Hudson Valley Parent

HVP September 2017

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20 Hudson Valley Parent n September 2017 By JENNIFER CASTLE T he first day of school is enlightening for kindergarten teacher at Presidential Park Elementary in Middletown, Deena Tulino. "It's apparent in the first five minutes which kids have had structure and routines in their lives," she says. "I can tell based on who can sit on the floor and gather their attention when asked. These are children who pick up on cues and know what's coming next." The key here is "know what's coming next." For children, the unknown is around every corner, from that weird-looking vegetable to losing teeth to big life transitions such as new siblings or starting school. Changes happen for kids at a dizzying pace, and none of it is under their control. Routines provide security "Knowing what's going to happen, and when, is huge for kids," says Dr. Danielle Cigliano, DO, FAAP, a pediatrician with Caremount Medical who practices in Kingston and Rhinebeck. "It really creates a sense of security. When children feel like their life is chaotic, they develop increased anxiety and their behavior reflects that." To give children that security, it is vital to create and stick to routines early. Toddlers have the motor skills to put toys away as young as 15-18 months old. "You'll have to do some of it yourself," says Dr. Cigliano, who is also the mother of three young daughters, "but keep in mind that even at this age, children instinctively want to help out." You can also talk to your toddler about the routine of the day, narrate as you go and offer previews of what's coming up. She says, "Find a way to make it easy and fun, and be consistent so they know what's expected of them." Independence at school At school, routines enable children to thrive. "Before any learning happens, kids need to feel safe and handle day-to-day activities on their own and quickly," says Tulino. "By the time they begin kindergarten, children should be able to use the bathroom and clean themselves. What I often see is that a child has the ability, but is simply used to being taken care of. They also need to be able to open and eat their lunch without help, because teachers will likely not be with them at that time, and take care of their personal belongings." If your child struggles with routines, work with her teacher to figure out some helpful tools. Tulino uses checklists, workboards, and visual aids with students who may be differently-wired or just need extra guidance. "Parent-teacher communication is so vital because kids may not be able to articulate things," she says. "Let your child's teacher know what works for, triggers or hinders your child." Individualism blooms When a child can do something for themselves, they take ownership and pride in that thing. Their self-confidence, independence and individualism blooms. When change or the unexpected does happen, they're better equipped to cope because they already have their routines as a foundation. Routines also greatly reduce power struggles, encourage cooperation, teach the concept of "looking forward" to The path to independence Enforce routines to raise independent children Castle's young daughter completes tasks on her own and takes pride in her growing independence. (Continued on Page 22)

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