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Archive for January, 2020

Be Kind to One Another: Encouraging Children to Embrace Diversity

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by Katie Kennedy, Ph.D., Research Consultant, Bay Area Discovery Museum, colleague of the Goddard School Education Advisory Board 

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, I was exposed to very little diversity. Most of the diversity I saw was on televisionand to be honest, television wasn’t even that good at representing diversity in the 90s.  

As I got older, however, I became interested both in working with diverse populations and studying children’s understanding of diversity. Through these experiences, it became evident that in spite of the common notion that opposites attractpeople often stick close to others who are like themselves.  

Although parents may find it somewhat concerning that children seem to prefer to play with peers who are similar to themselves, it is important to recognize that there is a natural tendency for boys to play with boys and girls to play with girls. It’s instinctive to want to group people by social categories like gender and race, and individuals are often most comfortable staying close to those whom they find most similar to themselvesA rich body of developmental psychology research has documented that even young children are aware of social category divides, and they use these groupings to make decisions, such as which children to befriend, help or trust as sources of information 

The world today is filled with a melting pot of people, and children should be urged to spend time with those who are different from themselves along such dimensions as beliefs, behaviors and appearanceThis is critical because, as research has shown, contact with people from different racial and ethnic groups is associated with less adverse beliefs about diverse others. 

As adults, we need to provide children with opportunities to have positive experiences interacting with diverse people, such as traveling to new places, going to ethnic restaurants and viewing television shows that promote foreign language learning like Dora the Explorer and Ni Hao Kai LanIn a world where it is much too common to see people being unkind to individuals who are unlike themselves, we can inspire the next generation to have open hearts and minds. We can learn a lot from one another if only we are willing. As Ellen DeGeneres says at the end of every show, “Be kind to one another.”  

 

Five Ways to Help Your Child Make Friends

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Our heart aches when our children suffer from an unkind word, are not included in a game or struggle to make friends. We all want our children to make friends and enjoy playful activities with others. There are five easy activities that you can do to help your children develop and maintain positive friendships that we use every day at The Goddard School.

Read Together – Children learn so much through the narrative of a great story. Look for books that feature friendships, helping others and sharing. Talking about the characters, their feelings and story outcomes helps to develop an understanding of how to be a friend.  A few favorites of The Goddard School are:

  • How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? by Jane Yolan, illustrated by Mark Teague;
  • Little Lonely Leigh by Sally Huss;
  • Making Friends Is an Art! by Julia Cook, illustrated by Bridget Barnes.

Play Games – Game-playing is a great way to help your children develop skills such as taking turns, self-regulation and following rules, all of which are essential for being a great friend. Select board games that are easy to follow at the start and add more challenging games. You can do this with online games as well. Choose games that at least two people can share. Once your children learn a game, invite a friend to play and share the games together.

Help Someone – Children learn empathy, caring and perspective by participating in activities to help others. For young ones, start with simple tasks such as creating a get-well card for a sick friend, collecting unused toys for children’s hospitals or making cookies together to give to a neighbor.

Play! – Provide open-ended opportunities for your children to play with others. Try not to go to venues where the children don’t have a lot of time to interact with each other, such as a movie or an amusement park. The entertainment is a distraction from interacting with other children. Instead, choose an outside playground or a park where children can make up their own games and play together.

Encourage and Model – Teachers at The Goddard School use two techniques to help children develop social-emotional skills. One is encouragement and praise. When you see your children exhibiting friendly behaviors such as sharing and taking turns, praise them. This encourages children to repeat the positive behavior. The other technique is modeling. By modeling positive, friendly behaviors, you can guide children to do the same. Be careful what you say within earshot of your children. Young children can pick up on unfriendly behaviors as well.

Learning to build friendships supports children’s development into well-rounded, emotionally healthy human beings. Try not to worry. By using these five activities, your children will be well on their way to developing the skills for many fun, engaging and long-lasting friendships.

How to Get the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences

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By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

If you haven’t already, you will soon receive an invitation to meet with your child’s teacher for a parent-teacher conference. These meetings are intended to complement the brief daily interactions that happen at drop-off and pick-up by providing an opportunity for a more focused and extended conversation about your child. These conferences are an essential building block of positive home-School relationships. When parents and teachers work together as partners, children benefit academically, socially and emotionally. To take the best advantage of the meeting, recognize that you and your child’s teacher share the common goal of nurturing your child to be a curious and confident learner who interacts well with others. This perspective will set the stage for productive conversations about your child’s progress, strengths and challenges.

