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.

Preparing for Preschool Goodbyes

preparing for preschool goodbyes

It’s that pang in your heart as you hold back the sting in your eyes, threatening to turn into traitorous tears, that make those preschool goodbyes so difficult.  Whether it’s your first or last baby, whether you’re feeling excited or nostalgic, something about sharing your child with someone else as they start school is a significant milestone that can pull at your heartstrings.  

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool we get it! We see it at school every year, but more than that, most of us are mothers who have been there!  We want your preschool goodbye to be as smooth and heartwarming as possible for you and your sweet preschooler.  

Here are some tips to make this day not only memorable, but meaningful!

 

  • Familiarize Your Child to Their New Environment

     UDA Creative Arts Preschool invites you to bring your child to our open houses as well as our orientation. This allows your child time to become familiar in their new environment with our teachers and staff while having the security of a caregiver by their side.  

  • Read with Them  

    Every student receives a new book about our preschool and staff.  Take time to read it with your child and discuss some of the fun things they will be doing at preschool, making their experience with us predictable.

  • Keep it Positive

    Some children’s books may introduce ideas of sadness or anxiety that your child may not have considered otherwise.  In reading and conversations keep your discussions about preschool positive and exciting!

  • Build the Excitement

    Anticipating this special day can make it fun and special.  Make a paper chain or put smiley faces on a calendar to count-down the days.  Have older siblings or friends share stories of their first preschool. Pick out a favorite outfit they can wear their first day.   

  • Give Your Child a Concrete Time

    “Adults may know how long a separation will last, but a young child has little or no understanding of this, and a few hours is a long time for a child.”1 “I’ll be back soon,” could be interpreted as a few minutes to your child.  “I’ll be back before lunch,” gives your child a time frame they are familiar with.

  • Create a Goodbye Ritual

    Dropping your child off through the carpool makes it a little tricky to give big hug goodbyes.  You can do the big hugs at home and then have a song or a special wave you do right before it’s time to drop your child off.  The NAEYC also recommends a reunion ritual where you have your child tell you all about their preschool day.  Creating these rituals will create normalcy and fun your child. 

  • Eliminate Stress

     Although getting the first-day-of-school-pictures and the hearty breakfast and the new book bag together all make for a memorable morning, it also adds stress!  Your child will sense your anxiety, even if it’s more about being on time than being separated.  Have things prepared in advance and leave with plenty of time for a stress-free goodbye. Then eliminate stress for your child by being on-time to pick him up.

  • Tips for the Extra Anxious Child

    Each child is different and we recognize that some children will be rearing to start school and others…not so much.  If your child is one who really struggles with separation anxiety, here are a couple tips for you:

    • Allow your child a special stuffed animal or small blankie in their bag.  We will ask that they keep it in their cubby so it doesn’t get lost, but knowing it is right there waiting for her every time she walks past can help.  Or something she can wear, like a watch, can stay with her.
    • Stay consistent.  Even though some days may be difficult, be consistent in coming.  When it becomes a routine, your child will adjust better.
    • Trust us! We ask that even with the tears, you just drop him off.  We promise it gets better.  Even our little 2-year-olds get the hang of preschool goodbyes.  We adore your children and want them to be happy.  They can feel our love and warm up to us, but those relationships are hard for us to build when you are all they can see.

 

We are so excited for another school year with your beautiful children and hope you can feel our love for our returning and new students!  We can’t wait for the adventures that await us this year and invite you to come visit us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool!

 

1-Anne Stonehouse, Putting Children First, Magazine from National Childcare Accreditation Council, Issue 32. December 2009. P. 10. http://ncac.acecqa.gov.au/educator-resources/pcf-articles/Positive_goodbyes_Dec09.pdf

Written by: Elsje Denison