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Archive for the ‘21st Century Learning’ Category

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.

11 Free, Fun and Safe Learning Resource Websites for Young Children

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With so many apps and online programs for young children, choosing the best ones can be difficult. We have compiled our favorite trusted resources for you and your family to enjoy.

  1. Google Earth Zoom in to ANYWHERE in the world! Children will love seeing different places across the globe (ages 3-6+)
  2. PBS Education  Lots of fun, educational games with children’s favorite characters (ages 3-6+)
  3. Explore.org  Livestreams of various animal habitats, which children love watching (ages 3-6+)
  4. Common Sense Media Families’ and Schools’ go-to ratings resource for children’s apps and movies (ages 3-6+)
  5. Go Noodle Movement, dance, yoga and mindfulness activities for children (ages 3-6+)
  6. National Geographic Kids Wonderful games and videos all about animals and the world (ages 3-6+)
  7. NASA Kids Club  The best space and engineering site for children (ages 3-6+)
  8. Creativity Catapult A curated library of activities to promote creativity (ages 3-6+)
  9. Storyline Short stories, images and sounds to interest children in the world around them (ages 4-6+)
  10. Boston Children’s Museum – Parent & Educator Resources  A curriculum and activity resources focused on STEM and hands-on learning (ages 3-6+)
  11. Children’s Museum of Pittsburg – Museum at Home Maker activities to do at home (ages 5-6+)

 

Gardening with Your Children

Even as an adult, I am awed by watching seeds germinate. I check my pots every morning in case a squash plant has grown an inch overnight.

As you begin your spring planting this year, plan ways to include your children. They will also be amazed by how seeds Boy Gardeninggrow into plants. You can talk about life cycles, nutrition and the environment. This helps them learn concepts in science, but you can also help them learn about math, language and other subjects.  Some specific examples of these lessons include the following:

Let them get dirty.

Let your children play in the dirt, especially if they are under three years old. It is important for children to explore the texture of the soil and the plants. They will learn how to mold soil, to change its shape and volume and to contain a mess within a safe space for free exploration. These types of hands-on experiences help children make concrete connections to words and experiences.  Sensory based play and exploration will cultivate your children’s physical development, especially the important small muscles in their hands and the tendons in their fingers.

Teach them how to nurture.

Your children will love taking care of plants and watching them grow. Preschool age children enjoy jobs that create a sense of responsibility.  Working in a garden helps them see the fruits of their efforts, leading to a sense of pride and accomplishment. Talk to your children about the needs of the plants including food, water and sunlight. For children who are three years old and older, you can begin a conversation that compares what plants and people need to live. Your children can learn fundamental social and emotional skills like empathy, communication, cooperation and learn to identify and express feelings while gardening.

Incorporate math.

While gardening, your children can learn fundamental math skills like patterns, sequences and numeracy. Consider the following activities.

  • Patterns
    You can plan the garden with your children by grouping similar seeds together. You can plant the vegetables in rows or you can plant the flowers by color. Once the garden is growing, you can help your children to notice patterns by asking questions like these: “Which plants have thick stems? Which have thin stems?” and “How are these two plants the same?”
  • Sequences
    Track the growth of plants with your children over time. Ask them questions about the order in which parts of the plants grow. You can ask, “Which leaves grow first?” or “What grows before the flower blooms?”
  • Numeracy
    While observing your garden, ask your children to count the different parts of a plant as it grows. For example, you might ask, “How many leaves are there now?” Model and use comparison words like bigger, more than and faster.  Measure the plants with your children and talk about how much they are growing.  You can graph the height of plants over time together. Clear flowerpots can let you observe and measure the growth of roots, too.

Develop literacy.

Always engage in conversations with your children. Read books about gardens and teach them new words about plants. Teach them the language necessary to speak about how plants grow. Ask open-ended questions like “What do you see happening?” or “What do you think the garden will look like next week?” to encourage them to think and communicate about their surroundings. Use a photo album or a three-ring binder with page protectors to create a book about your gardening experiences.  You can review past experiences and encourage verbal and written language skills by reading it together. Your children can also use their creative skills to draw illustrations and decorate the cover.

At the end of the summer, we hope that you will have a beautiful garden and an enthusiastic, blooming gardener.

Buying Your Child a “Tech Toy” for the Holidays This Year? Read This First

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

With the holidays quickly approaching, many families are starting to think about buying new toys for their little ones. The possibilities seem endless. Will children’s faces light up when they receive dolls, board games or blocks? The increased availability of toys that integrate digital technology into children’s play can make choosing gifts even more overwhelming. Will a robot be the cherished gift of the season, or will VR goggles or drones be? Although children will always enjoy and benefit from traditional play materials, they may be drawn to the novelty, flashing lights and sound effects of digital toys. Are these toys time (and money) well spent? Which ones will children find engaging, both out of the box and over time? Which ones will support their learning and development? A few guidelines can help parents and grandparents navigate the ever-growing landscape of so-called “tech toys.”

