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Archive for 2015

True Toys and Their Positive Effects on Children

True toys have no bells or whistles, they do not do anything and you do not turn them on. Most toys today have taken the fun out of imaginative play. Manipulating toys and giving them life develops reasoning and problem-solving skills as well as creates a base of simple knowledge of how things work.


Rattles – Fine motor development toy of the century. Grasping, repetitive motion that creates a desired outcome, music, hand-eye coordination and focusing visually on a moving object are all part of infant learning. Have rattles handy in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and sounds.


Blocks, blocks and more blocks – Spatial relationships, size and shape discrimination leads to early math skills, fine motor control as well as cause and effect. This true toy is fun at any age! A child may spend hours building and knocking down blocks while developing science skills including balance, gravity and concepts of weight.


Paint and play-dough – It is messy and that is why they like it so much. This tactile experience will open the doors of creativity and thinking. Let them mix the colors, use different tools and add to the experience by playing some music in the background. Finger paint, paintbrushes and textured paint can be mixed with a variety of painting surfaces for further explanation.


A ball – Look at everything you can do with a ball – kick it, catch it, sit on it, bounce it, dribble it, play alone or with someone. A ball develops gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and encourages healthy practices. A child needs to learn to handle a ball before they can handle a pencil.

Four- to Five-Year-Olds

Dramatic Play – Dramatic play is more than dress-up. It is a shovel, a whisk, a pad of paper. It is a pile of dirt, an old tire and a cardboard box. The sky is the limit – if your children have seen it, they want to explore it. Cut the cord off an old landline telephone and let them look inside as the telephone repair man. True toys for a four year old are simply real life items. These toys will allow children to try on new personalities and play out roles.

Get Out and Play!

Get Out and Play!

Don’t let the chill in the air keep your children indoors and inactive this winter. Bundle up appropriately and get out and play!

* Check local Web sites and activity guides for places you can hike, ski, sled, ice skate or snowshoe.

* Romp in the snow and enjoy an exciting snowball fight.

* If it’s too cold to be outdoors, consider indoor activities such as swimming, karate and dance.

* Limit TV, video game and computer time to encourage your children to get active.

* Set a good example. If you’re telling your children to get out and play, make sure you do, too!

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

We see our family and friends, eat too much pie, enjoy a few extra days off from school and work, but beyond that… How can we demonstrate to our children the importance of both Thanksgiving and giving thanks?

The first Thanksgiving. First, let’s start by making sure our children know the story of the first Thanksgiving. Pick up a developmentally-appropriate book or find information online. It is important to discuss this story of hardship, friendship and sharing in an age-appropriate way.

A new tradition. Establish a new family tradition revolving around what your family is thankful for. This Thanksgiving, have everyone write or draw what they are most thankful for. Together, decorate a shoebox or journal to everyone’s answers. Make a point of adding to this box or journal throughout the year, and by next Thanksgiving you will have an amazing record of thanks. Add to this year after year—what a great treat it will be for the family to read through each Thanksgiving as your children grow!

Share. What are some of the things your children are most thankful for?

Making Parent-Teacher Conferences Work

Making Parent-Teacher Conferences Work

The home-to-school connection is crucial for a successful educational and developmental experience. “When parents and schools trust and collaborate with each other, children do better academically, behaviorally and socially,” says Kyle Pruett, M.D., child psychiatrist and advisor to The Goddard School. That connection includes ongoing communication with your child’s teachers and regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences.  Use the following guidelines to get the most from the conferences and build a connection with the teachers.

Prepare for the meeting.

Write down your questions before the meeting to ensure you cover the most important information.

Share information with the teacher.

You know your child and family better than anyone else. Be willing to share what is happening at home, what your child’s interests are and what observations you have made.

Focus on your child.

Stay focused on what your child is learning and on developmental growth.  Don’t discuss other children, unless you want to mention that your child plays with another child outside of school.  Keep an open mind about any behavioral issues.  Work out solutions together, so your child has a consistent set of expectations at home and at school.

Ask about the program and what to expect.

Learn about the curriculum and what is coming up in the next few months. Find out how you can participate.  Ask the teacher about activities you can do at home to nurture and encourage learning. Share information about activities you do with your child at home.

Seek out opportunities to stay involved.

Before you leave the conference, ask the teacher how you can work together and what kind of opportunities the school has for parent involvement. Thank the teacher for her time.

Looking for “cool” (and healthier!) options to satisfy to your child’s sweet tooth?

Looking for “cool” (and healthier!) options to satisfy to your child’s sweet tooth?

* Mash a very ripe banana and partially freeze for a cool ice cream-like treat.

* Dice mango and strawberries (or other colorful fruit). Gently stir into Greek yogurt and dish up this yummy snack.

* Roast sweet veggies such as sweet potatoes and carrots, and then blend with a bit of apple juice. Pour into a popsicle tray, freeze and serve up this deliciously, sneaky snack.

What healthy treats does your child love?

Is My Child Gifted?

