Stop! Why You Shouldn’t Intervene in Preschool Art

 

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

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

Step. Back.

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

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

Experience

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

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

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

Health and Well-Being

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

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

Other Benefits of Self-Expression in Preschool Art

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

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

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

What It Looks Like to Let Go

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

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

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

Process Over Product

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

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

Encourage effort and exploration as your child creates.

A Few Rules for the Adult

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

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

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

Keep these six rules for YOU in mind:

How to Support Your Child’s Art

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

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

What’s REALLY Important at Preschool

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

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

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

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

And are these the most important parts of preschool anyway?

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

A Positive Learning Environment

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

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

Engaging Teachers

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

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

Self-Regulation Skills are Valued

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

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

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

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

Creativity and Curiosity are Encouraged

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

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

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

Playful Learning

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

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

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

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

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

Social and Emotional Development

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

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

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

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

Pre-Math and Literacy Skills

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

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

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

Motor Skills

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

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

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

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

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

how to role play with your preschooler

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

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

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

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

Why Role-Play Is So Important for Preschoolers

how to pretend with your preschooler

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

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

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

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

How to Role-Play with Your Preschooler

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

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

Understand the Types of Role-Play

how to role play with your preschooler

First, understand the common types of role-play. 

Children tend to pretend in three different ways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go with what you feel comfortable with.

Follow Your Child’s Lead

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

But you don’t have to have that pressure!

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

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

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

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

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

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

This gives your child freedom and connection.

Don’t Correct

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

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

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

Simply observe and follow.

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

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

Did You Know Everything Your Preschool Teacher Did During Quarantine?

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

Quick Adaptation

uda preschool teachers are amazing

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

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

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

Personal Interactions

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

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

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

Parent/Teacher Conferences

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

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

Unique Ways to Connect

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

Graduation and Carnival

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

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

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

Thank You

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

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

Preschool Separation Anxiety in the Time of Covid

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

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

Little children have seen and experienced a lot.

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

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

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

This is no ordinary back-to-school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walk Away

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

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

Validate Feelings

preschool separation anxiety in the time of covid

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

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

Explain What’s Happening

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

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

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

Allow Your Child’s Teacher to Earn Their Trust

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

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

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

 Get a Goodbye Phrase Ready

preschool separation anxiety in the time of covid

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

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

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

Expect Bumps in the Road

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

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

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

 

Remember Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

Why Your Preschooler Needs More Physical Play — Especially in the Time of Covid

preschooler physical play

Did you know that your child’s physical movement in the early years is directly  related to critical skills later in life — like reading, writing, emotional control, creativity, vocabulary skills, math, and more?

9 Movement Activities for Preschoolers You Can Do At Home

Play and movement is necessary for learning. Sometimes, we tend to view playtime and learning time as two distinct and separate tasks. One (play) is viewed as nice but just something to do when you have the time. The other (learning) is viewed as disciplined and serious.

But play is the way children learn! Play is children’s work.  When children are allowed to play, their brains get primed and ready for learning.

And perhaps never has this been more important than right now during the Covid-19 pandemic. With so much stability and activity now absent from our lives, children desperately need the physical and intellectual benefits of playful movement.

“Brain, This Is Body. Body, This Is Brain. Say Hello to Each Other.”

Your child’s brain and body are always working together, but the interesting thing is that the body actually teaches the brain.

This means that the more your preschooler moves during play, the more their brain will develop and grow.

That’s not something to be taken lightly! Children need to move and play so their brains can maximize their power!

On the outside of your child’s body, the five sense — touch, taste, smell, vision, and hearing — are working to organize information coming at them.

At the same time, there is an internal stimulus going on. As your child moves, internal systems, like the kinesthetic system and vestibular system, are activated. And these strengthened systems then support the brain’s functions.

Movement actually increases your child’s cognitive and intellectual abilities.

Are You Really Right-Brained or Left-Brained?

preschooler physical play

You’ve heard of the right and left brain. The left hemisphere of the brain is in charge of processing logic, words, math, and sequence, while the right side of the brain manages rhythm, music, pictures, emotion, and intuition.

We tend to say we are either right-brained or left-brained, but the truth is that both sides of the brain are working together all the time.

And the more we access each side, the better we can function — both academically and creatively.

Now here’s the interesting thing!

Physical play is one huge element that helps to develop both sides of the brain.

