How to Teach Your Preschooler Responsibility

how to teach your preschooler responsibility

We all want our children to grow into responsible adults who are capable of handling their problems, maintaining their homes, caring for their future families, and doing good work in their jobs.

But that’s a long way off, and there’s a lot to do before you get there!

Don’t stress. Teaching responsibility comes little by little. See responsibility as a joyful development for your child, and you’ll be able to teach it step by step.

Begin Young

Don’t wait until your child is a teenager to expect them to take responsibility around the house and in their life. Begin when they are small — right now — and expect that this is a skill they can learn.

Teach Them

Just like you shouldn’t wait until your child is a teenager to take on responsibilities, don’t throw them into something now without taking the time to teach them what to do.

Don’t say, “Dust the living room” without first showing them the steps to take. And remember — they may need you to teach them again and again. It could take several tries over several weeks or months. But keep at it. Little by little, your child will learn the skills they need to be more responsible.

Set Them up for Success

How can your child best succeed at developing responsibility?

One way is to use routines to help your child take responsibility throughout their day. If they have a morning routine that follows the same pattern each day, it will be much easier for them to be responsible in each step: brushing teeth, making their bed, cleaning up breakfast dishes, etc.

Another is to give second (and third, and fourth, and…) chances. If they forget to bring in their toys after playing outside, don’t punish them. Instead, help them remember. “Oh, it looks like your toys are still outside. I’m worried they’ll get ruined by the rain/sprinklers/dog. Let’s go get them.”

Look for ways to help you child succeed, not for ways to punish if they fail.

Model Responsibility

Let your child see you taking responsibility. As you take responsibility over certain tasks each day, narrate what you’re doing. “Now that we finished the movie, we put away the blankets.” Those “we” statements, accompanied by your action, will help your child see  what it means to take responsibility over their actions.

Modeling doesn’t mean you always have to put on a cheerful face and act like you love doing everything you’re responsible for. Sometimes, letting your child see that you don’t enjoy the task, but you do it anyway, can teach a valuable lesson.

For example, you can say, “I really don’t feel like doing the dishes now, but if I don’t clean up, the food will harden on the dishes and it will become difficult to do later. Plus, I’m really looking forward to a clean kitchen, so I can have time to play with you!”

Have Your Child Help You

Invite your child into your daily chores. When you’re sweeping the kitchen, ask them to grab the dust pan. When you’re folding laundry, have them sort socks. The point is to help them understand that they can contribute to the household — they are valued and appreciated.

When a child feels valued, they take more ownership of responsibilities.

Help Your Child

how to teach your preschooler responsibility

When you’re a kid, it’s lonely and overwhelming to be sent to do a task on your own. You might not know where to start. You might not know how to do the task alone.

If your child is refusing to take responsibility for something, look at them through this forgiving mindset, and realize that maybe they just need help this time. Remember: your child learns responsibility bit by bit, and it’s okay for you to be a part of the process.

Catch Them in the Act

Nobody likes when their efforts go unnoticed. When you see your child taking responsibility for something — maybe they put their shoes away without being asked; maybe they helped a younger sibling reach a snack — point it out.

“Thank you for taking responsibility for your shoes!”

“Wow, I really appreciate it when you are responsible and look for ways to help your sibling!”

Teach Problem Solving

Try not to give orders or rush to solve your child’s problems. When going through your evening routine, instead of telling your child to get pajamas on and brush their teeth, you could ask them what comes next in their routine.

When your child spills crackers on the floor, instead of telling them how to clean them up (or doing it yourself), ask your child how this problem can be solved. Be prepared to help, but first get your child’s input.

{7 Crucial Steps to Help Your Child Become a Problem Solver}

Avoid Criticizing

Learning responsibility is a process. Your child won’t remember to manage all aspects of their life every day. They won’t make their bed perfectly. They’ll forget to throw their fruit snack wrapper away sometimes.

Don’t criticize. Keep modeling, teaching, reminding, and showing appreciation. Little by little, they’ll take more and more ownership.

To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

7 Crucial Steps to Help Your Preschooler Become a Problem Solver

One of the most important aspects of a successful life — at any stage — is having the ability to solve problems. Every day, we have to think on our feet, make adjustments, and move forward.

It’s important that we take the time to nurture a problem-solving ability in our children. Most of us know and understand this on an intellectual level — we know our children will be on their own one day, and will have to solve their own problems. But when it comes down to daily practice, we’re often guilty of stepping in too soon, underestimating our children, and removing chances for growth by solving their problems for them.

  • This may look like quickly getting a new cup of milk for our child after he’s spilled his first — instead of involving him in solving the problem.
  • It may look like inflicting consequences when our child won’t share — instead of involving her in a solution.
  • It may look like carrying all the things from our child’s hands when they have too much — instead of asking them what their idea is to solve the problem.

It doesn’t mean we’re bad parents when we do this. In fact, we’re great parents! We’re efficient parents! We’re working hard to keep our day moving forward while keeping our children safe and happy.

But the ability to problem solve is a gift, and if we open our eyes to opportunities to teach and guide our children to solve their own problems, they will be able to use that gift in all areas of their life.

The more we help our children be problem solvers, the less frustrated they’ll be when they encounter a challenge. They’ll be less likely to give up when faced by obstacles, and they’ll learn how to manage their emotions. They’ll also develop creative thinking abilities and persistence.

These benefits are worth the extra time it takes to guide our children to become problem solvers.

This is how we teach our preschool students to be problem solvers at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah.

1. Guide Children to Solve Their Own Problems

When a child comes to us with a problem, we hand it right back to them!
But we don’t tell them it’s their problem and walk away. We stay by their side, and guide them through the problem-solving process.
It may look like this:
Child: “Johnny took the dinosaur.”
Teacher: “Oh, did you like that?” Or, “Is that okay with you?”
Child: “No.”  
Teacher: “This sounds like a problem. It is a good thing you are a problem solver! Did you tell Johnny you didn’t like it?”
Child: “No.”
Teacher: “How do you think you could help Johnny know you didn’t like it?” Or, “What are you going to do about it?” 
At this point you may get a few different answers. Maybe your child will say she doesn’t know, maybe she will think to use her words, or maybe something else.
If your child comes up with a solution, like using her words, tell her that’s a great idea and support her as she carries it out.
If your child can’t come up with a solution, offer suggestions and discuss the potential outcomes of each choice. This may take some time, but it is worth the effort.
It’s far simpler to take the problem into your own hands and solve it by telling Johnny that “we don’t take toys.” And while your child might be happy with the immediate result, she won’t feel empowered. She also won’t know how to solve her problem the next time.
The next step walks you through how to continue to guide your child.
preschool problem solver

2. Show Confidence in Your Child’s Problem-Solving Abilities

Remember that Johnny took your child’s toy. While your child may have come up with a solution to use her words to talk to Johnny, that doesn’t mean everything is going to go smoothly at this point. Stay in the game, and continue to offer guidance, while still showing confidence in your child’s problem-solving abilities.
It might look like this:
You help by getting Johnny’s attention. Say something like, “Johnny, please listen to Suzi’s words. She has something important she would like to say.”
You can then turn to your child.
Your child may or may not verbalize her feelings. Help her out by saying something like, “Suzi, Johnny is listening to hear what you have to say.”
If she takes the reins and speaks for herself, great! Encourage her.
If she doesn’t, you can continue to guide. Say something like, “Did you like it when Johnny took the dinosaur from your hands?”
She’ll most likely say no.
You can then ask Johnny if he would like it if a friend took something from his hands.
He will most likely say no.
At this point, the problem is identified and clear for everyone.
Now you can again put the problem back in the children’s hands. Say, “You are both kind friends. What do you think we can do to solve this problem?”
Allow them both to come up with ideas, and stay with them to coach them if they still need it.
3. Show Pride and Joy in Their Problem-Solving Skills
Praise your child when he comes up with ideas to solve a problem. Use the phrase “problem-solver” so he comes to understand the skill he is developing. “You are a problem-solver!” followed by a hug or high-five is a great reinforcement for the hard work your child is doing.

4. Model Problem-Solving

Your behavior is often your child’s best teacher. Use your problems as a chance to model problem-solving to your child. Often, we solve problems in our head, and our children don’t see the process we’re going through.

When you can, think out loud so your child can see your problem-solving process. Say, “I forgot I scheduled a doctor’s appointment during your dance class. This is a problem. I think I will solve it by calling the doctor to see if I can reschedule.”

Sometimes you won’t be able to solve a problem immediately, and it’s okay to let your child see that. You can say, “I’m frustrated about this problem, and my problem-solving ideas haven’t worked yet. I’ll keep trying.”

5. Encourage Creative Play

Did you know creative play helps build problem-solving skills? When your child is playing hot lava, he has to figure out how to get from the couch to the pillow on the floor without touching the carpet. When your child is building with blocks, she has to figure out how to keep her tower from falling over again.

And just watch two kids play pretend together. They’ll invent dozens of problems they have to solve, and their solutions will be so creative! Practicing this skill in pretend play helps your child use it in the real world.

6. Allow for Failure

Don’t expect perfection. Don’t expect each problem to be solved the way everyone wants. It’s okay if things don’t go according to plan. Being okay with failure lets your child feel free to learn and try new solutions.

7. Read Problem-Solving Books

Read about characters struggling with problems and finding solutions. These are some of our favorite problem-solving books for preschool-aged children:

“I Got This!”- Steve Herman
“Can I Play Too?” Mo Willems
“Talk and Work it Out”- Cheri J Meiners
“Share and Take Turns” Cheri J Meiners
“What do You Do WIth a Problem?”- Kobi Yamada
“I Can Handle It” by Lauri Wright 

Everything we do at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah is carefully thought out. We actively and formally teach problem-solving skills, and look for organic opportunities to help our children naturally develop those skills. To learn more or schedule a tour of our preschool, give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online.

Why Your Child Should Play at the Playground

benefits of playground play

You know your child enjoys the playground, and you feel great about the exercise it provides. But when you take your child to the playground, you’re also giving her many, many more benefits that extend further than you might expect.

Play Benefits Children

Before we even get into the specific benefits of playground play, remember that play, in and of itself, is actually a critical component of a child’s development. It’s not just a nice thing to do. Play is how children learn. It also helps them develop confidence, dexterity, strength, imagination, math skills, and so much more.

{Why Your Child Needs Play-Based Learning} 

Full-Body Exercise

Playgrounds give your child the chance to get their full body into their play, which means they get to exercise their body from head to toe. Monkey bars increase upper body strength, climbing the ladder to the slide strengthens the legs, swings give a chance for grip to be strengthened while legs get stronger, and more.

Unstructured Play Allows for Growth

At the playground, your child can jump, run, and skip from activity to activity as his mood pleases. Unstructured play puts your child in control, lets him discover what he loves, and encourages him to try new things. Interacting with other children is often simpler in an unstructured environment where children can move from trying one thing to another with ease.

Learn Social Rules

It doesn’t take long for kids to learn to wait their turn for the slide. Older kids even develop sophisticated rules for how long a person can stay on a piece of equipment before letting another child try. (Forming a line and counting to 100, etc.) Children have to learn how to cooperate.

On the playground, children are also more free to interact with children of different races, ages, and economic status. There isn’t any ranking on the playground, which is just how it should be.

Therapeutic Benefits

benefits of playground play

Sand and water features are known to help reduce anxiety, provide a way for positive self-expression, and to provide a way to calm down. When these elements are present in a playground, your child has the chance to unknowingly gain therapeutic and emotional benefits.

Resilience

Children learn resilience as they try different playground equipment. Maybe they can’t get very far on the monkey bars at first, but as they watch other children swing along, they’ll try to go farther. Maybe climbing the slide ladder seems scary, but they’ll give it a try for the fun payoff of sliding down.

Because the equipment is fun, and because other children are also navigating it, your child will have the chance — and the motivation — to try, try, and try again.

How a Swing Can Help in Whole Child Development

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we make intentional choices about the equipment we put in our outdoor play area. Everything we have chosen is there with a learning objective in mind — to help your child develop and grow mentally, physically, and emotionally.

For example, we chose our swing specifically because it is difficult to climb onto and hard to balance on. This helps the children to develop upper body strength.

And we don’t just let the tricky swing dangle out of reach, frustrating the children. We actually coach the children on how to use their arm muscles to pull their weight onto the swing. This helps them listen, follow directions, and receive a big, fun payoff.

The swing is also tipsy, which helps children develop their core strength and balance as they conquer it.

It’s a difficult piece of equipment for most children in the beginning, but every child eventually masters it, overcoming fear, frustration, and doubt.

They also count to take turns to use it, and cooperate by pushing each other (Bonus: They’re learning Newton’s laws of motion along the way!)

So the next time you head to the playground, pat yourself on the back. You’re giving your child a mental, emotional, and physical boost. Well done, moms and dads!

To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930

Playing with Your Food Is a GOOD Thing! The Benefits of Playing with Food for Preschoolers

“Don’t play with your food! It’s bad manners!”

We’ve had this concept drilled into us from the time we were small, and chances are that we’re drilling it into our children too. And while we don’t think every meal should be a handsy free-for-all, there are plenty of reasons why playing with food could be a beneficial bonus in your preschooler’s life.

Using More Senses Helps Kids Learn Better

The more senses that are involved in an activity, the more your child is going to learn — and retain. Playing with food allows your child to see, smell, feel, hear (what does it sound like when you squish a pea or snap a pretzel?), and even taste. This sensory experience helps with language development, problem solving skills, concentration, and comfort in trying new things.

Playing with Food Decreases Food Battles

We often get into battles of wills at the dinner table. “Eat three more bites, and you can have dessert/go play with your friend/watch a show.” But kids know you can’t actually force them to eat, and so it’s common for them to choose a meal as a time to exert their independence.

Playing with their food removes the battle and gives children a sense of control. It helps them develop curiosity about the food and approach it on their own terms.

Give your child more opportunities to play with new foods, and you may see less resistance during meals.

Playing with Food Helps with Food Aversions

If you have a picky eater, you know how tough it is to get them to try anything new. Letting children play with food lets them experience the food through different senses. They’ll feel the textures with their hands instead of their tongues, which is much more approachable. They may take the time to smell the food or inspect it visually.

And when playing is allowed, pressure is off. This gets your child comfortable with the food so that when it’s presented as a consumable part of a meal, they may be more willing to try it.

Kids Learn Through Play

Kids learn about their world through play. They learn cause and effect, bravery, language development, and so much more. When a child is allowed to play with a food, they’ll learn more about that food. They might ask curious questions, or become fascinated by the food’s details. Again, this will help them get more comfortable with unfamiliar foods.

Let your child guide goldfish crackers on a swim through a new soup. Use bell peppers or apples as sponges for paint. Set broccoli up as a forest for your child’s small animal toys.

But Isn’t It Wasteful to Play with Food?

“You’ll finish your dinner because there are starving children in _______ (fill in the blank).”

Many of us heard this when we were growing up, and it’s a fair point. How can we play with food, when children around the world don’t have enough to eat on a daily basis?

Katie from Preschool Inspirations offers some grounding perspective. She points out that in the United States, we are surrounded by wealth and abundance. Taking showers, driving cars, shopping in a supermarket, and more are all privileges we freely enjoy. And while we know these privileges aren’t available to everyone, we still don’t deprive ourselves of them.

This doesn’t mean we should use our resources wastefully with no regard to anybody else. But perhaps it’s a good idea to focus our efforts on making a difference, like donating generously to someone in need.

Katie also suggests that when playing with food, to use foods that are expired, food that would have been thrown away (maybe you spilled a bag of pretzels or maybe the apple is too bruised), and foods that benefit nature — like birdseed projects done outdoors.

How to Play with Food

  • Let your child cook with you. Try your best not to stress out over messes; this is part of the sensory process.
  • Choose fun ways to present food from time to time. Put chicken on kabob sticks, arrange fruit in rainbow order, cut food into different shapes, let your children build their own tacos, etc.
  • Use food as the subject of an art project. While you prepare dinner, leave an extra cucumber or broccoli stem on the counter and ask your child to draw or paint it. Tell your child to give it arms and legs, change its color, or even come up with a story about their drawing.
  • Have a fun taste test. Choose different food items you know your child likes, and take turns being blindfolded while feeding each other bites of the food. Everyone will have fun as you guess what you’re tasting.
  • Pick your favorites. Buy several types of one kind of food — apples are a good idea. Taste each variety, and vote on your favorites.
  • Before a bite, ask your child what that food will sound like when it’s chewed. Will it be crunchy, soundless, squishy? Similarly, ask your child to describe its appearance or smell.
  • Make food into a math problem. Ask your child to count their grapes on their plate. Then ask them how many will be remaining if they eat one. What about two?
  • Have your child help you make dinner more colorful. What foods can you add to your chicken dinner to make your plates more like the rainbow?
  • String cereal on yarn.
  • Use apples, bell peppers, or potatoes as painting stamps.
  • Use food as checker pieces.
  • Make faces with different food items.
  • Play with pretend food. Invent the wackiest recipes you can.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we eat healthy snacks every day and give the children opportunities to play with their food, prepare their own food, and try new foods. To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930

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.

 

Why Does Your Preschooler Need to Learn Independence Anyway?

Preschooler independence“I wanna do it myself!”

Sigh.

Are there any words that are more grating to a parent’s ear in the midst of trying to get out the door, eat dinner in a hurry, or tidy up a room before bedtime?

Perhaps not. But hang in there, moms and dads. Allowing your child to develop independence as a preschooler is one of the best gifts you can give to your child’s future.

Building independence is critical to your child’s development. Independence helps your child build social skills, allows them to feel they have control over their life, and leaves them feeling confident and secure. They feel they have something to contribute, and feel they belong. Read on for why it’s so important for you to teach independence, and some simple steps you can take to nurture this quality.

Trial and Error Is a Great Teacher

Think about the big mistakes in your life. Maybe you made a bad investment, dated someone who wasn’t right for you, or chose the wrong major in college. Chances are, you learned quite a bit from those mistakes. Maybe you became more careful with your money, your heart, and your career decisions.

But have you ever stopped to think about your little mistakes and what you’ve learned from them? Maybe you burned dinner. Well, now you know not to try and catch up on Instagram while you’re cooking. Maybe you picked up your child late from school. Now you know you need to set a timer for five minutes earlier than you thought. Each mistake — and each victory — gets you one step closer to managing your life they way you want to.

Your children deserve to learn the same lessons — but on a mini level. When your preschooler fumbles with the zipper on his hoodie, he’s learning patience, along with hand-eye coordination and small motor skills. It may take him months to finally do it on his own, but as you stand back and let him first try, he’ll learn valuable lessons.

When your preschooler writes her name without help, it’s cause for celebration — and no doubt she learned it from many trials and errors.

Self-Esteem Comes from Accomplishment

preschooler independence

When your preschooler tries something — and succeeds — her confidence soars through the roof. She jumps, she smiles, she claps… she’s proud. And she should be! Working hard at something gives your child confidence and self-esteem, especially when she finally succeeds. When adults step in and interrupt the process of trying, it communicates to the child that they don’t necessarily believe she can do whatever it is she’s trying to do. When we step back, we’re showing we have confidence.

Stress Is Part of Life

Failure and stress are just a part of life. When your preschooler has a chance to work through stressful situations, he learns how to handle that stress without falling apart (over time, of course).  Many of the things preschoolers need to learn to do independently — like writing their name, using the potty, washing their hands, doing small chores, walking into preschool without Mom and Dad — can be stressful. But each time your child conquers that stress, he becomes more independent and better equipped to handle the next stage of his life.

There is no need to come up with stressful situations for your child to overcome. Much of being a small child is already stressful. Your child needs you to gently guide her to independence at her level through the stressful moments of her life.

Independence Breeds a Desire to Help

Independence allows a child to feel confident in their social circles. And this gives them the ability to be aware of others and their needs. And because they feel confident, they also feel they can reach out and help a peer or another person who is struggling.

When your child can rely on himself to accomplish age-appropriate tasks, he has the freedom — and the desire — to look around him and find others to help.

Things You Can Work on to Encourage Independence

Don’t turn any of this into a fight, and don’t worry if you aren’t teaching your child each of these items. Just keep independence in mind, and gently work on it. Remember — a 2-year-old’s level of independence will be nowhere near that of a 4-year-old’s.

  • Let your child choose his own outfits
  • Teach your child to dress herself (For a 2-year-old, this may mean just getting the shirt to sit on top of her head, while a 4-year-old can eventually do the whole process himself)
  • Give your child age-appropriate chores
  • Write a simple grocery list to accompany your grocery list (draw pictures for pre-readers) and ask your child to be on the lookout for those items
  • Let your child participate in meal prep — measuring, pouring, stirring
  • Let your child pay for small items with cash
  • Let them make their own decisions on non-critical things (Safety is never negotiable, but foregoing a hoodie on a slightly chilly day is fine.)
  • If your child can do it herself, let her
  • Praise your child when he shows independence or solves a problem on his own

[Read more tips for helping your preschooler learn independence]

If you’d like to see how we teach independence at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or request a tour.

How to Gauge Your Child’s Speech and Language Development

 

speech and language development

Your child is always watching and listening, soaking up language and communication skills at the speed of light. And did you know that in those first early years, the interactions your child has with adults will help set the stage for how well your child will learn? Along with your child’s preschool teachers, you can have a hugely positive impact on your child’s speech and language development — giving your child the gift of academic (and life!) confidence.

“Children who develop strong language and communication skills are more likely to arrive at school ready to learn. They also are less likely to have difficulties learning to read and are more likely to have higher levels of achievement in school.”

And children who can communicate their needs, wants, and interests have an easier time engaging with those around them. Plus, it’s simply more fun for a child when he can be a full participant in what’s going on!

The first five to six years of life are a sensitive period for developing language skills, and you can make the most of those years by promoting high-quality language interactions. Read on to find out how.

Stages of Language Development

When children are infants and babies, they understand far more words than they can speak. By the end of their first year, they’re experts at pseudo-language — that is, their babbling actually mimics their native language. Next, they move on to single words, or holophrases, and those little smarties can use pointing, emphasis, and more to indicate different meanings of the word.

Between 18 and 20 months, children have a vocabulary of about 300 words and begin putting two-word sentences together, like, “Eat banana.” Soon, their sentences get a bit longer and indicate more meaning. “Where cat go?”

The ball really gets rolling after this, and by age 3, children have a vocabulary of about 1,000 words and can speak in full sentences with adults about ideas, needs, desires, and more. They begin to understand grammar rules, and they make a lot of sense (most of the time!).

By about age 6, children have a vocabulary between 8,000 and 14,000 words, and they continue to improve pronunciation, understanding, and abilities.

speech and language development

Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Speech and Language Development?

As parents, we’re always worried about our kids. It’s easy to compare your child to one of his preschool classmates or one of her best friends. It’s wise to pay attention to warning signs, but getting worked up over comparisons will only cause you and your child stress.

Instead, keep an eye out for these signs  of speech and language development in your preschool-aged child:

Understanding

  • Struggling to understand what gestures mean
  • Having a hard time following directions
  • Having trouble answering questions
  • Struggling to identify objects and pictures
  • Struggling to take turns when talking with others

Talking

  • Having a hard time asking questions
  • Struggling to name objects
  • Having trouble using gestures
  • Having a hard time putting words together into sentences
  • Struggling to learn songs and rhymes
  • Having trouble using correct pronouns, like “she” or “they”
  • Having trouble knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going

Early reading and writing

  • Having trouble with holding a book right side up
  • Struggling to look at pictures in a book and turn pages
  • Having trouble telling a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end
  • Having a hard time naming letters and numbers
  • Struggling to learn the alphabet

If you’re concerned about your child’s speech and language development, talk with her preschool teacher and/or doctor, and begin working with a speech language pathologist.

How to Encourage Speech Language Development

If your child has delays, his speech language pathologist will give you specific activities to do. But whether your child struggles or not, the following activities can help your child develop strong speech and language skills — and they help to form bonds between the two of you as well!

Talk

  • Talk a lot. From the time your child is a baby, keep a dialogue going. Describe what you see and what you’re doing, ask your baby questions, and respond when your baby responds.  As your child grows, continue to talk — and actually listen.
  • Pause what you’re doing when your child talks to you and make eye contact to model good listening behavior.
  • Encourage language, in addition to gestures your child may be using to communicate.
  • Ask questions that give your child a choice.
  • Point out silly things in books and have your child tell you why those things are silly.
  • Have your child explain what’s happening in a picture book or family photo.
  • Sing songs and make music.
  • Read, read, read! Read picture books, cereal boxes, store signs, and more. Just read.
  • Discuss the stories you read.
  • Sing nursery rhymes together.
  • Tell stories to each other.
  • Have your child retell or act out a story you’ve read.
  • Ask your child what he likes about the story.

As you make language and speech development a priority, many of these ideas will become second nature to you. But no matter what, we’re pretty sure you’ll always be amazed by the things your preschooler says!

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool,  we encourage our students to develop their language and speech abilities throughout each day as we go about our multisensory activities. Our teachers are trained in listening and encouraging children to increase their speaking abilities, and we love helping our children succeed. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to schedule a tour and see the preschool in action.

6 Ways to Help Your Child Love Learning

how to help your child love learning

For a preschooler, the whole world is still new. Sure, they might be recognizing some colors, numbers, and shapes. They can identify animals, walk up and down the stairs, and even carry on (mostly) interesting back-and-forth conversations with you.

