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Archive for the ‘Parents’ Category

Preventing Screen Brain for Children Over the Holidays

Toddler Looking at Screen

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

As in changing any behavior, one might anticipate howling protests prior to separation from devices from children or teens. The equivalent of the primal yawp, or NOOOOO!. I advise parents to be steadfast and clear, and define the limits (no screens means…zero screens), and make these borders non-negotiable when possible. Pushback from the peanut gallery may amount to carryings-on, kvetching, complaining, loud grousing, grumblings, mumblings and bitter statements meant to be overheard. I’d recommend meeting these with the professional cool of an airline attendant sharing a long delay. “We apologize for the hardship, but let’s do the best we can to work together to make the journey enjoyable…” is the vibe I’d go for. Whinging is best ignored, quote the law and move on. Kids will eventually follow.

Card play, board games, or lively ‘parlor game’ type activities, like pictionary or team based activities can get kids out of their grouchy headspace and distracted (or dragged) and into the shared activity. In the case of my kids, this could sometimes take a round or two of play,  to clear the cobwebs and distraction of getting back to their device. Like many kids, they didn’t always want to, but they should be committed to a reasonable amount of time to engage that feels sufficient (15 minutes), and soon enough they moved on and got lost in the game. During such evenings, I’d argue, that ALL screens are best valet parked for the duration, and at least for the evening.

 

Our Top 10 Toys for Children, Just in Time for the Holidays

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

This is the time of year when children are compiling or chatting about their wish lists. It is also the time when grandparents and other friends and family members need ideas for gifts.  The Goddard School has conducted an annual toy test for ten years. We thought we would put our top ten in a new list for you and your loved ones.

The top ten toys are for children in the early years, from infants to kindergarteners. These interactive, engaging toys will keep children’s attention. Your children may still play with the boxes they come in, which is great for creativity and innovation, but the toys will stand the test of time.

  1. Count Your Chickens from Peaceable Kingdom

Count Your Chickens from Peaceable Kingdom

Board games are perfect for social-emotional development. Children learn to take turns, cooperate with others and communicate. This colorful and easy game also supports the development of counting and problem-solving skills. Plus, it is a great deal of fun!

  1. Giant Roller Ramps from Lakeshore

Giant Roller Ramps from Lakeshore

We love toys that help our littlest engineers build and create in a big way. The ramp materials can be used in many different configurations so your children can stay busy designing their own ramp courses. After constructing the ramps, use a ball to test them out.

  1. Lite-Brite from Hasbro

Lite-Brite from Hasbro

This creativity tool is now a classic. Children use colorful pegs to design an image and then scream with delight when they switch the lights on. Children really enjoy making funny faces or silly expressions on the design pad. It is also great for collaborative play because you and your children can create something together.

  1. Baby Animal Sounds Pals from Learning Curve

Baby Animal Sounds Pals from Learning Curve

These lovable and huggable stuffed animals make wonderful sounds to engage our youngest learners. Animal sounds are some of the first sounds babies make. This is true across all cultures. These toys are also great to help calm babies at fussier times.

  1. On the Farm from HABA

On the Farm from HABA

Children love both the threading and stacking games. These are perfect for developing fine motor skills and understanding spatial relations. Children can work together to complete the tasks. We found that children make the animal sounds during play and build vocabulary while naming the animals.

  1. Take-Along Town from Melissa & Doug

town

The folks at Melissa & Doug really know children. The Take-Along Town is a terrific toy that goes indoors or outdoors for lots of imaginative play. This type of free play supports children’s application of skills and what they see in the world around them.

  1. Gymini from Tiny Love

Gymini from Tiny Love

These are our favorite baby gyms. The toys and gadgets in each gym keep babies in exploration mode. Older infants will can crawl in and out of the gym as they play with the hanging objects, which can be taken off the gym for more play as children get older. The guide is wonderful for giving new parents lots of ideas on using the gyms with their babies.

  1. John Deere Gearation Board from TOMY

John Deere Gearation Board from TOMY

Children love to tinker and explore how things work. Families voted the Gearation Board as one of the best toys to support these explorations. The gears can be moved with the on/off switch. Children create patterns while they develop fine motor and creative thinking skills.

