Teaching Social Skills

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Turn-taking, sharing, making eye contact, responding appropriately, asking for help, joining in play, helping, waiting, listening, and using kind words are just some of the social skills children practice every day at preschool. Throughout our day, the teachers purposefully create opportunities for the children to apply these skills. We teach and model desired behaviors, words, and even emotions while they interact with one another in their play.
We love the book about karma for kids, “Fill a Bucket: A Daily Guide to Happiness for Young Children” by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin. The story teaches that inside everyone is an invisible bucket and when we do nice things, we fill the buckets of others as well as our own. The children are learning that their actions have consequences and they can affect the feelings of others.  We have a physical representation of this bucket in the classroom which we fill with “warm fuzzies” (pom-poms) when we observe the kids being bucket fillers.
We are so lucky to work with children and families that fill our buckets each day!

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Having a Fun and Safe Halloween

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Having a Fun and Safe Halloween

As fun as exciting as Halloween can be, it is important to remember that for preschoolers it can also be a little overwhelming and a bit scary. You have the ability as parents to choose whether Halloween will be a holiday about monsters, ghouls, and goblins; candy and treats; pumpkins and cider; or a fun walk around the neighborhood. As with all holidays, you are in control of your child’s experience and it can always change as your child grows. We have put together some ideas about how to make it a great experience for the whole family.

Costumes

When choosing a costume, safety should be the most important consideration. Your child should be able to move comfortably and see clearly. Remember that children don’t need to be completely dressed up in order to be “wearing a costume”. There are many great ideas online about costumes that don’t require much and some are just like wearing regular clothes. If your child’s costume is dark in color, make sure that he or she has on some reflective clothing and attach a glow stick so that they can be seen as it gets dark. Attaching a glow stick to or putting it inside of their trick-or-treat bag is helpful too.

Don’t forget to explain that under all of those costumes and masks are just other children! This can be the scariest part of Halloween even if the masks aren’t spooky. Help your child understand this by putting a mask on yourself and then remove it to show your child that it’s still you underneath. You can also put a mask on your child in front of the mirror so that they can see the transformation in themselves too.

Your child may have loved or really been frightened by Halloween in the past. As they grow, children’s perspectives change be sure to try to understand their current point of view.

Trick-or-Treating

Halloween is a great opportunity to teach and reinforce safety ideas and also to practice using manners. You can practice trick-or-treating at your house. Parents or older siblings can model the process: walking up to the door, ringing the doorbell/knocking, saying “trick-or-treat” and using eye contact when thanking the person giving out the candy. Remind your child that it’s OK to get candy that they may not like as well as taking only one piece unless more is offered. Outgoing children should be reminded that it is not safe to entering anyone’s home or go off with strangers. Don’t worry if your child isn’t comfortable approaching people’s homes to trick-or-treat, you’ve probably been telling them to be wary of strangers up to this point!

When walking in your neighborhood, it can be stressful and scary for parents too! This is especially true if your child doesn’t always respond immediately when his or her name is called and/or stop when running. Be sure to take that into consideration, reinforce those rules, and practice before you head out on Halloween night. Kids can be excited and want to run ahead with friends but need to be able to stop in case a car is coming or they get too far ahead. You don’t need to visit every house in the neighborhood, and can trick-or-treat in the early evening. Your family rule is might be to get 10 pieces of candy or only stop by the homes of special neighbors; it’s up to you. Sometimes the most Trick-or-Treating fun is had by simply staying home and helping to pass out candy to others.

Candy

Don’t forget to go through the candy before your child eats any to check that it is safe (and of course, steal a few of your favorites!). You may choose to tell your children that they might be visited by the Switch Witch!

The Switch Witch is a friendly little witch who visits the homes of tired trick-or-treaters after they have fallen asleep on Halloween night. She switches out the Halloween candy for a special gift such as a small toy, a book, or a certificate to do something special with the family.

Candy Control

There are lots of ideas online for controlling all that candy and ways to make use of it. Candy can be sorted and stored to be added to cookies, used as ice cream toppings, and saved to decorate gingerbread houses. Organizations like Operation Troop Support will send candy to troops deployed overseas. Some dental offices offer candy trade in programs. You don’t have to eat it all! Please remember that candy should not be brought to school but saved at home as a special treat.

Happy Halloween!

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Hand Preference in Preschoolers

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At preschool we are helping children to learn to write, cut, and play using their fine motor skills. Often children are in the process of figuring out which hand they prefer to use to do these tasks. As they near Kindergarten, their hand preference should be established. It is important to reinforce the child’s hand preference in daily activities in order to strengthen those muscles and continue his/her midline brain development.

Both hands play a role in this process. When children are eating, one hand should be holding the utensil or picking up food. The other hand should be in the child’s lap. If your child uses both hands to eat, encourage him or her to sit on the non-dominant hand to avoid temptation to use both. When drawing, using stickers, lacing, cutting, and pouring the dominant hand should be doing the work while the other hand should serve as a helper to hold the paper still (drawing, peeling stickers), move the paper (cutting, lacing), and hold the receptacle (pouring).

