Michelle Dell'Aquila


How Early Childhood Education Boosts Reading, Math Skills Later in Life

The earlier kids start learning math and reading, the better. (Getty Images)

Early childhood learning can help set children up for success later in life. 

Lack of education as a young child can lead to an increase for at-risk kids regarding dropout rates, teen pregnancies, tendencies to commit crimes, and disregard for a college education. 

Learning at a young age increases a child’s interests not only in the world but also in how they socialize, communicate, and solve problems. 


Developing skills before reaching school can help prevent at-risk children from dropping out as they mature. 

Language and literacy skills are tools your child needs for the extent of their life. Learning basic reading skills such as letters, the alphabet, and words can prepare them for school and further development. 

Reading at a young age is also an incredible way to bond with your child. Pictures associated with words can be a delightful aspect of a young mind, and many children enjoy being read to, reading, seeing pictures, and sounding out words. 


Recently, efforts have been made by education professionals and researchers to observe children and their retention of math skills. 

When children learn the basic concepts of reading it usually begins with learning the alphabet, the left-to-right flow of the words, and then the words themselves. Math, however, seems to be learned in whatever fashion suits the child. Some young children grasp the more difficult concepts at first, while others take their time and master the basics of counting or fundamentals. 

The effects of education or lack thereof can affect a child’s ability to keep up in school. Learning the basics of numbers is one of the key first steps to take. Early math learning helps set a foundation for the child for school years, allowing them to be better prepared. Early math education and skills also help a child’s understanding of more complicated mathematics and help them retain more information. 

A popular saying is that the parents + the school = success when it comes to the initial learning of math.


Children are born into the world being curious. 

Their education begins as infants as they learn to communicate by recognizing voices and by voicing their wants and needs. Children learn to adapt and grow to not only survive but to succeed in life. 

With the assistance of parents and teachers, a child can be guided in the right direction as fundamentals of both reading and math are introduced. 

Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency. She can be reached at parentingcoachonline.com

Related Story: Is Your Child Ready for School?

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How To Establish Boundaries For Your Child

Teaching kids how to share is part of learning boundaries. (Photo by AnukEvo)

Every child needs to learn boundaries, but teaching kids how to respect themselves and others does not happen overnight. 

Setting boundaries may be needed in situations where the child feels unsafe, learning how to say “no” and seek help from an adult, sharing, not hitting, or taking things that do not belong to them. 


As a child becomes more self-aware and aware of others and their feelings, it is important to understand that the fewer boundaries that exist, the better the chance a child has of adhering to them. 

Too many boundaries can make a child feel confused, overly restricted, and afraid to speak and act naturally. By initially setting five or fewer boundaries, a child can better remember and practice these new rules.


Trying to get a child to follow new boundaries and understand them can be challenging. Pointing out specifics can help.

For example, if a child takes another child’s toy, and one of the boundaries a parent has set is to not take others’ things, the parent can help their child understand this by asking, “Is this toy yours?” Parents can also ask, “Would you like it if I took your toy away?” Or, “How do you think that made (child’s name) feel?”

The goal isn’t to scold, but rather to get the child to think about how others might feel in a situation. A young child needs to process this information before it can be understood and then implemented.


While the ongoing process is teaching a child to learn boundaries, there is a crucial step many parents miss. And that is to respect the child’s boundaries. 

Many children exhibit dislikes at a young age. These dislikes can range from tickling to resisting people who are overly affectionate. A child may not like to show strong feelings of affection such as hugging or kissing — especially if it is with people they do not know well. 

Parents can dismiss these boundaries and force the child to “go give (adult’s name) a hug or kiss on the cheek.” But if a child says that they dislike a specific action, parents should let the child know the parent will not push the matter further. 

This establishes trust and respect — the very things needed when establishing boundaries.  

Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency. She can be reached at parentingcoachonline.com

What To Do If Your Child Is Denied Early Intervention Services

If a child is denied early intervention services, parents can seek out help elsewhere. (Getty Images)

Parents know their children. They are aware of their child’s personality, their growth, and their movements. Occasionally parents may notice a lag in communication or motor skills. 