  1. Railroad Pals Building Set from K’Nex

Railroad Pals Building Set from K’Nex

Did we say that children love building and construction play? Well, they do, and this is another interactive set that will keep children’s natural curiosity and creativity going for hours. Spend some time playing with these materials with your children, and you will get hooked as well.

  1. Star Diner Play Set from Melissa & Doug

Star Diner Play Set from Melissa & Doug

We love dramatic play toys, and this set is from our friends at Melissa & Doug.  Children use dramatic play to develop social-emotional skills and to apply what they have learned. Dramatic play is also important for language development as children learn to express themselves. Starting up their own diner allows your budding entrepreneurs to create their own restaurant.

 

 

Children’s Books About Inclusion and Diversity

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

good way to begin a dialogue with young children about inclusion and diversity is by listening to and reading stories. Engaging young children with stories of people from diverse cultures, backgrounds and races helps extend their understanding of familiar emotions and social behaviors by presenting them in new contexts, as well as providing them with opportunities to encounter emotions and social behaviors that they may not be exposed to in their everyday interactions within their families and communities. This helps promote critical thinking about bias, and it develops children’s ability to stand up for themselves and others in the face of bias 

The following is a compilation of books selected by members of the Educational Advisory Board as well as families who also sent us book ideas that they feel support the understanding of inclusion and empathy. Here is a list of 15 books to help launch important conversations: 

Infants and Toddlers

Who Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim is a tickle and giggle book with beautiful baby’s brown toes.

Whos Toes Are Those Book CoverTen Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox is a wonderful celebration of babies from all over the world.

Ten Littler Fingers and Ten Little Toes children's book cover

Dream Big Little One by Vashti Harrison shares the inspirational stories of powerful black women in history.

Dream Big Little One Children's Book Cover

Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora is a cheerful book that all babies will enjoy. 

PeekABoo Morning Children's Book Cover

Who? A Celebration of Babies by Robie Harris is just that, a wonderful book featuring babies’ first words. 

Who? Baby book cover

Preschoolers to Kindergarteners 

We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates (Sesame Street) supports young children’s understanding that although we are different in many ways, we are all the same inside. 

6-different-the-sameLovely by Jess Hong is a celebration of what makes everyone unique and how we all are lovely. 

Lovely child book coverThe Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson supports children as they work through the challenge of not feeling that they fit in or are fearful of new environments. 

The Day You Begin children's book cover

The Family Book by Todd Parr, focuses on how families, although often very different, are alike in love and caring for each other. 

The Family Book children's book cover

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, explores how children accept cultural differences such as names unfamiliar to them and learning acceptance and friendship. 

The Name Jar book cover

I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët is a heart-warming story about caring for others and standing up to bullying. 

I walk with Vanessa book cover

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman sets the stage for understanding inclusion with a wonderful story about the children in a school. 

All Are Welcome book cover

Say Something by Peter Reynolds shows children how their voices are valued. 

Say Something Children's book cover

Skin Like Mine by LaTishia M. Perry celebrates diversity in an entertaining way for early readers. 

Skin Like Mine Book Cover

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester is a great book to help parents begin the dialogues with their children. 

Let's Talk About Race book cover

Check out more book recommendations from Goddard parents!

Dad’s Important Role in Parenting

Dad holding preschool daughtor on sholders with her arms stretched out

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

Fathers don’t mother, just as mothers don’t father. It is obvious from the start; they are less likely to use baby talk, choosing real words instead. They like their babies activated when they are interacting with them, while mom is more likely to comfort and cuddle tight. Play and surprise are more common in dad-infant interaction than with mom, who often prefers a soothing and regulating routine. Even the way a dad holds his baby, more commonly facing out than when mom does, hints at feeling his job might be different than hers – more of a let’s see what the world has for us today than I’ve got you safe and secure right here over my heart.  

