Why We Use Themes Each Week at Preschool

You may have noticed we use thematic weekly units here at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. From “D Is for Dinosaur” to “S Is for Safety,” our themes provide a fun structure for each week’s learning.

But it’s not only about fun! Learn why we use thematic weekly units, how it’s benefitting your child, and how it looked during “S Is for Safety” week.

Why Thematic Learning Is Important in Preschool

Thematic units allow us to cross subject matter lines seamlessly — we can incorporate math and engineering by counting the wheels as we construct a vehicle during a week on transportation. We can then learn about colors as we paint our own vehicle. As we pretend to be vehicles during creative movement class, we exercise and understand our bodies more fully.

Essentially, thematic learning helps children explore, understand, and appreciate their world in deeper, more connected ways.

Thematic units help children achieve higher levels of learning. Children create meaning through discovering how facts and ideas relate to each other across subjects.

This is helpful for your child’s whole life. When they encounter a world problem, like homelessness, the solution involves social studies (it’s an issue related to people and how they interact), science (weather factors into the challenges), math (the finances that need to be involved in the solution), engineering (the construction that is needed in the solution), and so much more.

Through thematic learning, your child is learning how to think deeper and more critically, and to be someone who can contribute to real-world solutions — in their own lives and in the world at large.

Thematic learning in preschool is laying the groundwork for your child to make meaningful connections and see the bigger picture. It’s providing a framework for problem solving, interacting in the world, and learning as a lifelong pursuit.

The Benefits of Thematic Learning

In addition to learning how to make deep connections and problem solve, thematic learning helps your child in a variety of ways.

Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills are developed as children learn to explore, evaluate, and apply knowledge across different subjects.

During “S Is for Safety” week, we incorporated pretend play into the curriculum by pretending to be super heroes. But like everything in thematic learning, this wasn’t only for fun. We taught the children safety skills, like how to dial 911, how to be safe near a street, how to ask for help, and more in a variety of ways. When the week was over, every child had earned their Super Safety Kid training certificate.

When the children encounter a tricky situation, they will now have the skills to think critically to solve their problem.


Creativity is enhanced though thematic learning, because children learn to think outside the box in their problem solving.

We taught the children the science of why water puts out fire, and then let them “put out” their own fires as a way to develop numerical literacy. With water bottles, they sprayed numbered laminated flames. “Putting out” fire 1, and counting up one-by-one, was a great way to help children understand counting and numbers’ relationship to each other.

In pretend play, the children “put out” construction-paper fires, making the idea of safety more connected to their real world and allowing them to face a potentially-scary subject on their own terms.

In art, we combined the colors of fire to see what happens when they blend together.

Memory Is Enhanced

Memory skills are developed in thematic learning, because children make deeper connections. This is great, because it means that learning loss is then prevented.

During creative movement class, we practiced stopping, dropping, and rolling. Not only did this help children move their bodies and develop strength, it reinforced an important concept. We hope they never have to use this skill, but by practicing it in our creative movement class, it will be brought to their memory if needed.

Art projects that encourage children to think about the thematic subject help children make more memorable connections. Art is a positive learning activity by itself, but combining it with the theme of the week helps children continue to make connections they can remember and apply in other places.

Learning Becomes More Self-Directed

In thematic units, children learn how to learn. Because their curiosity takes the driver seat, they are shown how to follow a topic from subject to subject. They collect more and more information along the way.

Giving the children props and dress-ups related to our “S Is for Safety” theme allowed the children to decide how they want to understand the topic. They got to “try on” different roles and act them out. This allowed them to process everything we were talking about in class.

The Family Can Join in Learning

When thematic units are used, the family can be a part of learning, since the themes are easy to talk about.

When parents know the theme, they can ask more directed questions. A question like, “How did you learn about safety in creative movement class?” might remind your child that they fashioned capes and acted as Super Safety Kids.

{Read: How to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School}

Communication Improves

Thematic learning helps children communicate better, as they get familiar with new vocabulary being used in natural settings.

In our “S Is for Safety” unit, children learned deeper meanings of common words, like safety, gratitude, and fire fighters.

They also learned potentially new-to-them words, like fire engine, dispatcher, and caution.

And they learned how to use language to communicate in critical moments. They practiced dialing 911, and what they should say to the dispatcher.

 It’s Just Fun!

Thematic learning is FUN! Kids love learning this way (and preschool teachers love teaching this way!). When children are having fun, they not only stay engaged longer, but they associate positive feelings with learning.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, our thematic units cover social studies, science, math, reading, art, creative movement and dance, music, character development, and writing. We enjoy full, integrated days of learning, exploration, and fun. To learn more about how we teach thematic units, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School

“How was preschool today?”


“What did you do?”

“I don’t remember.”

