S is for Space — What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool

Space Week is always a blast. The children love pretending to be astronauts, or managing launches from Mission Control. But the week isn’t only about pretending and playing (although there’s plenty of that going on — it’s the best way for young children to learn!). At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we use themed weeks that will interest the children as a way to teach concepts about our world (or Outer Space, as the case may be) and to also fully immerse the children in the important aspects of our curriculum that help children develop and learn.

Science

Space Week lends itself so easily to understanding science concepts more fully. It’s also a fun time to blast off with some impressive experiments!

We used our rocket launch experiment as a way to understand the properties of gas, while learning how to make educated guesses.

Before the launch, teachers placed an Alka-Seltzer tablet in water so the children could see how it bubbled. The teachers explained that the bubbles were made of gas (carbon dioxide), and that gas takes up space — even though it’s invisible! To further expand (haha) on this concept, we used Alka-Seltzer to blow up a small balloon.

We talked about how the gas was pushing on the walls of the balloon because it was running out of space. That’s what made the stretchy balloon expand. But what would happen if we put an Alka-Seltzer in a film canister, which isn’t stretchy?

The children made hypotheses (some hypothesized accurately!), and then teachers placed the Alka-Seltzer in the film canister with water.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… the lid blew off the canister!

We added variations by changing the amount of water in the canister and predicting which would produce the blown lid first. As you can imagine, this was popular, and we did the experiment over and over… and over. And over again and again (which is great, because repetition reinforces concepts!).

Creative Movement

When children get their bodies involved, they can learn concepts in more memorable ways.

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the solar system, we had children take turns as the sun, planets, stars, shooting stars, and comets.

The child who was taking a turn as the sun stood still in the middle of the room, while the planets revolved around the sun. The stars stood still in space and twinkled, while shooting stars and comets shot through space randomly.

We also practiced hand/eye coordination by tossing comets back and forth with friends.

We blasted off into space and visited each planet in our land rovers (scooters). We weren’t able to walk or land on some planets because they were too hot, and we had to get out of there fast! Other planets presented tricky problems, as we had to navigate ice rings and asteroids just to get to them!

Art

Space featured heavily in our art, as the children created their own representations of outer space. They also learned cause and effect, and used their creativity as they explored the effects that different artistic tools could make.

Sensory Learning

We filled the sensory bin with black beans and black rocks that represented dark space. Stars, planets, land rovers, astronauts, and rockets were mixed in. As the children searched for the items, they got a sensory learning experience that connected them to our theme.

Dramatic Play

Mission Control was located in our preschool during “S is for Space” week! With a computer (not plugged in), telephone, and other gadgets, the children communicated to each other about the important space missions taking place. The teachers loved seeing how much the children had learned as they pretended. The children requested launches to different planets, and we even heard Mission Control tell the astronauts, “You can’t go to Mercury! It’s too hot. You will burn up!”

This kind of immersive learning never gets old for us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. And it always allows the children to form their own connections as they learn important concepts. If you’d like your child to have fun, immersive experiences like this, give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to request a tour.

Q Is for Queen and King

We had a royal good time learning math, science, letters, engineering, art, and more during our “Q Is for Queen and King” week.  Thematic units help us to incorporate imagination while we cross subject lines. This gives our preschoolers a more comprehensive understanding of concepts as we explore and appreciate the many themes of our world.

We invited some of our favorite princes and princesses into the classroom to enjoy our royal ball, royal feast, and even do some learning.

Majestic Math

Even queens and kings need to do math, and our royal guests were down on the floor with our preschoolers as everyone counted out jewels and returned them to princesses who had lost them.

Aristocratic Art

Symbols are all around us, and children are good at picking up on them. The next time you’re out and about, see if your child can spot warning signs, exit signs, bathroom signs, and more based on the symbols.

To drive home the point of symbols and colors, and what they may represent, we had each child make their very own Coat of Arms. After discussing different symbols and colors, the children used watercolor glue and salt to make a Coat of Arms that represents themselves.

Resplendent Royal Feast

One of the highlights of our thematic week was the royal feast. The children loved using their fancy goblets and eating from fancy plates. They also loved clinking their glasses together!

q is for queen

Fancy Fine-Motor Skills

What is a royal feast without royal headwear? Each child decorated their own crown to wear to our royal feast. Using jewels, they not only fancified their crowns, they developed their fine-motor skills as they used the pincer grasp over and over.

Engineering the Empire

 

Using cups, the children created fortresses and castles fit for a queen or king. Through trial and error, concentration, and observation, they learned that some structures are more secure than others. They then built on what they discovered, and created stronger buildings the next time around.

Monarchs on the Move

Kings, queens, princesses, and princes need to be active if they are going to manage their kingdom effectively. In creative movement class, we created castles with our bodies when we held hands in a circle and raised our arms together to create windows. The children took turns going “in and out of the castle.”

