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Archive for the ‘School’ Category

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.

7 Nag-Free Ways to Get Your Kids to Sit Down and Do Homework

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Going back to school after a holiday break is always tough. Getting your kids to dive back into that pile of math worksheets and book reports when they’d rather be playing with their new toys or watching YouTube? Torture. To help ease everyone through the transition, we asked moms for their best tips on how to get the kids to focus on their homework—no screaming, pouting, or bribery involved.

Be a study buddy.

“Remember how much more fun it was to be in a study group in college or high school? You can be your child’s study buddy. Plan 30 minutes a day when you sit at the kitchen table and work together. Your child can do homework and you can catch up on work you brought home, write out shopping lists, or do whatever it is you can get done in a half hour. Your child can continue on if needed after you’ve finished, but getting started is always the hardest part.” —Tracey Hecht, a New York City mom of one

Let them run off their excess energy first.

“I make sure my kids have an hour or so of play time outside with their friends right when they get home. Another mom once told me that because they’re cooped up so long in a classroom each day, trying to obey all the classroom rules, kids need some time to let off steam when they get home. This is especially helpful for our son, who seems to be better able to focus on homework after he has run around with his buddies.” —Erin Myers, a Baltimore mom of two

Use fun props.

“On the days when my 7-year-old daughter is feeling less eager to get her homework done, I’ve found it helpful to incorporate fun bits of home life into homework. For example, learning subtraction with M&Ms or using her alphabet puzzle to help learn alphabetization makes it feel less frustrating and more fun.” —Larissa Pickens, a New York City mom of one

Get out of the house when you can.

“I alternate where my kids do their homework and I find it helps keep them motivated. For example, on certain days we go to the children’s section of the local library. The result: Inspiration from other children doing homework!” —Melva E. Pinn-Bingham, a Chesapeake, VA, mom of three

Create a kid-friendly workspace.

“A homework station is a low-tech solution that cuts down on clutter, time and waste. It’s a one-stop-shop to find what you need, when you need it. In our home, the kitchen table is our family hub. It’s the spot where my daughters do their homework each evening and we use magazine holders for activity books, library books and homework sorting and pencil cases to keep supplies separated but contained.” —Rachel Rosenthal, a Washington, D.C., mom of twins

Set a timer.

“When one of my kids starts complaining about how long their homework will take, I set a timer for 15 minutes, and tell that child to work as hard as he or she can until the timer goes off. More often than not, the dreaded homework assignment is finished in less than 15 minutes. Then I get to point out that they spent more time complaining about the homework than it took to just do their homework!” —Maureen Paschal, a Charlotte, NC, mom of four

 

This article was written by Lambeth Hochwald from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

2016 Masterpiece Competition

Congratulations to The Goddard School located in Houston (The Greater Heights), TX — the winner of our Masterpiece Competition with 1,055 votes! (As of 3 PM EDT on September 21).

The work of art was made by the Pre-Kindergarten class who paid tribute to music by creating this colorful piece.Houston IV, TX

The School has won an assortment of school-appropriate new art supplies and a visit from our CEO, Joe Schumacher, and our VP of Education, Dr. Craig Bach, in which Mr. Schumacher and Dr. Bach will participate in an art project with the children.

The Goddard School located in Knoxville, TN came in second place with 983 votes followed by The Goddard School located Voorhees, NJ with 579 votes!

Congratulations and a job well done to all of our participants!

Five Reasons Why Learning the 4Cs is Important

To prepare children for the modern world, STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics)Curiosity has become an essential part of childhood education. Besides introducing children to STEAM concepts, it also helps teach children how to communicate, collaborate and think critically and creatively. These skills, otherwise known as the 4Cs, are essential to success in school and in life. Here are five reasons why.

  1. Critical thinking skills increase motivation. Children with strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills are more likely to be motivated to achieve academically and less likely to be negatively influenced.
  2. Creativity provides a healthy emotional outlet. Children who express themselves creatively show less frustration, develop a joy for learning and acquire an appreciation for other perspectives.
  3. Communication and collaboration promote confidence. Developing communication skills through fun and collaborative methods fosters a sense of self-esteem, enables healthy emotional development and encourages teamwork.
  4. The 4Cs help build executive function skills. Executive function skills, such as planning, organizing and strategizing. These skills help children develop self-regulation, working memory and cognitive flexibility which will encourage them to learn new ideas and develop their social-emotional capabilities.
  5. Employers highly value the 4Cs. Hiring managers pay close attention to a job candidate’s abilities to communicate, collaborate and think critically and creatively. Encouraging young children to build these skills can help set them up for success later on.