Child development services can help get a child back on track by analyzing the child and then offering a plan with activities or exercises to help the child fully develop in areas they may be struggling with. There are specific criteria that the child must meet in order to be considered for these services.

But what if the child did not meet the criteria for early intervention services? This can be discouraging, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few things parents can do if their child is deemed ineligible. One of the first things a parent can do is to appeal the decision. 

If the child was said to have been borderline or below the normal range, a parent can appeal. But if the child ranked as average or above, there is a good chance the appeal will not be successful.

There are many companies with experienced, licensed professionals who can sit with both the parents and child and discuss the concerns and develop a plan. There are many more such services available. 

Where can such services be found? Search online for local developmental services that can be provided at home. If there are no such services available, try a search for child development services that offer remote visits via Facetime or Skype. 

Child development services such as these can offer lesson plans or guides, exercises, and activities for a child. This can be done with the professional observing and offering guidance or as homework prior to the next session. They can help determine which milestones a child has met and needs to meet in order to stay on target with development. 

Language guides are one of the most popular methods of assisting children. These guides will help them learn to make the proper letter sounds with the aid of their parents.

There are licensed educators, therapists and professionals available all over the country, and thanks to advances in technology, their services can be used anywhere for any child. With the assistance and guidance of child development services, parents can rest assured that their child’s developmental milestones are being met. 

Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency. She can be reached at parentingcoachonline.com

How Resilience is Built in Children

Kids taught to be resilient are more successful in life. (Getty Images)

Resilience is a key concept that children need to learn. The good thing about resilience is that it is not innate. The ability to cope with problems and change in a healthy manner can be taught. 

Many parents want to protect their child, which can lead to a lack of problem-solving skills. Teaching resilience will prepare your child for their future.

One of the best things parents can do is teach children how to solve problems. Instead of avoiding uncomfortable situations, offer guidance to get your child thinking. 

Many children often go through a phase where they do not want to leave to spend the night at camp or a friend’s house. Ask your child how they think they can overcome this, and then help them practice ways to work past the negative feelings. Role playing can often help a child learn to work through problems by acting out different conclusions they can then utilize.

It also helps to not offer an answer to everything or accommodate every single want or need. A child cannot live their entire lives in complete comfort  — no human can.

Obstacles arise, and your child will be better prepared to handle issues by having them think and act for themselves. A child who understands a problem and works through it gains confidence. 

Acknowledge that mistakes are OK. Children need to realize that mistakes help make us better. We can learn valuable lessons from mistakes, and they are part of our journey. 

Failure is a component of success. Everyone fails and your child need not dwell on failing. Sometimes children need to see the consequences of how they act before they understand that failure is temporary.

Resilience can help children become better adults. They learn how to cope with difficulties, how to bounce back. 

Resilience lessens anxiety and one of the best ways they learn resiliency is by watching their parents and teachers and how they cope with life happenings or people. Lead by example, because you never know who is watching.

Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency. She can be reached at childdevelopmentadvice.com

Is Your Child Ready for School?

For every parent, the time will come for your child to start preparing for preschool or kindergarten.

Early childhood development and education are crucial to young minds in order to help them reach their development milestones — such as attending school and socializing with other children — is key in preparation for the advancement of their education.

Here are some things you can do to help your child attain these crucial milestones.


Allowing free play and some scheduled playtime is the number one thing you can do to help your child prepare for school. Play allows time with other children, which develops social skills they will need for the rest of their lives. It allows children to think and problem solve on their own time and lets their curious minds discover how to construct things or experience textures. Free-play time is the optimal learning environment for your child. Here, they can rapidly increase their cognitive, social, and physical abilities.


