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Can I encourage my child to sleep longer at night?

Make sure your baby is ready for sleep by providing fresh air and stimulation every day. As you begin to learn about your baby, you will develop a pattern for daytime routines that will lead naturally to bedtime. Use the crib for nighttime sleep. While your baby is still awake, put your baby in the crib so that he/she learns to fall asleep without you.

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Can I make bathing part of the bedtime routine?

You can include this as a bedtime routine as soon as you like. If your baby is on solids, stools will be smellier and bulkier and a daily bath is a good idea. If your baby enjoys a bath and finds it relaxing without being too stimulating, you can make it part of the usual early evening routine.

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Children's media and popular culture

Parents and teachers today are in constant competition with popular culture and media.

Brands are marketed to infants, television shows to toddlers and food products to children of all ages. Most of the media and popular culture merchants use high-profile advertising, attractive packaging and multi-sensorial bombardment to win over our young consumers. This trend has been growing as each wave of technology dazzles a new generation and frustrates their outmatched parents.

To look at popular culture and media as the enemy, though, is shortsighted. Popular culture is us. (Not our most attractive part but nevertheless a reflection of our interests, values and styles.) The key is not to let television and media take over our homes and challenge our roles as teachers and parents. Watching shows alongside our children we can point out inconsistencies in plot, blatant stereotypes or just plain silliness. Playing computer games with our children or surfing the internet we can teach them how to navigate skillfully and safely to safe harbors. By limiting the number of brands they must have we can maintain control over our families at the same time we teach restraint.

Having a healthy relationship with children's media and culture means knowing about it, critically sharing it with our children, and limiting its ability to take over their lives. Enjoy watching and experiencing the rich and highly entertaining world of popular culture with your child, but do not forget to turn it off, take a walk, go for a drive, or just sit and talk.

-- Chuck Bleiker, Ph.D.

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Guidelines to developing routines with your child

1) Develop a list of absolutes -- things you expect from your child. Knowing these, you can negotiate about things that are not absolutes. That helps to avoid frequent power struggles. There will be times when you can be flexible in your approach to discipline, and times when an issue is non-negotiable.

Example: You have decided that getting your child dressed in the morning is not an absolute because your child care provider has offered to help your child dress after you leave. The time you used to spend with your child struggling, you now spend cuddling and reading stories.

2) Use routines as a loose plan rather than rigid guidelines.

Example: Your child usually goes for nap at 12:30, but today you stretched it until 1:15 because your child was having a wonderful time at the park.

3) Be consistent with the routines you establish, while remaining flexible enough to respond to the individual circumstances of each situation.

Example: You plan a visit to the aquarium in the early morning so your child will be home for a nap.

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How can I develop a sense of responsibility in my child?

By giving your children chores to do, you not only teach them to be productive members of the family but also teach them responsibility. Involve your child in choosing a chore to do. This encourages your child and gives the feeling of self-importance.

  • Start teaching your child responsibility at a young age.
  • Teach your child to pick up after each activity.
  • Let your child help place a "job chart" on the refrigerator in a spot where he/she would like it to go.
  • Always praise your child for a job well done.
  • If your child does something on his own (without you asking him to do it), make sure you tell your child that you like when he/she does this. This will encourage more such behavior.
  • Divide large tasks into smaller ones. A child is more likely to finish a project or task by breaking it up into smaller tasks.
  • Give children specific time limits.
  • Let your child help schedule daily chores and a homework routine.

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How can I establish a bedtime routine?

Change from day clothes to nightclothes. Say good night together to family members. When you get to the crib, sing or say the same things every night when you put him/her in the crib. Keep the routine simple and uncomplicated, as your baby will expect a lengthy routine every night when he/she gets older.

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How can I get my child to cooperate?

There are many activities young children are reluctant to do -- for example, coming inside, washing hands, cleaning up, going to bed. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid a power struggle as you insist that a child do what you want. An excellent way to avoid such situations is to create transitions. Transitions divert the child’s attention from what he or she is doing and ease a child into the next activity.

Rhythm (such as singing, clapping, chanting) is an effective strategy to use to transition a child into an activity; for example, sing “washa-washa-washa” while washing hands. A parent also can introduce “role playing” into the transition by having children hop like bunnies, fly like birds or wriggle like snakes as they enter or exit a room; for example, a flying airplane makes a safe landing in bed.

Smooth transitions not only reduce the level of confrontation, but also are a conscious way for a parent to become involved in a child’s daily routines.

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How can I help my toddler go to sleep?

