What can parents do to prepare for kindergarten and offer the best experience for your child?
Emotionally, kindergarten is a big step.
To set your child on the right path, and help to smoothly transition and adjust to the new rhythm, there are a few things you can do. Here’s what to know.
Talk to Your Child
It sounds simple, right?
Yet, talk to your child and explain what is about to happen.
Children are naturally inquisitive. Take advantage of that natural inclination to talk to them and answer any question they may have.
Do not wait the day before, of course. Start conversations early.
Try to give them enough time, to discover, process, and ask their questions. Explain what kindergarten is, what it will be like, what they will learn, the new friends they will make, and what they will do.
How about driving to their future school building and show them how it looks like?
Take the opportunity to show them where they will go, where they will play and learn, and let them share their feelings about the new change.
Take the opportunity to introduce your child to their new director and teacher and have them discover the new classroom environment.
In other words, plan visits before the start, to make sure they feel comfortable.
Get Them Involved
If you are about to buy some school items for kindergarten, it’s the perfect time to involve your child in the process.
It’s fun to get new stuff. We all agree with that.
So, why no giving them the opportunity to choose their backpack, favorite lunchbox, or clothes for their first day at school?
It will increase their confidence, self-esteem, and independence, and help them emotionally prepare for kindergarten.
Shopping together is fun and creates special memories.
Prepare for Kindergarten by Establishing Routines
The recent new normal literally had an impact on everyone including your child.
With families staying at home, most of them struggled to keep their daily routines or got somewhat looser keeping schedules. And that’s okay.
If flexibility in schedules has its place in a child’s development, to prepare for kindergarten, it is important to bring these routines back.
Typically, consistency is an essential part of your child’s preparation and adaptation to the new environment and rhythm.
So, where to start and what to do?
Prepare For Kindergarten Without Stress
The transition to kindergarten is a big change. The transition from play-based activities to more academic learning, longer days at school, a new environment with new people, as exciting as these changes can appear to be, can cause fear and anxiety.
Do not underestimate their impact on your child.
All of that can be mitigated by providing children with a framework of routines and discussions. There is no other secret success recipe than preparation and implementation.
If your child is about to start kindergarten this year, start engaging and communicating with them early enough as you reinforce routines.
Routines offer a sense of security and stability in their environment. Do not expect children to react as adults. As a parent, you need to gain an understanding that the predictability of their environment help them thrive.
Have you already connected with your child’s future kindergarten teacher?
Outdoor learning can act as a great supplement to your child’s current at-home quarantine learning curriculum.
Let’s face it; being stuck at home for a few months, ideas could be running thin. However, the energy and curiosity of the kids are not running out any time soon.
Whether at home, in the classroom, or during a summer camp, it is always important to mix up the learning environment. That is why we, and many other professionals, believe that outdoor learning can present a great adjunct learning method.
Let’s explore that some more.
The Many Ways That Outdoor Learning Benefits Children
Great, outdoor learning can present a new environment for learning. But what exactly does that mean for the long-term impact on children?
First of all, taking the educational setting outside presents opportunities for students to apply their knowledge. Rather than in a classroom, they can see, in the real world, how things work.
Whether it’s observation, building, or collaborating, applying themselves outside the classroom will stick. This means that it will be easier for young students to remember what they learn!
Outside, you can always be learning with new and exciting tools and in new places.
So, the learning becomes “applied” and therefore “memorable.”
The outdoor learning experience can help to boost the self-esteem of children. This can be done in a variety of ways, as we will explain later, but it rings true every time.
Whether taking care of plants or being active outdoors, children can experience that sense of accomplishment. They can refine motor skills while learning about the natural environment.
As we know, physical activity is key for children. What’s better than being outside in the fresh air, playing with water, observing insects, birds, experiencing the smell of flowers, touching a tree?
Indoors, this is simply impossible. Outside, however, children have the freedom to play and explore differently.
Now that the benefits are clear, let’s get to the real kicker; what is the best way to incorporate outdoor activities with my child?
Inspire Learning for Your Child
We know that outdoor activities can enrich a child’s learning experience. But, of course, that requires to think of ideas.
We have put together a few ideas for you and your child to do together. These are tried and true outdoor activities.
