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TopKids provides an environment that encourages holistic growth, development, health and well-being is promoted and each student’s need are taken into consideration. We encourage self-determination and we support our student’s opportunities to participate in any activities. 

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Activities and Fun Things to Do with Preschoolers

 

Traditional games are fine to keep preschoolers busy, but even better are activities that will have a lasting educational impact. Use these important learning goals for 3- to 5-year-olds as a basis for playtime.

Pretend play

  • Tea party. Have the preschooler host a tea party for dolls, stuffed animals, and you. Invite others — whether siblings or sitters — to join in on the make-believe play to develop social skills, in addition to imagination.
  • Cooking or store. If the child has Little Tikes or similar plastic food and playsets at home, encourage her to re-enact familiar scenarios from real life. Or she can use older pots and pans. By driving the action herself, she’s learning to develop narratives.
  • Dress up. Allow her to put on and take off costumes herself, which also teaches hand-eye coordination in addition to creativity and role playing.

Stories and songs

  • Story time. Read stories often. Ask questions about what objects the preschooler might see in picture books, and encourage the child to ask about any words she doesn’t understand. This develops comprehension and vocabulary skills. It also provides important fodder for pretend play.
  • Sing songs. Build listening, voice, and language skills by singing favorite songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Adding the hand and body movements also develop hand-eye coordination and memory building.
  • Foreign languages. Encourage word association and second-language building at this age in a game form. Take a handful of familiar objects such as “ball” or “train” and teach them in Spanish, French, or American Sign Language.

Day trips

  • Take advantage of social and cultural opportunities. Preschoolers are curious about the world around them. A day trip — even if it only lasts a couple of hours — will occupy a preschooler while providing important social and cultural experiences. If you visit local museums and art galleries, point out colors and shapes. “Please touch” museums and exhibits encourage preschoolers to explore with their eyes and hands.
  • Visit a park. Spending time at a park that is frequented by children of the same age can be a healthy, fun and inexpensive outing.
  • Explore your neighborhood. Walk around your neighborhood looking for acorns, leaves, bugs or architectural features, which can teach your children to observe the world around them more closely.

Preschoolers are like sponges of social and cultural information. Plan activities that will both entertain and educate them, and you’ll both have a great time.

 

The Importance of Reading Aloud to Children

According to Mem Fox, author of Reading Magic, “If parents understood the huge educational benefit and intense happiness brought about by reading aloud to their children, and if every parent—and every adult caring for a child—read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation.” This is a pretty bold statement, but one that many Early Childhood professionals firmly believe in. Reading to a child can and should begin as soon after birth as possible, as it will help with brain development, speech skills, as well as simply bonding with the child, which will help in other developmental areas as well.

books online class

It may seem to some that infants will not benefit from being read aloud to, but many experts on the subject disagree. Most people don’t realize that when a child is born, only twenty-five percent of the brain in developed, and the rest develops within the first year of life. This is an extremely crucial time in a child’s life where reading aloud and simply talking to the child will help tremendously with brain development along with their speaking skills. “The sense of dislocation and confusion that occurs when kids and parents don’t connect disturbs children long after childhood is over,” (Reading Magic pg. 21).

In his book The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease gives several examples to emphasis the belief that there is a literacy problem in the United States. One such example follows:

“Every workday afternoon a courier shows up at the door of the fifth largest insurance company in America, New York Life. There his is handed a satchel of insurance claims, which he drives to JFK Airport. The satchel is then loaded aboard an Aer Lingus jet and flown to Dublin, Ireland, where American insurance claims will be processed by another people in another county. Why? Because New York Life cannot find enough young people in the metropolitan area, between the ages of twenty and thirty, who know how to read, write, and think clearly and critically enough to process insurance claims. Ireland has them.”

There is a simple solution to this problem, read aloud to your children every day, even when they are old enough to read to themselves. “The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.” (The Read Aloud Handbook, pg. 4). Reading aloud should be fun, exciting and pleasurable for both the person reading and the child being read to, if it’s not, the child will not want to be read to and consequently not like to read later in life.

There are several do’s and don’ts one could follow when reading aloud to children. The most important thing to do is to begin reading to infants, as soon as they are born!! Use rhyming book, such as Mother Goose rhymes and songs to help with language development. “Rhymers will be readers.” (Reading Magic, pg. 85) There are many more do’s about reading to children than don’ts, as it’s simply most important to just read!

