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Archive for August, 2011

Celebrate Playful, Healthy Learning with Five Helpful Tips

The Goddard School believes that the basis for healthy learning is providing all children with active, playful lifestyles enriched with good nutrition. From Monday, September 19th through Saturday, September 24th, 2011, Goddard Schools nationwide will host The Goddard School Block Party event in an effort to spread the word to families in their community. Children and their families will engage in a variety of exciting fitness, nutrition and playful learning activities based on the core curriculum and enrichment programs that are an integral part of the FLEXLearning Program offered at The Goddard School.

For the second year in a row, Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), franchisor of The Goddard School, is the exclusive preschool sponsor of Play for Tomorrow’s Ultimate Block Party: The Arts and Sciences of Play, a powerful global movement designed to recognize and celebrate the power of play for learning. In addition to The Goddard School Block Party event taking place in our Schools, GSI will participate in the Ultimate Block Party (UBP) on Sunday, October 2nd, at Rash Field in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore, MD. The UBP will feature an amazing day of play for families and children, designed to bring playful learning back to the forefront. At the event, GSI and the Baltimore-area Goddard Schools will host the Let’s Play Café. Children will enjoy manipulating play dough, shopping at a pretend farmer’s market and participating in a series of engaging pretend restaurant activities while learning about nutrition, counting, sorting and other important lessons through play.

To gear up for the big celebrations, Sue Adair, Director of Education at GSI, offers five tips for parents to help their children develop healthy learning habits:

  • Encourage play. Playing alone and with others not only builds brain development, it also helps children develop social skills and a sense of ethics. The most effective play is free of evaluation and correction (after all, throwing a ball shouldn’t be “right” or “wrong”), while promoting autonomy.
  • Play together. In addition to their ABCs and 123s, preschool children are learning and developing life skills that will shape who they grow into as adults.  One of these building blocks is learning to play well with others and accepting one another’s differences.
  • Get adequate sleep and proper nutrition. 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.
  • Continue year-long education. Routine provides structure, which is often lacking during the summer months when children all too quickly become detached from the lessons they learned throughout the school year.  Maintaining a schedule throughout the summer supports an environment that is less of a contrast to the classroom and provides a healthy balance between building skills, play and rest.
  • Turn off the screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to avoid television and other electronic media for children two years of age and younger. Time spent in front of a computer, TV, video game or other similar devices can interfere with schoolwork, physical activity, curious exploration, social interaction and play.

“Play is the natural way to learn. It helps children learn to solve problems, promotes flexibility and motivation, teaches regulation of emotions and builds resilience and confidence,” says Adair. “It is also essential to the development of the child’s brain, forming the basis of healthy cognitive function and mastery of the child’s physical world.”

To learn more about The Goddard School Block Party and The Goddard School, parents are encouraged to visit www.goddardschool.com/blockparty or call 1-800-GODDARD.

Turn on Those Listening Ears!

Have you found it challenging to capture your preschooler’s attention these days? Many parents try speaking louder or may yell out of frustration. While yelling can be scary for children, those who hear it often may simply tune it out. Your child may be ignoring you on purpose, exercising their “selective hearing” or just daydreaming.

Pssst! Here’s a hinttry whispering! A whisper can prompt your child to feel that something “secret” or “super special” is about to be said—and that’s something most preschoolers can’t resist!

How do you gain your child’s attention?

Packing a Healthy Lunch

Ensure your child gets a much-needed boost of energy and nutrition from his midday meals by following these simple tips for packing a healthy lunch.

  • Include whole grains. Many breads, snacks and cereals are made with whole grains, so it’s easier than ever to make them part of your child’s daily diet. If he turns his nose up at brown whole grain bread, there are many white whole grain options available.
  • Supply fruits and veggies. Rinse and prepare cucumber slices, celery sticks, baby carrots, apple wedges, blueberries or strawberries at the beginning of the week and store in single-serve containers in your refrigerator. Let your child choose one veggie and one fruit to add to their lunch each day.
  • Offer calcium-rich options. Send along fat-free or low-fat milk (or a calcium-fortified milk alternative like soy milk), a yogurt cup, yogurt-based dip for fruits and veggies or low-fat cheese. Be sure to include freezer packs to keep these items cold, especially if there won’t be a refrigerator available to store your child’s lunch.
  • Provide protein. Whether in a sandwich (made with whole grain bread, of course!) or just rolled up on its own, lean turkey, roast beef or ham from the deli counter are a healthier alternative to fattier options like bologna.