We also rode horses throughout the kingdom, surveying the land and well-being of our subjects.

And the children performed princely promenades and coordinated dances that impressed their royal guests.

We have so much fun exploring, learning, and creating at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah. If you would like to come see us in action, join us for an open house or schedule a tour.

 

The Importance of Teaching Character Traits in Preschool

teaching character traits in preschool

All parents want their children to reach their full potential. That’s why we agonize over decisions like where to send them to preschool, what sport they should play, what extracurricular activities we should find for them, how to help them achieve their academic potential, and more.

It’s also why we cringe when they call someone a mean name, forget their manners, or refuse to share.

But just like a beginner soccer player has to learn the fundamentals of kicking, stopping, aiming, and more, our preschool children need to learn the fundamentals of character. Your 3-year-old isn’t ready to share every time she needs to, he doesn’t yet know how to overcome his fear of speaking in front of the class, she doesn’t know how to patiently wait for something in the future, and he still struggles to use his words when he’s angry.

That’s why it’s important to gently teach character traits in preschool. Children have so much to learn, and a nurturing environment in which teachers patiently coach children through big concepts like gratitude, patience, respect, and more will help your child gradually build on skills so that her character will allow her to reach her full potential.

[7 Ways to Teach Your Preschooler to Be Respectful]

Teaching Character Traits in Preschool Helps Your Child’s Future Self

Character traits take skills. You have to learn the foundational skills of problem solving before you can negotiate sharing on the playground.

When we teach problem solving at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we teach the children how to use their words to express what they want. We also teach them how to state their feelings in clear ways, and we teach them to listen to other people’s feelings. Through this process, they learn to understand what they truly want and to hear and understand what others want. They become very good problem solvers as they try to find solutions that work for all parties involved.

We tie our character trait learning into our weekly themes as often as possible, so during our royalty week, we talked about how to act like royalty and use our words to find solutions.

teaching character traits in preschool

As children learn these skills now, they develop a strong self-esteem and confidence to help them navigate their future life. Learning problem solving skills at a young age helps children develop resilience and grit, as well as integrity and forgiveness.

Set Your Child Up for Lifelong Learning

teaching character traits in preschool

Studies have shown that when character education is included in school curriculum, academic performance (and even attendance) increases, while disciplinary problems decrease.

Learning about, and being encouraged to develop, traits like honesty, fairness, compassion, and patience creates a safe place where children want to be. It also helps children feel prepared to learn and to absorb the skills necessary to become lifelong learners.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we teach children they are responsible for their bodies, their actions, their words, their learning, and more. During a week focused on safety, we become “Super Safety Kids” who learn the rules of interacting with strangers, crossing streets, getting help from firefighters or police officers, and more.

teaching character traits in preschool

The children learn they are responsible for taking care of their safety and making their environment safe for others. This emphasis on responsibility helps them understand they are also responsible to do their best in academics, learning, and friendships.

We also focus for a whole month on the character trait of courage, helping the children learn for themselves that they don’t have to be perfect at everything. They just have to have courage to try to do hard things, like learn new things in school or try new things.

After watching caterpillars turn into butterflies, we do a butterfly release every fall. The children gather around and give encouragement to the butterflies. “Have courage! You can do it!” they shout. When the butterflies take flight, the children are ecstatic and easily see the connection to courage and the many new, big things they have to do as preschoolers.

Help Your Child Have Better Relationships

Children who learn character traits have better success in relationships both at school and outside of school. They learn to be more forgiving, responsible, caring, and compassionate.

They also learn how to cooperate with others, to tolerate different viewpoints, and to respect the needs of others.

At UDA, we help teach compassion by participating in Project Sleep Tight. Our students bring in donations of blankets, stuffed animals, and books to share with children who are homeless. As we assemble the kits, we have some of our most meaningful conversations with the children. They really think about what it means to be someone else and how to help others. At this age, they feel compassion without even trying, and the project helps solidify that strength they already have.

teaching gratitude

Help Your Child Be a Good Neighbor and Citizen

When children are taught that their behavior impacts others, they learn that they matter in their community and beyond. They feel anchored and important, and that leads them to be their best selves in all aspects of life. When they become adults and take on roles as parents, employees, business owners, neighbors, and more, they contribute in meaningful ways to a better community and world.

At UDA, we take a trip around the world while we learn about being compassionate and respectful. We learn about other cultures and different traditions, while also thinking of our own traditions in our own cultures. The children learn they are part of a family. That family is in a city, which is in a state, which is in a country, which is in the world. They become aware of who they are in this world and how they can have respect for people who are both the same and different from them.

Preschool is so much more than learning ABCs and 123s. Children really begin to develop in who they are during their preschool years. Teaching character traits in preschool is essential to helping children develop their whole selves.

