{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Archive for April, 2019

5 Family Traditions From Around the World Worth Trying

Celebrate the first day of school, the German way.

The kickoff to first grade is a big deal in Germany, as my American family learned while living in Berlin. The weekend before our daughter started first grade, we joined a celebration called Einschulung. Her school welcomed students with an assembly; afterward, families gave the children Schultüten—large paper or plastic cones filled with school supplies and sweets. When we moved back to the United States, we replicated Einschulung for my son. We invited our family over and asked them to bring a small school-related gift, like a notebook or pen. We made him a Schultüte, and the older kids put on a play about what school is like. It makes the children feel responsible, grown-up, and proud to be going to school.

Sara Zaske is the author of Achtung Baby: An American Mom On The German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children. She Lives in Moscow, Idaho.


Honor your ancestors, the Japanese way.

Traditional Japanese homes have a small family altar, or butsudan, as a sign of respect for elders who have passed away. When I go back to my family’s home in Japan, I still feel a spiritual connection to my ancestors as I make offerings at the butsudan—a bowl of rice, flowers for my grandmother, a can of beer for my grandfather. It feels truly healing. To set up a memorial, pick a quiet spot, put out photos, flowers, and other offerings, and tell kids about their ancestors. If we don’t mark our history, we may lose an important part of who we are.

Candice Kumai is a chef and the author of Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art Of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Share your culture through stories, the Trinidadian way.

In Trinidad and Tobago, where I grew up, storytelling happens anytime, anywhere—not just at bedtime. We might be driving to the beach or walking to my grandmother’s house. People often tell folk stories about mythical creatures called jumbies to help explain things people don’t understand, such as a sudden illness. Regardless of where you come from, there is a benefit to telling traditional stories. At some point, I realized my kids, who were growing up in the U.S., had no idea what our folklore was, so I started telling them jumby stories. Telling these stories helps the children preserve their culture.

Tracey Baptiste is the author of Jumbies, part of a fantasy series for middle schoolers. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she now lives in northern New Jersey.

Care for all animals, the Indian way.

To show gratitude to animals, families in southern India feed cows and birds during the annual Hindu harvest festival of Thai Pongal. Children learn that all species are interconnected and interdependent. I’ve followed this tradition in both India and the United States with my daughters. In Bangalore, I used to take my young daughters to a nearby shed to feed the cows. We also fed birds by placing fruits and grains on banana leaves and putting them out on our terrace—something we also did surreptitiously at our New York City apartment. Pick a day for an annual visit to a petting zoo, butterfly garden, family-friendly farm, or horse stable where you can feed the animals or help care for them. It’s a way to teach children about having compassion for all beings.

Shoba Narayan is the author of The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure. She lives in Bangalore, India.

Exchange personal poetry, the Dutch way.

In the Netherlands, families exchange not only gifts but also poems during Sinterklaas, the Dutch winter holiday season. Older children and adults each draw a name and write a poem about the recipient. The poem usually has puns and is funny—the more mischievous and personal, the better. On “gift night,” people sit in a circle with hot drinks, and everyone reads the poem they receive out loud. I’ve learned that the real gift is the love that goes into the poem. You’re taking time to compose something special, letting someone know what they mean to you.

Rina Mae Acosta is a writer, photographer, and coauthor of The Happiest Kids In The World: Bringing Up Children The Dutch Way. She lives in Doorn, The Netherlands.


This article was written by Betsy Rubiner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Daddy-Daughter Bonding: Seven Special Things Every Father and Daughter Should Do Together


When I think back to my childhood, one of the first things I think of is the time my dad and I made a bowl of movie-theater-style popcorn and built an epic blanket and pillow fort in the living room after he picked me up from school one day. For the rest of the afternoon, we watched TV shows and movies in our makeshift fort and munched on our favorite snacks. As a girl who grew up with a father who worked overnight, I was fortunate enough to spend every day of my childhood by my dad’s side after he picked me up from school. He was my eating buddy, my movie companion, my dancing partner and the person I played dress up with. He was always right there next to me with a feathery pink boa around his neck and a smile on his face. Some of the best memories I have are of my dad and me doing the simplest things together.

A father-daughter bond is something that should be initiated and cherished from a young age and nurtured throughout life as you both grow together. Establishing a strong bond with your daughter isn’t as complicated as it seems at times. From my experience with my dad, it’s spending time together that matters most. Here are seven special things every father and daughter should do together that will strengthen their bond.