Newbie-Doobie-Do: The Birth of a New Sibling

While you are eagerly awaiting your new baby, your older child may be feeling a whole swirl of emotions—including feeling a little left out. So, in addition to preparing for the “newbie,” now is the time to reinforce your child’s sense of belonging. As basic as it may seem, take some extra time to reassure your child that they will have just as meaningful a place in the family after the new baby arrives—and in fact, even more so since they will now get to be a big brother/sister!

Be prepared to talk about specific highlights and positive ways in which your child will be included, from helping to care for and be a protector of the new baby, to having someone to share the fun with, etc. If you have a sibling, share with your child some of your fun memories of growing up with a brother or sister.

Be sure to involve your child in the preparations for the new baby—let him or her select the outfit the new sibling will come home in, help him or her to create something special to hang up in the new baby’s room—even let him or her pick the color of the baby’s room (from colors you’ve narrowed down, of course).

Equally as important, be sure to make some extra special quality time for you and your child to bond—have a little picnic in the park, cuddle up for story time or bake up a batch of your child’s favorite cookies. Focus your attention only on him or her and steer clear of talk of the new baby during this quality time. Let your child know that these one-on-one get-togethers will continue even once the new baby has arrived—and be sure to follow through.

Toddlers and the Word “No”

With your toddler asserting a newly discovered feeling of independence, you may find yourself at your wits’ end. Tasks that were once a piece of cake—from buckling a car seat, brushing teeth and getting dressed to grocery shopping and mealtimes—can be a big production these days. Now that your child is testing the waters of freedom—getting bigger, stronger, faster, and simultaneously discovering the word “No!”—you might wonder how to regain control. Consider these tips for guiding your child toward good behavior.

Prepare your child in advance by listing each step. Instead of asking, “Are you ready to go home?” use a happy but firm tone to say, “First, we’re going to walk to the car. Remember to hold my hand. Next, I will help you climb into your seat. Then, I will need your help buckling the seat belt.”

Allow your child feel as if they have some control of their world. Instead of, “What do you want to wear to today?” try, “Would you like to wear the blue shirt or the orange shirt?” Instead of, “What do you want for breakfast? try, “Would you like oatmeal or eggs for breakfast?”

Reward good behavior. When your child has cooperated, let them know how pleased you are. “Great job! Thank you for helping me buckle you in! It’s so important to wear your seat belt. Now I will get in and buckle my seat belt just like you!” and, “Great choice! Oatmeal is really yummy and will help keep your tummy full until snack time!”

Choose your battles. While it is critical to not give in on some things (seat belt use, holding hands when crossing a street, etc.), sometimes you have to pick your battles. If your child refuses to get dressed, sometimes you just need to call it a pajama day—easy to do on a day off! If she refuses her meat and veggies at dinner time, don’t make it a big issue. She’ll eat when she is hungry. Just continue to put healthy, well-balanced choices on her plate or tray at each meal and eventually she’ll try them.

How do you guide your child toward good behavior?

Tantrum Trimming Tips

It’s almost inevitable that a child will throw a tantrum at some point. Here are some great tips for tantrum prevention:

  • Incorporate relaxation time into your child’s daily schedule – play a game, visit a park, cuddle up and read a story
  • In stressful times, do your best to remain calm – be a good example and your child may follow your lead
  • Keep negatives to a minimum – saying “no” can cause frustration, try a phrase like “maybe later.”
  • Be aware and sympathetic during transitions – starting school, potty training or a new sibling could be stressors.
  • Make sure you’re listening to your child, not just hearing them – feeling understood and respected will go a long way.
  • Reward with praise and attention – reinforce good behavior with plenty of positive parenting.
  • Avoid shouting matches and harsh punishments – these reactions can make tantrums worse.
  • Laughter is the best medicine – try humor to defuse a situation, shift their mood with a tickle, hug or silly song.
  • Redirect – if you see a tantrum coming, shift your child’s attention to something new.

As children develop their language and comprehension skills, they usually tend to outgrow tantrums. In the meantime, the way you deal with them is important. Handling your child harshly or ignoring him/her altogether may cause tantrums to worsen and linger longer.