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Archive for the ‘Preschool’ Category

A Whole New Digital World

child with mom and tablet
By Helen Hadani, Ph.D.
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most parents worried about how much time their young children were spending on screens and how often they were engaging with digital technology. With many schools shifting to remote learning and most afterschool activities canceled, children’s technology time has increased by leaps and bounds. So, what are parents to do? 

Instead of swimming against the current, try embracing a different perspective of the digital world and seeing the potential of technology to strengthen skills that we know young children need—creativity, collaboration, motivation and persistence. A recent paper from the Bay Area Discovery Museum titled Tech Time with Purpose offers a new way for parents to examine the myriad of digital games and programs out there for children. The paper uses the museum’s CREATE Framework, which stands for child-directed, risk-friendly, exploratory, active, time for imagination and exchange of ideas, as a guide to the digital world for young children.  

Child-directed learning leverages your children’s natural curiosity about the world around them and allows them to explore (i.e., get into everything) with minimal adult involvement. View technology as a way for your children to express their creativity by painting using a tablet (that way, they don’t get paint on your kitchen table), building a world in Minecraft or recording a story on a smartphone. 

As a parent, it is hard to watch your children struggle or even failbut exposing your children to risk-friendly environments encourages them to try new things and builds confidence. Digital games allow children to take risks without serious consequences. For example, apps like FlummoxVision or PeppyPals Sammy Helps Out provide an opportunity for children to practice social interactions without the stress of trying those skills out in public.  

From a young age, children conduct experiments and engage in exploratory play to learn more about the world around them. Children as young as preschool age can practice basic coding skills in a playful way using coding programs like ScratchJr or drawing a path to direct Ozobots.  

Technology gets a bad rap for being a sedentary activity, but certain digital technologies can encourage children to be physically active. Try digital games like Dance Dance Revolution or Pokémon GO to get your children up and moving.  

 Children can spend countless hours pretending to be superheroes or turning cardboard boxes into spaceships or castles. Certain digital technologies can take time for imagination to whole new levels by promoting creative exploration and original thinking. Children can bring their ideas to life in makerspaces by using digital fabrication tools like 3D printers and laser cutters to build a 3D model of an airplane or rocket.  

While technology has a reputation for isolating people, some digital technologies provide opportunities for children to exchange ideas with others and provide a new outlet to express themselves. For example, in a time when visiting friends and family members is difficult because of the pandemic, using Skype or FaceTime can be great for connecting with friends and family memberswhether they live down the street or across the country. Apps like Marco Polo and Voxer can model how technology can enhance relationships.  

 

Dealing with the Ups and Downs of a Preschooler

mom holding preschool daughter

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

Last evening, our neighborsparents of three children under seven, were sitting out on their porch steps, masked and full of coffee. They said hello as I (masked and at a distance) walked byI paused and asked, How’s it going? Kids asleep? and heard, Thank God” in unison. The mother continued, sometimes it’s been sweet and sometimes sour – very sour. I feel kinda hollowed out in the middle. I really love, both of us love, simply being together with them for more than just a snippet of the weekend, and other times, I feel bottomed out, discouraged.” I thoughtthere is the pandemic family anthem in a nutshell. 

Our young children are feeling much the same these dayskinda hollowed out in the middle, caught between the highs of being together and the lows of losing so much of their active physical and social life. That’s why they can go from angelic to demonic in a few hours or minutes. Parents wonder at such times if they are being good parents in the way they handle these huge swings. Their children know how clueless they feel about how to helpDisappointment is around every cornercan’t do this or that, can’t see your friends or grandma, have to wear that itchy, annoying face covering. As adults, we’ve learned something about coping with disappointment by now, but for our preschoolers and young children, this may be the first time they have had to confront it in such a huge dose. No wonder they and we are upset. They are missing out on some things that we know they need to keep growing up well. Helping them cope requires as much compassion and patience as we have ever mustered on their behalf.  