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.

Tough Questions Reap Rewards for Preschool and Child

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

Selecting your child’s first school may be one of the most exciting, yet intimidating decisions that you will have to make. Children in quality preschool programs improve their social skills, are better at following directions, waiting turns, problem-solving, participating in activities, collaborating, and relating to other children, teachers and parents. In addition to providing a warm, safe, and nurturing environment, a top quality preschool program should provide a well-rounded experience that helps children become confident, joyful and fully prepared students, while developing a life-long love of learning.

IMG_3304_philly_00535There are a variety of teaching philosophies that you will learn about as you research child-care options. Many may seem difficult to apply to a young child where things like safety and security may be your primary concerns. Terms you may hear include: Reggio Emilia approach, Montessori Method, Activity or Play Based Learning, Waldorf approach, and others. The common theme is that all of these methods should focus on children as individuals, getting them enthused about learning, and having them prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

Some important questions to ask before, during, and after a visit to the school:

  • Is there a warm and nurturing atmosphere in a physical environment that you can envision your child in?
  • Are there safety and security measures in place that are followed, practiced, and actively reviewed?
  • Are there health and safety standards in place, and what is the “wellness” policy?
  • Does it offer a wide range of enriching activities to meet the individual needs of each child including a focus on building each child’s emotional, social, cognitive and physical skills?
  • What size are the classes and what is the student teacher ratio in the different classrooms?
  • Is the school convenient to your work or home? Happy parents help make happy children.
  • Are there age appropriate outdoor play areas that are maintained in a safe condition? Does it offer multi-cultural and developmentally appropriate materials and equipment, and do you feel a sense of respect for diversity and respect for various cultures?
  • Is there a professional faculty committed to early childhood development, and do they have access to on-going training and continuing education credits?
  • Are the teachers CPR and first aid certified?
  • Can I visit my child any time during the day?
  • Does the school have references available?
  • Do you feel a sense of community among the teachers and parents in the building?

Choosing childcare is a very personal decision in which there are no right or wrong answers. Do your best though to ask the right questions.

Five Ways To Help Ease Back-To-School Butterflies

Back-to-school time is approaching, and excitement is in the air. Sometimes all that excitement can be accompanied by nervousness, though. Help ease back-to-school butterflies with these five simple tips:

  1. Begin transitioning your child into a consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts so he has time to get used to the new schedule;
  2. If your child has specific worries about the first day of school, listen to her, offer reassurance and brainstorm together for solutions;
  3. When dropping off your child, be loving, be direct and leave promptly. Don’t say you’ll miss him; instead, say you can’t wait to hear about his day;
  4. Visit the classroom, playground and/or building with your child a few times before school starts. This can help familiarize your child with a new environment, easing any anxiety she might have;
  5. Establish a reasonable bedtime so that your child will be well-rested and ready to learn in the morning.

Five Ways to Prevent “Summer Slide”

Summer is an awesome time of year. It’s full of family get-togethers, trips to the pool and vacations. With all that awesomeness, though, sometimes learning falls by the wayside. Research has shown that some children experience summer learning loss, also known as “summer slide” because their minds aren’t as engaged as they are during the school year. You can help to keep your child’s brain active and prevent summer slide with these five fun learning activities:

  1. Read, read, read. Read to your child or encourage him to read for twenty minutes every day. Taking a trip to the library on hot, humid or rainy days can be fun, too. Also, listening to audio books is great during car trips.
  2. Learn a new word every week. Make this a game by seeing who can use the new word the most times throughout the week. You can even make a scoreboard and stick it on the fridge. Encourage your child to look through a picture dictionary to pick out new words.
  3. Get cooking. Cooking with your child is a fun way to teach your child math and reading skills as well as how to follow instructions. Look through a cookbook with your little one, and ask him what he would like to make.
  4. Hit the road. Take a field trip to a museum, a zoo or an aquarium. Before you go, read a book with your child about the sights at your destination. When you return, you and your child can write a journal entry about your adventures.
  5. Go outside. Embrace the nice weather and go on a hike, nature walk or bike ride. Pack a magnifying glass and/or binoculars, and take breaks along the way to take a closer look at things. You and your little one can even take notes on interesting objects or animals and look up more information about them online or in an encyclopedia when you get home.

