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Mommy And Me Style: The Perfect Dresses For Spring And Summer

This weekend we had no set plans and I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened.  It has been really lovely to wake up and go at our own pace with no set agenda ahead. I have even been to the gym twice…who am I? So while my sweet little babe is napping, I am getting ahead of some long awaiting blogging. I wanted to share this Mommy and Me look that I shot with Willow some time ago. I have posted about it several times on my Instagram, and it is finally making it’s debut. With warmer days ahead these breezy dresses are the perfect fit for spring and summer.

Shop This Look:

Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

 

Comparing Preschool Philosophies: Finding The Right Program For Your Child

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Preschool, did I just really say that? Is my baby going to actual school, with classmates, teachers and leavinggggggg meeee? She is my first born ya know, I may cry a little watching her march into the classroom for the first day and become even more independent. You know what else made me cry a little? The list of 15 preschools that I applied to, set up tours with and basically stalked. I mean when did preschools get waiting lists? When I grew up (I just totally aged myself there), you went to the preschool in your church, or whatever was down the street, just simple and easy. I think my Mom was happy I learned my ABC’s, 123’s, and colors. Nowadays there are quite a few different philosophies including  Motessori, Waldorf, Progressive, Traditional, and Reggio Emilia to name a few! Feeling flustered yet? Well that’s where I come in! I wanted to make The Chic Mamas a place where parents can come to find easy and simple information on how to choose the right preschool program for your family! I know it feels like a big task, so let me help break down each philosophy for you below to make it a little easier on you.

  • The Montessori Method
    • This is a child-centered approach in which the child’s play is considered their work and they learn at their own pace. Teachers serve as a guide to help foster independence, self-esteem and confidence in each child. Classes have mixed age groups that encourage older children to help younger children learn. Materials in the classroom are called “manipulatives” which are based in three different learning groups: practical life skills, sensory skills, and language/mathematical skills. Think puzzles, or a ribbon tying station for example, each material allows the child to determine if he or she has done the exercise correctly. A teacher doesn’t correct a child’s work, rather they are encouraged to try again,  ask the teacher for suggestions or ask another child for help.

 

  • The Waldorf Approach
    • This approach aims to educated the whole child, “head, hands and heart”. There is an emphasis on creative and imaginative play with a focus on teamwork and community. With the Waldorf approach, what may seem like extracurricular activities in other schools are the main learning tools in this setting with hands on play including art, gardening, puppetry, cooking, dress up, foreign languages, singing, etc. Teachers must be certified and aim to enable students to choose and realize their path in life. The Waldorf classroom will look and feel “homey” with natural materials such as different textured cloths for dress-up, wooden blocks for building, kitchen utensils, musical instruments, etc.

 

  • Progressive or The Bank Street Model
    • This model is child-centered in which the child is a planner, participant and problem solver. Usually there is no pre-planned curriculum, and the teacher follows the child’s lead in areas of interest where they encourage children to pursue their own projects. Children learn and explore through art, imaginative play, block building, etc. Every child is acknowledged as an individual that each have different needs. A classroom may be set up with “stations” different materials to foster the child’s imaginative play.

 

  • Traditional Method 
    • This method is very structured and formal. It is teacher-led with a pre-set curriculum. The teacher drives each lesson by explaining and directing, while the child learns from listening and absorbing the information, rather than exploration. Goals of the curriculum are built around teaching letters, numbers, sounds, problem solving, shapes, math and listening. In this setting, classrooms may be set up with desks for each child.

 

  • The Reggio Emilia Approach
    • This multi-sensory approach focuses on providing opportunities for problem solving through creative thinking and exploration. The teacher puts a great deal of energy into the detail of the classroom. The classroom is looked at as an educator, and is made to be inviting and stimulating. You may find different areas dedicated to art, exploration with natural materials like sand or water, science and building, dramatic play, math or writing. In this setting children are invited to explore and problem solve. The teacher observes each child to see an area of interest and then acts as a guide by asking the child questions helping them to discover hypotheses, ideas and theories.