  • Young children learn through hands-on exploration of the world around them and through social interaction with adults and other children. Tech toys that combine physical and digital elements and that can engage multiple people in play can be powerful tools for learning in early childhood. Avoid single-user, screen-based devices, and focus on objects that you and your child can investigate together.
  • Some tech toys are little more than digital devices that prompt children to develop and demonstrate their understanding of the ABCs and 123s.  Such toys fail to take advantage of the potential of technology to engage children in playful open-ended learning. When shopping for tech toys, choose those that allow children to create, to practice flexible thinking and to communicate and collaborate with others. Robots like Code-a-Pillar from Fisher-Price’s, Dot and Dash from Wonder Workshop’s and Botley from Learning Resources allow children to work with their friends and family members to control the toys’ movements and sounds. Children have fun creating stories and navigating obstacle courses while practicing their problem-solving skills and learning about coding.
  • Some classic tech toys are still strong contenders for family game night. Bop It! and Simon are fun choices that require children to focus their attention and inhibit impulsive actions – all important aspects of children’s developing abilities to self-regulate.
  • Finally, find balance in the materials you provide your child. Children’s play with tech toys can complement their play with more traditional materials, so get out the blocks and spend time working together to make a maze for your child’s robotic Hexbugs to explore!

12 Children’s Books That Celebrate Diversity and Differences

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We live in a diverse world, which makes fitting in and finding a place in your community a little easier. That doesn’t mean that children (and adults) don’t still struggle with it, though. Help your children channel empathy for others or navigate uncomfortable situations by reading one of these great books.

  1. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
    This story follows a group of children through their day at a school where everyone is different and everyone is welcome.

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  1. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López
    “There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you” starts this book about accepting your differences and being brave because you embrace yourself.

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  1. Lovely by Jess Hong
    In this book, everyone is lovely, no matter what size, shape or color they are!

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  1. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
    New to America, Unhei wants to choose an American name to fit in. Her classmates are eager to help and fill a jar with suggestions. Unhei tries out names like Suzy and Amanda, but none seem to fit. When a classmate visits Unhei at home and learns the special meaning of her name, the name jar disappears and Unhei decides her name is perfect.

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  1. Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
    After seeing three women dressed up as beautiful mermaids, Julián is mesmerized and decides that he, too, is a mermaid.

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  1. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton and Dougal MacPherson
    This story follows a day in the life of Errol and his teddy bear, Thomas. One day, Thomas tells Errol that he wishes his name were Tilly, not Thomas, because Thomas is a girl teddy bear.

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  1. Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer and Holly Clifton-Brown
    Stella’s school is having a Mother’s Day celebration, but Stella doesn’t have a mom. She has two amazing dads!

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  1. Meet Clarabelle Blue by Adiba Nelson, Elvira Morando and Ilene Serna
    Clarabelle Blue may use a wheelchair, but she’s not defined by it. Clarabelle is just like other children.

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  1. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
    This beautifully illustrated and lyrical book is about immigrating to America. A mother leaves Mexico with only her infant son. Through a public library, she learns how to speak English and how to make a home in a strange place.

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  1. Still a Family: A Story about Homelessness by Brenda Reeves Sturgis and Jo-Shin Lee
    A little girl and her family lose their home. The girl and her mother move into a homeless shelter, but her dad is separated from them because he must live in a men’s shelter. Throughout this book, the little girl reminds herself that no matter what, they are still a family.

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  1. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson
    This story follows CJ and his grandma on their bus ride home from church. CJ has many questions, like why his family doesn’t have a car. Through it all, CJ’s grandma helps him see the beauty in their routine and their world.

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  1. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Khan and Mehrdokht Amini
    This beautiful book celebrates and teaches young readers about important elements of Islamic culture through the eyes of a young Muslim girl.

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Save, Share, Spend Piggy Banks

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Teach your children how to be savvy with their money.

It’s never too early to teach your children about financial responsibility and the benefits of saving, sharing and spending money. Whether it’s a special treat they receive from the tooth fairy, money they are awarded for completing their chores or simply loose change that they find around the house, it’s time to get smart with what happens after they get the money. All children resort to happily stuffing their money away, but it’s important that they know what to do with it before stashing it in the bellies of their piggies.

It’s always a good idea for a child to have a piggy bank, but it’s time to revamp this old-school classic. Instead of putting all the money into one container, break it up into three parts, teaching your children how to spend, save and share their funds. Constructing a save, share, spend piggy bank is something that you can do with your little ones right at home. This project will help your children realize the importance of money and how it can be used in many ways.

You can use the Save jar as a rainy-day fund or for helping your children save money for something they really want to buy. The Spend jar is for spending money wisely on things that they are ready to purchase, and the Share jar is for giving back to the community or donating money to the cause of their choice. The goal of the different jars is to teach your children the hard work of saving money and the importance of using their funds wisely and effectively.