Kindergarten Readiness

The Goddard SchoolTransitioning to kindergarten can be an exciting, anxiety-filled time for children and their parents. If you have older children, you may have an idea of what to expect or know the kindergarten teacher already.  Still, the transition is different for each child, and while one may have adjusted well to kindergarten, your next child may not adjust as easily, or vice versa.  By focusing on the present and adding skill-building activities to your summer, your child will be more confident about becoming a kindergartener.

Summer Fun

Summer is a time for having fun, playing with friends and bonding as a family.  Incorporate enjoyable activities that stretch your children’s imaginations and exercise their brains.

Reading

On hot, humid or rainy days, head to the library and read some books together. Have your future kindergartener read to you as much as possible.  The librarians typically have lists of age-appropriate books.

Getting Fresh Air and Exercise

  • Have your children help you create obstacle courses in the backyard that they can run, skip or jump through safely. If it is a hot day, you can set up the sprinkler for added enjoyment!
  • If your children ride a bicycle with training wheels, ask them if they are ready to practice riding without the training wheels. By letting them decide when they are ready, they learn to make decisions, face challenges and fears and take on responsibility.
  • Hit the pool. See whether your local municipality or YMCA pool offers swimming lessons over the summer.  Summer is a great time to work on swimming safety, keep physically active and have fun with your children. Besides, who doesn’t love cooling off in a pool on a hot summer day?
  • Take your children camping or hiking. Children love exploring nature and running free. Having a backyard campout or setting up a tent at a campground in your region are fun, educational ways for families to bond. You may be able to find a spot that offers easy hiking or walking trails or one with a lake where you can rent a canoe or kayak.

Bowling

Bowling is an opportunity to develop hand-eye coordination, balance and math skills while having fun.  Many bowling alleys offer bumpers and child-friendly bowling balls for children.  Over the summer, many locations offer free games for children every day!

Keeping Up with Friends

If your child was in preschool or a play group, keep in touch with their friends’ parents and plan out weekly or bi-weekly play dates or outings.  Kindergarten can be overwhelming for children because they are meeting so many new children.  Keeping up with your children’s preschool friends over the summer will help them continue developing the social skills they will need to make new friends.

Skills for Your Future Kindergartener

Children should be proficient in several skills when they enter kindergarten. You can help your child practice these skills throughout the summer. Your child should be able to do the following:

  • Grip a pencil, marker or crayon correctly;
  • Use child-safe scissors, glue and paint;
  • Identify sight words;
  • Play independently for a few minutes;
  • Use complete sentences when speaking;
  • Recite his or her full name, address and phone number;
  • Write his or her first name in uppercase and lowercase letters;
  • Sort objects by shape, size and quantity;
  • Get dressed independently.

These skills do not need to be mastered by the first day, but they are general skills that your child can practice throughout the summer.

Keep It Simple. Cherish Summer.

Summer is a time for children to have fun and play.  You can keep their anxiety over starting kindergarten at bay by focusing on friends, family and fun while sprinkling in some skill-building activities.  The first day of kindergarten will be here before you know it. You and your child will be ready to take on the challenge!

Making Parent-Teacher Conferences Work

The home-to-school connection is crucial for a successful educational and developmental experience. “When parents and schools trust and collaborate with each other, children do better academically, behaviorally and socially,” says Kyle Pruett, M.D., child psychiatrist and advisor to The Goddard School. That connection includes ongoing communication with your child’s teachers and regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences.  Use the following guidelines to get the most from the conferences and build a connection with the teachers.

Prepare for the meeting.
Write down your questions before the meeting to ensure you cover the most important information.

Share information with the teacher.
You know your child and family better than anyone else. Be willing to share what is happening at home, what your child’s interests are and what observations you have made.

Focus on your child.
Stay focused on what your child is learning and on developmental growth.  Don’t discuss other children, unless you want to mention that your child plays with another child outside of school.  Keep an open mind about any behavioral issues.  Work out solutions together, so your child has a consistent set of expectations at home and at school.

Ask about the program and what to expect.
Learn about the curriculum and what is coming up in the next few months. Find out how you can participate.  Ask the teacher about activities you can do at home to nurture and encourage learning. Share information about activities you do with your child at home.

Seek out opportunities to stay involved.
Before you leave the conference, ask the teacher how you can work together and what kind of opportunities the school has for parent involvement. Thank the teacher for her time.