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Archive for September, 2016

The Importance of Physical Activity in Children

We are hearing more and more about the importance of physical activity for our good health. This applies to children too. Below is an article explaining this concept very well. Children love to move and it is proven to be good for their mental and emotional health as well as their physical health! So as the days and nights are cooling off, grab your kiddos and go outside to play!

Let’s Get Physical!
By Rae Pica
There are so many reasons why children need to move. But today, more than ever, the primary reason may be movement’s contribution to their physical fitness. Word of the childhood obesity crisis is everywhere: magazines, newspapers, television, and radio talk shows. Even so, it’s sometimes difficult to take it all seriously. How can we be experiencing a childhood obesity epidemic? Worse yet, how can we be using words like heart disease in relation to young children?Unfortunately, we are. Obesity among children is increasing faster than among adults. In 2000, 22 percent of U.S. preschoolers were overweight and 10 percent clinically obese (Pica, 2003). Obesity is also now seen among infants and toddlers as well (Huettig, Sanborn, DiMarco, Popejoy, & Rich, 2004).Studies have shown that 40 percent of children ages five to eight have at least one heart disease risk factor, including hypertension (Bar-Or et al., 1988; Berenson, 1980; Ross, Pate, Lohman, & Christenson, 1987). The first signs of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) are now appearing at age five (Institute for Aerobic Research, 1987). A recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) presentation contends that American children born in the year 2000 face a one-in-three chance of developing Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes because it was previously nonexistent among the young). And a number of experts believe this may be the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents.

A Different Kind of Energy Crisis

Why is this happening? The formula is pretty straightforward: energy in/energy out. This is the phrase nutritionists use to describe the intended balance between calories consumed and calories burned. If the level of physical activity isn’t great enough to burn the amount of calories taken in, weight increases. If this imbalance continues, obesity may result.


Given our fondness for fast food and our tendency to “super size,” it’s easy to imagine that caloric intake is the crux of the obesity problem. And certainly it is part of the problem. But studies both here and abroad have indicated the greater problem lies with the second half of the equation: energy out. Children simply aren’t moving enough!


It’s been estimated that between the ages of two and 17, American children spend an average of three years of their waking lives watching TV (Cooper, 1999). That’s the equivalent of more than 15,000 hours in front of the set (and this doesn’t even include time spent watching videos, playing video games, or using the computer)—as compared with 12,000 hours spent in a classroom. The end result? A minimum of 27,000 hours—more than six years of their young lives.


The Importance of Physical Activity

Although most of the research has been conducted on the relationship between physical activity and adult health, there’s now enough evidence to show physical activity causes health benefits for children and adolescents as well. Improved aerobic endurance, muscle growth, muscular strength, motor coordination, and growth stimulation of the heart, lungs, and other vital organs are among these benefits.


Given these rewards, it’s important that teachers and families work together to help children establish healthy eating patterns and healthy physical activity habits during the stage when important habits are formed: early childhood! Also, the goal should not only be to ward off ill health but to promote good health and physical fitness in all children.


The Five Fitness Factors

To help children along the path to fitness, it’s helpful to have some understanding of the components involved. It’s also important to realize that the emphasis should be placed on the health-related, as opposed to the skill-related, components of fitness. Descriptions of the five health-related components of physical fitness and some sample activities follow.

Cardiovascular Endurance. The ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen and nutrients to the muscles defines cardiovascular endurance. In simple terms someone with great cardiovascular endurance has a strong heart—one that actually grows in size and pumps more blood with every beat, resulting in a lower heart rate. As you can imagine, this can happen only when an individual exercises regularly. Typically it’s aerobic exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness, but where children are concerned we can’t think of “aerobics” in the same way that we do for adults.

Children are not made for long, uninterrupted periods of strenuous activity. So expecting them to jog, walk briskly, or follow an exercise video for 20 to 30 minutes, particularly before the age of six, is not only unrealistic but could be damaging. Rather, when we consider developmentally appropriate aerobic activities for children, we should be thinking along the lines of moderate to vigorous play and movement. Walking, marching, playing tag, dancing to music, and jumping rope all fall under the heading of moderate to vigorous exercise for children. In other words, it’s anything that keeps the child moving continuously, sometimes strenuously and sometimes less so.

