7 Qualities of a Great Preschool Teacher

You might say that teaching preschool is a calling. Sure, a preschool teacher needs to study, learn, and practice approaches and methods, but great preschool teachers have some inherent qualities that make them suited for the job — and suited to love the job!

Great preschool teachers not only teach the ABCs and 123s, they also nurture, encourage, and love their students. They give their students a foundation for a lifetime of learning, confidence, and growth.

Look for these seven qualities of a great preschool teacher when you’re looking for a preschool in Draper, Utah.

Passion

Just like you want your doctor to have a passion for learning everything there is to know about their specialty, or for your hairdresser to have a passion for keeping up on the latest trends, or the chef at your favorite restaurant to have a passion for blending flavors, it’s important that a preschool teacher has a passion for early childhood education — and for making a difference in young children’s lives.

A passion for helping young children thrive and succeed drives preschool teachers to stay on top of the latest research, to be creative in finding solutions, and to care about each individual student.

The job of a preschool teacher can be demanding — runny noses need to be wiped, fights need to be resolved, and tears need to be calmed on the daily. If a preschool teacher has passion for what she does — and the difference she knows she’s making — she can muscle through the tough parts to continue to provide an enriching environment and education.

Enthusiasm

Children often mirror the emotions of the adults in their lives, and an enthusiastic preschool teacher can keep a class or individual on course in the face of obstacles or setbacks. Not only that, enthusiasm makes the learning environment fun, which encourages children to eagerly soak up knowledge and let their curiosity guide them.

Patience

qualities of a great preschool teacher

Preschool children have short attention spans and can be quick to sudden mood changes. Add in the fact that every child develops at a different rate, and you have a bubbling stew of potential frustrations that would make most people lose their cool. But a preschool teacher must have vast stores of patience so that the highs and lows of the day don’t distract from the end goal. Children benefit from patience, knowing they can make mistakes and still be cared for.

Communication Skills

Preschool teachers need to communicate effectively with small children, helping them understand new concepts in reading, manners, self-control, and more. Not only that, they need to communicate with parents to let them know what’s going on in the classroom and to resolve any conflicts. They also need to communicate with team teachers about lesson plans, the progress of individual students, and more so that each student can receive a quality education.

Flexible

It’s supposed to be the day that the children head outside with magnifying glasses to look for and observe insects… only it’s raining cats and dogs. No matter! A great preschool teacher can roll with setbacks, using an alternative activity that still teaches the necessary concepts.

Compassionate

A great preschool teacher has empathy for her students and their families. She is worried when a child struggles, and she extends compassion to help the child get through their difficulties. She is emotionally available to her students and works to find solutions for problems of all kinds — from difficulty sharing a toy to a struggle with understanding the concept of letters.

Loving

Most importantly, a preschool teacher needs to love her students — and show it. When a child knows he is loved, he feels safe and confident. Trying new things isn’t so scary, and making mistakes becomes part of the process of learning — not something to be ashamed about. A great preschool teacher shows love to all her students.

10 Indoor Activities to Do with Your Preschooler This Winter

Snow is one of the best winter playgrounds, but when little cheeks and noses have had enough of being outside, what can you do to keep your preschooler occupied and active indoors?

Use these fun indoor activities for preschoolers this winter break — and beyond!

1. Make Paper Snowflakes

indoor activities for preschoolers

Making paper snowflakes is a time-honored activity because almost everyone loves it! And major bonus: you can’t mess up a paper snowflake.

Knowing how to use scissors is a critical pre-writing skill. Opening and closing the scissors helps your preschooler develop the small muscles in her hands, while also strengthening hand-eye coordination — both important skills for writing.

Cutting out a paper snowflake also lets your preschooler explore cause and effect — and it’s oh-so-magical once you unfold your paper to see what your snowflake looks like!

[9 Movement Activities for Preschoolers You Can Do at Home]

Depending on your child’s age and abilities, you may need to guide the folding and cutting process, but try and let her do as much as she can on her own!

2. Make a Newspaper Snowman

If there hasn’t been enough snow for a snowman, make your own snowman out of newspaper! Roll up newspaper into balls. Stack the balls and connect them with glue or tape. Attach branches for arms. “Dress” the snowman with hats, gloves, and more.

3. Indoor Obstacle Course

indoor activities for preschoolers

Kids need to move and wiggle, even when it’s too cold to go outside. Make your own obstacle course indoors this winter to keep your preschooler active. Use items you have around your house.

Here are some ideas for your indoor obstacle course:

  • A few Hula-Hoops on the ground creates the perfect setup for skipping, hopping on both feet, hopping on one foot, or jumping backwards. Only have one Hula-Hoop? Have your child jump in and out of it six times with both feet. Now on one foot… you get the idea.
  • Put a broomstick between two chairs, and have your child limbo (or crawl) under it.
  • Line up a few chairs in a row, and have your child crawl under or over them.
  • Throw a bean bag (or ball of socks) into a bucket (or kitchen pot).
  • Add a blindfold to the beanbag toss for extra fun.
  • Somersault from one spot to another.
  • Give your child a ladle or tongs, and have him fill a bowl with small toys or marbles.
  • Put a stuffed animal on your child’s head, and instruct her to walk from one point to another.

indoor activities for preschoolers

4. Indoor Ice Skating

For some slippery fun, wrap wax paper around your child’s feet and secure with rubber bands. Let him walk (er… slide) across the carpet. Move things out of the way because this is slippery and a fall may happen.

