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Archive for September, 2011

Your Preschooler and Sleep

Sleep troubles are among parents’ most exasperating experiences with their preschoolers. There are so many considerations in how parents decide to respond when sleep goes off the rails: is this the first child, is the mother or the father more (or less) distressed and do they agree that it is a crisis, the gender of the child (we tend to be more secure in handling kids of the same gender as the parent) and the parents’ sleep habits. There is also a new aspect of sleep that differentiates preschool sleep from toddler sleep: dreams.

Toddlers do dream, but for preschoolers, because of their exploding language and imaginations, dreams are more interesting and powerful and can wreak havoc on a previously good sleeper. When I hear of a sudden deterioration in sleep, dreams are my first suspect. If that’s the case, the child may fall asleep okay, but erupt in the second half of the night.  The child will need reassurance that the dream woke her up, is over now, was not real, will not come back and can’t hurt her. If the child is fighting sleep from the beginning, it is still good to check if the child is afraid to sleep because of dreams. Otherwise, it’s more likely a separation issue (perhaps triggered by something in the family’s life). Then, the parents are in for a tough time of re-structuring calming pre-sleep rituals (reading stories and face massages are good), insisting on the five-minute ‘sit with you’ rule (use a timer), reassuring the child that they’ll be fine and a few sleepless nights of walking them (in a calm, boring way with few words) back to their bed, taking turns if it burns one parent out. I discuss this in greater detail in my book, Partnership Parenting, and there is always your pediatrician to help if these measures aren’t sufficient.

Simon Says: An Exercise for Academic Excellence

A recent study published in the Psychological Assessment journal found that preschool children who regularly participate in “Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders” tasks like Simon Says may do better academically. According to Megan McClelland, an associate professor of human development and family science at Oregon State University, games like Simon Says can help children improve their self-regulation skills through listening carefully and following directions. Click here to read more about this very important study.

The Goddard School believes in the importance of self-regulating games and the power of learning through play. Goddard Schools across the nation participated in a record-breaking game of Simon Says!  On Friday, September 23rd, children, parents, faculty and guests at Goddard Schools nationwide attempted to break the Guinness World Records™ “Largest Game of Simon Says (Multiple Venues).”  This unique synchronized event, illustrated the power of play for learning in an exciting and innovative way!  Stay tuned to see if we broke the record!!

Five Tips for Healthy Eating

Goddard Schools Celebrate the Importance of Play, Fitness & Nutrition

Goddard Schools believe in the power of play for learning, as well as the importance of providing a healthy, active lifestyle for all children. In an effort to spread the word to families in their community, the educational preschools will sponsor The Goddard School Block Party events from Monday, September 19 through Saturday, September 24, 2011. The events will engage children and their families 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.

To gear up for the big celebration, Sue Adair, director of education at Goddard Systems, Inc., offers five tips for parents to help their children develop healthy eating habits:

  • Offer encouragement – Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods to help them get the nutrients they need from each food group.  By doing so, they are more likely to enjoy trying new foods!
  • Be a good role model – It’s no surprise that children are likely to mimic their parents’ food choices.  If your children see you enjoying fruits, vegetables and whole grains, they will more likely enjoy them as well.
  • Stock up on healthy choices – Make sure that your cupboards and refrigerator are filled with healthy options rather than prepackaged foods filled with sugar and sodium. Read food labels before purchasing so you know exactly what’s in the foods you are buying—just because it’s made with whole grains doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.
  • Serve balanced portionsThe United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has turned the Food Pyramid into a plate. The USDA’s MyPlate illustrates balanced portion sizes for the five foods groups—Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein and Dairy—in a familiar way by using a standard mealtime place setting.
  • Follow a schedule – Set a daily schedule for meals and snacks (3 meals & 1-2 snacks per day is recommended), with plenty of time between each.  This will help children learn the importance of structured eating and help them to stay feeling full throughout the day.

Nutrition and exercise are important to all children’s overall health. That’s why the children attending The Goddard School enjoy various physical fitness programs as part of their teacher-planned, child-directed learning activities each day,” says Sue Adair, director of education at Goddard Systems, Inc.  “We also work closely with our families to help guide good nutritional choices as an integral part of our home-school relationship.”

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.

Five Tips for Healthy Activities

Goddard Schools Celebrate the Importance of Play, Fitness & Nutrition

The Goddard School believes in the power of play for learning, as well as the importance of providing a healthy, active lifestyle for all children. In an effort to spread the word to families in their community, the educational preschools will sponsor The Goddard School Block Party event from Monday, September 19 through Saturday, September 24, 2011. The event will engage children and their families 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.

