{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Posts Tagged ‘Family time’

Thankfulness

The fourth Thursday of November is when we prepare our bellies to receive lots of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and more. It’s Thanksgiving! Amid all the bustling of cooking, cleaning and getting your family ready for this filling holiday, don’t forget to tell your loved ones how thankful you are to have them. A great way to show them how you feel is through poetry.

twenty20_950c2203-e5f2-4d90-9f6e-77f8adb7e1c4

Here’s a haiku to help get you started.

Thank you for your love.

Your bright smile warms my heart.

I’m thankful for you.

twenty20_2b9f70f0-cad1-41e6-8304-1552d74ec07b

Summer Activities

Ten activities to do with your child this summer:

  1. Ride your bikes around your neighborhood or in a local park to increase family togetherness and to emphasize the importance of exercise.

twenty20_fc896173-a5ae-4b99-8237-0ab82975d14a

  1. Have a picnic. Encourage your child to help pack the basket. You can talk to him about the different types of food you are putting in the basket, where the food is from and what foods are best for his health.

twenty20_bfb0c436-9215-4b59-9b20-c4db112e3965

  1. Go on a leaf hunt. Your child can learn about different types of trees by their leaves, and she can observe how the trees grow. To create a lasting memory of your wonderful walk, you can collect a few leaves, place them on a sheet of paper and color them with a crayon. This will produce an imprint of the leaf to have for the future.

SAMSUNG CSC Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

  1. Volunteer in your community. Many communities have public gardens where children and parents come to plant their own flowers to contribute to the beauty of the community. If your community doesn’t have a garden, consider starting one. This will teach your child the importance of being involved and giving back.

twenty20-garden

  1. Plan a treasure hunt. For more enjoyment, include the whole neighborhood.

twenty20_044a9b83-1c69-477f-a7e6-443d8ebf498f

  1. Prepare new summer recipes. Encourage your child to use his skills to help with the ingredients and measurements. Soon, he’ll be cooking meals for you.

twenty20_6a81a03e-0bed-44bb-926c-61025ab33da8

  1. Take some of your old clothes and place them in a chest. Now, you can have a dress-up day, which is a perfect inside activity for a rainy day. Your child will love dressing up just like mom!

twenty20_29b256d4-4dfa-4edc-8cbc-c991c2b7eab5

  1. Create a craft table. Prepare a corner in your child’s playroom or bedroom with a table for craft activities, such as drawing, painting or building. This makes for another great indoor activity for rainy days.

_72o7298

  1. Stargaze. On a warm, clear night, sit outside with your child and observe the various Talk about what you can and cannot see with the human eye. Enjoy the starry night!

twenty20_93e07c5c-6dba-4320-9c6d-fb1446f53b6d

  1. Teach your child to conserve water during her daily activities. Since we enjoy pools, oceans and lakes during the summer months, this is a good time to teach your little one about the dangers of pollution and the effects it can have to our oceans and lakes.

20120920_goddard_tn_0207

Siblings: First Friends

Siblings play a huge role in each other’s lives. Many siblings who are close in age become each other’s first friend. You can encourage a strong, long-term bond by letting your older child take care of his new brother or sister as much as possible.Siblings

Children learn a lot from their parents, and they also learn a lot from their siblings. It is best to encourage our children to have strong connections with one another for them to achieve stable social and emotional development. When children are close with their siblings, the transition to making friends at school is much easier. With siblings who are farther apart in age, the older child becomes a teacher who can explain how to make friends at school and how to behave in the classroom.

Along with being the first born, which is special in itself, your older child now has the extra special responsibility of being a role model for his little brother or sister.

What are some ways you encourage your children to bond with one another?

Five Fun Ways to Limit Screen Time for Your Preschooler

Guest Post
by Amber O’Brien, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Forest Hill, MD

I am an onsite owner of a Goddard School, an education-based franchise preschool, and my faculty and I recently noticed that one of the three-year-old students had become increasingly tired in the morning and started having frequent meltdowns in the classroom. She had also become more difficult to wake after naptime. Communication between the parents and the teachers produced the reasons for the child’s change of behavior. The parents revealed that they had recently started giving an iPad to their daughter at bedtime and were letting her put herself to sleep. We explained the negative effects of too much screen time, especially at night, and encouraged the parents not to hand their child a device at bedtime.