Advice:  

  1. When they are upset and need us to fix something, most of us just rush in with a tool or solution as soon as we can think of one. Don’do that, at least not right away. 
  2. Listen carefully through the tears for what is wrong. Say it back to them in your own words and ask if you got it right 
  3. Confirm that you get what’s so upsetting without judgment or even if you think it’s a bit ridiculous and that those kinds of feelings do hurt and make us sad. This compassion is less likely to soften your children than it is to strengthen them. It validates them and their feelings as more important to you at the moment than correcting some injustice. 
  4. Limit the amount of pandemic-focused information flowing at them through screens (especially back-ground TV) and from other sources, such as over-heard adult conversations. The most menacing, toxic force in the pandemic’s arsenal other than the obvious mortal threat to our health is its mystery; this scale of not knowing what’s coming is unfamiliar to most of us 
  5. Running on empty,emotionally and physicallyis very hard on everyone in the family. There are many replenishmentout there if you look. A favorite for families with pre-k children is Common Sense Media’s list of 26 Kid-Friendly Documentaries for Families to watch together. Turn off your phones, kick off the shoes and grab healthy snacks. Then snuggle up and let someone else do the entertaining for a while. Don’t forget to breathe. 

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!

The 15 Best Pinterest Hacks to Make Back-to-School a Breeze

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

Prepare for school without any of the craziness.

Believe it or not, back-to-school season is already upon us. In some parts of the country kids are already loading up on yellow school buses and starting new chapters of their academic lives. Which means that many working moms are currently experiencing the “morning madness” that comes with trying to prepare for work while also preparing children for school.

It may seem like the only way to get it all done stress-free is to wake up hours in advance, but there are plenty of simple parenting hacks that can save you time and help you start the school year organized. Here are some of the best hacks on Pinterest for a smooth and enjoyable first day of school:

1. Keep the bathroom organized.

There will be no questions about where the toiletries are with this simple solution. All you need is a labeled empty jars and your kids will have everything they need for an efficient trip to the bathroom before heading out in the morning.

2. Nail the first day picture.

Everybody loves the classic “first day of school” photo, but we don’t all have the time or crafting skills to make a completely original sign from scratch. That’s why it’s perfectly fine to borrow from the Internet. Hey, you can even print out all of elementary school years in advance so you won’t have to worry about it again next year.

3. Get your paperwork in check.

Now that the school year started, you are sure to be getting swamped with permission slips, hand-outs and notices from your kids. Create a stylish filing system to make sure you don’t find yourself scrambling to find something important the morning before it is due.

4. Create the ultimate morning checklist.

Put everything you need on a checklist and make sure nobody leaves the house without a final check and approval. Because nobody wants to use their lunch break to drop a forgotten item off at school.

5. Get the family on the same page.

This family bulletin board keeps everything you need to know in one place. Post everything from soccer practices to lunch schedules to teacher contact information. And when your kids ask you a basic question, you can just point to the board.

6. Make snacks easy-to-assemble.

Prepare all of your non-refrigerated lunch items in advance and keep them ready at a moment’s notice with this handy organizer. Just drop them in the lunch box and you’re done. It’s a great way to help little ones learn how to pack their own lunch—and it works for afternoon snacks as well.

7. Make school supply organization stations.

With this easy station, kids will never waste time looking for school supplies again. Put everything they need into a container (a divided shower caddy works well) and leave it on the table.

8. Turn leftovers into lunch.

Kill two birds with one stone by taking leftovers from the night before and packing them in a insulated thermos for a home-cooked hot lunch.

9. Keep track of extra-curricular activities.

If your family’s schedule is getting out of hand, then try planning it out and posting it where everyone can see it. Now nobody has an excuse to forget about a practice or field trip.

10. Plan a week’s worth of outfits.

Use this closet organizer to select all of your kids’ school clothes in advance on Sunday and save yourself some time in the morning.

