August 31, 2009
Before your child starts school they should have held a pencil and written some upper case letters of the alphabet, possibly their first name. They should know the alphabet and also have been read to enough at home to be able to sit through their teacher reading a story to the class. Ideally they should be ready to play with the other children in the class, engaging in role-playing or imaginary play.
The child will have great success if their parents have taught them a few key things at home, such as sharing their toys, putting their toys away, taking turns and having played with a variety of materials like dough, paint, glitter, crayons, colored pencils, markers, finger paints.
Jennifer Houck suggests that "it is crucial to your child’s emotional development that they express their fears and insecurities and feel that they are acknowledged." She recommends reading some books together about starting school to help allay any fears.
Some Discovery Toys products such as AB Seas alphabet fishing game, Zingo (a picture matching game), and Playful Patterns will further help prepare them.
As an educational consultant with Discovery Toys, I am continuously interested in developments in brain research and how the mind starts getting wired at birth and makes millions of connections by age 2. I am also awed by how much of an impact playing with good, basic toys can have on that process. We believe that play is a child's work...children play to learn, to grow and to experience the world around them.
Play is, after all, one of the purest methods of learning in children because through it they get to explore, experiment, build self-esteem, develop muscle control and more. It stands to reason that with information expanding as rapidly as it is, that just being able to memorize lots of facts will no longer be effective. Our children will have to be able to synthesize the glut of information that will be at their fingertips, which will require different skills than what have traditionally been taught in our schools.
August 30, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 28, 2009
The third layer of our healthy play pyramid is Thinking/ Problem Solving Toys.
Manipulative toys like Marbleworks (seen here)
and EZ Blocks help build problem solving skills and abstract thinking skills. They also teach about logic, balance, gravity.
Construction toys that have multiple ways of assembling and no determined play pattern such as Motorworks, Fashion Friends, and Zip Track are also useful in building cognitive skills.
August 27, 2009
Please email for additional details.
Because we know you want the very best for your growing family, we're proud to introduce .....
The DISCOVERY TOYS Baby Shower
Discovery Toys offers the highest quality, most durable and versatile products available. They encourage physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth, which are the core components of a child's development. They have been thoroughly tested and meet or exceed safety regulations. And, our products carry a full satisfaction-or-your-money-back guarantee!
Now your friends and family members will be able to find just the right gift for your new bundle of joy right at your shower! All they have to do is show up ready to have fun and shop. You'll earn FREE PRODUCT CREDIT based on their purchases to use any way you like!
Note: Guests can purchase toys for older siblings or for themselves, too, racking up additional free toy credit for the mom-to-be. Sibs can feel left out when a new baby arrives. It makes them feel good to receive something, too.
August 26, 2009
Do you agree with this? I'd love to know my readers' comments.
Hammer Away, teaches object permanence (now you see it, now you don't) while lining up mallet with 4 different color balls and rings on an adorable tugboat
AB Seas, go fishing with your magnetic pole for the letters of the alphabet in a bingo-style game
Puzzle Ring Toss, like quoits, you'll toss the colorful rings onto a puzzle of base pieces that are numbered to help you keep score.
6 in 1 Play Center toss the ball, shoot hoops, pitch like in baseball, pitch or putt the soft golf balls
Flip Flop Faces toss the bean bags into the matching target bowl in an effort to flip the bowl (look for a new design when our Fall Season begins September 1).
August 25, 2009
At the base we have books: books that have marvelous illustrations that engage a child's eyes, a variety of font styles, and rich vocabulary are recommended.
"Shiver me timbers," he said. "I see a helicopter in the sky!" is a sentence from Ahoy, Pirate Pete which can be changed each time you read the story.
"Will o' wisps glow and twinkle, bringing light to Fairyland," the tooth fairy's poster tells Holly in
Dear Tooth Fairy.
In My First Fairy Tales that "when he heard the story of the sleeping princess, he took his sword and hacked through the brambles."
