Have you or your partner just learned that you are expecting? Congratulations! Perhaps you are just thinking about starting a family. Maybe you have decided to adopt a child or use a surrogate. Whatever your situation, we hope the information and resources on this page will be helpful to you as you embark on the journey of parenthood.
Don’t let rainy days limit family fun. Here are a few ways to spend your time with your family when the sun isn’t shining.
Take the kids to Laser Quest, a combination of tag and Hide and Seek with a high-tech twist. The game is played in a large, multilevel arena featuring specialty lighting, swirling fog and heart-pounding music. Location: 2682 Dean Drive in Virginia Beach; Phone: (757) 463-6300.
Young Chefs Academy®
Cook up some fun at the Young Chefs Academy. The whole family can learn the importance and value of cooking in a safe setting that encourages creativity and discovery. Sessions familiarize children 3 years and older with diverse foods, while they create and taste scrumptious recipes. Location: 1554 Laskin Road in Virginia Beach; Phone: (757) 422-4337.
Virginia Beach Rock Gym
Keep the kids active and energized at the Virginia Beach Rock Gym. This state–of–the–art climbing facility features a climbing tower and boulders. Your child can climb the 32–ft. main wall, a rugged textured surface with realistic edges, corners, and bulges, or enroll your child in the weekly Youth Climbing Club. Location: 5049 Southern Blvd.; Phone: (757) 499-8347.
Check out a book or movie to enjoy with the kids. Let your child’s imagination run wild and discover new adventures at the library. Choose to visit one of the nine Virginia Beach Public Libraries. For a location near you, call (757) 385-0150.
Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
Explore the new Restless Planet exhibit. There's always something happening at the Virginia Aquarium. Watch a National Geographic 3D Theater movie or have the kids give names to the fish in a particular tank. Location: 717 General Booth Blvd.; Phone: (757) 385-FISH (3474).
Take a seat in front of the big screen, share a bucket of popcorn and watch a movie the whole family can enjoy. There are various theaters throughout the city.
Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Make your day a creative one! Explore drawing, painting, ceramics, photography or crafts at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). MOCA also offers instructional art classes for you and your children, ages 2 and up. Location: 2200 Parks Avenue - directly across from the Visitor Information Center, near I-264; Phone: (757) 425-0000.
It’s never too early to get your kids into nature. Introduce them to nature right in your own backyard or nearby park. Studies show that time spent outdoors in nature has a positive impact on a child’s physical, emotional and mental development. Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation has many ways to encourage safe exploration of the natural world.
Teaching children to appreciate education and the process of learning helps them maximize their innate human potential and cope effectively with life. It generates a love and enthusiasm for learning that lasts a lifetime. As a parent, you must be involved in providing this education for your child, and you must begin this process at birth.
A stimulating environment is important to brain development. Learning should be smooth and easy. If you are placing your child under stress because you are making demands that are too difficult, stop and reevaluate.
Learning should be fun. If your child does not like a particular activity or subject, try presenting it in a different manner. If the child is tired, he or she is not learning. Resist the temptation to extend learning sessions. Allow for mistakes. Do not become angry when the child struggles or makes a mistake. Children do not make mistakes on purpose, and they do not enjoy struggling to learn something new. Success is the most important ingredient in learning. Nobody likes to fail. Try to program attainable success into your child’s life.
Verbal ability is closely related to success in the language arts, particularly reading. Encourage your child to talk with you. Parents should begin reading to children at birth and continue through childhood. This actively transmits a love of learning and enthusiasm for reading. The key is to select material appropriate to the child’s age and interests.
Although a child can profit from carefully monitored television programs, particularly if the parent is available to reinforce learning, active parental participation is essential to the learning process.
When it comes to learning, silence is not golden. Do not mistake your child’s silences for understanding. Learning is noisy and animated. Watch for that fake nod of understanding or the silent plodding along.
Children’s learning is greatly affected by a number of variables – one of which is the emotional climate in the home. If your family is experiencing unusual difficulty or grief, inform the teacher.
Children love deserved, sincere praise. Children know when they have earned praise. When you offer praise, comment specifically on what you liked about the accomplishment.
Play = Child’s Work
Astronauts in outer space, dinosaurs romping, grocery store shopping sprees, and princess parties…Children live in an imaginative world without ever leaving their living room, bedroom or backyard. When children play they are thinking, taking risks, being creative and learning. Yes, learning about the world around them and valuable life skills that will help them succeed.