11. Make a one-stop spot for sporting goods.

Make sure no important gear gets lost or left behind with a designated sports storage section. Keep it stocked with everything your kids will need for gym class or practice after school.

12. Let your kid’s teacher know you care.

It’s never a bad idea to get on a teacher’s good side. You may not have time for a lengthy chat with the teacher after dropping your kids off, but this sweet and simple craft will score you a great first impression. Plus, if your kids are old enough, you can make them do it or a similar project.

13. Stick to quick and easy breakfasts.

Every minute matters in the morning, so plan out breakfasts that are simple and can be made ahead of time. This banana and Nutella wrap fits the bill and will surely be a big hit with your kids.

14. Make a morning chore board.

This chart will help your kids understand exactly what they need to do before school in the morning. It also helps you keep an eye on what still needs to be done before they head off to school.

15. Prepare a locker kit.

Help your middle schooler out with a kit of all the locker essentials she may need while at school. It’s much easier than her coming to you with a new request every single time she needs something.

 

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

Sleep Tight! Sleep Solutions for Preschoolers

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When adults experience a particularly stressful day, they have coping strategies in place to wind down before bed.  Some rely on herbal tea, some choose a good book, some get lost in a favorite show, and others pour a glass of wine. 

Did you know that preschoolers are also prone to experiencing stress throughout the day?  The difference is that they don’t necessarily know how to cope with that stress.  When the lights go down, the stress creeps in.

Preschoolers spend a fair amount of time each day engaged in fantasy play.  They get lost in a world of princesses, superheroes, construction sites, and even monsters.  And they truly enjoy every second of it.  Fantasy play gives preschoolers a chance to try on new roles and gain mastery over new, and sometimes scary, information.

But it’s difficult to simply leave it behind.  Cognitively, preschoolers struggle to separate real from imagined dangers.  Just as adults struggle to process the stress of the day, preschoolers are flooded with things they learned at school, on the playground, in books, and on TV.  They can’t just turn off their imaginations the minute the clock strikes seven.

Add to that the fact that somewhere between the ages of 3-4 most kids become aware of the fact that there are real dangers in this world (strangers, cars, dogs, getting lost, etc.) and it’s no wonder some preschoolers struggle to settle down at night.

Not to worry, there are ways to decrease nighttime stress and improve the bedtime transition.

 Establish a routine:  Preschoolers need between 11-14 total hours of sleep per day.  Preschoolers experience less stress when they have some control over their environments and they know what to expect.  Keep the bedtime consistent and create a relaxing bedtime routine that works for you.  Put a sign on the door with pictures of the various steps of the routine so that your preschooler knows exactly what to do each night.

Confront daytime stress:  Not only do preschoolers have their own stressors, but they also pick up on ours.  Factor in 10 minutes at the end of the day to sit and talk about worries and stress.  Label it for them.  Although it seems like they move on quickly, preschoolers are prone to carrying big feelings around.  Help your child verbalize her worries at night to ease into a relaxing bedtime routine. 

Tell a relaxing story:  A great way to ease your child into sleep is to tell a five-minute relaxing story.  Turn out the lights, lie down on the floor next to the bed, and weave a story that helps your child drift off into positive imagery.  It might be a walk on the beach, a picnic in the park, or a trip to a magical garden.  Allow your child to help choose the destination and then tell the story in a quiet voice.

Provide a happy thought:  Many kids worry about having nightmares.  Ironically, worrying about the possibility of nightmares increases the likelihood of nightmares.  Leave your child’s room on a positive by whispering a happy thought in her ear.  “Have a nice dream about fairies”, gives your child positive imagery to hold onto as you leave the room. 

Provide reassurance:  Preschoolers are prone to separation anxiety at night.  It’s lonely in there when the lights go out!  They might fear for their safety or wonder when you will return.  Developmentally, most children don’t understand the concept of time until somewhere between ages 5-6.  Provide reassurance that you will see your child in the morning and you will check on her before you head to bed.  “I can’t wait to play with you tomorrow morning,” reminds your child that sleep is temporary.