In addition to The Goddard School Block Party event taking place in our Schools, 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. The Ultimate Block Party will take place Sunday, October 2nd, at Rash Field in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore, MD and 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 partake in healthy activities:

  • Make it into a game. Create a game out of everyday tasks such as chores, cleaning and gardening. Think outside the box to create activities that are active and stimulate the mind. Play helps children learn to solve problems, promotes flexibility and motivation, teaches regulation of emotions and builds resilience and confidence.
  • Get outside. Preschoolers need plenty of time and space to run around and play.  Taking your child to a playground or park is a great way to release energy and exercise! Play outside with your child and teach hand-eye coordination by showing the basics of throwing, catching and kicking a large, soft ball.
  • Add music to the activity. Play “Statues” by playing up-tempo music.  Have your child move while the music is playing and freeze into a statue when you pause the music.  Encourage creative dancing.
  • Be active with your children. Support young toddlers’ mastery of walking by allowing them to be active!  Play with them as they learn to run, hop, dance and throw.  Have them chase bubbles or invent a silly walk — play becomes exercise.  Remember to provide encouragement to your child as they build self-confidence.
  • Get active inside, too. When weather interferes, get out the large balls, exercise mats and Twister® games, or do some stretching and balancing exercises together. Limit TV, video game and computer time to encourage your children to become active.

Focusing your child’s physical fitness on fun activities will increase your child’s ability to move with confidence and competence,” Adair said.  “At The Goddard School, we also work closely with our families to help guide healthy activities, because exercise increases overall metabolism; builds a healthy heart and lungs, strong bones and muscles; and improves coordination, balance, posture and flexibility.

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

School Lunch Timesavers

  • Involve your children in making lunches. After dinner, gather in the kitchen to prepare sandwiches or leftovers and snacks for the next day’s lunches. If they’ve helped make their lunch, children are more likely to eat and enjoy it.
  • Make a weekday lunch calendar and ask your children to help decide what they will have for lunch each day. This will also make grocery shopping for the week that much easier!
  • Consider using divided lunch containers. With separate sections available for each food group, they’ll help you easily put together healthy, balanced lunches.
  • Prepare a variety of fruits and veggies and place a serving of each in separate containers in the fridge. When packing lunches, have each child choose one item from each group and place in their lunch bag with a sandwich and drink.
  • Prepare large meals like pasta or stew over the weekend and then divide into single-serve portions to pack for lunches throughout the week.

Grandparents Day

National Grandparents Day is just around the corner (Sunday the 11th)! Here are a few charming gift suggestions:

  • Help your child write a letter to Grammy to tell her why she is so special. Decorate the envelope with stickers, stamps, glitter and more.
  • Get out the paints, markers, crayons and your spare scrapbooking supplies and encourage your child to make a masterpiece for Pop-Pop. Place in an inexpensive frame—violá!—it’s the perfect gift.
  • Show Nanna your child’s sweet side! Whip up a batch of sugar cookies and provide colored icing, sprinkles, etc. Your child will love decorating this custom cookie gift!

How will your child recognize a favorite grandparent this year?

Naptime Tips

Consistency is the key when it comes to your child’s naptime.  It is an important part of their day, and a regular naptime routine will ensure that your child gets the sleep she needs. Below are a few tips that can help make naptime a breeze:

  • Choose a regular, daily naptime and stick to it—early afternoon is best.
  • Have your child visit the potty before heading off for their nap.
  • Naps should occur in the same place your child sleeps at night.
  • Choose a calming activity to do for a few minutes before naptime to help your little one wind down, e.g., they can practice a few yoga poses or flip through their favorite book.
  • Enter the room with the lights off or dimmed low.
  • Play soothing music or sing a soft lullaby to help them fall asleep.
  • Provide a “lovey” for naptime snuggling.

Travel Quick Tips

  • Assemble a travel kit in a small, easy-to-grab bag—this can make unexpected situations like emergent dashes to the rest stop or airplane bathroom, and other daunting places, that much easier to deal with. Include items like potty seat covers, a small pack of wipes, small trash bag, mini first aid kit, child-friendly hand sanitizer, mini coloring book and a few crayons and some age-appropriate snacks.
  • If traveling by car, leave room in your itinerary for “zoomie” breaks. It can be difficult for a young child (and parents, too!) to sit in a car for hours on end. Take a 15-minute break now and then at a family-friendly rest stop or park to stretch, run off a little energy or make silly noises.
  • Try to maintain some likeness to your child’s typical schedule. A child with a general sense of what to expect and when is generally a happier child!