Go on a daily walk – Go explore your neighborhood on an afternoon nature stroll or simply take a walk down the street to grab a scoop of ice cream after dinner. My dad and I made this our daily ritual when I was growing up. Going on a walk is a great way for a father and daughter to spend quality time together. It’s a time to unplug and unwind without any distractions and simply enjoy each other’s company. While walking, we would tell stories and talk about what I did at school and what he did at work that day. When I was younger, I felt closer to my dad because of our afternoon strolls, but now in my adult years, I feel that I have always had open communication with my dad just from doing this daily routine.

Have an outdoor (or indoor) picnic – On warm, sunny days, my dad made lunchtime exciting by having a picnic outside in our backyard or in our tree fort. We would place a blanket on the grass or inside the fort and eat. Afterward, we played games in the backyard. On days when the weather wasn’t so nice, we’d have an indoor picnic in the living room and then do crafts or coloring in the kitchen. I remember loving our daddy-daughter picnic lunches because the experience was different than just eating a typical lunch at the kitchen table. Picnics and playtime with my dad made an ordinary day more special and memorable, and I always looked forward to it.

Visit a place you both love – My dad and I both loved this local mom-and-pop toy shop in our neighborhood. He took me there once after school, and ever since then I was hooked. My dad loved collecting remote-controlled cars, and I loved dolls. We would go to the toy shop once every two weeks to explore the overly-packed aisles and check out what new things were in the store since the last time we visited. We somehow made it our thing, and we both couldn’t wait until the next time we would go on our outing to the toy shop together. It’s so important to find a place that you both love to visit or something you both love to do and continue to nurture that throughout time.

Start a collection – Collecting together helps promote a special bond between the two of you. Whether it’s rocks, stamps or model trains, a daddy-daughter collection is something worth cultivating. I began a coin collection when I was young, and my dad joined in on it. I remember running home from school to tell him about a new coin that we absolutely needed to put in our collection. We kept collecting together for years, and it is still something we both continue to do together now even though I am well into my twenties.

Make a meal – It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. There’s nothing quite like crafting a simple lunch you both can enjoy while getting your hands dirty and laughing together in the kitchen. Sometimes my dad and I would make dinner and surprise my mom before she returned home from work. By cooking with my dad, I was able to hang out and make memories with him while sparking my curiosity for experimenting with new foods and ingredients. He taught me what goes into prepping and making a meal as well as how great it feels to share a meal that you helped create.

Attend a sporting event – Going to a sporting event isn’t just for fathers and sons. One summer when I was a young girl, my dad took me to my first baseball game. We dressed up in matching shirts, and we spent the night before the game painting, coloring and gluing an enormous poster to take to the event so we could hold it up and cheer on the home team. Seeing a baseball game in person was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and I was grateful that I was able to watch it by my dad’s side as he taught me about the game.

Build something together – My dad and I used to build pillow forts in our living room every chance we could get. We would take every blanket and pillow in the house and spend the afternoon strategically constructing the perfect hideaway. Building something with your dad, whether it’s arts and crafts related or constructing something as simple as a blanket fort in your living room, is ideal bonding time and a guarantee that you will have a smile on your face the whole afternoon.

Dr. Jack Maypole: Potty Training On The Go!

little-feet-dangling-off-the-potty_t20_yrozr0For that parent in the eternal state of carpooling or attending to the business of life maintenance, the messy of business of potty training a child ‘in the field’ is best done so you are not literally potty training in the field. Here are a few tips, that are more based in pragmatics than in best evidence, however they are spun from the better elements of learning theory and motivation.

For starters, set your expectations low and don’t feel pressured to succeed in potty training when you are a family on the go (no pun intended). Kids are sharp, and will pick up if you are stressed about NOT having an accident. Frankly, if it bothers you overly much, continue your good work at home and talk frankly and reasonably that wearing an ‘about town’ diaper when going to the supermarket is normal. Is a child unhappy about a diaper? Make it a ‘big kid pullup’ and as with all things potty training, maximize praise for compliance and meeting goals (Peeing in the toilet, or letting you know that they need to go…or just went), and avoiding–at all costs–getting upset, freaked out or mad if there is a (well named) accident.