One of our favorite activities is to go on a picnic. It’s simple, easy, but it makes an impact. How is this a learning experience? Well, that’s up to you. You can bring a few books, make lunch together, or go on a walk after you eat. Simply changing the environment is enough!
Another great activity is to go on a hunt for wildlife. This can be anything from plants to bugs, to birds, you name it. If there is one thing we know, it is that kids love animals.
Not only can you ignite their curiosity, but they can also learn something new on the hunt. This is a great opportunity to talk about different animals and how they live.
The outdoors is full of opportunities; how about bringing those opportunities right outside your door? Consider small-scale gardening, or planting a few potted plants. With your child, you can learn how plants grow and learn lessons along the way.
These are just a few of the many things you can do outside. If you’re curious about more activities that you can do at home, reach out to our team for suggestions.
Learning Never Stops, Neither Do The Chances
Now that you know a little more about outdoor learning, it’s in your hands!
Whether getting outside for a little walk or starting a garden, the possibilities are endless. Only your imagination is the limit.
How do you plan on getting outside and changing up the environment for your children?
All in all, spending more time with your toddler is really rewarding, but after weeks and weeks of being stuck at home, with home-base work, parents are all starting to run out of ideas.
In addition, with being inside, away from friends, it should be expected that our toddlers are getting a little antsy.
This just means that there is a great opportunity for hands-on attention, activities, and creativity!
Because of this, we have decided to put together a few of our favorite indoor activities for toddlers that you can do during COVID-19.
Most of these activities are relatively easy to set up - and, more importantly, clean up. The beauty of these activities is that they can be done at any time.
So, parents, let’s regroup, put our heads together, and get back out there with some awesome activities!
Here are some of our favorite ideas for activities to do at home with your toddler during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Get Creative with Arts and Crafts
If you are stuck inside long enough, everything becomes a possible art project.
How about those old boxes from the toilet paper delivery last week?
It always amazes us how creative kids can get with something like cardboard.
Not only is it possible to build forts (either for the toddler or their toys), but they can be cut into different shapes.
Especially during COVID-19, we all have a box or two lyings around.
If your toddler has a favorite animal, you can cut and color the cardboard in the form of the animal.
Cutting, coloring, and designing cardboard can be a great tool for exploring:
Plus, these are learned while using and practicing fine motor skills.
Even if there is no cardboard, this can be done with a lot of different materials; old shirts, construction paper, post-its, and more.
Count that as one score for the parents!
Keep Toddlers Active While Inside Your Home During COVID-19
As long as COVID-19 has been locking us down, you might have had enough of your toddler running around the house.
In many cases, organized sports are not currently a possibility, and it’s even tough to bring over friends!
Our solution? An indoor obstacle course!
This is a fun one; but, space-specific.
Anybody can set up an indoor obstacle course. It can be as long or as short as you’d like. Plus, you can use almost anything as a part of the course.
This is a guaranteed hit, whether your obstacle course includes:
Ultimately, an obstacle course is an ideal way to stay active and to keep those motor skills engaged.
By adding new elements or switching the order, they can become a daily facet in the house.
Create a New Version of your Favorite Activity
What did you love to do before COVID-19?
Whether it was cycling, skating, playing soccer, or others, there is always a way to bring it inside.
If there is anything that toddlers love, it is familiarity.
What’s better than a game of newspaper-ball soccer, with makeshift goals?
Or, set up an indoor bowling alley with water bottles and a few balls from the garage?
Realistically, there is no limit to the number of activities you can do inside. Even though we are in a different environment, try to consider those activities that you can bring back in a new way.
Loved singing in the car on road trips? How about a karaoke night?
Home Activities For Toddler During COVID-19
As COVID-19 continues to alter our usual routine, take this as an opportunity to spend some quality time with your toddler.
Ultimately, doing activities together is fun for all family members and they create fun memories.
What are some of your favorite indoor activities to do over these times?
Watching TV or being stuck on a tablet all the time may not be healthy for young children. Yet, everything doesn't have to feel like a classroom lesson, either.
We’ve seen in previous blogs that kids learn better if they have fun. Now, you have an opportunity to implement that approach. In other words, get your kids excited, engaged, and eager to explore and learn by keeping the activities fun.