Muscular Strength. Muscular strength is described as the ability to exert force with a single maximum effort. Strong muscles are necessary not only for performing certain tasks, like throwing for distance, hanging and swinging, climbing, and carrying heavy books and groceries, but also for preventing injury and maintaining proper posture. An added bonus is that increasing muscle strength also increases strength in tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Strength training, also known as resistance or weight training, is the best way to build muscular strength. But here again, we must view things differently than if we were discussing adults. While there’s a lot of debate over the appropriateness of involving young children in strength training, there are some points on which the experts agree.

First, it’s never a good idea to modify an adult strength-training program for children. Adults’ bodies are fully developed; children’s are not. Adults have long attention spans and the motivation to endure the monotony of repetitive exercises; children do not. For these reasons the best “strength training” for children involves the use of their own weight in physical activities they’d be performing anyway, like jumping, playing tug-of-war, and pumping higher and higher on a swing.

Muscular Endurance. Muscular endurance is the muscles’ ability to continue contracting over an extended period of time. In other words, it’s about stamina. Landy and Burridge (1997) write: “Good muscular endurance gives you the ability to repeat a movement without getting tired or to hold a position or carry something for a long period of time without being fatigued. A child who has good muscular endurance will enjoy and have greater success in her daily work activities, in play, and in sporting and athletic competitions.”

Obviously, muscular endurance is tied to muscular strength; so many of the same kinds of activities and exercises benefit both. However, muscular endurance also depends on skill level. Children, by virtue of having fewer years of practice in most skills, will use the maximum force and contract more muscles than actually needed for the movement. Therefore, they won’t be able to last as long as a skilled mover.

Flexibility. Flexibility is the range of motion around joints. When people possess good flexibility, they can stretch to put something on a high shelf, bend to tie a shoe, or sit cross-legged without effort or aches and pains. They can swing a tennis racket or a golf club, perform a lay-up in basketball, or reach for a high fly without fear of muscle strain, sprain, or spasm.

If children are physically active, they’ll be flexible. But they should also be encouraged to work on their flexibility through gentle, static stretches that take a muscle just beyond its usual length (without pain!) and are held for at least 10 seconds.

Two no-no’s regarding stretching: First, children should work their own limbs through their range of motion; it’s extremely easy for an adult to stretch a child’s muscles and joints too far. Second, children should be warned against ballistic (bouncing) stretching. It can cause small tears in the muscle fibers and is not as effective as static stretching.

Body Composition. The final component of health-related fitness is body composition: the body’s makeup in terms of fat, muscle, tissue, and bone or the percentage of lean body tissue to fat.

Obviously, with childhood obesity becoming more of a problem as the years go by, much attention is focused on body composition right now. But weight alone is not a good indicator of body composition. Some children are simply large-boned. Also, muscle weighs more than fat. So it’s possible for two children to have the same weight but very different make-ups, one possessing very little fat and the other too much.

Research has shown that inactive preschool children were almost four times more likely to enter first grade with increased body fatness (Moore, 1995). Physical activity, of course, is the key to combating fat, with aerobic and muscle-strengthening movement making the largest contribution.

By ensuring our children stay active, we can combat obesity before it starts rather than once it’s upon them. We can also help guarantee they derive positive health benefits both as children and as adults.

Rae Pica is a children’s movement specialist and author of 14 books, including the text Experiences in Movement: Birth to Age Eight,Moving & Learning across the Curriculum, and Your Active Child, written for the parents of children birth to eight. She speaks on early childhood issues throughout North America.


For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

Family Readiness for Disasters

We practice our disaster drills here at school quarterly and have fire drills monthly. It is so important that BEFORE a disaster occurs our kiddos know how to react. We practice these so that it is ‘old hat’ to them. You should do the same thing at home! You might be hesitant to discuss negative things such as disasters because you are concerned about scaring your child. However, most fear is rooted in the unknown. If you give your kids as much info as they are ready for with simple responses, they will be less fearful and better prepared.


How to Get Your Family Ready Before a Disaster

It’s important for all family members to know how to react in an emergency, because when a disaster strikes, you may need to act quickly. Discuss possible disaster plans with your children–in a very general way–so that they will know what to do in various situations. For example, if you live in a part of the country that is prone to tornadoes, it is important for your children to know what to do if a tornado is coming. Remember that it is possible that you and your children may be in different places when a disaster strikes; for example, at school and work. Also, older children may be home alone when faced with an emergency.