If you are ready to take a chance, and to push the envelope and take a child out (assuming they are progressing well in their home potty training, that they have developmentally appropriate milestones, and are in good health) then I recommend parents begin with short hops (trip to the corner store, nearby playground, or a short dog walk going sans diaper. When one gets home from a trip out of the house without a diaper or pullup, celebrate. Praise. Clapping. Stickers. High fives.

Over days and trips, venture further and consider going without a diaper as long as a child seems engaged and excited about doing well. Don’t fuss over the inevitable setbacks.

And, make a pit stop before you run out the door. And: go light on the beverages as able.

Taken altogether, kids will soon (and eventually) arrive home dry. Celebrate accordingly!

Dr. Maypole, member of The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board, is a well-respected pediatrician, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Comprehensive Care Program at Boston Medical Center.

Five Benefits of Teaching Children to Cook

Cooking is as important a life skill as swimming or riding a bike; however, like those other skills, cooking is not generally taught in school. Parents are usually responsible for teaching their children to cook. Here are five benefits of teaching children this valuable skill.

  1. It’s a great bonding experience. If you teach your child how to make a favorite family recipe, she will have a memory that can last a lifetime.
  2. It leads to healthy eating habits. By purchasing fresh, healthy ingredients and using them to prepare a meal at home with your child, you will give him a better understanding of what healthy eating looks and tastes like.
  3. It helps build math skills. Cooking involves math, such as measuring out a cup of milk, counting eggs or doubling a recipe. Using math practically in the kitchen helps bolster those skills.
  4. It helps boost confidence. If you serve spaghetti and meatballs and announce to the rest of your family that your child helped prepare the meal, it may give him a sense of accomplishment, which will increase his self-esteem.
  5. It encourages the development of communication and collaboration skills. If you and your child are baking a cake, you have to talk about what you are doing, such as measuring flour or stirring batter. You must also work together to assemble the cake.

Learning through Meal Prepping: Five Benefits of Encouraging Children to Pack Their Own Lunches


Letting children assist with packing their own lunches can be beneficial. You can teach your children about responsibility and portion control and boost their creativity and decision-making skills by inviting your children into the kitchen with you for a lesson. Here are five benefits of allowing children to help prepare their own lunches.

It emphasizes portion control. Bento-box lunch containers are an easy and exceptionally helpful tool for teaching your child about portion sizes and meal organization. When your children select their lunch items with you, provide them with a bento-box container and explain what healthy meal portions look like. They can use the bento box to pack their lunches, which helps them visualize and be aware of the portion sizes they are packing.

It introduces the importance of nutrition. Your children’s favorite go-to treats, such as fruit snacks and cookies, don’t necessarily make some of the healthiest snacks. When they’re in the kitchen with you, teach them about what the key food groups are and how those food groups keep their minds and bodies well nourished. Provide different vegetables, fruits, proteins, grains and dairy products, and let them choose what to put into their lunch bags. Guide them to pack meals with all the food groups.

It aids in independent learning and decision making. When your children are preparing their lunches with you in the kitchen, give them options for what to pack. Allow them to choose from two or three different things. Do they want a chicken sandwich, a turkey sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Do they want carrots or cucumbers? Do they want strawberries, apples or grapes? Once they decide, let them gather and pack their choices, and then help them focus on the next food group. Once you establish a routine, they will make quicker decisions. Picking their own meals lets them feel independent and accomplished.

It boosts creativity and introduces the art of cooking.
Getting your children into the kitchen at a young age helps them start cooking and learning the steps it takes to create a meal. Instead of providing them with premade and wrapped turkey sandwiches, let them make some with you. Start by letting them select the bread, get out the condiments and select the meat, cheese and toppings they want on their delicious sandwiches. This shows them how much time, effort, creativity and skill it takes to make a proper lunch.

It teaches responsibility, routines and time management. Whether you pack meals after dinner or after your children get home from school, make sure to schedule a meal-preparation time that works best for your family. Meet in the kitchen at your designated time, and start preparing the lunches. By establishing a routine, such as meeting every night or twice a week at 7 PM, you will be familiarizing your children with following a schedule, helping them plan meals. If you want to make meal preparation more fun, consider getting a small chalkboard or whiteboard to keep in your kitchen. Have your children write out the days of the week and the foods they want in their lunchboxes each day. This can keep you organized, and it encourages your children to start planning meals.