Reading to your child and teaching them basic letters and sounds is another key step in preparation for school. Reading to your child can help them begin to understand the shape and sounds of letters which will help them identify pictures with words. Another fun idea is to label items in your house. Point to the word when saying the name of the object to your toddler. This helps them not only read the name but will help them retain words and identify objects. Outings to the zoo, singing songs, repeating your own child’s words back to them, and repetition of activities such as these increase your child’s developmental progress with reading and understanding. 


Another useful idea for school preparation is to actually go to the preschool. Asking if your child can visit and/or play in a setting with other children will allow them to familiarize themselves with the environment, which can increase their comfortability and confidence. Visiting the school in advance can also help reduce the shock of the first day for both parents and child. Many schools allow tours and visits so parents and children can explore their new environment.

Taking these steps to prepare your child can help them to stay on track with their development and be ready for school and further learning, even if the parents aren’t quite ready for them to grow up. 

Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency. She can be reached at childdevelopmentadvice.com

How To Cool Off Your Kid’s Tantrum

Child tantrums are learned behavior. (Getty Images)

Tantrums and meltdowns can test the very last nerve of every parent. 

Children who experience meltdowns are reacting to their environment in a negative manner. Meltdowns can raise blood pressure, cause headaches and stomachaches, and upset everyone involved.

There are a few things you can do to handle tantrums effectively. First, it is important to understand that tantrums are learned behaviors, which means you can help your child unlearn this type of behavior by teaching them the proper tools they need in order to communicate better.


It is important to stay calm and rational during a meltdown. Calm behavior can be felt and seen by an upset child, which can assist them in calming down. By remaining calm, you show your child by example how to handle this type of stressful situation with poise and adult like behavior.


Your role during a tantrum is to listen. Take a deep breath, quiet yourself, and repeat slowly what your child says so that they know you are listening. A calm manner can reduce the flood of anxiety your child is feeling, which can help them calm down.


Your child is not present at this moment. Don’t try to reason with your child if they are not able to at the moment. Teach your child to talk about frustration or to use words. Use caution when trying to “make” them come to their senses. They are only reacting in a childlike way to things they can’t express through speech.


Acknowledgment of positive behavior is key to helping curb tantrums. This sheds a desired light on being good and receiving praise for positive behavior. Acknowledging the good can help your child understand that throwing a tantrum will not get the desired reaction.


Trying to talk to, correct, or interfere while your child is very upset can only make things worse. Try giving your child some space and do not acknowledge the bad behavior. Reacting to emotional overload will have no effect. It is best to wait until they can be calm and understanding once more. Forcing a child to sit or listen during a meltdown can stress out both the child and parent more.

 Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency. Sh can be reached at childdevelopmentadvice.com

The Importance of Teaching Children Emotional Intelligence

In adults, emotional intelligence — the ability to understand and manage emotions — can help in social interactions and is even linked to varying degrees of success.

What about children? It can be difficult to understand, but many educators suggest that young children should be taught the basic concepts of emotional intelligence to prepare them for their future.

“Children’s effective use of emotions enables them to control their instinctive reactions in stressful conditions, to learn to better communicate their emotional state, to develop healthy relationships with family and friends, and to become successful in school, work and life,” (Elias & Weisberg, 2000; Elias et al., 1997; Payton et al., 2000).

The key components of emotional intelligence are motivation, self-regulation, self-awareness, social skills, and empathy. In children and adults, each component can be assessed and the skills improved to promote growth in our emotional intelligence.

Research has shown that children who are emotionally intelligent do better in both school and work. Skills such as communication and coping with stress are becoming highly sought-after traits in the workforce. Emotionally intelligent people are better able to cope with difficult situations and people while performing at a highly successful rate both at work and in school.

Emotional intelligence does not only involve the emotions of a child. It also involves the emotions of others in a child’s life. By gaining emotional intelligence, they can understand how others are feeling and can improve the quality of their social interactions.

Emotional intelligence helps the child relate to those around them — a skill needed for their entire life.

The first step is to help them name the emotion they are feeling. Rather than suppress or ignore anger, frustration, over-the-top joy, etc., ask the child how they are feeling. When a child is helped to realize they are experiencing an emotion and what exactly it is, they begin to identify and acknowledge their feelings.

