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Archive for May, 2020

How to Ease Your Child’s Separation Anxiety After Quarantine Is Over

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by Jack Maypole, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Separation anxiety is typical behavior in young children at the best of times. Worries and fears are a natural and adaptive part of development. During these past months, they have had the benefit of your continuous attention during the stay-at-home orders and for when they are returning to schoolThere will likely be some return of separation anxiety as your children adjust to the upcoming changes in their lives. 

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 Children who follow a more typical developmental progression will manifest some separation anxiety usually around 7 to 12 months, especially when their primary caretakers hand them to someone less familiar or step away from their immediate company. This is normal. Most of these children can be redirected with mild distraction or soothed quickly by a familiar loved one. In toddlers and preschoolers, these behaviors may manifest by crying at the school dropoff, but in a way that is usually brief and is pleasantly vulnerable to redirection with play or shiny objects. Seasoned clinicians and veteran teachers, alike, agree that to help children adapt to a playdate or school environment, parents must make such transition times quick and loving. This will support the teacher and child and will avoid sending any unclear signal that mom or dad will come back or linger if the child cries. Leaving fast helps everybody. 

If a family is worried that their child may be showing behavior that has not responded to the usual approaches outlined above, they might contact their child’s primary care provider for further assessment. I counsel these families to keep to the same routine when separating, when possible. For children of any age, consistency and successful separation experiences over time can lessen the intensity of symptoms. For preschoolers, there are even some behavioral health approaches to use when needed. Parent-child interaction therapy has been adapted to treat separation anxiety. Persistence, attention and a loving approach work well together.  

For most families with children with separation anxiety, those times of tears and crying can be difficult but thankfully soon become a forgotten phase of early childhood. For those children who persist to worry themselves and those who care for them, there are many ways we can help.  

Four Questions Not to Ask Your Child about Returning to School

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by Dr. Kyle Pruett, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

While the return of a schedule for which you are not responsible and a little less chaos overall can make us welcome sending our children back to school, we can’t guarantee a smooth transition. A common temptation is to start grilling our offspring about school readiness stuff in a well-meaning attempt to anticipate trouble and cut it off at the root. Examples of some things a four-year-old might say to some seemingly innocent inquiries from mom or dad include, “I don’t know if I want to see my friends yet.” “I liked being at home with you every day.” Here are four questions you may want to reconsider asking:

1. Are you excited about going back to school?

Most preschoolers feel a mix of emotions: excitement, uncertainty, curiosity or fear and not all at the same time, so it’s hard to answer this one directly. Instead, let them overhear you talking to family or friends about getting ready to send them back and some of your mixed feelings just to let them know this is an okay topic. Doing this may help encourage them to ask their questions about going back, to which you can then listen carefully and deal with where your children are about going back, not just where you are.

2. Do you want to practice your letters and numbers to get ready for school?

Isn’t this tempting since you know practice might help them in reentry? Instead, it often makes a preschooler think he or she is already a little behind because he or she hasn’t been doing his or her due diligence. Instead, before your child heads back, start saying things like, “Can you find the letter A in the billboards along the road?” Playing small games may help him or her get back in the swing of identification without feeling like it’s a getting-ready-for-school thing and is more a growing-up thing.

3. Anything special you want to do before school begins again?

Of course, we want to please our kids by giving them what they want, but this question carries with it the idea that something serious is about to happen, and they’d better get in their goodbyes. Instead, use the last long weekend for family time that is more laid back than what is to come when school starts. Talk about how much these times mean to you as a mom, dad or family and how you look forward to more of them.

4. When you do want to start getting ready to go to bed earlier to get ready for school mornings?

This question may seem like you are trying to partner up with them on this issue, but it’s just better to get it started without their consent, which you are pretty unlikely to obtain.

How to Foster Creativity Amongst Your Young Learner

balancing-working-from-home-with-children-4By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

May is Inventors Month. Who knew? Our little ones are always inventing and testing.  This is how they learn to interact with the world around them. Encouraging creativity is essential to supporting our young learners. National Inventors Month began in 1998 to help promote the positive image of inventors and their contributionsInventors affect every facet of our lives, and we want to encourage children to be creative and learn to become problem solvers. How can we help our young learners to become creative? 

Creativity is often described as the action you take after imagination. In other words, it is not imagination alone but how you put your imagination into action. In the business world, we call it insights into action. The combination of imagination, creativity and problem solving becomes innovation.  

 We can nurture creativity and innovation in our children by allowing them to try new things, providing a lot of time for free play and creating an enriched learning environment at home.   