When interacting with your child’s teacher, plan to spend time sharing information about your child and actively listening to the teacher’s perspective and advice. Each of you has expertise relevant to your child’s learning and development. By taking a collaborative approach, you can work together to identify how best to inspire and support your child as an individual. As you prepare for your part in this conversation, think about the following factors:

  • What would you like to know about your child’s experiences at School? It’s typical in parent-teacher conversations to focus on individual children’s learning progress, but you should also plan to ask about your child’s friendships, classroom behaviors, activity interests and general mood at School. Your child’s views matter too, so find some time before the conference to find out who your child plays with at School, what they like to do and what they think about their teacher;
  • What would you like your child’s teacher to know about your child’s experiences at home? As a parent, you have unique knowledge about your children, and you have a long-term investment in their well-being and success. Sharing your understandings about your child’s skills, temperament and interests can help inform the teacher’s guidance strategies. The teacher also can benefit by knowing more about changes in family circumstances that might affect your child’s experiences at School;
  • What can you do to facilitate your child’s learning at home? Learning extends beyond the classroom and happens anytime and anywhere. Identify ways to build connections between home and School activities to reinforce and enrich the learning that is happening in both environments;
  • How can you make the most of this opportunity to learn about your teacher’s perspective on your child? Focus on listening for understanding instead of listening to reply. Celebrate your child’s achievements, and strive to understand the teacher’s view when talking about areas of need. You may check your understanding by paraphrasing what you hear the teacher saying. This will show a willingness to understand the teacher’s point of view, and it will provide a chance for clarifying any areas in which communication may not have been clear.

As you plan for your parent-teacher conference, keep these tips in mind and approach the conversation as a dedicated opportunity to engage with someone who also wants the best for your child.

How to Make a Heart-Shaped Bubble Wand

Add some bubbles to your Valentine’s Day celebrations with a heart-shaped bubble wand!

Materials

  • 6mm pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Chopsticks
  • Pony beads (any color)
  • Colored tape (any color)

Instructions

  1. Create a loop with one of the pipe cleaners, twisting to create an oval shape. Leave about two inches on the ends.
  2. Thread three pony beads onto pipe cleaner so that both ends go through the beads.
  3. Wrap the ends of the pipe cleaner tightly around the top of a chopstick.
  4. Wrap colored tape around pipe cleaner ends to ensure a secure fit.
  5. Bend pipe cleaner oval into a heart shape.
  6. Repeat steps for second bubble wand.
  7. Blow bubbles using bubble solution!

 

 

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

10 Valentine’s Day Books That Teach Kids How Wonderful It is to Love

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Because February 14 is so much more than red hearts and candy.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and like every other holiday season, it’s the perfect time to captivate your kids through stories of delight. From tales about robotic romantic adventures, to a whimsical story about secret letters, these heartwarming books will teach your child about the many ways to express love, especially amongst family and friends.

I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home, by Kathryn Cristaldi and Kristyna Litten

Love knows no bounds in this delightful read aloud that sends cows to Mars and has sheep steering ships. Fun wordplay and a rhyming refrain will soon have little ones chiming in. Perfect for Valentine’s Day or saying I love you any time of year. Ages 4-8 ($15, amazon.com).

I Love You, Little Pookie, by Sandra Boynton


I Love You, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton

With an affectionate tale and funny drawings, this book is ideal for little ones.

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Bestselling author Sandra Boynton is back with a new board book, just in time for the holiday of love. Little Pookie is one of Boynton’s most beloved characters and he is reassured over and over as mom tells him just how much she loves him on nearly every sturdy page. Ages 2-5 ($6, amazon.com).

Robot in Love, by T. L. McBeth


Robot in Love by T. L. McBeth

A robot love story with a splash of color that’ll surely catch your child’s eye.

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It’s love at first sight in this playful picture book about a robot who spots his soulmate, loses her and then finds her again. Love can look different for every one of us, and in this case the robot’s object of affection is a shiny toaster with whom he discovers various shared interests. Including toast. Very sweet! Ages 4-8 ($13, amazon.com).

The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs, by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost


The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs, by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost

Nothing is cuter than a snuggly tale from your favorite animals.