In our increasingly technological world, devices are here to stay. Set boundaries and limits now so Preschool Computerdevices become teaching tools instead of detracting from precious interactions with family members. The introduction of smaller devices creates more opportunities to increase children’s screen time and a greater temptation for tired parents to hand their children a device. In parenting, the easy thing is often not the best thing, and we must always think about the long-term results of our choices.

As a parent of three teenage children, I know firsthand how difficult it is to stop devices from slowly creeping into our home life. My advice is to set boundaries now, because when your children are older and have cell phones, it will become increasingly difficult to monitor how much they use their devices. Habits children learn as preschoolers can pay dividends long into the future. Setting boundaries that you and your spouse both agree on and providing many fun and enriching alternative activities may be the key to a happy home where the children are not overtired and healthy relationships can grow.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I already know that too much screen time is not healthy, but what I need is some practical help. How can I limit my child’s screen time, and what are some fun activities we can do with our preschooler at home?” I believe the answer is balance. At The Goddard School, we provide a variety of interactions for the children so screen time does not distract them from other fun and stimulating activities. Consistency between the home and school is very important, and the expert and professional teachers in our classroom environments can teach us all a lot.

  1. Limit your child to only 15 minutes of screen time.

    Students at The Goddard School receive a limited amount of screen time. The tablets and computers in the classroom are teaching tools and only contain educational apps and games. Since students must take turns in the classroom, the students quickly learn that they cannot use the computer or tablet for more than 15 minutes.I suggest setting your phone timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, or a few minutes before it goes off, remind your child that he or she should be finishing the game. Setting a 15-minute limit teaches your child that individuals are in control of electronic devices and not the other way around. Remember that these educational games are great teaching tools, but they should never replace the human interaction of snuggle time at night, and you shouldn’t use them to end a tantrum or to babysit a child.

  2. Make bedtime the most special time of the day.

    Not only was using the tablet depriving the above-mentioned three-year-old of enough sleep at night, but it also deprived her of precious snuggle time and the experience of sharing books with a parent. While educational games are a wonderful supplement for helping your child learn basic skills, they can never replace the joy of sharing a funny or touching book.Studies have recently shown that the blue light on computer screens interferes with the melatonin that helps people drift off to sleep. A sleep-deprived child is not a happy child. According to Charles Czeisler from the Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, “Children become hyperactive rather than sleepy when they don’t get enough sleep, and have difficulty focusing attention, so sleep deficiency may be mistaken for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”1

    Ensuring that your child has enough sleep will give him or her a better chance for a more successful day with better behavior. Spend a little extra time at night to ensure that your child receives a warm relaxing bath, a chance to debrief and lots of snuggle time, which may help encourage a happier morning the following day. Make bath time fun with lots of bath toys and foam letters, and make story time special by asking questions and use different voices as you read to your preschooler.

    Don’t allow a TV in your child’s room, and take away all devices before bath and story time. Bedtime should be a time to unwind and slowly prepare for a deep refreshing sleep.

  3. Create an imaginative play area in your home.

    At The Goddard School, the students have so many fun, hands-on activities available that they are excited to start the next activity when their tablet or computer time ends. Look around your child’s classroom and take mental notes. Try to include similar materials and activities in an accessible area of your home to encourage your child’s imaginative play.Collect costumes, clothing and accessories your child can use to play dress-up. Create a play kitchen where your child can imitate you as you prepare dinner. Include clean boxes, containers and utensils from your kitchen. Add an easel and art supplies to a craft area. You could also create areas with a cash register so your child can learn about money, matching sets of cards for playing memory games to increase concentration, coloring books, clay or kinetic sand.