Do your preschoolers struggle to get to sleep at night?  What strategies work in your house?

 

This article was written by EverydayFamily from Everyday Family and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Goddard Experience

Children learn best through experience. We embrace this philosophy by helping children explore and discover their interests through play, so they become SCHOOL-READY, CAREER-READY and LIFE-READY.

This is part of our promise to you.

The Goddard School® Announces its Leading Educators For The 10th Annual Teacher Of The Year Awards

Premier Preschool Recognizes Six Educators For National Teacher Appreciation Week 

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA (May 2, 2016) – Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), franchisor of The Goddard School®, the nation’s premier preschool focusing on learning through play for children six weeks to six years old, names honorees for their tenth annual Teacher of the Year award. In celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Week, happening May 2 to 6, GSI acknowledges more than 10,000 teachers nationwide and presents six extraordinary teachers with a plaque that commemorates their passion, dedication and enthusiasm for early childhood education.

“The teachers that have been selected as this year’s honorees for Teacher of the Year have spearheaded long-term projects that have positively impacted the children in their classroom, their families, the Schools and the broader community,” says Dr. Craig Bach, Vice President of Education at GSI. “The Teacher of the Year recipients engage students in learning opportunities that are both unique and effective. We are delighted to honor these six outstanding educators, who continue to lovingly guide and prepare children for success in school and in life.”

Projects from the selected Goddard School educators include Family Game Night which is designed to continue fostering Kindergarten skills outside the classroom; Kindness Mission, which guides students to understand how small acts of kindness make a big impact; Intergenerational Project, which educates children about different generations while  befriending residents at the Avalon Assisted Living Facility; and Happy Gonzo which first involved taking care of a class pet frog, Gonzo, and later introduced engaging learning opportunities for the preschoolers.

GSI honors the following teachers:

Anna Pecoraro – Elgin, IL

Anna Pecoraro, kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Elgin, IL, introduced her students and Elgin image1families to Family Game Night. In an effort to continue to teach kindergarten skills such as reading, number recognition and critical thinking outside the classroom, children had the chance every Friday to check out a new game from the game library to take home and play with their families. When the children returned to school on Monday, they were to write a journal entry about their Family Game Night experience. All journal entries were collected and included in a class book, which helped the students choose which game they would check out next. In May, the board games will be given to children and families that reside in Home of the Sparrow, a local shelter for women and children. The hope is that Home of the Sparrow can also learn through The Goddard School’s learning through play philosophy!

Pamela Gijanto and Sabrina Piotrowski – Marlboro, NJ

Pamela Gijanto and Sabrina Piotrowski, pre-kindergarten teachers at The Goddard School located in MarlboroMarlboro IMG_20160427_122307042 (School Road East), NJ, created Kindness Mission. Through this project, Gijanto and Piotrowski guided and encouraged children to be kind to others. With the goal of showing  the children that small acts of kindness can have a big impact on others, the teachers helped the children develop identities as learners while promoting positive self-image. The teachers extended Kindness Mission beyond the school and into their community by organizing a gently used toy collection that benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth County, a nonprofit organization that provides aid to children in need. It is Gijanto and Piotrowski’s hope that the Kindness Mission will continue to connect their students to the community and make others feel good while feeling good about themselves.

Christina Mruskovic – Hillsborough, NJ

Christina Mruskovic, kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Hillsborough, NJ, organized inter-DSCN1327generational activities for children to participate in throughout the year, such as visiting the residents of the Avalon Assisted Living facility. Mruskovic spent the first few months of the school year laying the foundation for the project by incorporating lessons about different generations into all the learning domains. The kindergarten class read books about grandparents, learned songs and discussed manners and etiquette before visiting the Avalon Assisted Living facility. On their first trip to the facility, the kindergarten class worked with the residents to help them make love bug pins, share snacks and sing songs. The students’ next visit will be in May to do a Mother’s Day activity with the residents.