Create a Family Disaster Plan

You can create a Family Disaster Plan by taking some simple steps. It’s important for all family members to know how to react in an emergency because the best protection is knowing what to do.

  • Talk with your children about the dangers of disasters that are likely in your area and how to prepare for each type.
  • Make sure they know where to go in your home to stay safe during an earthquake, tornadohurricane, or other disasters likely for your area.
  • Teach your child how to recognize danger signals. Make sure your child knows what smoke detectors, fire alarms and local community warning systems (horns, sirens) sound like and what to do when they hear them.
  • Explain to children how and when to call for help. Keep emergency phone numbers (your local Emergency Phone Number List) where family members can find them.
  • Pick an out-of-state family contact person who family members can “check-in” with if you are separated during an emergency. For children who are old enough help them to memorize the person’s name and phone number, or give them a copy of the emergency list included in the kit.
  • Agree on a meeting place away from your home (a neighbor or relative’s house or even a street corner) where you would get together if you were separated in an emergency. Give each family member an emergency list with the name, address and phone number of the meeting place. For children who are old enough help them to memorize the person’s name, address and phone number.
  • Put together a disaster supplies kit for your family.
  • Practice your Family Disaster Plan every six months so that everyone will remember what to do when in an emergency.

It’s important for all family members to know how to react in an emergency because the best protection is knowing what to do.

Kids Get Ready Kit

Assemble a special “Get Ready Kit: for kids. Explain to your children that you might need to leave your house during a disaster and sleep somewhere else for a while.

Here are some items you can your children could put into a backpack or container so it will be ready if needed:

  • A few favorite books, crayons, and paper.
  • Favorite small toys like dolls or action figures.
  • A board game.
  • A desk of cards.
  • A puzzle.
  • A favorite stuffed animal.
  • A favorite blanket or pillow.
  • A picture of your family and pets.
  • A box with special treasures that will help you feel safe.

This infomration was taken from healthychildren.org

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

Supporting Social Emotional Learning in Preschoolers

There are lots of ways preschool teachers and parents can support children’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Every adult who regularly interacts with your child has the opportunity to contribute to her SEL in a variety of ways.

Traditionally, SEL has been considered part of the parents’ realm. But as kids spend increasing time in child care and preschool, care providers and teachers are being held accountable for a child’s SEL needs, too. In truth, all adults actively provide a model for social and emotional competencies, and the more closely parents and caregivers align in their modeling, the more consistent the lessons they convey will be.

Here are some ways that adults can support children’s understanding of emotions and engagement in competent social interactions:

1. Give explicit instructions.

You can ask children directly to demonstrate their SEL skills through certain prompts and activities. For instance, you can show children different picture cards of emotional expressions and teach them the names of new emotions (like disgust or surprise). This may occur in the context of an SEL curriculum, or as a stand-alone lesson, such as during story time at school or at home. The lesson can be as simple as saying, “When I make this face, it means I’m feeling ____.”

Another activity teachers can implement at school is displaying pictures showing children making different facial expressions and asking students to point toward the image that represents how they’re feeling that day.

2. Provide scaffolding.

Teachers and parents can support children’s emerging social and emotional skills through scaffolding. Scaffolding describes progressive supports that build upon what children already know, such as the names of basic emotions, so that they can learn new skills, like how to identify when a playmate is sad. You can guide a child to notice the feelings of an affronted peer and suggest possible solutions. For example, “Serena is crying. She seems sad that no one has invited her to play. I bet she would feel better if you would be willing to share your trucks with her.”

3. Practice through books.

You can read a book and prompt children to think of times when they have felt the same as the main character. For example, the Mercer Mayer classic I Was So Mad can encourage children to think of times they’ve been mad and what they do to feel better. For a great list of story books that can support children’s social and emotional learning, check out the list published by Vanderbilt’s Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning.

4. Model rules and expectations.

Articulate the rules you set about expressing emotions in the classroom or at home. This includes providing specific rules — no hitting, share your toys, and so on — but also means following the rules yourself. Children learn a great deal through observing and imitating others, especially their parents and teachers. As such, adults can promote SEL by conscientiously modeling ways in which emotions are expressed and regulated in social situations. This can be through elaborate role-playing activities, or just by expressing emotions and narrating to children how you feel and what you’re going to do about your feelings.

