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Posts Tagged ‘Learning through Play’

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.

Technology and Early Learning: Part Two
Building Blocks for a Nourishing Digital Diet

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). 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 01/22/2015 on the HMH blog.

The more I think about it, the more I love the analogy of a “diet” when considering children’s digital media iPadconsumption. Just as calories from the most wholesome foods nourish and strengthen our bodies, the right mix of high quality, engaging digital content can nurture intellectual growth and spark curiosity.

So what does a balanced digital diet for young children look like? And how do we assess the appropriateness, quantity and quality of digital channels and tools – from games and apps to eBooks – especially when there are so many choices on the menu?

Some media – for example pedagogically sound, research-based education apps – are naturally more nourishing than others. And just like food, not all digital content should be consumed at the same rate. Increasingly, specialists from pediatricians to educators are providing essential information and guiding principles to inform our choices about digital content consumption for children.

Regardless of a diet’s particular nature—whether a protein-light Mediterranean Diet or the protein-dense Atkins Diet—nutritionists generally draw upon the five basic food groups to ensure balance. In the same way, I find it helpful to organize digital content for kids into five “building blocks,” each one providing a different learning experience or outcome.

1) Educational Media

This includes digital tools designed to support a specific learning path or engage children in a particular curriculum. Educational media also helps children acquire knowledge and practice skills in order to gain mastery, and inspire further exploration of concepts or topics. Keep in mind that if digital media claims to have educational value, it should be backed by vetted research so take some time to research the media’s development. Great examples are Curious George and the Firefighters  (Ages 4+, eBook) and Endless Alphabet  (Ages 5 and under, App).

2) Practice and Skill Development Tools

These are really a subset of Educational Media (with all the same benefits described above), but because many parents and teachers are interested in tools that support specific skill development, they are worth considering separately. Today, there are a wide variety of digital tools for kids of all ages and abilities, that target individual skills and needs, whether spelling, hand-eye coordination or vocabulary. I’d recommend apps like Slice Fraction  (Ages 6-8, App) and Cursive Writing Wizard  (Ages 6-8, App).

3) Creative Media

This building block provides dynamic, interactive experiences around music, art, videos, architecture and more. Of course, technology is not a replacement for the hands-on knowledge that children gain from painting, building, making and playing music. However, the digital arena gives children opportunities to stretch themselves in a fun environment and save iterations of their creations digitally. Get your child’s creative juices flowing with tools like Minecraft (Ages 8+, Web, Desktop, Tablet) and Toca Band (Ages 5 and under, App).

4) Entertainment Media

The proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is as true for young children as it is for adults.  Entertainment can stimulate the imagination and provide inspiration for a child’s hopes and dreams, ultimately supporting learning goals. Playful stories, apps and games introduce children to adventure, the drama of human interaction, relationships, conflict resolution, and often, areas of life that can capture a child’s interest for a lifetime, providing great fulfillment. Have some fun with LEGO’s The Hobbit (Ages 8+, Video Game Consoles) or Little Red Riding Hood (Ages 6-8, eBook).

5) Data Collection Tools

This building block is for teachers, parents or any adult working with young children. Data collection apps and programs allow us to collect data so that, as caregivers, we can ascertain areas where a child needs extra support and where they are excelling. With this information, caregivers can rearrange the other building blocks to create a nourishing digital diet that is personal, balanced and flexible. For example, HMH’s own Curiosityville helps teachers and parents keep track of kids’ progress and they play in the program’s interactive environment.

Innovative digital tools have great potential, but like many tools, they are complex. We need to think carefully about how, when and why we are using them to enhance our children’s learning and growth. By considering which building blocks meet your goals, you will find it easier to balance options and choose tools for your individual child’s age, interests and needs.

And it’s worth noting that each building block is often better suited to certain forms of media. For example, games (which may be available via an app or in other forms) may provide better opportunities for cognitive skill development, while a nature video may be the perfect choice to get your child thinking about the environment.  Apps are flexible, mobile, and interactive, providing families with resources that are engaging and accessible at a moment’s notice, while both eBooks and videos offer caregivers opportunities to share the digital experience by reading aloud together or co-viewing content.

To help evaluate specific digital tools, Claudia Haines (author, librarian and media mentor for young people) has created a fantastic rubric to help you understand the power and impact of every digital tool. The following sites also offer quality recommendations for eBooks, apps, videos and games, along with recommendations on how to ensure that screen time is also a valuable shared experience with your child.

And don’t forget to consult your local librarians! They can be a bridge between the best of the digital world and your family. With these resources and some menu planning, you’ll be sure to provide your child with a healthy, balanced digital diet.

