For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates.
It's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life.
The maternity package - a gift from the government - is available to all expectant mothers.
It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.
The contents of the box includes:
Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it's worth much more.
The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.
"Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy," says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela - the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.
So the box provided mothers with what they needed to look after their baby, but it also helped steer pregnant women into the arms of the doctors and nurses of Finland's nascent welfare state.
In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high - 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed.
At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women.
Friends enrich every stage of our life, but friendships during motherhood are a life jacket that keeps your head above water. In fact, studies have shown how important friendships are to our mental as well as our physical health. UCLA researchers, for example, have found that in times of stress women don't simply opt for "fight or flight," as decades of research on men had suggested; instead, women lean heavily on social support from friends. During one of the hardest and most exciting times in your life, the time you are pregnant and through raising children, you need as much social support as you can find.
If you're the first one to have a baby in your circle of friends it can feel completely isolating. You begin to isolate yourself during those first few months of pregnancy when you feel limited socially due to morning sickness or the inability to join friends for a night out on the town because you can't partake in the fun of enjoying a good cocktail or two. Once the baby arrives, you can feel isolated and as though your entire life revolves around the kitchen and the bathtub. We need friends to help ground, humor, and support us doing these tough moments in time.
If you don't have any other mothers in your personal circle of friends, it's possible to meet other moms through support groups, birthing classes, preschool, or daily outings. Often, it's harder to find like-minded moms than it is to just meet mothers in your area. Fortunately, Green Sprout attracts a very unique breed of mothers and fathers raising children in a very thoughtful, creative and peaceful way with an inherent appreciation for community itself. One of our missions here at Green Sprout is to connect mothers and fathers with each other on a regular basis through community events, classroom hangouts and at their children's birthday parties outside of school so that our network is large and strong!
Last year, one of our very own, Ms. Liz, completed The Special Needs Yoga Teacher with EVERY KID'S YOGA through The Little Yoga House. It was an eye-opening experience and incredibly full-filling. If you have any interest in working with children with special needs, enjoy yoga, or want to embark on a new experience, please check this one out! Contact The Little Yoga House for more info regarding the training and feel free to ask Ms. Liz any questions you may have about her experience.
In honor of the talented David Bowie, our Primary and Kinderblossom friends rocked the infamous lightning bolt that Ziggy Stardust introduced in 1972. We love you David Bowie! You will be missed by us all, big or small!
We are so thrilled to welcome Mr. Jaime to our community! James (Jaime) Cano is a native Austinite and musician. He has been a preschool teacher for the last thirteen years, working with children exclusively in Spanish for the last five years at Escuelita del Alma. He also hosts a bilingual music hour once a month at the Thinkery. Mr. Jaime will begin teaching Spanish and movement at Green Sprout next Thursday! We are excited to learn and dance with our new friend!
Toilet learning differs from Toilet training. Child toilet training is something that is adult directed; toilet learning is when the child is involved in their own learning. Toilet training may involve a time pressure on your child which seems to be a quick fix but may have consequences.
Toilet training involves an attitude of having to do it now because the adult chooses so. The difference between toilet learning and toilet training is the adult’s attitude which can make a big difference for the child.
Toilet learning starts with readiness signs, and is not learned through a reward system. Toileting is a skill that needs to be learnt. It cannot be taught overnight. The key to toilet learning is teaching not training the child. Learning on their own is reward enough for them to be able to independently help themselves in remaining clean or not soiling themselves.
Allow the child to learn on their own with a bit of support and help from the adult with the use of toilet training pants and clothes they can independently put on themselves. Toilet learning is linked to the child’s self-esteem, so genuine verbal praise is important. There are no ‘accidents’ during toilet learning, only lessons. Language also plays a big part in keeping a positive attitude with toilet learning.
Adult Attitude and Points to Consider in Toilet LearningIt is important to decide if you are ready to commit to the process and all it entails, this could include loads of washing, wet or soiled carpets and what people may think if you child is not toilet ready by a certain age. More often than not it requires months of learning for the child and it is important to have and maintain a positive attitude and avoid putting a time period or the age you wish your child to be toilet trained. It is possible that children will develop manipulative actions regarding toileting (e.g. wetting self on purpose) if they believe it will affect your behavior.