  • You don’t need a mountain of toys and devices to create an enriched learning environment for your child. A variety of toys that are changed often will provide your child with cognitive stimulation and promote curiosity and exploration. The toys don’t need to be fancy. In fact, toys that require imagination, like cardboard boxes and old clothes for dress-up, are often the most stimulating! 
  • Access to books is also important, and the public library can help keep the selection varied. We love Rosie the Riveter, by Andrea Beaty and My Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.     
  • Explore how things work by taking apart old equipment, such as a toaster or computer. Before you throw things away, think about how they can be recycled for play. Children will be fascinated by all of the parts. 
  • Explore your community. Trips to the zoo, different local parks, museums, and even grocery stores add valuable variety to your child’s experience. 
  • Limit screen time and encourage physical activity. 

 Enriching your home in this way will help your child tdevelop creativity skills and tap into his or her innovative spirit! 

Here’s What Your Child Will Learn in Kindergarten

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Are you ready? Kindergarten is just around the corner. A few months of summer, and it’ll be here.

I am frequently asked what will my child learn? Usually, this was followed by what can I do to help my child succeed. Let’s tackle each question.

What will my child learn?

All states and school districts have a list of skills and objectives for each grade level.  You can find these on the school’s or school district’s website.

You can also ask your child’s teacher for a list. But learning goes beyond the list of standards or skills. Children are naturally curious and kindergarten nurtures that curiosity into exploring the world around them.

Beyond the early reading and math skills that include learning letters, numbers, shapes and colors, children will learn the following:

  • Social skills – how to get along with others, follow rules and ask for help;
  • Executive function – self-regulation (taking turns) and cognitive flexibility (testing ideas and problem-solving);
  • Health and well-being – sportsmanship and playing with others;
  • Creative expression – learning through dramatic play, the arts and self-expression;
  • Family and community – understanding what rules are for and how people work together in communities.

All of these skills help your child to become a motivated learner and build a foundation for success in school and in life.

How can I help my child?

Here are a few ideas of things you can do at home to continue to motivate your upcoming kindergartener:

  1. Read, read and read – Select favorite books every day and read one before bedtime. Help your child pick out letters and words.  Have your child read to you, even if he is just saying what is in the pictures.
  2. Learn something everywhere, so use a trip to the grocery store to practice math skills, such as counting the fruit that goes in the bag or reading the numbers on the price tags.
  3. Keep a school box at home. Place a box within easy reach that contains crayons, paper, markers, stickers and more. Encourage your child to use them and practice writing letters and numbers or drawing whatever he or she wants.
  4. Play games and put together puzzles. Not only will this be fun, but your little one will be learning problem-solving, taking turns and how to strategize.

Once School begins, engage your child with the following support:

  1. Ask questions about the school day. Instead of asking a broad question such as, what happened today, be more specific. What was the most fun thing you did today? Who did you play with today? What did you do outside?
  2. Build on your child’s answers. If your child mentioned a game they played, suggest he or she teach you the game and play it together. If it was a book your child read, suggest you get that book out of the library to read it together. Building on your child’s interest will connect School to home in a meaningful way.
  3. Look around the classroom when you pick up your child or plan a visit now and then. Read the daily or weekly reports from your child’s teacher. Ask about something you read in the report. I see you built a ramp in class today. How did you do that?
  4. Connect with your child’s teacher. Ask her or him for specific ideas, and keep the lines of communication open.

You’ll soon adjust to the idea of your little one being a kindergartner, and you’ll be posting pictures to your friends and family of milestone events.

10 Ways Families Can Honor Memorial Day This Year

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By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Children often think about Memorial Day as a time when the family gets together for a barbecue. Parents have an extra day off to play, and some homes have the flag flown in the front yard. It is also a special day to remember and honor those who have fought for the country since the 1800s.

This Memorial Day may be a little different since parades may be canceled and the large family barbecue may be smaller. There are still ways we can share the value of honoring Memorial Day and those who served. Here are ten ideas to mix up the day with your family.

  1. Share the story of why we have Memorial Day. It began in 1866 to honor soldiers from the Civil War and was at first called Decoration Day. People decorated graves with flowers, flags and wreaths. You can make decor at home in red, white and blue and display your decorations inside and outdoors. Have your children plan and make the decorations.
  2. Raise the flag. Fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then at full-staff until sunset. If you don’t have a flag, make one. Your children can count the stars and stripes as they create the family flag.
  3. Share stories. It is often easier to explain a concept like Memorial Day through storytelling. Share your family’s stories or read one of our favorites:
    1. The Wall by Eve Bunting
    2. Hero Dad and Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin
    3. The Impossible Patriotism Projectby Linda Skeers
  4. Take an afternoon break. Honor the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time with a moment of peace.
  5. It is the unofficial start of the summer. Plan something fun outdoors, such as a lunch outside or a backyard camp out.
  6. Seven billion hotdogs will be eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Wow! Encourage your children to plan the Memorial Day meal. What is necessary to include – ice cream, hotdogs, chicken?
  7. Honor those who are still serving by bringing a little joy into their lives. Create cards, drawings or a care package to be sent overseas to a soldier, marine, airman, sailor or coastguardsman actively serving. Visit the site anysoldier.comto discover how and where to send your special items. You can extend this to your children’s teachers or people who are working in the hospitals.
  8. Sing songs throughout the day. Start the day with “America the Beautiful” and end the day with the national anthem.
  9. Get out the pots and pans, cardboard tubes and other materials that can become instruments. Have a family parade around the house. Video the parade and share with friends.
  10. Connect with a family far away by video chat. Share a favorite recipe, read a story together or sing a song such as the national anthem.

