Kindergarten teacher and children with hands raised in library

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

The first day of Kindergarten can be an emotional experience, for both you and your child. You might be riddled with worry about how well your child will do in this new learning environment. Your little one might be scared to walk into a classroom full of other children he doesn’t know and adults he hasn’t met before. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to make your baby’s transition into Kindergarten as painless as possible.

Prepare socially                    

  • Set up play dates with children of various ages so that your child can get used to interacting with other kids. Observe your child’s behavior and notice if he struggles with concepts such as sharing or taking turns. These are social behaviors that you can easily teach your child before they start Kindergarten.
  • Leave your child with other trusted adults, such as an extended family member or a highly recommended babysitter, for a few hours at a time. If your child is not used to being in the care of someone other than mommy and daddy, this is a good way for her to adjust to being under the care of a teacher that she has never met prior to walking in on the first day of Kindergarten.

Prepare verbally

  • Give your child simple and specific directions and encourage him to complete the tasks. It’s important for your child to be able to listen attentively and follow through with what is requested of him before he goes into a classroom environment where this will be expected of him.
  • Read to your child daily and pause occasionally to ask questions. This will ensure that she stays engaged while you read to her. Here are some ways to make story time a more interactive experience.

Prepare cognitively

  • Teach your child his numbers. You can practice with him by counting aloud during car rides or helping him count objects in your home. Make sure he is able to identify the numbers 1-10 before beginning Kindergarten.
  • Talk about concepts with your child. It’s usually a good idea to start with an easy concept like opposites. Some common opposites include big/little, empty/full, and slow/fast. Positional and directional concepts are also important to go over with your child. Make sure they know the basics like up/down, over/under, in/out, behind/in front of, top/bottom, beside/between, off/on, and stop/go.

Prepare physically

  • Go outside and let your child run wild (under your supervision, of course)! Things like running, jumping, and climbing allow your child to naturally develop you his gross motor skills. Playing catch and skipping around are also great ways to do this.
  • Practice name writing. Not only will your child most likely need to know how to write her name on the first day of school, but name writing exercises are also one of the best ways to develop her fine motor skills.

At Carpe Diem Private Preschools, we believe that the best early childhood education starts with a good foundation. We believe that where a child learns has a direct impact on how well a child learns. This is why our preschool classrooms and teachers are so well-equipped to prepare the little ones for their big transition into our Kindergarten classroom. We have put careful thought into creating the perfect learning atmosphere for all of our students.

blog-post-23-tidy-child

How to Get Your Tot to Be Tidy

Nothing is more frustrating than coming home from a long day and finding your child’s room a complete mess. With toys and clothes scattered everywhere around the room, it’s hard not to lose your mind right then and there. Thankfully, there’s another option – just teach your child to clean the clutter themselves!

5 Ways to get your tot to be tidy

Keep things at a child’s level. Looking at things from your child’s eye level will give you a better perspective on how to help them get organized. For example, closet hanging rods may be out of reach for your little ones, so lowering the rod and accompanying it with child-sized hangers will make it easier for them to put away his own clothing and keep the closet organized.  It’s also important to make sure that things like cubbies and dresser drawers are at their level so they can put things away on their own.

Teach your child organizational skills. Instead of getting mad at your children for leaving their room a total mess, teach them skills and maintenance methods that they can use to organize their room. This will allow them to adopt efficient ways to keep their room clean on a daily basis. One way to do this is to ask yourself what’s working and what’s not working for them. Also, be sure to know what is important to your child so you can explain to them why staying organized is important in a way that is meaningful to them.  For example, if they are frustrated because they can’t find a favorite toy, be sure to use that as an opportunity to explain how being organized and putting things back where they belong can help them find their things more easily!

Create a system.  Sorting, storing, and simplifying will make it so much easier for your child to keep their room organized. Start by keeping clothing sorted according to style and season. For example, you can keep all pants in one drawer and all shirts in a separate drawer. Things like jackets and hoodies can be stored in the back of the closet, under the bed, or on higher shelves during the summer months when your child won’t be using them.

