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Parenting

Superheroes with the power to read, salt and pepper shakers that talk and toe tapping strategy songs are a large part of my day. They serve as a means to help preschoolers share, cooperate and enjoy their environment that they are a part of.

So, how do you talk to your child about troubling and scary events that infrequently occur in the real world?

Less is more.

The best course is to answer the questions in a clear, concise way. Don’t offer up extra information. And for the very little ones, it’s best to shield them from what’s happening all together (an easy way to do this is to avoid having the news on when they’re in the room).

As kids move into grade school, they are much more aware of the world outside of themselves. They also have great difficulty understanding the distance between that world and themselves. How they see the world will depend on how we, as parents, help to paint the picture.

When it comes to the tragedies that they’ll inevitably hear about, it’s best to focus on the facts and what you can do to help. One of the workers at my daughter’s school lost a large portion of his family in an earthquake. We talked about it as a family and focused on what we could do to help. My daughter wrote a letter telling him how sorry she was and we helped collect food and supplies for the people affected. The worst part of these situations for kids is their feeling of powerlessness, so enabling them to take control by being proactive about helping is important.

 

Here are 3 more tips to help you talk to your kids about topics you may tend to avoid:

  1. Listen first, then talk. With the less is more philosophy, listening to our children in an empathetic, interested way is of utmost importance. Find out what they want to know, what questions they have, and take cues from the way they are talking. Do they want a hug? Reassurance?  Answers?
  2. Be truthful, calm and explain the situation. If children ask about a specific situation, such as natural disasters, a good answer is: “Yes, this was a terrible tragedy but it is very unlikely that it would happen here. We prepare ourselves for emergencies such as these. We have a lot of people whose job it is to keep us safe.” Even kids as old as twelve need to be reassured.
  3. Make them feel safe. Many specialist’s believe that it’s better to apologize and explain if an improbable, traumatic event does occur rather than have kids live with the fear that something “could” happen.

 

Please share some tips that have helped your little ones feel more secure after a difficult time, because we’re all in this together!   

 

 

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting
Creating shows for preschoolers is my “thing”. I dare say that I have a “secret sauce” that I put forth in all my shows.  This  enables me to immerse myself in this age group and create something that they will not only LOVE but learn from.  Well, I met my match when it comes to creating travel experiences that kids LOVE and learn from – – Meet Kate, my new best friend from Firenze, Italy.
Family Trip to Italy
Kate Collins-Manetti had formed Buongiorno Principessa so that “we can all experience Italy with the feeling that we are each someone’s special princess”.

To say Kate knows the best restaurants, hot spots, guides and secret itineraries throughout Italy is just the beginning.

This Colorado native has been living in the heart of Tuscany for the past 15 years and has certainly done her homework on the subject.

Those who know me have heard (perhaps a bit too much) about our incredible family trip and I really shouldn’t take the credit.  So I asked the Queen of Italian travel to share her Top 6 Tips for travelling with kids 10 and under in Italy.

1) Plan to do LESS!  

Kids can’t tour like adults. You’ll all have more fun if you back off the touring and leave time to relax at a nice park, stop for gelato breaks etc.

2) Please and Thank you
Teach your child (regardless of how little they are) a few words of Italian before they come.  Italians for the most part love children, and having your child say buongiornoper favore & grazie, will make people smile & bend over backwards to help you (not to mention getting your kids excited about another language).

3) Museums – Do your research!
If you want to hit some of the bigger museums (i.e.. the Uffizi in Florence), consider getting a guide who is specialized in working with kids & families – you will all get so much more out of the experience!  If you want to go on your own, try and choose a handful of artworks (possibly based on your child’s interests) that you can look at more in-depth with your child so that the experience is not just a blur.  Also consider smaller museums where there will be much smaller crowds & possibly more kid-friendly exhibits – places like Natural History or Science Museums.
Family Travel Kate Collins-Manetti of Buongiorno Principessa
4) Gardens and Piazze
Make sure to allow time for kids to be kids & get out the wiggles.  Italy has some amazing gardens which are fabulous places to explore as a family.  The many piazzas are also great for kids to run around, kick a soccer ball with some Italian bambini, see a market, etc.
5) Eating
While Italians love kids, restaurants do not usually cater to children (no colouring books & kiddy menus).  So consider bringing your own colouring books or activities (you can usually find great kids’ activity books on specific cities), &  you can always order pasta in bianco (pasta with butter or oil) or milanese (fried chicken – but sometimes veal) for pickier eaters.  That said, a new place can be a great opportunity to get kids to try new foods.  And remember, when ordering pizza, if you want it sliced you will have to ask (they will happily do this for kids).