But they still know very little! And they’re looking to their parents for the answers — to everything.

Fortunately, preschoolers have a natural excitement about learning. Your job as a parent is to help keep that excitement going strong. Your words and actions matter a lot at this point in your child’s life. What you do and say will have an impact on helping your child love learning — now, and throughout her whole life.

1. Help Them Deal with Failure

Learning involves failure — and lots of it. Your preschooler is going to call an L a P. He’s going to struggle to use a hand shovel the first time he digs a hole in the garden. She won’t know how to hold scissors correctly right away.

Sometimes, these learning processes and mistakes won’t phase your child. But other times, he’ll feel upset that he can’t do what he wants to do yet. Help him understand that failing isn’t bad.

In fact, it’s great!

Making mistakes helps us grow, and trying hard things makes us stronger. So when your child is frustrated she can’t yet ride her big sister’s scooter, don’t criticize her. Instead, comment on the progress you’ve already seen. Tell her you know she’s trying hard, you understand she’s getting frustrated, and her mistakes are helping her get better.

Sometimes, kids respond really well when you tell them about a time you struggled with something similar.

2. Give Toys that Inspire Creativity

how to help your child love learning

Toys that can be used in a variety of ways are ideal to help your child love learning. Blocks, dress-up clothes, art supplies, and stuffed animals can be imagined into completely new worlds each time your child picks them up.  This gives your child confidence and allows her to develop her imagination.

Playing while learning makes learning fun. And when something is fun, children want to continue doing it. That’s why, at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we offer our students plenty of open-ended toys and activities. We want the children to explore and enjoy play and learning, as this is a huge part of the process of developing the whole child.

3. Model a Love of Learning

What do you love to learn about? Do your children know about it? Do they know you get excited about certain subjects? Show them. Seek out more information about your passions, and share it with your children.

Sure, your preschooler can’t understand the complexities of foreign policy, but you can tell her you read a really interesting article that helped you see a solution to a big problem. Your preschooler probably can’t create a gourmet recipe for dinner, but he can help you cook — and while you cook, you can ask his opinion on ingredients.

When your children see how passionate you are about learning, they’ll continue to feel permission and excitement to love learning as well.

And if your child asks you a question about something in the adult world, don’t tell him he wouldn’t understand. Give him an answer. Your answer will need to be simple, kid-appropriate, and straightforward, but always give an answer. That way, he knows he can always ask questions.

4. Make it Fun

How many classes were you forced to sit through in which the teacher droned on and on? How many classes relied on worksheets to teach concepts that could have been learned through a more fun, hands-on method?

Now, how much do you remember from those classes? Probably not very much. Children (and adults, too!) remember lessons that engage them. Basically, we learn when we’re having fun.

Turn things into games, take your kids exploring, use music in your everyday life, and be enthusiastic when you’re teaching your child something new.

5. Read, Read, Read!

The ability to read will open up your child’s entire world, and put learning literally at his fingertips his whole life through. Make reading a happy experience for your preschooler.

Don’t rush the process of learning how to read. Let her go at her own pace. Surround your child with books, and let her handle them on her own. Read every day, and talk about the books. Ask her what she thinks is going to happen next or how she thinks a character feels.

Go to the library, give books as gifts, and let your child see you reading for pleasure.

6. Process Over Outcome

We all want our children to succeed, and we’d be lying if we say we don’t love when they’re actually ahead of the game when it comes to academic milestones. But being achievement-oriented pushes your child and removes the fun and pleasure of learning.

It also leads your child to believe that the outcome is more important than the process; that getting to the next step is what life is all about. When this is her focus, your child won’t love learning. She’ll tend to be afraid to take risks, and may even struggle when things get hard.

Instead, take interest in your child’s interests. Don’t focus on the outcome of what he’s doing. Be interested and ask questions the whole way through.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Utah, we want your child to feel confident as a learner, and our hands-on discovery approach will help your child love learning. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to schedule a tour.

 

6 Ways to Help Your Child Become Independent

help your child become independent

It wasn’t so long ago that you were doing everything for your baby — and you were happy about it.

But now, your child is growing up, and you’re realizing she needs some independence. Not only is it going to be good for her future happiness and growth, you could sure use a break or twelve.

Independence is a process, and it needs to be taught. Ultimately, you want your child to settle happily into adulthood, confident in his ability to pay the bills, hold a job, take care of a family, and be a decent human being.