A toddler's bedroom should be a place that is welcoming. You should have a bedtime routine that includes reading a story. Once your toddler is in the crib, continue the usual routine in the house. The household noises reassure your toddler that everything is normal. Before bedtime, avoid arguments and punishments, as well as scary stories, television programs or videos. As soon as you put your toddler in the crib, do not pay any attention to the murmurs of protest. Many toddlers want to stay up longer. Remember you know best as the parent.

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How can I make bedtime easier for my 1 year old?

Infants and toddlers gain security through predictable routines. A predictable routine is helpful when getting mobile infants and toddlers ready for bed. Decide what will be included in the routine and in what sequence; for example, bathe then brush teeth, then storytime. Counting down time and talking your child through the sequence eases the transition. Set a routine with boundaries, stick to the routine and provide verbal explanations about what is happening next to help make going to bed a pleasure.

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How can I make my baby comfortable and safe?

Make sure that he/she has correct bedding; depending on the temperature she needs one or two blankets. Add or take away layers as needed. Until he/she is a year old, avoid comforters, pillows and soft mattresses. Any of these can cause babies to overheat or interfere with breathing. It is important that your baby to sleep with his/her feet at the base of the crib. This will prevent her from sliding down and getting covered with bed linen. Continue putting your baby down on her back to sleep until she is about six months old.

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How can I teach my child good social skills?

Good health, physical well-being, social and emotional maturity, language skills, an ability to solve problems and think creatively, and general knowledge about the world all prepare your child to be ready for school.

Young children need nutritious food, enough sleep, safe places to play and regular medical care. These things help children get a good start in life and lessen the chances that they will later have serious health problems or trouble learning. Good health for children begins before birth with good pre-natal care. It continues after birth with a balanced diet. School-age children concentrate better in class if they eat nutritionally balanced meals. These should include breads, cereals and other grain products, fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, beans and dairy products. Avoid too many saturated fats and sweets.


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  • Children ages 2 through 5 generally can eat the same foods as adults but in smaller portions. Your child's doctor or clinic can provide advice on feeding babies and toddlers.

Pre-schoolers require regular medical and dental check-ups and immunizations. It's important to find a doctor or a clinic where children can receive routine health care as well as special treatment if they are sick or injured. Children need immunizations to prevent diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hib (a type of influenza), polio and tuberculosis. These diseases can seriously affect physical and mental development. Regular dental check-ups should begin at the latest by the age of 3.

Pre-schoolers need opportunities to exercise and develop muscle coordination. To learn to control large muscles, children need to throw balls, run, jump, climb and dance to music. To learn to control small muscles, particularly in the hands and fingers, they should color with crayons, put together puzzles, use blunt-tipped scissors, and zip jackets.

Social and Emotional Preparation

Young children are often very excited about entering school. But they face an environment different from what they are used to at home or even in pre-school. In kindergarten, your child will need to work well in large groups and get along with new adults and other children. Your child will share the teacher's attention with other youngsters. The classroom routines also may be different.

Some 5 year olds do not start school with good social skills or much emotional maturity. These things take time and practice to learn. However, children improve their chances for success in kindergarten if they have had earlier opportunities to begin developing these qualities:

Confidence: Children must learn to feel good about themselves and believe they can succeed. Confident children are more willing to attempt new task, and try again if they do not succeed the first time.

Independence: Children must learn to do things for themselves.

Motivation: Children must want to learn.

Curiosity: Children are naturally curious and must remain so to get the most out of learning opportunities.

Persistence: Children must learn to finish what they start.

Co-operation: Children must get along with others and learn to share and take turns.

Self-control: Children must understand that some behaviors, such as hitting and biting, are inappropriate. They must learn that there are good and bad ways to express anger.

Empathy: Children must learn to have an interest in others and understand how others feel.

Young children need nutritious food, enough sleep, safe places to play and regular medical care. These things help children get a good start in life and lessen the chances that they will later have serious health problems or trouble learning. Good health for children begins before birth with good pre-natal care. It continues after birth with a balanced diet. School-age children concentrate better in class if they eat nutritionally balanced meals. These should include breads, cereals and other grain products, fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, beans and dairy products. Avoid too many saturated fats and sweets.


Click here for larger version

  • Children ages 2 through 5 generally can eat the same foods as adults but in smaller portions. Your child's doctor or clinic can provide advice on feeding babies and toddlers.