Come visit us! Call UDA Creative Arts Preschool at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online to set up a tour.

 

6 More Reasons Why Your Child Needs Dramatic Play

Dramatic play (also called pretend play) enhances your child’s life and world in countless ways. From language skills to problem solving skills, and even to physical development, dramatic play in preschool is a crucial component in helping your child become her best self.

[Pretend Away! Why Your Child Needs Pretend Play]

We’ve covered some of the many benefits of dramatic play, and wanted to give you 6 more reasons why you can relax when your child plays pretend. It’s not a waste of time. In fact, it’s necessary.

1. Dramatic Play in Preschool Empowers Children

Think of how many rules your preschooler has to keep in mind each day. Sharing, keeping his hands to himself, waiting for a parent’s hand before running into the street, saying please and thank you, waiting her turn, etc.

And that’s just a normal day. If something upsetting or frightening happens in your child’s life (even something like seeing a scary image in a movie), your child has a lot to process and keep in mind.

It’s tough. But dramatic play helps a preschooler feel power. As they take on common pretend roles like Mom, Dad, the doctor, or the teacher, they get to be in control of the situation and try on the feeling of power. Plus, they get to make their wishes come true, and this helps them to process real-life emotions and events in a safe and empowered way.

2. Dramatic Play Helps Your Child Cope

When something difficult happens in your life, you talk it out with a friend, loved one, or therapist. Or you replay it in your mind as you work through your emotions and feelings. Maybe you write about it to process what happened.

A preschooler doesn’t yet have these language capabilities, and that’s where dramatic play comes into… well, play.

Instead of talking about his feelings, your child might reenact a difficult situation with his stuffed animals or friends. This helps him make peace with what happened and gives him the chance to move forward.

3. Dramatic Play Improves Your Child’s Thinking Skills

Dramatic play is a form of abstract thinking. As children play, they are recreating something they once experienced or pulling from their imagination. This requires cognitive skills, and each time your child plays pretend, those skills are enhanced.

dramatic play in preschoolers

4. Dramatic Play Increases Your Child’s Understanding of Symbols

When children play, objects stand in for the real thing. For example, a stuffed cat becomes a child’s “real” pet or a tiger in the jungle.  Domino tiles become crackers or coins. Not only do children learn to improvise on the spot, they begin the important work of understanding symbols — which leads to understanding concepts like letters and numbers down the road.

5. Dramatic Play Increases Attention Span

In the beginning, a young child may only be able to have a pretend tea party for a few minutes. But as children grow, their pretend tea party lasts all afternoon and takes on new forms. Maybe something magical happens at the tea party, requiring the guests to take a break and follow the magic. Maybe the tea party becomes a fancy restaurant and menus must be drawn up.

As children engage in dramatic play, their attention span increases and they can spend a longer amount of time in their pretend world.

dramatic play for preschoolers

6. Dramatic Play Gives You an Insight Into Your Child’s Mind

Preschoolers can’t always articulate their feelings in a way that makes sense to adults. They’re still building their emotional vocabulary and piecing everything together. That can make it tricky to understand what’s going on inside your child’s mind.

But if you sit back and watch (or join in!) your child’s dramatic play, you’ll see clues about the inner workings of her mind. You’ll get a glimpse into what makes her afraid, happy, proud, and bold. And when you keep your discussions in the framework of what your child was playing, you can help your child talk about her feelings.

Dramatic play features heavily in UDA Creative Arts Preschool curriculum. Even though we witness it every day, we’re constantly amazed at how dramatic play can build confidence and improve children’s lives in countless ways. Come see us in action. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online to schedule a tour.

 

Does Preschool Matter?

does preschool matter

Does preschool matter? Do children really gain anything from their time spent in preschool? Is it worth it?

It’s true that small children aren’t going to hold onto every memory created in preschool, but when you think about the fact that their brains grow to about 90 percent of their adult size by the age of 5, it makes sense that quality education during their formative years is important.

Evidence suggests that children who attend high-quality preschools gain consistent and positive short-term effects in literacy, language, and math skills. These benefits even extend to later years, when children who attended preschool experience a lower percentage of grade retentions and special education.

Long-term, some studies have even linked a high-quality preschool education to reduced criminal behavior and higher graduation rates.

In the Perry Preschool Experiment conducted by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, 123 low-income African American children from Michigan were randomly assigned to a group that received a high-quality preschool education or to a control group with no preschool education. These children were then tracked for the next several decades. At the age of 40, the adults who had attended the preschool program were 20 percent more likely to have graduated from high school and 19 percent less likely to have been arrested more than five times. Not only that, they were also more likely to remain married and were found to be less dependent on welfare programs. They also received better grades throughout their education.

