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Archive for May, 2015

Promoting Healthy Eating for Your Child

Guest Post
by Patricia Lutner

Obesity in children and adults is at an all-time high in our country. Obesity rates in children have doubled over the past 30 years. Children and adults are experiencing more physical and psychological conditions due to obesity. Poor academic performance, behavior issues and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression can be related to being overweight.

Healthy-EatingYou can do a variety of things to encourage your children to adopt a healthy lifestyle. First, set a good example. What a child sees you doing they will do. What they see you eating, they will eat. Therefore, the choices you make about food and exercise help establish your children’s habits.

Preparing meals together is a good way to get children involved and to start the conversation about foods and healthy food choices. Cooking helps develop math, fine motor, hygiene and listening skills. It also helps strength the parent-child connection. Eating healthy meals together can encourage positive conversations, strengthen family bonds and provide examples of positive eating habits and good table manners for your children.

During a trip to the grocery store with your child, discuss different fruits and vegetables, their colors, their smells and their textures. Encourage your child to take a chance with you and try something new!
Don’t make children clean their plates. Children will usually stop eating when they have had enough. By forcing children to clean their plates, parents may encourage overeating. Portion size is the key here. For children who are picky eaters, you can offer new foods in small amounts. It may take multiple attempts to convince the child to taste the food. Don’t give up. Try cutting foods into various shapes that appeal to the child, or add ketchup, yogurt or mustard for dipping.

Offer children snacks, but make sure they don’t have too many and the snacks are healthy. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers are some good options.
Offer children water, milk (of any type your doctor recommends) and 100% juice. Children should not have soda or beverages with caffeine.

We should also not forget the value of exercise. Keep moving, burn off those calories, strengthen your muscles and have fun! There are many simple ways to be active as a family. Take a walk together, dance to fun music, play tag or have a race in the backyard. All of these are free and easy to do.
The benefits of establishing a healthy, active lifestyle for you and your child will last a lifetime.
For information on the food groups, the food plate, serving sizes for children of different ages and many other helpful tips, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

Language and Literacy Series: What Reading Looks Like Together

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University.  This piece was originally published on HMH’s blog.

Reading TogetherOne of my favorite sayings is “If you take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”  I can think of no other moment more precious and invaluable to ensuring a strong foundation than reading with a child – whether in the classroom, at home or in the library.

Language and literacy is the foundation for all learning. It’s a major portal through which the other learning domains unfold including math, science, social studies, creative expression, proficiency with technology, social /emotional development, 21st century skills, executive functioning and healthy, physical development.

We know that children acquire early, emergent literacy skills through various verbal and non-verbal forms. Books, in both print and digital form, have a well-earned and beloved role to play in supporting early literacy. They offer a unique progression of experiences.

While digital content brings its own unique benefits in terms of interaction and engagement, exposing young children to real books —so they have a full tactile and sensory experience of books — is always a good idea. Letting young children spend time alone with books, turning the pages and having an “up close and personal” involvement with the pictures and the letters on the page can stimulate their imagination and set the stage for self-driven exploration.

Reading books to children is equally valuable and establishes an especially positive and meaningful relationship as you read together. That meaningful relationship is the seedbed upon which a child’s confidence can flourish.

Interactive reading takes this a step further. Though it sounds like a tech term, it doesn’t have to be. It’s simply a style of reading with children that uses all elements of the book as a springboard for fuller exploration. That exploration might lead you to an app, online or real-time activity. For example, a story about baking cookies could lead to actual cookie baking; a story about finding a treasure could lead to drawing a treasure map.

Editor and author Jason Boog, is a real champion of interactive reading. Here he shares a list of print books provided by the American Library Association that are rich with opportunities for interactive reading.

Below are just a few examples of some great interactive reading books that support important skill development for early learners to get you started:big-green-monster

Social Emotional Development:

  • “Go Away Big Green Monster” by Ed Emberly

This book helps children unpack their fear of the unknown by literally taking it apart one page at a time.

Executive Function:give-a-mouse-a-cookie

  • “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff

There is no better way to understand process, consequences, and cause and effect than these delightful books.

  • “Curious George Saves His Pennies” by H.A. Reycg-saves-pennies

Helping young children learn and understand self-regulation and judgment are essential skills for lifelong success. Curious George explores through playful  trial-and-error exploration.

21st Century Skills:

  • “Jumanji” by Chris Van Allsburgjumanji

Innovation, creative problem solving, and collaboration are demonstrated through this amazing adventure where the world changes all the time.

Social Studies:

  • “Ultimate Weird But True,” National Geographicultimate-weird-but-true

Packed with tons of really cool, wacky facts that get little kids totally excited and engaged about the real world.

Over the next several weeks I look forward to discussing the power of language and literacy from some unusual points of view. What does gesture, behavior modeling, sound and vocabulary have to do with learning critical skills? How do you foster a love of reading with so many distractions? How do you use ebooks and other digital media and tools effectively to inspire a love of language and words? I will also provide ideas, recommendations and tips on ways to engage young learners.

Enjoy!

Long Days, Short Years: Enjoy Them While You Can

by Michael Petrucelli, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Darien, IL
As seen in Suburban Life Magazine

“Long days, short years.” How true these words are for parents. Several years ago, a mom with college age children said those words to me, and they resonate with me every day as a father, and as the owner of a preschool.