5. Paint with Noodles

indoor activities for preschoolers

Yep, you read that right! Children love to paint, and it’s even more fun and interesting when you use “paintbrushes” that aren’t actually paintbrushes! Your child will get the opportunity to predict (what will the painting look like?), explore, and be creative.

To make your spaghetti noodle paintbrush:

  1. Gather a small bunch of uncooked spaghetti noodles and tie a rubber band about 1/4 from the bottom.
  2. Cook them as normal, with a little bit of oil, leaving the tied-off part out of the water.
  3. Set your spaghetti noodle paintbrush out to cool.
  4. Once cool, get painting!

6. Read

It’s such a simple activity that we often overlook the chance to sit down and read. When the weather outside is frightful, that’s the perfect time to snuggle close and read book after book. Make it even more fun and special by getting a cozy blanket and a warm treat.

7. Make Something in the Kitchen

Sure, making cookies during the winter is a fun activity for everyone, but take a moment to think outside the mixer and see what meals or snacks your preschooler can create all on her own. This not only frees up your hands and brain, it gives your preschooler a huge sense of accomplishment — and a higher chance of trying the food she made!

Preschoolers can use plastic knives to chop fruit for their own fruit salad, top their own individual English muffin pizza, make their own sandwich, prepare their own quesadilla, and more.

8. Shaving Cream Letter Practice

Generously fill a tray with shaving cream. Have your child practice letters or “draw” pictures in the cream. (Make sure you tell your preschooler that this is not the kind of cream we eat.)

9. I Spy

Classic car games become the perfect way to pass the time indoors in the winter when you add the right prop. Glue or tape two toilet paper rolls together for a pair of binoculars. Then, use them to play I Spy. Your preschooler will love looking through their binoculars to figure out your clues.

You can also play Name Three Things. For example, tell your child to name three things in the room that are blue/tall/alive/round. He can use his binoculars to locate the three things.

10. Stack Cups

Playing with building blocks is a favorite pastime for many children. Change up the regular routine by letting your preschooler see what she can build with a few dozen paper or plastic cups. Challenge her to use all the cups for one creation, to build three towers with all the cups, to make three different creations with only six cups, and so on.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we use art, music, social studies, dance and movement, science, math, reading and writing, and imagination to fully engage our students and help them develop both the left and right hemispheres of their brains. Come see us in action. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online to set up a tour.

7 Ways Preschoolers Can Help Others

how preschoolers can help others

December is a funny month. Children develop a huge case of the gimme-gimmes while simultaneously opening their hearts to do what they can to help others. It’s a paradox for sure. But we have found that when children are guided to focus on opening their hearts and looking for ways to help others, the gimme-gimmes get a little less loud — and certainly less grumbly.

Children naturally want to help others, but as they’re still learning about the world, they don’t always see the needs that are there. (Heck, us grownups are still learning about the world and don’t always see the needs that are there.) With some guidance from parents and teachers, preschoolers can put their natural desire to help to good use.

Use these ideas for how preschoolers can help others. And don’t be surprised if your child begins to come up with her own ideas as well.

1. Shovel a Neighbor’s Driveway

If you have an elderly neighbor, a neighbor who is pregnant or has a new baby, a sick neighbor, or a neighbor with a parent who travels or works multiple jobs, try to get to their house to shovel or plow their driveway before they do. Sure, you’ll be doing most of the heavy lifting as you and your preschooler clear the driveway, but your preschooler can move a shovel around. And she will be learning how to notice others and fill in when there’s a need.

This is something you can talk about ahead of time, so your child can keep neighbors in mind. When you know a snowstorm is approaching, comment to your child about how it may be hard for your neighbor to get outside and explain why. Then, ask your preschooler if she can help you pay attention to the next snowstorm and hurry over to help your neighbor.

[4 Ways to Teach Gratitude and the Joy of Giving]

 

2. Pick up Trash

Go to your local park, or take a walk through your neighborhood with a trash bag and plastic gloves. Pick up any trash you see. This is an easy task for a preschooler, but it provides a great feeling of accomplishment when you see how full your bags are at the end of your service outing. Take a before and after picture to really grasp the full impact.

3. Send a Letter

Preschoolers love receiving mail, and so they can immediately grasp how exciting it would be for someone they love to to get a piece of mail from them. Send a note of encouragement to someone who is struggling, a drawing to a grandparent, or a story (have them tell the story to you as you write it down) to a friend.