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Buy

Bright and colorful, this picture book celebrates hugs across the animal world. From snuggly seals to beetle bug hugs, these little critters are all happy to be with their families, sharing an embrace. Warm, rhyming text opens the door for telling our own little ones how much their hugs mean to us. Ages 3-6 ($13, amazon.com).

How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams and Christopher Silas Neal


How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams and Christopher Silas Neal

A sweet ode to beloved friends and family.

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A delightful reimagining of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnet 43” with its famous opening lines, as a trio of children explore their world and the love of friends and family around them. Christopher Silas Neal’s illustrations carry the poetry of Browning’s words beautifully. A book to keep … Ages 4-8 ($16, amazon.com).

Love, Z, by Jessie Sima


Love, Z by Jessie Sima

Home is where the heart is in this adorable adventure.

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A mysterious message in a bottle and the young robot who finds it spark a remarkable exploration of what love means, and all the ways we can express love for one another. Charming and uplifting, this picture book is a joy to read and share all year round, and especially for Valentine’s Day. Ages 4-8 ($13, amazon.com).

Duck and Hippo The Secret Valentine, by Jonathan London and Andrew Joyner


Duck and Hippo The Secret Valentine, by Jonathan London and Andrew Joyner

This heartfelt story teaches kids about kindness and sharing.

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It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without valentines! A humorous story of secret valentines and speculation that culminates in a delightful heart-filled celebration where everyone is welcomed. An entertaining holiday read aloud. Ages 3-7 ($14, amazon.com).

Mirabel’s Missing Valentines, by Janet Lawler and Olivia Chin Mueller


Mirabel's Missing Valentines by Janet Lawler and Olivia Chin Mueller

A spark of unexpected kindness can bring the best of joy in this story.

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Giving Valentine’s Day cards to classmates can be scary, and Mirabel the mouse is so nervous that she accidentally drops some of her cards on the way to school. Her mistake brings some folks unexpected moments of joy thinking the cards were meant for them. A sweet story about how a small kindness can make a big difference for others and ourselves. Ages 3-7 ($12, amazon.com).

A Caboodle of Cuddles, by Roger Priddy


A Caboodle of Cuddles by Roger Priddy

A visually captivating book with raised pictures for your child to check out on every page.

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Perfect for tiny hands to explore, this board book about cuddles and families has bright, raised illustrations that fit together for lots of interactive fun. A Valentine’s Day treat for little ones. Ages 1-3 ($8, amazon.com).

A Hug is for Holding Me, by Lisa Wheeler and Lisk Feng


A Hug Is for Holding Me by Lisa Wheeler and Lisk Feng

Your child’s curiosity will surge as they explore the meaning of hugs in this lyrical tale.

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A unique way of looking at nature, where hugs can be found nearly everywhere if we know how to look. A nest can be a hug in a tree, a seashell is a hug in the sea; each page is thoughtful and will help little ones see their world in a whole new way. Interspersed between the pages about nature are all the things a hug between this father and daughter mean to them: safety, home, love. A tender tribute to the humble hug. Ages 3-5 ($11, amazon.com).

 

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

10 fun winter activities for kids

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Wondering how on earth you’re going to entertain the kids all winter now the nights are drawing in and the clocks have gone back?

Then read on!

I don’t know about you but it seems infinitely easier to entertain the kids in summer, when you can throw open the back door and go to the park with the sun on your faces, than it does in winter when you’ve got to wrap them up and really think about where you’re going and for how long for.

It might be tempting to draw the curtains and switch on the telly, but with a bit of lateral thinking it’s actually easier than you think to make the most of the great outdoors in winter.

This year we’re partnering with Simplyhealth and their #MyEveryStep campaign, which is all about the little steps we can take to lead healthier lives, and as autumn turns to winter we’ve come up with 10 fun winter activities for kids to help keep them (and you) entertained as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer.

10 fun winter activities for kids

1. Make a bird feeder. It doesn’t have to be super complicated – all you need are three things: a cardboard toilet roll tube, peanut butter and bird seed. Spread the peanut butter over the toilet roll tube, roll it in the bird seed several times so it sticks all over, then thread the tube over a branch outside. Birds and wildlife will come flocking and the looks on the faces of your own little birds is priceless.

