Good Habits at the Dinner Table and Beyond: How Teaching Table Manners will Improve Your Child’s Social Skills

If you live with kids, you’ve probably seen it all: The relentlessly wandering toddler, the preschooler who talks with her mouth full of food, the kid who picks at dinner with her fingers instead of using a fork. As a parent it can be exasperating to teach your kids to behave at the dinner table, but it’s a necessary skill that can help them in the future.

To make your mealtimes fun for you, as well as your kids, it’s important to teach your young children good eating habits early and consistently reinforce them. Teaching kids table manners will improve their social skills overall.

What table manners does your child need to know?

There are a few basic manners you can teach your children as soon as they can sit at a table. These include knowing to wash their hands before they come to the table and to sit up nicely — no wriggling around, putting feet on the chair, or wandering during the meal. Your children should learn to say “please” and “thank you” and to use utensils instead of their fingers. Here are five more table manners to slowly introduce to your children as they mature:

  1. Wait until everyone is seated and served before eating.
  2. Use a napkin correctly —that means knowing how to put it in your lap and use it to tidily wipe your mouth.  
  3. Take little bites and eat politely — not slurping, smacking, or chewing with their mouths open.
  4. Use a knife and fork to cut food.
  5. Take turns listening and talking with “inside voices.”

Remember that kids aren’t born knowing how to make requests politely or offer to clear the table. These are things they have to be consistently taught.

Model and Reinforce to Help Your Child Master Table Manners

The most important thing to remember about child-rearing is that your children will model what you do. You have more influence than you think. If you model positive behavior and then reinforce it by repeating easy-to-follow rules and recognizing when your children follow these rules, you’ll make progress. Keep in mind, though, that it is a process; be ready to repeat yourself and demonstrate these skills over and over again.  

Also keep in mind that there are consequences if you don’t reinforce these skills. According to Donna Jones, who wrote Taming Your Family Zoo: Six Weeks to Raising a Well-Mannered Child, “if you don’t, you’re going to have to unteach bad behavior later on.”

So begin early and reinforce often. Your kids should view mealtime as a pleasant time, but a time when good manners are important. If your kids throw fits or behave rudely, have consistent consequences ready, such as a time-out away from the rest of the family. Getting ready for a holiday dinner or a trip to a restaurant? Go over the expectations with your children on the way.

Your kids want to succeed, and this reinforcement can go a long way toward making them responsible, polite young people. After all, good table manners are really just about having respect for others.

Teaching Table Manners: Worth it for Your Child’s Future

Good manners are worth the initial time and effort — and not just so your mealtimes can be blissfully free of food fights and screaming meltdowns. These social skills set your children up for the future.

Think about it: A kid who can sit still and wait patiently at the table is a little more ready to sit still and learn in a classroom. When a kid has clear rules and expectations, that kid can begin to gain confidence and thrive. Ultimately, teaching manners is all about curbing children’s impulsive nature and teaching them to practice self-control; they will learn how to be polite in social situations, not impatient or offensive. This will help them become better versions of themselves as they grow up and face more challenging social situations.


Five Family Friendly Activities in St. Louis To Try This Spring

image of the St. Louis Gateway ArchWe’ve had quite a winter here in St. Louis. There hasn’t been much snow. There’s been plenty of warmer temperatures. And just when it seemed that spring would finally take the weather reins from winter for good, we got another round of snow last week.

Indeed, this season has been anything but predictable, but how often is St. Louis weather consistent? Nevertheless, there will come a time when the cold temperatures scoot out of the area for good, and when they do, you and your family will want to get outside. To help you get started, here are five family friendly activities in St. Louis to try out this spring!

Spring-Time Family Friendly Activities in St. Louis

1) Forest Park

Forest Park is home to many free and paid family friendly attractions, including the St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, Muny, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri Botanical Gardens, Jewel Box and more. With each of these locations providing its own immersive experience, you could literally spend every weekend throughout spring in Forest Park and never get bored.

2) The Arch

Not only is the St. Louis Arch an iconic monument in our grand city; it’s also a great place to let your kids experience the rich history of the Gateway to the West. When you go, be sure to check out the Arch’s recently renovated underpinnings filled with knowledge about what the Arch represents and how it came to be. Then snag a tram ride to the Arch’s uppermost bend so that your little ones can see how vast their city actually is.

3) The City Museum

The City Museum is the perfect place to let your child’s mind wander. Complete with outdoor and indoor exploration areas – from winding caves to scaling slides and a bus that “teeters” on top of the roof – the City Museum is the perfect place to let your child (and maybe even remind you how to) just be a kid.