Does this conversation sound familiar? Getting your preschooler to open up after school can be a challenge!

The reason? Their brains are darting from idea to idea at rapid speed, and their working memory hasn’t fully developed yet. They may have LOVED when Miss Vicky led them on a hunt for the gingerbread man, but that was two hours ago. Plus, right now they’re distracted by something they see out the window.

But you (naturally!) want to know what your child did at school, and you want to know how they felt about it all. And it’s actually good for your preschooler’s brain if you do ask them to open up about their day. Revisiting their day helps their brain to develop while making important connections in their life.

So how can you get your preschooler to open up after preschool? Try these seven tell-me-about-your day tips.

Check Your Questions

It’s natural to say, “How was your day?” And there’s nothing wrong with this question. But if you want your preschooler to open up, try to ask fewer questions that prompt only one-word answers. Questions like, “Did you have fun?” or “Did you have a good day?” don’t invite your child to revisit their day and think about something to share.

Instead of “Did you have fun?”, try, “What was the most fun part of your day?” This will help you get more information, while also helping your child build their memory and communication skills.

Become Familiar with the Preschool Schedule

how to get your preschooler to open up

The more you know about what goes on at preschool each day, the more you can get your preschooler to open up. Use what you know to form your questions.

For example, if you know the preschool does show-and-tell every day, you can ask who brought an item, what it was, and what the child said about that item.

Use the teachers’ names, and ask questions about what they did during different subjects. “What kind of wiggly activity did you do in Miss Kris’ movement class today?”

What other routines or traditions happen at your child’s preschool? At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we have a special puppet named Tiki who introduces our character traits. Ask your child, “What did Tiki teach you?”

Use the 5 Ws

how to get your preschooler to open up

Help your child think back over their day by asking specific questions that ask them to recall details.

The 5Ws are a helpful guideline in this:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

Who did you sit next to at snack time? What art project did you work on today? When did you feel excited today? Where did you play during free time? Why did you get in the car with a smile/frown?

You can also add how questions: How did you feel during playtime? How were you friendly/silly/curious today? How did you solve a problem today?

Be Fun

how to get your preschooler to open up

Get your preschooler to open up by being fun or silly.

“Today, I wished a unicorn would knock on the door. It didn’t happen, but I did get a fun package. What silly thing did you wish for today?”

“I’m sure you did nothing today! You sat on the floor and stared at the wall, right?” If your child is in a playful mood, this might prompt responses like, “Noooo! I played with Emma! We were firefighters and we saved all the ponies!”

Take Your Time

Some kids are ready to share all the details of their day as soon as they get in the car, but some kids need time to decompress. And even chatty kids will have days when they need some time.

Gauge your child’s engagement, and if they need some time, wait. Try again when you’re both eating a snack together, driving to an after-school activity, eating dinner, or going to bed.

Get Your Preschooler to Open up by Showing How It’s Done

Start your conversation by sharing about your own day. Think of moments in your day that are relatable to your child’s day.

For example, “I had an orange for a snack.” Or, “I had a good time talking with my best friend today.” Or, “I felt frustrated today, and I helped myself feel better by taking deep breaths.”

Sometimes your child might take your cue, and offer up a similar tidbit from their day. Or you can then ask your child a similar question. “What did you have for snack today? What did you do with your friend today?”

Change the Scenery

Pay attention to when — and where — your child opens up about their day. If they clam up in the car, they may still be decompressing. Or they may be distracted by what they see outside. Try asking about your child’s day at a more calm time, like at bedtime.

If they can’t answer your questions face-to-face at dinner time, they may prefer talking when you’re doing a side-by-side activity, like putting together a puzzle or going for a walk.

15 Questions to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School

Add a few of these questions to your rotation, and see how it goes!

  1. What did your teacher say to you today?
  2. Who did you spend the most time with today?
  3. What was the best thing you did outside?
  4. What was the hardest thing you did inside?
  5. Why was (fill in the blank from their answer) so fun/hard?
  6. Where is your favorite place at preschool?
  7. What did you have for snack?
  8. Sing me a song your learned today.
  9. What was the worst thing that happened today?
  10. What made you smile today?
  11. Show me your artwork. Tell me about it.
  12. What made you laugh today?
  13. Show me something you did in your creative movement class.
  14. Tell me about something that made you sad today.
  15. Tell me about something you learned today. 

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we enjoy full days of learning, exploration, and fun. To learn more about how we teach music, art, reading, math, science, creative movement, social studies, and so much more, 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.

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.

Transition Strategies for Preschoolers

Summer is almost here, and your preschooler is going to have to adjust to a new schedule without school. It seems like just yesterday you were figuring out how to make preschool goodbyes run more smoothly, and here you are, already preparing for the summer months. While you may be looking forward to longer days and sunshine, transitions aren’t always easy for children.

