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Archive for 2019

Understanding Toddler and Preschooler Emotional Development

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By Kyle Pruett, Jack Maypole and Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Little ones all develop differently, and it is a bit of a roller coaster. One day they are walking, and the next they go back to crawling again. Another child may be consistently using the toilet, and then when a baby sister arrives he goes back to wetting his pants and asking for a diaper. We often see children who are confident going to school one day and then suddenly cling to a parent when separating the next day. Some will cling to one parent while acting confident with the other.

Early childhood is an amazing time since our children are growing and changing daily.  It is normal for them to struggle with anger and fears that arise as they grow. They can find many situations challenging, such as being separated from a loved one, moving to a new classroom, coping with having a new baby join the family or just things they see on television or hear from older children. Many of these fears are hard for little ones to articulate, so they may act out, cry, have a tantrum or suddenly become very quiet. The key is to recognize a change and support your children by exploring what is upsetting them and by reassuring them by reinforcing the things your children know. (E.g., “When you go to school, you know we will be there at the end of the day to pick you up.”) You can explore more from there.

It is also important to take a measure of how your child is doing physically. A behavioral change may be caused by the impact of physical issues ranging from coughs and colds to constipation. Does your child appear to feel unwell or is your child acting differently from her baseline? Assure yourself your child is in good health (without fever or other signs of physical illness) and that she is acting within usual schedules and rituals and needs (eating, sleeping, pooping). Finally, are there any other identifiable ongoing factors (new meds, a new diet, etc.)? Other times, issues of sleep changes and clinginess can be common responses to common things, such as a nightmare or a reaction to stress in a sibling or family member.

In addition to making adjustments within their world, young children also begin to test their independence. How many times does your toddler say “no” during the day?  This is all part of how they experiment with the world, to test their locus of control on the environment and to see what happens.

All of these adjustments and reactions to transitions and situations in life are normal.  It is how we react and support our little ones along their paths in development that is important. Our goal is to calm children’s anxiousness and at the same time support the development of essential skills they will need later in life such as resilience, self-regulation and working memory.

Resources:

The Emotional Life of the Toddler, by Alicia F. Lieberman, is a wonderful resource that looks into this roller-coaster ride of being a young child (from one to three years old). “Anyone who has followed an active toddler around for a day knows that a child of this age is a whirlwind of explosive, contradictory, and ever-changing emotions,” Alicia Lieberman writes. The book offers an in-depth examination of toddlers’ emotional development and supports parents and educators with ideas on how to support young children’s development.

Zero to Three is an organization focused on ensuring that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development. They provide a great deal of support in a Q&A format to guide parents through the developmental stages of young children. Check out this article on responding to toddler fears on their website. This section describes natural fears for young children and how to react as parents and educators.

Literature Resources:

Books can often help you talk with your children about their fears. It is through the characters and their situations that the children can begin to understand what they are feeling. Here are a few books we use in our classrooms:

  • Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jane Dyer
  • Little Panda by Renata Liwska
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • Lots of Feelings by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly
  • When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dyer

KidsHealth is a trusted resource for physicians, educators and parents, providing information on both physical and emotional development of children. The section for parents provides developmental charts as a reference for children’s growth.

How to Develop Your Child’s Social-Emotional Learning Skills Through Literature

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

“The early years of life provide the foundation for what is to come in terms of social, intellectual, and moral development. A child’s capacity to think out problems, built from ‘lived experience’ is indicative of social skills, moral reasoning, and intelligence,” writes Darcia Narvaez. This is a critical time for ensuring a strong foundation for what many call the “essential skills,” as social and emotional learning is shown to support the development of attitudes and skills that impact lifelong academic performance and interpersonal skills.

You will find that one effective method to help your children develop these skills is through reading high-quality literature. The stories help children extend their understanding of familiar emotions and social behaviors by presenting them in new contexts, as well as providing opportunities for your children to encounter emotions and social behaviors that they may not be exposed to in their everyday interactions. The characters within each story give children a framework for developing many essential social skills – cooperation, collaboration, listening and taking turns. For example, connections to characters such as Curious George, Sesame Street characters and classics (e.g., The Three Little Pigs, The Little Red Hen) help children learn about how things work and how people react to different situations while they are building vocabulary and developing emotional literacy.

Here are 10 of our favorite books that you and your children will enjoy while learning valuable social and emotional lessons on friendship, collaboration, fears, mistakes, risk-taking, resilience and more:
1. Me First (Laugh-Along Lessons) by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
2. The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord
3. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
4. Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jane Dyer
5. Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
6. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
7. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton
8. My Mouth Is a Volcano! by Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman
9. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
10. Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

Five Child-Friendly Ways to Ring in the New Year

Pom Pom Popper from The Goddard School on Vimeo.