Is My Child Gifted?

At The Goddard School, we hear this question a lot.  All children are unique and develop different skills at different rates, and they all possess the natural ability to absorb information. Children develop the most rapidly in these precious early learning years. With the right environment and early learning experiences, young children are capable of much more than we realize, and what might be normal development can look like above-average intelligence.

One of the difficulties in determining whether a child is gifted is the broad definition of giftedness. Not everyone who uses the term is referring to the same set of qualities. Most public schools consider the gifted students to be those who perform in the top 1-2% of their class, and these students may be provided with a more challenging curriculum.  At Goddard School, we consider each individual child and focus on individualizing our lessons for that child.

You can continue enriching your child’s learning at home as well.

* Provide a variety of toys that are changed often to provide your child with cognitive stimulation and promote curiosity and exploration;

* Use materials you have around the house.  Cardboard boxes for building and old clothes for dressing up and role playing can provide hours of entertainment;

* Make sure your children have access to books and vary the selection. Let your children choose a new book every night. As children get older, they can take turns reading to you;

* Provide opportunities for social interactions. Engaging with other family members and visiting friends increases cognitive stimulation and helps build language and social skills;

* Follow your child’s interests.  Provide opportunities for your child to explore his or her interests;

* Get out and about. Trips to the zoo, different local parks, museums and, if possible, other states or countries will add variety to your child’s life;

* Make sure you turn electronics off, limit all screen time and get out and play games together.

If you still wonder if your child is gifted, we suggest contacting your state gifted association.  They have many resources for parents, including contact information for assessment providers, tips for families, educational resources and more.

Back to School Prep

Back to School Prep

Parents can help make the “back to school” transition much smoother for their child if they prepare in advance. Try to add activities or planned outings to your child’s day. This structure helps prepare them to be on a schedule when they return to the classroom. If the child will be going to a new school, parents may want to schedule a visit with their child before the first day. Consider taking your child on a fun shopping trip where they can help pick out their clothes, lunchbox and supplies.

Ensuring your child has adequate sleep and proper nutrition is very important. Your child will do their best if they get to sleep early and eat a healthy breakfast each day before school. A daily diet of junk food is not compatible with learning. It can cause listlessness and hyperactivity which can impair a child’s ability to learn. Skipping breakfast especially is a detriment to a child’s education.

Adjust your child’s sleep schedule a few weeks in advance to help avoid struggling to get them out of bed for school. Set up a consistent daily routine so that your child wakes up and goes to sleep at the same times each day. If you have not created one already, start a bedtime routine, including bathing, selecting clothes for the next day, cuddling together for a bedtime story and a kiss goodnight. Begin a regular morning routine that includes a healthy breakfast, packing a nutritious lunch, grooming and getting dressed for the day.

A Day at the “Beach”

A Day at the “Beach”

When it’s just too hot (or rainy) to go outdoors, consider creating your own indoor oasis for a day filled with summer fun!

Start by creating a space in your living room or play room that can be used as the “beach.” Have your child wear their best beach outfit, complete with flip flops and sunglasses, and lay beach towels on the floor. If you have beach balls or other beach-related decorations, bring them out to add to the fun.

During their day at the “beach,” encourage your child to use their imagination to pretend they’re swimming, surfing in the waves, or the lifeguard watching over all the swimmers. Read your child’s favorite beach-related books together, eat lunch picnic-style on your beach towels, play a game of beach ball catch and even take a nap on the “beach.”

The Fathering Phenomenon

A Father’s Involvement Is Critical to a Child’s Healthy Growth and Development.


Prior to the 1970’s, being a parent meant taking the place of a child’s mother.  In fact, the word mother is synonymous with to look after, care for, and protect.  Today, we know that men and women differ in their ways of relating to their child.  The role of each parent is significant but research supports that a father’s role is not only essential but unique.


Research on fatherhood shows children who perform better in school and exhibit less behavior problems have involved nurturing fathers.  This may be due to a father’s unique perspective on parenting.  A father’s interaction with their child differs from their mother’s on everything from discipline to play.  An everyday child rearing task can turn into a stimulating event because fathers tend to engage more physically with their children, especially when playing.  However, fathers want their children to have good behavior and discipline them knowing they will not suffer as many consequences and will be more easily accepted by the outside world.


Quote from Dr. Kyle Pruett

“Children raised by involved dads are thriving, healthy kids, and fathers do not mother any more than mothers father” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, a clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale University’s Child Study Center.


That is why The Goddard School® proactively builds a foundation of trust with parents to help them accomplish the difficult job of parenting.  Several elements work simultaneously to develop the cooperative relationship Goddard strives to have with their families.  The Goddard School® provides families with Goddard Parent Guides featuring Dr. Kyle Pruett’s advice on fathering, biting, and many more child development topics.  These parents also receive the Goddard Parent, a quarterly publication with topical information.  In addition, the parents receive a “Daily Activity Report” to establish ongoing communication about what happens each day with their child.