 

You may find that many schools take a part of each philosophy to build a blended learning environment as well. I hope that you can use these tips on each philosophy to go into any tour or preschool setting feeling knowledgeable and aimed with information to help narrow down your choices. I found that understanding each philosophy helped me stay focused when choosing preschools to tour. Later this month I will also be sharing the most important questions to ask on a tour and my downloadable spreadsheet to help you stay organized with all of this craziness! Let me know which method you prefer and works for your family in the comments below!

XOXO,

Abby

5 Father’s Day Family Activities

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Father’s Day is just around the corner, and I have teamed up with Crocs to bring you 5 fun activities to do with the family on Dad’s special day. Yes, you heard me right, I said Crocs! On a quick side note, they have totally revamped their shoes which are trendy, super comfortable and adorable for the kiddos. Now onto the fun! With Willow being so interactive and social these days, Aj and I have such a blast planning activities with her whenever we have down time. Since becoming parents we really cherish our free moments and love to spend time as a family. Here are some easy (because who doesn’t like simple with the little ones) fun activities to plan for your family on Father’s Day…

  1. Take a hike and explore a new area.  Aj and I spent a day in Venice, CA at the canals. We had a great time letting Willow run around, look for fish or birds, and skip rocks. I know it sounds unexciting, but we really had a blast just taking in the scenery and sight-seeing around the area.
  2. Have a movie night. Rent or buy Dad’s favorite movie, and surprise him with it. Have the kiddos make all of his favorite snacks and snuggle in for the night. Aj loves animation and this is always a fun way he connects with Willow. She looks at any movie night as a big treat, and gets so excited to spend it with her Daddy.
  3. Watch a Sunrise Together.  I know this one seems way out of left field. Aj always makes a great point. We are so tired at the end of the day with work and being parents that we never get to sit and watch a sunset. Since Willow is our alarm clock we are up so freaking early that we could catch a sunrise. So this Father’s Day we are going to walk to the beach, bring some blankets and watch the sunrise together.
  4. Make breakfast for dad. There may be a few egg shells in the food, and the presentation may be a little off but I think it is just the cutest thing watch Willow make food for her Dad. She get’s so amped up and tells Aj, “Daddy I’m going to make you a surprise okay”. Pancakes are on the menu for us this Father’s Day.
  5. Build something. Aj has a love for bird houses, as this reminds him of his own Father who would often build them. On Father’s Day we are going to all put together a bird house as a family. I also love this idea because it teaches Willow about nature at the same time.

These are just a few activities that I know Aj will love doing as a family. He is the rock of our family, and its such a beautiful thing to see the love that Willow has for him. When I see him with Willow, I often think to myself, “how did I get so lucky?” and I fall in love all over again. He is hilarious, affectionate, creative, a protector and a role model for our daughter, Here is to celebrating Father’s all over the world on their special day. How do you plan to spend your Father’s Day? Let me know in the comments below!

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Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

Tame the Toddler Tantrum

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Dress | Sunglasses | Sandals


As parents, we love our children unconditionally, yet that does not mean that we don’t run into some daunting situations when our beloved toddler is on the verge of a major meltdown. Tantrums are at times inevitably a part of the growing pains in which your little one may not be able to articulate their needs yet or just have you in the mist of a straight power struggle. Let’s be honest, it is exhausting! Here are a few ways that I deal with my toddler’s tantrums that help keep my sanity on a day to day basis!

  1. Stay Calm

From the countless number of child development books I have read, and scouring the parenting chat rooms to gain knowledge from other’s shared experiences, staying calm is key. Your children act out for attention, and the kind you give them in the heat of a fit is really important, as they really don’t care if it is positive or negative. All they care about is that they are getting a reaction and/or attention from you. Which perpetually can cause them to continue to act out to receive that same attention. So I take a deep breath, use a normal tone and usually wait for Willow to realize she isn’t getting too much attention from me for her behavior.

2. Diversion

Small children usually have small attentions spans. This is a hidden gem when your toddler decides to have a complete meltdown because they can’t hold that death trap of a knife, or climb over the railing of the stairs. Reasoning with Willow usually does not work for me with Willow when a tantrum is brewing. Diverting her attention to other items in the room or asking her questions about different topics until something sticks is how I avoid the screaming and the crying. If we are in the store, I try to distract her by asking her to help me pick out apples, or take her to the sushi counter to let her see the Chef make some rolls. It isn’t 100% effective, but it definitely helps me avoid a major scene.

