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Posts Tagged ‘Early childhood education’

How Small Children Can Make a Big Difference

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By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

In my last blog, I wrote about ways to help children cultivate an attitude of gratitudeDr. Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti, a colleague who studies positive psychology, recently told me that people who are more grateful also tend to be more optimistic, be more hopeful, have higher life satisfaction and be more empathetic. I hope that you’ve been trying some of the ideas that I shared! As it turns out, focusing on the good in our lives is only one way to reap these positive social-emotional benefits. Another way is to give to others in ways that support them without expecting anything in return. Today, I’ll share some ideas for how to get children of all ages involved in giving back to help their communities. 

Intergenerational Caring and Sharing  Now that families are traveling to see each other less often, seniors may be feeling especially lonely and disconnectedMake it a family goal to add cheer to the year for neighbors who may be struggling. Sara Bartlett is a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on the benefits of intergenerational relationships for mental health and well-beingShe has shared some ideas for how families with young children can bring joyful moments to seniors who must socially isolate during this time 

  • Letters and Drawings  Encourage children to write letters or draw pictures, and mail them to local nursing homes or drop them off in older neighbors’ mailboxesYou may even spark a penpal relationship and receive letters back;  
  • Performances – Invite your children to play musical instruments, dance or perform a short skit from the driveway or porch for an older adult who watches nearby; 
  • Shared Storytelling  Ask children to practice their storytelling skills by sharing a story with an older adult over Zoom or FaceTime or, perhaps, invite the older adult to read with the child;  
  • Surprise Packages  Involve children in creating care packages with puzzle books, catalogs, jigsaw puzzles, art supplies or other items to be placed safely on someone’s stoop or delivered to elder care facilities. 

Caring for Others in Outdoor Places and Spaces – An abundance of research links developmental benefits to connections with nature. Although the pandemic limits visits to indoor spaces, families can still safely engage in outdoor activities, and they can do so in ways that help others in their communities.  

  • Community Clean Up – Cleaning up litter in your neighborhood or local parks can be safe and fun for children – just bring a plastic bag and gloves. Be sure to set rules in advance about what can and cannot be touched safely;  
  • Encouragement Rocks!  Invite children to spend some time painting rocks to scatter around the neighborhood for other people to find. Older children can paint encouraging words and phrases on their rocks, and younger children can paint with colors that they think will make others feel cheerful; 
  • Good Deed Day – Offer to do your neighbors a favor by pulling weeds in their yards, planting a small garden or making and hanging a bird feeder near their windows. These easy and fun activities will leave your children feeling like helpers and make other people a little happier during this difficult time.   

Pro tip – If you want your preschool-aged children to be enthusiastic about helping others, start by calling them helpersIn a recent study, children were more likely to offer spontaneous help to others when researchers told them, Some children choose to be helpers,” than when they said, “Some children choose to help.” This wording helps children begin to think of themselves as the kind of person who helps, and this encourages prosocial behavior. 

I hope you enjoy these ideas for how to engage in being thankful and giving!

Five Books That Help Children Understand Different Types of Families

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

Listening to stories is an essential early literacy and social-emotional development activity that should begin in infancy. Stories help children learn about emotions and social behavior as well as new things they are not exposed to in their environments or communities. The characters within each story give children a framework for developing essential social skills – cooperation, collaboration, listening and taking turns. 

We often rely on storytelling to help children, and adults, understand new concepts or experiences. One of the topics that comes up often in early childhood education is different types of families. Younger children are more flexible about family structures but still may have questions when family structures appear different from their own. We selected a few books to help parents and teachers explain different family types.

Molly’s Family by Nancy Garden, illustrated by Sharon Wooding

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A young girl learns how to talk about her family with two moms in school. At first, it is difficult, but her teacher helps along the way. This story is very helpful for giving children ways to answer the question “Why do you have two moms?”

Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson

Mommy, mamma and me children's book cover

We like this book because it goes through daily routines in a playful rhyming manner. It’s great for young ones! These artists also created a book entitled Daddy, Papa, and Me

The Family Book by Todd Parr

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We love the fun illustrations in this book. It focuses on how families, although often very different, are alike in love and caring for each other. This is my go-to book for beginning conversations about families.

In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco

In our mother's house children's book cover

This is a story of family events with a family with two moms. It is full of fun and memorable family events along with acceptance within the neighborhood. It’s good for older children since it is a little long.

Home at Last by Vera B. Williams, illustrated by Vera B. Willams and Chris Raschka

Home at last children's book cover

This is a story about same-sex-parent adoption and a little boy. The dog is the best part of the story, helping the child feel at home. It’s great for adopted children. I read this to a class a few years ago and it really helped them understand the different types of families in the class.

At-Home Learning Activities

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First Day of School Time Capsule

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The first day of school is an exciting time for children. Capture their excitement with a first day of school time capsule.