Pre-schoolers require regular medical and dental check-ups and immunizations. It's important to find a doctor or a clinic where children can receive routine health care as well as special treatment if they are sick or injured. Children need immunizations to prevent diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hib (a type of influenza), polio and tuberculosis. These diseases can seriously affect physical and mental development. Regular dental check-ups should begin at the latest by the age of 3.

Pre-schoolers need opportunities to exercise and develop muscle coordination. To learn to control large muscles, children need to throw balls, run, jump, climb and dance to music. To learn to control small muscles, particularly in the hands and fingers, they should color with crayons, put together puzzles, use blunt-tipped scissors, and zip jackets.

Social and Emotional Preparation

Young children are often very excited about entering school. But they face an environment different from what they are used to at home or even in pre-school. In kindergarten, your child will need to work well in large groups and get along with new adults and other children. Your child will share the teacher's attention with other youngsters. The classroom routines also may be different.

Some 5 year olds do not start school with good social skills or much emotional maturity. These things take time and practice to learn. However, children improve their chances for success in kindergarten if they have had earlier opportunities to begin developing these qualities:

Confidence: Children must learn to feel good about themselves and believe they can succeed. Confident children are more willing to attempt new task, and try again if they do not succeed the first time.

Independence: Children must learn to do things for themselves.

Motivation: Children must want to learn.

Curiosity: Children are naturally curious and must remain so to get the most out of learning opportunities.

Persistence: Children must learn to finish what they start.

Co-operation: Children must get along with others and learn to share and take turns.

Self-control: Children must understand that some behaviors, such as hitting and biting, are inappropriate. They must learn that there are good and bad ways to express anger.

Empathy: Children must learn to have an interest in others and understand how others feel.

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How do you deal with a child who only likes to imitate superheroes or action figures?

  • Children use superhero play as a defense against fear. It helps them to understand and gain control of events and situations of which they are afraid. This can help them build self- confidence.
  • If superhero play takes all of your child's free time, set limits on the amount of time and the extent of play.
  • Present alternative games or activities. Play with your child as often as you can. Listen to who and what your child talks about.

Link:

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How should I handle my child's fears?

  • Try to understand the cause of the fear. Is it connected to a real event or a change in the family's life? Think back to the events of the past few weeks or months to see if you can come up with a probable cause.
  • Sometimes there is no apparent cause. Then it's important to remember that it is normal for children to experience fears. The patterns of fear change as children grow up.
  • Show your child how to cope. Rather than saying, "That's nothing to be afraid of," say "I know that picture scares you, but it is not real so it can't hurt you. Let's find some other pictures you like."
  • Help children anticipate what will happen in new situations.
  • Involve the children in solving their own problems: Ask, "What would you do if . . .?" The point is not to have a specific answer but to help children think of different solutions.
  • Helping children face their fears builds self-confidence and the ability to cope.

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How to encourage a child’s positive body image
  • Do not talk about being too fat, weighing too much or needing to diet. This can contribute to a child’s negative body image.
  • Talk with your child about the media’s distortion of body shape. Super-thin actors and models are not “normal.” Help children understand that being thin does not mean being happy.
  • Reinforce that there is no “ideal” body. Everyone is an individual.
  • Emphasize the functions of the body rather than appearance -- strength, the ability to perform tasks, maintaining energy for activities your child enjoys.
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How to use "time out" as an alternative to spanking

Johnnie has thrown his third tantrum of the afternoon. Should Mom spank Johnnie, because she remembers how her parents would have treated her as a child if she had done the same thing? Should she tell Johnnie to go to the corner for a time out and, if so, for how long? Does the timeout result in the desired change of behavior?

The early years are an important time for children to develop self-esteem. If parents can create an environment where children are respected, children will appreciate the world as a loving, caring place. This will give children self-confidence, emotional control and coping skills and, ultimately, give parents what they desire -- good behavior.

Seven important guidelines for using time out:

(1) Use time out only as a time for the child to regain control or for the adult to gain composure.

(2) Do not put a child in a frightening place; a safe place will help the child pull it together.

(3) Time out is not a punishment and should not be used to embarrass. Rather, it is an opportunity for the child to clear the mind and return to previous activity.

(4) Avoid using time out for infants and toddlers. Children this age are too young to understand time out.

(5) Time outs should only be for the length of time it takes to calm down.

(6) Once the time out is over, hug your child and spend time explaining specifically what behavior you disapproved of, and why. Make this short and to the point, and then continue with the previous activity.

(7) Don’t hit or spank your child before or after time out. This will teach the child poor self-control.

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How will I know that my child is ready to start school?