Oh and let’s just talk about that scene! I read somewhere once that laughing it off, while your kid flails around on the ground is actually a great way to deal with tantrums. It doesn’t give the kids the attention they want. Yet  most parents got nervous about what others would think about their child’s behavior to have that mentality. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that people do judge parent’s reaction to the meltdown, not your child’s actual tantrum. So laugh it off if you can, calmly wait for your child to come back around to reality, pick them up, hug them, talk about the crazy rant after the fact, and pat yourself on the back for being awesome (a glass of wine doesn’t hurt either).

3. Hug It Out

Finally, after your tiny human being returns to their adorable self. Hug it out and breathe a sigh of relief that we made it through the storm! I usually make one comment about how that wasn’t very fun, and try to positively reinforce her good behavior. I really think Willow shows her anger at the beginning of the tantrum, and then I see it go away when she starts crying because I honestly think she feels herself losing control of her emotions. At times this can be a lot for a 2 year old, and if I really take as step back to look at how adults go through life, we still have meltdowns too! Remember these are milestones in your child’s development and they will pass. So even after that wailing, flailing, screaming and God knows what else, you still love them and its best to show it.

 

These are ways that I deal with my daughter and her ever-growing, independent self. How do you deal with your toddler’s emotions?? I would love to hear!

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Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

Positive Potty Training with PoGo Potty Panda + GIVEAWAY

Potty training can be a huge feat for any toddler. There are tons of tips and tricks that different parents use to get their little ones diaper-free. I recently found this cute potty training system, called the PoGo Potty Panda Training System. Created by a licensed psychologist and mother of twins, the PoGo Panda reminds your child to use the bathroom at regular intervals, with simple phrases like, “Let’s go potty” and “It’s Time to Go Potty”. The training system centers around the principle of positive reinforcement aimed at fostering a child’s self-esteem and self-efficacy with the PoGo the talking Panda, a book to reinforce going to the bathroom and a sticker set for your little one.

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Willow loves pushing all of the shapes that make the Panda talk, it has great sayings to help praise her when she uses the Potty, like “I’m so proud of you!” and “You’re a superstar”. We consistently read the book everyday to help positively reinforce going to the bathroom. The Pogo Potty System has a great site and newsletter that shares multiple tips for helping you to potty train your little ones (Tips and Newsletter Here). Willow has even started to tell us when she has to go! It has really been an amazing tool to help her be more independent and have control over going to the bathroom. 

Here is the best part! We have teamed up to gift one lucky follower/reader of mine a PoGo Potty Training System to help you start your little one on their way to big kiddo undies! To enter is simple:

  1. Follow @pogopottypanda and @thechicmamas on Instagram.
  2. Tag a parent who love some help with potty training under the Giveaway photo on Instagram.

Giveaway will run until Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 11:59pm. Winner will be announced on Thursday, March 31, 2016, once all entries have been checked. Good Luck! xoxo

Endless Eyewear with Shop DITTO (plus get your first month FREE)!

Sunglasses, one my favorite accessories (next to shoes and handbags of course!). We all know how pricey finding a great pair of shades can be, so I am so excited to share with you this amazing, unlimited eyewear service called DITTO. You can rent one designer eyewear for as long as you want for a total of $24/month, then switch them out when you are ready for a new pair. You can browse thousands of glasses from over 50 top designer brands. 

DITTO is offering my followers their entire first month for free! Just use code: THECHICMAMAS at checkout.

It is easy to sign up, just follow these steps:

1. Go To DITTO

2.Pick out your favorite pair of sunglasses

3. Sign up, use promo code THECHICMAMAS at checkout

4.Keep them as long as you want

5.When you are ready for a change, swap them out (free shipping and returns)

6. Love Them? Keep Them! Members get 15% off the purchase of their glasses.

These glasses below have been my absolute favorite, and I’m already thinking about keeping them!

XOXO

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Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography