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Archive for November, 2015

How to (Really) Help Your Kids Learn Gratitude in a Hectic World

Gratitude has far reaching benefits—for you, your family and those around you. Click here to read tips on how to put it into practice.

By Susan Magsamen for Working Mother Magazine

Nine Ways to Stay Relaxed during the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a lot of fun, but it can also be stressful. Here are nine ways to stay calm during the most wonderful time of the year.

  1. Exercise. Going for a run or brisk walk can make a huge difference in your outlook. Embrace those endorphins and allow them to do their job of taking the edge off.
  2. Try holiday emails instead of greeting cards. Holiday greeting cards are a time-honored tradition, but that doesn’t mean they have to be your tradition. Send out a holiday-themed email instead, which will save you time and money. Or, if you want the best of both worlds, send out a few greeting cards to family and close friends, and send an email to everybody else.
  3. Accept imperfection. Some things may not work out the way you would like. That’s okay. Laugh it off and move on.
  4. Eat healthily. All those yummy holiday treats are great, but don’t forget to eat fruits and veggies. Maintaining a proper diet can help you keep your energy levels up and keep you in a good mood.
  5. Take a few minutes for yourself. Plop down in a favorite chair, read a book, enjoy a warm beverage or simply breathe.
  6. Breathe. A few deep breaths can help you to decompress. If you can, sit quietly and concentrate on breathing for a few minutes. This mini-meditation can help you relax and refocus.
  7. Sleep. The holiday season can be both fun and hectic, so getting enough sleep is important. After all, you need enough energy to enjoy all the holiday fun.
  8. Learn to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” You and your family may be invited to some holiday celebrations. Don’t feel like you need to commit to every one of them, though. It’s okay to say, “Maybe next year.”
  9. Remember what the holidays are all about. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday excitement. Just remember that the holidays are about spending time with loved ones and being thankful for that time. So smile and enjoy yourself!

The Goddard School Brings Holiday Cheer with Donation of Best Educational Toy of 2015 to Toys for Tots

“Choose for Charity” Comes to an End with Laser Pegs®
on Top in the 8th Annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – November 16, 2015 – Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, announces that Laser Pegs® 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set was deemed the top toy by public vote in The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. GSI will purchase and donate 100 of the winning toy to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Now in its eighth year, the Toy Test searches for the best educational toy of the year by engaging preschoolers to play with a selection of toys, provide feedback, and then vote for their favorite along with the public. Educational toys from popular toy manufacturers across the nation were first evaluated by The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee, which is comprised of early childhood education experts. The toys were judged on how well they supported educational skill development and encouraged child-initiated play and collaboration.

From there, the toys were sent to 50 Goddard Schools across the country where preschoolers tested the toys for one week. The children determined their Top 10 favorites before putting it to “Choose for Charity” public vote where people across the country could select their favorite of this year’s top toys as selected by the preschoolers.

The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Top 10 Toys finalists included the following (in suggested age range order):

  • Whoozit® Space Blankie by The Manhattan Toy Company (Suggested Age Range: 0+ months)
  • Rolligo by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 12+ months)
  • John Deere Learn ‘N Pop Farmyard Friends by TOMY (Suggested Age Range: 12+ months)
  • ModMobiles – Set A by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years)
  • Doctor On Call by Hape Toys (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Lakeshore® Gear Builders – Starter Set by Lakeshore Learning Materials  (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Lincoln Logs® 100th Anniversary Tin by K’NEX Brands (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Joinks by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set by Laser Pegs® (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years)
  • Tumble Trax™ Magnetic Marble Run by Learning Resources® (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years)

“Our annual Toy Test gives Goddard School children the opportunity to explore and discover a range of new toys,” says GSI’s Vice President of Education, Dr. Craig Bach. “It speaks to the heart of our curriculum, which is centered on play-based learning. The children benefit by developing problem solving skills, the ability to collaborate with others, self-confidence and creativity, and we benefit by seeing which toys, for example the 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set by Laser Pegs®, resonate with them, allowing us to better identify high-quality educational resources that children really enjoy.”

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

Technology and Early Learning: Part One
A Healthy Digital Diet – Three Tips for Balancing Screen Time for Kids

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 01/07/2015 on the HMH blog.

It’s a blizzard out there […]! I’m referring to the astounding number of new eBooks, apps and websites now available for young children.

