Cover Your Cough and Sneeze! How to Teach Kids to Cough/Sneeze into Their Sleeves

cough and sneezeWhen I’m on the floor doing programs and staffing exhibits, it almost seems like everyone is sick as I hear people coughing and sneezing all around the Museum. As the winter approaches, our bodies have to adjust to the temperature changes, and the dry air can make us more susceptible to cold.

It’s important to practice good hygiene skills to prevent getting and spreading the germs that cause colds. The followings are some tips to help children practice coughing and sneezing into their sleeves. You can also learn more about germs and hygiene by coming to “Germ Keep-A-Way Day” on Saturday November 28 at Boston Children’s Museum!

1. Start with modeling and directing.

Little kids cough and sneeze everywhere. Even if it might take some time, it will help your child and you stay healthy if your child learns to cover his cough/sneeze. First, whenever you sneeze or cough, make sure that you are Continue reading

Indigenous Halloween Costumes: Empowering or Problematic?

4046By Sara Tess Neumann and Meghan Evans

Recent issues have arisen with the lack of career costumes available for girls, or the prevalence of sexualized costumes for young children. Empowering costumes are challenging to find and a number of websites recommend dressing in Native American costumes. However, many Indigenous communities disagree. This has been brought to the forefront here at Boston Children’s Museum with the reopening of our exhibit Native Voices. Begun in 2010 and developed with an Indigenous Advisory Board from all of the tribes represented, it became clear that of the many goals of this exhibit the most prominent include dispelling stereotypes, correcting misinformation, and conveying that contemporary tribes continue to revive and evolve their cultural traditions, values, and communities. Continue reading

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

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

Happy Healthy Halloween!

halloweenAs Halloween season approaches you see fun, festive decorations, images of children dressing up, and a host of scary movies and ads. A lot of children, especially those who are older than preschool-age, spend time choosing their costumes and looking forward to all the yummy candies and other treats they will get. Halloween is fun, and it’s also a good opportunity for us to appreciate children’s development and overall health. Bring your healthy snack to Tasty Tuesday and share your plans for Halloween!

  1. Can Halloween be too scary for kids?

Many children love Halloween right from the start. But some children, especially younger children, can develop fears around Halloween. Children who are preschool age or younger may have a hard time differentiating fantasy from reality. Seeing spooky posters, TV ads, and older kids/adults telling stories can fuel a young child’s imagination and may escalate already existing fears, such as monsters lurking under the bed. This doesn’t mean that you should not participate in Halloween, nor that you should try to block all Halloween-related scary things, which would not be very realistic or even healthy. Continue reading

The Art of Letting Go

Boy ChairI have a confession.  I posted an article in March, 2013 called “The Resiliency Gap”, in which I wrote about our observed increase in the number of children shying away from difficult challenges – particularly from trying and failing, then working through that failure and trying again.  This skill of resiliency, or “stick-to-itiveness”, is imperative for a child’s development, their self-esteem and their ability to solve problems.  But here is my confession…as a dad, I’m terrible at teaching this skill to my child.  I talk a good game, but if my 3 year-old son is struggling with a puzzle, or with figuring out how to dress himself, I find that I am quick to step in and assist.  Too quick, actually.  I hate seeing him frustrated, and I have an innate urge to make his life easy.  This extends to real risk-taking too – if I see him climbing something, I am quick to ask him to climb down, or rush over to assist him for fear that he might fall.  If he is in any situation where there is a remote opportunity for injury, I tend to hover.  And worry.  And hover some more.  But my son continually expresses his desire to “do it myself”, or to test his limits and the physics that govern his movements in ways that, frankly, scare me. Continue reading

Building Social-Emotional Skills

social emotionalSocial-emotional development affects children in many different ways.  “Social-emotional” means how children feel about themselves and how they understand others. Healthy social-emotional development contributes to children’s self-confidence, empathy, interpersonal skills, and behavioral/emotional management skills. Just like how we need to keep our body healthy, it is also important to keep our mind healthy.

May 8, 2014 is National Child Mental Health Awareness Day, and Boston Children’s Museum is celebrating its own Mental Health Awareness Day on May 24, 2014. During the event, we will provide fun activities that encourage children’s positive social-emotional development.  And during Tasty Tuesdays in May, Continue reading

Talking to Children About Difficult Situations

talking about tragic eventsWhen tragic events happen in the world, especially in places that relate to you, it can often be difficult to cope with these events. Parents and anyone who works closely with children have to figure out what to tell their children. I wish there was no such thing as tragedy in the world – but unfortunately, bad things happen, and we need to be prepared for them.

Children in different developmental stages understand and react differently to traumatic events. Even if they were not directly impacted by the event, they are often still aware that something unusual happened as a result of media coverage, adults’ conversations, or even slight changes in their regular routines. Children may not be able to express their concerns verbally like adults do. Instead, they may exhibit their feelings through their behavior.  Play provides children with the opportunity to express their feelings, make sense of the world, and cope with stress. So when something difficult happens in the world, make sure that children have plenty of time to play.

The following are some tips to support your child in a difficult time: Continue reading

Imagine Science

DSC_0122b smScience is not about facts.  That may sound like an odd statement – after all, it is quite likely that the way you were taught science in school was ALL about facts.  That is sort of a shame, and it may be part of the reason that our education system is struggling in terms of teaching children science.  The truth is that science is about DOING.  And about wondering, and asking questions, and figuring things out.  While it is important that we learn about the things that other people have discovered, the real exciting stuff in science is the stuff we DON’T know.  And that is where we fall short in getting children excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) content and careers…we focus on what is already known, and testing them on how well they memorize it, rather than getting them excited about what they might discover in the future.

Continue reading

How Did I Do?: Reflections on parenting as my son leaves the nest

373804_294922787198631_711630545_nThis is our 100th Blog post.  In the 99 posts that preceded this one we’ve learned about developing a child’s creative confidence, tips on fathering, more inventive ways to play with our kids and make them healthier, and we’ve considered the challenges and opportunities facing parents in a fast changing world.

As I consider what topic would be worthy of our hundredth post, my mind wanders to my own son who is soon to leave home for college. As he waits for word on his applications I wonder, with some anxiety, whether he’ll get into the school of his choice. Whether he’ll thrive at college, stick it out, graduate, and then build a career, find a partner and grow up to be the man we believe he has the potential to be. Continue reading