    Provide bins with different types of manipulatives, such as puzzles, LEGO, Lincoln Logs and other building materials. I would often give my children old magazines and child-safe scissors, and then I would watch as they happily cut out pictures and letters while developing their fine motor skills. Just as your child’s teachers put out different centers each day, take out new items and put away other items to pique your child’s interest. The more non-electronic activities you have available, the easier it will be for your child to hand over the tablet or turn off the TV.  If an adult comes down to the child’s level and plays with the child, the chances of a tantrum-free transition increases.

  4. Make meal times meaningful.

    Meal times should be about more than putting nutrients in our bodies. They should also be a time to reconnect with our family members and talk about one another’s days. At The Goddard School, teachers sit at the table with the children and eat with them. The children are encouraged to wait until everyone has their food, and they learn good table manners from watching their teachers.Make sure you read the daily activity report and use this information to ask your child about his or her day. Ask about the book that the teacher read, the fun outdoor activity or the messy process art activity. By asking questions about your child’s day, your child simultaneously learns lifetime lessons about communicating and extends the learning of the school day. Some families have each member describe a high and a low for the day. This enriching exercise helps all the family members learn to listen and share the successes and challenges of their days. I often ask my family, “What was something good that happened today?” I want my children to realize that each day has some good in it.

    At meal times, turn off all TVs, cell phones and other devices and give all of your attention to one another.

  5. Use physical touch and exercise.

    Preschoolers need touch and fun physical interactions with the people who love them. Children, like adults, receive and perceive love partly through physical touch and quality time.For our monthly icebreaker at our last PTO meeting in January, I asked the parents to describe their favorite non-electronic activity to do with their preschoolers. Parents smiled while describing playing hide and go seek and tickle monster with their children. One parent has set up tunnels to create an obstacle course in the basement, and the entire family goes downstairs to run races and play together.

    Children love to dance, so try putting on some dance music and dancing together as a family after dinner every night. Try playing a variety of musical genres as we do at school. The children’s favorites include “Let It Go” from Frozen, the dance song “I Like to Move It” and, of course, the chicken dance and the hokey pokey. A fun game of freeze dance, where everyone freezes when the music stops, teaches concentration and produces lots of giggles and smiles.

    Play classic games, such as duck, duck, goose; ring around the rosy; and London Bridge. All of these games include physical touch and whole body movement, and they provide valuable social interactions.

One of our most important goals as parents is to build healthy, close relationships with our children that will last a lifetime. We want our children to have more memories of reading bedtime stories and playing hide and go seek with us and fewer memories of us texting on our cell phones. Show your child that you are in control of all media and devices, provide alternate activities and choose to set boundaries, especially for meal times and bedtime.

 

1 Czeisler, C. (May 23, 2013). Perspective: Casting light on sleep deficiency. Nature, 497, S13. doi:10.1038/497S13a

Long Days, Short Years: Enjoy Them While You Can

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

“Long days, short years.” How true these words are for parents. Several years ago, a mom with college age children said those words to me, and they resonate with me every day as a father, and as the owner of a preschool.

Family 03_jpgBeing a parent is one of the most challenging and most rewarding things we can experience in life. We are so busy trying to be the best parent we can be (while fulfilling our other obligations to work, family, and the community) that we may lose sight of how precious every moment with our children can be. It isn’t always easy to muster the energy to read a book with your child as part of a goodnight ritual after a long day. It isn’t always easy to take it a step slower at the store so that your children can look around and explore. It isn’t always easy to go outside after dinner to practice baseball or soccer with your children. It isn’t always easy, but it is always important.

My son is nearly twelve, my oldest daughter is nearly eleven, and my youngest daughter is eight. I remember the day each was born like it was yesterday. Along the journey, there have been plenty of sleepless nights filled with worry, illnesses, bumps and bruises, spills and messes, and emotional outbursts (not just by the kids), as parts of many long days. I have been fortunate to have been able to spend quality time with my children: just hanging out, coaching their sports teams, projects that always took extra time with my “helpers,” family dinners.

I remember a Saturday morning about two years ago though. I woke up to spend the day with my children, like we usually do. I was informed that everyone had a play date. I didn’t know what to do! This meant that the two-hour project I had to do, would only take two hours, and not three because my children wanted to “help.” It meant that I could sit down and read the newspapers without interruption. It didn’t feel good at first because it seemed like a very long day without them, but then I remembered that it is all a part of our journey through life together.