Signs of school readiness include:

  • A sense of confidence and enough independence to begin doing tasks alone.
  • A desire to explore and have new experiences outside the home.
  • The ability to stay focused on an activity.
  • The beginnings of an ability to relate to other children.
  • Sufficient verbal skills to communicate with adults and peers.
  • The ability to separate from you comfortably for the length of the school day.
  • The ability to deal with the physical demands of a new environment, such as stairs and the toilet.

Kindergarten: Ready or not?

Children who turn 5 in the summer (particularly boys) are most at risk for not having a successful kindergarten experience. Younger children are more likely to experience difficulty, and boys are more likely not to be ready than girls. Children may not be ready for kindergarten if they are small for their age, have problems with small motor coordination, don't want to play with other children and/or fall to pieces easily.

Kindergarten has changed from the play-oriented curriculum, which many children now experience in pre-school, to a first-grade-like experience, which is more academically oriented. Children entering kindergarten should be able to ask for help and accept it, negotiate and share with peers, solve problems, and have the stamina to make it through the day.

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Is a routine a good idea?

Yes. Preparing your baby for bed with a calm and pleasant ritual winds down the day's activities and becomes a predictable and comforting part of his/her life, helping to promote sleep.

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Modeling for your child

Disciplining your child means teaching your child. The greatest teaching tool you have is your ability to model for your child. Both appropriate and inappropriate behaviors are picked up by young children as they watch what you do and say.

The way you react to things and handle situations impacts how your child will learn to react to things and handle situations. You have an opportunity to teach your child some wonderful things -- and especially in the most difficult times.

You can teach your child about problem-solving by working through the problems in an open and direct fashion. You can teach your child about feelings by being open and honest with yours. Talk about your feelings as they affect you and not how they relate to others.You can teach strength of character by carrying on with life.

What is important to you will be conveyed to your child by the way you live your life.

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My child starts something and then quits. Is it okay to help him/her finish what he/she starts?

  • Sometimes children want you to do something because they're dissatisfied with their own ability and think you can do it better.
  • Direct your efforts toward helping your child learn to do it for himself.
  • Assess whether a task or game is at your child's developmental level. If it is actually too difficult, provide help.
  • Reassure your child that trying to do the best he/she can is what is important. Praise those efforts.
  • Encourage -- even help -- without taking over.

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My toddler has a hard time playing with other children. What can I do?

Children before age 3 rarely play with other children. They can play along-side others. Sharing does not come naturally to toddlers, especially with their prized possessions. Invite children to play at your home. Prior to the visit, ask your toddler which toys other children can use. Put away what he/she doesn't want to share.

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Potty training: When should I start potty training?

A child's body must be physically ready to experience success at pottying. Your child will show signs of readiness when he/she is ready. Toileting is a complex process involving a number of steps -- recognizing need to relieve bladder, pulling clothes down, sitting still for bladder to empty. Since so much is involved, it will be easier for you and your child if you wait to begin the process until you see signs of readiness, including:

  • Child wants to be changed.
  • Child is aware of wetting/pooping while in the process.
  • Child can anticipate when they are about to wet/poop.
  • Child shows interest when others use the toilet.
  • Child imitates others in the bathroom.
  • Child will occasionally sit on the potty.
  • Child can pull pants up and down on his/her own.
  • Child shows an interest in wearing underwear.
  • Child shows a need for independence.
  • Child will have a dry diaper for long periods during the day and after waking from nap.

Consider these signs to measure your readiness for the process:

  • You have time and patience to respect your child's learning space.
  • You understand the complex process of toileting.
  • You have the ability not to be upset by accidents. Accidents are an expected part of the learning process.

Ways to make toileting easiest for your child:

  1. Introduce the process during a time of stability. avoid starting the process when other major changes are happening for your child.
  2. Read children's books with your child about the potty and the process.
  3. Involve your child in choosing his/her own potty and underwear.
  4. Teach your child appropriate words for body functions.
  5. Dress your child in clothing that is easy for the child to pull up and down.
  6. Be positive and encouraging.
  7. Respond calmly to accidents without punishing.

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Should I ever punish my baby?

No. You should never hit, slap or shake a baby. No punishment is effective for infants less than a year old because they are too young to understand. If your baby does something dangerous, say a firm, "No" as you pull him/her away. You will have to keep preventing him/her from getting into trouble. Babies are easily distracted, so offer redirection with another activity or toy.