Your child will be leaving the weekly structure of preschool, and will have to say goodbye to teachers and friends. While the pool may be a fun replacement, it doesn’t mean difficult feelings won’t surface as you go through the transition of school to summer. Use these transition strategies for preschoolers to travel happily together from May into June.

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

The school year was largely a success because you followed a predictable routine. Up at 7:00. Go potty. Eat breakfast. Get dressed. Gather school supplies. Out the door at 8:00. Heading into the summer, you may be tempted to abandon such a strict routine. It’s nice to live without a clock, after all.

But while you can loosen up your schedule a bit in the summer, don’t abandon all routine. Routines help your child feel emotionally safe and secure, and following one will help your child make the transition from a structured school year into summer fun a bit easier.

Structure a morning routine that is similar to the morning routine you’ve been keeping all school year, but you can ease up on the time crunch if you want. Keep breakfast, getting dressed, etc. in a similar order to keep things routine for your little one. Then, create a general structure you’ll follow from day to day — lunch at the same time, dinner at the same time, bedtime routine kept the same.

You can make this transition time easier for your preschooler by creating a simple daily checklist for her to follow. Post it in the kitchen or bathroom so she can clearly see what activity comes next.

Keep Learning

transition strategies for preschoolers

Summer learning loss is a real thing. Don’t stress about providing the same level of learning your child has been experiencing in preschool, but continue reading, practicing letters in fun ways, and learning about the world around you. Take trips to the library, museums, farms, zoo, and more to keep your preschooler’s mind engaged and learning. This is a great transition strategy for your preschooler because it keeps her mind occupied and helps her avoid boredom.

Maintain Friendships

transition strategies for preschoolers

Making friends in preschool is hard work. Little children have to learn to take turns, control impulses, acknowledge the needs of others, and so much more. By the end of the school year, their hard work has paid off handsomely in true friendships. If you live close enough to some of your child’s preschool friends, arrange for play dates over the summer. Your child and friends will love the comfort of familiar faces, and your child won’t feel anxious about losing those important friendships once school is out.

Listen to Your Child

Your child has just finished a year of preschool, and may be nervous about what’s coming up in the fall. If kindergarten is on the horizon, you may be excitedly talking about the big-kid steps your child is about to take. But for some children, this may make them anxious. The start of the new school year is still a long way off, and they may not be prepared to feel the weight of their next big step.

Listen to your child’s cues. Is he saying he’s nervous about school? Don’t brush him off. Let him know you understand. Is she telling you she doesn’t want to be a big kid? Let her know those feelings are natural and you’re there to help her through them.

You can also give positive examples of times your child was successful at doing a big-kid thing, or tell your child about a time you felt nervous too.

Make a Fun To-Do List

To create excitement about summer, ask your child what he would like to do over the break. If the requests are within reason, put them on the calendar and help him look forward to the fun activities. You can even find a cheap calendar for your child to keep in their room and keep track of the upcoming events. Simple drawings can be enough for a child who isn’t reading yet (a lion on the day you plan to go to the zoo, a beach ball on the day you plan to go to the lake or beach, etc.).

With just a little prep work, these transition strategies for preschoolers will help your child soak up the summer months.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we believe your child’s emotional well-being is just as important as academic progress. Our curriculum focuses on developing the whole child. If you’d like to arrange for a tour of the preschool, give us a call at (801) 523-5930 or contact us online.

Why Do We Do Assessments in Preschool?

assessments in preschool Assessments in preschool are always for the benefit of each child. They aren’t meant to be scary, dismal, or disheartening. Rather, they allow teachers to take a comprehensive look at what each child knows, how she is developing, and where she can continue to grow.

It’s important to note that, as teachers, we are not stressed about what each child can and can’t do. Rather, we are focused on seeing progress and development for each child. We don’t compare children to each other. At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe we teach a child, not a class. This means that while we teach classrooms of children, we are focused on getting each child to their next step.

We know it’s easy to fall into comparison mode as parents, but we strongly encourage you to focus on your child’s progress. Does your child know more now than he did at the beginning of the year? Have her fine motor skills improved compared to what she was capable of five months ago? This is what’s important — that your child is progressing.

Preschool assessments are not standardized tests; there are no right or wrong answers.

Why Perform Assessments in Preschool?