Imaginative play supports social, physical and cognitive or thinking skills and encourages creativity. Children are active learners and must interact with their environment to fully understand what is happening and why. That is why children need time, space and props to create their own experiences to understand the world around them.
How does play support learning?
As children learn about themselves and their surroundings through active participation they develop feelings of confidence, a sense of control, and develop a sense of self. They are choosing the rules and feel responsible for the outcomes. Aren’t these all skills needed in life?
Pretend play allows children to express their feelings, try new ideas, new roles in life and teaches life skills that compliment the importance of literacy development and academics.
When you are thinking about shopping for the holidays, remember imaginative play has just as many learning opportunities as the “educational” toys and choose what is best for the child in your life.
And the next time your little one slips into an imaginative world, why don’t you join him or her? Have some fun and go to work, the work of learning and child’s play.
Success in our rapidly changing world depends on being able to think creatively and quickly.
(Concepts adapted from: Spotlight on Young Children and PLAY, NAEYC 2004)
Songs and music accompany many aspects of a child’s daily life. From television jingles and theme songs to bedtime lullabies like twinkle, twinkle, little star…, nursery rhymes like this old man… and even the ring of the ice cream truck, there is a song or melody around every corner.
Music and singing make us feel good, signaling our bodies to release endorphins which stimulate our brains. These endorphins help us boost our memory, increase alertness, enhance motor skills and coordination, expand our imagination and express ourselves through language.
Songs and singing help lay the foundation for language development and other early literacy skills. Songs help children break words into syllables, or smaller units of sound. This supports phonological awareness, the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. Songs and music create a natural bridge to learning how to read!
Try these activities and recordings with your child:
The Rural Education Center at the Farmers Market is a hands-on agricultural education center. Tours of the center are held March thru June, and September thru November. The charge for a tour is $3 per child, and each tour takes approximately three hours.
The Rural Heritage Center was founded in 2002 to help educate young children about early farm life. During the tour, children learn about fruits and vegetables from a miniature farm stand. They see and learn about old farm tools such as cross cut saws, hand drills and more. They also identify crops farmers grow and how these same crops are changed into some of the food we can eat, such as corn into cornmeal and wheat into flour.
Butter is made in an old “daisy” butter churn, water is pumped from a hand pump and clothes are washed using a wash board and hung on the line to dry. Children learn to milk a (fiberglass) cow, which produces real milk, and pick eggs from a hen’s nest. There are pigs to feed, soybeans to plant and plenty to see at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market Rural Heritage Center.
For more information, call (757) 385-4395. Learn more about this and other events at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market.
Shapes are everywhere! Exploring the concepts of geometry at the preschool level involves observations, comparisons, and descriptions. Make your math exploration even more meaningful by incorporating science and nature as well. Not only are these simple activities fun, they will introduce mathematical vocabulary and encourage learning with everyday objects.
Symmetry Food Prints
Cut different pieces of fruit and vegetables in half. Have your child press them in paint and then press on paper. Look at the symmetry and discuss: if you fold the paper in half, the two sides will match and will be exactly the same in design. Create animals or nature pictures out of the prints using markers, crayons, or paint.
Use pipe cleaners to make bubble wands. The pipe cleaners can be bent into circles, squares, triangles, rectangles or other shapes. Predict what shape your wand will make; will a square wand make a square bubble? Test your hypothesis by dipping your shape in bubble solution and blowing gently. What shape is the bubble? Select a different wand – were your results the same?
Shapes of Nature Book
Collect items from around the house that are different shapes. Take them outside and collect items of similar shapes in nature (leaves and seed pods work well). Bring the items inside and glue on paper. Label the shapes for your child. Now find items inside that match the nature shapes!
: Bringing together City, Schools, and the Community for
a common mission.
GrowSmart’s mission is to promote and improve the
healthy development, school readiness, and reading
proficiency of young children, ages 0-8, in Virginia
This site was designed to provide information and resources for Virginia Beach parents, caregivers,and teachers of young children, ages 0-8.
The site is also intended for our community stakeholders who wish to find out more about the City of Virginia Beach’s early learning efforts and how you can get involved.
Address: 4525 Main Street Suite 700 Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Phone: (757) 385-0144
© Copyright 2016
| The City of Virginia Beach