents asking questions before making their decision.
Many questions that parents ask focus on academics and learning?
Financial considerations are important
But don't overlook questions about how the preschool fits into your daily life.and your overall family needs.
Before making your final decision, it is important to make a visit to the school/ classroom. and bring your child with you if possible. Watch how the staff interacts with him/her. Do they bend down and talk directly with your child? Do they make efforts to engage in conversation?Are they welcoming? Do they take time to answer your questions? Do your feel respected and listened to?. Remember, you leave your child with people, not a building. One of the most important ingredients to a successful experience for your child (and for you) is the relationships you have with the administrator and teacher. In the end, trust your instincts.. Be confident that you know what is best for your family and your child.
Want to learn more- here are some other resources to help in your decision.
Choosing the right Preschool program for your child is a big decision.This is the first in a serie of article to help parents make informed choice.
Understanding the different types of programs is an important first step.
Head Start is a federally funded program that promotes school readiness through high quality programming and serves children ages three to five. Priority enrollment is given to low-income families. Head Start offers comprehensive services including early childhood education, health, nutrition, parent involvement and support services to families. Head Start programs are licensed by DCFS. The majority of Head Start programs are offered half day, although some full day “slots” may be available. The traditionally follow school calendars.and most offer transportation. No fees are charged for Head Start services.
State- funded Pre-Kindergarten programs (also known as Preschool for All) brings together qualified staff, a proven curriculum and parent involvement to help prepare children for success in school. High quality PreK programs are offered in participating public and private schools and also located within some child care centers. Enrollment is open to children ages three to five and priority is given to children with the greatest need based on a number of risk factors. There are no fees charged to the family. State funded PreK programs programs are typically half day (although some full day PreK programs are now available in some communities) and follow school calendars.
Private PreK preschool programs are also an option for families. They offer similar programming but do not receive state or federal funds. These programs are part day and follow the school calendar. Fees are charged to families for participation.
Licensed Child Care Centers offers full day, full year quality programming that supports young children and their working families. Child care offers preschool and child care in one setting which is important to working parents who can't transport their child from setting to setting during the day. Child care centers are individually operated, licensed by DCFS, and most do not receive any outside funding. The state funds a Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) that helps eligible families pay their child care fees. If smaller child care settings are a better match for your child, information about licensed Family Child Care Homes and Group Homes is available through CCR&R at 1-800-548-5563.
ExceleRate Illinois is the state’s quality recognition system awarding Circle of Quality designations to programs for their efforts. The higher the awarded designation, the more each provider makes meaningful improvements to their program that better prepare children for school and life. All three types of programs listed above are eligible to participate in this voluntary system.
CCR&R at John A Logan College has trained early childhood specialists who can answer your questions about the different preschool options and provide resource lists of programs in your community.
As parents and caregivers, we can make choices to ensure time spent with our children is high-quality. Here are nine tips for busy families:
Excerpt from Tips for Spending Quality Time With Your Child Author:: Jessica Alvarado www.families.naeyc.org
Public libraries have traditionally offered early literacy programming to preschool children in the form of storytimes. Southern Illinois families are fortunate to have so many of our local libraries sponsor regularly scheduled story hours for young children and their families. In addition to being a whole lot of fun, these story hours help promote early literacy.
"Early literacy refers to what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. It is not the teaching of reading but instead involves the building of a foundation for reading so when children are taught to read, they will be ready." (Ghoting, 2006).
Story hours also promote school readiness... "School readiness refers to a combination of the different skills that lead to school success. These include positive early literacy experiences, physical and mental health, social skills, playing well with others, as well as basic cognitive skills, curiosity and enthusiasm about learning "(Daimant-Cohen, 2007)
LIbrary story hours are FREE and open to anyone who wants to attend. Parents must remain at the library with their child(ren).
For a complete listing of story hours in southern Illinois go to. http://www.sifamilies.org/story-hours.html
When Should Kids Start Playing Sports?
As you think about signing kids up for organized sports, consider how emotionally and physically ready they are to participate. If they're too young or not ready, it will be frustrating for everyone, and can turn kids off from sports for good.
Although there are sports programs designed for preschoolers, it's not until about age 6 or 7 that most kids develop the physical skills and attention span that most sports need. Preschoolers can throw and run, but it usually takes some time before they can coordinate the two skills. And it may not be until kindergarten or first grade before kids understand the rules of the game.
That doesn't mean kids can't play sports when they're younger. Sports can be fun for toddlers and kindergartners, but these should be less about competition and more about learning skills and having fun while being active. So even if young kids inadvertently score a goal for the other team or spend the entire game chasing butterflies, as long as they're enjoying it, that's OK. If you do decide to sign your 5-year-old up for a team, be sure to choose a league that emphasizes fun and basic skills.
By the time a child reaches preschool age, he/ she will benefit from playing with others.
Playing with others close to he/her age helps a young child learn how to cooperate, problem solve and develop socially and emotionally.
Not all parents want to enroll their children in programs outside of the home. Preschool playgroups offer parents an opportunity to come together on a regular basis, socialize with one another and provide opportunities for their child to play with others close to his/her age. In southern Illinois, most playgroups are offered through community churches. Some are free and some charge a yearly or monthly fee . They each have their own schedule, focus and organizational structure. MOPS ( Mothers of Preschoolers) programs are being offered in Herrin, Marion and Murphyboro. Other play groups are being sponsored for families in Elkville and Marion. For more detailed information and to learn more about these programs go to our listing at : http://www.sifamilies.org/preschool-playgroups.html. If you know of other play groups in your community, let us know, so we can include them on our list!
Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings or just cold temperatures, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe and warm.
What to Wear
Now's the time to show your child the importance of being nice.
It's hard to know how polite a preschooler should actually be. After all, it seems like typical little-kid behavior to jump up from the dinner table the second she's gobbled down her nuggets. Or to forget to say thanks when a family friend comes over and brings her an unexpected present.
"While it's normal for preschoolers to still be self-centered, teaching manners reminds them that other people in the world matter and deserve respect," says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Temple University, in Philadelphia. Fortunately, this is a great age to teach social graces because your child is naturally eager to please you. To develop his sense of decorum, start working on these habits now.
Best Behavior: Be Kind
In preschool and on the playground, taking turns, sharing, and being friendly to other kids is the law of the land.
Make it Happen: Point out other people exhibiting the behaviors you'd like to see in your kid, says Jodi Stoner, Ph.D., a clinical psychotherapist and coauthor of Good Manners Are Contagious. If you make your child aware of others doing sweet deeds, he'll begin to identify with the actions you're showing him.
Kids this age are still possessive, so encouraging your child to share may be difficult. It can take time for him to understand that he may feel uncomfortable while someone else plays with his toy, so be sympathetic. And be enthusiastic when your kid offers a toy to someone or gives her a turn on his scooter. Your child may care more about getting praise from you than about the toy anyway.