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Helping Your Child Make Friends

To a preschooler, a “friend” is anyone who is willing to play the way they want to play during any given period of time. Friends are just as likely to be boys as girls and may change frequently. Playing with friends is an important way for children to learn social skills including sharing and taking turns so providing your child the opportunity to make friends is helpful, worthwhile and fun!

Dale Walker, a professor of child development at the University of Kansas, offers these guidelines to promote productive and enjoyable playdates.

  1. Limit the initial invitation to one or two friends at your home.
  2. Schedule the playdate for one to two hours to avoid overstimulating the children.
  3. Plan games and activities your child enjoys and provide enough materials so the children don’t have to share immediately.
  4. Guide the children as they make a craft, play a game or splash in a wading pool rather than letting them manage themselves.
  5. Schedule playdates with the same children on a weekly basis.
  6. Periodically play one-on-one with your child to develop familiarity with their playing style and stimulate their social interaction.
  7. If your child is struggling socially with their peers consider adopting a pet, which is usually nonthreatening.
  8. Reading books and watching shows about friendship also reinforces the positive aspects of socialization.
  9. Model friendship by inviting friends to meet, especially when your friends have children compatible with your own.
  10. Limit your expectations and pressure to prevent your child developing insecurity about developing friends.



Going to the Dentist

Many new parents wonder, “When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?” According to the American Dental Association, your child should have their first dental visit by their first birthday, or sometime within six months of when they get their first tooth.

When looking for a dentist for your child, you may choose to go to your regular family dentist or a pediatric dentist. There are advantages to both, such as familiarity with your family dentist and specialized training for children with the pediatric dentist. The most important aspect to consider is that you and your child are comfortable with your choice. If you choose to find a pediatric dentist, it’s best to ask your family dentist for a recommendation or visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Web site for a list of pediatric dentists in your area.

During your child’s first visit, the dentist will speak with you in depth about your child’s overall health history, their oral health history (including teething, biting, thumb-sucking and feeding) and answer any questions you may have. Then, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth, gums, jaw and oral tissues. The dentist may also demonstrate the best way to clean your child’s teeth at home, provide information on what to expect as your child grows and offer suggestions for your child’s optimal oral health. Most dentists will wait until follow-up visits (within the next six months) to professionally clean and polish your child’s teeth, take x-rays and give a fluoride treatment.

Five Ways to Stay Happy and Healthy During Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a profound experience. It gives you nine months to bond with your baby and grow emotionally. Here are five ways to stay healthy and happy during that time.

  1. Take a walk or practice simple yoga poses. Being active causes the body to release endorphins, which can boost your mood and energy levels. Be sure to consult your doctor before engaging in any new activities.
  2. Stock up on sleep. To make sleeping on your side more comfortable, try using a body pillow.
  3. Visit the dentist. Keeping your teeth clean and healthy can help prevent harmful bacteria from entering your bloodstream and decrease the risk of premature labor.
  4. Have small, healthy snacks. While you are eating for two, your body only needs about 300 extra calories a day. This varies from person to person, of course, and you should check with your doctor to find out exactly what you need. That being said, healthy snacks such as fruit, yogurt or whole wheat toast can provide the calorie boost you need. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  5. Relax. Whether you enjoy reading, watching TV or meditating, finding healthy ways to relax is important. Sitting and taking deep breaths can help you unwind.

Diving into Dad Duties: Five Tips For New Dads

Fatherhood is a profound, wonderful journey full of moments that you will cherish for a lifetime. Here are five tips for dads who are new to the experience.

  1. Master the art of diapering. Diapering is part of Fatherhood 101. Changing a diaper is a simple way to help keep your baby happy while bonding with your baby.
  2. Work as a team to handle baby duties. You and your spouse are a team, so try to share all the responsibilities. Make sure to help out when your partner is tired or busy.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. When you’re part of a team, communication is key. If you’re going to be late coming home from work, call your partner. If you’re not sure how to handle a baby-related task, ask someone. Opening the lines of communication can work wonders.
  4. Be patient. Fatherhood isn’t an exact science, so remember that becoming the best dad you can be takes time. Enjoy those moments when you’re still figuring things out and remember to laugh.
  5. Take care of yourself. Being a good dad means being there for your child. Make sure you are staying healthy and avoiding unnecessary risks. Exercise, watch your diet and drive carefully.


Essentials Skills in Preschool as Predictors for Success (Executive Function)

We all know that early learning includes the development of the pre-reading and math skills that children will need for school.  However, preschoolers need to learn more than how to recite the alphabet and count; children also need to develop executive function skills.

Executive functions help us control our thoughts, behavior and emotions, including our abilities to concentrate, focus, transition between activities, reason and plan. Other executive functions include working memory, organizational skills and cognitive flexibility.  Children who develop these executive skills are more likely to do well in school.

Goddard School teachers focus on helping children develop executive function skills throughout each day in purposeful and fun learning activities.  We do this by encouraging play through dramatizations, stories and games that help young children to develop self-regulation, cognitive and social-emotional skills.