Some fun mail ideas:

  • For a fun exchange, have your child create mustaches out of paper and send them to friends, asking them to take pictures wearing their mustaches.
  • Send a “hug.” Trace your child’s hands and have your child cut them out and decorate them. Then, cut a piece of yarn that is the length of your child’s arm span. Attach the paper hands to the ends of the yarn, and now you have your child’s hug that can be sent in the mail.
  • Start a story in a notebook, and ask a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend to continue it and send it back to you.

You can also send a letter to a military member, veteran, or first responder through Operation Gratitude. And Any Refugee is an organization that will facilitate sending postcards of hope to refugees around the world.

4. Spur-of-the-Moment Acts of Kindness

What acts of kindness can your child think up throughout the day? Can she make her sister’s bed? Can he bring the neighbor’s trash can back from the curb? Can you buy an extra can of food while grocery shopping and drop it at the food pantry on your way home? Can he be on the lookout for someone who needs a smile? Can she slip a note into her brother’s backpack?

5. Donut Drop-off

Help your child become familiar with firefighters while also showing gratitude for their hard work. Bring a box or two of donuts to your local fire station and let your child carry it in. Ahead of time, have your child make a thank you card to give the firefighters.

6. Visit an Animal Shelter

Animals that are waiting to be adopted need love and attention while they stay at the shelter, and an animal-loving preschooler is the perfect fit. Carefully supervise your child as you gently pet and talk to the animals at the animal shelter. Call ahead to find out if you can bring items like blankets or dog food.

7. Create Activity Kits

Call your local hospital, refugee non-profit, or women’s shelter, and find out if they need activity kits for children. Once you know what the organization needs, purchase the items and assemble the kits together with your preschooler.

Trying to incorporate your preschooler’s interests in how you give back is always a good idea. As you make giving back a part of your family life, your child will see more and more needs — and will have the confidence to meet them. And the joy your preschooler will feel — and share — while giving to others will be infectious.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we teach gratitude as a character trait during the month of November and we discuss the joy of giving during the month of December. And all year round, we teach children to notice each other and help when they can. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 or contact us online to set up a tour.

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool — October

October was such a fun time at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. We started it off with a roarin’, stompin’ good dinosaur time, added in some farm animals and vegetables, and finished out strong with… you guessed it — Halloween.

We use these thematic units so we can cross subject matter lines and give meaning and understanding to our students. These themes provide a cohesive curriculum that helps children explore, understand, and appreciate their world.

And by using art, music, social studies, dance and movement, science, math, reading and writing, and more (including a hefty dose of imagination!), the children are fully engaged in learning, developing both the right and left hemispheres of their brains while they busily learn important skills for success.

D is for Dinosaur

Donning dinosaur hats, we learned shapes by playing, “Dinosaur, behind which shape do you roar?”

We traded dinosaur hats for paleontologist hats and became scientists hard at work to uncover our dinosaur “fossils.” For some classes this year, this activity turned out to be more than sensory and science learning, as the fossils were harder to get to than normal. The children had to put on their problem solving hats and use their tools in new ways to unearth the fossils. We loved seeing their determination and creativity to solve their problem, and the reward was worth it!

 

Dinosaurs even featured heavily in our play, as the children decided our toy dinosaurs needed quality medical care. They worked together to determine the sicknesses and injuries (plural!) and how best to treat the poor creatures.

E is for Emotion

Emotions can be big and huge and confusing, especially when you’re small. It’s so important for children to learn to identify their emotions so they can learn how to express themselves appropriately and have a healthy relationship with their emotions.

Emotion Freeze Dance

Emotion freeze dance was a favorite game during this week, and one you can easily replicate at home.

  1. Play any song (We used “I’ve Got a Feeling”), and begin dancing.
  2. Pause the song at random, and shout out an emotion (happy, sad, surprised, angry, etc.).
  3. Everybody freezes and shows the emotion with their face and body.

We also combined music with art to help us understand emotions. Listening to different songs, we talked about how the music makes us feel. We then had the children go to their easels where we chose colors that helped to depict the emotions the children were feeling. While the children listened to the music, they painted a picture to represent their emotion. Every picture was different, which is just as it should be.

Seeing illustrations of different emotions is another way to help children comprehend emotions. We showed the children pictures and had them imitate the appearance of the emotion.

F is for Farm

We not only brought the farm to preschool, we took preschool to the farm! Caregivers and preschoolers had a blast visiting Farm Country at Thanksgiving Point and getting a multisensory experience with farm animals (sights, sounds, touch, and smell!).

And after everyone had had a turn to touch or hold Miss Sara’s chickens at preschool, we decided we’d have art imitate life in the classroom.

 

We let the children “milk” the cow (its udders were filled with water), gather eggs, and even build fences with craft sticks to develop motor skills, understand engineering, practice math skills, and learn about the jobs on a farm.

G is for Garden

Pumpkins were featured heavily in our math during this week, as we counted them, arranged numbered pumpkins in order, and more.

The children got to learn how applesauce and apple cider are made, and participate in the process. Everyone was surprised to learn that apple cider starts out green, turning brown as the process continues.

