School Readiness – It Starts at HOME!

IMG_3888School is a big step, even for children who have already spent time in preschool or a child care setting. It usually means meeting lots of new adults, learning new names and faces, becoming familiar with a new building, a new classroom, and a new kind of schedule. Being ready for kindergarten can make all the difference in a child’s introduction and further steps in formal education.

By definition, getting ready for school starts at home. During this time parents, caregivers and families all play a leading role in nurturing a young child’s development. School readiness includes self-help skills such as getting dressed, going to the bathroom, washing your hands; familiarity and comfort with using school tools – scissors, pencils, markers, glue sticks; and social/communication skills like using your words to communicate what you need, taking turns, sharing and getting along with others. Continue reading

Celebrate Your Child’s Emotions

emotions aThis month’s blog post is written by Boston Children’s Museum’s Health and Wellness intern, Viktoriya Dribinskaya. She is a graduate student from Wheelock College pursuing a degree in Child Life. Viktoriya is helping provide various health programs in the Museum, and she is especially passionate about promoting children’s healthy emotional development.

 Children develop at a fast rate – they are enhancing their social, physical and emotional development every day. This development is a continuum for every child; every child learns a new skill at their own pace and the flow of development occurs differently in every child. From the time a child is born, she expresses her emotions by crying when she is not getting her way to indicate to adults that there is an issue that needs attention. As she develops, she begins to show a social smile, evoked by contact with another person. She then begins to express laughter as an emotion. From there, she moves on to expressing anger, fear of strangers and fear of separation from her caregiver. Moving forward she begins to show self-awareness, pride, shame and embarrassment. All within a short period of time, children learn how to express their emotions to the people around them. Continue reading

Artifacts Telling Stories

Bark Painting - OI 86-10Artifacts in our collection carry with them a whole host of stories, from who used it, to who made it, to what it was used for, to how it came to the Museum. Boston Children’s Museum’s collection holds 50,000 artifacts, and even more compelling stories about people, places and things from all over the world. Sometimes, a story can be told from the donation of an artifact, otherwise known as “provenance”.

Recently, I digitized all of the Australian artifacts in the collection. Many artifacts came from a specific donation from the Melbourne Children’s Museum presented by the Indibundji Aboriginal Dance Group in 1986. The twenty-two artifacts from this donation include a boomerang, a coolamon (an item used as a cradle or bowl), a tjara (a shield), jewelry and more. Aboriginal peoples from all over Australia made these artifacts during the 1980’s. The donation tells a unique story about the artifacts, Boston Children’s Museum and Aboriginal cultures. Continue reading

Encouraging Creative Development

Encouraging Creative DevelopmentBoston Children’s Museum’s Art Studio is one of my favorite places – and that’s good, because I spend a lot of time there. For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve assisted our Arts Program Educator in program preparation and planning, carrying out workshops, and doing my part to help keep the Studio a place of healthy self-expression. My love of this work has inspired a new undertaking: the pursuit of a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education, with a particular emphasis on the creative arts in learning. Each month, I’ll reflect about an element of my graduate schooling and my job here at BCM through the Museum’s Power of Play blog. For the month of February, I’d like to talk about something I learned in a recent class, on the subject of appropriately supporting a child’s creative development.

Taking each of my daily encounters to heart, I learn so much through simple observation and quick conversations with our visitors. With this experiential education in addition to my formal schooling, I’m beginning to understand just how heavy my feedback may weigh in a child’s mind, for better or for worse. Continue reading

From “Miserable” to “Manageable”

healthOn Saturday March 28th, we are celebrating our annual Healthy Kids Festival at Boston Children’s Museum. There will be many hospitals and health organizations providing activities to teach our visitors about healthcare in fun ways. But let’s face it. How many kids do you know who absolutely LOVE going to the doctor? Healthcare settings are often scary, and we don’t have a lot of control over what happens there. For young children, their fear that is fueled by imaginary thinking, lack of prediction, and previous negative experience can make the healthcare experience even more difficult.  I’ve written about how to make the doctor’s visit easier before. This time, I want to focus on distraction techniques to get through possibly difficult hospital visits! Continue reading

Sick of Snow? Get Creative Inside.

IMG_0110SURPRISE! Weather reports predict it may snow again in Boston. This is good because we can still see the very top of our fence and a few more inches of snow should cover it completely. Goodbye fence! I guess we’ll see you in the spring.

As everyone in the greater Boston area knows, we’ve had record snowfall this winter, schools cancelled throughout MA, RI, NH and beyond, and at times the snow has forced the MBTA to slow down or shut down completely. Being cooped up inside for days can be frustrating for everyone. For parents and children it can be very challenging, as we reach a whole new level of “stircraziness”. (Is that a word? It should be!).

Kids of all ages need to move their bodies and they need to be challenged to think and learn every day regardless of the weather. Continue reading

Happy Smiles With Healthy Teeth

dentalDid you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? Children are encouraged to visit the dentist regularly starting by age 1 because good dental hygiene habits that are developed at an early age are likely to remain in adulthood.  However, although it may be easy to say “Everyone, brush your teeth!”, some children struggle with tooth brushing. Here are some suggestions on how to develop healthy dental hygiene habits:

Continue reading

A Good Choice

ChoicePhilosophers have theorized about how and why humans make the choices we do for hundreds of years. These days it seems like more choices are sprouting up in all aspects of our lives. From hundreds of television channels to dozens of varieties of toothpaste, Americans have a huge range of choice in what we wear, what we eat, even where we work and live.

Museums are great places to practice making choices. In fact the term “free-choice learning” is used by museum professionals to describe the museum environment. Children especially need places where they can practice making choices. Continue reading

Give a High Five For Your Health

high-fiveHow would you evaluate your family’s health from the previous year? Is there anything you think you did really well? Can you think of something you could have done better?

A new year is a good time to think about your own health and make your new year’s health resolution! Below are some suggestions for good health habits that you can incorporate in 5 minutes or less to improve your family’s health routine for this new year. I hope you can give yourselves a high-five for your health achievement at the end of the year! Continue reading

Snow Globes

Snow-GlobesWant a fun (and easier-than-you-think) activity to try with your kids while they are on break from school?  Let’s make some snow globes.  Few things spark creativity in kids more than some interesting materials and the promise of creating something wonderful. It is likely that your kids will have come in contact with snow globes before…but also likely that they never imagined they could create their own at home.This activity is adapted from Boston Children’s Museum’s Beyond the Chalkboard website, a free resource for afterschool and other educators around the world.  Visit the Website by clicking here. Continue reading