Monthly Archives: March 2014

Coloring Pages…Helpful or Hurtful?

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Some childcare providers provide coloring pages to the children, and it’s quite a debate among caregivers. Personally, I’m against them. Professionally, I’m against them. Let me tell you why.

-no imagination required. How sad… Creative expression is a stress reliever for children, as well as a coping strategy for children processing a life transition. It also helps build young amazing minds that can solve problems and think outside the box.

-coloring in the lines is hard for many children and leads to frustration. Skills develop in time, and children can feel pressure to have a “better” picture than they are capable of producing.

-they require very little collaboration between peers. Working together to create a beautiful work of art can be very rewarding.

-they aren’t open-ended, meaning the activity of coloring is the only choice. When you have blank paper, you can create anything, and use anything.

My experience has shown some benefits for some children on occasion. When you’re at a restaurant with three young children waiting for food, the coloring pages keep the kids occupied. But as early educators, our job is to keep the children engaged as opposed to busy. There’s a big difference.

Occasionally, children who are difficult to reach will migrate to coloring pages as a task. The structure and predictability of having all those lines can offer a sense of security. But of course, so can the presence of a caring educator.

This is not meant as a judgement, just advice. Please consider the intended use of coloring pages before you offer them, especially all of you early educators out there.

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Food Pouches…good or bad?

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One of the latest trends in baby and toddler foods are pouches. They offer a nutritious and highly portable option for feeding young ones. They require no specific temperatures for storage, and have a decent shelf life so they are great for travel. They are also a tidy alternative to messy baby food in a bowl. Many companies are offering these products made organically, and include super foods like kale and chia. And then there’s the independence that a pouch offers to a toddler who wants to do everything on their own.

So what’s the down side, you ask? They are expensive for one thing. Cost can be anywhere from $1.50 to $2.75 per pouch, depending on where you are located. The other downside is that while you can order your own refillable pouches, many of us don’t, and the one time use pouches are not recyclable in all areas. The other thing to consider is that more and more eating is happening on the go. Sitting down at the table is an incredible opportunity to connect with your family. In our hurry up world, we can’t afford to lose this critical family time. Besides, sitting down is the safest way for a toddler to eat.

Another drawback to offering pouches to older infants and toddlers is that they may develop a preference over solid fruits and veggies. What a shame for them to miss out on the variety of textures and flavors, not to mention the sensory experience that solid foods offer. Just think of the impact chewing food has on the jaw muscles. The muscles of the jaw need the workout and the sensory input.

I think it’s important to point out of couple of things here:

-most families willing to make the investment in pouches still value traditional sit down meals.
-many families still value the benefits of eating solid foods.
-many families who try to eat organic and whole foods are also the same folks who are trying to preserve the environment.
-pouches offer a nutritional option for travel and as a fast food alternative.

Bottom line, pouches can be a great part of a nutritious diet rich in variety and whole foods. Please use them wisely and responsibly. And please continue to offer solid foods as well.

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