Label everything. Printing out photos of the inside contents of a drawer and slapping them on the outside of each corresponding drawer, will help remind your child of where each item belongs. You can also put them on the inside of toy boxes or storage containers so if they decide to dump the stuff out, they will still know where everything goes back by looking at the photo inside.

Make a maintenance routine. Creating a regular routine can help your child stay organized and not feel overwhelmed. It’s usually a good idea to break things up according to time of day. So you can assign tasks like making the bed and putting dirty clothes in the hamper as the “morning pickup” and tasks like putting toys away and getting their outfits ready for the next day as the “evening pickup.”

Our Take

At Carpe Diem, our aim is to create an invigorating and orderly environment for your child. We believe that this kind of balanced environment leads to inspiring thoughts and good habits that will follow them into the future. That is why we keep all of the materials in our classrooms at “child level” – not the teacher’s /adult level. We know that when a child gets things and puts them away by themselves they are experiencing independence, which is a fundamental part of child development.

 

Baby boy crawling up the stairs. Low angle view

Make Your Space a Safer Place – Babyproofing Tips

A baby’s development happens fast! It can be fascinating to watch your infant go from a dependent newborn to an adventurous toddler in the blink of an eye. So you don’t want to wait until your child is already crawling before you start babyproofing the house. Here are some ways that you can make your house safe for your child.

Eliminate Household Hazards

  • Electrical outlets are a common way that babies can get shocked. They may try to put objects into them or stick their wet fingers in them. You should block off outlets with heavy furniture or close them with safety plugs or covers that snap close when the outlets are not in use.
  • Electrical cords are another hazard because babies like to chew and pull on them. This can yank down heavy objects or lamps that may fall on them.
  • Blind cords can strangle babies if they get tangled up in them while playing. Always make sure to tie them up and keep them out of your baby’s reach. If you want to be extra safe, go with cordless blinds. Also, avoid placing the crib near a window altogether.
  • Flooring poses a tripping hazard if there are any loose tiles or unsecured rugs. Make sure to repair any floor damages to tile or linoleum, and secure rugs with nonskid rug backing.
  • Furniture that is not sturdy or is not attached to the wall can fall over on toddlers who try to climb them. Repair any unstable furniture, or bolt pieces to the wall for extra insurance.  Put heavier objects on lower shelves to make the furniture less top-heavy.
  • Cabinets may contain everyday household items that are dangerous. For example, cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals are usually located in cabinets below the sink which are at child’s level. Make sure you move these items to a higher cabinet or purchase childproof safety latches for all of the cabinets in your home.

Avoid Accidents

  • Garbage cans. Every day you throw leftover foods and waste into your garbage can. You may have noticed that, for some reason, babies are intrigued by it. To keep them out of the bacteria-ridden disposals, place garbage cans on a high countertop or inside a latched kitchen cabinet.
  • Toxic tanks. The bathroom is another germ-infested place where a baby’s curiosity takes hold, as they like to open the toilet lid to take a peek inside. To prevent your baby from falling in head first or touching anything icky, you can either buy a toilet lock or keep bathroom doors closed at all times.
  • Stairs. If your house has stairs, invest in safety gates with plastic meshwork or vertical slats that you can install at the top and bottom of the staircase. These will keep your baby from getting injured if they tumble down the stairs.
  • Tables and tablecloths. To prevent your baby from getting hurt by the often sharp edges of coffee tables, end tables, and dressers, simply apply cushioned strips or padded guards to the edges of these low tables. It’s also a good idea to replace tablecloths with placemats because babies like to yank on the ends of tablecloths, which could send dishes, glasses, and cutlery flying off the table.
  • Small appliances and objects. Make sure you place your infant’s high chair well out of reach of kitchen appliances (especially those that generate heat) and their cords. Unplug any appliances in the bathroom when you are not using them. Keep knickknacks high up where your baby can’t get to them. Small objects like these present major choking hazards.