In other words, the thing that will help your child’s brain to grow and develop so that it can handle academics, emotions, creativity, and logic later on?

Play!

Movement!

It’s no surprise then, that children want to move, play, climb, wiggle, crawl, jump, run, skip, hop, climb (did we already say that?), and more.

And as they do, their brains are forming the right connections to make reading, writing, math, and more possible later on.

8 Music and Movement Activities for Preschoolers

There’s More Going on Than Meets the Eye

preschooler physical play

Different movements stimulate different parts of the brain, which translates to different gains later on.

How Your Child Is Strengthening Their Brain Stem: Basic movements like grasping, crawling, walking, reaching, turning, touching, pushing, and pulling stimulate the brain stem. This leads your child to be able to develop hand-eye coordination, big motor skills, and pre-writing abilities.

Did You Know Your Child Is Working on Cerebellum Health?: Movements like spinning, balancing, listening, swinging, rolling, tumbling, and dancing stimulate the cerebellum, which is responsible for better balance, sports ability, riding a bike, writing, fine motor coordination, reading, and even typing.

Yep, Your Child’s Movements Are Improving Their Limbic System Too: Movements like cuddling, stroking, playing with others, and socializing stimulate the limbic system. That leads to emotional intelligence qualities like: love, security, social sills, cooperation, and confidence.

And a Stimulated Cortex Improves Your Child’s Life: Movements like putting puzzles together, stacking, making patterns, playing word games, and listening to music stimulate the cortex. This leads to the ability to do math and logic problems, to paint, to increase in musical ability, and to become fluent in reading and writing.

So don’t stop your child from moving! Recognize the value and strength in wiggling, climbing, running, and more.

But during Covid, when some activities are unavailable, it can be hard to find enough movement activities for your child.

Here are a few suggestions.

10 Ideas to Get Your Child Moving During Covid-19

preschooler physical play

  • Go outside where it’s green. Not only will your child enjoy the space to run and move their body, studies have found that time in green nature can improve focus.When you go outside, bring objects to encourage movement: jump ropes, kites, balls, bikes, scooters, hula hoops, and more.
  • Create obstacle courses indoors or outdoors. When coming up with the obstacles, think: What can your child climb through, climb over, or climb under? Can your child hop over something? What can your child do on one foot? Can your child do something backwards? What can your child balance on? What can your child carry?

  • Look online for movement videos: Cosmic Kids Yoga and Go Noodle are popular ones with many children.
  • Turn on music and dance.

  • Do chores. Weeding, cleaning bathrooms, folding laundry, picking up toys and more all require movement. (This may take some creativity to make it fun, but it can be done!)

  • Do the hokey pokey.

  • Play hot lava.
  • Time how long it takes to ride bikes to a certain point. Then time how long it takes to run, to walk, to skip, and more. Turn this into a scientific experiment by making a hypothesis and charting your data.
  • Set a timer for one minute, and do as many squats/jumping jacks/push-ups/favorite exercise as you can. Do it again with another exercise.
  • Allow for free play. While your child will benefit from structured play, they also need time to move their bodies in ways that feel good to them. Free play lets them combine their creativity with their environment in ways that test their bodies.

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

 

 

Written by Rebecca Brown Wright

How to Be Sure Your Child Is Getting Chances for Physical Development

Building Better Brains: Getting Ready for Kindergarten by Increasing Physical Development Through Play

When it’s time to start thinking about kindergarten readiness, many of us go straight to reading, writing, and math.

Abilities in these subjects are so important, but if that’s all we focus on, we’re missing much larger aspects of kindergarten readiness.

{Kindergarten Readiness in the Time of Covid}

Why Is Physical Development Important for Kindergarten?

Children need to develop both fine- and gross-motor skills for kindergarten readiness.

Think of all the physical tasks your child is required to do in kindergarten:

  • sit upright at a desk
  • sit crisscross-applesauce on the carpet
  • color
  • write
  • cut with scissors
  • play at recess
  • follow instructions during PE-type classes
  • control a mouse at a computer
  • keep their bodies out of other people’s spaces

If your child struggles with any of these skills, it becomes harder to focus on academics. It’s hard to pay attention to what the teacher is saying if focus is going to keeping their body upright. It’s difficult to learn to write when fine motor skills have not developed.