Travel Without Traveling: How to Explore the World With Your Family From Home

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By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D., Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

I recently received a text in which I was prompted to do a series of calculations, and the resulting number would determine where I would travel on my next vacation. The list included exciting destinations near and far, but number nine on the list was Stay Home. With the magic of math, everyone ends up with number nine. Funny but frustrating!  I really enjoy traveling, and I know that experience with travel helps children learn about other places and people, helps them develop important skills like self-regulation and problem-solving and contributes to their growing confidence and curiosity. Unfortunately, the current global health pandemic limits tourism, but with a little creativity and planning, families can stay safely at home while still reaping many of the benefits of actual travel. In the example below, I share an approach to planning virtual vacations in a way that will provide your family with powerful learning opportunities and cherished memories.

Imagine a trip to San Francisco in which you visit the Exploratorium, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and Ghiradelli’s chocolate factory all without leaving your home: no stress, no meltdowns, no expense, and no packing! This type of travel is exactly what a friend of mine is doing with her children, and we can all do it too! Here’s a sample itinerary for a trip to San Francisco. Your family can adapt it or create your own travel plans to other destinations. For example, my friend invited her older children to help with planning activities, and they’ve gone to London, Japan, Paris and San Francisco all in the last month.

STEAM Project Day: The Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge – Look at pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge online. Talk about how they are similar and different. Set out a variety of materials, such as paper towel rolls, popsicle sticks, Legos, cups, paper and whatever else you have for children to use to make their own bridge. You can find ideas online to inspire you at https://preschoolsteam.com/bridge-building-activities-preschoolers/. Measure how long you can make a bridge before it collapses. Put pennies on your bridge to see how many it can hold before it starts to sag. If your bridge falls, ask your children why they think that happened and what ideas they have to make it stronger. These types of questions engage children in science practices which support their inquiry and critical thinking. Science practices are a core component of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Cooking Day: Dinner in Chinatown – Watch a short video about Chinatown, such as this read-aloud of a storybook at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dQVcX6sASA ).  Plan a menu for a dinner inspired by Chinese cuisine and cook it together. Lee Scott, Chair of the Goddard Educational Advisory Board, recently wrote a fantastic article about cooking with children that will help you get started. You can find it here: https://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/why-cooking-with-kids-is-worth-the-effort-and-how-to-get-started

Museum Day: The Exploratorium – This science center is chock full of hands-on, inquiry-based science exhibits. Their website offers an alternative experience with a menu of science snacks that provide ideas for interactive activities that families can do online or with common materials from around the house. Explore options together, or pick out a few in advance to do with your child. These activities will help children learn science principles, as well as engage in science practices. Best of all, they’re fun to do together!

Pretend Playday: The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park – Gather your stuffed animals, dolls and family members and have a tea party in your own Japanese tea garden. Find a tranquil spot in your yard or a neighborhood park, and lay out a blanket. Serve tea or juice, and talk about the things you notice in the nature around you. Spending time in nature promotes better mental health for both children and adults by reducing stress. This positive impact is found even with small doses of time outdoors.

Treat Yourself Day: Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory – Watch a video about how chocolate is made here: https://www.pbs.org/video/kidvision-pre-k-how-chocolate-is-made-cfvz1o/). Make yourselves chocolate sundaes or brownies, and celebrate the fun of exploring San Francisco from your home. One of the most well-known benefits of family travel is the strengthening of family bonds. As you eat your treat, start making plans for where you’ll go next!

At its best, travel fills us with wonder and offers quality family time, and at its worst, it exhausts us. Thanks to technology and our own creativity, we can indulge our wanderlust by visiting exciting new places without leaving home. Have fun and share your adventures with us by posting your trips to Facebook and Instagram and tagging The Goddard School.

Coffee Filter Suncatchers

Coffee Filter Suncatchers from The Goddard School on Vimeo.

Make sunny days even brighter with these colorful suncatchers! Perfect for honing fine motor skills, this project takes the concept of cutting out paper snowflakes to a new level for year-round fun.