How to Make Your Own Slime


Slime can be a great teaching tool that incorporates STEAM learning. Help your children learn about science by creating slime with them. Use technology to research slime recipes, and use math to measure out ingredients.

Try this recipe for making slime, and then use the slime for the fun activities below.

  • Use slime to teach your children about shapes. You can create more than one batch of slime. Use one batch to demonstrate things to do with slime, and encourage your children to use the other batches to mimic your actions;
  • Make silly slime masterpieces. Encourage your little ones to use food coloring, confetti, glitter, various buttons and other trinkets to decorate the slime;
  • Optimize the use of sensory learning. Incorporate scents by adding scented food coloring or essential oils, and ask your children how the different smells make them feel. For example, ask how a discreet calming scent makes them feel compared to a more distinct scent;
  • Boost your children’s exploration skills by having them search for hidden items in the slime;
  • Strengthen your children’s gross motor skills by working with them to imprint objects into the slime, such as letters or numbers.

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

Goddard School Preschoolers And Families Learn How To Make A Difference On Earth Day

The Goddard School®, the nation’s best-in-class preschool system, is proud to showcase the importance of environmental conservation through its month-long Root for Earth event, which is designed to teach children about daily environmental impacts and give busy families realistic tips for making a difference.

Preschoolers will participate in a new challenge this year to illustrate the environmental effect of single-use plastics. They will upcycle a month’s worth of single-use plastics into works of art to show how much plastic waste they saved. Each creation will be featured on The Goddard School’s national Facebook page, and members of the public can vote for their favorite project from April 22 through April 26. Winners will be announced April 29.

To demonstrate how children can make a difference, preschoolers will plant gardens, participate in recycled runway fashion shows, try glow-in-the-dark yoga and enjoy other eco-friendly projects inspired by science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. On Earth Day, Goddard Schools across the country will turn off all non-essential lighting for one hour to save nearly four million watts of energy. Since 2011, this Lights Out! initiative has saved up to 25.3 million watts of energy.

“Root for Earth provides students with a great opportunity to focus on the importance of caring for our environment through engaging STEAM lessons,” said Dr. Craig Bach, vice president of education at Goddard Systems, Inc., franchisor of The Goddard School. “Equipping children with the knowledge and leadership skills to meet future environmental challenges is imperative.”

How to Make a No-Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag

The average American family takes home about 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. If you could stack them all up length-wise, they would be as tall as a 254-story skyscraper, which is 94 stories taller than the tallest building in the world! During Root for Earth, which takes place from April 1 to April 22 this year, we are educating children on the impact single-use plastics have on the environment and brainstorming alternatives to these plastics. Say no to plastic bags by making your own no-sew t-shirt tote bag at home and using it on your next shopping trip!


  • Old t-shirt
  • Fabric scissors
  • Black marker
  • Ruler


  1. Lay the t-shirt flat.
  2. Fold the shirt in half, making sure the sleeves line up.
  3. Cut off the sleeves, cutting along the inside of the seams. If you don’t have fabric scissors, you can cut the sleeves off individually using regular scissors.
  4. Lay the t-shirt flat again so that the front of the shirt is facing up.
  5. To cut out the neck of the shirt, place a plate on the top of the shirt so that half of it covers the neck. Using a marker, trace around the edge of the plate. Then cut along the line and remove the neck of the shirt.
  6. Turn the shirt inside out and lay it flat again. Make sure the bottom edges are even and smooth.
  7. Using a ruler, measure 3.5” up from the bottom of the shirt on each side. Mark the measurement on each side with the marker.
  8. Measure horizontally along the bottom of the shirt, making a hash mark every half inch.
  9. Cut the bottom of the shirt, cutting along each half-inch hash mark up to the 3.5” hash mark. Do that all the way across the bottom of the shirt so that you’re left with 3.5”-long strips.
  10. Starting on the left side, tie each pair of strips together all the way across the bottom of the shirt.
  11. To close the gaps between the knots, starting again on the left side, tie the top strip to the bottom of the adjacent strip. Make sure to tie each knot tightly.
  12. Once the second row of knots is complete, tie a double knot on each end to reinforce them.
  13. Turn the shirt “inside in” so that the knots are inside the bag, and your bag is ready to use!


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