A few don’ts to follow when reading to your children include, don’t read books you don’t enjoy yourself. Have fun reading and make it a special time for both of you. Use books that are age appropriate for the child and make sure you have read the book prior to reading it aloud to be sure of it’s contents. Using books that the child doesn’t understand can turn them off of books for good.

Most parents being working with their children by teaching them their letters first, then they move onto words and then the stories. According to Mem Fox this is exactly opposite of they way it should be done. If a parent reads aloud to their child early and often then the letters and words will naturally come into the child’s world.

One very important aspect of reading aloud to children is to discuss what’s being read to them. This helps the child to not only learn to read the words on the page, but to understand what they are reading, or being read to. A child can learn the words and read them from a book, but if they don’t understand what they are reading, then they are not reading.

According to Mem Fox there are three secrets of reading: being able to make the print mean something; understanding the language; and our knowledge. The more a person knows about life, the easier it will be to learn to read. One thing to keep in mind when working with older children; if the child is having trouble pronouncing a word, don’t have them try to sound it out, just tell them what it is and move on with the story. If the child worries too much about what certain words are they will forget about what they are reading, that in turn means they really are not reading, if they are not comprehending the story.

Also, if an older child is having trouble reading a particular book, it may be that it’s just too difficult for them. Suggesting nicely that maybe you could read some of it aloud to them might be a good idea. If the child is struggling with reading a book that is a bit out of their reading level, it very well might turn them off of reading forever. That is not what we want to happen!

Some simple things that parents can do to ensure their children become readers are to first and foremost, read to them. Second have books readily available around the house and take them to the library as often as possible. Make reading fun and make sure it’s done often. “Whatever happens in the world of school, continuing to read aloud to our children at home should solve most reading problems and will always be a lifeline to their happiness, their literacy, and their future.” (Reading Magic, pg. 152).

Works Cited

Fox, Mem. Reading Magic. New York, San Diego, London: Harcourt, Inc., 2001.

Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook, Fourth Edition. New York: Penguin Groups, 1995.

Sullivan, Ed.D., Joanna. The Children’s Literature Lover’s Book of Lists. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.

Butler, Shelley. Helping Young Listeners Become Successful Readers: Babies & Toddlers. 2003, Earlychildhood.com. 12 February 2005 .

Koralek, Derry. Reading Aloud With Children of All Ages. Reading is Fundamental, Inc. Reprinted with permission from www.rif.org. 12 February 2005.

 
 

Beginning Child Care or School

Starting child care or school is a major life transition for young children. Change, even when it is a positive change can be stressful. In many cases this may be the first time a child is away from the secure and loving arms of their family. Both the child and parents may experience anxiety about the new experience. There are specific measures that parents can take to ease anxiety and make the first days happy ones.

  • Recognize your own feelings – Your child is sensitive to your emotional state and attitudes. If you are apprehensive about the school or program or how your child will adjust, you may unwillingly convey this to your child. Also be sure to always talk to the child about this new experience as a positive and exciting thing. Avoid apologizing to the child about enrolling them in a child care program or sending them to school.
  • Recognize your child’s temperament – You know your child better than anyone else. Let your knowledge about your child’s personality and temperament guide how you approach this new transition. If your child is naturally somewhat shy and slow to warm up, then you will know that you may need to take extra time in introducing your child to a new environment and new people.
  • Prepare your child in advance – Your child will have less anxiety if they know what to expect and are familiar with the program and teachers. Bring the child along when you tour a program or school. Try to visit at least once where you can remain with the child as they explore the new surroundings. Start to establish the new routine a few days in advance,perhaps by altering the child’s bedtime and/or morning rituals. A dry run of how the child will get to the school or program maybe helpful. Acquaint your child with adults they can approach for help such as crossing guards bus drivers and teachers.
  • Make the first day a first week – One of the most successful strategies for alleviating first day jitters is to make the break slowly. If at possible, start your child’s experience slowly. Maybe only an hour the first day, two hours the next, until the child is comfortable remaining the full day.
  • Reinforce a sense of trust with your child – Young children’s separation anxiety is often closely tied to fears of abandonment. It is important that they will know that you will be returning for them at a designated time. With an older child you can even point out on the clock when you will return or give them a concrete milestone such as, “I will be back for you right after lunch time”. It may also be helpful to discuss with your child where you will be and what you will be doing during the time of separation. In any case remind your child that you will indeed return.
  • Leave something behind – Sometimes called transitional objects; blankies, teddies and other objects of comfort can help a child feel secure. Many parents find that an object that helps the child remember the parent is of great benefit. These “remembrance” objects may include photos or an object of the parents clothing.
  • Communicate with the caregiver or teacher – They are your greatest ally in making the separation a smooth and calm experience. Be sure to let them know if you have any specific concerns and needs. Don’t be afraid to specifically request their assistance or guidance. Some will stand back until you directly say,”I am leaving now and I need you to help Todd.”
  • Say Good-bye – You may wish to warn that child that you will be leaving in five minutes, or that after the story you will be going to work. When it is time to go, say good-bye and go. Continued extensions to the separation seem to only add to anxiety and make the separation more difficult. It is never suggested to “sneak” out. Regardless of how upset the child is, sneaking out only adds to their anxiety, increases fear of abandonment, and breaks down the child’s sense of trust.

