Your Child’s Development Starts Before Birth!

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah by Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

We are always using the term early childhood, but when does early childhood really start? Here at Help Me Grow Utah we are hoping to expand our realm of early childhood! Because of that we’ve made some big changes in the past month! Not only have we updated our marketing with a new look, but we have also expanded our services to include prenatal families. We could not be more excited to help families connect to information and resources during this incredible time!

Why do we feel like pregnancy is such an important time to support families? Because so many incredible things are happening during those nine months!

Baby

During pregnancy your baby is developing all of the physical components he will need to function in the world. There’s a lot that happens in between the single cell they start as and the newborn baby you take home! We can help you understand how your baby’s brain and body are developing throughout your pregnancy and what you can do to support that development.

Mom

As a mom your body is going to go through incredible changes! Some you may be familiar with and some may seem a little off the wall. For example, did you know that during pregnancy your sense of smell increases? Along with the physical changes you will experience there are a lot of emotional changes during and after pregnancy. We want to help you understand all of these changes and to know that you are not alone!

Your Growing Family

Whether it’s your first pregnancy, or your last, having a baby will bring big changes to your life! It can be helpful to talk about how your bundle of joy will affect your home, family, and work life. Did you know there are also a lot of great ways you and your family can start bonding with baby before she is born! Help Me Grow is ready to help you through the exciting times and the scary, to help get you the answers and community connections you need for your family.

Starting your baby’s development off right from the very start is one of the best things you can do for your child’s development! A healthy pregnancy prepares you and your child for the exciting journey of childhood. If you or someone you know is interested in receiving more support along the way, call us at 801-691-5322 or visit http://bit.ly/ConnectWithHMG to talk to a trained Care Coordinator.

2016: Collect Moments this Year

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah by Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

As we all know the start of the New Year generally means new goals, new experiences, and a new sense of determination. For me and my family, it’s also a time to reflect on the past year and dream big for the year to come. We love to reminisce about the happy times, talk about how much we’ve grown because of the hard times, and smile at all the times that brought laughter to our lives.

We do a lot of fun and memorable things as a family, but sometimes they can get lost in the bustle of everyday life if we don’t record them. One of my personal goals this year is to record and focus on the good experiences I’ll have throughout the year.

I decided to create a memory jar to collect memories throughout the year. One of the reasons I chose this method is because it’s something my family and I can easily do together and it’s as easy as writing just a few sentences (great for all of us non-journal writers out there)! I found the instructions for the jar we made here

On our slips of paper, we decided we wanted to record things like

  • Memories that make us smile or laugh
  • Fun things we did as a family
  • Experiences that we learn from
  • Life lessons that others teach us
  • Things that we accomplish, big or small

Doing something like this is a great way to get your children involved in keeping the history of your family. Make sure you help them record things that are important to them. I’m sure they will begin to love putting memories into the jar as much as they will love reading them at the end of the year!

Have any of you tried a memory jar before or something similar? How did it work for your family? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Time & Love

A friend recently asked me, “Tell me the most important thing I need to know about raising children in the next 15 seconds.” The question caught me off guard and I ended up responding with this, “Well, your child will start learning the moment they are born and the best way they learn is through play. Oh and you can never spoil your child with too much love!” My friend then responded, “Hmmm, time and love, I can do that!” Our conversation soon turned to other things and we carried on our merry way, but since then I have thought often of his question.

I am a firm believer that one of the most important gifts you can give your child truly is your time and your unconditional love. In the long run those two things will make more difference than anything else, and it’s those things that your child will remember.

With the holiday season upon us, I think we can all agree that no matter what you celebrate there is a definite feeling of love and family togetherness in the air. As a community we tend to be more kind, more patient, and have more feelings of gratitude for the people around us.

This time of year provides us with a chance to let those pleasant feelings spill into our family relationships. Take time this month to spend quality time with each of your family members, especially your children! Don’t hesitate to tell and show those around you that you love them. These really are some of the best gifts and you can give them all year long.

Happy Holidays!

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Checking in on Development

Early childhood is a critical time in your child’s development. There are a lot of exciting things happening from birth to age 5! The skills your child builds during those years form the foundation they will build on for the rest of their life. Nearly every aspect of your child’s adult life begins in those early years, so it’s important to give them a great start! The World Health Organization has said “The early child period is considered to be the most important developmental phase throughout the lifespan…What happens to the child in the early years is critical for the child’s developmental trajectory and lifecourse.”

As a parent you are your child’s nurturer and you will guide them through these exciting developmental times. It’s easiest to do this when you feel you have all the tools you need, one of these tools is knowing what milestones to expect as your child develops.