Celebrating the new year doesn’t have to mean staying up hours past bedtime. These activities are the perfect way to include your little one in the festivities.

  1. Fast Forward

Sticking it out until midnight can be exhausting for parents and children alike. To ensure everyone is awake enough to celebrate, choose a city a few hours ahead of yours and celebrate when it turns midnight there. It might only be 8:00 PM at your house, but it’s midnight somewhere!

  1. Get Glowing

Bring the fireworks inside with glowsticks. Choose a variety of colors and wave, dance and spin around in a darkened room to mimic the effects of fireworks without having to go outside.

  1. A Toast…with Toast!

Sure, you could pour your child a glass of sparkling grape juice for a typical New Year’s toast, but why not start a new, silly tradition? Toast up some bread, cut it into triangles and toast the new year by “clinking” your toast pieces. Your child will be delighted by this literal adaptation, and everyone will enjoy a quick snack.

  1. Reflections and Resolutions

New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to talk with your child about some favorite moments of the past year and plans for the new one. Here are some questions to help get the conversation going:

  • What was the best thing that happened this year?
  • What was the hardest thing you did this year?
  • What was something you learned this year?
  • What is something new that you want to learn to do next year?
  • What do you think next year will be like?

Use your child’s thoughts as a springboard to talk about New Year’s resolutions and discuss some fun goals that your family can work toward together in 2020.

5. Party Pom-Pom Poppers

This quick craft is sure to generate tons of excitement with your child as you ring in the new year together.

What You’ll Need:

  • A paper cup
  • A balloon
  • A rubber band
  • Pom-poms or confetti in your child’s favorite colors
  • Assorted stickers
  • Scissors

What to Do:

  1. Cut out the bottom of the cup while leaving the bottom rim in place. (This step is for adults only!)
  2. Have your child decorate the outside of the cup with the stickers.
  3. Cut the tip off the balloon. Make sure you cut across the balloon’s “fold” to prevent ripping when you stretch it over the cup.
  4. Knot the balloon at its end, and help your child stretch it over the bottom of the cup. Then, put a rubber band around the balloon to hold it in place.
  5. Fill the cup with pom poms or confetti and help your child stretch the knotted portion of the balloon before letting go!

Handprint Wreath Craft

This handprint wreath is a simple craft to get your children’s creativity flowing. You and your little ones can use this craft throughout the year to make a handprint wreath for each holiday season.

Here are the materials that you’ll need: a paper plate, a pack of colored construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons, paint and markers.

How to create your wreath

1. First, cut out the middle of the paper plate so you are left with just the rim of the plate. This will act as the base for the wreath.

2. Next, let your children sift through the pack of construction paper and pick out the colors they would like to use for this project.

3. Once their favorite colors are chosen, let them trace about 10 to 15 handprints on the sheets of construction paper, and then help them cut out each handprint.

4. Allow your little ones to be artists: let them color, paint and draw on their handprint cutouts to decorate them.

5. Once they are finished, allow your children to start gluing the handprint cutouts onto the rim of the plate.

6. Let the handprints overlap a bit and continue gluing them on until the entire rim of the plate is completely covered by handprints.

7. When finished, loop a piece of ribbon through the wreath, and then tie a bow at the top.

8. Hang the wreath anywhere in your home.

Don’t Have Time to Exercise? Do it With Your Kids

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As a working mom with a to-do list longer than the refrigerator, trying to find time to workout and raise happy, healthy children is nearly impossible. But who says you have to compartmentalize exercising and parenting? By exercising as a family, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Staying Fit as a Family

Unless you’re a professional athlete or trainer who works out for a living, exercise shouldn’t be something you separate from the rest of your life. Between work and other responsibilities, you’re already away from your children enough. By bringing them into your workout routine, you can spend quality time with them and stay fit.

There are numerous advantages associated with working out with kids. One of the biggest benefits is that it helps your kids see exercise as normal and healthy, as opposed to something that’s strange and unsatisfactory.

“Not only is including your kid in your workouts an effective way for him or her to have positive associations with exercise, it’s a great way for you to remember that working out shouldn’t always be a chore. So many adults are focused on sets and reps, when they could really benefit from playing,” trainer Naomi Nazario writes in Men’s Health..

The question is, how do you exercise with your kids in a manner that’s safe, effective, and challenging for all ages? The following suggestions may help:

Go For Walks Before or After Dinner

One of the easiest ways to get exercise is to take a nightly walk, either before or after dinner. While this isn’t rigorous exercise, it’s enough to get your blood flowing. Even more importantly, it provides an outlet for having conversations and seeing how your kids are doing on a heart level.

