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Every person in a child’s life can help him or her develop empathy, an important quality for personal and professional success.
— Read on www.kqed.org/mindshift/47502/empathy-is-tough-to-teach-but-is-one-of-the-most-important-life-lessons

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Here are five to focus on building in your kiddo.
— Read on www.mother.ly/child/your-childs-social-skills-in-kindergarten-are-more-important-than-their-academics

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Parents reading with their 2 kids

As parents, an important goal we all set for our children is that of  becoming a proficient reader and writer.  To help support literacy and language development  parents frequently spend time researching the best matched preschools and child care centers, subsequently enrolling in chosen one, as a way to achieve success for their children. However, the most important early childhood teacher is, you the parent!


 Have daily conversations with your child

Speaking and listening lay the foundation for reading and writing.  So have meaningful conversations daily with your child.  When you have a conversation with your child, take turns listening and talking.  Remember, conversation means two-way communication.  Also remember to be patient and listen to what your child has to say even if you have to wait for your child to form the words and ideas.  Your patience will help your child feel free to talk.

Encourage the development of language and literacy by personalizing your conversations.  Children like to talk about themselves, their interests, and their feelings.  If you talk about things that your child cares about, and listen as he or she talks, your child will be an eager, natural speaker.  Also do things together that naturally encourage conversation. For example look at family pictures and talk about the people and family celebrations.  Join your child’s pretend play, but let your child be the leader.  Provide  materials and share in your child’s favorite activities, such as drawing, building with blocks, racing toy cars, baking cookies.  Be an active participant with your child!

Improve the conversations you have with your child by making encouraging comments, such as “I see you made a blue circle”, or “the building you made is so tall”.  Also repeat comments your child may say, “You’re so happy Cara asked you for a play date!”  Ask your child questions as you converse, “How did you make that tower?”  Remember though that too many questions tend to stifle a conversation so keep the conversations natural and flowing.

Be sure to enjoy the sounds of language!  You can build your child’s knowledge of the sounds that go with each letter through enjoyable activities such as reading nursery rhymes, like “The Eensy, Weensy Spider.  Such are filled with the sounds and rhymes of language (eensy and weensy, spout and out).  Children love to make up new rhymes from old.  Change a word in a familiar rhyme or song and ask your child to supply a new ending that rhymes.  “Jack be nimble, Jack be red, Jack jump over the ___.”  Fill in one or two examples yourself, then give your child a turn.  if your child makes up a nonsense word that rhymes (“Jack be silly, Jack jump over pilly” ), accept the answer and laugh with your child.  It demonstrates your child understands rhyming.

Point out the individual sounds in words.  This promotes what reading experts call phonemic awareness.  Phonemic awareness is knowing that words are made up of sequences of individual sounds.  Phonics, the next step in learning to read, is knowing sound-letter relationships.  For example you might say “Mommy and muffin.  Those both start with the mmm sound, that’s the letter m.”  Or, emphasize the /b/ sound when you say “Barbara is putting butter on her bagel.”  Also when you say the sound of a letter, such as /b/, avoid adding the “uh” sound after it.

Another fun activity to reinforce literacy and language development is to play games with alliteration, that is, with words that start with the same sound.  Emphasize the /s/ sound in “You painted a super silly snowman.”  Or, put three objects that start with the /b/ sound in a bag ( such as a ball, bell, block ).  Guessing games are also fun.  “I’m thinking of something in the refrigerator that starts with the /m/ sound – mmm.

Sing songs, tell stories, recite rhymes, and move to rhythmic chants.  When you do these things, you are helping your child develop what reading experts call phonological awareness.  It means knowing the sounds of language.  Music is another way to introduce your child to word sounds.  Repeated words and simple rhymes in familiar songs like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” help make children aware of the sounds that make up these words.  Another fun activity is to make up new songs to familiar tunes.  For instance sing “We’re going to the boardwalk” to “Did You Ever See a Lassie.”  Let your child make up new words to match what you are doing.

Simply by modeling important literacy habits for your child you promote learning.  Reading stories, singing songs, and saying silly rhymes that your child loves all make your child aware of the sounds in words – an important skill in learning to read and write.





