Ann Lewin-Benham Photo

Q: Did you know Loris Malaguzzi?

A: Yes. I first met him when I led a delegation to Reggio of 15 Washington, DC preschool educators, both local and national officials. Malaguzzi spent a morning with the delegation. I worked with him on many subsequent visits to Reggio. Between November 1992 and May 1993 we collaborated, along with other Reggio educators, on developing the program for a national symposium hosted in June 1993 by the organization I was running, The National Learning Center, Washington, DC. Between August and December 1993 I worked closely with Malaguzzi and his colleagues on a second symposium. Malaguzzi died in January, 1994, so the symposium had to go on without him.

Q. What about diet for preschoolers?

A. A healthful diet is essential and parents have as great a responsibility to teach children to eat as they do to toilet train and establish good behavior. For example, hot oatmeal makes a great breakfast, the less processed the cereal, the better; this means no sugar or other additives and, if possible, made from organically grown oats. You can make oatmeal as solid or mushy as your child prefers by the amount of liquid you add. Microwave it in the cereal bowl; it just takes a couple of minutes and there’s no pot to clean!  Be sure to allow time for it to cool. Cinnamon is a tasty addition, and good for the digestion.  If your child is old enough to chew nuts safely, adding tiny bits and pieces makes oatmeal tasty; bits and pieces of walnuts work well.  Sesame seeds are rich in iron and make oatmeal crunchy.  Raisons are a great sugar substitute and rich in iron.  However, if your child is iron deficient, remember that milk blocks the absorption of iron.

Some cereals have become sugar-laced snack food with ingredients once reserved for candy and cookies. Buy your child the cold cereal with the least sugar, the fewest additives, and no high fructose corn syrup. Also, compare the vitamin and mineral contents to find a cereal with the most nutritional value.

Don’t let advertisers determine what your child eats!  If your child begs for some sugar-saturated cereal he has seen advertised on TV, take control by saying firmly, "YUK! We don't eat that," and tell your chld why.  Read the information on the box to your child and explain that vitamins and minerals make the brain think better and the body move faster!  Engage her in understanding why some so-called food is "junk" and other food is nutritional.

Q. Should I give the children in my preschool class homework?

A. NO! The content in your preschool program should be rich enough without homework. Rethink what you’re doing at school before giving preschoolers homework. Advise parents that the best things to do with their children are to converse, take walks and observe everything along the way – at the child’s pace, cook together, and above all read books. And, have a good book list available for parents who are not sure what to read.

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