2. Go puddle jumping. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you need to stay indoors. Put their wellies on, zip their raincoats up and let them jump in puddles until their heart’s content. Trust me, it will keep them entertained for waaay longer than you think.


winter activities for kids

3. Play conker maths. Collect as many conkers as you can – which is huge fun in itself – then charge them with the task of counting them and sorting them into groups from smallest to biggest. If you’ve got a pair of scales even better – they’ll be at it for hours.

4. Go toadstool hunting. Toadstools start popping up in forests all over the UK as soon as the nights start drawing in, and they really are a sight to behold – whatever your age. We recently went looking for some while taking part in BBC Children in Need’s #HatsOn campaign (see 5 easy ways to raise money for BBC Children in Need) which is all about making the most of the great outdoors and the kids walked much further than they would normally do (without complaining!) in search of the much-coveted red ones.


winter activities for kids

5. Clear up leaves. If you’ve got a garden the chances are you’ve got leaves that need clearing away at this time of year. Turn a chore into an activity the whole family can enjoy by collecting the leaves and jumping in them – this is the stuff memories are made of! It’s a brilliant sensory experience for little ones too.

6. Make a bonfire. Autumn is the perfect time of year to gather your garden waste (don’t forget the leaves!) build a bonfire and watch it snapple and crack. They’ll have as much fun building the fire as they will watching it burn – just make sure there’s a responsible adult on hand at all times (ideally one with eyes in the back of their head).


winter activities for kids

7. Have a winter picnic. Who says picnics are just for summer? If you’ve got a bonfire going, make the most of it by taking hot dogs and flasks of hot chocolate into the garden while you watch it burn. Then when the flames have died down toast marshmallows in the embers (don’t forget to make sure the responsible adult is on hand).

8. Sign up to a beach litter pick. We all know plastic is a huge problem in our seas, and it’s easier than you think to help make a difference. Beach cleaning events, where members of the public volunteer to help pick up litter on beaches, happen all over the UK and are a great chance to breathe in some sea air as well as being lots of fun too. Use the Marine Conservation Society’s postcode finder to find a beach clean nearest to you.


winter activities for kids

9. Go ice skating. The ultimate winter sport, the chances are there’ll be an ice rink in your town or city in time for the festive season. Most offer hold-on penguins or animals for little ones (I find them rather handy too!) and it’s great exercise, focusing on lower body movement and leg muscles.

10. Go stargazing. The good thing about the nights drawing in is that the stars come out earlier. Brush up on your constellations, wrap them up warm and take them outside to point out the different formations. If you’ve got a pair of binoculars even better.


winter activities for kids

Do you have any fun winter activities your kids love at this time of year? I’d love to know what they are!

This post was written in collaboration with Simplyhealth. I’m proud to be supporting their #MyEveryStep campaign, shining a light on the little steps we can all take to leading a healthy life every day. As always all opinions are my own and based on my own honest experience. To find out more about Simplyhealth’s #MyEveryStep campaign follow @SimplyhealthUK on Twitter and Instagram.

The post 10 fun winter activities for kids #ad appeared first on Confessions Of A Crummy Mummy.

 

This article was written by crummymummy1 from Confessions of a Crummy Mummy and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Being Good after the Holidays

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By Jack Maypole, M.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Ah, the holidays! We’ll make an assumption that you had an excellent, if not unicorny type experience where all children in the household remained free from illness, made eye contact with visitors and relatives, waited their turn, showed grace and patience with unwrapped presents and even averted class IV meltdowns. In short, they were perfect angels, right?  

Well, maybe they’re not perfect and maybe not even angels, but that’s ok. It’s even normal.  

However, I’ll bet you did notice that by New Year’s or so, there were some new aspects to their daily routine that you noticed and even liked. Maybe they take their dishes to the sink like their big five-year-old cousin. Maybe they helped do some chores around the house in a way they didn’t used to, but it took a bunch of visitors to make a call for all hands on deckand now they respond and pitch in versus fight with their sibling. Maybe they sleep in their bed. Perhaps they finish their whole dinner sometimes. Maybe they do none of these things or some of these things, but if you look, even a little, it is worth betting on the idea that you noticed some new behaviors that your little ones are doing at the start of 2020 that they were not doing at the end of 2019. Spoiler alert! it is not recommended that you invoke Santa’s naughty list and watchful eye for 11 months a year.  