That’s why it’s important to help your child develop core muscles, large muscles, and small muscles. Give them plenty of opportunity for large movement and small movement.

Give Them Space

One of the best things you can do for your child’s physical development is to give them space for open-ended play. If you don’t have a backyard, take your child to fields, parks, and paths. Let them run and play without agenda.

Unstructured play helps your child’s body and coordination.

During colder months, try to clear space in the house for your child to use movement while playing. You can also find indoor playgrounds, children’s museums, and gyms.

Select Helpful Toys

Keep motor skills in mind when selecting toys for your child. Toys that get your child moving and coordinating are helpful — like basketball hoops, hula hoops, bikes, ring tosses, and balls.

When selecting toys for inside, think about fine motor skills. Try lacing toys, puzzles, beads, blocks, water tables, activity books, and more.

Give your child dress-ups. Fine motor skills are built as they handle the Velcro, snaps, ties, and more.

Additionally, let your child do art and craft projects. These will help build dexterity and strength.

Make It a Family Affair

Get everyone up and moving! Your child will be delighted if you become a monster chasing them in a game of tag. Riding bikes on a bike path together will be a great bonding activity, while also building gross motor skills.

Set up obstacle courses, relay races, and more that everyone can get involved in.

Put on impromptu talent shows, where kids are encouraged to show off their cartwheels and somersaults.

Play hide-and-go seek, catch, and tag as a family. Have races in the backyard or neighborhood.

Squirt each other with water. Play in the sprinklers.

Play Simon Says or Follow the Leader.

Turn on music and move!

Do Chores

All chores help with physical development, so give your child big and small chores.

Carrying the dishes to the dishwasher helps with balance. Gathering the trash helps with coordination. Weeding builds fine motor skills. Picking up toys helps your child understand where their body is in space, and develops trunk strength. Folding laundry builds motor skills.

It’s okay if your child gets frustrated at some of these tasks. It takes time to learn how to get their bodies to cooperate. Be there to help your child through tough parts, and gradually let them take more and more independence over the chores.

Encourage Fine Motor Development While Eating

It’s much easier to open your child’s bag of grapes before handing it to them. It’s quicker to cut your child’s pancakes.

But let your child do these tasks, and more, while eating. Give them challenging items to open, cut, and spread.

Let them make messes if it comes to that. And then… help them build even more motor skills by teaching them how to clean up the messes!

{The Benefits of Playing with Food for Preschoolers}

Help Your Child Be Independent

Teach your child how to get dressed, use the bathroom, tidy up after themselves, brush their teeth, and more on their own.

Not only is it helpful for children to learn to be independent, these skills build those important motor skills that contribute to your child’s physical development.

To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah and how we promote physical development at preschool, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

Kindergarten Readiness in the Time of Covid

Preschool graduation looks different than expected. Preschoolers don’t get to hug their teachers or friends goodbye. Safety protocols have changed the way once-normal gatherings are handled. No, this year ended in a way we never could have predicted.

And the fact is, at the time of this writing (May), we still don’t know what to expect when your child begins kindergarten in the fall.

So how should you prepare your child for kindergarten in the time of Covid-19? Read on for some helpful tips.

Social Development

kindergarten readiness utah

Our social world is drastically different than a few months ago. Where once, children may have gotten much of their social development from frequent play dates, now we need to reconsider how our children will develop social skills.

At this age, your child is working on sharing, taking turns, showing concern for others, playing cooperatively, and managing emotions. 

How can you do this when you might need to limit play dates and group settings?

  • Take your child into the world as much as possible. Take walks in nature and discuss how you need to move to the right of the trail when another person approaches (sharing the trail). Talk about being respectful with your voices so as not to disturb other people or neighborhoods (playing cooperatively). 
  • If you can go to public places, discuss current social distancing guidelines and how to follow them (playing cooperatively and showing concern for others).
  • Set up video calls, and encourage your child to take turns in the conversation. Teach them how to ask questions and wait for answers.
  • Give your child time, space, and materials to play pretend so they can role-play different scenarios.
  • Read books, and ponder out loud about how the characters feel.
  • If you can have play dates, follow current social distancing guidelines and discuss that you are taking these measures to protect others (showing concern for others and playing cooperatively).
  • If your child has siblings, help them share, play together, and take turns.
  • Look for ways you can help others following current social distancing guidelines (showing concern for others).