But for now? It’s baby steps, friends. Read on for the baby steps that will help your child become independent.

1. Set the Stage

If your home is dangerous, too protected, or just generally un-child-friendly, your child won’t have the chance to do things on her own. Creating an environment in which your child can explore will help her become independent and develop confidence.

This doesn’t mean you need to change your living room decor to Paw Patrol kid chairs; it just means you should make your home safe for a wandering child. Put breakable heirlooms out of reach while keeping kid-friendly books within toddler grasp. Create spaces that are designated for your child — a kid-size coloring table in the TV room, a basket of non-breakable toys in the bedroom, or a kid-level drawer of kid-friendly plates and cups in the kitchen.

help your child become independent

2. All Decisions Don’t Have to Be Yours

Not a newsflash: Your child has some serious opinions!

Let him feel ownership of those opinions by allowing him to make as many decisions as possible each day. Again, this doesn’t mean restructuring your life so your child is a tyrant in your home. Rather, it means stepping back when your opinion really isn’t more important than your child’s.

So he wants to wear rain boots to the store in the middle of a dry summer day? Don’t worry what other people think; let him have this one.

She wants to read books outside instead of in the living room? If it isn’t raining, snowing, or too cold, why not?

In addition, offer your child choices throughout the day to avoid later power struggles. Just make sure you can live with either choice. Library or park today? Lunch at the counter or the table? One book or two?

3. It’s Never Too Early for Chores

When kids contribute to the household, they feel a sense of pride — and they develop independence as they learn new skills. Children have different skills at different ages, but they can always be taught to help in some way. A 2-year-old can put child-safe cups on the table for dinner. A 5-year-old can sweep the kitchen. A 9-year-old can clean a bathroom.

But be patient. Your 2-year-old has a short attention span, and may wander off to give the cup to the dog instead of setting it on the table. That’s okay. Just try again later.

Also, take the time to model the skill correctly. It may take a while for the job to get done to your standards, but as you teach and praise, your child will develop more and more independence.

This age-appropriate chore list will give you some good ideas for what you can expect. Remember that each child develops at a different rate, so don’t be too concerned if your child can’t do everything on the list. Just use it as a guide.

4. If They Can Do It Themselves, Let Them

There’s no doubt about it. You’re better at almost every task your child is capable of doing. And there’s no question that it’s easier to just do those tasks yourself. You’ll be ready for the day 10 times faster if you dress your 5-year-old, tie your 8-year-old’s shoes, and pack your 11-year-old’s lunch.

But when you do for your child what he can do for himself, you’re actually sending the message that you don’t trust his abilities. Believe in your child, teach your child age-appropriate skills, and then step back to let him shine.

But do remember to be flexible. It doesn’t hurt to lend a helping hand from time to time. Children also need to know that they can be part of a support network.

5. Make It Fun

What do you do when you know your child can do what’s expected, but refuses to do so? Be compassionate. She may be doubting her abilities, feeling like she wants attention, or just having a bad day.

When this happens, help your child become independent by changing things up with some fun.

  • Give a  fun challenge: “I bet you can’t brush your teeth while standing on one foot!”
  • Try a compromise that involves you: “I’ll zip up your hoodie for you if you put your arms through.”
  • Change the mood: Try a little tickle war, a game of “Where’s Mommy?”, or use silly voices to lighten the mood.

6. Failure Isn’t the End

Sometimes you just have to let your child taste a little failure. It isn’t pretty for anyone, but it helps your child (and you) understand that responsibility lies with each individual.

It’s okay to not rush forgotten homework to your elementary-aged child. It’s okay to let your toddler struggle for a minute to take off her shoes. It’s okay to let your teenager explain to his teacher why he didn’t complete an assignment.

It’s hard to let your children struggle, but remind yourself that you learn your biggest lessons when facing a trial. Let your children fail from time to time, and be their comforting, non-judgmental sounding board when they need to work out their own solutions.

They’ll come out the other end much stronger.

And so will you.

How Can Preschool Help Your Child Become Independent?

teach your child indpendence

Hands-on discovery-based learning is critical to developing independence in a child. At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we work on developing the whole child by giving children learning opportunities that incorporate all of their senses in their quest for knowledge. Our daily routine helps children know what is expected of them, and assists in learning independence and responsibility.

Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to request a free tour.