For more information on The Goddard School, please visit www.goddardschool.com.   

About The Goddard School®

Learning for fun. Learning for life.® For nearly 30 years, The Goddard School has used the most current, academically endorsed methods to ensure that children from six weeks to six years old have fun while learning the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life. Talented teachers collaborate with parents to nurture children into respectful, confident and joyful learners. The Goddard School’s AdvancED- and Middle States-accredited F.L.EX.® Learning Program (Fun Learning Experience) reaches more than 50,000 students in more than 430 Goddard Schools in 35 states. The Goddard School’s comprehensive play-based curriculum, developed with early childhood education experts, provides the best childhood preparation for social and academic success. To learn more about The Goddard School, please visit www.goddardschool.com.

Citizenship Day

Citizenship Day is September 17. You can use creative ideas and activities to celebrate the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787 and help your children understand what being a good citizen means.

  • Talk about the definition of good citizenship or illustrate good citizenship with images or books;
  • Share stories about exhibiting good citizenship. These might include stories about welcoming a classmate to the classroom, helping to recycle, donating their unused clothes and toys to charity or cleaning up a neighborhood park;
  • Seek out opportunities to experience civic events with your child. Go to hear a local politician speak, attend an event or fundraiser that your local fire department or police department holds, etc.;
  • Talk about the American flag, what it means to us as citizens and how we are supposed to care for and display it;
  • Find volunteer opportunities that allow you to participate as a family.

Hungry Minds: How Curiosity Drives Young Learners

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for the Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University.  This piece was originally published on HMH’s blog.

“Curiouser and Curiouser” cried Alice after she ate the cake, and then suddenly shot up in height “like the largest telescope, ever! Good-bye feet” she exclaimed!

For some children, that iconic scene, shortly after Alice lands in Wonderland, is their introduction to the term “curiosity.”  But for us — well, take a moment and see what comes to mind when you consider curiosity…

I recently did a random “man on the street” survey, asking for single-word responses, and found that people associate curiosity with many things. I heard the words necessary, intelligent, spark, engaged, open-minded, open-ended, creative detective, and seeker.

Personally, I’ve been consumed with curiosity for decades, believing that it is the secret sauce to learning and to a fulfilling life.  So what is curiosity?

Einstein’s comment, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious,” provokes even more questions:  Is curiosity a skill or a talent? Is it innate or learned? Can it be taught or cultivated? How does it shape how we learn, especially early learners? What is the primary role of curiosity?

Regardless of how curious we are about curiosity, it is difficult to study. However, contemporary neuroscience has revealed some insights.  In a study published in the October issue of the journal Neuron, psychologist and researcher Charan Ranganath at the University of California, Davis explains that the dopamine circuit in the hippocampus registers curiosity.

“There’s this basic circuit in the brain that energizes people to go out and get things that are intrinsically rewarding,” Ranganath explains. “This circuit lights up when we get money, or candy. It also lights up when we’re curious.” When the circuit is activated, our brains release dopamine, which gives us a high. “The dopamine also seems to play a role in enhancing the connections between the cells that are involved in learning.”

Ranganath’s research, covered in this fascinating piece in Mindshift, gives us a working definition of curiosity, as an intrinsic motivation to learn. It also presents us with an exciting challenge – how can we create learning environments and experiences that will engage young children and ignite their innate curiosity?

The early years are a window of opportunity for parents, caregivers and communities to encourage curiosity. And it really matters. Curiosity increases knowledge and knowledge makes learning easier.