Motor Skills

kindergarten readiness utah

Motor skill development is still important during a pandemic! And thankfully, you don’t have to think too far out of the box to develop motor skills during Covid-19.

Gross Motor Activities

  • Get outside and run! Climb! Hop, skip, and jump!
  • Go for walks and hikes on uneven surfaces
  • Ride bikes, balance bikes, and scooters
  • Turn on the sprinklers
  • Splash in a kiddie pool
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Play hopscotch
  • Dance
  • Set up an obstacle course in the backyard

 

Fine Motor Activities

  • Eat finger foods
  • Stack blocks
  • Play with play dough
  • Cook together (let your child measure and stir)
  • Give the toy cars a car wash (include a sponge for squeezing)
  • Cut the lawn with child scissors
  • Draw
  • Play around on the piano
  • Work on puzzles

{Why You Should Care About Fine Motor Skills in Your Preschooler}

Self-Help Skills

This time of social distancing and more time at home is actually the perfect time to work on self-help skills.

This is a time when you can assign age-appropriate chores. Let your child do them on their own as time goes on. As they master skills, continue to add more.

Encourage your child to do what they can do on their own. For example, they can probably get dressed mostly or completely on their own. Let them!

If they’re stuck with something, encourage them to ask questions and ask for help when needed. Don’t jump in with answers before they’ve had the chance to problem solve on their own.

If your child can’t use the restroom on their own, this is the time to coach them on how to do so. Be sure to teach them to wash their hands for 20 seconds.

Make sure your child can eat independently. Pack a lunchbox for them, and see if any part of opening the items is tricky. Then work on those items until your child can do it.

Academic Development

kindergarten readiness Utah

Academic development is what most parents think about when they consider kindergarten readiness. Can my child read? What about adding and subtracting? Can they write their name?

These worries tend to push parents to push children too hard. Please don’t stress about whether your child can read yet. These are important skills, but they are not the most crucial concern at this stage of your child’s life. 

Instead, focus on pre-reading skills. The Utah State Board of Education recommends you work on helping your child with these academic skills:

  • Listening attentively and responding to stories and books  
  • Speaking in complete sentences  
  • Identifying signs, symbols, or logos in the environment
  • Speaking clearly enough to be understood by others  
  • Identifying rhyming words in stories, poems, and songs  
  • Knowing that letters of the alphabet have specific sounds  
  • Identifying the first sound heard in random words  
  • Identifying some uppercase and lowercase letters, including those in their name  
  • Using beginning writing skills (e.g. drawing, scribbling, writing) to express ideas 

As you can see, none of these academic skills will require hours of flashcards. Most of these skills can be developed as you talk with your child, observe your surroundings with your child, and read, read, read with your child!

{8 Ways to Lose the Flashcards: Make Alphabet Learning Fun}

  • When you have conversations with your child, take turns asking questions
  • Ask your child to describe what they see, hear, smell, taste, or feel
  • Point out logos on products
  • Read a variety of books
  • Pause when you read, and ask your child what they think will happen next
  • Point out uppercase letters at the beginning of sentences in books
  • Do an activity together like cooking, and talk about the first sounds of words. “Let’s add the sugar. Ssss is the first sound in sugar.”
  • Let your child draw often, and use a variety of materials
  • Have your child practice writing their first name — use shaving cream, chalk, paint, dry erase on a mirror, and more to make it more fun
  • Work on puzzles

The times are uncertain, but your love for your child hasn’t wavered. Take these skills one day at a time, don’t push your child, and remember that we’ll all make it through.

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

 

How to Ease Your Child’s Anxiety During the Pandemic

We’ve never encountered a time like this. We’ve never lived in a world where schools have been closed indefinitely, where children can’t play at playgrounds or with friends, where all trips are canceled, where grocery store shelves are empty, and where people are walking around wearing masks.

Sure, we may have experienced school closure for a snow day or empty store shelves due to a natural disaster. We may have seen a few people wearing masks in public when they’ve been sick. But we’ve never experienced all of this together — and never for such an extend period of time.

If your children are struggling, it makes sense.

If you’re struggling, it makes sense.

And while you can’t control what’s happening out there in the world, there’s a whole lot you can control in your home environment. If your children are anxious or worried, follow these suggestions to ease your child’s anxiety during this pandemic.

