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Preparing for New Experiences: Going to Summer Camp and Baby's Arrival.

By Maureen Penko

Taking a preschool /early years school age child to a Summer Camp, and the event of having a baby are two major experiences for a parent.
Let's start with the topic of what should one consider when selecting summer camps. In the last issue tips for selecting camps was discussed. Now we want to look at selecting a camp from an experience and learning perspective.

As parents, you can select a camp that offers an exciting preschool and ors chool age experience. Check to see if the camp has an interesting set of themes? Does the description refer to fostering socialization, creative play experiences, and learning? Look for a camp that fits your child interest, needs and personality. If you are looking for a speciality camp then it would be important to read the description and also speak to the coordinator of the camp to get the answers you may need before signing up. This applies to children with special needs and those with communication difficulties. There are also child and parent book day programs offered through the Winnipeg Public Libraries.

Speciality camps for sports, social skills development, and developing knowledge and skills in a particular area are more of a development of skills camp. Think about day camp versus an overnight camp for the older school aged campers. During camp take many photos of your child at the camp or a video if them, as these will be wonderful visual reminders of the fun they experienced. It also will be a conversation tool and one they can share with their teacher upon school entry.

So, let's shift to the "baby on board" topic. Becoming a parent is a major milestone for the parent(s), and extended family. Having a baby is one of the most life changing events you will ever experience. I have had a chance to journey with two of my colleagues as one plans for the first baby and the other the second baby.

I hear the joy and the fatigue in their voices as well as the range of emotions. What is most interesting is how well they are preparing, from looking after their bodies through exercises and their personal dress to what they are putting into their bodies. They have been reading voraciously to prepare and now comes the shopping for baby's arrival.

Recently as they enter the third trimester the discussions have changed, "I hope baby likes this music or I sing to my baby." Communication while baby is still in the womb is a wonderful chance to bond and share time and one that will continue once baby arrives. Touching the belly, while talking and singing lets the baby know they are loved. It is never too soon to start reading a favourite story. It creates a state of calm and enjoyment that is sensed by the baby.
A recent article in the American Speech Language Association magazine "The Leader" identified that parents who began communicating to their infants in "parentese "were found to continue this style into the toddler phase. This technique of a grammatically correct speech style that that creates happing sounding tones and is not nonsense words called "baby talk" is also known as "parentese" Parent -child attention actions and "parentese" when combined showed that when done consistently between 6 months and 14 months of age there was a significant growth in babbling phase.

In the province of Manitoba following birth, the babies hearing will be screened. It then becomes important for parents to watch the milestones. Developing your babies sense of hearing, touch, smell, sound and vision can all be enhanced through cuddling, talking and using "parentese". Showing the baby books and pointing out the pictures will develop their visual gaze and understanding. Books should be clear and bright such as The Ocean published by Scribbles. Reading Richard Van Caps book Little You which reads..... "Feel our Love as we hold you tight" and let's not forget the board book titled Baby Present Parallax Press which features babies in yoga postures and the "Breathe in, baby, breathe out" technique. This movement is so much fun to do together with baby.

Finally talking in an animated voice about the pictures in the books helps familiarize babies with patterns of speech.

To guide you in what to look for in development of speech and language skills here is a checklist you can refer to.

Birth-6 months

  • Looks or turns in the direction of sound
  • Babbling in different tones
  • Uses voice to show emotion
  • Watches your face as you talk
  • Shows some facial expression.

6-12 months

  • Rapid increase in physical movement and curiosity
  • Like to touch, taste, look and show
  • Recognizes parents by their face and voice
  • Shows emotions
  • Is developing the ability to string together sounds and is in a chatty stage called "jargon"
  • First words are emerging
  • Uses many gestures along with speech to express themselves.

I hope that we can interest you in a Baby Lets Talk and Sing Together session offered by us in the near future.

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Preparing for New Experiences: Going to Summer Camp and Baby's Arrival.

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