Materials

  • Coffee filters
  • Bowl of water
  • Paintbrush
  • Food coloring in assorted colors
  • Scissors
  • Tray or mat to use as a workspace
  • String
  • Tape
  • Warm iron (optional, for adult use only)
  • Hair dryer (optional, for adult use only)

Instructions

  1. Lay a coffee filter on your workspace. Protect your area appropriately because food coloring can stain surfaces.
  2. Use the paintbrush to wet the entire coffee filter with water so it lies flat.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to the wet filter and brush the color out so it covers the entire surface. Use different colors and see how they blend.
  4. Allow the filter to dry completely. You can use a hair dryer to dry it quickly, or apply a warm iron to a dry filter to flatten it further. Make sure that only adults use the iron or hair dryer.
  5. Fold and cut the dry filter into a snowflake design. To create a six-sided design, fold the filter in half, fold it in half again and then fold it in thirds before cutting it.
  6. Open the filter, and iron it again with a warm iron if you wish.
  7. Use the string and tape to hang your filter in a window, and watch as the sunlight filters through it.

Transitioning Back to School After COVID-19

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Returning to School after COVID-19 may be an anxious time for both parents and their children. Getting back into preschool and daycare centers may bring up big emotions from even our youngest students. When age-appropriate, let your children know that soon they will go back to School and be with their friends again, but things may be a little different when they return.

Here are some steps that parents and families can take to help their children make a smooth transition back to School:

  1. Drive to their School to familiarize your child with the setting. Seeing the School building will help jog your child’s fun memories of the building and all of their beloved friends and teachers inside.
  2. Communicate with your children. When age-appropriate, explain to your children how things may be different when they return, such as a smaller class size or teachers wearing masks.
  3. Assess your feelings.Young children can pick up on their parents’ nonverbal cues. If you feel guilty or worried about your child returning to School, he or she will sense it. The calmer and more assured you are, the more confident your child will be. If you are struggling with the idea of your child returning to School, think about the reasons why. Reassess your feelings. Don’t do something if you’re uncomfortable. Consider calling the School’s owner or director to learn about the new health and safety protocols put into place for children, families and faculty members.
  4. Establish the partnership.When you enter the classroom or meet teachers in front of the building for drop-off and pick-up, be sure to greet your child’s teacher warmly by name. Because of enhanced safety policies, parents may not be allowed to linger, so to ensure you’re doing all you can to keep children, families and faculty members safe, call in advance to find out. Then, let your children know about these new rules to help them understand and be prepared for these changes. If your child clings to you or is reluctant to participate in the class, don’t get upset because this may only upset your child more. Follow the guidelines described by the teacher or School and go at your child’s pace.
  5. Say goodbye. Saying goodbye may be hard for young children who have adjusted to being at home with their parents every day. As tempting as it may be to stick around, you should follow a predictable farewell routine to make leaving easier. Also, keep in mind that most children do well once their parents leave. Some parents wave from outside a certain classroom window, sing a goodbye song or make a funny goodbye face. It’s important to be consistent and do the following:
  • Always say a loving goodbye to your child and reassure him or her that you will be back to pick him or her up later. Once you do, you should leave promptly. A long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child’s hesitation about this experience.
  • Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying goodbye may frighten a child.

If you would like more information about how Goddard Schools are responding to COVID-19, please click here.

The Benefits of Cooking with Children

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By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Cooking with children is a terrific way to enjoy a special time with your children and support learning as well. When you are all homebound, it is a great way to relieve stress and add some laughter to the day. It is sometimes difficult if you have different age ranges and abilities with children when trying to keep them learning and entertained at home. Cooking is great for all ages, and you can include even the youngest of children.

Getting started

  1. Start with a plan. What shall we make? Work with your children to list the ingredients.
  2. Talk about what your children like while you are doing this on the fly and pulling ideas from the refrigerator, and plan from there.
  3. Offer choices to simplify the activity. Do you want carrots or celery in the salad?

Your children will be practicing decision-making skills, learning collaboration as well as planning and practicing organization. These are essential skills all children need for success in school and in life.

Using a recipe – where everyone has a job

  1. Children can help with the measuring.
  2. Younger children can assist with pouring tasks, such as placing a piece of tape on the measured line to help them pour the correct amount.
  3. Older children can read out the recipe and measure ingredients as you cook.
  4. You can set the timer and talk about cooking temperatures.

Recipe activities help your children with reading, math and science skills.

Enjoying your labor

  1. Everyone can help by setting the table.
  2. Someone can make personalized placemats with paper and a few crayons or markers.
  3. Everyone will enjoy the meal you have created together. Ask your children what they liked best.

Preparing the table and enjoying the meal teaches sorting, counting, creativity, organizing and fine motor skills.

Reading books about cooking helps to build an understanding of all that goes into cooking while supporting the development of language skills. To provide inspiration, this can be fun at bedtime after you have been cooking together or before you make your meal. I have a few favorites:

  1. Be Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
  2. Feast for Ten by Cathryn Falwell
  3. Froggy Bakes a Cake by Jonathan London