After the child practices identifying feelings and emotions, ask some questions such as “What was the happiest moment of today?” Both children and adults experience a wide range of emotions throughout the day, and a question like this will help them reflect, recognize, and become aware of them.

The last thing to do to help teach a child to recognize and understand their emotions as well as others’ emotions is to lead by example. A parent should explain to their child how the parent feels and why, to show them how to recognize emotions — both positive and negative — and deal with them in a healthy manner.

Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the Director of Child Development Advice – an educational consulting agency.

Family Engagement a Key Factor in Childhood Education

Family engagement in early childhood education can have significant and beneficial impacts on a child.

Early childhood development and education is the foundation for any child. Children will be better prepared for school. This helps progress their mental capabilities as they understand that learning is part of life. Parental involvement in a child’s early developmental years can be a turning point.

There are several things parents can do to stay involved with a child’s developmental learning.


As a family, the first thing parents can do is have all family members play and participate with their young child.

Labeling items with words, playing games, coloring, and spending time creating fun learning environments and lessons can help nurture your child. Family members can take turns playing and learning to encourage their child to learn with many people. This helps in school settings that have both different children and teachers.

Children will be able to expand their learning base to many people and things rather than associating learning to one person or setting.


Another way to engage in a child’s education is to participate in group settings such as preschool or home groups.

There are many schools that allow parents and older siblings to participate by volunteering in the child’s class or group setting. This is an excellent opportunity to get a child involved with other children and encourage them to become comfortable with an environment that might have more stimuli than what they are accustomed to.

Parents and other family members can volunteer a few hours a week to help promote their child’s early education and develop new skills in a new setting.


Home and school or group settings are opportunities for parents and family members to actively participate in their child’s early education.

Think of it as a collective effort with family members and teachers joining together to encourage a young child in their growth — both mentally, emotionally, and physically. Children will begin to notice that family and adult members in their life care for them and offer opportunities to play and learn which also promote progress.

Whether it is at home or elsewhere a few hours a week, family members can play a crucial role in early childhood education by being present.

Michelle Dell’Aquila, M.A. is a licensed child therapist and director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency.


Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much?

By Michelle Dell’Aquila

TVs, tablets, phones, and computers are a staple in many households and schools use technology to provide a better education. But how much screen time is too much for a child?

Children, especially young children, are susceptible to the negative effects of too much screen time.

Technology is used often as a babysitter. It allows children to become immersed in a TV show or game. While many parents appreciate the quiet time, they usually agree that their children are better off participating in activities that don’t involve tech.

If young children spend hours staring at a screen, the effects can go beyond physical problems (poor posture, lack of muscle definition and damage to eyesight). Cognitive side effects are among the top-ranked reasons as to why screen time should be avoided with young children. Tech may help children solve problems, but too much screen time can result in underdeveloped academic and social skills, discipline, and self-confidence.

Interactive play outside, with other children, is one of the most beneficial (and free!) learning tools available. There, they can learn how to interact with other kids, learn to communicate, problem solve, and boost their confidence as they experience their likes and wants in free play.

How much is too much? Infants and very young children should have little to no screen time, based on the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Infant screen time should be as minimal as possible. At such a young age, babies need to learn how to move, grasp items, recognize faces, and become vocal. Screen time can stifle babies’ progress, as they learn and grow at a rapid pace at this age.

School-aged children can spend anywhere from two to more than six hours per day experiencing tech and screen time at school and home. The limits for screen time as children mature are less strict, especially since they are exposed to it in almost every aspect of their lives. A key factor to remember when it comes to screen time is the quality of the content.

Is it an educational game or program? Will it teach the alphabet, how to read, or different numbers or words? These types of content can support a child’s education.

Parents should set limits at an early age and be responsible for the amount of screen time their child receives. As children mature, parents can make sure their interactions are limited and educational.

Michelle Dell’Aquila, M.A. is a licensed child therapist and director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency.