8 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress for Preschoolers

reduce holiday stress

Yes, preschoolers can get stressed out at the holidays too!

While adults are stressing about expenses, travel, obligations, overeating, and a full plate, preschoolers might be feeling the stress in the air. Not only that, kids can get over-stimulated by the busyness, the lights, the activities, the gatherings, and more.

Your child may react to stress by crying for small things, having meltdowns, withdrawing from family and friends, biting nails, and complaining of headaches and stomachaches.

If your child is already struggling, or if you’d like to avoid stress, follow these 8 tips to reduce holiday stress for preschoolers

1. Stick to Routines

As much as possible, try and keep your normal routines. Go to bed and wake up close to your normal times, and eat meals and snacks at normal times. If bedtime always includes a story and a song, don’t forego that routine now.

While events and traditions will understandably throw a wrench in your routine, keep things as close to your normal schedule as possible. This helps your child feel like they know what they can expect from moment to moment.

2. Tell Your Child Your Plans

Even when you try to follow your normal routine, many days will look drastically different than what your child is used to.

Help your child feel safe and secure with their day by letting them know what to expect. You can write a list or draw pictures, but even a verbal rundown of what to expect will be helpful.

Telling your child, “After dinner, we’ll wrap presents,” will avoid what could have been a meltdown when your child was expecting to watch TV. 

3. Remember, They’re Kids

A lot of what we expect during the holidays — long church services, extended visits with older relatives, hustling from store to store — can be too much for kids. When your child gets restless or even melts down, remember they’re being put in situations they wouldn’t have chosen.

4. Get Their Input

No doubt you have a long list of what you’d like to do this holiday season. You might even run yourself ragged wrapping all the gifts with the same paper, making 10 types of cookies, and hustling to dozens of events.

But check in with your kids first. What’s actually important to them? What do they picture when they think of the holidays? Even small children can tell you what they want to do this holiday season.

You may find that your to-do list can be shortened when you hear what’s really important to your family.

5. Let Them Help

Let your child be a part of preparations for your traditions. This will not only help them stay productive and less stressed, they’ll feel pride for contributing to the work that goes into a great celebration.

6. Let Them Vent

Things are not going to go well every second of the holiday season. When your child melts down or complains, don’t shush them or punish them. Let them feel their feelings. When they are validated, they can work through those feelings more productively and quickly.

7. Remember the Importance of Giving

Help your child forget so much about the “getting” part of the holidays by focusing on the giving. Donating to a local toy drive or local family is a great way to do this. But if that feels like one more thing on your to-do list, you can still teach the value of giving by helping your child get excited about the gifts they’re giving to their family members.

Helpful tip: Instead of asking your child, “What do you want for the holidays?”, ask, “What are you giving for the holiday?”

8. Plan for Downtime

This is a hustle-bustle season. If you don’t plan to slow down and rest, it will be easy to skip that need altogether.

Schedule downtime each day so you and your child can rest your bodies and your minds. And take breaks if stress levels rise in anybody in the family.

Remember, this is a time of family connection. Downtime contributes to that important need.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we care about the emotional development and wellbeing of our students. To learn more about us, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

Simple Ways Preschoolers Can Make a Difference in the World

acts of kindness

Small children have an innate sense of fairness. They know intimately what it’s like when something doesn’t feel fair to them, and they can clearly see when something isn’t fair for somebody else.

Use these ideas to help them turn their need for fairness into action that supports and helps others with acts of kindness.

Listen to Your Child

child healthy habits

It’s likely your child is going to notice unsettling things in the world. They will see sick people, people experiencing homelessness, and even violence or hatred directed at other people. When they do, don’t try and change the subject. Listen to what they have to say, what they’re confused about, and what they wish was different.

 

Have the Conversations

Don’t shy away from discussing these hard things your child is noticing. Keep your conversations appropriate for your child’s age, but be willing to answer questions. Be willing to say you don’t know the answer, and be willing to search for more information.

Hear Your Child’s Solutions

Your child is full of compassion. They’ll come up with ideas for fixing the world’s problems. Not every solution will work — Maybe we should use a magic wand! — but some will. When your child offers a solution to help someone, hear their solution and keep the conversation going.

“A magic wand would be so great. When you wave the wand, what would change?” Let your child think through the helping process, and when a real solution is found, see if you can help facilitate it in some way.

 

 

Model Kind Behavior

It’s obvious, but we don’t always think about it. Our behavior has a direct impact on how our children will behave in similar situations.

If you are unkind online, mock strangers, or gossip, your children will pick up on it. On the other hand, if you thank a cashier, help your neighbor look for their lost dog, or donate to the food pantry, your child will want to do good too.

Pay Attention to Emotions

Help your child develop empathy for others, so they will want to help others. One way to do this is to teach them to put themselves in another person’s shoes. You can do this by paying attention to the emotions of others.

In a book or magazine, find a picture of a person and ask your child what emotion they’re feeling. Ask them to make up a story of why they’re feeling that way. It doesn’t matter if the story is wrong. The point is, you’re teaching your child to notice emotions and consider what might lead to those emotions. This will help your child be empathetic to others.

Be Kind to Your Child

acts of kindness

This is an obvious tip, but parenting can be so tiring that it’s worth mentioning. If you’re overwhelmed, you’re not alone, and you’re not a bad parent. You just need a reminder that even when children are behaving in difficult ways, they need kindness.

Maria Montessori said, “Let us treat them [children], therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.”

If we want our children to be kind and make a difference in the world, our kind treatment of them will go a long way.

12 Acts of Kindness to Do with Your Preschooler

acts of kindness

When it comes to teaching your preschooler about kindness and making a difference in the world, think: short and quick! Your preschooler’s attention span is short, so don’t plan elaborate acts of kindness. Keep them simple and short, and your preschooler will get the satisfaction of helping others without losing interest.

As they get older, you can expand.

  • Pick up Trash. This simple activity can be done anywhere at any time of year. Just glove up and keep an eye on what your child picks up.
  • Shovel Snow. Be prepared to take over after your child tires out. Or better yet, bring a shovel for each of you. When your child loses interest, it’s okay if they play in the snow.
  • Be a Friend. A simple way to make a huge difference in someone’s world is to be their friend. Practice sentences your child can say at preschool when they see someone who is lonely. “Want to play with me?” “Want to be my friend?”
  • Show Gratitude. Point out community helpers, like the mail carrier, firefighters, and the librarian. Draw a picture or write a positive note to deliver.
  • Feed the birds. Animals need love and support too!
  • Visit an animal shelter. Many shelters let families spend time holding different animals.
  • Donate food to the food pantry.
  • Call, or safely visit, someone who is lonely. Faraway grandparents, and homebound seniors close at hand, love to hear from children.
  • Make a sibling’s bed, set the table, take out the trash, etc. 
  • Participate in a walk for charity.
  • Organize a donation drive among your neighbors and friends. Have your child help design and pass out flyers, assist with organizing donations when they come in, and go with you to drop off the donations.
  • Make a crying baby smile, or play a game with a younger child. Know someone with a new baby? Offer to take the other kids off their hands, and have your preschooler come up with activities they can all play together.

    At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we teach kindness, empathy, and service throughout our thematic units.   To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Help Your Child Develop Healthy Habits

child healthy habits

We’ve never been more aware of healthy habits, like proper handwashing, as we are now in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other healthy habits — like buckling up, brushing teeth, choosing healthy food, exercising, and more — are still just as important.

Yet, these aren’t always easy to teach — after all, parents have a whole lot on their plates! The trick is to make healthy habits a part of your child’s routine, so they become automatic.

Small steps every day eventually build up to routine actions. Just take one step forward at a time, using these tips.

Model Good Behavior

Just like everything in parenting, when you set a good example, your child can see how to do a desired behavior.

Not only that, remember that if you’re asking your child to do something you aren’t willing to do, they won’t buy in to your ask!

For example, if you want your child to buckle up, make sure you always buckle your seatbelt as soon as you get in the car.

Teach Healthy Habits

child healthy habits

Before you can expect your child to manage healthy habits on their own, they need to know exactly what’s expected of them. Telling them to wash their hands, without first teaching the steps, may end with a child who only runs water on the tips of their fingers for a few seconds.

Stay by Their Side

As your child is learning how to develop healthy habits, like proper teeth brushing, make sure you’re close at hand. Eventually, you’ll be able to step away and trust that they can do it correctly. But while they’re learning, stay close so you can gently guide their attempts.

Stay Positive

child healthy habits

Remember, you want your child to develop healthy habits for their whole lifetime. So it’s important to make this process positive.

Keep mealtimes positive, where you all enjoy eating healthy foods. Exercise in fun ways that make everyone happy. Sing a silly song while you wash hands, or have a race to get buckled first. Buy a fun sticker for a bike helmet, so it’s fun for your child to wear it.

Don’t Reward with Food

Most of us understand from personal experience what it’s like to have an unhealthy relationship with food. Your child is going to get many mixed messages from advertising, but you can help them develop a healthier relationship with food right now by keeping food neutral.

Keep food out of rewards for good behavior or successes. Avoid calling food “bad” or “forbidden.” Don’t excessively control your child’s food habits by restricting or forcing. Rather, teach about healthy food and provide plenty of healthy options.

Make Healthy Choices a Family Affair

Think of ways you can all participate in healthy habits together. Parents have a strong influence on their children, and when you join in healthy activities together, you’ll create positive memories and a family culture of health.

Go for a family walk together, learn a new sport together, cook healthy meals together, make the grocery list together, and more.

7 Healthy Activities to Add to Your Family Culture

Adding one or two of these ideas to your family routine will help your family create a culture of healthy habits.

  1. Grow your own food. This could be a huge project in your backyard, or as simple as growing a few herbs on the windowsill. Don’t stress yourself out; just enjoy the process of planting, watching seeds grow, and harvesting your efforts together.
  2. Cook together. Some children are likely to try new foods they had a hand in preparing. Invite your child into the kitchen when you’re preparing a meal, and give them meal-prep tasks to do. 
  3. Invite your child to help with meal planning. Teach your child about the foundations of a healthy meal: protein, healthy vegetable, and healthy starch. Then have them look through cookbooks with you to find a meal that interests them. Have them write down the ingredients, and even take them grocery shopping.
  4. Sit down together for a meal. This gets trickier and trickier as children grow up. Don’t stress about having a perfect sit-down meal together. Just try to have the family all together for a meal as often as possible. Aiming for one meal together a day is helpful for some families.
  5. Instigate an active tradition in your family. Maybe you all go for a Sunday walk together. Perhaps Saturdays are for the park or a hike. Maybe Tuesday evenings are a perfect time for a family bike ride. An easy way to do this is to swap out one sedentary activity for something active. If both Friday and Saturday nights are movie nights, change one of them to a family sport night.
  6. Don’t forget your relationships. Healthy habits are more successful when people feel connected and loved. Spending positive time together in any activity helps your child feel safe and secure — and that’s a sure foundation for healthy habits in other areas of life.
  7. Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand. Make it easy for you and your child to make heathy choices by choosing healthy food for your pantry and fridge. Think: apples, bananas, grapes, berries, clementines, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, yogurt, cheese, hummus, whole wheat bread and tortillas, frozen fruits, granola, pretzels, salsa, popcorn, nuts, and raisins.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we teach healthy habits in a variety of ways — through practice, music, art, creative movement, and so much more.  To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

7 Thanksgiving Activities for Your Preschooler

Thanksgiving time lends naturally to discussions of gratitude, even among the youngest of us! At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we help children understand the concept of gratitude while giving opportunities for practice.

You can do the same at home, with these seven Thanksgiving activities for preschoolers, all of which point back to gratitude in one way or another. Do these on the day of Thanksgiving, or any time during the month.

{How to Teach Gratitude to Your Preschooler}

Cook Together

Thanksgiving is such a high-stakes meal, which might lead to shooing the littlest children out of the kitchen. But does it really have to be that way? For a meal so focused on gratitude, this is a perfect time to involve your preschool-aged children.

Think of simple kitchen activities that your child can manage mostly on their own: washing green beans, stirring stuffing, spreading butter, and mixing the dip for appetizers.

Be sure to thank your child for their help, and point out how their contributions allowed others to enjoy the meal.

Make Homemade Butter

thanksgiving activities for your preschooler

Kids love making butter in a jar. All you need is a baby food jar or mason jar, heavy cream, and a wiggly child willing to shake the jar! Follow these directions from The Stay-at-Home Chef here.

Make the butter a few days before Thanksgiving, and then ooh and ahh over how delicious it tastes on your Thanksgiving rolls. Your child will enjoy your gratitude for their hard work.

Go for a Walk — for Charity

Traditional community turkey trots and charity walks may not take place in 2020, but your family unit can still create your own charity walk.

Pick a charity you all want to support. Then, map out a route and set out on a walk or jog together as a family. Donate what you would have donated in a traditional turkey trot.

Go for a Walk — for  Nature Art

preschool thanksgiving activities

Take a walk around the neighborhood, looking for nature items you can bring back home. As you walk, talk about what you’re grateful for in nature. Point out the tree your child loves to climb, or notice the beautiful variations in the neighbor’s rock bed.

Collect twigs, leaves, rocks, acorns, pinecones, and more. Bring them home and make a gratitude nature art piece. Use paper, glue, tape, glitter, scissors, markers, and crayons and see what your child can create.

{6 Playful Art Ideas for Your Preschooler}

Create a Thankful Collage

Put some concrete understanding behind the concept of gratitude. Discuss what it means to be thankful. Then, look through magazines for images that remind you of gratitude. Cut out the images and arrange them into a collage. Display the collage somewhere your family will pass by frequently, so everyone can be reminded of gratitude.

{4 Ways to Teach Gratitude and the Joy of Giving}

Let Your Child Make Place Cards

Give your child ownership of Thanksgiving day, by letting them help decorate. One simple — and fun — thing your child can do is to create place cards for the dinner table.

If your child can write, let them sound out people’s names. If this frustrates them, write out the names for your child to copy.

If your child can’t yet write, you can first write the names and let your child decorate the place cards. Or you can forego names, and let your child decorate however they want.

Stickers are a great item to have to make the place card decorating fun — and to help your child develop their pincer grasp.

Make Thankful Cards

Talk about people you love and why you’re thankful for them. Then, encourage your child to decorate cards and write those thoughts (with your help, if needed). Hand deliver the cards, or send them in the mail!

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we teach children important character traits, like gratitude, as part of our curriculum. To learn more about how and what we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

6 Playful Art Ideas for Your Preschooler

If you’ve been around UDA Creative Arts Preschool for a minute, you know our curriculum is heavily focused on play.

That’s because play is critical for children’s development. Play is how children learn, and it allows children to develop in multiple areas: physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Through play, children build their imagination, strengthen their dexterity, develop social skills, learn problem-solving, and so much more.

Not to mention, play is fun! And that’s important, because when a child is experiencing joy, they have a positive experience — and that leads to a positive association with learning.

There are generally four types of play: dramatic (pretend), manipulative (using toys and objects), physical, and creative.

In creative play, children use art materials to create — and the play happens in the process. The end product isn’t as important as the creation. In other words, the playful process is where the magic happens!

Try these six playful art ideas with your preschooler.

Nature Art

play art ideas

Begin this playful art project by going for a walk/run/hop around the neighborhood to collect nature items. Let your child’s imagination run wild — maybe they’re on the hunt for dinosaur fossils, or maybe they’re searching the area for food to bring back to their pretend cabin in the woods.

When you get home, use craft items like glue, glitter, paint, paper, and markers to create an art piece out of the items collected.

Soil Tray

This is a great outdoor activity, especially because it involves getting dirty! Place soil into some sort of tray, and then let your child arrange nature items however they’d like.

Similar to nature art, this playful art activity begins with a hunt in your backyard or neighborhood for nature items.

You’ll also want to gather:

  • a tray or plastic plate
  • soil
  • a spray bottle
  • small tools for arranging the dirt (toothbrush, toothpick, pencil, paintbrush)

Story Art

Children’s imaginations are huge. Foster their playful nature by encouraging them to tell you a story, while drawing it as they go.

Ice Cube Painting

playful art activities

Freeze a small toy into an ice cube. Give your child a piece of dark-colored construction paper, and encourage them to make art with the ice. As they “draw,” the ice will melt and free the toy!

Just Add Toys! And Other Things

Let your preschooler paint with toys, vegetables, toothbrushes, and more. This is such a fun activity for kids, because it lets them get even more playful with their art.

Not only that, they learn cause and effect — what happens when you paint with a toy car? How is it different from a paint brush or fingers?

Look around the house for other unique “paint brushes.” How about a toilet paper roll? Toy animals? Plastic utensils?

Spice up Your Playdough

Playdough is a great way to combine art with play. Children can turn the playdough into all sorts of fun, artistic creations. They can also use the items they create in their play. Maybe they’ll set up a playdough hamburger stand or pretend to take care of a playdough pet snake.

Make playdough even more of a sensory experience by making scented playdough. We love using pumpkin spice playdough during the fall. The scent inspires seasonal creations, and adds a lot of playful fun to creativity.

Here’s our favorite recipe!

Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
 1/2 cup of water
 2 tablespoons of oil
 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
 1 teaspoon of cloves
 1 teaspoon of allspice
 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
 OR skip the separate spices and 4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
 1/2 cup of salt
 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
 2 ¼ Cups of flour

1. Add first four ingredients to a large pot and heat on the stove {stirring regularly} until just bubbling.

2. Remove from heat and add in dry ingredients.  Stir until combined and dump mixture out on the counter.

3. Allow to cool for 5 or 10 minutes.

4. Knead dough until soft and fully cooled (it may feel sticky in the beginning but resist the urge to add flour – the stickiness vanishes completely once the dough is no longer warm).  Store in an airtight bag or container in the fridge when not in use.

 

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we know how important art is for your child’s intellectual, physical, and emotional development.   To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

 

Stop! Why You Shouldn’t Intervene in Preschool Art

 

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, art features heavily into every day of school. This isn’t just because art is fun (although, it definitely is!), but because when children are free to express themselves artistically, they develop in critical ways.

One key element in successful preschool art is how the ADULT behaves. It’s critical for the adult to:

Step. Back.

When adults give artistic opportunities — and refrain from intervening — kids thrive.

Read on for the benefits of art — and why you shouldn’t control it.

Experience

Preschoolers need to experience the world in a variety of ways. Art allows them to get in the moment, feeling their emotions right along with the senses that are activated when creating art.

Letting your child feel the smoothness of the paint as it glides across the paper is more important than what the end product looks like.

Sit back and watch your child create. You’ll notice they’re fully immersed in the experience of the art. They aren’t self-conscious or worried about the end product. This is a gift — to be able to experiment and enjoy the process.

Health and Well-Being

Children who have experience expressing themselves freely know how to learn. They know how to soothe themselves when they are stressed. And they know how to work through difficult things.

Freedom in art can give your children practice developing coping skills, learning skills, and even grit.

Other Benefits of Self-Expression in Preschool Art

Art has been shown to build analyzing and problem-solving skills. It teaches cause-and-effect, and even basic math as children count and add elements .

Children build fine-motor skills as they manipulate the art instruments.

Perhaps most importantly, children who are free to experiment in their art get comfortable with making mistakes — and even improving mistakes. And this allows them to attempt new skills in other areas of their life, even opening their minds to new ways of thinking.

What It Looks Like to Let Go

Letting go is hard for many parents, and it makes sense! We’re a results-driven society. It can be hard to feel like your child is getting anything out of the activity if all they’re doing is scribbling over the page.

If you struggle with this, remind yourself that children learn as they play. Your child may be releasing stress while scribbling. They may be building focus as their mind imagines. Maybe they enjoy watching what happens as more color fills the page. They may like the feel of the vibrations as their crayon moves faster and faster.

And they may not be able to tell you any of this. Trust that they are learning and developing as they are free to explore art on their own terms.

Process Over Product

Sure, you might have an idea of what the end result is supposed to look like. But when your child is creating art, step back and let them focus on the process.

If they feel bound to an end result, not only will their creativity be stifled, they may learn to create for approval rather than enjoyment in the activity.

Encourage effort and exploration as your child creates.

A Few Rules for the Adult

If you watch us in our classrooms at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, you’ll see that we don’t intervene in our children’s art projects. We don’t want to take away their own artistry, and we know it’s important for children to own their art.

As a result, no two projects ever look the same.

And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Keep these six rules for YOU in mind:

How to Support Your Child’s Art

  1. First, don’t give direction. Don’t tell your child how to draw a house. If they choose to draw a house, let them add any element they wish.
  2. Don’t intervene. Certainly, if your child needs help with sharpening a crayon, you can guide them. But don’t intervene in the artistic process. It may be tempting to say, “A rabbit has TWO ears, remember?” Hold your tongue, and let them draw however many ears they want.
  3. Encourage experimentation. It’s fun to mix colors or use different materials together. Allow, and encourage, this to happen.
  4. Talk about the art. Your child will hold up their painting, looking for your approval. A generic compliment won’t be encouraging — remember, the final product isn’t the point. Instead, take that opportunity to ask specific questions that allow your child to discuss their artwork. “I notice you used every color in your crayon box. Why did you choose all of them?”
  5. Encourage process. Use questions that encourage your child to talk about their process. “Did you enjoy making this painting?”
  6. Don’t criticize, or suggest additions or removals of any element. Don’t tell them they could have done a better job. Accept whatever they create.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we know how important art is for your child’s intellectual, physical, and emotional development.   To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

What’s REALLY Important at Preschool

You kiss their little cheeks and wave goodbye as they march, hop, skip, or tiptoe their way into their preschool classroom.

Maybe they turn around and wave or blow you a kiss. Maybe they don’t even look back.

As you walk or drive away, you know they’re going to have a great time during the next few hours of preschool.

But what, exactly, will they be gaining during their time at preschool? Will they come out knowing how to read? To count to 100? To write their name?

And are these the most important parts of preschool anyway?

When you send your child to preschool, it’s important to know what REALLY matters. Read on for the most critical components of your child’s preschool experience.

A Positive Learning Environment

Don’t worry too much about how snazzy the preschool building looks. You certainly want your child to attend preschool in a safe, clean place. But beyond that, the overall environment is more important than the newness of the building, the technology present, or the decorations.

Preschool sets the tone for your child’s educational career. If they enjoy themselves and feel confident there, they will develop positive perceptions about school that will carry them through the next several years.

Engaging Teachers

The teachers set the stage for that positive environment. Quality preschool teachers have a passion for early childhood education. They bring an enthusiasm to their lessons, and they’re able to maintain patience throughout the day.

Plus, they love their students and can express that in a healthy way that leaves children feeling safe and secure with who they are.

Self-Regulation Skills are Valued

Children need to learn how to self-regulate. This is a lifelong skill that will help them keep their emotions in check, motivate themselves, start tasks, keep themselves organized, and more.

In preschool, children should be learning these skills little by little. As they get better and better at self-regulation, they learn how to be learners.

They figure out how to sit still when they need to sit still, how to pay attention to the right things, how to share with their friends, how to interact in social situations, and so much more.

In preschool, teachers should be guiding your child on their path to self-regulation, accepting their emotions and using those emotions appropriately.

Creativity and Curiosity are Encouraged

Preschoolers are full of creativity and curiosity, and their preschool should only encourage that — not stifle it. Preschool should be the place where your child is encouraged to think about why things happen, what could happen, how to figure things out, how to combine ideas together, and so much more.

This isn’t just for fun. This helps your child become a problem-solver and a self-directed learner. These are skills you want your child to have for life.

Preschool is a place where the process of learning is more important than getting the right answer. That’s why learning things by rote is unnecessary. Children should be guided on how to learn, and how to discover.

Playful Learning

In preschool, play should never end. Even when your child is learning letters and numbers, an environment of playful learning should be present. Academics and play should go hand in hand, because play is the way that children learn.

Play is how your child experiences the world, and what they learn through play will stay with them in deeper ways.

In a preschool environment, this doesn’t mean free-for-all play all day (although there is a time and place for free-play). Rather, a good preschool will know how to incorporate guided or scaffolded play. In this type of play, teachers create purposeful play environments. These environments encourage curiosity and exploration.

When learning about animals, a teacher might set up a pet shop or veterinary office, with pictures and words that indicate the different parts of the place. Children might be asked open-ended questions, like “What are you doing?”, “What will happen if?”, and “What did you create?”

In this environment, children can explore and experiment, while playing together.

Social and Emotional Development

Sure, kids get social development by spending time together with their peers. But preschool social development is so much more than that.

Teachers help children build personal connections with each other. Teachers also consciously develop close personal connections with each child.

Teachers guide children to think of others, to work together, to take responsibility for keeping areas clean together, and to help each other.

Through this guidance, children’s self-confidence in social situations flourishes.

Pre-Math and Literacy Skills

Reading, writing, and arithmetic are incredibly important academic and life skills. In preschool, these skills should not be taught by rote, boring worksheets, or drills.

Rather, your child will develop good relationships with reading and writing as they are encouraged to interact with these subjects in positive ways.

A good preschool gradually introduces concepts so that children can build on their skills over time, while continuing to love and enjoy the subjects. They do this by teaching pre-reading and pre-math skills in the context of activities and themes that are already interesting to the children.

Motor Skills

Children need to develop their motor skills so that they can be successful in school and in life.

Hand-eye coordination is critical not only for sports, but for writing. Balance is important not only for games, but for sitting at a desk in kindergarten.

A good preschool gradually helps children develop these skills at an appropriate sequence. And they do this by incorporating fine and gross motor activities into their day. Jumping, running, and climbing should be encouraged, as well as safely cutting with scissors, threading beads, and more.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we understand that a quality preschool education is a critical foundation on which your child can build a successful and happy life. To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

But What If You Don’t LIKE to Play Pretend With Your Preschooler?

how to role play with your preschooler

Role-playing isn’t just a fun thing for your child to do. It’s actually a critical component of your child’s development.

For the most part, your kiddo can handle their role-playing on their own; after all, it’s what preschoolers are designed to do!

But what about the times when your child wants you to join in? What if you find role-play with your preschooler boring? Difficult? Tear-your-hair-out tedious?

Read on for tips on how to role-play with your preschooler.

Why Role-Play Is So Important for Preschoolers

how to pretend with your preschooler

But first. Why does your preschooler even need to role-play?

Role-play boosts your child’s creativity and imagination, helps them learn how to problem solve, enhances communication skills, and so much more.

Let’s pretend (See what we did there?) that your child is playing store. They’ll likely act out scenes they’ve witnessed firsthand (exchanging of money, for example), while also adding their own bits of creativity (They’re the billionth customer, and they get to have all the candy in the store!). But then they realize that if they eat all that candy, they’ll get cavities. How can they solve this problem? Well, they’ll share the candy with all their friends, of course! Or they’ll come up with a magic spell that protects their teeth!

It may look like silly fun, but that one scenario helped your child develop in several areas. Your child “tried on” an adult role and practiced real-life scenarios. They brought in imagination, cooperation, and problem solving.

How to Role-Play with Your Preschooler

So what happens when your preschooler invites YOU in to the fantasy world? How can you play, especially if you lost your imagination when you lost your last baby tooth?

Don’t fret. Don’t run away. This is something you can do. We promise. Read on for how.

Understand the Types of Role-Play

how to role play with your preschooler

First, understand the common types of role-play. 

Children tend to pretend in three different ways:

  1. Occupational: This is the type of play where your child pretends to be, or interact with, familiar occupations. Teachers, doctors, firefighters, astronauts, cashiers, etc. are some roles that children like to play. (This play encourages empathy as children “try on” different roles.)

  2. Fantasy: Think superhero, fairy princess, giant trolls, unicorns, and more. This is the big imaginary world where everything is possible. Children focus on “good” and “bad,” often trying bravery on for size.

  3. Real-life: What happens in your child’s life? Do they go to amusement parks? Help you cook? Do they play soccer? Go to museums? In real-life play, your child will enact these real-life scenarios.

These types of role-play for preschoolers are flexible. A troll can easily stop at the store on her way home from work, and a firefighter can suddenly need to save the world from invading aliens. Children don’t live within bounds when they play pretend.

Now, why is it important for you to understand these types of play? 

Well, if you struggle to play pretend, you can focus on one of these types that feels most comfortable for you. For many adults, real-life or occupational play will come more naturally. You might find it less daunting to be a cashier or doctor than to be a princess hunting dragons.

Go with what you feel comfortable with.

Follow Your Child’s Lead

Playing pretend with a preschooler feels overwhelming to lots of adults, because we think we have to come up with the scenarios. After all, that’s what two children will do when they play together: one pretends one thing and another adds to it, and back and forth.

But you don’t have to have that pressure!

Play therapy techniques make playing simple, while focusing on strengthening your bond with your child.

  • When you get down to play with your child, simply follow their lead. If they tell you they are going to drive their cars on a ramp, say, “I’ll drive my cars on a ramp too.” Your child will let you know if that’s what they want you to do or not.

  • If you don’t know what to do, ask your child! “What should I do?” They’ll tell you!

  • Describe what your child is doing. “I see your toy horse is galloping on the play kitchen.” Your child will let you know if that’s right or not. They might say, “The horse is running away to the mountain! Hurry! Your horse needs to come too!”

  • Sit, watch, and reflect: Sometimes, you don’t need to join in. You can simply watch. When your child tells you they made a vegetable stew, reflect back. “I see you made a delicious vegetable stew!” They may invite you in, or they may be fine with you observing.

When you follow your child’s lead, you don’t have to think of imaginative scenarios. You simply follow along. The pressure is off of you, and the focus is on your child.

This gives your child freedom and connection.

Don’t Correct

When playing with your child, remember that it’s their world. If your child picks up a toy horse and calls it a dinosaur, don’t correct them. Just go with it. “Yes, that’s a ferocious dinosaur!” Your child might continue calling it a dinosaur, or may switch back to seeing it as a horse. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that your child is in charge of their own imagination.

Don’t tell them they’re playing with a toy wrong. They may put a phone to their foot instead of their ear. Don’t tell them that’s not how to use a phone. Just go with it!

This is your child’s special time. This is their world where they’re in charge. Don’t micromanage or take away their freedom in this special place. 

Simply observe and follow.

Remember: your child is developing skills as they “try on” different roles, situations, and solutions. They simply can’t play wrong! And if you just follow their lead, neither can you!

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we incorporate play, creative movement, art, music, and dance into every single day. To learn more about how we promote physical development at preschool, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

Did You Know Everything Your Preschool Teacher Did During Quarantine?

uda preschool teachers are amazing
We don’t mean to brag (okay, maybe a little), but we have the best preschool teachers in Utah here at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.
We’ve always known they were amazing, but that truth became even more apparent during the shut-down caused by Covid-19 this past spring.
We would be remiss if we didn’t let you in behind the scenes of just some of what our teachers did.
We could never detail every incredible act of our teachers. But through the uncertainty, the uncomfortable and the unknown, each teacher showed up and was there to support the children in their class and their parents.

Quick Adaptation

uda preschool teachers are amazing

As you’ll remember, the shut-down came suddenly. We had to quickly close our doors, and then we hurried to figure out how to deliver the same caliber of education to our students who were now safely at home.

And our teachers were there for every second of it. They spent extra hours assembling packets, doing Zoom meetings, and even taking children on virtual hikes.

We were so impressed that our teachers didn’t wait for permission to act. They loved the children and figured out how to continue connecting and teaching through a completely unprecedented and unexpected time.

Personal Interactions

In addition to conducting regular Zoom meetings, spending hours filming instruction and demonstration videos for each preschool subject, reading books on film, creating comprehensive packets with all necessary supplies, and more, we discovered our teachers were ALSO reaching out personally to their students.

Our teachers often noticed a child really wanted to talk during Zoom rug-time (which is difficult to do when there are so many kids at rug-time). Many times, a teacher would call a child after Zoom rug-time and say, “I noticed you had something you want to say at rug time. I really want to hear what you have to say. Will you please tell me?”

Teachers remembered birthdays and celebrated over Zoom or by mail. They also sent personal notes to their students, even when it wasn’t their birthday.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

More than ever, parents needed support during the quarantine. More than ever, parents needed another eye on their children to help them understand their strengths.

Our amazing preschool teachers held virtual parent/teacher conferences with parents to help parents understand their children’s continued progress and areas of focus.

Unique Ways to Connect

Our teachers’ creativity only expanded during the pandemic. We loved how they continued to find ways to connect, even when we were all so limited.
Miss Jeni took her class on virtual field trips and sent “signs of spring” photos to the children. She also asked the children to send pictures of what they found on their own nature walks.
Other teachers reached out to show things they were doing at their home (gardening, art, etc), and asked the children to share what they had been doing at home with their families.
Many children sent photos and the teachers shared them on our class sharing app.
Teachers continued to let the children do show-and-tell to stay connected with their classmates via Zoom or BLoomz (our class sharing app).

Graduation and Carnival

Our end-of-the-year carnival and graduation was different than previous years, but still so fun, uplifting, and celebratory.

Our teachers did a great job keeping the feeling festive while still practicing safe social distancing.

Some teachers even attended personal “drive by” graduations for those children who couldn’t come.

Thank You

Our teachers genuinely missed the children, and they went out of their way to show it.

We love and appreciate these women who truly care about the children they teach so much. All of our lead teachers have degrees in early childhood or elementary education and know the impact and importance of these early years. Additionally, they are all highly trained with more that 30 hours of training throughout the school year.
Our preschool is full of teachers who care enough to give their all no matter what the circumstances may be. We watched teachers show up for their children and put genuine smiles on their faces through tough times, and we couldn’t be more inspired or impressed.
UDA Creative Arts Preschool is a truly unique place. We love all the parents and children in our community, and we appreciate the support we feel back from you.

Preschool Separation Anxiety in the Time of Covid

It’s been a whirlwind these past few months, and our youngest members of society are shouldering an awful lot. Your preschooler may have been suddenly pulled from preschool back in March when the pandemic began. They may have had to stop seeing friends, grandparents, and more. They may have had to stop their dance classes, sports, and other activities.

And all while the stress level of families went up. Many families have dealt with unemployment, working from home, sickness, and fear.

Little children have seen and experienced a lot.

Sending your child back to preschool this fall, where safe to do so, is a good idea. 85% of who you are as an adult was developed before you turned 6. A quality preschool education is important during normal times, and during the time of Covid, it becomes even more necessary.

At preschool, your child has the chance to develop emotional and social skills (even during Covid) in ways they can’t develop at home. Plus, they’ll benefit from exercise, play, routine, and learning a variety of subjects from trained teachers.

But your child may deal with more separation anxiety this year than other years. They’ve likely been at home with you for months. Even if you’ve been working from home, your child has grown accustomed to seeing you all day. Plus, the uncertainty of the last several months may have been upsetting.

This is no ordinary back-to-school.

Follow these tips to make the transition back to preschool an easier, happier one for your child.

Think Back to P.P. (Pre-Pandemic) Times

Before the pandemic, we all had routines. We had to leave the house at certain times of the day, which meant we needed to wake up at certain times of the day and follow certain routines. Bedtime was likely very structured.

Once shut-downs began, many of us relaxed our routines since there was no place to go. Bedtimes relaxed, we may have slept in more, and screens became more prevalent.

To be clear: There’s nothing to feel guilty about. This is just the reality. For now, think back to your schedule before the pandemic, and try to re-incorporate it.

Get to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every day. Follow a getting-ready routine. Wean off the screens a bit.

Don’t worry about academics now. Just focus on getting back on a school routine. Your child’s teachers will handle the academics.

Walk Away

If you’ve been home all together since March, it might be upsetting for your child to be away from you. Begin now to help them separate from you by finding pockets in the day where you actually leave.

Leave the house to run an errand while someone else watches your child. Say goodbye, and when you get home, find your child to give them a hug. This will help them understand that when you leave, you come back.

Validate Feelings

preschool separation anxiety in the time of covid

Every feeling your child is having is valid. Let them know it’s okay to feel how they feel.

Once you’ve validated (and not before), talk to your child about how to cope with their feelings. If they get worried at school, what is something they can do? If they feel worried in the car, what is something they can do? Always reiterate that it’s okay to feel how they’re feeling, and that you can help them through it all.

Explain What’s Happening

It’s been a LONG time since school has been open. Make sure you’re clear with your child about what is going to happen. But keep it simple:

“I have loved being home with you, and now I’m also excited that you get to go enjoy preschool. You’ll get to make friends, and you’ll have a teacher who will take care of you and teach you important things.”

Stay positive. Be careful with your language. Don’t emphasize how much you’ll miss your preschooler. Don’t tell them about fun things you’ll be doing while they’re at school. Instead, focus on the positive of what they’re going to experience: “You get to go on a dinosaur dig today! You are so lucky! Preschool is so fun!”

Allow Your Child’s Teacher to Earn Their Trust

It can feel so hard to walk away, but remember that if YOU are in the vicinity, your child will always see you as the best option. This makes it difficult for your child’s teacher to build a relationship.

Trust your child’s teachers. They’re experts at engaging children in activities that make the transition from Mom or Dad to preschool a positive one. They’re also experts at loving children and helping them feel comfortable.

When your child feels safe and loved, they’ll join in the fun activities at preschool.

 Get a Goodbye Phrase Ready

preschool separation anxiety in the time of covid

Make parting from each other a cheerful event. Create a happy goodbye routine, and use it ahead of time.

Kids love rhymes and fun phrases. Try one of these: “See you later alligator.” “See you soon, baboon.” “TTFN” (Ta-ta for now).

Add a fist bump or blow a kiss to the routine to make it a friendly, positive connection.

Expect Bumps in the Road

Nobody has returned to school in the midst of a pandemic before. This is new territory for everyone. Expect your child to have behavioral challenges, and that way, you won’t be caught off guard.

Remember that children can’t always tell you what they’re feeling, but their behavior will send you a message if something is wrong. Connect with your child, talk to your child, and validate all feelings.

Give this process time. If, after about three weeks, your child is still struggling with separation anxiety, talk to the teachers about allowing your child to bring a comfort object with them to school.

 

Remember Yourself

It might be hard to send your preschooler back to school. Along with the normal emotions of watching your child grow up, you’re now raising your precious child in an uncertain time. If this is jarring or upsetting, you’re not alone.

So take care of yourself. Rely on a support system, get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy, and take time for yourself. And remember: all your feelings are valid too.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we understand the special challenges of this time. We’re taking precautions to keep our staff and students safe, and we’re committed to continuing to provide the best preschool education in Utah.

We understand separation anxiety, and that’s why we distribute a special book, video, calendar, and tips to help you get your child ready for this big transition. Your child is strong, and you are too. And we’re here to help every step of the way.

To learn more about us, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.