If you are interested to learn more about some great learning activities, read on!
Engage With Young Children Through Learning Games
To attract interest and increase engagement, “play” is an efficient way to approach education.
Turning a formal learning approach about a variety of subjects into a learning game will inspire learning and engagement.
For instance, pick a topic like “animals in the forest”. Create a scavenger hunt and integrate count, shapes, colors, and natural history.
Then, have them draw their favorite animal of the forest that you discussed using different materials.
You can adapt that game according to your personal preference, knowledge, educational objectives.
The great thing about this approach is that you can use your imagination and creativity to do something new.
Identify & Learn Colors
This activity is a big winner! Kids love colors.
Have your child identify a color. To do so, draw characters of different colors on a piece of paper. Ask your child to attribute a colored sticker corresponding to the color of the character.
Then, ask your child to find a specific color in their environment. Ask them to pick that object and bring it to you.
Not only do you encourage developing motor skills, but you also help them to learn about making independent choices.
Teach Them Sounds
Teaching children how to read, of course, will follow their natural cognitive development.
However, teaching them how to make phonic sounds can be the first step that you consider.
Consider showing them how a letter or letters associated together make specific sounds. This is a great step to prepare them for what’s coming next.
Practice Writing By Helping Them To Shape Letters
Help show them how to grab a pen naturally. We typically use the Handwriting Without Tears® method in our classrooms.
Then, take a piece of paper, draw a letter of their choice, and outline the letter with dots. Ask your child to connect the dots using a pen with their favorite color.
Do a few lines like that to have them repeat a movement. As for many things in life, consistency and repetition help to gain confidence and self-esteem.
You can use Play-Doh to shape letters or draw letters or gather different materials. Then, ask them to use their imagination to write a letter.
Teach Fun Math
Play games where kids group objects together sorting them by shape, size, color, material, etc.
Create sub-categories and ask them to count, add, or subtract by asking them what they see before them.
Try to have your child touch the objects they count. A direct connection with their environment helps them to make sense of things surrounding them.
For example, you can first ask them to put small bottles of water on a table. Next, ask them to count them all.
Then, ask them to take two away.
Finally, ask them to count what is left on the table. Usually, short math lessons work best.
Yet, if you multiply mini lessons like this one throughout the day, their math skills will improve over time.
Try Simple Science Experiments
Try little science experiments without transforming your kitchen into a full lab. For instance, take an ice-cube and make them touch and feel how cold it is.
Then, ask them to place the ice-cube in a glass and have them observe what happens over time. Ask questions, try to probe and have them express in their own words what they see.
For toddlers and preschoolers, science experiments do not need to be involved in an extreme. Talk about the little stuff but in an engaging manner.
Learn Natural Science
The beautiful weather is finally back in our counties!
Hence, there’s nothing more fun than planting seeds in the ground with the kids. Once planted, you can add water and observe what happens with time and care.
A small flower pot or your backyard is a great material for science lessons.
Do you need more ideas?
There are many ways to keep your toddler or preschooler busy. If you need more tips, please let us know and get in touch with us.
What do you think is your main challenge to implement our ideas?
Before they even reach school-age, preschoolers and toddlers can apply these social emotional activities to their everyday life.
In reality, research has shown that social emotional skills are one of the most important things that children learn in the early years of their life.
By practicing these social emotional skills in preschoolers and toddlers, studies have shown a visible increase in the application of skills such as sharing, kindness, and self-regulation.
Read on to learn how certain social emotional activities can make a positive impact on your toddler or preschooler!
Social Emotional Activity 1: Read and read some more!
Reading is an excellent social emotional activity for any preschooler or toddler!
Even if they are still learning to grasp certain words, they can still start to learn how people act. Stories are great ways for preschoolers and toddlers to start to understand timelines and interactions!
Furthermore, many children's books teach important lessons to grow the toddler’s social emotional understanding. By learning more about how different people interact, your preschooler or toddler can begin to learn how the world around them works.
Even more, reading has proven benefits including:
As they grow, our young toddlers and preschoolers will continue to learn about new people and places. This will ultimately motivate them to become more curious and driven to learn in the long run!
Social Emotional Activity 2: Teaching children to identify their emotions
Social emotional activities for preschoolers and toddlers can take the form of hundreds of games and activities.