It was fun to exchange a paint brush for an apple and see what sort of art could be made with the new tool.

For a tasty lesson, the children harvested vegetables from the preschool garden and contributed to our pot of friendship soup.  Not everybody was thrilled at the prospect of so many vegetables mixed together, but all the children found their courage to try the soup — and most of them loved it!

H is for Halloween

Halloween gives us the opportunity to talk about courage. Not only will children encounter scary costumes and decorations as they are out and about, they were also asked to perform in our Halloween show. And every child showed great courage as they did their part.

thematic units preschool

thematic units preschool

And what’s Halloween without a little magic? The children “planted” special pumpkin seeds, and returned the next day to find that the preschool lawn was now a pumpkin patch! They squealed with delight as they ran to choose their very own pumpkin.

thematic units preschool

 thematic units preschool

We love watching how children really grasp important concepts through thematic units at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. Come visit us for a tour. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online.

How to Help Your Preschooler Manage Emotions

help your preschooler manage emotionsYour child has been learning about emotions from birth, but that doesn’t mean she’s an expert at emotions yet! And nobody needs to tell parents that. Your child’s meltdown over not being able to sit in the chair he wanted last night is evidence enough that preschoolers are still getting the hang of this whole emotion thing.

In fact, us adults are all still doing our best to regulate our own emotions. It’s no wonder 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old preschoolers still need an extra hand or 12 when it comes to emotions.

But because we’ve spent a few decades learning about our emotions, we often forget that our small children don’t yet know what to do with all their big feelings. Self-awareness does not come naturally. That’s what parents, caregivers, and teachers are for. We’re all here together to guide children to learn about their emotions — and what to do with them.

Children who are supported in their emotions benefit over and over.

Positive Sense of Self

When a child can recognize, express, understand, and manage the many, many feelings that come their way, they develop a positive sense of self. They have the ability to be calm in a variety of situations and to enjoy their experiences, giving them confidence to interact with others and with their environments. A positive relationship with emotions also helps children to be curious learners.

Less Anxiety

We all experience big feelings — sometimes from out of nowhere. These feelings can be scary for adults, so imagine what they must feel like for a small child. To lessen this fear, children need to know that they are allowed to have big feelings. In fact, they should know that big feelings are actually normal. When a parent, teacher, or caregiver validates a feeling instead of dismissing it, the child doesn’t feel the need to fight against the feeling. Any anxiety surrounding that feeling disappears.

help your preschooler manage emotions

Greater Emotional Intelligence

When parents and teachers help children identify their feelings, they begin to understand how to let those feelings out in a healthy way. Not only that, they also have the ability to communicate to you what they are experiencing — because they actually know themselves and know their emotions better.

Quicker Calm

A child who knows how to identify his own emotions is in a better position to calm himself. If he has been validated and has an understanding of what his emotion is, he doesn’t need to fight in confusion. He can learn more quickly what will help him reduce his own stress, and will become emotionally stronger along the way.

Less Brain Clutter

We all know what it’s like when we’re emotionally wrapped up in something and can’t focus on our lives. A child who has learned about emotions gets to use less brain space for unresolved feelings. She gets to resolve her emotions and move on to enjoying her life and her day-to-day activities with confidence and a clear head.

What You Can Do to Help Your Preschooler Manage Emotions

help your preschooler manage emotions

Children develop their emotional skills through their relationships with the important people in their lives. That means parents, caregivers, and teachers play an important role in the healthy development of emotional understanding. Here are some ideas to help you help your preschooler manage emotions.

  • Work on yourself. Many of us were not taught how to identify and validate emotions. Learn to identify your own emotions and be at peace with them. Get help and support if you need it.
  • Model for your child. Let your child know that it’s okay to have difficult feelings by the way you handle them. It’s positive for your child to see you say something like, “I’m really upset because of something that happened at work, and I need to take a minute to sit on the couch and calm down before I start making dinner.”
  • Watch videos about feelings. Find kid-friendly videos that discuss feelings so your child can learn to identify emotions.
  • Validate your child’s feelings. Don’t try and talk your child out of his feelings. Yes, it may seem silly for him to cry because you only put peanut butter on one piece of bread instead of two before putting the sandwich together, but telling him he’s silly is not going to help. Let him know his feelings are okay (because they are!). He wanted something to go a certain way and it didn’t, and it must feel frustrating.
  • Label feelings. Name your feelings throughout the day, and label the feelings you think your child might be having. “You look happy as you ride your bike.” “Are you sad because your sucker fell on the floor?” This gives your child a large emotional vocabulary for identifying emotions in themselves.
  • Accept your child’s feelings. If your child is angry, it isn’t a reflection of poor parenting. Accept that this is how your child feels in this moment.
  • Teach calming techniques. In calm times, teach your child how to breathe deeply, draw a picture to express emotions, do a physical activity to get energy out, and more. Explain that they can use these techniques to calm them when they’re feeling upset.
  • Discuss book characters. As you read a story together, pause every now and then and ask how you think the character must be feeling. Look for clues like facial expressions or behaviors to help identify the feeling.
  • Praise. When your child uses words to express her feelings, praise her. “I like how you told your friend you felt sad when she took your toy.”