Family 03_jpgBeing a parent is one of the most challenging and most rewarding things we can experience in life. We are so busy trying to be the best parent we can be (while fulfilling our other obligations to work, family, and the community) that we may lose sight of how precious every moment with our children can be. It isn’t always easy to muster the energy to read a book with your child as part of a goodnight ritual after a long day. It isn’t always easy to take it a step slower at the store so that your children can look around and explore. It isn’t always easy to go outside after dinner to practice baseball or soccer with your children. It isn’t always easy, but it is always important.

My son is nearly twelve, my oldest daughter is nearly eleven, and my youngest daughter is eight. I remember the day each was born like it was yesterday. Along the journey, there have been plenty of sleepless nights filled with worry, illnesses, bumps and bruises, spills and messes, and emotional outbursts (not just by the kids), as parts of many long days. I have been fortunate to have been able to spend quality time with my children: just hanging out, coaching their sports teams, projects that always took extra time with my “helpers,” family dinners.

I remember a Saturday morning about two years ago though. I woke up to spend the day with my children, like we usually do. I was informed that everyone had a play date. I didn’t know what to do! This meant that the two-hour project I had to do, would only take two hours, and not three because my children wanted to “help.” It meant that I could sit down and read the newspapers without interruption. It didn’t feel good at first because it seemed like a very long day without them, but then I remembered that it is all a part of our journey through life together.

Keep all of this in mind as summer approaches. The “long” days of summer present extra opportunities to spend quality time with your children. Take a walk to a park or playground. Run around in the yard and play hide and seek or tag. Plant a vegetable garden, and check on the progress all summer. Visit the zoo, walk around a local town to explore, or find a nature preserve to visit. If the kids wake up early on Saturday or Sunday, rather than setting them in front of the TV, go for a walk or a run with them, or make a special breakfast together. We used to live not far from a small pond that we could pass by during a run. I would load up the double jog stroller with two of my children. We would bring bread, and I would stop our run so we could feed the ducks. We would then set back on our trek that was always filled with new things to see and discuss.

So when you are a little late getting out of the house because your son or daughter needs to say goodbye to the fish, or because they forgot a mitten, or your children wake up early on Saturday morning and want to play; try to cherish how long the days are, because the years are short.

Goddard Systems Honors National Teacher of the Year Award Recipients

Four Passionate Educators Recognized During National Teacher Appreciation Week

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – May 4, 2015 – Goddard Systems, Inc., franchisor of The Goddard School®, the premier preschool focusing on learning through play for children from six weeks to six years old, honors four extraordinary early childhood educators as their ninth annual “Teacher of the Year” award recipients during National Teacher Appreciation Week on May 4-8, 2015.

Each “Teacher of the Year” honoree from The Goddard School developed a long-term project that has benefitted their classroom, school or community. Projects from the selected teachers include a Good Manners Musical to inspire and reinforce polite behavior; Pen Pal Patriots for children to connect with members from the Armed Forces and learn about patriotism; STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Parent Workshops designed to educate parents on how they can support learning at home; and an Alex’s Lemonade Stand to help raise funds for childhood cancer research.

“At The Goddard School, our Educational Advisory Board and Goddard Systems University push for the highest standards in early childhood education,” says Dr. Craig Bach, Vice President of Education at Goddard Systems, Inc. “With more than 10,000 Goddard School teachers nationwide, we employ the very best teachers around and we are thrilled to be recognizing this year’s recipients for their passion and dedication in enlightening young minds for future success.”

The following teachers are honored:

Angie Petrillo – Wayne, NJ

Angie Petrillo, pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Wayne, NJ, created a playful and educational program named “Good Manners – A Medieval Quest for Polite Behavior.” Students dance and sing their way through lessons as they follow two eccentric knights on a quest to reinstate good manners in a cursed kingdom. With over 60 cast members from 6 weeks to 6 years old and a full set and costumes designed for the Middle Ages, the 30-minute musical play guides the children in discovering polite behavior in a creative and entertaining setting.

Gerianne Holl – Cranberry Township, PA

Gerianne Holl, pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Cranberry Township, PA, created Pen Pal Patriots, a program for children to learn about patriotism and build empathy. Motivated by her family’s military background, Gerianne provided opportunities for her students to send cards and monthly care packages to troops in the U.S. Navy stationed in Bahrain. Conducting “Skyping Days” several times a year, children work together to develop and write questions to learn about the service members as well as wear red, white and blue in support of those away from home.

Ryan Mayes – Goodyear, AZ

Ryan Mayes, preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Goodyear, AZ, spearheaded STEAM Parent Workshops to educate parents and provide tools for them to reinforce STEAM concepts at home. Because children experience the deepest, most genuine learning when they are having fun, Ryan incorporates this philosophy into every aspect of teaching.

Valerie Schmitzer – Doylestown II, PA

Valerie Schmitzer, kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Doylestown (Farm Lane), PA, developed a hands-on approach to creating a difference in the world. Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a charitable program designed to help fight childhood cancer, has inspired Valerie and her students in creating a Lemonade Stand of their own. With the hopes of raising awareness and helping to find a cure for children battling cancer, Valerie and the children have collaborated in creating the stand, making and selling lemonade. Donating all proceeds to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, the children learn that they can make a difference by providing hope, and work to set an example to encourage and empower others to do the same.

For more information on The Goddard School, please visit www.goddardschool.com.