Valentine’s Day: What You Need To Know

5 Chicago Performing Arts Programs to Encourage Speech and Language Development in Children

Performing Arts programs provide an excellent avenue to encourage speech and language skills in children.  LearningChicago performing arts happens best during fun and engaging multisensory experiences, such as acting out a story, dancing to music, or singing a new song.  Through performing arts programs, children gain opportunities to socialize with other children, follow directions, engage in pretend-play, further develop creativity and imagination, build narrative language skills and cultivate expressive language skills.  This blog highlights 5 top performing arts programs in the Chicago area for children of all ages, including a program designed for children on the Autism spectrum.

5 Top Performing Arts Programs in Chicago for Speech and Language Development:

  1. Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop: Dream Big offers a variety of performing arts camps and classes for children ages 2 through 18.  Classes encourage children to explore dramatic play, creative movement, music, team-work, self-expression and creativity while having fun singing, dancing, and playing games.  Classes are separated by ages: “Spotlighters” (2 years), “Mini Showstoppers” (3-5 and 4-6 years), “Moving Stories” and “Creative Drama” (3-5, 5-7 years).  Programs also include customized, age-appropriate parties that include singing, dancing, theatre games and other drama fun! Read more

Zumba for Kids

We all know the many benefits of exercise for people of all ages: physical fitness, endurance, strength, coordination, and zumba for kidsmotor planning.  However, making physical fitness a regular part of daily routines can be a real challenge not only for adults, but also for children.  Many children who live more sedentary lifestyles require more motivation to get moving, since it has become their habit to be still.   So what is the trick to increasing kid’s enthusiasm for fitness and getting sedentary kids off the couch?  It’s simple: FUN!  Fitness for children, just like any other children’s programming, should be fun, socially appealing and inviting!

A common activity that many families find enjoyable for all ages is Zumba!  Zumba is a dance-fitness combination that includes culturally diverse music and various elements of dance and cardio, including Hip Hop, Latin dancing, and traditional aerobics.  Zumba is a wonderfully unique fitness program that is set off by its enjoyable, party-like scene.  The bright, bold wardrobe colors, loud music, and rhythmic beats create an energetic and enticing place to get fit.  Zumba is also great for kids! Read more

Creative Ways for Kids to Get Five-a-Day

The general recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake is five servings per day. The serving size depends on age, but5 a Day a good rule of thumb is to get your family to consume 2-3 fruits and 2-3 vegetables each day. Does this sound difficult? With a little planning and some creativity, you can achieve this healthy goal.

Tips to Get Your Family to Eat 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day:

  • Blend fruit, and even veggies, into smoothies or popsicles. Most kids like treats that come in smoothie, milkshake, or popsicle form. Use yogurt, frozen fruit, a banana, and a handful of spinach to make a smoothie that tastes so good your kids will never guess they’re getting several servings of fruits and vegetables. Freeze into popsicle molds for a healthy frozen dessert.
  • Make fruit and vegetable dippers. Some vegetables simply taste better with a little dip. You can make an easy, healthy, savory dip by mixing plain Greek yogurt with dry Italian or Ranch seasoning packets. Have fresh vegetables chopped and ready to go for snacks or meals ahead of time. Make it more fun by arranging several different colored veggies (such as carrots, celery, baby tomatoes and yellow bell peppers), and two dips (such as hummus and the yogurt Ranch dip) in a muffin tray with six cups. Kids love this fun presentation.  Fruit can be more appealing when dipped as well. Try a flavored yogurt, or mix plain Greek yogurt with a little peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon.
  • Create designs that appeal to kids. Take advantage of the variety of colors and shapes of fruits and vegetables to make your kids more interested in them. You can make rainbows skewers using fruits and vegetables from each shade of the rainbow.  For example you can create a fruit skewer using strawberries, mini orange slices, bananas, kiwis, blueberries, and blackberries. Or have your kids make funny faces using bananas, carrots, berries, kiwis, melons or peppers. Use broccoli, olives, pineapple, a banana, tomatoes, carrots, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and oranges to make Sesame Street characters! This is also a great option for a child’s party or barbecue.

Fruits and vegetables provide many essential vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients that provide health benefits such as reducing inflammation and preventing cancer. These healthy foods also provide fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.

