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This month our focus at Especially for Children is "Mi Familia," and we thought it would be a great time of the year to talk about family traditions.
Traditions. Those little rituals passed down from generation to generation that help shape your family by creating a sense of unity, warmth, and closeness. They create memories that fill your mind with peace, love, happiness, and security.
If your family doesn't have traditions - then it is a great thing to begin with your family when your children are young. Traditions do not have to be extravagant, intense, or require a lot of planning. They are just little rituals that you and your family enjoy doing together


EFC will be closed on Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24 for Thanksgiving. We hope your family enjoys the time together to relax and celebrate.
EFC will also be closed on Monday, December 25 for Christmas as well as for New Year's on Monday, January 1, 2018.
Please let us know on the attendance logs on the front desk any days that your child may be gone these weeks.  


Throughout the month we will be holding parent teacher conferences in all our classrooms. We hope you'll take advantage of the chance to sit down and talk to your child's teacher on a one-to-one basis. We are excited to explain our curriculum and talk about the goals and objectives for your child. Sign-up sheets are posted by your child's classroom. 


Sharing meals on a regular basis helps to build connections and a sense of family identity and purpose - key components of positive mental health. Regular family meals give children structure and a sense of security.
A family meal is when all or most family members who live in the same household sit down anywhere together to eat a meal-breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Family meals provide a regular opportunity for family members to talk and share, listen and learn. They also tend to be healthier and include more fruits and vegetables. (Kids are less likely to graze and eat snacks and meals in front of the T.V.)
Research shows that children who often eat meals with their parents say that their parents know what is really going on in their lives and make them feel important and loved.
Here are some tips for making family meals work for you:
  • Make family mealtimes a priority.
  • Any meal can be a family meal - breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Keep the meal simple and use shortcuts such as frozen vegetables, rotisserie chicken, etc. Make one meal but include something that each person will eat.
  • Have the kids help plan, make meals and clean-up afterwards.
  • During the meal, turn off the T.V., computer, and video games. Ignore the phone.
  • Establish a routine to start or end each meal. 
  • Keep conversations positive - don't use mealtime as a time of discipline or correction. Talk about your favorite part of the day!
Occasionally invite friends and extended family members to join.
Other resources available on this topic are:

The information from this article was taken from "Building Connections Through Family Meals". Enjoy your time with your child.

For the past several months, my 5-and-a-half-year-old grandson and I have been enrolled in a Beginning Reading Program. The classes are taught by instructors from the U of MN Institute of Reading Development. I thought it would be interesting to see how this program approaches reading development for 4- and 5-year-olds.
The biggest message to the adults is "Read aloud to your children regularly." This is the most important thing we can do to help our child develop a love of reading and learn to read more easily. Reading aloud builds:
  • enthusiasm for books
  • stamina for listening
  • comprehension
  • the desire to read independently
And if a child connects reading with being together with you, it becomes a powerful way to communicate your love for each other.
In the classes we focus on a variety of wonderful children's books - some of which are classics and others I had never seen. What I find to be particularly helpful is the ways in which the instructors expand the experiences with simple techniques. I thought I would share some of those with you.
The books we read are all heavily illustrated picture books. It makes sense that pictures pull your child into the story, increase comprehension, and can help children see the humor when a book is funny. Even though your child cannot read the words in these books yet, he can enjoy the pictures and the feeling of reading by himself. Then, as an independent activity after you have finished your reading time together, your child can page through the book which allows him to do for himself what you were doing for him, which was giving
him the pleasure of the reading experience.
Many times, after we read a book, the instructor asks the children to identify their favorite part of the story, or sometimes their favorite picture in the story. That causes us to thumb through the book again and think about what had happened and relook at the illustrations. On some pages we spend extra time and inevitably we see so much more detail in the drawings than we had seen during the first reading.
It is clear to me that while reading the books our real objective is to enjoy the illustrations, the plots and the characters. During another portion of the class we work on alphabet skills, phonics, rhyming and some sight words. Those are key beginning reading skills. But to enjoy the literature for its own sake is the most important goal of our time together. 
Sometimes we do an activity that connects to the story we read. One week after we had read  a story about houses, each child drew a picture of what she would like to do during each month of the year at her house. We used one piece of paper for each month. The child drew a picture and described what he/she had drawn. The adult wrote those words on the page. By the end the child had become both author and illustrator of a 12-page book! It was fun to see how much the children understood about seasons, family traditions, etc.
We also bring some simple games into the mix.  "I Spy with My Little Eye" is fun to play looking at an illustrated page and saying, "...something that begins with the letter P - or something that rhymes with hat." Then we switch roles and let the child be the leader. This game can be done with any book you read, not just alphabet or rhyming books.
After reading Curious George Rides a Bike we were encouraged to make a paper boat at home, just like George did. The instructions are right in the book so it was a fun and simple project. We put ours in the bathtub and it actually did float for a long time until it got very soggy. But then the boat became a science experiment! We let it dry overnight and it was almost sailable again by morning!
So, enjoy your reading aloud time with your child. Think of ways to expand the experience. Reading together is the most important thing you can do for your child's future success as a reader!

Now-1/5 Tinkertoy, Build Your Imagination, Children's Museum, Saint Paul
11/7-1/7 How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Children's Theatre, Minneapolis
11/17-12/28 Disney's Beauty and the Beast Jr., Stages Theatre, Hopkins
11/23  Drumstick Dash 10k and Cranberry Cruise 1 Mile , Lake Harriet, Minneapolis
11/23  LifeTime Turkey Day 5k , Minneapolis
11/24-12/23 Holidazzle , Minneapolis
As a follow-up to our Especially for Parents article, check out the Parent Blog for a sampling from the list of the "Best Books for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners" published by the Institute of Reading Development.

Especially for Children
6125 Cahill Ave. 
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
(651) 450-1994 

Center Directors:
Fle Jensen and Roxie King
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