Nature in the Classroom

Play is an essential area of development as children grow, especially during early childhood. Through play-based activities children are allowed opportunities to enrich cognitive skills, physical development, language, and social skills. With the help of appropriate materials, children can continue to develop these skills in the classroom. The use of natural materials in the early education classroom helps enhance the relationship children have with their environment. Natural elements encourage curiosity within the environment and expose children to build connections with living things around them.

Such materials include:

 Wood blocks

 Sand

 Water

 Rocks

 Pinecones

 Plants, flowers, gardens

 Wood chips

 Sea shells

Natural materials also serve as open materials in which children can further explore. Teachers can use these materials for open-ended activities in the classroom. As children continue to become interested in materials, teachers can continue to build on the activities. Teachers can plan and expand using these open-ended materials to create new opportunities for exploration as well as learning.

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Author: Jessica Panameno, CSULA Child Development Intern

The Benefits of Sleep in Early Childhood

Ever felt moody, physically drained, or unable to concentrate the following day because of lack of sleep? Similarly, children who are sleep deprived experience similar symptoms, which often affects their ability to learn and retain new information. In general, adults only require about 7- 8 hours of sleep every night in order to feel well rested. Dissimilar to adults, children between the ages of 2-5 need at least a minimum of 10-14 hours of sleep per day. To a growing and developing child, not getting enough sleep can have a negative and detrimental effect on their behavior, temperament, alertness, attention span, physical endurance, and physical growth. A decrease in sleep can also increase obesity and the chances of them developing sickness or illnesses. Establishing set bedtimes with relaxing bed time routines helps your child get the rest he/she needs to thrive.

Napping at School:

At Pasadena Christian Preschool we understand the importance of sleep and are aware of the enriching effects it can have on the mental and physical development of our students.  Our teachers promote sleep during nap time by preparing the environment and setting the proper mood. Most classrooms have ‘twinkle’ lights within their classroom walls and turn them on when they turn off the regular classroom lights to avoid the classroom being too dark. In addition, our teachers also play soft music in the background to bring children into a calm and relaxed state of mind. Music playing in the background can be of soft ocean wave sounds or instrumental rhythms.We also encourage students to bring a favorite snuggly toy, a soft blanket and cot-sized pillow. Items such as these offer the comforts of home and help our little ones feel secure at school.

Our teachers know that when our students are well rested, they are more alert, less irritable, feel eager to learn, and perform to their fullest potential! So the next time you pass by our classrooms and see our sweet ones sleeping, remember that sleep is as fundamental to our children as good nutrition is for their overall health. As they sleep, our students are re-energizing and preparing their minds and bodies to continue exploring and learning about their world.

As we prepare for the new school year, be sure to switch from your ‘summer’ bed time routines to a a more established ‘school’ bed time routine before the first day of school so that your child is prepared, well-rested and ready for the fun in store!

Author: Marisol Rivera, CSULA Child Development Intern

 

 

 

Moon Sand: A Fun Sensory Experience

During their early years, children engage in a variety of sensory activities. It is through these activities that children’s fine motor skills, among many other areas of development, are enhanced. One type of sensory activity that children often enjoy and have fun with is sand play. Through sand play, children explore their sense of touch and discover new textures. Because it is open-ended, sand play can also be very soothing to children. Children can simply enjoy the texture of sand as they run their fingers through it and also have the freedom to make whatever it is they desire. From pouring sand into buckets to building castles and running cars or plastic animals through it, children gain the opportunity to explore their imagination and creativity.

Teachers and parents can encourage children’s involvement in sand play both at school and at home. There are different types of sand that children can play with. One very cool and fun type is homemade Moon Sand (also known as cloud dough). Although there are a variety of ways to make it, moon sand can be made with two simple ingredients: flour and baby oil. By mixing these two ingredients, moon sand not only has a great scent but is also moldable, safe, and fun! Getting children involved in helping make the sand can also be enjoyable for them. Moon sand is an easy activity that parents can do with their children at home and most importantly, it is exciting and lots of fun!