Our Take on Babyproofing

At Carpe Diem Private Preschools we make safety a top priority. We believe in creating an environment that you feel is just as safe as your own home. That’s why our campus is equipped with state-of-the-art safety features. We know that babyproofing the classrooms in our preschool is equally as important as babyproofing the rooms in your house.

beautiful cheerful little girl playing hopscotch on playground outside

Having Fun the Old-Fashioned Way

Remember how much fun you used to have when you were a kid? You probably played games that entertained you and your friends for hours! Think about all the fun your kids could be having if you reintroduced these classic games to them. Here are some ways you can have some good old-fashioned fun with your kids:

Indoor Games

  • Hide and Seek. Your kids will have a blast playing this game. A series of uncontrollable giggle fits will often lead you to their secret hiding spot, if it isn’t already obvious enough!
  • Hot Potato. Grab a bean bag, a stuffed animal, or even a real potato (if you want to spice things up with older kids) and get to tossing! This game is often more fun if you have a few extra kids over for a play date. You can have them all sit in a circle, turn on the music have them pass around the object of choice. Every time the music stops, the child caught holding the “hot potato” leaves the circle. The last kid sitting wins the game!
  • String cups. Before there were cell phones, there were string phones! Help your child discover the wonders of this method of communication. Click on this link to learn how to make your own and how to explain the simple science behind how it all works.
  • Paper airplanes. Fold up a piece of paper and get to flying! Here are some ways to get creative with the planes.
  • Puzzles. These are a timeless way to sharpen your child’s cognitive and problem-solving abilities. The best part is that puzzles come in many themes and sizes, so as your child gets older you can switch the easy ones out for some more age-appropriate ones.

Outdoor Games

  • Hopscotch. This is a great game to set up for your children if they find themselves bored on a crisp, clear afternoon. Here are some ways to add a twist to the traditional game!
  • Four-square. Get the family or some friends together because you’ll need four players for this game. A chalk and a bouncy ball are also required to play. Check out the rules here!
  • Freeze tag. Decide which child will be “it” and have him close his eyes and count to 10. While he is counting, have the other kids run and hide. When the “it” child is done counting, he can close his eyes and run around looking for the other kids and trying to tag them. Once another player gets tagged, that player must automatically stand frozen in place until another player comes and “unfreezes” them by touching their arm, shoulder, or back. The last one to get tagged becomes the next “it” child.
  • Backyard Bocce. This is more than just a classic game, it’s a sport that dates back to as early as 5000 B.C. Bocce can be played with as little as two or as many as eight players. All you need is a set of bocce balls and an open space or court. Watch this video to find out how to play.
  • Bubbles. Time to get soapy! Have your kids blow bubbles of different sizes. Make a game out of it by timing how long the bubbles last for. The one who blows the longest lasting bubble wins!

At Carpe Diem, we encourage social interactions with other children and adults through physical experiences. We believe that children learn best through experimentation and play, which motivates their interest and curiosity. Classic games like the ones listed above are timeless and can help inspire imagination while teaching children the importance of good old-fashioned values such as fairness, integrity, and honesty.

 

Boy washing hand

Tis the Season for Sickness: How to Keep Kids Healthy

With the cooler weather creeping in, cold and flu viruses are beginning to make their rounds in almost every daycare and preschool across the country. Luckily, there are some ways to lower your child’s risk of coming down with something, too.

Ways to Stop Sicknesses in Their Tracks

A healthy diet. Feeding your child a nutritious diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and iron-rich foods is an important part of helping her build a strong immune system. Nutrients found in these kinds of foods not only allow your child’s body to function properly, but also gives her the energy she needs to grow and learn.

Handwashing habits. Insist that your child washes his hands after every trip to the bathroom, before eating anything, and as soon as he comes home from daycare, school, or the playground. Proper hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of spread of illnesses. That’s why it’s equally as important to make sure that you’re washing your hands frequently, too.

Teaching not to touch. Contact between germy hands and mucous membranes, like the eyes and nose, is how bacteria are able to enter your child’s bloodstream so easily. Make sure that you tell them not to rub their eyes or pick their nose in order to prevent the unnecessary spread of germs.

When they sneeze or cough, teach them how to do it in the crook of their arm. Although this won’t prevent him from catching anything, it will stop him from spreading germs that he may have to other people.

Vaccinations. A current immunization record is usually required before your child can start at a daycare or preschool. At Carpe Diem, the record must be maintained and updated immediately after the child receives an additional dose or booster.

A balanced lifestyle. Getting a full night’s sleep every night and exercising daily, either through active games or sports can boost a child’s immune system naturally.

 

How We Help Put a Stop to Germs in Preschool

At Carpe Diem, we make it our priority to make sure that you and your child feel safe and secure in our preschool. We believe that part of feeling safe and secure is not having to fret constantly over the possibility of a sick child. That’s why we‘ve adopted a special policy to help you feel more at ease when your child or other children get sick.

As stated in our parent handbook:

If your child becomes ill or injured while at school, we will notify you immediately for you to make arrangements for pick up; and we will do our best to comfort him/her until you arrive. If emergency medical care is required, we will call 911 for immediate assistance.

To avoid the spread of disease, state licensing standards require ill children to be isolated from their group and picked up from school as soon as possible, but no later than one hour after notification. In order to return to school, your child needs to be free of all symptoms for 24 hours without the use of medication, except for an antibiotic prescribed for an ear or sinus infection, for example.

To reduce the spread of infections, children and staff wash their hands, using anti-bacterial soap, many times during the day, but especially after toileting and before eating.  We do not allow children to share cups, utensils, etc. In addition, toys, doorknobs, and all other items that are handled or contacted on a regular basis by children are disinfected regularly with an anti-bacterial solution.

 

Piggy bank isolated on white background

College Savings 101 – Your Guide to Getting Started Now

Like many parents, your dreams for your child likely include going to college.  As much as you want them to grow up and become independent, it may be difficult to think about your children leaving ‘the nest.’ But the day will eventually come when you must let your little one go out into the world on his or her own. As hard as it may seem for you emotionally, it might be equally as hard for you financially if you do not have a college savings plan.

Here are some ways that you can start saving money now for your child’s college:

Open a 529 Account

Every state has its own 529 plan. As long as they’re used for a higher education, these plans will not be taxed by the federal government when you choose to take the money out. Another upside to this plan is that you can often start an account with just $25. You do, however, have to keep up with the annual fees and operating costs.

529 savings can be used at any accredited college or university in the country. And for many, the best part is – you will always stay in control of the money.

Get into a Saving Habit

This can be as easy as logging your spending habits for a month to see where you can make some cut backs. You can also set aside money in your savings as soon as you get your paycheck, that way you save a little before you have the chance to blow it all on the “essentials” or spend it impulsively.

Another thing you can do is take whatever unexpected bonuses, cash gifts, or tax rebates you may receive and put these monies straight into your child’s college saving account.

Get Your Child Involved

It’s never too early to start teaching your child about financial responsibility.  Instead of planning to write a check on the way to their dorm room, how about getting them involved in saving?  Even the youngest child can begin to understand the value of hard work and helping out with family responsibilities.  When they’re old enough, they can begin saving money from household chores or gifts.  Once they can get a part-time job, encourage them to divide their earnings into ‘buckets’ for saving and spending.

Help them set up a budget for spending on things they need or want right now.  Then work with them to determine what portion of their earnings they can set aside for college savings, and possibly another percentage for something they’d enjoy doing or buying in the near future. And never underestimate the power of talking to them early about the value of higher education and savings.

Invest in Prepaid Tuition Plans

These plans vary by state and each one has their pros and cons. In Texas, the Texas Tuition Promise Fund requires the account holder must purchase tuition units (or semester hours) and these units must be paid in full before redeeming it.

The units and required fees can only be used at Texas public colleges and universities, so this is a limiting option if you would prefer your child to attend college out of state. The upside is that these units will not be affected by market fluctuations and will always retain their value.

Consider Custodial Accounts

With a custodial account, you can decide how much to money to put in, how it will be invested, and when to take the money out of the account. However, because the account is under your child’s name, this control must be given up to the child once he turns 18.

The Coverdell Education Savings Account is one type of custodial account that’s specifically for a child’s college education. The con to this account is that you can only put in a maximum of $2,000 per year.

Our Take

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, we believe that it’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s future. Our teachers recognize the importance of building a foundation of learning that will stick with each child throughout their formative years and as they carry on to higher grades.  One of the best ways that you can prepare for their future is by saving money for their college education so that they continue their learning experience as young adults.