Every child is different and toilet ready at a different age, these are some tips to help the process and explain the rationale behind the method. However, it is up to you which toilet learning or toilet training approach you think suits you, your child and your lifestyle.
The Language Behind Toilet Learning
Toilet Learning and LanguageIt is important that children understand the language you use during toilet learning. Quite often there is some embarrassment in using certain words, remember to consider you attitude when interacting with children, if you are embarrassed talking about certain body part or bodily functions your child could also learn this attitude. Using the toilet is an everyday event and being comfortable explaining the process and body parts to children is important as it is a natural part of our lives.
It is important to feel comfortable using adult words around children like to describe body parts and functions. This ensure that your child will not have to use ‘baby words’ (e.g. wee and poo) and demonstrates that you see your child as a capable toilet learner.
We recommend considering your language when inviting children to use the toilet always keep it clear, direct and positive, for example “You may go and sit on the toilet/ potty” if the child refuses maintain positive language “you need to sit on the toilet so that you can urinate”. Never force a child on the potty or toilet against their will or use language in a negative way saying they “must sit on the toilet”.
When a child urinates on themselves try not to refer to this as an ‘accident’ tell them “you have urinated we need to sit on the potty when we urinate” making sure to sit the child on the potty after the event and change wet underpants. Always remain calm and in control of emotions model this behavior for the child.
Signs of Readiness Checklist:
Bowel movement control often happens before urinary control. If they are regularly going to the toilet to urinate, chances are they may have a bowel movement while urinating. It is for this reason that boys should preferably sit instead of stand during the first stages of toilet learning until they have mastered bowel movements.
Every child is different in learning this skill; many children are aware of when they are having a BM but will often be shy in telling an adult or not know what to do. It is important to build up trust and reassure the child that everything is ok. Many children who are showing signs of readiness will want to ask questions and look at what is happening while you are changing their BM. It may be helpful to talk the child through what is happening in their bodies and include them in the process as much as possible.
Many children have Bowel Movements at the same time each day; this predictability can be used as a tool in helping the child succeed in BM control. Writing a chart of times the child is likely to have a BM and looking for other signs (body posture and facial expression) can help signal that the child should sit on a potty or toilet. It also helps chart the frequency of the child’s BMs, on occasion if the child is feeling anxious about passing BMs they may hold them and become constipated.
SummaryThere should be no pressure put on children to be toilet trained. Toilet learning is a natural process and should be done at a pace the child is comfortable with. Allowing children to become aware of their bodily functions from the sensitive period of development allows for less distress when the child is older and more physically able to control their toileting abilities.
Please remember although the child is urinating in their underpants they are not ‘failing’ at toileting rather learning the sensation to need to go and the discomfort of having wet underpants. This is part of the learning process that is Toilet Learning.
Found on http://www.thedailymontessori.com
One of the best things about being a kid is the innate love and fascination with insects and other little critters. It is also so splendid that a child can jump into a mud pile or bake mud pies and not feel a tinge of anxiety about how dirty they may end up looking at the end of their play time. We have been celebrating bugs and the mud all months with fun outdoor and indoor activities!
Last month, Addie and Colette's dad, Chad Smith, came in to talk to our sprouts about ants! Guides and students alike were eager and excited to learn about these insects that we know very little about (other than the fact that we HATE fire ant bits). Chad even brought a fun art activity so the kids were all able to make little ants using our fingerprints and red ink on landscapes made out of construction paper. Thank you Chad!
Last week, in honor of a topic that the toddler room was exploring, Ms. Liz bought super worms, crickets and night crawlers so that all of the kids could observe and play with these slimy worms and jumping crickets! Yesterday we released all of the bugs outside and dug holes in the garden so that the worms could be happily released into the moist, cool soil that they prefer. The sprouts all bid them farewell and we wished them luck in the big world that they are now embarking upon!
It is well understood that young children are drawn toward sensory experiences. From birth, children first learn to explore their worlds by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing. These sensory experiences contribute in crucial ways to brain development which is why we use as many opportunities at Green Sprout Preschool to introduce sensory play. Through stimulating the senses, signals are sent to children’s brains that help strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning. As the children explore sensory materials, such as those used during art projects, they develop their fine-motor skills and the ability to identify objects by touch. Every day at Green Sprout we are fostering the love of learning—one of the greatest gifts we can give our children as their guides.