Our culture is not always accepting of emotions, and many of us were conditioned to suppress our feelings. As you work with your child, this may turn into a journey of learning for both you and your child. Do your best to be as responsive to your child as you can, but forgive yourself when it doesn’t come naturally or when you make a mistake. Children don’t need us to be perfect. They learn we love them and are there for them through many interactions built up over time. Do your best, and you’ll both find a healthy relationship with emotions.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we know that a healthy emotional framework is critical for a child’s success in life, and we work hard to teach preschoolers how to identify, accept, and appropriately express their emotions. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or visit us online to schedule a time to see how we support emotional health in our classrooms.

7 Life Skills to Teach Preschoolers

life skills preschool

You’ve been tracking your child’s milestones since your baby was in utero — Is his growth on track? Is she kicking enough? Once your baby was born, you absorbed the milestone charts — Is he babbling on time? Walking on time? Interacting enough?

It’s been a few years of worry and observation, and you probably know by now that you’ll never stop wondering if your child is on track.

Now that your child is in preschool, you’re thinking about independence. Should I push her to do this on her own, or do it for her? What should my child even be able to do on his own at this point?

Your ultimate goal is that your child grows into a fully functioning adult. But what does that mean at 2, 3, or 4? What like skills should your preschooler know by now?

Every child develops on their own timetable, and you shouldn’t expect your child to be ready for each life skill right this second. But read on for some life skills you can aim for in the next year or two.

Personal Hygiene

Clean clothes: Check
Teeth brushed: Check
Bath taken: Check

And on and on. There’s a lot we have to do to maintain our personal hygiene, and preschool is a perfect time to let your child gradually take over these tasks.

First, make sure you’ve explained why these tasks are important. This doesn’t need to happen as a lecture; just give simple explanations as you go about your day: “We change our underwear every day to keep our bodies clean.” “We brush our teeth so our teeth can be healthy and clean.” “We wash our hands so we can keep germs away.”

Let your 2-year-old put the soap on her hands at the sink (while you supervise). Your 3-year-old may be able to wash his body in the bath (again, while your supervise). Let your 4-year-old keep track of how many baths she’s taken each week. Have her change her own clothes if she can… you get the idea. As your child grows, gradually hand over more control of hygiene. Expect it, and praise it.

2. Decision-Making Skills

life skills preschool

We all need to learn how to make good decisions, and this is something you can begin teaching at a very young age. With your youngest preschooler, frequently offer two choices: Peanut butter sandwich or ham sandwich? Walk to bed or skip to bed?

As your preschooler gets older, walk him through bigger decisions. For example, if he tells you a friend at preschool told him he doesn’t want to be friends anymore, don’t give him the solution right away. Ask him how he feels, and ask if he has any ideas for making the friendship better. He may need suggestions as he goes, but let him work it out on his own as much as possible.

3. Time-Management Skills

You can get your preschooler on the path to great time-management skills by managing your own time well. Set up a structured schedule that helps your preschooler know what’s coming next. For example, after breakfast, it’s time to get dressed. After we get dressed, it’s time to brush teeth. And so on.

As your preschooler gets older, hand over the reins. Give her a chart to follow or show her how to use an egg timer. Let her know what she needs to have done before it’s time to go, and ask her what order she thinks she should do those items.

4. Cleaning Up

life skills preschool

You can teach your child to clean up after himself from a very young age. Set the expectation that when you pull something out to play, you must put it back when you’re done. Preschoolers are very good at cleaning up, and praise goes a long way.

By 3 and 4, your preschooler should be able to do simple chores — sweeping, putting away child-proof dishes in lower cabinets, tidying her room, making the bed, etc. Don’t expect any of this to be done to perfection. Your child will get better as she goes. The point is to be consistent now so that your child learns these life skills over time.

5. Getting Dressed

Your child needs to be able to pull down his or her own pants to use the restroom. Start with this skill at a young age, without pressure to use the potty. As your child masters this skill, add the skill of pulling up his or her own pants.

Continue adding dressing skills — pajamas are generally looser clothing and are easier to put on and take off. Have your child get into or out of his pajamas all on his own. By 4, your child should be close to or able to get dressed and undressed on his own. Again, be patient, and look for progress — not perfection.

6. Money Skills

It’s not too early to help your child earn money, save money, and even comparison shop. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want. Point out the differences in prices at the grocery store and ask your child to help you make the best choice. Create an allowance system, and teach your child to save some, share some, and spend some. Discuss the things you are saving for, and ask your child to help you make good decisions to stay on track.