 Kate Collins-Manetti Travel Tips Florence Italy

6) More Practical Tips/Concerns
Changing Tables are few &  far between in Italy as are hand sanitisers – bring lots of wipes for smaller children.  If travelling in summer, be sure to bring sunscreen and bug spray.  Make sure kids (& adults) wear very comfortable shoes as it is likely you will be walking more than you are used to. Consider bringing a small & inexpensive umbrella stroller which is more portable than the large city strollers many people travel with (& you won’t stress if it gets lost or damaged during air travel which is relatively common).
Grazie Mille Kate!!
xo
Angela
Contact Buongiorno Principessa: kate@bgprincipessa.com
Photography:  Claire Zurek
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Just in time, towards the end of our presidential election, our Wishenpoof Music Videos debuted this week, and as the lyrics state,

It all comes down to me, to be the best person that I can be.  I need to…Believe in Me.”

It dawned on me today that these lyrics underscore my entire career and why I create positive media for kids.  I want to give them the skills and the encouragement to change the world, and nourish them against the bad modeling that surrounds them on a daily basis, that goes beyond election time. AAP

Last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics, retracted it’s guidelines for toddlers & screen time saying it’s all about content, context and co-viewing.  The idea that the “interaction” of live video chat has a potentially positive effect even on babies, plays to my strength in the value of creating media that actively involves the home viewer to think along, sing-along, learn-along and master the skills we put on the screen.  If babies are benefiting from this type of interaction, imagine what we are doing for older kids when we create media that is specifically for them, that asks them to play along? In fact, according to Linebarger and Walker (“Infants’ and Toddlers’ Television Viewing and Language Outcomes”, 2005), “The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) urging parents to avoid TV for children younger than 2 years old may be premature. The authors go on to state not only do these results further provide evidence that “television matters” (e.g., Anderson et al., 2001; Wright et al., 2001), it’s the interactive format that is the tipping point.  Formats such as “speaking directly to the viewer, providing opportunities to respond, and using and defining vocabulary words”.  Blue's CLuesThe interactive and participatory nature of all my shows, starting in 1996 with “Blue’s Clues” (Nick Jr), where Steve or Joe speak directly to the child were positively related to “expressive language production and vocabulary”, according to Linebarger.  Another Blue’s Clues study by my mentor, Dr. Dan Anderson, et al, has purported that regular viewers of Blue’s Clues benefit from a strengthened cognitive development,  Anderson states, “Blue’s Clues doesn’t only do well, but does good.”

By now, we can’t argue that kids do, in fact, learn from media, good and bad.  As the AAP states, it is all about content.   What we need to look for is the type of content that has the intent to teach – kind of like looking for “organic produce” or checking the labels of food to see what is exactly in there.  If you could “check the labels” of media, we want to look for the shows that are founded in curriculum, that does research, that understands what is put on the screen has enormous impact on the brains of the next generation. I guess because I’m such a research nerd, I’m more proud of the research and learning that has come out of each of my shows than the Peabody wins or Emmy nominations. Super Why, our long running PBS Kids show is grounded in what the National Reading Panel deems critical to reading success, and has thus been proven to teach kids to read.   The Annenberg study, which was headed by Deborah L. Linebarger, Ph.D., Director of the Annenberg Children’s Media Lab, determined whether young viewers learned the key early literacy content in the show, such as letter names and sounds, rhyming, and matching spoken words to print and whether they applied their learning in their daily lives.  Dr. Linebarger has said, “The format of Super Why! provides kids with an engaging platform that fosters literacy skills, resulting in learning the content featured in the program as well as applying that content to other contexts.”

New research out of University of Texas has come out to support that Daniel Tiger (PBS KIDS) “America’s favorite tiger” helps kids with social emotional skills, social cues and problem solving strategies with our very sticky musical jingles (come on, I know you know our potty song!).  In addition, as mentioned in the AAP report today, co-viewing is also important. Anecdotally we have heard about these results for a long time, as documented in the New York Times, Motherlode column in 2015, “Daniel Tiger Becomes a Boy with Autism’s Guide to Social Life” as well in our own formative research.

 

But most importantly, in terms of combining the big three – content, context and co-viewing, how can we, as parents, use media to help our kids understand the world and fare better as adults in it?  This is what keeps me up at night.  In light of the negative modeling of this election, I for one, want all kids to master positive executive functioning skills  – among them, how to get along in the world, be empathetic, take other’s perspectives, be kind, fair, smart and ultimately, “be good people.” Wishenpoof (Amazon Kids, is created to give kids life skills through the stories on the show and through big beautiful, empowering anthems (as cited above with the new “Believe in Me” video). Incorporating Ellen Galinsky’s Mind in the Making, 7 Essential Skills, the life skills that every child needs, according to Lisa Belkin of Motherlode in 2010.