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Strategies for helping your child cope with tragedy
  • Give reassurance and physical comfort that send these messages: “You are safe” and “I will be here for you.”
  • Provide structure and routine for your child. Keep children on eating, sleeping and napping schedules. Keeping routines the same for your child provides consistency and stability that will make dealing with things easier.
  • Provide many activities and opportunities for children to release stress. Activities where children use their hands are good for this: playdough, sand, mud, water and clay. Games and activities involving physical exertion are also good outlets. Provide children the chance to work out what they have seen through dramatic play by being firefighters, doctors or police officers.
  • Help children steer away from generalizations and stereotypes. Don’t label label people based on race, ethnicity or religion.
  • For children who can express themselves, invite discussion about what they know and how they feel. Share information in bits and pieces as it relates to what the child understands. You want to clarify, not terrify.
  • For children who can talk, focus on different resolutions that will bring peace to the situation. Talk about ways a child can resolve conflict without hurting others.
  • Be aware of any behavioral changes with your child. If you have concerns, consult your primary health care provider, or call 305-631-8111.

-- www.naeyc.org , “Helping Children Cope With Disaster”

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What are some guidelines to follow when disciplining my child?

  • Be the model for all behaviors you want in your child.
  • Respect the child's stage of development.
  • Match the discipline with the child's state of development.
  • Make sure you use what you know about your child's temperament.
  • When your child is with other children; try not to hover.
  • Be sure to explain the actions that were taken, this way you help your child understand his/her actions and feelings.
  • Stop and think about when discipline does not work: What does it mean? What is my child telling me? Are my actions causing this?
  • When all is done, give your child the love he/she needs. Tell your child that you care for him/her and that you know it is hard to learn self-control.

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What can I do to stop from saying "No" all of the time?

When your baby becomes mobile and begins to get into everything, it is hard to avoid saying "No" all the time. Try several things. First, make sure your home is baby "safe"; remove items that are tempting where the baby spends time and block ones that are dangerous. Offer your baby as many positive activities and words as often as possible. The fewer conflicts, the better.

How to baby-proof your home.

  • Take a child's-eye look at the living space available to your baby
    • Are they any top-heavy items that might fall or be pulled down by your baby?
    • Any electrical cords or outlets within reach?
    • Any wires with frayed insulation?
    • Any cords dangling down from a curling iron or steam iron resting on a counter?
  • Don't leave valuable breakables within reach of your mobile infant.
  • Be sure to rearrange the kitchen so all cleaning compounds are above reach. Provide a place in your kitchen such as a low cupboard with baby's kitchen toys, which can be a collection of old plastic, wood or metal bowls, cups and spoons.
  • Check your houseplants to be sure that they are out of reach. To find out if your plants are poisonous and what the side-effects are, call 1-800-282-3171 or 1-800-222-1222.

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What can I do when my child has a nightmare?

A child who has a nightmare usually wakes up screaming or crying. It is especially common among children between 3 and 4 years. Your child may tell you about the dream or that he/she had a bad dream. Nightmares reflect something that your child has heard or seen such as a scary story or video.

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What will children understand about what they see in the media?

0-1 years:

These children will not have any understanding of what is happening. They are sensitive to your emotional cues and responses. Be especially soothing. Offer gentle words and physical comfort.

1-2 years:

These children will understand people being physically hurt. Highlight the people who are helping and reassure your child that you will keep him or her safe from harm.

2-3 years:

These children might wonder if what they see is real. Answer their questions. They may need repeated reassurance of their own safety and security.

3-4 years:

These children may act out what they have seen in their play. Ask questions and help your child see how different decisions could lead to different outcomes during their play.

4-5 years:

These children might have a beginning understanding of the feelings involved. Talk about those understandings and encourage discussion about ways to help.

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When do I know if I am too strict with my child?

Effective discipline will "teach" your child how to channel emotions and feelings into acceptable behavior. Sometimes parents can be too strict. Think about what you are doing and examine your daily interactions. It may be time to reconsider your practices. Here are some things to watch for in your child:

  • Does not express negative feelings. Too good or too quiet.
  • Sensitive to mild criticism.
  • Does not have a sense of humor and joy of life.
  • Irritable or anxious most of the time.
  • Shows symptoms of pressure in feeding, sleeping or toileting. Will regress to earlier development of a toddler or baby.
  • Does not test you in age-appropriate ways.

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When I get angry, I begin shouting. Is this appropriate?

Shouting eventually will lose its effectiveness. Try speaking in a quiet voice the next time you are angry. Your pre-schooler may be surprised and may listen to you.

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Brought to you by The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education


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