In this supportive and interesting article, author Dr. Vanessa Lapointe shares some great advice.
Black River Preschool Crackers
2 c flour (we use Pamela’s brand gluten free baking mix with almond meal) any flour will work
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum (no need to use with regular flour)
½ tsp salt
2/3 c warm water, more if needed, but add slowly to get the right consistency
1/3 c olive oil or less
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in water and oil and mix until a smooth dough forms. Roll dough flat, make crackers using small cookie cutters, or cut them into shapes with a butter knife.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned- longer for crispier crackers. Watch them carefully!
Add a bit of honey, maple syrup or sugar to make a sweet cracker.
Use an egg or water wash on the crackers and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon or any baking sprinkles.
Add black pepper, garlic powder, rosemary or any of your favorite spices to the dough to make a flavorful savory cracker.
Use an egg or water wash and sprinkle the crackers with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt or your favorite flavorful dried herb.
Spend a great deal of time outdoors.
I love to advise getting a pile of dirt and sand as well as durable shovels, buckets and a wagon. Encourage tree climbing, curiosity, and investigation of all kinds. Put out scraps of yarn and watch from the window as the birds take it to build their nests. Have time scheduled to observe nature! it is amazing what you will see. Take walks. Go play down by the river at our school. Be in nature and outside for much of the day!
Have quiet time with stuffed animals and books on their bed each day and build up to an hour of time. This time is arguably the most important time of the day. This is time for them to reflect their life experiences, to digest the good and the bad, to know themselves and therefore who they are becoming. This is the best self-care! Quiet time to rest and reflect is a skill they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
For toddlers – have stations of activity: the pots and pans cupboard, the sink filled with water, the laundry basket, pots of dirt outside they can fill and empty. Give them heavy work to do. Fill the wagon and ask them to pull it for you.
They will come and go in and out of their play.
When your children arrive at your side (and this is true for any age) STOP what you are doing and make eye contact, listen to what it is they are saying, listen to what is behind the words, touch them in a loving way. Reflect back to them what you are hearing. Once they feel you are there for them they will hopefully be off.
This is how children learn to entertain themselves so that you don’t have to rely on the TV. The more time they have to play the more deeply they will live in their imagination and the more they will be able to entertain themselves. What is boring is the television. They have to have opportunities to know themselves so that they can begin to know what they like and don’t like and what they like to play. This is self-knowledge and is the single most important gift you can give your child.
This is the gift of discovering who they are and who they are becoming. Not who we think they should be but who they are as their own unique selves as a human being. This play time brings them greater imagination and creative thought. These are among the most important skills that they will need as problem solves of the future.
Sometimes they need help getting into the play. Start with an imagination for them. “oh, your puppy (stuffed animal) is hungry and wants to go outside and play. Here is a bowl for his food. Maybe a sheet over the dining table for a fort for the day. My mother let us turn over all the living room furniture – sofas and all. The cushions became our floor, the back of the sofa our roof. We spent hours in there. Carve out space for hammering on a stump outside caring for the tools when finished. Make cozy houses in the bottom of closets. Engage your imagination to help them engage theirs.
Get up and go to bed at the same time every day as best you can. Have meals at the same time each day. Studies show that children and adults that go to bed at the same time every day get sleepy at the appointed time. Also having regular meal times our stomachs begin to produce digestive acids as it becomes time to eat.
The stronger the rhythm the greater the feeling of security. So have a rhythm within the rhythm and sing as much as you can. Nursery rhymes are wonderful because children’s internal rhythms are not established until they are about 10 years old. The natural rhythms in nursery rhymes help establish slower healthier heart rates, breathing, etc.
Maybe you start the day with one book in the family bed and some good snuggle time talking about your dreams from the night before, then we get dressed, make our beds, put away clothes, and head down for breakfast. Make a plan that works for your family. If your children need food first thing, then breakfast is first.
Once in the kitchen everyone gets a job and singing is good here – keep it light and fun and get silly. In this way they will want to help, to be there.
Kids can: set the table, chop apples, cook, clean. Fill the sink with warm water for the child that struggles in these transition times and let them play while maybe washing a few things. Sing/ recite nursery rhymes to shift the mood. Make up your own silly movements to the nursery rhymes as you cook and clean.
Have a rhythm to your breakfast routine. In this way children know what is coming next and what to do. This helps them establish an inner self -discipline and can alleviate discipline problems. If you know of a job they love and can do well, don’t change that. Stick to the rhythm.
Have a rhythm to the day with time for transitions in between so that there is no rushing or hurrying. Have time for cleaning up what has just happened before you move onto the next thing.
In these uncertain times children need to feel your inner strength. They need to feel that they are being carried and held by you – their parents – who are tending to everything and most importantly, who are attentive to them and keeping them safe.
The child from birth to 10 years old needs to be held in a world that tells them- the world is good – and that you will keep them safe. Children need to trust in their world in order to venture out into it, take risks, and meet challenges with openness. Obviously, we are all restricted in these capacities for the time being but this is a time to meet these challenges inwardly and outwardly in the days to come at home. This is an opportunity to show our children what inner strength is, by how you respond to these daily challenges.
As the teachers of your children, you can build a sense of goodness and security in your daily routine/ rhythm which will provide an enormous sense of stability. It is a time to practice modeling kindness by finding the good all-around as you go through your day, especially the good within your children.
The stronger your daily rhythm the greater wellbeing in your family.
What do you need to say to them about what is happening right now?
For the child up to 8 years old – little to nothing – again reinforcing that the world is good. All you need to tell them is that the world has gotten a bad cold and we all need to stay home so that we can possibly avoid catching it. That’s all. Any more information than that is for the older children.