5. Validate and encourage the expression of feelings.

Respond to a child’s emotions by validating her feelings as opposed to dismissing them. For instance, this means asking, “What’s wrong?” rather than saying, “Stop crying.” Teachers and parents can encourage a child’s emotional expressions by responding constructively to them. Only when an adult understands why a child is upset can the adult help the child cope with her emotions and what has caused them. Minimizing, punishing, or dismissing a child’s emotions does not give the child the opportunity to learn how to respond constructively to those emotions.

Parents’ reactions to children’s emotional expressions can teach children how to regulate and understand their own feelings. Emerging research is showing similar associations between preschool teachers’ reactions and their student’s SEL. When teachers respond positively to a child’s emotional expressions, the child is more likely to respond positively to others’ emotions; the converse is also true.

6. Guide children toward reflection.

It is important for children to associate social and emotional competence with some relief from strong emotions, either on their part or on others’. This is key to their development of traits such as altruism and empathy later in life. You can point out moments at which these occur to help your child understand them. For example, you might say, “I like how you noticed Johnny was upset and gave him a hug. How did that make you feel?”

The preschool classroom is a busy, emotionally-charged place. Children are observing and absorbing lessons about emotions throughout the day, even when those lessons are unintentional. Children are learning social and emotional competencies through nearly all of their regular interactions with teachers and classmates. These lessons continue on the playground and at home, where parents can continue to teach social and emotional competencies to their young children — and in the process, better prepare them for kindergarten and beyond.

This article was taken from Noodle.com

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

The Importance of Sleep for your Preschooler

As adults we are usually looking for chances to get more sleep!! Preschoolers seem to have unlimited energy and batteries that they think do not need recharging. We know differently. Sleep is extremely important to preschoolers! The article below shares the importance of sleep and how a good routine benefits everyone!

Preschoolers need about 11 to 12 hours of sleep each day, which can include a nap. There’s wiggle room about exact sleep times — the most important thing is to help kids develop good, consistent habits for getting to sleep.

Benefits of a Bedtime Routine

A bedtime routine is a great way to help your preschooler get enough sleep. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating one:

  • Include a winding-down period during the half hour before bedtime.
  • Stick to a bedtime, alerting your child both half an hour and 10 minutes beforehand.
  • Keep consistent playtimes and mealtimes.
  • Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, near bedtime.
  • Make the bedroom quiet, cozy, and perfect for sleeping.
  • Use the bed only for sleeping — not for playing or watching TV.
  • Limit food and drink before bedtime.
  • Allow your child to choose which pajamas to wear, which stuffed animal to take to bed, etc.
  • Consider playing soft, soothing music.
  • Tuck your child into bed snugly for a feeling of security.

A Note on Naps

Most preschoolers do still need naps during the day. They tend to be very active — running around, playing, going to school, and exploring their surroundings — so it’s a good idea to give them a special opportunity to slow down. Even if your child can’t fall asleep, try to set aside some quiet time during the day for relaxing. (And you’ll probably benefit from a break too!)

    • The best way to encourage napping is to set up a routine for your child, just as you do for bedtime. Your preschooler, not wanting to miss out on any of the action, may resist a nap, but it’s important to keep the routine firm and consistent. Explain that this is quiet time and that you want your child to start out in bed, but that it’s OK to play in the bedroom quietly if he or she can’t sleep.
    • How long should naps last? For however long you feel your preschooler needs to get some rest. Usually, about an hour is sufficient. But there will be times when your child has been going full tilt and will need a longer nap, and others when you hear your child chattering away, playing through the entire naptime.

Sleeping Problems

Preschoolers may have nightmares or night terrors, and there may be many nights when they have trouble falling asleep.

    • Create a “nighttime kit” to keep near your child’s bed for these times. The kit might include a flashlight, a favorite book, and a cassette or CD to play. Explain the kit, then put it in a special place where your child can get to it in the middle of the night.
    • Favorite objects like stuffed animals and blankets also can help kids feel safe. If your child doesn’t have a favorite, go shopping together to pick out a warm, soft blanket or stuffed animal.
    • Some parents get into the habit of lying down next to their preschoolers until they fall asleep. While this may do the trick temporarily, it won’t help sleeping patterns in the long run. It’s important to give comfort and reassurance, but kids need to learn how to fall asleep independently. Establishing a routine where you have to be there for your child to go to sleep will make it hard for both of you — and be unfair to your child — if you start leaving beforehand.
    • If you’re worried about your preschooler’s sleeping patterns, talk with your doctor. Although there isn’t one sure way to raise a good sleeper, most kids have the ability to sleep well and work through any sleeping problems. The key is to establish healthy bedtime habits early on.