Materials

  • Clear container
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Pens or pencils
  • Non-toxic paint
  • Paper
  • Photos
  • Labels
  • Camera
  • Printer

Directions

  1. Create a label for your time capsule. Be sure to include a note that reads, “Do not open this until the last day of school!”
  2. For older children, have them place one of their hands onto a piece of paper and trace it. For younger children, dip one of their hands in non-toxic paint and press it onto a piece of paper. Label the paper with the date and the year of school your child is entering.
  3. For older children, ask some fun school-related questions on or right before their first day. What are they most excited for on their first day? What are they nervous about? What do they think they will do on their first day? Record their answers. After school, ask them about their day and record those answers. For younger children, write down some of their favorite things and fun facts about them. Record your thoughts and feelings about their first day of school, too. When you pick your children up, ask their teachers how the day went and write their answers down.
  4. For older children, use a piece of string to measure their height. Have them stand up straight and pull the string up to the tops of their heads. Snip off the excess down by their feet and wind the string around itself so it fits in the time capsule. For younger children, have your children lie down, measure their length from head to toe with a piece of string, cut off any excess and wrap it around itself.
  5. Take pictures and print them out. That way, you won’t have to scroll through your phone to find those first-day photos.
  6. Assemble all the time capsule’s contents and tuck the container away until the last day of school. Just don’t forget where you put it!

What else will you put in your child’s first day of school time capsule?

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.

THE 10TH ANNUAL GODDARD SCHOOL PRESCHOOLER-APPROVED TOY TEST NAMES MELISSA & DOUG® STAR DINER RESTAURANT PLAY SET AS THE WINNING EDUCATIONAL TOY OF 2017

100 Units Will Be Purchased and Donated to Toys for Tots

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Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School®  preschool system, proudly announces that the public has selected the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set as the winning toy in the 10th annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. To promote learning through play for all children, GSI will purchase and donate 100 units of the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children.

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Established in 2008, the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test aims to determine the best educational toys on the market by enlisting the help of the most discerning toy critics, preschoolers! Each year, The Goddard School Toy-Testing Committee evaluates dozens of submissions from the leading toy manufacturers around the globe. The top 25 educational toys that support child-initiated play, collaboration and other criteria proceed to the next round where preschoolers from 50 Goddard School preschools nationwide are given the opportunity to play with and critique the toys. The children and their teachers work together to select their favorites, which are compiled into a list of the Top 10 Educational Toys. These, then, are put to a public vote to determine the winning toy of the year.

The Top 10 Educational Toys for 2017 were named as follows in the suggested age-range order of the children:

  • VTech – Lil’ Critters Shake & Wobble Busy Ball (Suggested Age Range: 3-24 months);
  • Fat Brain Toys – Oombee Cube (Suggested Age Range: 10+ months);
  • SMARTMAX – My First Safari Animals (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • Peaceable Kingdom Monkey Around – The Wiggle and Giggle Game (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years);
  • VTech – Go! Go! Smart Wheels – Race & Play Adventure Park (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • K’NEX – KID K’NEX Budding Builders Building Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Learning Resources Lil’ Lemonade Stand-Off – A Memory Matching Game (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • DuneCraft – Bucket of Balls (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • Learning Resources – Let’s Go Code! Activity Set (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years).

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“Through our Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, children continue to engage in the most genuine form of learning by playing with the best educational toys like the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set,” says Dr. Craig Bach, Vice President of Education at GSI. “Play-based learning is known to be the most effective way for children to develop the skills necessary for social and academic success early on and later in life. We are proud to continue with this program through its 10th year and beyond.”

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

 

 

GODDARD SCHOOL PRESCHOOLERS SELECT THE TOP 10 EDUCATIONAL TOYS IN TIME FOR THE 2017 HOLIDAY SEASON

The Nation’s Leading Preschool System Chooses Top Toys That Support Playful Learning and Skill Development

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Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), franchisor of The Goddard School® a play-based, preschool system, has given children the chance of a lifetime to test the most innovative educational toys on the market through its 10th annual Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. Preschoolers from 50 Goddard Schools located across the United States voted for their favorite toys, and GSI is proud to announce the Top 10 Educational Toys they chose for 2017.

This summer, dozens of submissions from the world’s leading toy manufacturers were reviewed by The Goddard School Toy Test Committee, a team of early childhood education experts. The committee judged each submission by how much the toy encourages interaction and child-initiated play and by the toy’s ability to promote creativity and collaboration while maintaining the child’s creative interests over time.

The children, who range from six weeks to six years old, were sent 25 toys to play with and critique. With the help of their teachers, the preschoolers selected their favorite toys, and GSI compiled the results.

Following are The Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys for 2017. They are listed in the age-range order suggested for the children:

  • VTech – Lil’ Critters Shake & Wobble Busy Ball (Suggested Age Range: 3-24 months);
  • Fat Brain Toys – Oombee Cube (Suggested Age Range: 10+ months);
  • SMARTMAX – My First Safari Animals (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • Peaceable Kingdom Monkey Around – The Wiggle and Giggle Game (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years);
  • VTech – Go! Go! Smart Wheels – Race & Play Adventure Park (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • K’NEX – KID K’NEX Budding Builders Building Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Learning Resources Lil’ Lemonade Stand-Off – A Memory Matching Game (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • DuneCraft – Bucket of Balls (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • Learning Resources – Let’s Go Code! Activity Set (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years).