I personally, want kids to grow up believing in themselves, and believing that what they say matters and how their voice can actually change the world.  That’s why each of my shows has been interactive – – our characters are listening, and care what kids have to say. I want to motivate kids, give them a sense of self worth, and give them a voice.

Perhaps we’re hearing the opposite from a particular Presidential candidiate during this Presidential election process?

xo

Angela

I’d love to hear from you on this below or via Facebook. What traits would you like your child to acquire & do you think the media they’re digesting will assist them in this process. Hmm?

 

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Just in time, towards the end of our presidential election, the first Wishenpoof Music Video debuted this week, and as the lyrics state,

It all comes down to me, to be the best person that I can be.  I need to…Believe in Me.”

It dawned on me today that these lyrics underscore my entire career and why I create positive media for kids.  I want to give them the skills and the encouragement to change the world, and nourish them against the bad modeling that surrounds them on a daily basis, that goes beyond election time. AAP

Last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics, retracted it’s guidelines for toddlers & screen time saying it’s all about content, context and co-viewing.  The idea that the “interaction” of live video chat has a potentially positive effect even on babies, plays to my strength in the value of creating media that actively involves the home viewer to think along, sing-along, learn-along and master the skills we put on the screen.  If babies are benefiting from this type of interaction, imagine what we are doing for older kids when we create media that is specifically for them, that asks them to play along? In fact, according to Linebarger and Walker (“Infants’ and Toddlers’ Television Viewing and Language Outcomes”, 2005), “The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) urging parents to avoid TV for children younger than 2 years old may be premature. The authors go on to state not only do these results further provide evidence that “television matters” (e.g., Anderson et al., 2001; Wright et al., 2001), it’s the interactive format that is the tipping point.  Formats such as “speaking directly to the viewer, providing opportunities to respond, and using and defining vocabulary words”.  Blue's CLuesThe interactive and participatory nature of all my shows, starting in 1996 with “Blue’s Clues” (Nick Jr), where Steve or Joe speak directly to the child were positively related to “expressive language production and vocabulary”, according to Linebarger.  Another Blue’s Clues study by my mentor, Dr. Dan Anderson, et al, has purported that regular viewers of Blue’s Clues benefit from a strengthened cognitive development,  Anderson states, “Blue’s Clues doesn’t only do well, but does good.”

By now, we can’t argue that kids do, in fact, learn from media, good and bad.  As the AAP states, it is all about content.   What we need to look for is the type of content that has the intent to teach – kind of like looking for “organic produce” or checking the labels of food to see what is exactly in there.  If you could “check the labels” of media, we want to look for the shows that are founded in curriculum, that does research, that understands what is put on the screen has enormous impact on the brains of the next generation. I guess because I’m such a research nerd, I’m more proud of the research and learning that has come out of each of my shows than the Peabody wins or Emmy nominations. Super Why, our long running PBS Kids show is grounded in what the National Reading Panel deems critical to reading success, and has thus been proven to teach kids to read.   The Annenberg study, which was headed by Deborah L. Linebarger, Ph.D., Director of the Annenberg Children’s Media Lab, determined whether young viewers learned the key early literacy content in the show, such as letter names and sounds, rhyming, and matching spoken words to print and whether they applied their learning in their daily lives.  Dr. Linebarger has said, “The format of Super Why! provides kids with an engaging platform that fosters literacy skills, resulting in learning the content featured in the program as well as applying that content to other contexts.”

(continue..)

{ Comments Off on No screen time before age 2? }
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Parenting

 

There’s been an inevitable outpouring of love and support following the passing of the legendary David Bowie. One post in particular struck a cord for me. Samantha Schnurr wrote her eloquent story for E! about Director Cameron Crowe’s 6 month long interview with David Bowie. The director was only 16 at the time and his story had served as the backdrop for Almost Famous (2000).

Crowes’s grasp of and appreciation for Bowie’s creativity is well presented in Schnurr’s piece:

 “David Bowie’s impact is so huge in that he presents himself now as a role model to artists that may need to remember that it’s not about branding. It’s about a restless need to be creative and to continue being creative,” Cameron Crowe said. “For a young musician or artist of any kind, anybody coming up, it’s great to look to Bowie and see that seismic effect he’s had on people, not because he kept doing the same thing that worked again and again, but because he always shook it up and he always served the gods of creativity.”

