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Archive for July, 2013

Signing with Your Little One

The Goddard SchoolBaby sign language has been increasing in popularity for the past ten years, but is it really helpful?  The recent study from researchers from the University of Hertfordshire (2012) found no evidence that using baby sign language helps to accelerate language development.  The study did show that the mothers who had used sign language with their infants behaved differently. They were more responsive to their babies’ nonverbal cues and they encouraged independent exploration. When parents are more attuned to their baby’s thoughts and feelings, babies are more likely to develop secure attachment relationships.

At The Goddard School®, we start teaching babies simple signs for communicating their basic needs, and you can too.  Start with words like more, drink, food/eat, book, bed/sleep, diaper and, of course, Mommy and Daddy.  Many online resources demonstrate how make the signs.  Don’t feel pressured or anxious if your baby doesn’t sign right away and just have fun.

Celebrating Parents’ Day – July 28

The Goddard SchoolParents’ Day has been a national holiday since 1994 and is observed on the fourth Sunday in July. The holiday is an opportunity to celebrate family, the hard work of parents and grandparents and the effect good parenting has on our society. Make Parents’ Day special with simple activities that children can do on their own and activities the whole family can enjoy. Here are some ideas for your Parents’ Day celebration:

  • Create handmade artwork for grandparents;
  • Have the children put together a picnic for the family that includes their parents’ favorite sandwiches and treats;
  • Ask the children to help you with chores around the house;
  • Read together as a family;
  • Put together a movie night with a parent’s favorite family movie;
  • Wash the family car;
  • Give the pets a special treat;
  • Have a family Sunday afternoon nap or hour of quiet play;
  • Call or video chat with grandparents who live far away;
  • Take a nature walk together at a local arboretum or nature center;
  • Visit your local farm for fresh local produce and ice cream;
  • Ride bikes together;
  • Craft a handmade card with your child and put it where your partner or the child’s grandparent will find it;
  • Garden together.

*Some activities will require adult supervision.

Parents’ Day is not just a day for pampering parents and grandparents; it’s a day for focusing on your family and the effect good parenting has on our society. Celebrate your bond with your family by taking the time to focus on what really matters.

All Fun and Games

The Goddard SchoolVery young children don’t have the abstract thinking ability or emotional development to understand competitive sports. They generally prefer motor activities and games with simple rules instead. As children get older, they become more interested in organized sports. At The Goddard School®, we understand that sportsmanship includes giving your best effort, accepting defeat gracefully, playing fairly and compromising.

We live in a competitive culture, and it’s easy for children to develop a winner-takes-all mindset. This attitude isn’t good for a child’s character development or mental health. Sooner or later we all fail, and it’s important for children to learn early on that making mistakes and coming in last are okay. Children who learn these ideas early are more likely to show positive leadership skills at school and in the community. Goddard School teachers recommend you start with simple things like the following:

  •  Playing games like catch, hide and seek or tag, which require everyone to take turns;
  • Encouraging your children to try again when they are having trouble mastering a skill;
  • Choosing teams and coaches carefully. Coaches should teach good sportsmanship and use a patient, calm approach;
  • Being a good sport yourself. Show good sportsmanship at your child’s games;
  • Congratulating others on their successes.

Measuring Up

The Goddard SchoolWords like ‘measurement’ and ‘data’ may connote Excel spreadsheets and pie charts, but for a young child, sorting, measuring and collecting is fun.  Measuring and collecting data teaches young children to make logical connections, observe patterns and changes and analyze information. These processes encourage critical thinking skills that are necessary for success in school and life. Early mastery of these skills lays the foundation for positive math experiences throughout a child’s life.

At The Goddard School, children use early math skills throughout their daily routines and activities. Try these activities with your child to encourage early math skills:

  • Play with shape sorters. Describe the colors and shapes, and then match the shapes to items in the room;
  • Sort the laundry together;
  • Have your child help you measure the ingredients for cookies;
  • Weigh produce at the grocery store;
  • Measure items around the house with a ruler, a measuring stick or a piece of string;
  • Use a chore chart to track simple chores;
  • Make a graph of family favorites, such as favorite foods, favorite colors and favorite activities;
  • Cut a pizza into eight equal pieces. 

Want more ideas?  Check out “Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics” from the U.S. Department of Education.

Technology and Young Children

TechnologyYour children will encounter more types of technology than any previous generation. Many schools now use interactive white boards. Middle and high schools use online learning management systems as part of their core curricula. Most young children have access to tablets, computers and smartphones. With one click or touch, children can listen to a story, read a book or play games.