Honestly, many of them are pretty easy to do! Some of our favorites when it comes to teaching preschoolers and toddlers to identify emotions is through arts and crafts.
Previously, we discussed how reading is a great social emotional activity for toddlers and preschoolers.
This tool can be used again for activities such as identifying emotions, but we’d recommend taking it a step further.
One way to help students identify their emotions is through the use of faces. A child would pick a smiley face out of a collection of cards or photos if they are feeling happy, a frown if they are feeling sad, etc.
Hence, activities like these will lead to a greater understanding of their own emotions and the emotions of others, whether adults or peers.
With this new level of understanding, social emotional activities for preschoolers and toddlers will continue to assist young ones with adjusting to new friends or environments.
Social Emotional Activity 3: Learning to Deal with Hard Feelings
Social emotional activities for preschoolers and toddlers can be a huge help in the hardest times, as times of anger, sadness, or frustration for a child.
Hence, we have put together a few activities that you can use to help teach preschoolers or toddlers how to cope with those feelings in a safe environment and in a safe way.
Occasionally, kids just need a place to go and relax. One social emotional activity is to help your preschooler or toddler find a few of their favorite things and set up an area where they can go to relax if necessary.
By giving your child the ability to choose their own ‘necessities’ for the area, they’re ultimately developing:
Another popular social emotional activity for toddlers and preschoolers is to teach them basic yoga poses or to invent new ones!
Simply, the ability to move or to create new scenarios for themselves in a fun environment will help to redirect your child’s focus, from anger or sadness to fun and enjoyment!
Many Social Emotional Activities Work Well. Find the One That Works For Your Family!
By implementing a few of these activities, we hope that you can start to see changes in your child’s social emotional development in preschool and beyond!
There are many different techniques out there, and finding the one that works for you and your family is a matter of trying new activities and observing the results. If you are unsure or are feeling lost, connect with us.
In the earliest stages, although it may be tougher to notice especially for young infants, a child learns through observation and imitation.
For this reason, the best way to stimulate your child is through the introduction to new experiences.
If you need to help your child acquire new skills, read on.
Learning through experience is about testing, trial, and errors
For an infant and toddler, almost every experience is new. That is why this time, ages 1-5, are essential for a child; the pathways in the brain, built for noticing and repeating, are just starting to expand and develop.
Hence, any child needs exposure to an engaging environment, and access to new experiences, to grow, play, and learn.
Guiding from a distance is certainly one component of teaching any infant and toddler new skills.
However, the best way to make these learnings stick is to let the child practice these new skills for themselves.
An education, especially for young toddlers and children, should be interactive and immersive and offer the chance to children to experiment, ask questions, solve a problem, and work with peers.
In effect, your child is able to try, make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and repeat the process until the new skill is acquired. Encouraging the intent and the result is ultimately motivating for your young learner.
Therefore, it is essential for a child to have great enablers - parents and teachers - leaving them enough freedom to be creative while enabling discovery in a safe environment.
How can I contribute and help my child learn?
In essence, learning takes place every single day, with no days off. Infants and toddlers are constantly seeking new ways to stay engaged and learn about the world around them. Remember that mom and dad are at the center of their entire world. Although things will change during teenage, in the first years of a child’s life you are their wonder.
Engage with your child in a naturally warm and responsive way to feed interactions. Remember that self-initiated, playful interactions can trigger exploration in a very natural way. Hence, use play to enable learning. Through play, you can create an interesting environment for your child and entice them to learn.
Apart from the parents and immediate fun family members, early childhood educators and teachers are next in line for playing a positive role in the lives of children and toddlers.
Curriculums such as STEAM are a huge part of ensuring that all children, from infants to kindergarten and beyond, are safely exposed to a variety of subjects and experiences.
In reality, there are a lot of different tools and techniques that parents and early childhood educators can use to guide a child’s exploration.
Undoubtedly, the best way to do this is by exposing the child to new experiences and allowing them to engage safely with their environment. This can end up taking the form of:
Altogether, giving a toddler as many opportunities as possible is crucial to the learning process.
Learning through experience will allow your child to develop important skills such as:
Therefore, as your child continues to grow and gains exposure to new situations, contexts, objects, problems to solve and people, it is a must to ensure that competent people serving as great learning enablers are in place along the way.