Keep all of this in mind as summer approaches. The “long” days of summer present extra opportunities to spend quality time with your children. Take a walk to a park or playground. Run around in the yard and play hide and seek or tag. Plant a vegetable garden, and check on the progress all summer. Visit the zoo, walk around a local town to explore, or find a nature preserve to visit. If the kids wake up early on Saturday or Sunday, rather than setting them in front of the TV, go for a walk or a run with them, or make a special breakfast together. We used to live not far from a small pond that we could pass by during a run. I would load up the double jog stroller with two of my children. We would bring bread, and I would stop our run so we could feed the ducks. We would then set back on our trek that was always filled with new things to see and discuss.

So when you are a little late getting out of the house because your son or daughter needs to say goodbye to the fish, or because they forgot a mitten, or your children wake up early on Saturday morning and want to play; try to cherish how long the days are, because the years are short.

Five Ways to Make Family Meal Preparation Easier

Sitting down to dinner with your family is great. You can recap your days, spend some time together and have some laughs. Between work, school and extracurricular activities, though, finding the time to sit down together can be challenging. Here are five ways to make preparing family meals easier.

  1. Prepare meals beforehand. Make a lot of a particular dish over the weekend and serve it throughout the week. For example, make a double batch of a casserole or a big batch of soup or chili and serve it every other day so you don’t have to worry about cooking on those nights.Family 03_jpg
  2. “Cheat” when you cook. Using frozen or pre-cut veggies and other prepared foods is an excellent way to save time when you cook. Also, a slow cooker lets you cook a full meal with less preparation.
  3. Keep meals simple. Plenty of fast, easy meals are also delicious and nutritious. The internet has a treasure trove of recipes to suit your family, your wallet, your schedule and your taste buds.
  4. Have breakfast for dinner. In a pinch, serve scrambled eggs, toast and fruit. Waffles or pancakes are easy, too. Eating mostly healthy foods is important, but sitting down with your family is important, too.
  5. Make dinner as a family. Having help can cut down on meal preparation time. Children can stir and roll out dough, and they can mix the vegetables you chopped into a salad. Cooking together is also a terrific bonding activity.

The Time Crunch: The Modern Parent’s Dilemma

It’s the modern parent’s dilemma: the time crunch. Sometimes it feels like there just are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all of life’s tasks—and still be an effective and loving parent.

Consider quality of time versus quantity of time. It’s all about compromising.

Vacuum tomorrow so you can cuddle up with your child and a good book instead! Prepare a few extra meals on the weekend to reduce dinner prep time during the week and free up time for a quick walk with your family. Set your morning alarm for a half an hour earlier to create time to eat breakfast together.

What compromises do you make to ensure quality time with your family?

Making More Time for Your Family

Time, or the lack of it, drives many of us to live at a frantic pace. There is an enormous cost to being in a chaotic rush each day. Renew your commitment to begin family traditions which make room for you to experience the true joy of family life.

  • Practice making choices by limiting after school/work activities.
  • Use a family-oriented calendar system to track each family members schedule and important reference information.Family - Mom Daughter A
  • Turn off the TV to allow more time for reading, talking, playing and learning.
  • Enjoy food and meals together by making dinner “an oasis in time,” without interruption.
  • Make a weekly meal mandatory for everyone in the family to share.
  • Claim a tree or outdoor area as a spot to visit regularly to read together.
  • Cook double the quantity needed to save or freeze half for another night.
  • Participate in outdoor activities as a family including picking apples, hiking or riding bikes.
  • Get enough sleep to help you feel rested and calm.
  • Specify a night to spend at home to eat pizza, play games and talk.

“Parents fight a daily battle as they try not only to meet all their responsibilities for work, caregiving, and housework, but also to hold on to a few crumbs of time they call their own,” says Kerry Daly, professor at the University of Guelph, in his paper “It Keeps Getting Faster: Changing Patters of Time in Families.” Time is your family’s most precious non-renewable resource. Make the most of this component that magically turns a collection of individuals into a stronger, more robust group of people.