Feel like you have fruits and veggies covered?  Read here for ways to sneak more whole grains into your child’s diet.  If you have concerns about your family’s diet, click here to find out more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Nutrition Counseling program.

Visit us anytime at www.NSPT4kids.com

How to Treat Twins as Individuals

In general, parents that have twins are very concerned with treating their children equally, but they often struggle in allowing their twinschildren to find their own identity. Parents usually dress twins in matching outfits, sign them up for the same activities, purchase two of the same toy and even arrange play dates to be together.

In order to make sure that you treat your twins as individuals, try keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Clothes: Clothing reveals a lot about an individual and it is a way that people tend to show their creativity and identity. Do not feel obligated to dress your twins in identical outfits. Choosing clothes that differ in color will allow your child’s personality to show itself. When your children get older have them help pick out their outfits and dress in the clothes that they truly like.
  • Activities: If one twin is enrolled in dance, it does not imply that the other child should do the same. Make sure that the activities your twins are enrolled in reveal their personal skills and interests. Although this may require you to drive around more often, your children will be Read more

Choosing The Right Friends: Supporting your Child’s Resiliency Against Peer Pressure

The older they get, the more independent they get. For adolescents, the world revolves around the friendship circle. While you can’t choose friends for your children, you can teach them how to choose wisely.  Some parents don’t get involved until it’s too late, when they desperately want their children to stop hanging out with bad influences. This may be accomplished, but the problem may return when the child meets someone similar. It’s more valuable to teach children about what a good friend means, rather than seek control over each individual peer of choice. You can start by asking your children to make a list of qualities that make up a “good friend” and helping them think about it objectively.

teenage friends standing outside

When discussing specific peers in their life, you can use the following questions as a screener:

Good Friend Checklist

  • Are you able to be yourself around them?
  • Do they make you feel good about yourself?
  • Do you have interests and hobbies in common?
  • Do you take turns being leader and follower?
  • Would you stand up for each other?
  • Do they want to help you when you’re upset?
  • Do they listen when you need to talk about your feelings?
  • Do they respect you when you say “no”?
  • Can you work it out together when you have a fight?

If most of the answers are “yes”, the friendship is likely to be a positive one and hopefully boosts self-esteem. If most of the answers are “no”, the friendship could lead to insecurity and poor decision-making and should be re-considered.  The “no” answers can also help identify which skills may need to be taught or strengthened.

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

7 Reasons to Attend NSPT’s New Bucktown Clinic Open house!

The Chicago Clinic has recently expanded to a new and improved space! We would like to celebrate and introduce ourselves by opening the doors to the community. We are so excited to share our new space with both our existing families and also hope to meet some new faces!

New Clinic Open House

  1. It is hard to find fun for the whole family, without paying a high price in the city. The open house is a FREE event that you can bring your family and friends to!
  2. There will be endless entertaining fun for your children of all ages, including a magician, face painter, balloon maker, and games.
  3. Kids will have an opportunity to explore their creative side by making various crafts!
  4. A sensory table will provide an outlet for the children to explore their senses while engaging with other kids and having a blast. There will also be Occupational Therapists to answer any questions regarding various sensory strategies and tools.
  5. Parents will have an opportunity to speak with experts in fields such as speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy, as well as counselors, academic specialists, and more.
  6. Learn more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
  7. Check out the new state- of- the- art facility, with over 4,000 square feet of therapy rooms and equipment.

Event Details:

Date: Saturday, September 15th
Time: 11:00-2:00
Location: 1657 W. Cortland St. (corner of Cortland and Paulina; 1 block south of Armitage)
Chicago, Il 60622

For more information regarding this event please contact Lauren at 877-486-4140 or LaurenW@NSPT4Kids.com

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

What is an Appropriate Age for Dating? | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, a pediatric social worker explains ways to determine at what age it is appropriate for your child to begin dating.  Click here to read our blog titled “5 Tips For Your Dating Teen”

In this video you will learn:

  • How to tell if your child is ready to date
  • What factors weigh in on the decision of dating
  • How to tell if your child is ready to date

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a world wide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and today I’m sitting here with Michelle Winterstein, a Pediatric
Social Worker. Michelle, can you tell our viewers at what age is it
appropriate to allow your child to start dating?