In other words, surround yourself with individuals with the right mindset, knowledge base, and motivation to make sure your infant or toddler stays safe and continues their exploration of the world.
Take advantage of your child’s natural curiosity
Curiosity is natural and through the eyes of your child, everything is a wonder. Hence, embrace it and keep the exploration and discovery fun. Create an intriguing environment that your child can explore safely. Remain patient and never forget that all your child tries to do is make sense of what surrounds them. Be the helping hand.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we implement experience-based learning in our classrooms, and how your child can get involved.
If these benefits from healthy eating habits for your toddler are interesting to you, read on.
Why Should You Care?
The impacts of unhealthy eating can be detrimental to your toddler. If not properly educated and instructed on healthy eating habits, your toddler could develop habits that cause them to become physically and emotionally unwell.
Some major issues your toddler could face in the future include:
Alternatively, being mindful of what your toddler eats will encourage physical growth while allowing for the optimal growth of cognitive processes. Some of the benefits of adopting healthy eating habits include:
Encourage Growth Through Healthy Eating
As a parent, your goal is to ensure proper growth for your child. Healthy eating habits will help to ensure that your toddler is fueled with the nutrients they need to properly grow and develop.
These critical vitamins necessary for your toddler’s development can be easily overlooked and forgotten if not explicitly addressed.
Overloading your child with unhealthy foods or drinks, high in sugars and artificial flavorings, preservatives, and chemicals, won’t allow your toddler to maximize their development potential.
The root of your thought process should stay constant; the toddler’s health and wellbeing always come first.
When thinking of what food or drink your child should eat or drink, the first questions that you should ask yourself are these:
If you can’t come up with a reasonable response for one or both of these questions, or attempt to fill the void in thinking with some abject rationalization, it may be time to reconsider or think again about what you’re using as a source of fuel and energy for your child.
When it comes down to it, your toddler will miss out on experiences with food through culture and experience a decline in social aptitude if they develop habits of picky or unhealthy food choices.
All parents want to see their child grow to become adventurous and curious, ready to try new cuisines and flavors from different cultures and backgrounds.
If these principles are not instilled at a young age, the chances of these traits developing in the future become much less likely.
Tips For Establishing Healthy Eating Habits For Your Toddler
First of all, it is important to allow your child to make semi-independent choices about what they eat.
As always, take this with a grain of salt; for example, offer a few choices to your child, allowing them to choose, but maintain a common theme of health across all choices. There is a broad scope of nutrient-rich foods to choose from.
Take measures to include your toddler in the shopping process and allow them to pick out one or two healthy foods that they like.
This follows along with our core ideal of allowing your child to develop a feeling of independence and growth, while still within the bounds of your ability to teach and encourage good decision-making principles and healthy eating habits.
Once you have returned from the grocery store, invite your toddler to assist you with the food preparation process.
Not only will this peak their interest to learn about the healthy foods and become engaged with healthy eating habits, but it will spark their excitement to eat the healthy foods once the ‘cooking’ step is completed.
Finally, take advantage of every opportunity to teach your child about how healthy foods allows them to grow.
Although your toddler may not be able to understand complex principles of nutrients, they are still curious and always engaged by opportunities to learn.
Try using phrases and techniques such as:
Learn more about phrases and techniques to assist in your aim to reinforce healthy eating habits.
All of these techniques are great, easy-to-implement ways to make sure that your toddler gets the most benefit out of healthy eating habits.
There’s no time to waste; start doing this today!
Encouraging the growth and well-being of children and toddlers is what we’re all about at Willowdale Children’s Academy.
Learn more about what we do and ways that we can contribute to the growth of your child in all aspects of their future.
How to spot the early signs?
As per the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia affects between 15 to 20 percent of the population.
Dyslexia is a type of language-based learning disability that causes trouble to read, write and occasionally speak that varies depending on age:
Children can have any or all of the above and some signs are more prominent at different ages. If not identified early and treated appropriately, dyslexia can persist into adulthood.
What are some of the early signs of dyslexia?
If your child:
Now, toddlers are known for doing things under their own terms most of the time. Hence, dyslexia is harder to identify at an early age.