Moon Sand Recipe:

  • 8 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of baby oil
  • If desired, add powder-based colors (i.e. powdered tempera paint or powdered drink mix)

How to make it:

  1. Pour the flour into a large bowl.
  2. Add any powder-based color into the flour and mix it.
  3. Add the baby oil to the flour and mix all the ingredients together.
  4. When the sand feels soft and moldable, it is ready to be used.
  5. Store the moon sand in air-tight container and it should last up to a month (add more baby oil if it dries up.)

Children in Room 4 having fun while playing with homemade moon sand:

moonsand2Author: Adriana Gonzalez, CSULA Child Development Intern

Helping Children Calm Down

All kids can have a hard time regulating their emotions and for some it can be tougher than others. As children get older, there could be numerous causes for their emotions and at times, it may seem like there’s no one cause at all. These five calming tools can help children (and parents!) in any situation.

Count to 5

This simple tool gives young children who are learning about impulse control a chance to stop and think before they act out their anger.

Take a deep breath

 

This relaxation technique can help children calm their bodies quickly.

Acknowledge feelings

 

Children need the validation that their feelings are important as well. Understanding and listening to the cause of their emotions can help address the situation.

Listen

 

Taking the time to listen to their feelings and perspectives not only helps the child feel

better but gives you, the parent, a better insight to the person they are becoming.

Ask for a hug

 

Most of the time, it’s something as simple as a hug that can make everything better.

Author: Joyce Olaer, CSULA Child Development Intern

Family Fun: Homemade Flubber

Children enjoy playing with their buddies at school, but when children are at school, they often talk about their families. Children crave time with their parents and siblings and enjoy quality time with them. Playing together creates a bond that will last forever and will create a childhood that will be filled with a lifetime memories.

Family activities are great for the whole family. A fun family activity to do with your child is to make your own homemade Flubber. Children love to be part of the process of making Flubber. Flubber is similar to prefabricated “slime”, but the texture is a little different. Making your own flubber gives the child the opportunity to increase their sensory skills by feeling the texture: molding, squishing, and squeezing it between their fingers. Playing with Flubber also increases finger strength and dexterity, which helps with future writing strength. Children can play with flubber for hours! Not only will it be fun for your child, but you’ll probably find yourself playing right along with them! To make this awesome homemade flubber recipe you will need:
• 1/3 cup water
• 3 tablespoons of borax
• 2 cups of water
• 2 cups of white school glue
• Food Coloring

WHAT TO DO

• Add 1/3 cup water to bowl, then add the borax and stir until dissolved
• Next add the food coloring or Kool-Aid and set aside (be careful…food coloring stains)
• In another bowl, add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of school glue and stir until thoroughly mixed
• Add borax mix to the glue mix
• Next you will knead with your hands for approximately 5 minutes until the water is completely adsorbed. You will be able to tell when it is done.
• Make sure to ask your child open-ended questions while playing with the Flubber. For example, ask about the texture, the color, smell, how does it feel, compare it to different textures, etc.
• But most importantly, HAVE FUN!
• You are able to save the Flubber in a zip bag

Author: Cristina Gomez, CSULA Child Development Intern

Parenting Tips: Peaceful Morning Drop-Offs

Separation anxiety is a child’s way of saying, “I love you and I will miss you.” While it can tug at your hearts to leave your little ones, please know that developing a solid drop-off routine will build independence and confidence.

Here are a few tips to help you and your child manage your drop-off routine quickly and peacefully:

  • Be reassuring, but be brief! When your child whines or cries that she doesn’t want to go to school, respond with brief statements of understanding, reassurance, and a big hug! But don’t dwell on their reactions. Focusing too much on their whining and crying can actually serve to reinforce their behavior, and make it more frequent!
  • Keep your good-byes short and sweet. In doing so, you convey the message that you have confidence in your child’s ability to cope. Once you have said goodbye, please don’t linger around or noticeably peek back into the room…your child will sense your anxiety, and this will make it more difficult for her to calm down. It is best not to sneak out. You want your child to know that she can trust you.
  • Don’t bargain or bribe your child to behave. It is important that your child has an opportunity to work through these feelings.