Share Correct, Age-Appropriate Information

When children don’t understand what’s going on, their brains fill in the blanks with their own misinformation. To avoid your child coming up with worrisome ideas about the pandemic, have clear, age-appropriate conversations about the facts.

For preschoolers, you can keep this brief. Too many details may cause more concern than assurance. Be sure to address their concerns with simple facts.

Don’t tell them it’s no big deal, or they don’t need to worry about it. This only feeds their worry and causes them to create their own imaginative explanation in their mind.

Monitor Incoming Information

ease your child's anxiety pandemic

Be mindful of what your child is being exposed to on TV, in your conversations on Zoom, and on your social media feed when they’re peeking over your shoulder.

It’s your job to be your child’s filter right now. Don’t let them be exposed to too much negative information about the pandemic and its effects on the world. Repeated cycles of Coronavirus news is overwhelming for children.

Manage Your Own Anxiety

It’s perfectly understandable if your own anxiety levels are skyrocketing. But leaving your anxieties untended is not only bad for your own mental health, it will affect your children too.

Manage your anxiety by speaking with a therapist, using coping techniques, practicing mindfulness and gratitude, and more.

Remove anxiety language from your speech. Words like panic, fear, crisis, death, and more don’t need to feature into your daily language. Instead, you can use words like precautions, help, safety, and protection.

Be sure not to muse aloud about your own fears to your child.

Focus on the Giving Part of the Pandemic

Staying at home is a safe measure your child can take to protect vulnerable people in our country. Remind them they are doing a good thing for others by staying home from preschool, skipping visits with Grandma, and avoiding playgrounds.

At the same time, don’t shame them if they feel real loss. Acknowledge this is hard, and remind them this is a temporary thing.

Find the Positive

ease your child's anxiety during the pandemic

While this is a hard time, it’s not all bad. And more than anyone, children can see the positive of quarantine. Now, there might be more time to be together as a family. There might be more time to play in the backyard. They might improve a skill, like bike-riding or rollerskating.

Be sure to speak about the things you’re grateful for during this time; the special opportunities you’re getting at home.

Follow a Structure

Have you ever marveled at how a preschool teacher can keep a dozen or more children on task together? Structure is one key element in keeping children focused and moving forward without push back.

When your child knows what to expect throughout the day, they can mentally prepare themselves for the next step. They can also move from some tasks on autopilot on their own, reducing the space and time for fights.

Try and do basic things in the same order each day — morning routines involving making the bed, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc. are a helpful place to start.

Post your routine somewhere your child can see and reference. Use pictures or symbols to help them easily grasp the steps.

And remember that it’s okay to be flexible when you need to be.

Spend Quality Time Together

Being at home together does not automatically translate into quality time together. Make it a point to spend connected, quality time together — reading a story, playing a game, going for a walk, exercising together, etc. If you need to schedule it into your day to make sure it happens, go for it!

You don’t have to make every minute of the day a minute of quality time. Just make sure you’re spending some real time together on a regular basis.

Practice Mindfulness

There’s never been a better time to learn some new mindfulness techniques! Give yourself and your children the gift of slowing down and boosting your emotional health.

Trust Your Child to Do What They Can Do

ease your child's anxiety

Keep encouraging your child to develop new skills and responsibilities. If your child can do something themselves, let them.

They can clean up after themselves before moving onto a new activity. They can press start on the microwave when you make popcorn. They can fold laundry or put it in their drawers.

Let your child do what they can do. Being responsible will help them feel more secure during this time.

{How to Teach Your  Preschooler Responsibility

Be Compassionate

When you or your child melts down (because it will happen!), be compassionate. This is hard, and we all deserve a hug and second (or third or fourth…) chances.

Compassion will not only help your child feel safe and loved, it will improve your own emotional well-being too.

Hang in there! You’re doing good work, parents!

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

How to Teach Your Preschooler Responsibility

how to teach your preschooler responsibility

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

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

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

Begin Young

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

Teach Them

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

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

Set Them up for Success

How can your child best succeed at developing responsibility?

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

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

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

Model Responsibility

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

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

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

Have Your Child Help You

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

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

Help Your Child

how to teach your preschooler responsibility

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

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

Catch Them in the Act

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

“Thank you for taking responsibility for your shoes!”

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

Teach Problem Solving

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

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

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

Avoid Criticizing

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

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

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