While children learn the most and gain the most from their parents, the benefits of a quality preschool cannot be overstated. Preschool provides important learning experiences, opportunities, and exposure that can’t be found anywhere else.

Social Skills

Important social skills are an obvious plus that children gain in preschool. Spending time with other children in a group helps young children develop emotional control while they learn to share, take turns, get along with others, and more. Appropriate language expression also develops in a preschool group.

Learning those basic social skills at a young age helps children add on to more complex social skills as they mature. And because we all need to interact with each other throughout our lives, social skills may be one of the best benefits of preschool.

does preschool matter

Environment Affects Brain Development 

Did you know that the experiences your child has as a young child interact with their genes? This affects brain development — positively or negatively. If your child spends time in enriching, nurturing environments, she gets a head start in developing cognitive skills, behavioral skills, social skills, and more.

Young children’s brains are still developing, which means this is the perfect time for learning to adapt. If your preschooler is exposed to a language-rich environment with structured, enriching activities, he will grasp important concepts easier and will be able to expand upon them.

Early brain development is important, and a high-quality preschool can help your child have a successful educational career.

Academics

W. Steven Barnett, PhD and director of National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), said that “Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not.”

Think about it. If your child learns letters, shapes, sounds, and more in a rich preschool environment, he will have an easier time meeting the demands of kindergarten. When he moves onto harder tasks and subjects in later grades, he’ll be better equipped to master them because he never missed out on the fundamentals.

If a child doesn’t have that same access, he will have a hard time mastering the fundamentals, and every subsequent milestone will be harder to reach. This lag will follow the child throughout his whole educational career.

Executive Functions

Executive functions refer to the critical mental skills we all need to help manage our life — planning tasks, keeping track of time, emotional control, organization, focus, and more.

In the preschool years, the part of the brain that governs the executive functions — the prefrontal cortex — is still developing. That makes this time of life ideal for developing those important functions.

A long-term Penn State study found that a high-quality preschool program helped children grow in executive functions. Plus, the same children in the study who expanded their executive functions demonstrated better reading fluency and math performance than a control group.

does preschool matter

 

High Quality Is Key

But not just any preschool program will do. Researchers have found the benefits of preschool to be present only when associated with high-quality preschools.

Schools that rely on evidence-based curriculum and that hire high-quality teachers (and continue to train them) impact children’s long-term education for the better.

A high-quality preschool curriculum should include engaging activities that help children make connections and draw their own conclusions.  Hands-on activities reign supreme in preschool for their ability to help children more fully grasp concepts.

A preschool’s program should be well-structured and managed, with consistent routines that allow children to understand what’s happening now and what will be happening next.

Preschool teachers should be kind and patient, allowing children to develop at their own pace. If that means some children repeat activities when they want or need, the teacher allows it. Teachers also are adaptable and can cater to each child, allowing those who are advanced to continue to advance while those who need extra time to be given it.

A high-quality preschool also needs open-ended play with enriching toys and props to allow children the chance to learn, try new things, develop socially, and more.

The environment should be safe, and a balanced teacher-student ratio is critical so children can have the attention they need.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, your child’s development is important to us. We teach the whole child, and aim to help each child grow in their own individual way. Schedule a tour today.

7 Qualities of a Great Preschool Teacher

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

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

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

Passion

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

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

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

Enthusiasm

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

Patience

qualities of a great preschool teacher

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

Communication Skills

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

Flexible

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

Compassionate

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

Loving

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

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool — October

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

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

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

D is for Dinosaur

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

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

 

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

E is for Emotion

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

Emotion Freeze Dance

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

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

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

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

F is for Farm

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

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

 

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

G is for Garden

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

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

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

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

H is for Halloween

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

thematic units preschool

thematic units preschool

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

thematic units preschool

 thematic units preschool

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

How to Help Your Preschooler Manage Emotions

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

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

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

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

Positive Sense of Self

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

Less Anxiety

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

help your preschooler manage emotions

Greater Emotional Intelligence

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

Quicker Calm

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

Less Brain Clutter

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

What You Can Do to Help Your Preschooler Manage Emotions

help your preschooler manage emotions

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

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

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

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

7 Life Skills to Teach Preschoolers

life skills preschool

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Hygiene

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

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

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

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

2. Decision-Making Skills

life skills preschool

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

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

3. Time-Management Skills

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

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

4. Cleaning Up

life skills preschool

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

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

5. Getting Dressed

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

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

6. Money Skills

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

7. Talking to Adults

life skills preschool

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

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

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

separation anxiety preschool

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

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

What Is Separation Anxiety?

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

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

What Parents Can Do

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

Validate

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

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

Don’t Sneak Away

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

Set Up a Routine

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

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

Be Honest with Yourself

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

How Preschool Teachers Can Help with Separation Anxiety

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

Clear Communication

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

Validate Feelings

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

Follow a Schedule

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

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

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