How will your child recognize that this g is the same as this g and this g if you don't read from books with a wide variety of typefaces?
As I read Robertson's post, it reminded me of the summer day 7 years ago when my son asked if he could have a lemonade stand. We live around the corner from a landmarked office building where thousands of people work. There's a bank and a health club (with thirsty weightlifters and treadmillers) on the ground floor of the building as well. Even though it wasn't right outside our front door, it was the ultimate spot for us, and I used the occasion to explain the real estate broker's motto: "location, location, location."
Our pitch was "Fresh squeezed, ice cold lemonade!" Never one to miss an opportunity to teach some math, I explained to him how to calculate the ideal price. Together we decided how many lemons and how much sugar was required, and what those materials cost. We added the cost of the plastic cups. Then we measured our pitcher to see how many cups it held. We saw that 25 cents per cup would earn a small profit. When people learned that he had made the lemonade himself, by hand, from his own recipe, they gave him $1 and said, "keep the change." I enjoyed the comments his customers made: "smart kid," "enterprising young man." People were assuming this money was going into our college fund and they were throwing $5 and $10 bills into his cup. Periodically, I'd run home to refuel and to cache the money. Each outing, we increased the price because demand was so great. He learned the concepts of "supply and demand" and "what the market will bear." (Economics 101).
Today, I am proud to say, my son continues his entrepreneurial pursuits, and I attribute this to my being there to help with his first attempt at capitalism.
August 24, 2009
Early childhood education expert Dr. Michael Meyerhoff tells us that "for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, having fun and learning are one and the same." Children are naturally inclined to be explorers, investigators and experimenters, and with the right toys in hand they are empowered to do what they are built to do. And guess what...while they're doing that, they're learning. When they build with blocks and the blocks tumble, they're learning about gravity and balance. When they line up a row of cars in size order, they're learning about size relationships. Completing a task, like assembling the pieces of an age-appropriate puzzle, brings a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem to a young child.
Play is like food...the diet must be balanced and you want to limit junk toys as you limit junk food. A healthy play diet should include books, active play, thinking/problem solving toys, creative/imagination toys, games, puzzles/patterns, and sensory/exploration toys. Parents must be there as partners in the process, putting the right toys on the plate, and offering guidance, encouragement and enthusiasm.
Come back tomorrow for suggestions of toys from each category of the healthy play diet.
August 23, 2009
Research shows that children in high quality early learning programs are better prepared for academic success when they enter kindergarten. In addition,
- They are 50% less likely to need special education and 25% less likely to be held back at the end of 3rd grade.
- They are also less likely to experience teen pregnancy or commit crimes, and they have better literacy, math and social skills than their peers.
- It is estimated that for every $1 invested in high-quality early care and education, $7 is saved in unnecessary welfare payments, uncommitted crimes, decreased use of special education, and reduced unemployment."
This last statistic is particularly startling.
It is my hope that many issues could be addressed even before a child is born...I call it, "No Parent Left Behind." We need parenting programs that will help unwed mothers, teen moms, high school dropouts and college grads alike. Isn't it strange that we get more instructions with our DVD player than our new baby? And that many parents simply don't know that they need to talk to, read to, sing to and play with their babies? It is part of what drives the work I do in helping parents and preschools acquire the types of educational toys that help children develop a love of learning through play. I meet parents everyday and am doing my small share in changing the world, one child, one parent at a time. (If you'd like to join me, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
August 21, 2009
- Walk without help, usually between 9 and 17 months.
- Approximately 6 months later, your toddler will be running!
- Able to climb furniture and stairs (with railing)
- Kick a ball -- requires a complex set of abilities including physical coordination, plus thinking skills to understand cause and effect. (Once your child discovers that balls can bounce, he'll probably toss toys, food and other objects to see if they bounce, too!)
