Let’s Talk About Early Math

Babies doing math? That’s right! Children’s brains are ready to understand number concepts from a very early age. Early math skills have a big impact on children’s school readiness—in fact, research has found that a strong understanding of early math concepts predicts both a child’s future math and literacy skills. The roots of early math skills begin developing from birth, through babies’ everyday play and interactions with parents and caregivers.  The good news is, math is all around us, and routine activities and games provide opportunities to help develop these important early math skills while having fun and bonding with your little one!   In Case You Missed It Together with Highlights, we created a digital guide with fun and easy activities that you can do with your child anywhere, from driving in the car or shopping for groceries, to doing laundry or setting the table. For example, you can introduce addition while your child is playing with blocks. Say, “Let’s put all your red blocks in one pile and your blue ones in another. Now, let’s count how many blocks there are all together.” Check out the guide for more ideas—it even includes fun videos with animated tips! Tip of the Week Your little one’s first math lessons could take place at the grocery store! For example, you can compare the size of fruits and vegetables! You can ask: “Which one is bigger, the banana or the strawberry?” Find more fun early math activities in our new digital guide...
Behind Every Child Behavior, There is a Feeling

Behind Every Child Behavior, There is a Feeling

Challenging behavior in young children often triggers strong reactions in parents and caregivers. When parents feel angry, overwhelmed, frustrated or embarrassed, it can be difficult to figure out what is driving a young child’s actions. Sometimes a child may even seem to be trying to get a rise out of their parent! But behind every child’s behavior is a feeling that they’re experiencing, too. When parents and caregivers learn to recognize the feelings behind their children’s behaviors, parenting is easier. Also, the more parents understand about their children’s behaviors, the closer they feel to their children and the better they can express care and love to them. Children who feel cared for and loved develop stronger social-emotional skills like confidence and self-esteem, which make it easier for them to manage their emotions so they can do better in school and beyond. The behaviors babies and toddlers use to communicate with their parents and caregivers depend a lot on their age and development. Very young babies cry when they’re hungry, uncomfortable, or tired. As they get older, they learn to communicate using words, facial expressions, and gestures, too. By observing their children closely, and with a little practice, parents and caregivers can learn to translate the behavior they see—throwing food off a high-chair, for example, or having a tantrum when dropped off at child care. The effort to understand the feelings behind a child’s behavior can bring a parent and child closer, and help that parent teach their child the social-emotional skills they will need to learn and grow. But how do you know if a baby is crying at...

Tax Credits and Free Tax Preparation Services for Low-Income Families

Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are among the largest Internal Revenue Service (IRS) public benefits for low-income households. You can ensure that families participating in the subsidized child care program are informed about these credits and know how to find free tax preparation services for which they might be eligible.   What Is the EITC? EITC is a refundable tax credit that lifts more than 6 million people out of poverty each year, half of whom are children. EITC helps low-to-moderate income working individuals and families keep more of the money that they earn. People can claim the EITC if they are U.S. citizens or resident aliens with a social security number valid for employment and if they meet the income limits for their filing status.   Maximum Qualifying Income by Filing Status and Number of Qualifying Children Claimed (2016 Tax Year)   Filing Status Qualifying Children Claimed Zero One Two Three or More Single, Head of Household, or Surviving Spouse $14,880 $39,296 $44,648 $47,955 Married, Filing Jointly $20,430 $44,846 $50,198 $53,505   The maximum amount of credit that can be returned for tax year 2016 is: o   $6,269 with three or more qualifying children o   $5,572 with two qualifying children o   $3,373 with one qualifying child o   $506 with no qualifying children.   What Are the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit? The CTC is a nonrefundable credit that can reduce a family’s tax by as much as $1,000 for each qualifying child. The CTC and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) should not be confused with the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The ACTC is...
Raising Strong Girls

Raising Strong Girls

Research shows that early experiences in children’s lives have a lifelong impact on their learning and development. From the moment they’re born, babies learn to feel safe and secure in their world through the relationships they have with their parents and caregivers. When adults provide little ones with consistent, nurturing care from the very beginning, they help them to develop healthy attitudes about themselves and create trusting relationships with others. Developing self-confidence is essential to children’s healthy development and success—both in school and in life. Women’s History Month provides great opportunities for parents to share meaningful conversations and stories about positive female role models with their children—both boys and girls. Sharing books is a wonderful way to expose our children to strong, caring, thoughtful, and inspiring female characters of all ages. For book ideas for young children, check out some of Chelsea Clinton Shares Her Favorite Kids’ Books With Strong Female Characters.  You can use your favorite books to spark conversations about girls and women you and your child know and admire. When we incorporate these types of stories and discussions into our daily interactions, we can help children celebrate girls and women—not just this month but throughout their lives.   Tip of the Week Helping girls develop confidence in STEM during the early years lays the foundation for their future success. Research shows that activities as simple as using math and science words in everyday conversations can help children do better in STEM later on. You can take advantage of daily routines to introduce your child to concepts of measurement, shapes, or addition and subtraction! During snack time,...
The Magic of Reading

The Magic of Reading

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.” –Dr. Seuss National Read Across America Day, celebrated today on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, reminds us that reading with your child isn’t just about reading — it accomplishes a number of great things. When parents read with their child on a regular basis—daily is fantastic—not only are they supporting their child’s ability to develop strong reading skills, they’re strengthening the relationship between their child and the world around him. As a parents, some of your most valued moments have been reading aloud with your children. First, the more a young child is exposed to books and reading aloud from birth, the more they move towards an amazing shift in their understanding of the world around them. You see, a younger child may not understand that printed words are actually conveying information. They think a reader is telling stories just by looking at the pictures in the book. So when they start to recognize that words are not mere decoration, but are telling us something, they’re reaching a milestone we call “print awareness.” We may not remember that time ourselves because we were so young. But when a child is read to, they achieve that awareness earlier, and are better prepared for gaining even more information from books as a result. Reading is a loving, reciprocal, nurturing interaction with a caregiver — and those high-quality relationships are the most important thing that helps children develop and thrive. For families that may not have ever had a model for how to interact with young children,...