Safety and security are huge concerns for today’s parents, both at home and in the wider world. So, which approach is more likely to raise a secure child? Both are, especially when woven together. Secure attachments between mothers and children seem most uniquely effective in providing comfort when the child is distressed. While fathers are committed to comforting their distressed children, there is a unique component to their interactions with their children. Fathers often provide security using shared, controlled excitement through sensitive and sometimes challenging You can do it! support as the child’s exploratory system gets stimulated by novelty. That roughhousing that is so common between men and their children serves a purpose; while it is fun and stimulating to both players, it also helps the father teach the child where the edge between play and trouble lies, No fingernails!  When the father lets the child wander off a little further than the mom might at the park, he’s allowing the child exploration and novelty, retrieving the child when something looms to threaten the security of such adventure. 

That distinction is worth celebrating this Father’s Day. It’s why dad is not just a stand-in for mom, who so often bears the weight of being the real parent. Helping children feel comforted when distressed is incredibly important to their sense of security and so is the support they feel from being fathered when they start looking for the world beyond mom’s arms.  

SoMoms and Dads, here are two tips to help you as you parent together: 

Moms – Support the fathering figures in your children’s lives with your appreciation and respect. They are not just subbing for you; they are your tag team in keeping your children secure and safe, not just from the world, but in it. 

Dads (biological and otherwise) – Turn off your devices and be in the moment with your children. They need to know, trust and feel the real you. Take your unique role as the securer of exploration seriously; they do. 

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.

Transitioning Back to School After COVID-19

balancing-working-from-home-with-children-3

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.

Supporting Children’s Positive Behavior While They’re at Home

engaging-children-in-caring-for-the-environment-1

By Rorie Wells M.A., CPSI, Education Facilities Specialist – Playgrounds

Why more time outdoors might be the answer that you have been searching for.

Parents are being asked to juggle work responsibilities at home with caring for their children full time. It’s a lot to manage, but there is a simple solution to help cope with the stresses created by these new at-home scenarios while supporting positive behavior from your children. Head outside!

While restrictions have been put on many everyday activities, the CDC continues to recommend that children spend time outdoors as long as they are practicing social distancing procedures. This is for good reason, as time spent outdoors:

  1. Lowers stress levels.
  2. Improves mental health.
  3. Helps reduce hyperactivity.
  4. Promotes healthy development and physical fitness for children and adults.

Perhaps the most relevant benefit of spending time outdoors is that your child will come inside with an increased ability to focus on learning, allowing you to return to your other responsibilities. Here are a few tips for making the most of the outdoor time.

Go with the Flow

When heading outdoors, you don’t have to worry about a concrete plan for activities. Let your children lead the way in exploring their environment. You can introduce loose parts such as buckets, balls, toy cars, trucks or sidewalk chalk, or you can get creative with building, stacking and drawing with your children. Pose questions like, “What will happen if we do this?” or “Can you build a tower as high as your belly button?” or “Can you draw a picture of our family?” Follow your children’s interests for what to do next.

Observe Nature

If you feel you need a more concrete plan when heading outdoors, consider taking a nature hike and observing the world around you. Ask your children what they hear as you walk and discuss what they think is making those sounds. If you don’t have a trail nearby, you can head into your backyard or a nearby outdoor space and listen for different sounds.

Indoor Activities Can Go Outdoors

You can also take some of your children’s favorite books outside and have an outdoor story time or create a nature scavenger hunt and ask your children to find different natural items like something green, something rough, a piece of grass as long as their fingers, a piece of tree bark or a smooth stone. Simple questions and prompts open the door to more involved investigations and learning opportunities for you and your children.

The next time you feel overwhelmed with your dual responsibilities and your children’s behavior is becoming a little more difficult, head outside!

 

How to Make Cardboard Tube Animals


You can make these adorable cardboard tube animals with items most people already have around the house. While this tutorial provides instructions for making an owl, a cat and a dog, the possibilities are endless!

Materials

  • Paper tubes (toilet paper tubes are the perfect size)
  • Yarn or shoelaces in assorted colors
  • Paper scraps
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue dots
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Instructions

  1. If you are using a larger tube, cut it down to the size of a toilet paper tube. Push down the top edge. Add a glue dot to the edge before folding down and securing the other top edge. This will make your animal’s ears.
  2. Secure the end of a piece of yarn or a shoelace to the bottom edge of the tube with a glue dot. Then, wrap the tube about three-quarters of the way up the tube, leaving enough room to make a face. Secure the other end of the yarn or shoelace with a glue dot.
  3. Cut out pieces of scrap paper to make additional animal parts.
  • To make an owl, cut out two wings, a beak and two colorful circles where the googly eyes will go;
  • To make a cat or a dog, cut out four paws, a nose and a tail.
  1. Glue the paper pieces and googly eyes onto your creation. Then, use the marker to draw any finishing touches, like whiskers or smiles.