Michelle: Sure, Robyn. I don’t think that a specific age automatically
deems your child ready to start dating. I think it’s really an individual
factor, and it depends on the maturity of your child. I think the important
thing is when your child comes to you and expresses an interest in dating,
and you think that they are at the maturity level where they are ready for
that, then open up the lines of communication and make sure that your child
feels comfortable talking to you about the process of dating. I would also
recommend getting to know the child that your child is interested in dating
and make sure that that child’s family has similar values as your own.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, and thank you to our viewers.
And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

Helping Your Middle Schooler Become More Inclusive

Middle school can be a tough time for children (and parents!) as they transition to adolescence and navigate changes in a variety of areas. One of the biggest challenges in middle school is the social aspect as it often marks a shift toward focus on popularity and cliques, to determine who is “in” and who is “out.” These pressures can create anxiety, confusion, and stress in students, especially if left unspoken. Below are 7 tips to help your middle schooler healthily navigate social changes and become more inclusive.

7 Tips To Help Your Child Become Socially Inclusive:

  1. Learn about your middle schooler’s friendships. Your child is likely to meet new students from other elementary schools, and this can create shifts in friendships. clique teenagersAsk gentle questions, such as “Who did you eat lunch with today?” or “Who would you like to invite over this weekend?” to learn who your child’s friends are. Because friends have an influence in the ideas, activities, and pressures you child may face, knowing who your child is friends with is important.
  2. Become a safe person your middle schooler can confide in about social issues. Fully listening, empathizing, and reflecting what your child confides in you about friendships can help her to see you as a go-to person. Be mindful not to problem solve and criticize right away, as the most important step is that your child feels completely heard and accepted. (Ex. Instead of “Why would your friend do that?! Don’t hang out with her,” try “So I hear you saying that your friend made up a rumor about a classmate. How did you feel about that?”
  3. Help your child problem solve. If your middle schooler confides in you about a friendship issue, empower her by guiding her to problem solve. Ask open ended questions, such as “What do you think is something you can do the next time that happens?”
  4. Help your child think critically. There may be times when your middle schooler talks to you about her classmates that leads you to believe that she is being exclusive. Instead of placing blame or using criticism, ask your child open ended questions to guide her to think critically. Asking questions, such as “Why do you think your friend said that to your classmate? How do you think your classmate felt?”, “How do you feel about that?”, and “What do you think a good friend is?” can help your child think critically without feeling judged.
  5. Emphasize the importance of inclusivity. Take the opportunity to teach your middle schooler about why it is important to be inclusive. Give examples, such as “Spending time with people who are different from you can help you learn new things” or “It is important to make sure everyone feels safe and welcome at school,” and ask for her own examples.
  6. Teach by doing. Encourage your middle schooler to invite a new friend or a classmate who does not have appear to have as many friends over for a play date.
  7. Model the importance of inclusivity. Show your middle schooler that you think it is important to be inclusive by inviting a new co-worker or parent for coffee or lunch. Your modeling of inclusivity can help your child understand and believe in its importance.

What have you tried to help your middle schooler navigate social challenges and become more inclusive? Please share with us!

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email! 

Birthday Party Anxiety

It’s surprising to some, how a birthday party invitation can be anxiety provoking for a child. For some, it evokes strong social anxiety if they don’t have friends, don’t know how to make friends, perceive that they are not liked by other children and fear embarrassment.birthday party anxiety

Some children are right on track with social development but still, show panic-like responses when they are faced with a party invite. For most of the children I’ve worked with on this issue, the “fear of the unknown” is a major player. The environment, activities and mixed group of children attending could all be unknown factors. It’s normal for your child to be overwhelmed by this, and not even understand why. Either way, do your best to listen to and validate their feelings. Then commit to attending those parties with some anxiety reducing strategies under way.

Tips for Reducing Anxiety Around Birthday Parties:

  • Most importantly, send your child to the party! Avoiding the party is more likely to increase the fear and decrease their chances of going to the next one.
  • Help your child identify at least one person they will know, a “safe” buddy (child or adult)
  • Role play ways they can meet and greet new children
  • Have them carry your phone number in your pocket, and if they still feel afraid during the party they should call to “check in”
  • For intense resistance, tell your child that the only must is that they get in the door. Once they check out the scene (and see all the fun!) they can make an agreement on how long to stay

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!