- Scribble using crayon, and develop fine motor skill and muscle control to hold spoon
- Play make-believe (snap a photo of her feeding her dolly!)
- Babble becomes real speaking...short phrases by 24 months
- Play with friends is beginning
August 18, 2009
President Obama in his remarks to the NAACP on July 16 issued the following challenge for early childhood education,
"And we should raise the bar when it comes to early learning programs... Today, some early learning programs are excellent. Some are mediocre. And some are wasting what studies show are – by far – a child's most formative years.
That's why I have issued a challenge to America's governors: if you match the success of states like Pennsylvania and develop an effective model for early learning; if you focus reform on standards and results in early learning programs; if you demonstrate how you will prepare the lowest income children to meet the highest standards of success – then you can compete for an Early Learning Challenge Grant that will help prepare all our children to enter kindergarten ready to learn."
His administration was prepared to offer grants totaling $10 billion over a ten year period, but the House Education and Labor committee recently authorized $8B over 8 years. You can read about the requirements of model systems and the two tiers of grants (one for states that are already on the right path, and another for states that have been lagging in this area) that are planned at The Early Learning Challenge Fund on the Department of Education's website.
National Journal online invited comments from experts such as Chester E. Finn, Jr. President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute and David L. Kirp, Professor, University of California (Berkeley), on whether this "standards based, outcome driven" method was the way to go. Most agreed with the method, particularly the 2-tiered approach, but some were a bit skeptical. You'll want to read what the education experts had to say for yourself.
Many organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have done research showing the cost to society later on if we don't beef up the early education for our most disadvantaged children. Dr. James Heckman, the Nobel Laureate, in his paper with Dimitriy Masterov entitled, "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children. Working Paper No. 5. Invest in Kids Working Group. 4 October 2004. Committee for Economic Development." tells us that "Three of the best documented studies of interventions directed toward children in low-income families with long term follow-up find that participants experienced increased achievement test scores and high school graduation, and decreased grade retention, time in special education, crime and delinquency... The estimated rate of return on one such program is 16%, much higher than any other type of program targeted at low-ability children that has been carefully evaluated.... Extending the program to all of the 4 million children under 5 who are currently living under the poverty line would yield an estimated private net benefit of $4.6 billion for boys and $97.8 billion for girls. For the general public, the estimated net benefits are $254.4 billion and $154.8 billion, respectively."
Discovery Toys is an educational/developmental toy company that's been around for 30 years (I've been with them for 14, since my son was an infant). There are no stores; toys are sold by moms (and a few dads) like me who work from home. We build teams of educational consultants who we coach and train (and also earn on). There are educational consultants in all 50 states (and Canada), but we can each sell anywhere we choose. Many consultants have home parties. I, personally, sell product at church/synagogue boutiques, in hospital lobbies, private schools and daycares and wherever children, parents, occupational therapists are found. I hand deliver gift baskets (I ship, too) and also make house-calls and do personal shopping appointments for busy executives at their offices. In other words, I bring the "store" to my customers and offer unsurpassed customer service. The company stands behind each of us with their unconditional guarantee and quality safety/testing procedures.
These developmentally appropriate toys (for birth to age 10) build self-esteem, cooperative play, social and emotional intelligence, while being wholesome and fun. Many of the toys are not language specific (e.g., a French child derives the same play value as a Chinese child). They encourage a love of learning and literacy that lasts a lifetime.
Established in 1978, Discovery Toys has received over 165 awards from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Dr. Toy, and other highly recognized educators and parenting organizations, for its original products such as Marbleworks and Tangiball. In addition, many products have been acknowledged by Dr. Patricia Krantz, of the Princeton Child Development Institute, as being useful in addressing the six weakest developmental areas in children with autism.