There was such an impact from Bowie’s artistry because he was the real deal. He did what he did not to be a YouTube sensation or to get the most likes. He was a true creative and we were all lucky enough to share some time here together.

Creatives NEED to create. So if you know a creative, give them the one thing they truly need to express themselves..your support.

RIP

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by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting

HALLOWEENwinner

The winner of  the signed copy of “Happy Halloween Daniel Tiger” is John  & April from  Minnesota!!

Happy Halloween Daniel Tiger

Thank you so very much to everyone that entered this year’s contest. The judging was fierce with many adorable photos! Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

 

 

 

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Most parents will admit a little unease about raising their child(ren) within this digital age. But sitting on the sidelines with a myriad of unanswered questions will only worsen our concerns and will leave our kids in harms way. Yet again, the answer is in education. Well, last night, WQED aired the Like, Follow, Share episode of  iQ: smartparent. If you missed it, I’ve attached it below.

In this episode, we discussed common parental concerns of raising a child in a digital environment, one that relies so heavily on Social Media. I spoke with Caroline Knorr (Common Sense Media‘s parenting editor), Kelly Kochamba (Primary Media Representative & Community Outreach Specialist for the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office) and Rick Wallace (Director of Special Operations/Global – National Security Analyst) to get varied perspective on what we can do to keep our kids safe within this sea of tech.

Check it out and I would love to hear your feedback on the issue.

xo

Angela

 

 

Children and teens are using social media to define and share their personal narratives. When there is no “delete” button on Facebook or other social platforms, what story does your child’s online identity tell, now and into the future? What does it mean to be a good digital citizen? Join us for an eye-opening discussion on how parents and children can have safe and positive experiences online.

WQED

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by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, My Projects, Parenting, PRESS

 Wishenpoof LogoAs a result of your incredible feedback, I let you know (over a year ago) that our second show for Amazon Studios, Wishenpoof, had received the green light for series production. After many, many months of notes, scripting, sketches, character designs, storyboarding, scoring, animatics, recording, rendering, editing, research, more research and much, much more, I can finally see the light!!

Wishenpoof - Bianca

So on August 14th, our latest, most magical Wishenpoof will premier for Amazon Prime Members in the US, UK and Germany! A fun, magical adventure series that teaches lessons through imaginative play, Wishenpoof inspires children to solve life’s big preschool problems in creative ways.

There’s been a nice amount of press about Wishenpoof‘s release and with a BIG premier party staged in New York City’s Central Park, everyone will start to feel there’s magic in the air!

I can’t thank you all enough for your incredible support and I hope your kids LOVE it!!

xo

Angela

 

Wishenpoof

Not a Prime member yet? You can sign up for a free trial at amazon.com/prime.

related stories:

Kidscreen

streetTV Guide

Yahoo Logo MarketWatch

 

 

 

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Parenting, Super Why!

EHnBlue

I really wish I could tell you that I break into song every time the mail arrives just like Steve/Joe from Blue’s Clues does. But well, I don’t.

I’d love to say that when one of my daughters has a problem, my usual response is to cheerfully chant, “When you have a problem, we look…in a book!” just like my characters from Super Why. But no, I don’t do that either.

So, what do I do?  And what have I learned from writing hundreds of preschool episodes for television?Super Why Reading Camp

Singing helps.

Seriously.  Singing anything.  We even sing when the mail comes on Blue’s Clues.  Because, well..mail is exciting when you are four!  And truthfully, most mail is exciting.  It’s like a little surprise present.  Singing about it makes it celebratory.

 

So why not sing about other things?  Sing when we are cleaning up, which preschool teachers have been doing forever! Sing when we are sad (Hello, Taylor Swift?).  Sing when we are excited (“I’m so excited!  And I just can’t hide it!”).  Sing when things don’t go our way (“You Can’t Always Get What you Want”).

 

Feel free to belt out a tune today. Just watch how it helps!

 

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Parenting, Research Parents Should Know About!

I had spoken with Ana Flores of Spanglishbaby.com about the importance of raising multilingual children. Her passion and her expertise was quite evident.  It was also nice to see a similar philosophy between the two of us.  While my goal has been to educate children through media, my philosophy is grounded in the belief that you must inspire kids and immerse them into the world of education, at their level, and not force the material. The desire to learn is far more important than anything else.

  In similar fashion, Ana believes that a parent who shares their native language in the home and surrounds them with the language, is supplying them with immense benefits..much more than previously thought, I found out.  We also dispelled a few myths and talked about it’s positive effects on literacy skills! Check out our interview (and our instant bond) on PBS’s The Parent Show!

 

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