The Goddard School Brings Holiday Cheer with Donation of Best Educational Toy of 2015 to Toys for Tots

“Choose for Charity” Comes to an End with Laser Pegs®
on Top in the 8th Annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – November 16, 2015 – Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, announces that Laser Pegs® 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set was deemed the top toy by public vote in The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. GSI will purchase and donate 100 of the winning toy 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.

Now in its eighth year, the Toy Test searches for the best educational toy of the year by engaging preschoolers to play with a selection of toys, provide feedback, and then vote for their favorite along with the public. Educational toys from popular toy manufacturers across the nation were first evaluated by The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee, which is comprised of early childhood education experts. The toys were judged on how well they supported educational skill development and encouraged child-initiated play and collaboration.

From there, the toys were sent to 50 Goddard Schools across the country where preschoolers tested the toys for one week. The children determined their Top 10 favorites before putting it to “Choose for Charity” public vote where people across the country could select their favorite of this year’s top toys as selected by the preschoolers.

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

  • Whoozit® Space Blankie by The Manhattan Toy Company (Suggested Age Range: 0+ months)
  • Rolligo by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 12+ months)
  • John Deere Learn ‘N Pop Farmyard Friends by TOMY (Suggested Age Range: 12+ months)
  • ModMobiles – Set A by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years)
  • Doctor On Call by Hape Toys (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Lakeshore® Gear Builders – Starter Set by Lakeshore Learning Materials  (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Lincoln Logs® 100th Anniversary Tin by K’NEX Brands (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Joinks by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set by Laser Pegs® (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years)
  • Tumble Trax™ Magnetic Marble Run by Learning Resources® (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years)

“Our annual Toy Test gives Goddard School children the opportunity to explore and discover a range of new toys,” says GSI’s Vice President of Education, Dr. Craig Bach. “It speaks to the heart of our curriculum, which is centered on play-based learning. The children benefit by developing problem solving skills, the ability to collaborate with others, self-confidence and creativity, and we benefit by seeing which toys, for example the 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set by Laser Pegs®, resonate with them, allowing us to better identify high-quality educational resources that children really enjoy.”

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

Technology and Early Learning: Part One
A Healthy Digital Diet – Three Tips for Balancing Screen Time for Kids

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 01/07/2015 on the HMH blog.

It’s a blizzard out there […]! I’m referring to the astounding number of new eBooks, apps and websites now available for young children.

Get Set-Preschool Class - Computer

Experts estimate that there are hundreds of eBooks, story apps and learning games for children released every week. With such a deluge of digital content, it can be difficult to distinguish what is truly educational and developmentally appropriate.

The good news is that there are excellent resources available to guide the way and help you make informed decisions about what to include in your child’s “digital diet.” In this series, I’ll take a closer look at these resources and share thoughts on how to harness the power of technology to enhance your child’s learning experiences.

While there are no definitive rules to help caregivers decide how much screen time (and screen type) is best for their children, the American Pediatrics Association recommends that kids spend no more than two hours per day.

In today’s post, we’ll discuss how to make sure that the time your kids do spend interacting with screens is age-appropriate, positive and educational.

Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation was one of the first to put a stake in this ground on the issue of “how much is too much?” In her seminal book, Screen Time (2012), she approaches the topic as a mother concerned about the influence of television.

Given the wealth of digital content on tablets and devices, the TV may seem like an antique, but Guernsey’s insights remain extremely valuable. Guernesy coined the “three C’s” – Content, Context and the individual Child – to provide families with framework for informed decision-making about screen time.

Content
This one seems obvious, especially when thinking about television or video content, but once you enter the digital space, choosing the right content can become more complicated. Buried advertisements, inappropriate distractions and dead ends, as well as the limitations of some apps, can frustrate little ones or undermine the potential learning experience.

Takeaway Tip: Preview all digital media and don’t be afraid to be picky!

Context
Context is about what happens before, during and after screen time, particularly what’s happening in the child’s environment. Are there competing devices within earshot? Is the child in a distraction-free environment? Most importantly, context also includes your own interactions with your child during screen time.  In fact, devices present a great opportunity for parents to play and learn along with their children, ensuring the experience is positive.

Takeaway Tip: If you are joining your child in an interactive game or app, try to be undistracted. Make an effort to put your personal, digital devices aside, and minimize background noise by turning off the television and other media. When sharing the interactive experience, don’t let the device dominate the experience. Often, adults end up focused on directing the use of the device or software, rather than experiencing and exploring the content together.

The Individual Child
The ultimate objective is to help provide children with experiences that will enhance their curiosity and pique interest in themselves and the world around them.  It pays to be thoughtful and seek out those games or apps that are most appropriate for your child, his/her age and interests.

Takeaway Tip: Check out some trusted resources to find the best fit for your child, and to help you navigate the digital terrain!

Bottom line: A reasonable “digital diet” is essential for child growth and development. Just as we choose a balance of foods for nutrition, energy and wellbeing, we can also choose appropriate digital content and determine how we can interact with it to provide the best experience for kids.