These are all skills we practice in our daily activities as school. We encourage and remind the children to stick with the hand they use to pick up the object. Continue to help your child establish hand dominance in these activities at home as well and their ability to write and perform tasks efficiently will improve along with their confidence.

If your child is struggling with fine motor tasks and hand dominance, an occupational therapist may be helpful.

Here are some good resources for more information:

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5 Ways To Build Independence, Confidence and Success In Your Preschooler

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5 Ways To Start Building Independence, Confidence and Success In Your Child Entering Preschool

1. Practice getting dressed without help: putting on/zipping coats, putting on/taking off shoes (velcro shoes and slip-ons are great!), putting on winter gear such as hats and mittens. Dress your child in comfortable clothes that he or she can pull up/down independently when going to the bathroom.

2. Have a picnic lunch using the child’s lunch box to practice lunch time independence. Use this time to make sure your child can open and close the containers alone and be sure to pack a variety of foods to eat ensuring choice. It is important to practice the idea that the child should remain sitting to eat until your picnic time is over.

3. Have one-on-one short (45 min) play-dates so that your child can develop relationships with friends outside of school. Let your child learn to resolve conflicts by working things out by themselves. Don’t rush in to intervene unless it gets physical. End it while they are having fun so they’ll remember the positive experience.

4. Give your child the words to say when he or she is mad, frustrated, sad, etc. and is acting out. Often, “bad” behavior is just the child’s easiest way of trying to express him/herself.

5. Focus on the positive! Notice the little things your child can do and tell them about it.

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Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Your Preschooler

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The holidays are quickly approaching and we thought you might need a few ideas for gifts!

The most important thing to know is that your kids really just want quality time with you. Less is more! Think about the 4 gifts to give kids: something they need, something to read, something to wear, and something they want.

Here’s a very important reminder about giving gifts to kids!

To get through the holidays successfully with little kids, try to stick to your schedule as much as possible. Involve your kids in holiday preparations. They can help cook, make wrapping paper with their artwork, and help decorate.

Some of our favorite toys are the simplest, and the more open-ended the better. Here are some of our favorites picks to add to your child’s collection.

BOOKS:

We love books and any and all and audio books too!

Here is the link to our Book Club Account with great prices from Scholastic. Click “Connect To Your Teacher” and enter Class Code = DYBZ2.

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • -Blocks, Legos, Tinker Toys, Bristle Blocks, any building materials
  • -Small figures/animals
  • -Bath toys: cups, funnels, foam blocks (they float & stick to the walls), brushes to paint walls with water
  • -Child size kitchen gear: dishes, utensils, etc
  • -Art supplies: Oil pastel crayons (so much smoother, brighter, and easier to use than crayons – more fun than markers!), paint, watercolors, paper, child-safe scissors, glue stick, clay, easel
  • Pretend school- pointer, calendar etc
  • -Cards
  • -Memory
  • -Dress up
  • -Beads
  • -Dice
  • -Dolls
  • -Trucks
  • -Puzzles (Esp. Alphabet Puzzle)
  • -Playdough
  • -Deck of Cards
  • -Hula Hoop
  • -Magazine subscriptions- Highlights, Ranger Rick, etc.

Grady’s mother, Lindsay, is an Occupational Therapist and she sent us a list of gift ideas that she recommends for promoting fine and visual motor skills (many of which are linked for sale from Amazon, below).

  • Games: Pick Up Sticks, Don’t Break the Ice, Jacks, Marbles, Bed Bugs, Jenga, Ants in the Pants, Don’t Spill the Beans, Tricky Fingers, Kerplunk, Tiddly Winks, Operation, Magnadoodle, Thin Ice, Connect Four, Lite Brite, Hi Ho Cheerio, Perfection, Card Games, Etch A Sketch, Fleas on Fred, Dominoes, Jumpin’ Monkeys, Spirograph, Monkeys in the Barrel
  • Manipulatives: Legos, Tinkertoys, Bristle Blocks, Magnet Tiles, K’nex, Zaks, Waffle Bricks, Lincoln Logs, Wind Up toys, Pegs and Pegboards, Finger puppets, Spinning Tops, Zoo Sticks, Straws
  • -Any Crayola product for coloring/drawing, Dot Paints, Window Markers, Stamps, paints, watercolors- use any of these on an easel or piece of paper taped to a wall/door/refrigerator for added benefit
  • -Craft boxes with stickers, various kinds of paper, scissors, buttons, glue, etc.
  • -Any kinds of puzzles, Tangrams, Pattern Play, maze/puzzle (such as crosswords) books, connect the dots

TOYS & GAMES:

Below is a selection of our favorite toys and games that you can buy from Amazon, and if you make a purchase using this link, Cape Ann Preschool will receive a small contribution towards Amazon gift cards that can be used to purchase items for the school.

Lastly, here are three places where we always find great art supplies, learning toys and more:

Discount School Supply

Lakeshore Learning (on Route 1 near Trader Joes and Border Cafe)

Toodeloos! (on Main Street in downtown Gloucester)

If you have other suggestions for things I should add, please let me know! Happy Shopping!

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