4) Busch Stadium / Ball Park Village

The greatest baseball team in the nation deserves the greatest baseball-watching experience. Head down to Ball Park Village where your family can enjoy a quick bite at any of its famous restaurants. Once the game starts, hang out under the big screen inside or out on the front lawn. If you want to get an even closer look at the game, head into the iconic Busch Stadium and celebrate another redbird victory alongside the citizens of Cardinal Nation.

5) Ted Drewes

No matter which adventure from above you choose, top off your day with a cup of the best frozen custard on the planet! Ted Drewes is a St. Louis staple that’s been serving cool treats to eager consumers for more than 80 years! With a track record like that, you know this dessert must be special.

And more…?

So there you have it — our top picks for family friendly activities in St. Louis to do this spring. Is there a place you and your family like to go that didn’t make our list? Let us know on our social media channels. We look forward to hearing from you!

Is technology bad for kids?

image of a little boy using a smartphoneIn the age of smartphones and tablets – where us adults are constantly connected to text messages, social media updates and the vast expanse of information strewn across the web – it can be easy to place an electronic device in the hands of your child from time to time. While these devices serve as a great distractor to take your child’s mind off of less exciting topics, like traveling in the car, grocery shopping or waiting in a doctor’s office, how often have you stopped to consider how a smartphone or tablet is affecting your child’s development?

In this article, we’re addressing a new-age question that doesn’t have an easy answer: Is technology bad for kids?

What is “technology?”

Technology means many things to many people. For some, technology is a smart TV with Netflix and Youtube built in. For others, technology is a video game console. Others believe that their computer is technology.

To be completely honest, all of the above are true; these are all items of technology. For the sake of this article, the type of gadgets that your child can hold in his/her hands – smartphones and tablets – are the technology we’re referring to.

What does technology do to children?

Technology, when used responsibly, can help a young mind wonder and grow. Unfortunately, if your child is using a smart device to watch uneducational videos or play games, it may be preventing your child from branching out into other compelling aspects of life.

Technology and the Pathway to Addiction

As many adults have found out with the advent of smartphones and tablets: technology can be addicting. We love to feel connected to social media and apps and all of these other pieces of software designed to capture our attention. It’s easy to “fall down the rabbit hole” and spend countless hours on our devices each day. Why would a child be immune to these same flashy screens?

They’re not.

In fact, children tend to be lured into technology where their love for devices almost becomes instant. Children are drawn in to bright vibrant colors, attention grabbing sounds and making things happens – three characteristics many app developers build into their applications.

A Born Natural With Technology

Too often, we hear parents say, “My child is a natural with technology. He/she can use a smartphone better than I can!”

While on the surface, this may seem like a positive attribute for your child to have – a clear representation of how quickly your child picks up new things – there are inherent dangers with praising a child for being so good with a smartphone.

Positive vs. Negative Mental Stimulation

Children’s minds are in a continuous pattern of learning; they tend to absorb whatever is placed in front of them. If a child is given a smartphone so that he/she can play games or watch videos, the child will excel at using said phone. If a child is given a book to read or a puzzle to solve, he/she will excel at broadening his/her literary understanding and solving problems.

While some time with a smartphone can be beneficial to childhood development and play, it is also critical to ensure your child’s mind is being challenged and stimulated by resources that don’t come from a screen. Let your child turn a page in a book, feel a crayon in his/her hand, and build something with blocks. Let your child explore the world beyond the confines of a touchscreen.

How much time is acceptable for a child to spend with technology?

As you may have picked up from the last paragraph, this article is not a complete condemning of technology. We are simply suggesting that, like many things in life, technology should be used in moderation, especially when raising a child.

In order to keep a heathy balance between technology and other mental stimulants, we recommend for children to spend no more than 30-60 minutes each day with a smartphone or tablet. Taking this concept a step further, all smartphone time should be restricted to certain kid-friendly apps, like any of the educational options listed here. There is plenty of content on the app store that is not appropriate or beneficial for younger age groups.

Bottom Line on Technology

Smartphones and tablets can be great tools to learn with, but they can also cause intellectual harm if not used sparingly. By limiting your child’s technology intake, you are ensuring that he/she is able to connect with the world beyond these gadgets. This includes being able to learn and play with real-world items, engage in thoughtful conversation as the child grows older, and it encourages your child to get outside and stay active, even when a device is readily available.

As a parent, you have the power to mold your child’s success. Make sure he/she is spending more time in the real world than the ones designed on your devices.

