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Archive for October, 2010

Reading Readiness

Many parents look forward to announcing that their child can read, but the truth is children are reading long before they can interpret the pages of a book. As with most things in life, reading requires the proper building blocks before it can begin.

Reading - Teacher & BoyReading begins with language and how it relates to your child’s world. Creating a language-rich environment will help your child’s vocabulary grow. Language develops with every interaction you have with your child — infants begin by reading their parents’ facial expressions while older children develop their vocabulary by listening and eventually repeating what their parents say. Verbalize your child’s world and he or she will begin to repeat sounds and syllables — be sure to pause, speak and alter conversation style.

A print-rich environment may also help prepare your child for reading by making the connection between your child’s world and the symbols we use to communicate, so make your home an active learning environment. Start by labeling household items with pictures and words so your child will learn to associate everyday items with their symbols. Lead by example and let your child see you read often. Teach your child to respect books — while pages will rip and bindings will break, your child will learn to value books and their content if you set a high expectation for their care.

Remember, it takes many interactions with the alphabet and phonemic awareness for reading skills to develop. While it may be difficult to remain patient, be assured that reading will happen when your child is ready.

Encouraging Good Table Manners

With holiday meals soon to be in full swing, our younger diners may benefit from these simple tips for minding their manners when dining with others.

  • If the meal is not buffet style, wait until everyone has been seated and has their food before beginning to eat.
  • Place your napkin in your lap before beginning to eat and use it to dab your mouth, when necessary.
  • If you have to blow your nose or pick your teeth, excuse yourself to go to another room or restroom.
  • Always say “excuse me” should you burp.
  • If you don’t think you like something that is being served, try a bit and then move on to the rest of the food on your plate.
  • Always eat with utensils unless the food is meant to be eaten with fingers.
  • Do not put your elbows on the table. (This rule is okay to break if you’re not actually eating.)
  • Chew with your mouth closed and do not talk with your mouth full.
  • Always say “thank you” when you are served.
  • Politely ask that items out of reach be passed to you. Do not reach over other people’s plates.
  • Eat slowly.

The Ultimate Block Party — Highlight Video

The Goddard School and Goddard Systems, Inc. is a proud sponsor of the Ultimate Block Party: Arts and Sciences of Play. Watch this video to see The Goddard School Let’s Play Cafe and participation in the largest game of Simon Says (with Goddard Schools across the nation!).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLDwSogtycY[/youtube]

To watch more videos from The Goddard School, click here!

Gather Around Our Table

For most parents, getting the family to the dinner table—and keeping them there—takes some creativity. Here are a few secrets to help your little ones (and bigger ones) stay put, eat something other than mac-n-cheese and even look forward to family meals together.

Cut yourself some slack. The goal is to keep your family mealtime a positive, happy experience. Think about lowering your expectations for what a “sit-down” meal with little ones and bigger ones means. Real life can be hectic—balancing work, soccer, piano lessons, play dates—and getting the whole family to the table at the same time can be so challenging that many families just give up. Most of us believe that family dinner is important—we simply lack the patience, energy or tools to pull it off. And then we feel guilty.

Why not make dinnertime fun instead of a chore? Include an unexpected ingredient such as purple carrots or star fruit, serve the kids’ juice in fancy glasses—or enjoy pancakes, eggs and OJ instead of your usual dinner fare. Have a picnic: pack up a basket, spread out a blanket on the living room floor, move a couple potted plants over and enjoy dinner in “the park.” Is your fridge full of leftovers? Dish them up, put out some soft taco shells and let your family enjoy making their own “wacky wrap” creations.

Make it a group effort and give everyone a responsibility. Your spouse could get the salad together while your daughter sets the table. Let your youngest supervise from his booster seat while your son takes the drink orders. Your 10-year-old can feed the baby while you get the rest of dinner on the table. This is the perfect opportunity to provide your children with a valuable sense of involvement. Ask your family for their own ideas and allow them to choose the side dishes for the week. Remember that while some of their requests may be a bit off the wall, they are (generally) doable.

Start a tradition of “Family Happy Hour.” Before you start preparing dinner, serve healthy appetizers such as chopped veggies with hummus or baked whole grain tortilla chips with mango salsa while listening to a fun playlist. These healthy options take the edge off their hunger, and you may find your children happier and more willing to try new foods when you do sit down together.

Dinner is not your only option. Sometimes the demands of real life can get in the way of this important commitment—so, we need to be flexible. Family mealtime is about connecting with your family—if dinner is impossible, why not connect over lunch or a snack? And, take advantage of some shortcut ideas. On the weekend, why not prepare a few meals in advance so that everything is ready to be heated when you get home from a long day at work? Learn to make some compromises—crock pots can be wonderful, and not every meal needs to be Coq au vin!