Play Games on the Trampoline

Older kids may enjoy neighborhood walks, but younger kids will get bored pretty quickly. Switch things up to keep each of your children fully engaged.

One idea is to play around on the trampoline – which is an extremely good platform for exercise. It engages your muscles and builds core strength. If you have a trampoline in your backyard, jump together. Don’t have a trampoline? Visit a local trampoline park and play games like H-O-R-S-E or dodgeball. This probably isn’t something you’ll do every day, but it’s a good weekly activity to mix things up.

Play Sports in the Backyard

If you have athletic kids who play sports – or even kids who like the idea of sports – you can get some really good exercise in by playing various games in the backyard or driveway.

For example, you and your kids can have a lot of fun playing basketball, kickball, or even four square. Over time, these may even become family traditions.

Create Fitness Competitions

Kids love competition. If you’re able to make fitness into a game, you’re much more likely to get your children involved on a regular basis. One idea is to have a weekly competition. Something as simple as the loser of a round of a game having to do certain exercises can result in a great workout.

Watch YouTube Workout Videos

As your kids get older and become more interested in organized workout routines, you may think about doing YouTube workout videos together. YouTube has a huge collection of workout videos from both amateurs and professional trainers. They’re free and can be accessed on demand in your own living room.

Finding Balance in Your Life

If you spend too much time working out on your own, you won’t have much of a relationship with your children. If you don’t workout enough, you’ll be unhealthy. Life is all about balance, and you need to look for ways to balance parenting and fitness. As this article shows, a little tweaking makes it possible to do both.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Winter Scavenger Hunt

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Your local park can be a magical winter wonderland that is perfect for playful learning. Create a scavenger hunt for your family to enjoy while exploring nature. You may decide to separate into teams and see how many items you can each check off before your opponents.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Animal tracks;
  • Hidden berries;
  • Icicles (Only adults should handle icicles. they can be very sharp!);
  • Human footprints;
  • A leaf still on a tree;
  • A tree with no leaves;
  • Something green;
  • A pinecone;
  • A bird;

You can modify your list depending on the ages of the children. Enjoy the endless possibilities!

Screen Time Guidelines for Summer Break

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Searching for a summer camp program? A high-quality summer camp provides fun, hands-on activities that aren’t reliant upon technology. Technology may be used to enhance the activities, but screen time is used sparingly. To limit how much screen time your child has this coming summer, follow the steps below to create a reward system at home.

  1. Select readily available tokens that your child cannot easily access, such as stickers or playing cards.
  2. Think of some helpful tasks that your child can do around the house. Tell her that she can earn a reward for each task she completes without being told to do it. Examples include cleaning up after herself, bringing in the mail, feeding the pets and setting the table. Explain the concept of exchanging the token for a prize or privilege. This system will also help your child learn and understand the concept of spending money to purchase a product.
  3. Explain to your child that each time she wants screen time, she must hand in one of her tokens. Set a time limit for each token that is suitable for the age of your child. For example, one token could equal ten minutes of screen time. You may want to set a limit for the number of tokens that your child can use each day. Write down these rules and explain them well to stop any arguments before they start.
  4. Let your child know that if she has no tokens, she will have to do more chores to earn screen time.

Your little ones will be so excited to earn their tokens that they will not realize how many helpful tasks they are completing.

Four Ways to Implement Positive Discipline at Home

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Positive discipline is a popular topic right now. Parents, teachers and other caregivers all want to help raise happy, healthy children, but the constant influx of advice can be overwhelming. To help streamline this information and ensure all Goddard School faculty members, directors and Goddard School owners have up-to-date knowledge of cutting-edge early childhood education topics, GSI offers Goddard Systems University (GSU). GSU is a treasure trove of professional development tools for improving the processes, protocols and culture at Goddard Schools.

Recently, GSU held a webinar on positive discipline. As a mom who struggles to maintain a positive attitude when my son flings his food or has an epic meltdown because I’ve asked him to eat, I immediately signed up for the course. Though it was designed for Goddard School faculty members, some of this great information can apply to parents and other caregivers.

Here are a few of my takeaways from the positive discipline webinar.

1. Positive relationships are the keys to positive discipline.

Caregivers must build a loving, trusting relationship with the children in their care because this relationship sets the foundation for everything. Children need to feel safe and secure; if they don’t, they’re more likely to exhibit challenging behaviors.

2. Step back and determine the reason for the behavior.

The first step in implementing positive discipline is to understand the reasons for challenging behaviors. As adults, we must prevent ourselves from escalating the situation, no matter how frustrated we may feel. Instead, reframe your thoughts about the tantrum. Ask yourself, “What response is the child trying to get from this behavior?”