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help preschoolers enjoy readingYoung children read and write in many different ways. They begin by recognizing familiar drawings and symbols in their environment. For example, they know the meaning of a Stop Sign, Exit Sign, traffic signal, a store sign etc…. They start by pretend reading a favorite book by describing the pictures or reciting parts of a story from memory. By displaying these behaviors children show us that they understand the idea of print and that it is used to communicate. In the HighScope classroom we support emergent reading by implementing the following key experiences in language and literacy.

HighScope Preschool Key Experiences in Language and Literacy

Speaking and Listening

1. Talking with others about personally meaningful experiences

2. Describing objects, events, and relations

3. Having fun with language : listening to stories and poems, making up stories and rhymes

Reading and Writing

1. Reading in various ways: reading storybooks, signs and symbols, one’s own writing

2. Writing in various ways: drawing, scribbling, letter-like forms, writing words based on word sounds, conventional forms

3. Dictating stories

As children progress on the developmental continuum we next notice that they grasp the idea of letters. Preschoolers learn that letters stand for sounds and that letters make up words. This understanding develops when children have many experiences that link spoken and written language, such as being read to and having their thoughts written down by an adult.

We also notice that young children write in many different ways. As fine motor skills develop young children start to draw and write with crayons, markers, paints and various other writing materials. They first make scribbles and then draw pictures. Later they make scribbles that look like letters. Eventually children write real letters, often beginning with the letters in their first name. As children learn more letters and their sounds, they try to spell or sound out words. They write words based on the sounds they can hear in the words, usually first and last letter sound first and eventually they learn conventional spelling.

So how can parents and guardians of young children lay the foundation for a solid and enjoyable educational beginning? Well most importantly you do not want to drill them or make them recite memorized lists. Learning to read and write should always be pleasurable, not tedious!

Literacy comes from a wide variety of language experiences such as speaking, listening, reading, and writing. By exploring the sounds of language in many different ways you will help your child make the connection between speech and print. Early reading and writing experiences will be meaningful and lasting if they build on children’s natural desire to communicate with the people close to them and to learn about the world around them. Young children need lots of experiences using language in their play and daily routines, and they need repeated exposure to the written word. However they do not need formal lessons but rather informal everyday interactions and activities that promote literacy

12 Things Parents Can Do to Help Their Preschooler Become a Reader

1. Have daily conversations with your child

2. Keep lots of printed materials and writing materials in your home

3. Set up a reading and writing space for your child

4. Let your child see you read and write

5. Read with your child everyday.

6. Call your child’s attention to reading nd writing in everyday activities.

7. Make a message board.

8. Encourage your child to “read”.

9. Display your child’s writing

10. Make a word bank or file of words your child likes to write (word wall).

11. Go to the library with your child

12. Use television and technology wisely

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Children’s blocks have been a staple in many toy boxes around the world for as long as most of us can remember. In fact toy makers began decorating blocks with letters of the alphabet in an attempt to sneak some “learning” into a child’s play. But it was soon noticed that young children usually ignored the letters and piled the blocks into tall towers. Fast forward to the 1930’s and educators began to notice that children’s play was to be taken seriously. Because serious play was in fact learning.

As play itself was being recognized as learning, a new type of block came on the market. They were just pieces of unpainted wood, the same width and thickness, and with lengths twice or four times as great as the unit block. A few curves, cylinders, and half thickness blocks were added, but all with lengths that fitted into the measurements of the basic blocks. These blocks are now known as “unit blocks”, and are found in most childcare settings. They have been found to be the most useful tool for self-education that young children can play with and work with. Most early childhood teachers realize the value of these blocks as giving children an opportunity to reproduce their experiences quickly and then play them out actively with their block creations.

Young children’s first block experiences do not represent block building. Blocks are typically carried from place to place, or they may be stacked or placed in irregular piles. This early experience with blocks allows the young child the chance to gain acquaintance with this particular building tool by manipulation and by using various forms and various spaces. Between 2 and 3 years of age, real construction begins and has been found to follow broadly three or four lines of development, especially in regard to the techniques. Blocks in these early years are comparable to such plastic materials as crayons, paints, or play dough, and their use is dependent upon impulse, which is influencing the young builder.

Repetition, repetition, repetition. All parents and teachers will agree that repetition in one form or another is characteristic of children who are just beginning to learn language and perfect their locomotion. A young child might climb up steps only to descend and climb up again. Usually the first meaningful words are da, da, da, or ma, ma, ma. Similarly we also find repetition in many forms appearing again and again in the first constructive use of blocks. The young child may begin lining blocks up in a long horizontal line (rows) or a child can repeat by piling blocks one on top of another (towers). At first, the resulting tower may be an irregular one, threatening to fall as each additional block is placed. At this stage lofty towers are not found because they crash.