Family dinner is a good idea. “Mealtime is often the only time in the whole day when everybody’s in the same room having a conversation,” says William Doherty, Ph.D., author of The Intentional Family (Addison Wesley Longman, 1997), “so it’s where the family’s culture gets created.” Family dinner helps demonstrate to our children that they are important enough for us to spend this valuable time with. And we often hear experts say that consistent family mealtime improves nutrition, table manners, communication skills, family relationships and bonding.

Potty Training Tips

1.)  Once your child shows behaviors of potty training and your child follows general instructions willingly, he/she is ready to learn and follow new instructions, like those for potty training.

Behaviors of Potty Training

  • Shows an interest in the bathroom
  • Can pull down and pull up his/her pants
  • Can walk over to and sit down on the toilet by themselves
  • Knows what “wet” and “dry” mean

2.)  It is important for your child to understand you are starting something new. Signal this big transition to your child by switching from diapers to training pants.

3.)  Give enthusiastic approval when instruction is followed: hugs, kisses and verbal praise.

4.)  Remember; never try to potty train a child during a time of stress, such as when your family is moving, going on vacation or when the child is sick. If it doesn’t seem to be working, take a break and try again in a few weeks or months. It will happen; just give it time.

It’s Apple Time!

‘Tis the season to enjoy a good-for-you fall fruit that the whole family loves – apples! Apples are child-friendly, healthy snacks.  They are fat, sodium and cholesterol free!  Apples are grown in all 50 states and orchards across the country offer apple picking, hay rides and hot apple cider at this time of year – a day of family fun and good memories.

Apples can be more than just good to eat. Check out the fun ‘apple’ activity below.

Apple Printing

You can use apples as stamps to create fun pictures, wrapping paper or to decorate t-shirts and other wearables!

Materials:

Apples

Paint (Use washable poster paint for paper prints and fabric paints for clothes.)

Paper Plates

Printable Surface

Newspaper (to protect work surface)

Art Smocks or Old T-shirts

Knife to Cut the Apple(s) – Adults only*

How To:

1. Cover your work surface with newspaper and make sure everyone is wearing old clothes or a smock!

2. Pour paint on the paper plates (one color per plate).

3. Cut the apples in half (adults only). Create an apple silhouette by cutting the apple from top to bottom, or create a circle with a “star” by cutting the apple horizontally. Ask your child to guess what the shape will look like before you cut the apple, or brainstorm various ways to create different shapes with the apple.

4. Encourage your child to dip the flat side of the apple in the paint (trying to thoroughly cover the flat surface) and then place the apple – paint side down -on the printing surface.

5. Enjoy creating fun designs and pictures with your homemade stamps!

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages. (Activity from kidsdomain.com)

Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers with Loss and Death

The thing about being the all-knowing parent is that there are two sides to that coin. And when a serious loss or death occurs in our children’s lives, those same point-blank questions they ask about babies/poop/lightening will come about death and dying.

What makes such questions so tough?

  • The meaning of death may still elude us personally.
  • The one certain thing in life seems to defy the certain answer.
  • If this particular loss is an emotionally hard issue for us, we will not be inclined to talk about something that upsets us – especially with our little ones and their unerring radar for our soft spots.

Death is a part of every life and even young children are aware of it. Road kill, dead bugs, fairy tale drama and screen time – all conspire to make it a daily event. But as a topic of conversation, few adults leap at the opportunity. And we should. Unemotional, scientific talk about death when it just shows up, helps to inoculate them and us for those more painful intrusions when something or someone beloved dies. Suggestions:

  • Reflect on your own questions about death with a trusted adult or partner so that the words don’t get so stuck in your throat or you mind. If there is a religious component to your understanding and that is part of what you want to convey to your children, be plain and clear. White lies have a way of not ringing true and can actually cause more uneasiness than they relieve. “I don’t have an answer to that question” is also better and less confusing than euphemisms about ‘eternal rest’ or ‘gone away.’
  • Break it down developmentally. The very young have a hard time taking death seriously –given how it’s depicted on screen – and tend to see it as short-lived and reversible. The slightly olders are beginning to get the hang of it as something more serious and complex, even ubiquitous, but it’s still hard for them to take it personally, or that it’s permanent/forever.
  • The talk: keep it simple, short and scientific. Since the young mind is so concrete, best to talk about death as a change in function; when [the dog/grandma] dies, they stop breathing, their eyes can’t see anymore, they don’t think or talk/bark, can’t feel anything either. Then let them go back to playing. They will be back. That is when it is good to check in with them about what they understood.
  • The ‘will you die’ question is usually asked by a child so young, she has no ability to comprehend that death is permanent. Consequently, try to get to the real point – which is usually about reassurance; ‘Are you worried that I won’t be able to take care of you?’ If so, then you can reassure and inform; ‘I won’t die for a very, very long time, so I’ll be here as long as you need me.’ An older child might press harder, and if so-‘If I did die, there are lots of people to take care of you, like Aunt Dot and Uncle Tom, or Grampa and Gramma.’