Get Set-Preschool Class - Computer

Experts estimate that there are hundreds of eBooks, story apps and learning games for children released every week. With such a deluge of digital content, it can be difficult to distinguish what is truly educational and developmentally appropriate.

The good news is that there are excellent resources available to guide the way and help you make informed decisions about what to include in your child’s “digital diet.” In this series, I’ll take a closer look at these resources and share thoughts on how to harness the power of technology to enhance your child’s learning experiences.

While there are no definitive rules to help caregivers decide how much screen time (and screen type) is best for their children, the American Pediatrics Association recommends that kids spend no more than two hours per day.

In today’s post, we’ll discuss how to make sure that the time your kids do spend interacting with screens is age-appropriate, positive and educational.

Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation was one of the first to put a stake in this ground on the issue of “how much is too much?” In her seminal book, Screen Time (2012), she approaches the topic as a mother concerned about the influence of television.

Given the wealth of digital content on tablets and devices, the TV may seem like an antique, but Guernsey’s insights remain extremely valuable. Guernesy coined the “three C’s” – Content, Context and the individual Child – to provide families with framework for informed decision-making about screen time.

Content
This one seems obvious, especially when thinking about television or video content, but once you enter the digital space, choosing the right content can become more complicated. Buried advertisements, inappropriate distractions and dead ends, as well as the limitations of some apps, can frustrate little ones or undermine the potential learning experience.

Takeaway Tip: Preview all digital media and don’t be afraid to be picky!

Context
Context is about what happens before, during and after screen time, particularly what’s happening in the child’s environment. Are there competing devices within earshot? Is the child in a distraction-free environment? Most importantly, context also includes your own interactions with your child during screen time.  In fact, devices present a great opportunity for parents to play and learn along with their children, ensuring the experience is positive.

Takeaway Tip: If you are joining your child in an interactive game or app, try to be undistracted. Make an effort to put your personal, digital devices aside, and minimize background noise by turning off the television and other media. When sharing the interactive experience, don’t let the device dominate the experience. Often, adults end up focused on directing the use of the device or software, rather than experiencing and exploring the content together.

The Individual Child
The ultimate objective is to help provide children with experiences that will enhance their curiosity and pique interest in themselves and the world around them.  It pays to be thoughtful and seek out those games or apps that are most appropriate for your child, his/her age and interests.

Takeaway Tip: Check out some trusted resources to find the best fit for your child, and to help you navigate the digital terrain!

Bottom line: A reasonable “digital diet” is essential for child growth and development. Just as we choose a balance of foods for nutrition, energy and wellbeing, we can also choose appropriate digital content and determine how we can interact with it to provide the best experience for kids.

Stay tuned to this series for additional resources about creating a healthy digital diet and using technology to promote positive, fun growth experiences for young learners.

The Goddard School® Names Top 10 Educational Toys For 2015 As Tested By Preschoolers

Early Childhood Education Leader Identifies This Year’s Best Toys Inspiring Creativity And A Love Of Learning

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., Nov. 2, 2015 — Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The
Goddard School preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, gave 2015 Toy Test Collagepreschoolers the job of a lifetime when it asked them to test some toys! Now in its eighth year, The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test announces the top ten best educational toys for 2015, as selected by true toy experts… kids!

Before the toys were given to this discerning audience, they were evaluated by The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee, comprised of early childhood education experts, which judged submissions based on criteria including encouraging interactive, child-initiated play, inspiring creativity and collaboration, and supporting skill development and playful learning.

Putting The Goddard School philosophy of learning through play into action, children from 50 Goddard Schools throughout the country then tested the toys. The children, who range from infants to six years old, determined their favorites while the teachers compiled the tiny testers’ choices.

The results are in, and the Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toy Test finalists include (in suggested age range order):

Fun and educational experiences that help children expand their critical thinking skills and flex their imaginations, as demonstrated in the Toy Test, prime children for success later in life,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “From classic toys to new products on the market that encourage STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), our children have the opportunity to play with incredible toys that support learning through play.”

The public will now have the chance to vote and select the 2015 Top Toy on The Goddard School’s website, www.goddardschool.com/toytest, from November 2 – November 13, 2015. GSI will purchase and donate 100 of the winning toy to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include brands such as Lakeshore Learning Materials, K’NEX, Fat Brain Toys, Tiny Love, HABA and Learning Resources.

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.