Preschool assessments are a valuable tool to teachers, parents, and children in many ways:

  • Assessments in preschool provide the teacher with data and details. This data helps teachers to see each child’s strengths, as well as areas that need continued focus.
  • Preschool assessments help to inform future instruction. With the information collected from assessments, teachers can adjust their methods and techniques to benefit each child.
  • Assessments identify special needs. During assessments, teachers can identify areas in which a child isn’t progressing. This can be critical information at a young age, and parents can use it to obtain necessary interventions and help.
  • Assessments provide a way to communicate to parents about their child’s progress and development. This not only gives parents a good idea of how their children are doing, it also gives them a baseline for continuing learning at home. For example, if the assessment shows that your child knows most of his letters, but only a few numbers, you can continue encouraging what your child knows while boosting number knowledge through letter and number identification throughout your day. If your child is great at sharing at preschool, you can continue to encourage that at home.
  • Preschool assessments help teachers with group teaching. When we are done with assessments, we have the data to show us how many children are mastering certain concepts. If we need to adjust teaching as a group, we can do so. Likewise, if we need to give one or two children extra attention, we can plan for that.
  • Assessments help parents see their children’s strengths. We love this part of assessments. Each of our children are advancing in unique ways, and we love to point out those special qualities to parents.

    assessments in preschool

What Do We Assess at UDA?

We aim to develop the whole child, so our preschool assessments focus on several areas of development:

  • Physical development
  • Motor skills
  • Identification of letters and their sounds, numbers, shapes, colors, etc.
  • Social development
  • Emotional development
  • Language development
  • General knowledge
  • And more

We don’t expect any child to be perfect in any area. Our goal is to always see progress.

assessments in preschool

How We Perform Assessments at UDA Creative Arts Preschool

The word assessment conjures up thoughts of sitting still at a desk, sweat dripping down cheeks, as the child frets about proving they know the “right answers.”

But assessment time at UDA is a fun time for your child (and our teachers!).

We conduct our assessments as games, not tests. This is important because our aim is to really see what your child knows. Putting pressure on a child by demanding answers won’t give us an accurate picture of your child’s development and knowledge.

Playing an enjoyable game in which the child is having fun and is encouraged to show their knowledge makes the experience exciting and special for your child. And when your child feels happy, he’s confident. We know we get a more accurate picture of your child’s knowledge in this way.

Each assessment period is individualized to the child. Some children may feel more comfortable jumping while they play a letter identifying game, and others may prefer to use a stuffed animal to “answer” for them. We all really put on our creativity hats when we assess to make the experience right for each child.

We’re very aware of short attention spans, and so we do our assessments in chunks of time over a month. That way, your child doesn’t get overly distracted or overtaxed. And we receive a better picture of what your child knows.

Ultimately, the children don’t ever realize they are being assessed. They simply know they get to have fun one-on-one time with their teacher, playing games. The teacher is able to glean important data to mark the child’s progress in this way.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we love to see our children progress and develop in their own unique ways. If you know someone with a child who would benefit from our unique approach, have them give us a call at (801) 523-5930 or contact us online to schedule a tour.

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool — D Is for Dinosaur

We have so much fun at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, and our themed weeks create a framework for important concepts to be taught while enjoying subjects that interest the children (and adult teachers!). 

Recently, we had a blast during our “D Is for Dinosaur” week. We packed in plenty of roaring fun, hands-on learning, fine-motor skill development, history lessons, science lessons, movement and music activities, a field trip, and so much more. We’re busy from the moment the children to arrive to the time they’re picked up!

Paleontologists in Training

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

The children were thrilled to pretend to be paleontologists with their own tools (a mallet, a plastic knife that acted as a chisel, and a brush) and unearth dinosaur skeletons from blocks. While they had an absolute blast, this activity also helped to develop hand/eye coordination.

d is for dinosaur

Digging through the sensory bin of sand, the children found plastic dinosaur pieces and put them together to make a dinosaur skeleton. Not only did the field of paleontology become more familiar to them, but they developed visual discrimination skills with this activity.

Dinosaur Habitat in a Box

d is for dinosaur

Everyone added a new word to their vocabulary: Habitat.

Together, we looked at books and photos of dinosaurs and talked about what it would have looked like where they lived and what they would have needed to survive. Then, with sand, play dough, plastic trees, plastic dinosaurs, and more, each child made their own dinosaur habitat. They included volcanoes, hot lava, a river or lake, and more. Some children even added nests and eggs because they remembered we had learned that dinosaurs hatch from eggs. We love when concepts come together like this!

Dinosaur Stomp

d is for dinosaur

During creative movement class, we moved like dinosaurs in a dinosaur stomp. We also sang songs that helped the children learn to distinguish between different dinosaurs.

Playing Is Learning

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

Children learn through play, so dinosaurs are heavily featured in our play and art time as well. We even incorporated dinosaurs into our letter and number recognition activities.

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

Finally, we took advantage of being so close to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point. Everyone enjoyed this fun field trip where the children could get even more hands-on dinosaur experience with their parents.

UDA Creative Arts Preschool believes in developing the whole child through a variety of multisensory activities. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to arrange a visit and see what we’re up to.

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.