We are having an "opportunity session" at a hotel in Clark, NJ on Saturday, September 12, if you would like to meet us. We'll be explaining how it all works and signing people up on the spot. Our starter kit, usually $125 (+shipping&tax) is only $99 right now (August). You get $370 in product and business tools, 60 catalogs, and can start with as little as $25 down. Contact Billie at email@example.com
August 16, 2009
Having a home-based business [like Discovery Toys, wink, wink!] enables you to toss one more glass ball into your juggling act, but it's incredibly worthwhile. Besides being available to your child, you learn skills you never dreamed possible, like getting a child to play quietly while you're on a business call, or making prioritized "to-do" lists. My list includes much more than "defrost the chicken," and "vacuuming" takes a place low on the list (sorry, Hoover). (I love this quote from former First Lady Barbara Bush, "The darn trouble with cleaning the house is it gets dirty the next day anyway, so skip a week if you have to. The children are the most important thing." She had her priorities straight.)
Starting a business in order to stay home with your children not only enables you to go on many class trips when your children are young, but it provides your children with a window into what the business world is like. They see you talk on the phone with customers, arrange events, ship packages, manage your finances, wear a wide variety of "hats." The entrepreneurial bug might even bite a child who sees it played out everyday before his eyes, and in our case, happily, it has! With the current economic situation forcing many into unemployment, it's comforting to know you won't be fired. That would certainly be an unpleasant situation for a child to witness, wouldn't it?
If this concept appeals to you, and you would consider a Discovery Toys business, August is a perfect time to start. We're offering our $125 starter kit for $99 (+ shipping & tax). We're moving into Back-to-School season followed by Holiday season, two of our busiest times of the year when people are particularly focused on children and gift-giving. This business is as recession-proof as it gets.
Babies are, after all, being born everyday, and kids are still having birthday parties. There is a constant demand for rattles and teethers, stacking toys, puzzles and other toys and games that help children reach their full potential. Grandmas always seem to have a few extra dollars to spend when the grandchildren are coming to visit. We are there for you to train, coach and help you get your business off the ground, so you're not left on your own to struggle or fail. What could be more fun or more important than playing with toys, and helping other parents help their kids get a great start in life???
August 11, 2009
This Fall, Congress will be debating a range of proposals designed to bolster early childhood learning. A current hot topic is how critically important learning is, even before children get to the classroom. One of the nation's leading proponents of early childhood education is Nobel Prize winner James Heckman, the Henri Schultz distinguished service professor of economics at the University of Chicago. He's an expert in the economics of human development and has written extensively about the benefits of early childhood development. Heckman believes that investing in children from birth through five years of age is essential and pays enormous dividends.
In a recent National Public Radio interview, Professor Heckman talks with Michel Martin about some of his studies on poverty, race, education disparities and their cost to society. Here are some excerpts from that interview:
"If you start looking at how human beings develop and diverge and you start realizing how poverty really gets created and you start tracing the origins of poverty back, it's hard not to go back, back, back to the earliest years in the lives of people. And as a result of a series of studies over my whole lifetime, actually, I found that the effectiveness of early intervention is much, much higher than many of the interventions that American society has traditionally adopted to try to remediate, to patch up, to fix the problems that arise from disadvantaged environments.
... the family plays a fundamental role, we know, in shaping the lives of children. But in addition, we know that even before the children are born, the conditions, the way the mother takes care of herself has strong dramatic impact on the well-being of the child. And we know that the family in support of the child, whether it's in preschool or in school, plays a critical role. And I think anybody who looks at the statistics of American family life has to recognize that it's in trouble. We've had serious decline in the quality of many, many American families over the years. And we know that that creates situations of risk and disadvantage for the children born into those families....
... it isn't just a matter of income and it isn't just a matter of the education of the mother. But it's a matter of parenting and motivating the child. And so you see here in Chicago, in some of the worst projects, over the years, we've studied some very successful people who emerged from those environments, simply because their parents or in some cases just the mother have been so effective."