Stay tuned to this series for additional resources about creating a healthy digital diet and using technology to promote positive, fun growth experiences for young learners.

The Goddard School® Names Top 10 Educational Toys For 2015 As Tested By Preschoolers

Early Childhood Education Leader Identifies This Year’s Best Toys Inspiring Creativity And A Love Of Learning

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., Nov. 2, 2015 — Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The
Goddard School preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, gave 2015 Toy Test Collagepreschoolers the job of a lifetime when it asked them to test some toys! Now in its eighth year, The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test announces the top ten best educational toys for 2015, as selected by true toy experts… kids!

Before the toys were given to this discerning audience, they were evaluated by The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee, comprised of early childhood education experts, which judged submissions based on criteria including encouraging interactive, child-initiated play, inspiring creativity and collaboration, and supporting skill development and playful learning.

Putting The Goddard School philosophy of learning through play into action, children from 50 Goddard Schools throughout the country then tested the toys. The children, who range from infants to six years old, determined their favorites while the teachers compiled the tiny testers’ choices.

The results are in, and the Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toy Test finalists include (in suggested age range order):

Fun and educational experiences that help children expand their critical thinking skills and flex their imaginations, as demonstrated in the Toy Test, prime children for success later in life,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “From classic toys to new products on the market that encourage STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), our children have the opportunity to play with incredible toys that support learning through play.”

The public will now have the chance to vote and select the 2015 Top Toy on The Goddard School’s website, www.goddardschool.com/toytest, from November 2 – November 13, 2015. GSI will purchase and donate 100 of the winning toy 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 brands such as Lakeshore Learning Materials, K’NEX, Fat Brain Toys, Tiny Love, HABA and Learning Resources.

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

Goddard School Children Evaluate Hottest Toys for Holiday Season

Preschoolers Across The Nation Participate In The 8th Annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – September 28, 2015Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, is searching for the Top 10 Toys for children (infants to six years old) that encourage playful learning. Toy companies around the globe are participating for the chance to be voted #1 in the 8th annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. Products are put to the test by true toy experts – children!Toy Test 2014 a

Every year, select Goddard Schools across the country hold the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, where manufacturers are invited to submit toys for consideration. All entries are evaluated by The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee, which is comprised of early childhood education experts. This panel of educators evaluates entries based on various criteria including encouraging interactive, child-initiated play, inspiring creativity and collaboration, and supporting skill development and playful learning.

Toys scoring highest on the evaluation will be sent to 49 participating Goddard Schools nationwide to be tested by children from September 28 through October 2. The children will cast their votes for the Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys, and the toys will then be put to public vote on The Goddard School website from November 2 to November 13. GSI will purchase and donate 100 of the toy receiving the most votes 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.

“Our annual Toy Test is a powerful example of our education philosophy, which is centered on playful learning,” says GSI’s Vice President of Education, Dr. Craig Bach. “It also exemplifies ongoing efforts at The Goddard School to identify high-quality educational resources in collaboration with teachers and children.”

Bach continues, “Through the Toy Test, we provide children with an interactive and playful learning experience as they work together to evaluate a range of toys. In the process, the children continue to develop problem solving skills, the ability to collaborate with others, self-confidence, creativity and other valuable tools that will help them be successful in school and in life.” Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include brands such as K’NEX, Fat Brain Toys, Lakeshore Learning Materials, Green Toys and Learning Resources. For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

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.

Spring Into Fun Activities!

Spring has sprung! Welcome the warmer temperatures, blooming flowers and singing birds with these fun activities.

Watercolor Coffee Filter Flowers

Materials

  • Empty ice cube tray
  • Water
  • Food coloring (many colors)
  • Unused coffee filters
  • Pipe cleaners

Instructions

  1. Lay down some newspaper for easy clean up.
  2. Fill an empty ice cube tray with water.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to each section.
  4. Dip a coffee filter into one or all of the colors. Dip a corner, dip the whole thing – be creative!
  5. Once the filter is dyed, lay it out on a paper towel to dry.
  6. After it dries, pinch the middle of the filter, making it into a point.
  7. Wrap part of a pipe cleaner around the point.
  8. Enjoy the flower on its own or make other flowers to form a bouquet!

Wildflower Scrapbook

Materials

  • Variety of wildflowers
  • Transparent tape
  • Blank notebook

Instructions

Go to a park or your own backyard and pick some wildflowers. Select a wide variety of flowers, and when you get home, ask your child questions about each one – what does it look like? what colors does he/she see? how does it smell? Write down the answers in a notebook, leaving some space next to each entry, and lay out each flower to dry. Once the flowers are dried, tape each one next to its description in the notebook. You can even add flowers to it when your child picks new ones. It’s educational, fun and makes a great keepsake!

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.