Adulthood vs Adolescence: The Debate on How to Treat Children

imagine of a young man, woman and daughter demonstrating how to treat children

There’s plenty of debate on how to treat children throughout their development toward adulthood: Should “kids just be kids?” Should our little ones be treated like the adults we hope they become? Is there a right and wrong answer?

At Mary Margaret, we don’t take a stance on either perspective. We recognize that your parenting style has been tailored to work best for your own needs. Nevertheless, we felt that the topic was intriguing enough to warrant a discussion…

Treating Children Like Children

The saying goes: “You’re only young once.” For most of us parents looking back on our own childhoods, this sentiment rings true; wasn’t being young easy? No bills. No responsibilities. Our only job was to soak up life and everything it had to offer.

This is the methodology behind the parenting style that treats children like children. To bolster this perspective, science somewhat agrees: Did you know that the human mind doesn’t fully development until age 25? That means children need guidance to be delivered in a simplified way that they can understand throughout these crucial years; they don’t need too many choices or responsibilities to muddle up this development process.

Why rush to grow up? There will be plenty time for “adult stuff” in the years to come.

Treating Children Like Adults

On the flip side, children – like their adult parents – are just little human beings. As a result, they deserve to be treated with the same respect as any other individual, right?

This article doesn’t only propose that treating children like children is wrong; it’s demeaning. Author, Brian Davis, states that many parents unknowingly speak to their child in a condescending manner by delivering a series of arbitrary orders and rhetorical questions that aren’t developmentally beneficial to the child. Instead, he proposes a method that engages the child in adult-like conversation, complete with thought-provoking questions and explanatory answers. This method ultimately helps the child have more autonomy over their own development while still operating within the behavioral expectations any child (or adult) would adhere to.

Which parenting style represents you?

Now that you’ve read the perspectives on both parenting styles, which method do you use with your own children? Maybe you use a blend of the two? Whatever it is, we invite you to start a conversation about this topic on our Facebook pages. We’re excited to hear what you think!

Learning About Martin Luther King Jr Day For Kids

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January every year as a way to celebrate the life and work of an amazing man in American history. Dr. King’s dream of a vibrant, multi-cultural society and his drive to shape the world around him is a powerful lesson for all American’s, young and old. On this day we want to look at books that help teach about Martin Luther King Jr Day for kids. There are countless books for kids of all ages that can highlight the message of hope, equality, and our shared humanity. Here are some of our favorites.

Books About Martin Luther King Jr Day For Kids

We start with a book for some of our youngest readers, Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr. While the book is simplified for young readers, the core message of peace and brotherhood among all people resonates in its simple words and stunning pictures. This is a great introduction of Martin Luther King Jr Day for kids.

books to teach Martin Luther King Jr Day for kids

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. is available on Amazon.

Child of the Civil Rights Movement, by Paula Young Shelton, tells the true story of the young daughter of a civil rights leader; Andrew Young. It follows the author as she was moved by her family from New York to Atlanta to protest and fight to change unfair laws. This book tackles tough subjects like Jim Crow, through the innocent eyes of a child. It also introduces it readers to many civil rights giants, like Martin Luther King Jr. The illustrations in this book are beautifully done, telling an important story in a understanding way for young readers.

Books about Martin Luther King Jr Day for Kids

Child of the Civil Rights Movement is available on Amazon.

Our final book on our list today is by Doreen Rappaport, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This picture book biography brings to life the civil rights pioneer, through his own words. This Caldecott Honor Book portrays a man that used his words to inspire change through peaceful action, not violence. The beautiful illustrations honor this great man.

Martin’s BIG Words is available on Amazon

More Reading Resources

These are just a few of the amazing stories that help to teach children about the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr. There are countless books for children and adults for those who are interested in learning more. The King Center has a selected bibliography on Dr. Martin Luther King that offers a range of reading options. PBS Kids also has a fantastic lists of books about Martin Luther King Jr Day for kids. This is where we found many of our favorites.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just another day off of work. It recognizes the life and work of a man who died fighting for equality and respect. We hope this book list helps to educate our friends on the powerful legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and inspire any future civil rights leaders in our midst.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Free Family Activities In St. Louis

The Thanksgiving break is around the corner. In addition to great food and time with family, this also means long weekends with excited kiddos! As we head into the holiday season we wanted to offer a list of free family activities in St. Louis that are perfect for young children. Our community has so much to offer when it comes to having fun with your family. Here are a few of our favorites.