“Fun, interactive programs like our annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test are successful because they allow children to think critically while developing their social, creativity and collaboration skills,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “This experience provides children the opportunity to engage with the top educational products on the market that are aligned with The Goddard School’s philosophy of learning through play.”

Voting to select 2017’s winning toy is now open to the public. The public can vote by visiting The Goddard School’s Toy Test page from November 1 to November 10, 2017. GSI will purchase one hundred units of the winning toy and donate them to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include Laser Pegs, K’NEX Brands, Learning Resources and John Deere’s Gearation Board. For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

Does Your Toy Have What it Takes to be Preschooler-Approved?

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, is kicking off The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test 2017  and we are in search of the Top 10 Toys of the year for children (infants to six years old) that encourage playful learning.

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The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee selects toy finalists based on a research-based set of criteria.

Please click here to download The Goddard School Toy Test Application Form, which includes the evaluation criteria and submission instructions. Also, view the link for a snapshot of the extraordinary media coverage secured during last year’s Toy Test.

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The completed 2017 Official Application Forms and toy samples must be received by Friday, July 28, 2017. One application form per toy is required.

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Final selections will be publicized in national, local and social media. Please submit all questions to toytest@goddardsystems.com.

 

John Deere Gearation Board Selected as The Top Educational Toy of 2016 In The 9th Annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test!

100 Units to Be Donated to Toys for Tots This Holiday Season!

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School®preschool system, is excited to announce that the Knoxville, TN IMG_8374public has selected the John Deere Gearation Board as the top toy in its 9th annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approval Toy Test. In an effort to encourage learning through play outside of the classroom, GSI will purchase and donate 100 units of the John Deere Gearation Board to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Established in 2008, The Goddard School’s annual Toy Test determines the best educational toys of the year with the help of the most discerning toy critics – preschoolers! Each year, The Goddard School Toy Test Committee evaluates dozens of submissions from popular toy manufacturing companies across the globe. The educational toys that support child-initiated play and collaboration, among other criteria, proceed to the next round where preschoolers from 50 Goddard School locations across the nation are given the opportunity to play with the toys. Preschoolers and teachers worked together to choose the favorite 10 toys, which were then put to a public vote to determine the winner.

The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Top 10 Toys finalists included the following (in suggested age range order):

  • Click Clack Ball™ by The Manhattan Toy Company® (Suggested Age Range: 0+ years)
  • Sort and Discover Activity Cube™ by VTech® (Suggested Age Range: 9-36 months)
  • Mirari® Pop! Pop! Piano® by Play Monster™ (Suggested Age Range: 12+ months)
  • Musical Gator™ by Alex Brands® (Suggested Age Range: 18+ months)
  • Newborn Nursery Newborn Baby by Madame Alexander (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years)
  • Lauri Tall Stackers™ by Play Monster™ (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years)
  • Gearation Board by John Deere (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Puppy Up™ by Play Monster™ (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Yeti in My Spaghetti® by Play Monster™ (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years)
  • Hexenkuche (Witches Kitchen) by Beleduc USA, Inc. (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years)

“Play-based learning is a critical part of the growth of preschoolers as they develop into confident learners,” says GSI’s Vice President of Education, Dr. Craig Bach. “Through The Goddard School preschool’s Toy Test program, children provide wonderful feedback on a range of educational toys like John Deere Gearation Board while experiencing genuine play-based learning.”

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

PRESCHOOLERS FROM THE GODDARD SCHOOL SELECT 2016’S TOP 10 EDUCATIONAL TOYS FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

The Nation’s Leading Preschool System Selects Top Toys That Support Skill Development and Playful Learning

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, recently kicked off its 9th annual Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. After playful consideration by the Toy Test Collagepreschoolers, teachers and early childhood education experts, The Goddard School is thrilled to announce the Top 10 Educational Toys for the 2016 holiday season!

Prior to distributing toys to 50 Goddard School preschool locations across the nation for testing, dozens of submissions from the world’s leading toy manufacturers were reviewed by The Goddard School Toy Test Committee, which is comprised of early childhood education experts. Submissions were judged on the toy’s ability to encourage interaction and child-initiated play, promoting creativity and collaboration—all while maintaining the child’s creative interests over time.

Children ranging from infants to six years old from Goddard School locations across the country then critiqued the toys and selected their top favorites with the help of their teachers, who compiled the results.

The Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys, in suggested age range order, include:

“Providing meaningful and play-based educational experiences, such as the Toy Test, to children at the Goddard Schools creates a wonderful environment to further develop their social and cognitive skills,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “Additionally, by exploring a range of toys that have been carefully evaluated by our early childhood education team, children help provide insight into both the educational and “fun” value of some of the most exciting new toys on the market.”

Voting to select 2016’s favorite toy is now open to the public. The public can vote by visiting The Goddard School’s website, www.goddardschool.com/toytest, from November 1 to November 11, 2016. 100 units of the winning toy will be purchased by GSI and donated to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community in an effort to spread Christmas cheer.

Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include brands such as Laser Pegs, K’NEX Brands, Learning Resources, and Lakeshore Learning Materials.

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.