Remember the first days of school or child care, like any major life change is a gradual process. Soon it will become a positive and exciting part of your child’s daily routine.

Possible* Items to Bring the First Day

*Check with the school program for their recommendations requirements.

  • Backpack or bookbag
  • Lunchbox
  • Current physical exam and inoculation record emergency contact information
  • Change of clothes
  • Extra bedding for child care children
  • School supplies (crayons, pencils, notebooks)
  •  

When You Have Childcare Concerns

 
 When you enroll your child in daycare or a childcare program you are trusting someone else to care for what is most precious to you. Although you may have spent a great deal of effort and time selecting an arrangement that is best for you and your child, it is natural to have doubts or concern about the care your child is receiving. On occasion you may find you have a serious concern and need to approach the teacher or caregiver. It is helpful to remember that a parent-teacher relationship that is most beneficial is when each party views the other as a valuable partner and resource.

Some concerns you may have may be a result of unfamiliarity of what occurs in a daycare setting. When making childcare arrangements, be sure the program or provider shares with you relevant policies, rules, and schedules so you are comfortable with what to expect. You may discover that you are questioning yourself about whether your concern is warranted or not.

Here is a partial list of reasonable expectations from your childcare arrangement.

  • Open and frequent communication: You should feel well-informed about the day-to-day experiences and care of your child.
  • An open door policy: You are always welcome to drop by and be with your child.
  • A healthy and safe environment where children are well supervised.
  • The teacher or provider is willing to work with you on particular problems or limitations.
  • You receive notification of changes.
  • All providers, teachers and staff are nonjudgmental and respect your family’s background and values.
  • Caregivers are warm and loving with children in their care and have both training and experience in childcare.

 

For open communication, it is helpful to be mindful of the other person’s perspective. When you are preparing to approach a provider there are two key things to keep in mind. 1. This individual has chosen this profession because he or she has a genuine interest and love for caring for children. They are making decisions based on what they feel is best for the children in their care. 2. Daycare providers, caregivers or teachers are much more than babysitters. They are committed professionals. When a provider offers care in her home it could be easy for you to lose sight of the fact that this is a business for her.

Before approaching the provider, be sure you can clearly identify the point of friction and its cause. Are there any underlying issues that are causing you distress? It may also be helpful if you have a concrete solution or resolution in mind to take to the table.

When you start a dialogue about your concern, try to be positive. Be sure to communicate what you value and appreciate about the daycare as well. In order to present your concern in a constructive way with out blaming, you can use a technique called “I” messages. “I” messages are statements that clearly express your concerns or needs in a way that does not put the listener on the defensive.

ConcernNegative Statement“I” Messages
Julia’s lunchbox is missing“How come you keep losing Julia’s belongings?”“I need us to find a way to keep track of Julia’s belongings.”
Sam’ s got a scratch on his arm“What have you done to my son?”“I noticed a scratch on Sam’s arm. Can you tell me what happened?”
You are worried about what the program is serving for lunch“Your lunches are too fatty for my child.”“I am concerned about the nutrition in the lunches you serve.”

Conclude your discussion by working together with the caregiver. Brainstorm a course of action that will meet the concerns and needs of both parties. Together you can forge a partnership that can benefit and support the growth and development your child.

 
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