Nurturing curiosity in ourselves and in young children is easy to do. Here are my top ten ideas for the home and the classroom:

  • Slow down: In an age of immediacy, slow things down and encourage discovery. “I am curious about,” or “just out of curiosity” are great conversation starters.
  • Don’t have all the answers: Declaring you don’t know something, but that you want to find out together is an invitation for curiosity.
  • Put kids in the driver’s seat: In classroom activities or at home, let kids make decisions – this leads to uncertainty quickly and will encourage exploration.
  • Get real: Curiosity can’t be nurtured in the abstract – it’s messy.  Get kids investigating a topic or solving a mystery.
  • Delve deep: Hold your own Boring Conference in class – it’s a fantastic one-day celebration of the obvious and the overlooked, subjects that become absolutely  fascinating when examined more closely.
  • Encouragement matters: Acknowledge a question by saying “That is a wonderful or interesting question.”
  • Talk shop: What, why, how? Let kids explore how things are made. “How Things Work” is a great example.
  • Identify role models: Curiosity is also highly contagious.  If you set the example for being curious you will be amazed at how the world changes. Also, seek out others doing interesting things.  Chances are they are using their curious natures to guide them.
  • Practice: Make a list of things you want to know more about and carve out a little time to explore.

As for curiosity being the secret for lifelong learning in the 21st century, the “New York Times” magazine recently profiled productive people from various fields, including politics, art and science, who were 80+ years old. When asked by the “New York Times” what kept him intuitive, architect Frank Gehry, still going strong at 85, said “…. stay curious about everything.”

Preschool: More than simply childcare

by Michael Petrucelli, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Darien, IL
As seen in Suburban Life Magazine

There are many benefits to children attending preschool; two of the most important being: the nurturing of a life-long love of learning, and the development of important social and life skills that we all need to successfully navigate in the world around us.Children%20with%20Teacher_jpg

Childcare centers or preschools (the differences to be explained) are an option for working parents who need care for their children while they go to work, or for any parent seeking a group atmosphere for their children. Childcare centers and preschools may accept infants and toddlers, along with children 3-5 year olds, for part or full time programs.

What separates a top quality preschool from a childcare center?

A top quality preschool will provide: well-trained teachers, age and developmentally appropriate curriculum that prepares children for kindergarten and beyond, stimulating activities for children that will hopefully develop a life-long love of learning, a setting that allows each child to grow and gain confidence as the unique individual they are, and a dynamic environment that helps in the development of important social and life skills.

A quality preschool should provide a basis for academic learning, but even more important is helping to develop a passion for learning. School should be about making learning fun. Young children learn best by engaging in activities they find interesting, such as story time, playing with blocks or drawing. Children may listen to and interact with stories and songs – building blocks needed to grasp phonics and reading skills when it is developmentally appropriate. Play-based learning such as hands-on activities with water, sand, and containers, form the foundation for understanding some basic math concepts. Matching, sequencing, one-to-one correspondence all are activities that are done over and over in preschool settings and help children get ready for kindergarten and beyond. Puzzles, and games like “I-Spy” and chess help develop critical thinking, along with analytical and reasoning skills. It also helps children to understand that “doing your best” is important, and that not everyone wins all the time. Watching and collaborating with other children on the playground, or while working on a classroom task is also an important part of a learning process.

A quality preschool will also provide the opportunity for children to learn and interact in a group, to learn and interact with a classmate(s) in smaller groups, and to learn as individuals. Some simple but important life skills that can be developed by interacting with other children include: learning how to wait, how to take turns, how to listen and follow directions, collaboration, compromise, sharing, empathy and respect for others, advocating for one’s-self, and conflict resolution. Preschool also provides a place where your child can gain a sense of confidence while exploring, learning about new
topics, and playing with his or her peers. Children in a quality preschool will develop a healthy sense of independence; discovering that they are capable and can do things for themselves – from small tasks like pouring their own juice, to working on bigger issues like making decisions about how to spend their free time or who to partner with on a particular classroom project.

Whether you “need” “childcare” or not, every child can benefit from a quality preschool experience, where learning should be fun, and can help foster a life-long love for it. A quality preschool experience also will help children in developing important social and life skills that every child needs to reach his or her fullest potential in the life ahead.