Providing your children with opportunities to explore technology will prepare them for their future school experiences. Here are five tips to help you get started with your young children:

  • Bookmark high-quality, educational websites for your child;
  • Play a favorite online game with your child and talk about what happens as you play;
  • Download children’s e-books and educational games to your smartphone or tablet;
  • Encourage your child to develop other interests, so your child will learn to put the tablet away and go out and play.

Make Your Own Ice Cream Sandwiches

July is National Ice Cream Month, so what better way to celebrate than with a treat you can make with your children at home?

Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches

If your children love ice cream sandwiches, they can help you make them at home. Break a graham cracker into two squares. One cracker, broken in half, makes one sandwich.  Scoop their favorite flavor of slightly softened ice cream onto one square, and then top it with the other.  Gently push the sandwich together until the ice cream just reaches each edge.  Then, you can dip the edges of the sandwich in sprinkles or chopped-up pieces of candy.  Enjoy them now, or freeze them for a fun summer treat later!

*If you don’t want to use graham crackers, you can make your own sandwich cake. 

Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Pick your child’s favorite kind of cookie. Chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies and snickerdoodles work well, but you can use any kind you like. Either bake them or buy them pre-made. If you use homemade cookies, make sure they have cooled completely before making them into ice cream sandwiches.

You can use either store-bought or homemade ice cream.  Pick your favorite flavor and scoop some ice cream onto one cookie, then top it with the other cookie and gently press the halves of the sandwich together.

Enjoy these sweet treats as they are or roll the edges in sprinkles or chopped-up pieces of candy first!

These are a great birthday party treats, or you can freeze them and save them for a day at the pool or the beach.

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages. 

Summer Survival Tips for Parents

 

We are now in the thickMom with Boy of summer, which means heat, packed summer schedules, vacations and road trips. Whether your children are continuing their summer at a Goddard School summer program, traveling with you or staying at home, these tips for summer survival can help keep things running smoothly.

Stock Up on Summer Staples

If you’re a member of a big warehouse store or have a local grocery where household staples are sold in bulk, then you may want to the take time to stock up on daily summer staples like sunscreen, bug spray, after sun lotion, anti-bacterial hand lotion or wipes, diapers, wipes, freezer-safe barbeque foods, condiments, road trip snacks, reusable water bottles, electrolyte-infused drinks, allergy medicine for adults and children, a first aid kit for each car, favorite summer treats like ice pops and any other items you may use on a daily basis throughout the summer.

Road Trip Readiness

To keep road trips fun and educational, pack a bag for each child with age-appropriate toys, books and activities.  Pack electronics in a separate bag and keep it with you so that you can charge any devices and monitor their use.  Have a cooler or cooler bag stocked with ice, water and chilled snacks ready for anyone who gets hungry or thirsty. If you are potty training your child, pack a travel potty or travel toilet seat and a change of clothes, and keep them handy.  Make sure your first aid kit is in the glove compartment, so you can put it in your backpack or beach bag during a hike, a visit to the beach or another family adventure.  For more information on traveling with children, click here.

Prepare for Take Off  

If your family is traveling by air this summer, keep certain items on hand to keep everyone calm and alleviate any fear of flying. To move swiftly through security, wear slip-on shoes, avoid wearing belts with metal buckles and keep items you typically put in your pockets in a plastic zip-top bag in your carry-on bag.  Bring a backpack or small carry-on for each child filled with age-appropriate toys and activities and an extra layer for everyone in case the airplane is chilly. Include summer reading and fun learning activities, like flash cards or a little dry erase board for writing numbers and letters, playing tic-tac-toe and doodling.  Bring gum so the children can pop their ears, pain relievers for you and your children and wipes for spills or messes. 

Keep Summer Safe, Fun and Educational

Craft a summer checklist with your older children and involve them in the planning, packing and preparation stages of your outings, whether you are gearing up for a day at the pool, a road trip, a plane ride to your vacation spot or a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. 

Rainy Summer Day

Before you put on the children’s favorite movie for the eleventh time on a rainy summer afternoon, use the opportunity to star in your own production. Dramatic play is an important part of early learning and can be a lot of fun. When children engage in dramatic play, they adopt and manipulate identities, playing out the ideas of the world around them and fantasy worlds. This critical component of the developmental learning process helps children develop abstract thinking, literacy, math, scientific thinking and communication skills naturally.

Dramatic play is part of the everyday curriculum in all Goddard School classrooms. Parents can join in the fun by getting down on the floor and playing with the children. You and your children can make costumes of their favorite story characters using old clothes, paper and crayons and then act out the scenes. If your children love Goldilocks and the Three Bears, let them assign you a character to play and let them lead the way. With very young children, dramatic or pretend play can be as simple as drumming with pots and pans or pretending to make a meal. It may feel like play, but it is your child’s work and it helps children learn.Before you know it, the rain will stop and you can go play outside.