7. Talking to Adults

life skills preschool

Speaking to cashiers, servers, police officers, teachers, and more is an important life skill. You can have your child pay for small items at the grocery store, order his own meal at a restaurant, and say hello to a firefighter or police officer. You can walk your child to the neighbor’s house and prompt your child to ask to borrow a cup of sugar. Give your child the language to use, including pleases and thank yous, and this will help your child feel confident in asking for what he needs.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we aim to help children do what they can for themselves. We are always impressed at how they step up to do independent work and manage life skills when we give them the opportunity. Come see how we do this. Give us a call at 801-523-5930, or visit us online to set up a tour.

What Parents and Teachers Can Do to Help with Separation Anxiety in Preschoolers

separation anxiety preschool

Separation anxiety in preschoolers tends to occur at the beginning of a new school year, but did you know it can actually happen at any time? Sometimes, getting sick can trigger some anxiety, or a big change at home can cause your little one to feel uneasy. And sometimes, it can surface for no identifiable reason.

It hurts to see your child fearful and in tears, and it’s difficult to know what to do. While not every child experiences separation anxiety, it’s a good idea to know what to expect and how to help.

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers have tight attachments to their caregivers, often believing their survival depends on having their caregiver close by. Very young children also don’t understand the concept of time, so it can be difficult to have confidence that Mom or Dad will ever return.

So when your preschooler cries, whines, gets angry, or becomes defiant at preschool drop-off, it isn’t a sign of naughtiness. It’s a manifestation of a very real fear about what’s to come when she is separated from you.

What Parents Can Do

Separation anxiety isn’t a sign that you’ve done anything wrong. It actually indicates that you and your child have a healthy attachment. So don’t start the blame game. If your preschooler is experiencing separation anxiety, it’s perfectly normal. You can ease the situation with these tips.

Validate

Your child’s feelings are real, and he deserves to be validated. Using simple language, talk to him about his feelings. “You felt worried when I dropped you off this morning, didn’t you?” Give him a chance to tell you how he felt, and accept his feelings as valid. Don’t try and talk him out of what he feels.

Once he has expressed his feelings, let him know you love him and you will always return to pick him up.

Don’t Sneak Away

If your preschool requires you to walk your child into class each day, don’t sneak away while she’s occupied! This will only increase the anxiety, as she’ll struggle to trust you’ll be there when you say you will.

Set Up a Routine

Follow the same routine each morning before preschool drop-off to give your child a sense of security. When he knows what’s coming next, he can prepare himself. A chaotic morning may leave him feeling uneasy and more clingy.

As part of your routine, create a short goodbye ritual that can provide comfort each day. It could be as simple as a high five or a “See you later, alligator.” Make it fun and lighthearted, and do it every day.

Be Honest with Yourself

Do you have mixed emotions about your child growing up or building independence?  Try to make sure you’re resolving those emotions so that you aren’t sharing them with your child. It’s perfectly natural to feel some uneasiness with your child’s increasing independence, but it’s up to you to corral those emotions. Talk with a friend or partner, or journal your feelings so that you have the chance for validation while still allowing your child freedom to enjoy.

How Preschool Teachers Can Help with Separation Anxiety

Teachers play a crucial role in your child’s success with overcoming separation anxiety. A good preschool will have a staff that is aware of and prepared for children who may be experiencing these types of anxieties.

Clear Communication

If your child is experiencing separation anxiety, you and the teachers should have open communication about progress, setbacks, and plans. The teachers may have suggestions for you to try at home or on the way to school.

Validate Feelings

Just as parents should validate the feelings of their child, preschool teachers should be careful to do the same. A good preschool teacher will not try to talk a child out of their feelings, but will listen and soothe your child.

Follow a Schedule

It’s important for children to know what’s happening next. This puts them at ease and allows them to relax and enjoy their current activity. Preschool teachers can follow the same schedule each day, with visual and verbal reminders of what’s coming next.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we understand separation anxiety, and are prepared to help your child if it pops up. We also have systems in place to minimize anxiety, like a preschool drop-off in which we pick up your child from your car at the curb, a routine schedule, a small student-to-teacher ratio, and a positive and uplifting atmosphere. We love our students and are always willing to help them with anything that may be challenging them.

To see us in action, schedule a tour by calling us at (801) 523-5930, or by contacting us online.

8 Music and Movement Ideas for Preschoolers

 

music and music preschool

Children naturally love music, and musical experiences help to create strong neural connections between the cells in their brains.  And they make the strongest connections when they are actively involved in their musical experiences. That’s why combining music with movement is so important.

In fact, music and movement instruction has been shown to improve children’s cognitive development, memory, and learning skills. It also helps children develop their ability to express themselves.

And regular exposure to active involvement in music even helps your child do better in reading and math, focus better, have greater control over her body, increase self-esteem, and play better with others.

The Benefits of Music for Your Preschooler

music and movement preschool

When a child is introduced to music at a young age, they learn to develop concentration, memory, and listening skills. Think about it: music draws us in and keeps us focused. And as we hear melodies and rhythms, they become familiar to the ear. Your child will build a strong memory as melodies are repeated.

And just as reading introduces new vocabulary to your child, music with lyrics will expose your child to new words, phrasing, rhymes, and more.