However, it is important to stay vigilant if you see any or all of these signs occurring consistently together and lasting over time.
What should you do?
Experts don’t have one root cause for this learning difference.
Researchers believe it is "a glitch in the circuitry for reading" that makes it difficult to link printed letters and words with the sounds they represent.
Regardless of the cause, if you have suspicions of dyslexia, it is important to know when to reach out for the help of professionals around you. Professionals will help you determine if your child is reaching the age-appropriate milestones:
What if you still have doubts?
Never believe that your feelings or concerns are trivial when it comes to the health of your child.
If you have concerns, doubts, or uncertainties, do not keep them for yourself.
Make sure to let your child’s doctor know about anything you observe and are concerned with, no matter how small.
If your pediatrician believes your child is ok but you still have concerns, you can seek a second opinion.
You can take your child to a psychologist specialized in children and early learning who can run a series of tests to help understand your child’s learning difficulty.
What if your child is diagnosed with dyslexia?
Be supportive of your child because there are many ways to help them.
Remember that a dyslexic learner does not struggle because of a lack of will or intelligence.
Their learning process is simply different. Adjust to that difference. And, knowing the differences will help put the right strategies in place.
There are many fun and efficient multi-sensory activities to help your child learn and make the learning process less stressful too.
Many successful people such as Albert Einstein and Charles Schwab are reported to have had dyslexia. And rather than give up, it pushed them to find new ways of learning to keep up with their peers, and eventually find their way.
And what now?
If your child is dyslexic, parents and teachers should meet frequently to discuss the progress made and review the strategies.
Adopting an open and dynamic approach to learning is essential for the child’s benefit.
If you have any questions about dyslexia, please reach out to one of our team members who can point you in the right direction.
From birth, you can begin to read to your child. If you're not actually reading, just talking to your infant regularly is important so they can begin hearing patterns of speech. Things like narrating what you are doing is a good way to get a headstart with your child’s language skills. Language comprehension is what will help your child learn to speak and eventually, to read.
Here are some book suggestions for newborns, toddlers, and more.
At 6 months, when your child is learning to sit up and grasp objects, you can begin to provide board books for your child to look at. Your child will enjoy learning how to turn the pages and view the images.
Early reading begins when parents point to a picture and say what it is. For example, pointing to a dog on the page and saying the word, "dog."
When children begin speaking, keep in mind that they understand more words than they can say. This is a good time for stories with a beginning, middle, and end.
This is a very important age to read to your child because this is when children will bring you books and ask you to read them. We know how difficult it can be to stop what you're doing and read, however, we would encourage you to take the time whenever possible to support their love of reading.
By the age of three, your child will already have developed reading skills and may already have some favorite books. It is time to encourage some good reading habits.
Here are some ways you can support the love of reading in your toddler.
Reading with your child is a gift that will enhance their entire life. That's not just because you're helping your child develop reading comprehension. You're also nurturing a deep love of reading. If you struggle and need help, connect with us!
Instead, try saving the applause for when they go above and beyond, such as making their bed and getting their own lunch ready, especially if they have never done it before. Kudos if the act was unprompted by you.
Self-confidence doesn’t come from mom’s praise. It comes from a feeling of competence, like trying new things and succeeding.
One of the best things a parent can do is encourage their child to complete the task they are showing interest in. Whether it’s getting to the next level of a video game or not giving up halfway through cleaning their room. Allow them to generate their own self-praise by being proud that they accomplished an arduous task.
Don’t shield your children from failure and disappointment. The only way they will appreciate their hard work is by failing, staying persistent, and completing the challenge.
Starting with your toddler, have your child help around the house. Kids need opportunities to demonstrate their competence and feel that their contribution is valuable.
Try asking age-appropriate chores such as:
What should you do when your child becomes frustrated with a task or experiences disappointment like getting cut from a sports team?
Keep in mind that you can always offer appropriate praise, but if you would like to set your child up for success, you will want to dole it out when it is specific and earned.
A confident child is a child that is not afraid of failure. Parents can guide children down this path so they can become happy and healthy adults.
Consistency and continuous efforts from your part with your preschooler are essential. If you need more tips or help, consult your child’s pediatrician or a specialist for additional information. If you need more information, contact us.