This article was taken from Kidshealth.org

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity with Preschoolers

Healthy eating and physical activity are important habits that keep our bodies healthy! It is very important to start these habits in our children when they are young. Teaching them with our words is important but teaching through our example is crucial! Below are some helpful reminders about nutrition and being active.

Food Groups

The kinds of food your preschooler eats and drinks are important for his or her health. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy provide the nutrients that their bodies need. Keep an eye on the amount of added sugars, sodium, and saturated (solid) fat.

  • Fruits – Let your preschooler enjoy a variety of whole or bite-sized fruits such as apples, sliced bananas, and mandarin orange pieces. Serve 100% fruit juice in small amounts and less often.
  • Vegetables – Prepare red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli as part of your child’s meals and snacks.
  • Grains – Make at least half their grains whole grains by offering 100% whole-grain cereals, breads, and pasta.
  • Protein Foods – Choose a variety of protein foods such as seafood, beans, and small portions of meat or poultry.
  • Dairy – Give them low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese to provide much needed calcium.
  • Encourage water instead of fruit juice or sugary drinks – Too much 100% juice or sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, juice drinks, or sport drinks, can add more calories than your child needs.
  • Check out the sodium (salt) in canned foods, bread, and frozen meals – Read the Nutrition Facts label to find foods with lower numbers.
  • Watch the amount of saturated fats in foods – Cakes, cookies, ice cream, pizza, cheese, sausages, and hot dogs are okay sometimes but not every day.


Picky Eating

Do you have a picky eater in your home? Do any of these statements remind you of your preschooler?

  • “Michael won’t eat anything green, just because of the color.”
  • “Ebony will only eat peanut butter sandwiches!”
  • “Maria doesn’t sit still at the table. She can’t seem to pay attention long enough to eat a meal!”

You’re not alone. Picky eating is a typical behavior for many preschoolers. It’s simply another step in the process of growing up and becoming independent. As long as your preschooler is healthy, growing normally, and has plenty of energy, he or she is most likely getting needed nutrients.

Many children will show one or more of the following behaviors during the preschool years. In most cases, these will go away with time.

  • Your child may refuse a food based on a certain color or texture. For example, he or she could refuse foods that are red or green, contain seeds, or are squishy.
  • For a period of time, your preschooler may only eat a certain type of food. Your child may choose 1 or 2 foods he or she likes and refuse to eat anything else.
  • Sometimes your child may waste time at the table and seem interested in doing anything but eating.
  • Your child may be unwilling to try new foods, especially fruits and vegetables. It is normal for your preschooler to prefer familiar foods and be afraid to try new things.

Having your preschooler help you in the kitchen is a good way to get your child to try new foods. Kids feel good about doing something “grown-up.” Give them small jobs to do. Praise their efforts. Children are much less likely to reject foods that they helped make.

Physical Activity

Being physically active helps your preschooler learn healthy habits. Preschoolers who participate in active play can get the physical activity they need to maintain a healthy weight, develop muscles and strong bones, and reduce their risk of developing chronic disease such as Type 2 diabetes.

Encourage your preschooler to play actively several times every day. Preschoolers’ activity may happen in short bursts of time instead of all at once. Physical activity does not always have to be led by adults..

Preschoolers need quiet time but make sure your preschooler is not inactive for too long.

Limit TV and screen time to less than 2 hours daily, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Encourage reading or crafts rather than TV time.
  • Quiet time is best before naps or bed.
  • Be a role model and limit your own inactivity. Your preschooler will learn that being physically active is part of a healthy life. Manage the time you spend watching TV or using mobile devices.
  • Avoid having the TV on during mealtimes.
  • Only put TVs in family rooms. Don’t put a TV in your child’s bedroom.

HealthyTipsforPickyEaters   KitchenHelperActivities

This information was compiled from Choosemyplate.gov  

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.