All behavior, appropriate or not, is a reaction to a stimulus. Use the challenging behavior as a teaching moment to help you figure out what may have caused this behavior. Remember, children learn social-emotional responses, including body language, from adults.

3. Don’t explain appropriate and inappropriate behavior during a meltdown.

During a meltdown, children don’t have the bandwidth to understand rational ideas. That doesn’t mean you should walk away. Instead, show them how to calm down. Some ideas include breathing deeply, squeezing a bear, sitting in a “cozy corner” or blowing a pinwheel. Whatever you choose should focus on helping them get their negative feelings out. Once your children are calm, you can explain why the behavior was inappropriate and reinforce appropriate ways to respond to situations that upset them.

Something that really hit home for me was learning about the message adults send if they walk away from a child during a meltdown. Walking away shows children that it’s better to ignore a problem. Worse yet, children may interpret an adult walking away as their caregiver being detached and indifferent. The results of walking away may show up as children enter adolescence. Despite our best efforts to encourage our children to talk to us when they have problems, they will not feel safe having open discussions with us if they perceive us to have a history of being indifferent.

4. Remember PIES, STAR and ART

Children feel confident when their environment meets their PIES needs: their physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs. By ensuring all their PIES needs are met, caregivers have a greater chance of preventing challenging behaviors. If a challenging behavior occurs, remember to STAR: smile, take a deep breath and relax. Then you can act by demonstrating the ART principles: acknowledge the child’s feelings, respond to those feelings and think about how to respond with empathy and clear expectations.

How do you practice positive discipline at home?

DIY Snow Dough Recipe

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Help your children bring the snow inside this winter with snow dough. This sensory substance is perfect for modeling snowballs and snow-people, no matter what the weather is like outside your window.

What You’ll Need:

  • A measuring cup
  • A large bowl
  • An airtight container
  • 1 cup of conditioner or lotion (Pick an unscented option if you want to add essential oil for a custom scent.)
  • 2 cups of cornstarch
  • A few drops of your favorite essential oil (This is optional, but peppermint gives the dough a crisp, wintery smell.)

What to Do:

  1. Help your children measure the cornstarch and conditioner or lotion and put them in the bowl.
  2. Add a few drops of essential oil (optional). Parents, please do this step for your children.
  3. Have your children mix the ingredients with their hands until well combined. If the mixture seems a little too dry, add more lotion or conditioner; if it’s too moist, add more cornstarch. Play around with amounts until you have a mixture that is neither crumbly nor sticky.
  4. Have your children wash the excess ingredients off their hands. Together, create some winter shapes such as snowflakes, snow-people or snowballs. When you’re finished, store the dough in an airtight container.

Here are some snow-themed books for you and your children to read together:

The Snowbear by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Claire Alexander;

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal;

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats;

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs;

Snow Friends by M. Christina Butler, illustrated by Tina Macnaughton.

5 Easy Activities for Your Family to Practice the Art of Giving

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Sharing and giving are an important part of learning, and the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to help your children develop these important skills.

Gift-giving creates a happy feeling not just for the receiver but also for the giver. Children are in fact happier when they give back. Researchers at the University of British Columbia* interacted with children using puppets, which would make ‘YUMM’ noises when given treats. The results indicated that children were happier when giving the treats away than when receiving treats for themselves.

Here are five easy activities for your family to practice the art of giving:

  1. Give a Gift That Keeps on Giving – Make a “Giving Book” with your children. Think of five things they would enjoy doing for someone at home or for a neighbor or a relative. Write or draw the things on three-by-five index cards, decorate the cards and staple them together. Present the “Giving Book” to the relative. This is a gift that keeps on giving and extends the fun beyond the holidays. It also gives your children confidence in the things can they do for someone else.
  1. Build a Plan for Giving – Ask your children how they would like to give back. You may be surprised at what they come up with. Implementing their ideas will help build their confidence and commitment to the activity. Decide together on how to accomplish their ideas.
  1. No Money Needed – It is important to have children experience how to give beyond buying a gift. Donating time and effort is just as important. This will help your children in daily interactions with others. Many foundations have projects that are designed just for kids. Your children could make artwork for a local children’s hospital or help plant trees for a nature reserve. Whatever your child’s passion is, connect it to giving back.
  1. Donate Your Joy – Ask your children to select gently used clothes, toys and other things around their room that they could donate to others. You can choose the charity together. Take your children with you to donate the goods so they can see where they will go. Talk about who might receive them.
  1. Checking In about Feelings After your children spend time giving back, ask them how they feel. Most likely they will have a positive response and want to do it again. Conversations about giving help young children make the connection of that good feeling to giving back.

*Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K. & Dunn, E. W. (2012, June 14). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLOS ONE 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039211