Try This: Sing familiar songs with your child while incorporating simple dance moves that match the music. For example, if the song is about a bird waking up, you can flap your arms to indicate the bird and open your eyes wide to indicate waking up. Combining the actions or dance moves with the words will help your child recall the words.

Try This: Keep a steady beat with musical instruments while you listen to a song. All you need is bells or sticks. Even a pot lid and mixing spoon will do the job!

Try This: Sing! Sing throughout the day. Sing familiar songs as your child takes a bath, make up silly songs as you eat lunch together, and sing a song before bedtime.

Try This: Listen to music. It’s the simplest thing you can do, so make sure it’s happening. Play music while you drive to preschool and at home as you get ready for bed.

Try This: Attend musical concerts together. Many libraries, schools, museums, and cities offer free musical concerts throughout the year. Get on their mailing lists and keep your eyes open for opportunities. After a concert, ask your child what she liked and what she didn’t like, what instruments she noticed, how she felt during the music, and more.

The Benefits of Movement for Your Preschooler

music and movement preschool

Movement combined with music introduces math concepts, builds motor skills, stimulates brain development, and improves communication skills.

As your child hears beats and repeats them, she is easily identifying patterns. Pattern identification is an important math skill that will come up again and again.

Moving with music gives your child a sense of where his body is in space, what his body can do, and more. This helps him develop his motor skills and form a more solid connection between his body and brain.

Adding hand motions, facial gestures, dramatic body movements and more to music allows your child to express herself in a variety of ways. This builds on her communication skills.

Try This: Clap, tap, or stomp to a beat and have your child copy you. Turn it around, and ask your child to make up his own beat for you to copy.

Try This: Use scarves to teach your child to listen more closely to the music. Raise the scarves up when the pitches go up, and lower the scarves to the floor as the pitches go down. Encourage your child to come up with other body movements that match the music — perhaps stomping during loud music or hopping during bouncy music.

Try This: Copy each other. Put a few simple dance movements together (whatever comes to your mind) as you listen to your child’s favorite song. As you ask your child to watch and then copy, you’ll be providing a chance for your child to build his memory and motor skills. Let him do the same for you.

Come and see how we incorporate movement and music into our curriculum every single day at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online for a tour.

Pretend Away! Why Your Child Needs Pretend Play

pretend play preschool

Look in a preschool classroom, and you’ll practically see the imagination floating through the air. Even while doing ordinary things, children are imagining themselves as superheros and animals. Their daily tools (toothbrushes, crayons, plates, socks) become airplanes, dragons, swimming pools and more with no effort at all.

Children are naturally good at imagining, which is a good thing — because they learn their best by imagining and doing.

When your child’s preschool incorporates play-based learning into the curriculum, your child reaps countless benefits. Here are five:

Imagination and Creativity

We may not always think of it this way, but creativity is a necessary skill for survival. When the dishwasher breaks and starts flooding the basement, you have to quickly find a creative solution for capturing the water before it ruins your carpet. When your boss expects you to meet a tough deadline, you have to be creative in your time allocation. And when your preschooler asks you to be a dog with him, you have to get down on your hands and knees and bark if you want to keep seeing that adorable smile on your child’s face.

So if creativity is such an important life skill, it stands to reason that your child needs to learn to develop it as soon as possible. And pretend play is the perfect way for that to happen. When your child gets absorbed in pretend play, her imagination takes over.  She can be anything, go anywhere, and have any sort of power she wants. This lets children think for themselves, keep their brains active and engaged, and build up that creativity they’ll need for their whole life.

Social Development

The world is big and scary. It’s confusing, and its rules are not immediately obvious to the under-4-foot crowd. Engaging in pretend play allows children to work out the social rules of the world in a safe space. They learn who they are and what they love, and they learn who other people are. As they pretend to be someone else (a chef, a doctor, a parent, an animal), they get the opportunity to think like someone else. What would it be like to walk in that person’s shoes? This aspect of pretend play helps preschoolers develop empathy for others.

As children engage with each other in pretend play, they learn to respect other people’s wishes and to notice when someone is having a good time or having a really awful time. They have to agree on the topic of play and negotiate throughout play as roles and rules change.

Language Skills

Did you know that pretend play is building the foundation for your child to learn to read? That’s right. Through pretend play, preschoolers learn the power of language, how to retell and reenact stories, and they build their vocabulary.

As they pretend they’re at the doctor’s office, they develop language appropriate to that location. And because they’re uninhibited through play, they try out words they may otherwise be too self-conscious to try.

Not only that, they need to ensure their meaning is understood as they act out situations. This requires sophisticated language skills that continue to develop through pretend play.

pretend play preschool

Problem Solving Skills

First, your child has to decide what to play. In that process, there will be some back-and-forth with the other children who are involved. Opinions will have to be considered, and solutions found.

Then, everyone has to decide the rules, roles, and materials for the game. And there is always some problem to figure out — a bad guy who is locking up the ponies, a tornado that is going to wipe out the town, a robber who is stealing the fruit at the grocery store. How will the children solve the problem? Sit back and watch their creative problem-solving skills whir into hilarious and ingenious action.