When asked about the inequality in educational resources due to race, he had this to say:
"I think partly because the resources of the larger society are strapped, partly because in the past, we've committed so many resources to other activities, not recognizing the value of education. I think it's not just a matter of race. I think race is very important. I think generally speaking, we've [got] to face the general problem, which is that we are seeing more children coming out of families which simply don't give them adequate resources for their development. So we have really two Americas, you know, you can think of two Americas going side by side, living next to each other, even driving on the same roads.
But on the one hand, we see a group of people who are essentially doing better than ever before, in the sense we have more people graduating from college, more people who are going into situations of advantage, going into the larger society, never mind the current economic downturn. At the same time, properly measured, the U.S. high school dropout rate is increasing. And it's not just for African-Americans, it's true for Americans of all ethnic background. And we have to understand that what's happening then is we're creating two different cultures, two different societies. The level of inequality is actually increasing at a fundamental level.
And it's this inequality in early conditions which perpetuates inequality into the next generation and the generation after that. So I think that American society - I think the current emphasis in the Obama administration towards the long run, which I dearly hope President Obama continues to emphasize, is a very important one. Because in the long run, when we really understand how to solve the problem of poverty, we're going to understand that disadvantage in the early years and disadvantage through childhood is increasingly playing a role in producing the two societies that America is becoming."
August 09, 2009
From the very earliest years children see us handling paper money and coins. The coins are different sizes and colors with detailed bas-reliefs of people, date of minting, symbols and more. Copper pennies (you can visit the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia where they are made) can be oxidized and showing a green patina like the Statue of Liberty, or they can be shiny and new. This alone can be fascinating. Pennies are the smallest unit of our currency. Five of them have the same value as a nickel. But two of those "large" nickels are equivalent to that "tiny" dime. And 100 cents = $1. We can also say each cent has the value of 1-one-hundredth of a dollar. That's like slicing a pizza pie into 100 skinny slices and giving your child one thin slice. There's a lot to learn right there: fractions, decimals, word representations of mathematical values.
You can even mix in a little science experiment: Soak a penny in vinegar until it is bright and shiny. Then just let it air dry on a towel. Soon it will oxidize, leaving that green patina. What makes that happen? What happens if you soak a nickel? dime?
Mix in some history, too. Did you know that starting this year, the reverse of the penny will have 4 different designs, chronicling the career of Abraham Lincoln? Did you know that 1.5 million pennies were minted in aluminum in the 1970s because the value of the copper in the coin had exceeded 1 cent? Which famous Philadelphian said, "A penny saved is a penny earned"? (Hint, he's the only person famous enough to be pictured on our paper currency who was never a U.S. president!)
There's much more to learn about pennies. But there's a slew of other coins, as well.
Quarters: Just when you thought you were done collecting a different quarter for each state, Congress passed legislation to create an 11-year program introducing at least 56 of America's beautiful National Parks. This campaign is in an effort to increase awareness and interest in our rich parks system.
Did you know that there used to be real gold coins that circulated?
$500 bills that circulated? What about a $100,000 bill?
Look forward to future articles about what your children should know about saving and spending.
August 01, 2009
How to Host a DT Baby Shower
The Importance of Touch
Toddler's 2nd Year
Language Development: Banana-fana-fofana
Why is Play Important?
Toy Play in Early Childhood
Healthy Play Diet pyramid
Made in China
Books in the Home
Measure Up Cups video
25 Uses for Boomerings
Electronic Toys instead of Parents?
Recipe for Modeling Dough
Nobel Prize Winner on Early Childhood
When to learn a Second Language
Obama's Early Learning Challenge Fund
Sleep Begets Sleep
Healthy Happy Zzzzz
No Parent Left Behind
Journal of Economic Perspectives:Parental time
Teaching Kids about Money
Why have a home-based Business?
Raising decent, happy solid-citizens
Tips from Real Parents
Single Mom, part 2
Meet Discovery Toys
Why Start a Discovery Toys business?
How to start a DT business?
How to order Discovery Toys