Materials that you’ll need

  • Three pint-sized Mason jars;
  • Three labels of your choice;
  • Chalk or any color paint marker.

Directions

  1. Remove the lids from the Mason jars and screw the metal bands back on.
  2. Secure one label to the middle of each of the jars.
  3. Write “Save” “Share” “Spend” separately on each label with chalk or the paint marker.
  4. Customize the piggy banks! Include your children’s names and let them decorate the jars.
  5. Display the piggy bank jars where you and your children can easily see and access them.

 

Is Your Child Bullying Others? Look for These Five Signs

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By Lee Scott and Kyle Pruett, M.D.

Contributing Writers and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Members

Bullying is an unsettling topic for any parent, but it’s an important one as it can start early. Read this article to pinpoint five behaviors that could point to bullying and learn what you can do to teach your child awareness.

Observe your child in different settings if you have concerns, and look for these signs:

  • Increasingly makes fun of or tries to aggravate younger children or siblings;
  • Begins to blame others for his or her mistakes;
  • Is overly competitive and puts down others who struggle;
  • Consistently makes derogatory comments about others (adults and children), such as “So-and-so is fat” or “He can’t run as fast”;
  • Makes fun of others within a group of children and encourages friends to tease another child.

The best way is to address the behavior immediately when you see it. Talk to your children about how they think other children feel when your children act cruelly or say hurtful things. Help your children feel more secure by praising them when they do things for others, help you at home and accomplish something they have worked hard on. Discussing their behavior and providing immediate positive feedback for good behavior is essential. Also, watch what you say around the house. Young children reflect what they say and hear. Be careful not to put down others in front of your child, even that driver who just cut you off!

Another great way to begin the discussion on bullying and bullying prevention is through reading. Children often relate to the characters in the story, and it makes it easy to discuss difficult topics. Here are five great books for early learners to help them understand the hurt that bullying can cause:

  1. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton
  2. Tease Monster: A Book about Teasing vs. Bullying by Julia Cook and Anita DuFalla
  3. Billy Bully by Alvaro Galan, Ana Galan and Steve Simpson
  4. Me First by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger
  5. Dragon and the Bully by Steve Herman

How to Teach Your Children About Money

_bh_5536Do you remember being in your teens and your early twenties? Were you low on funds due to unnecessary spending? Help your children learn the value of a dollar in their younger years to help them save later in life. By setting up an allowance, you can teach your children to budget, save and learn the difference between needs and wants.

Offer your children an allowance and let them buy anything they choose with that money for a limited time. Afterwards, talk with your children about what they could have gone without to save money and what was right for them to purchase.

Make a budget with your children. Talk with them about how much they’d like to put in their savings accounts from each allowance and how much they want for personal use. Since young children don’t need to spend money on necessary items, such as food and clothing, be sure to explain that as they get older, they may have to spend their money on many other things that they need. That’s why this is a wonderful time to start saving.

Help your children stick to their budgets, and keep emphasizing how important it is to save money for what they need rather than what they want.

What are some ways you encourage your little ones to save money?

Four Steps to Creating a Beautiful Children’s Library in Your Home

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When it comes to your home, every child’s personal library should be a happy place to retreat to. Refreshing your child’s library space isn’t a lengthy process, and it can be done quickly. If your child’s library is collecting dust or is simply needing a makeover, try these four tips to start building a beautiful children’s library right in your own home.

Clean out the clutter. A fresh start is often the best way to inspire a new vibe to your reading area at home. Remove all the books from the shelf and start to sift through them. Divide the books into two piles, books your children read often and ones they do not read often. You can toss out the books your children have outgrown or never touched; put them in a bag and donate them or give them to family or friends.

Always add new books to your children’s collection. Board books, concept books, fairy tales, picture books, rhythmic books and early readers. Figure out what you don’t have and explore from there. Make sure you have an assortment of various books so you can build a multifaceted collection for your children. Try to incorporate pieces that have a range of difficulty levels, an assortment of genres and a diversity of cultures and authors. In this way, when one of your children is in the mood for a different type of book to read, there will be many options.

Make their library fun and inviting with a warm atmosphere. Consider relocating the library to a place where it will get the most use. Whether it’s in their bedroom, playroom or family room, you want your children to be able to feel they can easily access their home library and stay a while. Motivate them to search and grab by putting books low on the shelf or at their eye level so they can take books easily and often. Don’t forget to create a reading nook with a comfy chair, bean bag or a soft rug for an inviting space for them to lounge and hang out once they have found books to delve into.

Continue to nurture the collection and reading space. As your children grow, continue to keep their library relevant, up to date and aesthetically pleasing. Clean out and add new books as their interests and reading levels change over time. Continue to add to their collection. Don’t be afraid to swap out old furniture, artwork and decor to keep them interested and curious. You always want to keep them fascinated about exploring their space. Sometimes rearranging and adding a few great books is all that’s needed.

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.”