Your Child Can Have a Virtual Playdate!

balancing-working-from-home-with-children-1

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

In these swiftly changing times, recommendations for whether and how to maintain social connections require daily updates. If I had written this response a week ago, my advice would have been different than it is today. But our current situation is that in many places in the United States and globally, the governments have issued shelter at home orders requiring families to limit physical and social contact to immediate family members. In areas where these orders are not yet in place, they are likely to be soon. This means no playdates, no trips to the playground, no planned bike rides and no hikes or neighborhood walks with other families. Even maintaining six feet of separation is just too risky. Children are motivated to share and help, and they’ve practiced this for years. If a friend falls, the other friends will reach out their hands to help their friend up. If they have a delicious pack of gummy bears, they’ll give one to their friend. An equally important reason for not being flexible about seemingly low-risk outdoor outings with other families is that planning these outings sends children the wrong message about compliance with critical public health mandates. As parents, we must model best behaviors, set limits on behaviors and follow-through. Being clear now saves you from responding to endless pleas for playdates as time goes on.

All of these no’s are difficult to hear but the rationale is a strong one. We need to break the chain of contagion, and the only way to do that is by being united in our commitment to being physically separated. Given this new (and temporary, if we all do our part) parenting context, I’d like to offer an essential reminder: physical distancing does not have to mean social distancing. We’re lucky to live in times where technologies exist to help us connect in real time through our phones, tablets and computers. Social interaction is critical for the development of social skills, cognitive ability and mental health. Children of all ages can benefit from spending some virtual time with others during the upcoming weeks that they’ll spend at home.

Here are some tools and tips that can help you support your children’s need to maintain their relationships with others through the use of virtual playdates:

  • My favorite apps for children to use to connect in real time are Caribu (zero to eight years) and Houseparty (school-age);
  • Houseparty allows children to see multiple friends at once in a virtual hangout and even play games together, such as versions of charades, trivia, Pictionary, and Apples to Apples. Playing games requires some reading skills. My daughters spend hours on this app with their friends. Hearing their laughter fill the house reminds me that children are children, and they will find ways to have fun and play even when they’re not together;
  • Caribu is a subscription-based video chat app that recently won a Time Magazine Best Invention of 2019 award. This app combines video chatting with numerous choices for game playing and contains a library of books so that children can engage in book reading together or with distant relatives.
  • Video chat apps like Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google Duo and What’s App offer opportunities to see each other’s faces and chat, but they also can be used to encourage children to share their non-digital activities. Children show each other new dance moves, LEGO projects and artistic creations. Just last night, my daughter made cupcakes with a friend over facetime. They each made cupcakes at their own houses but followed the same recipe together in real time. This was their idea and they had an absolute blast! The use of video chat apps can also be supplemented with traditional games like 20 questions, Simon Says and charades;
  • Netflix Party is a Chrome browser extension that lets children watch their favorite movies and shows together. When one person pauses to get more popcorn, the show pauses for everyone. For children who can read and write, there is a chat option so they can comment on the program or anything else as they watch. For non-readers and writers, they can use video chat applications on another device to encourage.

A word about infants and toddlers Babies are naturally drawn to look at human faces, especially faces that are familiar to them. Research is clear that video chatting is a positive screen-based experience for infants and toddlers. For this age group, no additional materials are needed. Just let the children see one another and respond to each other’s facial expressions and emerging efforts to talk. Although research hasn’t investigated peer relationships, when infants and toddlers regularly see distant family members on video chat apps, they form and maintain positive relationships.

Note – Before handing over your phone, be sure to turn off notifications and lock the screen by selecting Screen Pinning on Androids or Guided Access on iPhones so that your child’s experience isn’t interrupted by accidental swiping or button pressing, and of course, give that phone a good sterile wipe down before and after allowing your child to play with it.

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+)