 

  • Develop a loving good-bye routine such as waving goodbye through the window or a special kiss goodbye. Once the routine is over, say goodbye and leave quickly without creating a secondary “just one more…” routine. Coming back again and again increases anxiety and stress and does not impart your confidence in their ability to cope.
  • If you hand your child off directly to the teacher, please do so with loving words and a kiss goodbye. Once the child has been transferred, it is time to leave them in the care of the teacher. Demonstrate your confidence in the teacher to your child. Children get mixed messages and feel more anxious when they transfer back and forth between parent and teacher.
  • Allow your child to bring a favorite stuffed animal or family photo to act as a reminder of family and home. They can cuddle it until they are adjusted and then we can assist them in keeping it “safe” in their cubby for the day.
  • Talk with the teacher and develop a plan together. You need someone on the other end who will greet your child and ease the transition. We are happy to help!
  • Invite children from the preschool over, so your child can form friendships that will make the transition easier.
  • Don’t be surprised if you solve the problem and it reoccurs after holidays and sick days. They have adapted to being home, so a short readjustment to school should be expected.
  • Remember separation anxiety means that a strong and loving bond exists between you and your child. There is nothing more important than your child and we appreciate that you entrust us each and every day with your precious little one.

Hot Topics: Screen Time

Allotted “screen time” is a hot topic both in education and at home these days. At what age should kids be allowed to use screens? How much is beneficial? How much is too much? Does screen time enhance cognition or does it make kids irritable and unfocused?

While we don’t have all the answers, it is certainly prudent to do your own research to be sure your child is getting the “right” amount of screen time for his/her age and/or personality.

One article from Psychology Today offers that screens can make kids “angry, depressed and unmotivated.” Click here to read more.

Agree or disagree, it is good to be in the know.

*Please note: This article represents one point of view of this current “hot topic” and is not necessarily the view of our school.*

Hearing Screenings March 15 & 16

We are offering free hearing screenings to our preschool students on March 15th and 16th. Hearing is critical to optimal speech development and we want to be sure none of our little ones slip through cracks due to undiagnosed hearing concerns. Click here for a fantastic article that outlines speech development and the expected speech milestones in early childhood.

While we hope all of our little ones will participate in the screening, we would especially encourage those who exhibit any of the following characteristics:

  • Mild or moderate speech delay
  • Often “ignores” or seems oblivious to verbal commands or external noises
  • Consistently asks to have things repeated
  • Has trouble following age-appropriate multi-step directions
  • Particularly sensitive to loud noises
  • Particularly sensitive to noises of high and/or low frequencies 
  • Has difficulty with receptive language
  • Has trouble with comprehension (ie. Can’t retell or recall parts of an age-appropriate story)

Please be sure to fill out a permission form so your child can receive this free benefit.
Early detection and intervention is key to success during the preschool years.

Talking to Children About Anxiety

Many children face anxiety at some point or another. Let’s face it…we have ALL experienced some sort of anxiety from time to time. According to AnxietyBC, anxiety is actually a ‘good’ thing, as it helps us to prepare for danger, triggers our “flight-fight-freeze” response, and even stimulates a physical response in the form of increased energy to help us run away or fend off danger.

That said, children can often display heightened anxiety in situations that parents may perceive as ‘unwarranted’ (i.e. watching a “not scary” movie,  loud noises, visiting new places, meeting new people, etc.).

Teaching children to recognize and understand anxiety is key to helping them work through and effectively manage their moments of worry.

Check out the following articles to help your child understand and recognize their own anxiety.

Talking to Your Child or Teen About Anxiety

9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try

If your child experiences unhealthy and/or overly persistent anxiety, be sure to see your pediatrician or family therapist. Persistent anxiety may be a sign that it is rooted in something deeper such as possible stress, side effects of medication, or nutritional reactions (i.e. consuming a triggering food such as gluten, artificial dyes, too much sugar, etc.).