Here are some activities that you can do at home to help your children develop these core skills:

  • Play simple games like Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. These help children practice self-regulation by learning rules and following directions;
  • Solve puzzles with them, and introduce harder ones with more pieces as your children improve their skills;
  • Learn a simple dance and create new steps together. Take turns following each other’s movements;
  • Sing your favorite songs together to practice the words and music;
  • Assign your children simple daily chores, and praise your children when they complete the tasks;
  • Turn off your tablet or smartphone, and bring out toys that encourage imaginative play, such as blocks and clay.

Five Ways To Help Ease Back-To-School Butterflies

Back-to-school time is approaching, and excitement is in the air. Sometimes all that excitement can be accompanied by nervousness, though. Help ease back-to-school butterflies with these five simple tips:

  1. Begin transitioning your child into a consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts so he has time to get used to the new schedule;
  2. If your child has specific worries about the first day of school, listen to her, offer reassurance and brainstorm together for solutions;
  3. When dropping off your child, be loving, be direct and leave promptly. Don’t say you’ll miss him; instead, say you can’t wait to hear about his day;
  4. Visit the classroom, playground and/or building with your child a few times before school starts. This can help familiarize your child with a new environment, easing any anxiety she might have;
  5. Establish a reasonable bedtime so that your child will be well-rested and ready to learn in the morning.

Celebrate Diversity


As toddlers and preschoolers, children are beginning to notice there are differences between themselves and others. While their observations are very broad at this point—a child may notice another child’s hair is different from his, but not quite know why—they are beginning to form their own ideas about what all these differences mean, and their natural inquisitiveness can lead to many questions.

To help your child understand, learn to respect and celebrate differences in others, guide him as he explores and learns from the diverse world around him.

  • Be open to his questions and provide clear, age-appropriate answers. Listen attentively and explain why certain words or thoughts are hurtful.
  • Embrace differences in others, don’t try to avoid them. Use books, music, games and food to explore different cultures together.
  • Set a good example through your positive relationships with others. Your little one will learn to accept and respect their peers, too.


Managing Parental Emotions of Childcare by Dr. Kyle Pruett

Don’t pretend you’re fine when you’re not.

It’s much better to acknowledge your feelings.  It’s normal to feel grief at this change.  You will come through sooner and better if you face your feelings head on.

Don’t believe you are a bad parent for choosing childcare.

If you have chosen a good center or caregiver, you can be confident that your child is in good hands, so there is no logical reason to feel guilty.  But if you continue to feel guilty, it’s important to come to grips with these feelings.  Be especially alert if you are tempted to change your parenting style.  For example, some parents start easing up on setting limits to compensate for their guilt.  Such behavior leads nowhere you or your child want to go.

Don’t become critical of your child’s caregiver.

It’s important to have a good relationship with caregivers.  Their observations and advice can be extremely helpful to your parenting.  If you find you feel critical even though the caregiver’s work doesn’t merit such an attitude, recognize that your feelings are a part of the separation process.  Then begin to focus on the caregiver’s talents and good qualities.  Rest assured that no caregiver will take your place in your child’s life or heart.  The new attachments to other warm and loving caregivers are beneficial.  They also are good signs of your child’s emotional maturity and your achievement in nurturing that maturity.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the transition to childcare.

If you pretend the new routine doesn’t matter, you may underestimate the good things that can come from this new experience for your child and you – new friends, new learning, new sources of information and new ideas on parenting.

2017 Car Seat Guidelines from American Academy of Pediatrics

With so many car seat options, parent with children of all ages, are always struggling to master the “installation” of their car seat. This 2017 Car Seat Guidelines from American Academy of Pediatrics provides you with the latest tips and guidelines for installing you child’s car seat.



Five Ways to Prevent “Summer Slide”

Summer is an awesome time of year. It’s full of family get-togethers, trips to the pool and vacations. With all that awesomeness, though, sometimes learning falls by the wayside. Research has shown that some children experience summer learning loss, also known as “summer slide” because their minds aren’t as engaged as they are during the school year. You can help to keep your child’s brain active and prevent summer slide with these five fun learning activities:

  1. Read, read, read. Read to your child or encourage him to read for twenty minutes every day. Taking a trip to the library on hot, humid or rainy days can be fun, too. Also, listening to audio books is great during car trips.
  2. Learn a new word every week. Make this a game by seeing who can use the new word the most times throughout the week. You can even make a scoreboard and stick it on the fridge. Encourage your child to look through a picture dictionary to pick out new words.
  3. Get cooking. Cooking with your child is a fun way to teach your child math and reading skills as well as how to follow instructions. Look through a cookbook with your little one, and ask him what he would like to make.
  4. Hit the road. Take a field trip to a museum, a zoo or an aquarium. Before you go, read a book with your child about the sights at your destination. When you return, you and your child can write a journal entry about your adventures.
  5. Go outside. Embrace the nice weather and go on a hike, nature walk or bike ride. Pack a magnifying glass and/or binoculars, and take breaks along the way to take a closer look at things. You and your little one can even take notes on interesting objects or animals and look up more information about them online or in an encyclopedia when you get home.