How do you preserve that goodness that seems to have taken over the holidays? How do you foster and cultivate better behavior in your children? Pick three of your favorite gifts and ship them to me in care of Goddardsystems.com and I’ll tell youNo, seriously, there are a few fundamentals worth remembering to help at least a few of those new impulses your children feel to become ingrained and to set. Let’s think of the why and the how. 

  1. During the holidays, we tend to be more mindful and tuned into the behaviors of our family crew as we mesh and mix with family and friends.Childrennotice, and we often instinctively given them a cross between a pep talk and an ageappropriate chat about expectations when we are hosts or visitors. The takeaway from this is that this approach works, and it can be offered to children periodically, less infused with what can feel like the frantic mania of the holidays. Talk with your children, even your toddlers and preschoolers, about how you are asking them to be big children, to be on their better behavior with others and to help by being excellent role models for the little children. You can read that as anyone younger than they are. They love that! Offer them two or three things to work on in future outings or at home over a weekend, setting achievable goals that will set them up to succeed. Call out their success with pride, and praise them when they deliver or perform as requested. Children love to please, and this will be incredibly motivating. This positive reinforcement is the best way to encourage future constructive, desired behavior.  
  1. As 2020 gets going, work on a few tasks or behaviors with your child,trying not to overload them oryouself, while keeping it ageappropriate to guarantee success. For example, with twoyear-old, it might involve giving up a binky while using a blanket at bedtime. For three-year-olds, maybe it involves getting their coats and boots in the morning. For four or five-year-olds, they might be able to help do some spray and wipe jobs in the kitchen using some water and a damp cloth. They will make mistakes, and they won’t get it right, but as Yoda says, that is okay: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Keep a sense of humor, as their failed attempts can be hilarious if not misguided. But their doing is really something when you think about it.  
  1. Remember they are little. Being a toddler and preschooler is a busy time. There is a world to explore. There are shiny things. There are screens. There are toys to play with and forts to hide in. As parents, we can and should foster their play, and it is not unreasonable to give them some modest tasks and some rules of the household to work toward and live by. Hosting for the holidays focuses our attention on how ourchildrenact during a time of peak meal and event prep. It can be exhilarating and it can be exhausting. Pacing yourself for the rest of the year with basic tasks as goals, modest rewards and praise for jobs well done is a way to make the journey possible and, frankly, much more enjoyable.  

Why You Should Be Planning Your Summer Now

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By Jennifer Jipson, PH.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Many of us escape grey winter skies by dreaming about summertime adventures. As parents, we may imagine our children spending summer playfully exploring the world around them, laughing as they interact with other children and gaining confidence in themselves as they develop new skills and learn about fascinating new topics.  Although it might seem early, the start of the new year is an ideal time to turn those dreams into plans. Whether or not your summertime schedule requires childcare, enrolling your children in high-quality summer programs ensures that their natural curiosity about the world is supported in environments brimming with resources that inspire and motivate playful learning.  

To evaluate whether a summer program is likely to be time well spent for your child, you should go beyond basic questions about schedules and cost and dive deeper into the program philosophy. Ask the people running the program questions that will reveal their view on how their program supports children’s learning and development. 

  • How much time do children spend engaged in structured activities?  
  • How much time is dedicated to free play?   
  • What are the benefits of each type of activity?  
  • How do these activities complement one another? 

These questions are important because research in child development shows that children flourish when they are engaged in both structured and unstructured experiences. Structured activities provide children with opportunities to stretch their skills under the strategic guidance of well-trained adults who spark interest, add challenges and encourage creative problemsolving. Providing ample time for free play provides essential additional benefits: in free play, children take the initiative to pursue their own interests and immerse themselves in activities of their own choosing. As they play, children gain new understandings about the world, about themselves and about how to interact with others. Skilled teachers know that these parts of the daily schedule are related. When teachers observe children’s free play and document their interests and skills, they gain valuable information to inform their plans for more structured activities related to the program theme. The result is a balanced summer program in which children explore exciting topics, such as bugs, space and art, in ways that support their developing understandings, interests and skills. Even a greater effect can be had when educators invite families to participate in the delight of discovery. Look for summer programs that involve parents as partners by showcasing daily projects, offering suggestions for related home activities like outings and books and listening attentively to parents’ reports of their children’s interests and experiences. Planning now for the summer won’t turn the grey skies blue, but it will ensure that your child experiences a memorable summer full of learning and fun.