As children become more familiar with block play we next notice that students can make single towers with blocks on edge as well as flat on their faces or with combinations of sizes or shapes. Children discover that a series of towers makes a wall, just as a series of rows makes a floor. As children’s block building skills increase the next problem to solve is “bridging”. As constructions made increase in elaboration and difficulty children must learn how to set up 2 blocks, leaving a space between them and roofing that space with another block. This is often a difficult problem to place the uprights at an appropriate distance apart, so that the third block will bridge the space.

Next in the sequence of block play development is making an “enclosure”. Enclosures appear early in building activities. To put 4 blocks together so that a space is completely enclosed is not a simple task. However with block play experiences it appears, and once learned, repetitive enclosures seem to be the next level of block play. At this stage our young architects are wrestling with the problem of making this building material (blocks) take on the quality of plasticity and almost of malleability. It will yield to the child’s desire. Children are absorbed, intent, and satisfied during this process. Soon enclosures become more elaborate. When children come to realize that blocks are a building material that is capable of being put together in an ordered arrangement, a variety of methods, patterns, and techniques seem to suggest themselves to them. With age, there is a steady increase in facility, imagination, elaboration of design, and actual number of blocks used.

As soon as children begin to acquire dexterity in the use of blocks, so that they feel at home with the material, we begin to notice that they build with balanced and decorative patterns. It’s here that we once again see repetition, repetition, repetition. It seems blocks are essentially the most plastic material for young children, because with blocks they seem able to arrange, to design, and to compose. Repetition is one of the features of design.

Somewhere along the developmental path of block building an impulse to name arises. This does not mean that the buildings resemble the things they are called. Among 2-3 year old children, we find naming, but very rarely play use of the structures made. Naming becomes very usual among older children. The name is often announced as an advance plan. Dramatic use of buildings increases as the techniques of building are well learned, so that the material is no longer master of the situation as it is earlier.

At later ages, the dramatic impulse is so strong that the buildings reproduce or symbolize actual structures or experiences that the children are recalling and set the stage for dramatic play.

In summary unit blocks are one of the most important and versatile materials you can place in the early childhood classroom as well as at home. The pleasure of blocks stems primarily from the aesthetic experience. It involves the whole person – muscles and senses, intellect and emotion, individual growth and social interaction. Learning results from the imaginative activity, from the need to pose and solve problems. Cognitive growth occurs through physical maturation coupled with first hand experiences. Block play further these processes.

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How Do We Help Preschoolers Enjoy Reading?

help preschoolers enjoy readingAs parents and educators we all have the goal of opening up the world of words and reading to our young children and students. But how might we spark attention and engagement with story books by our young learners?

A major contribution of the story-reading experience is the pleasure that it can bring. First of all, stories are often very interesting. They talk about children, animals, pretend characters, funny situations, even frightening events that usually turn out all right. Entering into the world of stories on their own is something that many children want to do once they have experienced the joy that stories can bring. So lots of exposure and experiences with stories can build a positive attitude toward reading and hopefully a strong desire to learn to read.

Aside from a child’s interest in the stories themselves, there is an emotional/social component of the story-reading experience. The personal interaction between adult and child is almost always a positive, nurturing, time together. Story book reading often takes place with the child on the parent’s lap, or snuggled besides classmates as the teacher reads aloud. The bedtime story may be one of the most positive times of the day for parent and child, especially if it is a nightly ritual. Because the parent and child know the routine, usually the negotiations that characterizes other activities during the day is not present at bedtime story reading ( except maybe for number of books to be read ). The book , as the basis for interaction, makes talking together easy. Bedtime story reading is also often wrapped up with other bedtime rituals like the goodnight kiss, singing a lullaby, and tucking in, which are among the most nurturing and positive of parent-child interactions.

If a child’s experience with books is enjoyable, and it occurs under especially warm and nurturant conditions, the feelings associated with reading and books are likely to be highly positive. The development of such positive attitudes toward books and reading is one of the most important contributions of early book-reading experiences. So parents be sure to put the evening bedtime story as a high priority on your daily list of tasks to be done! This simple, daily, bonding activity can provide a lifetime of learning and knowledge for your child.

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