All of this is practice for real life, when cooperation and problem-solving skills need to be relied on each day.

Physical Development

Pretend play often turns into physical play. Children have to chase after the bad guy, climb to escape the hot lava, jump over the swamp of alligators, and more. All of this works to build their strength, while increasing their gross motor development.

Even when the pretend play doesn’t involve jumping, hopping, and running, physical skills are being developed. It takes strong fine motor skills to dress dolls, string beads, or gather items to “buy” at the store.

Bottom line: Pretend play encourages movement in all the ways your child needs for proper growth and development.

pretend play preschool

Pretend Play “Tools”

In pretend play, children don’t always use objects for their intended purpose. Sometimes, puzzle pieces become coins and toy cars become hidden treasure. Keeping a variety of items around your home will encourage your child to tap into her creativity and use them in imaginative and playful ways.

Some toys and objects to keep on hand:

  • blocks
  • old clothes
  • old purses
  • old magazines or phone books
  • stuffed animals
  • old sheets (good for costumes, forts, picnics, pretend meals, etc.)
  • toy dishes or old dishes or utensils
  • notepads and pencils
  • dolls
  • animal figurines
  • a doll house
  • cardboard boxes or tubes
  • wrapping paper

Look at the world through your child’s eyes and see how everyday items can be transformed. Come see how we encourage and incorporate pretend play into our curriculum at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online to schedule a tour.

What Should Preschoolers Learn?

what should preschoolers learn

ABC. 123.

That’s what matters most in preschool, right? You want your child to be able to read, write, and do math so she’ll be ahead once she starts kindergarten.

Right?

Well, that’s only a small part of it.

While literacy and math are extremely important parts of your preschooler’s academic development, they don’t tell the whole story. Preschool is actually a critical time for your child to develop their whole self. A high-quality preschool will work on developing the whole child in the following ways:

How to Learn

We spend our whole lives learning, and preschool is where your child’s foundation begins. This is where your child develops their attitude towards school, where they determine if they are good learners or not, and where they learn if they have what it takes to figure out problems. Spoiler alert! Every child is a good learner and has what it takes to overcome challenges. The trick is to help your child keep their zest for learning.

A high-quality preschool knows how to keep learning active, engaging, fun, and age-appropriate. Play is a critical component of your child’s development and education, and preschool gives your child the chance to learn through play.

Character Development

What do we do when we want a turn? What do we do if we’re upset with someone? How do we divide and share resources? How do we solve a problem? How do we tell the truth? Take responsibility? Show compassion for others?

Preschool gives children plenty of opportunities to practice, make mistakes, fix mistakes, and get it right. It’s the perfect setting for children to really begin to build the foundation for a strong character.

Creative Arts

what should preschoolers learn

“Children engaged in creating art express their feelings constructively, not destructively,” says Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, consultant for childhood education, teacher, and organizer of San Francisco Classroom Teachers’ Association.

Children thrive when they can express themselves through art. Open-ended art materials and a supportive environment at preschool allows your child to explore their feelings in safe and healthy ways.

Plus, art helps children develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and increases creativity and imagination.

Language and Literacy

The ability to read and write allows children to communicate more clearly, and builds a confidence and thirst for knowledge. In preschool, your child gets to develop a love for reading and take charge of their own interests. Plus, children have opportunities all day to build their vocabulary and communication skills through talking, playing, listening, and interacting.

Math

Numbers. Shapes. Measurements. Patterns. Sorting. None of us are born hating math, but many of us develop a distaste for the subject. When a preschool integrates math throughout their teaching, it gives your child an early confidence, interest, and understanding in math.

Science and Engineering

what should preschoolers learn

Why? How?

These questions are always on your preschooler’s mind, and science and engineering answer them.

Science and engineering are everywhere, and at this time of life when your preschooler is fascinated by everything, it’s a great time for your child to learn how the world works by watching caterpillars emerge from chrysalises,  see a seed grow into a pumpkin, use ramps to change the speed of cars, and so much more.

Social Studies

Preschoolers learn to appreciate people and their differences, to understand their place in the world, how to resolve conflicts, and more. Supportive teachers help children to see how to think of others and how to appreciate different traditions and ideas.

 

Physical Development

what should preschoolers learn

Creative movement opportunities let your child build their physical strength while also building memory, increasing concentration, and more. Coordination, large motor skills, rhythm, expression, emotion, and balance are all improved when a preschool includes physical development in its curriculum.

Music

The world is so much better because music is in it. And your child benefits in countless ways when music is a part of his preschool curriculum. Language skills, social skills, academic retention, listening skills, discipline, concentration, and so much more are developed through a music education. Plus, many preschools use music to teach concepts, like the days of the week, the life cycle of insects, and much more.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we spend time in all of these areas each and every day. We know that preschool is a critical time to help your child develop her whole self, and we feel honored to be a part of that journey. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online for a tour.