I want to share with you a simple tool that you can use right now to check in on your child’s development, and the best part is it’s as easy as playing with your child. Help Me Grow Utah offers parents access to a developmental screening for children 0-5, at no cost. This is a simple questionnaire that you can fill out to see how your child is doing across all areas of development! You can use this screening to highlight your child’s strengths, discover new activities they are ready for, and to see what skills they may need practice with. After submitting the screening Help Me Grow will talk over the results with you and provide age appropriate activities to continue your child’s progression. Click here to fill out a developmental screening today! http://bit.ly/HelpMeGrowASQ

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Dealing with Fear

Unfortunately our world today is full of tragic and scary events. I remember many years ago when Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping took place my little brother, then 5 years old, was so affected by it he slept in my parents bed for a solid year. I also remember watching The Mummy at a friend’s home when I was in elementary school and being so freaked out by the flesh eating beetles I had to sleep in long sleeves, long pants, and socks for the next few months. In both of these instances our parents played a crucial role in helping us work through our fears. Whether it’s a big traumatic event playing out in the media or a stressor found closer to home, children don’t react the same way as adults do and often need help making sense of the situation.

The Help Me Grow team recently did a blogpost on this subject, check out this list of tips we complied to help parents help their children.

Tips for discussing a tragic event with your child

  • Be the one to explain the event to your child when possible, so that they don’t overhear it from media or other children. Explain the event as briefly and accurately as possible, without including graphic details or giving more information than your child needs or asks for.
  • Be honest and tell them the truth about what happened.
  • Encourage them to express their feelings and fears – Some will be afraid for their own safety even if the tragic event didn’t happen in their own state.
  • Let them know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them and your loved ones safe.
  • Don’t project your own fears onto your children.

Tips for helping them cope with a stressor

  • Keep a normal routine.
  • Allow children to use pretend play to cope.
  • Correct inaccurate conclusions that they have made based off the traumatic event.
  • Limit media exposure.
  • Help your child come up with a “coping toolkit” of activities and strategies they can use when they become anxious.

For more tips on this subject and others contact Help Me Grow here or call 801-691-5322.

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Routines

The school year is now upon us and getting back into a consistent routine is important for your family and quite possibly your sanity as a parent. Although they can sometimes be rough to establish, especially after a long fun summer, having routines throughout the day is something that children actually crave!

Routines provide children with stability and security, both of which help a child build a foundation for self-discipline. Having a routine can help eliminate the power struggle often associated with bedtime, mealtime, and homeworktime, just to name a few. This is because children know what to expect and it actually gives them a sense of control in their ever-changing world.

Figuring out routines that work for your family is up to you, every family is different and you are the best judge of what will work, but here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Be consistent! Your child may not take to a routine as quickly as you would like, but preserve!

Prepare for upcoming transitions. When the time to stop playing and start getting ready for bed is near, give your child fair warning to ease into the routine. Make this transition time a consistent part of the routine.

Accept that there will be times the routine fails. Whether its staying too late at a family party, being out of town, or the day is just not going your way. It’s ok to have those off days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue with the routine the next day.

Freetime is still vital! Not every moment of your child’s day should be structured. They need time to explore and make their own decisions about what they do. You can easily have routines while still allowing for freedom and growth.

Still have questions about routines? That’s ok! Help Me Grow is here for you. Call 801-691-5322 or visit helpmegrowutah.org to talk to a Care Coordinator about how to establish routines and the benefits of them.

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: School Readiness

Back-To-School (2)

Kali here, from Help Me Grow Utah! I am so excited to be joining you each month to share tips about early childhood. I love working at Help Me Grow because of its mission. Every member of our staff loves families and wants to do everything we can to support and empower parents by connecting them to the knowledge, information and resources they need.  If you haven’t already heard about Help Me Grow, I promise it’s worth checking out! Where else can you check your child’s development through a simple questionnaire, find age appropriate activity ideas, get reliable answers to any parenting questions you have and so much more; all for free? Find out more about what we can do for your family here.

With summer coming to a close, school is on everyone’s mind. Without a doubt, going to school is a big part of every child’s life! Think about it: children spend a good portion of each weekday, from age six to 18, sitting in a variety of classrooms. Because of this, preparing them is at the forefront of most parents’ minds early in a child’s life. However, school readiness means so much more than being able to count to ten and say the ABC’s. Let me share a secret with you: the BEST way to make sure your children are ready for school is by helping them in all areas of development (including: physical, cognitive, communication, and emotional) from the time they’re born. Why? Because one skill builds on another! Being ready for school is a product of the first five years of your children’s lives.

While this may sound overwhelming, it’s actually much simpler than you think. What you need to do is turn everyday moments and experiences into something more. For instance, when your child is excited about a bug he saw on the driveway, kneel beside him and look at it. Talk about it. If you dare, touch it. Take a moment to live in your child’s world. I know it can’t always be done. But believe me, it can have a significant effect when you have those few moments and make the best of them! Some of you reading this probably aren’t quite sure how to do this. Well, that’s one of the ways that Help Me Grow Utah is here for you! To learn more and see what we can do to help with school readiness, call 2-1-1 and ask for Help Me Grow or visit our website helpmegrowutah.org!

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison