As your child heads towards the grade school years, building fine motor skills becomes increasingly important. Even though your child may still be in preschool now, she’s developing abilities that will help her in the long-term. That includes kindergarten, elementary school and the rest of her life. Fine motor, or hand and finger, skills definitely fall under that “must develop now” category.

When it comes to fine motor skills, your child is building eye-hand coordination, dexterity, grip, and the ability to control her own movements. These growing developments help her to write, feed herself, dress herself, and do anything that involves her hands.

Don’t worry if your pre-k kiddo can’t write the entire alphabet write now. She’s probably still working on her first few letters. That’s why developing fine motor abilities is so important during the preschool years. Think of what your child does now as the building blocks of other, more complex, motor movements.

How can your child work on fine motor skills? While sitting and writing letter after letter will technically work, this type of rote activity isn’t likely to hold your preschooler’s attention. Instead, try an artsy activity that engages and educates your child.

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How to Prepare Your Child for Preschool

Smiling, Happy Preschool Girl

Sending your child to preschool is a very big deal. Your baby just isn’t a baby any longer, and it can be hard to realize that your child is growing up. Your young preschooler may be having just as hard a time as you about going to preschool. They may feel anxiety about going to a place where you aren’t going to be with them.

To help calm these feelings of anxiety and worry, it’s important for you to be strong about the situation and to save the tears. See below for some helpful tips to prepare your child (and you) for preschool.

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How Play-Based Learning Helps Your Young Child

Kids with flower

Learning in preschool may not look like what you expect it to. What do you think of when you hear the word “school”? Books? Worksheets? Maybe a teacher standing in front of the class, solemnly instructing students in math, reading and writing. Well, this isn’t what you should see in pre-K.

Preschool learning is child-centered and based in play. That’s right, play is the primary way that preschoolers build new skills, explore new concepts and learn (even when it comes to reading and math). Read on to find out how play and learning go hand in hand in the preschool classroom.

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Bag lunch with a banana and an apple.

Preschool is your child’s first foray into the world of school routines, and you want to get them off to a good start. Establishing an efficient morning routine in the preschool years will set the expectation for all the years of school mornings to come. If your preschooler isn’t a morning person, getting off to a good start in the morning can be harder than it sounds. Take a look at some tips that will help you establish a school morning routine for your preschooler.

Start Early

Don’t wait until the night before the first day of school to start establishing school night bedtimes and school morning wake-up times. If you’ve previously taken a laissez-faire approach to bedtimes and mornings, or if your child is simply accustomed to getting up later then they will need to for preschool, you need to start implementing your preschool schedule before the first day.

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carpoolingpreschoolCarpooling can take the bite out of your daily commute. By dividing driving responsibilities among fellow parents of preschool students, you may simplify school mornings.

It can be the perfect solutions for some families, while it’s a burden for others. It depends on your preferences and unique situation. Here are some pros and cons worth considering as you decide whether it’s a good fit for your family.

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If you’ve long wondered why your child appears to be more deeply affected by loud noises, sudden schedule changes, or a loud and fast-paced environment than other children his or her age, you may be dealing with the heightened sensitivity that marks a highly sensitive child (HSC).

Indeed, the phenomenon of the HSC has only recently received much attention or press coverage, and many parents of sensitive children may not have much guidance on the best discipline methods, amount and type of media exposure, or preschool programs to help meet their child’s needs. 

Fortunately, there are several popular pre-school and pre-k programs that may be a perfect fit for the sensitive child. Read on to learn more about the special considerations you’ll want to take into account when selecting a preschool program for your highly sensitive child as well as some of the ways in which your child’s needs may differ from those of his or her peers. 

How Do the Needs of Highly Sensitive Children Differ From Those of Other Children?

Although sensitive children don’t have an “official” diagnosis (unlike those with autism spectrum disorders or other sensory processing issues), many psychologists believe that highly sensitive children are essentially born with a nervous system that’s always on alert. Highly sensitive children may be especially sensitive to sudden loud noises, like slamming doors or beeping car horns, and tend to be restless sleepers.

Many HSCs have sensory issues that overlap with those of children with an autism spectrum disorder. For example, an HSC may insist that the seam of their sock be perfectly lined against their toes or refuse to put on a certain shirt or pair of pants with a tag that’s too scratchy.

While non-HSCs may notice or even be bothered by these same issues, they’re better able to ignore them and move on while HSCs may find themselves unable to concentrate or continue on to another activity until the problem is solved.

HSCs are frequently described as “shy” or “standoffish”; although they can be extroverted, it can sometimes take them more time than other children to adjust to new situations and become comfortable and at ease with their surroundings. 

While this may seem like a laundry list of factors that can make raising an HSC more challenging than a child without heightened sensitivity, HSC have a number of advantages as well. Their perception and ability to soak in others’ emotions and reactions can make them tremendously empathetic, and you may discover that your child is always the first on the scene to comfort a friend or pet who isn’t feeling well. 

What Should You Keep in Mind When Selecting a Preschool for Your HSC? 

There are a few factors you’ll want to place at the forefront of your mind during your decision-making process. 

Transition Procedures

For highly sensitive children, transitions can be especially stressful. If your child already attends daycare, you may find that dropping him or her off is the most hectic part of your morning. By inquiring into the transition procedure of your chosen preschool or pre-k program, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether the transitions are fluid and flexible enough to meet your child’s needs or will send him or her into a tailspin immediately upon arrival.

Many HSC do better with a slow-paced transition to activities-for example, eating breakfast quietly at a table after they arrive at preschool rather than immediately being sent into a loud room with other children playing. 

Independent Play

Schools that focus on learning through play and fostering independence can often appeal to the HSC. As opposed to more structured programs where children aren’t able to choose what they work on or where they play, these child-centered programs can give your HSC the flexibility to step back when an activity becomes overwhelming rather than force themselves to continue and go through a meltdown.

If you’re child doesn’t respond immediately to your attempts to help them, don’t worry too much. As your child gains independence and forms relationships with his or her peers, the activities that are perceived as overwhelming may become fewer and farther between. Talk to the professionals at Kid’s Country for more information. 

5 Ways Craft Projects Benefit Your Child

Many preschools, parents, and even babysitters rely on crafts to entertain their charges. These simple projects are more than just busy work-the tasks involved in crafts help children learn and develop as they have fun.

In this blog, we list five benefits that craft projects at home and at school can provide to your little one.

1. Bilateral Coordination

The term “bilateral coordination” applies to two vital types of child development. The primary type of bilateral coordination is the ability to use both hands in tandem movements. Using scissors, coloring, and doing other common crafting tasks encourage children to figure out how to make their hands work together.

Bilateral coordination is an essential foundation for developing fine motor skills, which we’ll discuss in more detail in section three.

The second type of bilateral coordination is neurological. This type of bilateral coordination involves the right and left hemispheres of the brain working together to respond to stimuli. Because crafts involve technical elements and artistic elements, these projects stimulate both the left and right brains.

Early development of bilateral brain coordination improves overall cognitive development throughout your child’s life.

2. Creativity

It’s important to give children plenty of opportunities to flex their creative muscles, as we discussed in our previous blog, “The Importance of Fostering Children’s Creativity.” Creativity teaches problem solving, future thinking, and awareness.

Children are blessed with vivid imaginations that allow them to learn through play. Crafts give children an outlet to draw, build, or otherwise put their vision on paper.

3. Fine Motor Skills

Early childhood is when your child develops the ability to accurately control small-scale physical motions. This ability can also be referred to as “fine motor skills.”

Your child will use his or her fine motor skills to drive, type, and work in the future. But for now, drawing, cutting, and pasting help him or her strengthen the muscles in the hands as well as the neurological pathways that control fine-motor movement.

4. Self-Expression

Learning how to communicate thoughts and feelings is an important part of growing up. For many children, articulating these abstract concepts with words is difficult. Having a child illustrate their ideas is a first step toward effective self-expression.

This concept is particularly true for children who are introverted or for those who have speechdevelopment delays. Misshapen paper snowflakes and thick lines of glitter glue may not look like art, but they provide your child with an avenue to explore ideas that they can’t otherwise explain.

5. Self-Management

To adults, many craft projects are simple activities that don’t require a lot of decision making, selfcontrol, or thought. To children, however, craft projects often present a series of choices that can help them develop executive function skills like self-management.

For example, your child may think that cutting multiple sheets of paper at once will save time but discover that the end result isn’t as pretty. Making the decision to go slower to create a higher-quality end product shows self-management and future thinking.

Crafts also teach patience and the ability to identify causal relationships. For example, children learn that glue needs time to dry, thus requiring patience, and that not waiting long enough could break apart the project. This is a form of cause and effect.

Encourage your child to cut, glue, and glitter to help him or her learn and develop in the areas listed above.

At Kid’s Country Learning Center, creative and engaging craft projects are staples of our curriculum and classrooms. Learn more about our range of activities and how these activities help your child to thrive on our About Us page.

Singing and song time is an enjoyable part of early childhood education, but you might not fully realize just how much music—especially singing—can influence your child’s brain development and educational experience.

Here are a few of the unique benefits that your child will enjoy when he or she spends time singing in the classroom and at home.

Improved Memory

Have you ever had a catchy tune stuck in your head? Music, especially lyrics set to an easy tune, has a way of tapping the memory center of your brain. In preschool and daycare, singing can help children improve their capacity for learning. Music also serves as a mnemonic device for certain skills and knowledge. For example, when music is involved, your child will have an easier time with:

  • Learning the alphabet. Many children can sing the alphabet before even learning the meaning of each letter.
  • Learning a second language. Songs in a second language will help your child remember correct pronunciation.
  • Counting and remembering mathematical functions of all sorts. Adding becomes easy when the first few numbers in the sequence are set to song.

Additionally, if your child sings a song as they learn a new skill, the skill will be easier to repeat later—music can improve muscle memory. As a basic example, many toddlers do better with remembering to go to the potty when if the ritual of going to the bathroom includes a song. When they have to go, they might then begin to sing the potty song before even reaching the bathroom.

Increased Social Interaction

Singing together with other children is one of the first community-building exercises your child will experience. It takes work to listen to the words others are singing and to follow along with the lyrics to the end of the song.

Singing as a group fosters a feeling of learning together—especially when songs express a goal. A common example is the “cleanup” song: “Cleanup, cleanup, everybody everywhere!” This song immediately conveys the task at hand, and when every sings together as they cleanup, each child is focusing on “doing his or her share,” as the song instructs.

Increased Vocabulary

Some children struggle to understand and pronounce new words. Other children might be afraid to speak in front of others. Singing is the bridge that can help these students improve. Songs teach new words, especially songs that build on themselves. For example, “London Bridge is Falling Down” features a new tool in every verse for children to learn about.

Songs also naturally teach prepositions, locations, and words that rhyme. All of these factors come together to help your child’s language development improve when enjoying regular singing.

Improved Health

Finally, research shows that singing out loud can actually promote physical health benefits for children. Singing can have the following positive effects:

  • Calming. The act of singing requires mental concentration and can help the brain recall a calmer state. A simple song can help a toddler come out of a tantrum or help them forget sadness briefly as they sing a comforting tune.
  • Reduced stress. Singing improves your breathing. Children who sing have slower resting heartbeats and a larger lung capacity, reducing physical stress signals.
  • Improved body awareness. Children like to sing action songs—they make hand gestures (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”) and follow directions (“The Hokey Pokey”). Moving to musical queues improves coordination and helps children remain active at school, improving their concentration during more rigorous academia.

The benefits of singing in school cannot be stated enough. If your child is learning new songs at daycare, preschool, or in after school programs, encourage at-home practice to solidify the results.

For more information about aspects of exceptional childcare and education, contact us at Kid’s Country Child Care & Learning Center.

Work Full-Time? How to Stay in Touch With Your Child

It’s said that the best way to show someone you love them is to spend time with them. You wish you could spend every day with your child, but your work schedule doesn’t make that possible. Fortunately, there are ways you can stay in touch with your child even when you need to work full-time.

1. Maximize Your Time Off

While you might not be able to take your child on daily outings, you can make use of evenings, weekends, and time off. Plan a special activity each week that you can do one-on-one with your child.

When you have a new baby, use as much maternity or paternity leave time as you’re allowed to take. You can use this time off to bond with your new baby and spend time with your older children. Plus, many workers let their vacation days go unused. You could use these vacation days to spend time with your children, even if you decide to stay at home.

2. Give Your Child a Basic Cell Phone

If you feel that your child is old enough and responsible enough to take care of a cell phone, buying one may be a good idea. Your child can get a hold of you if he or she needs a ride from school or daycare. If you’re going to be late coming home, you can give your child a quick call.

There are several cell phone options catered to first-time phone users. With a pay-as-you-go phone plan, you pay only for the calls your child makes. It’s a good choice if your child is using his or her phone only to contact you.

Children under 12 probably don’t need a smartphone—a basic cell phone will do. Most cell phone carriers allow you to use parental controls to monitor your child’s phone use.

3. Send Gifts and Notes

Your child might miss you during the long days at school or daycare. Let your child know you’re thinking of him or her by leaving little notes or gifts in his or her backpack or lunch box. Your child will love discovering a new special note every day.

4. Take Your Child to Work

Many employers participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, on the fourth Thursday in April. If yours doesn’t, ask your supervisor whether you can bring your child with you some day. Your son or daughter can see what your office looks like, meet your co-workers, and find out what you do. Knowing where you are every day might help him or her feel more connected to you.

5. Develop a Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

If you want to know exactly how your child’s doing when you’re not around, ask your child’s teacher. The teacher can let you know about any struggles your child is having. He or she can partner with you to find a solution.

6. Choose a Daycare Near Your Work

This will give you the opportunity to visit your child if he or she gets sick or if there is another emergency. Choose a daycare, preschool, or after-school program with an open-door policy. That way, you can visit your child at any time during the day. You could even drop by during your lunch hour and participate in an activity with your child.

Working full-time can be difficult for both you and your child. By following these steps, you can maintain a good relationship with your child. Your child will know that you’re always there when he or she needs you.

If you’re looking for a family-focused preschool in the Seattle area, call Kid’s Country to schedule a tour. We have 10 locations, so we likely have one near your work.

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