Free Family Activities In St. Louis

Free family activities in st. louis, kirkwood winter fireworks festival

Photo Courtesy of Downtown Kirkwood Winter Fireworks Festival

The Alton Community Tree Lighting For those who want to kick off their holiday season this weekend there are tons of free family activities in St. Louis. Just across the river on Friday, November 18, 2016 Alton Illinois will host their annual Community Tree Lighting in Lincoln-Douglas Square, at Broadway Street and Landmarks Blvd. The event starts at 6:00 pm and runs until 8:00 pm. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive at 6:00 pm and families can enjoy free photos with the pair as well as cookies, hot cocoa and prizes for the kids.

Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade. Let’s not forget this free family favorite. For the past 32 years balloons, marching bands and floats have made this a tradition for many St. Louis families. The parade kicks of at 8:45 am on Thursday, November 24th from 7th Street and Market Street in Downtown St. Louis. There will be over 130 parade units in this years parade, including fire trucks and animal groups. For those who can’t make it downtown, the parade will be broadcast on KMOV.

The Francis Park Christmas Tree Lighting If you have ever made it to Candy Cane Lane, then you know that the St. Louis Hills area has a very special tradition of creating holiday magic for the entire community. On November 27 the magic will begin in Francis Park for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The festivities begin at 7:00 pm in the park, at the intersection of Childress and Nottingham. You can visit the St. Louis Hills website for more information.

UMSL’s Jazz for the Holidays Anyone with music lovers in the family may enjoy this special concert hosted at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on Sunday, December 6th at 3:00 pm. The university jazz ensemble, the university orchestra and the vocal group, Vocal Point will perform jazzy renditions of holiday favorites, including music from a Charlie Brown Christmas.

Downtown Kirkwood Fireworks Festival If your holidays are jammed packed with activities it may be difficult to visit all of these fun activities. Why not end your holiday season with a bang at the Downtown Kirkwood Fireworks Festival on Sunday, January 1, 2017? The party starts at 6:30 pm with a short concert by the Key of Three. Then a free fireworks display will be launched from the parking lot of city hall.

We look forward to the upcoming holiday festivities with all of our Mary Margaret Daycare families. Be sure to like your center’s Facebook page for upcoming events at each location. We also encourage you to share your pictures of our Mary Margaret Daycare families to the Facebook page. We would love to see our friends as they enjoy many of the free family activities in St. Louis.

Fall Crafts for Preschoolers

Although it may not feel like it outside, today is the first day of fall. Before you know it, the leaves will start changing colors and there will be a little nip in the air. At Mary Margaret Daycare we love to celebrate these little “firsts” with our kids. Not only is it a fun way to teach them about the seasons, it is also great way to incorporate learning about science and exploring the world around them with a little fun! These are lessons that can be reinforced at home with some fun, fall crafts for preschoolers. Today, lets look at ways we can incorporate science, art and all of the fun that fall brings.

Fall Crafts for Preschoolers

Marbled Fall Leaves

When you think of Fall one of the first things that comes to mind are beautifully colored leaves. We found a great craft project from the Teaching With TLC blog; shaving cream leaves. All you need to do this project are sheets of heavy card stock, paint, shaving cream, a cake pan and a butter knife.

colorful leaf, fall crafts for preschoolers

Photo credit thanks to Teaching with TLC.

This is one of the fall crafts for preschoolers that is really great for any age. Some adult supervision is required, so the entire family can create something beautiful out of shaving cream! Check out Teaching with TLC for complete instructions.

Fall Harvest Corn Wreath

This project also uses a unique ingredient to make beautiful art; bubble wrap! In order to make this festive door decor you will need a little bit of cardboard, bubble wrap, scissors, paper plates, glue, white and green construction paper and twine. You will also need non-toxic paint in red, brown, orange and yellow.

corn wreath, fall crafts for preschoolers

Photo credit  One Pure Heart

The kids can use the bubble wrap as a stamp on paper to create the corn. The bubble wrap makes it look like individual kernels on the page. Kids of all ages can help stamp and assemble the wreath. For full instructions, check out this blog post from One Pure Heart.

Musical Corn Shakers

That same bubble wrap can also be used to create a fun, corn-themed musical instrument. With an old Pringles can, some pop corn and the same craft tools from before, you can make a fall music maker to help ring in Autumn. Toddlers will especially love this project as they laugh at the funny faces on their instruments and make as much noise as possible. Just be careful to seal your can with glue or your kiddos will have just as much fun making a mess. (Something every parent knows that kids of all ages are really great at and love doing!) Simply follow this link for full instructions.

Corn shakers, fall crafts for preschoolers

Photo credit: Sow Sprout Play

We hope these fall crafts for preschoolers have sparked some fun ideas for your family. As the season rolls on we will incorporate many of these same themes into projects and discussions in our classrooms. If you would like to learn more about Mary Margaret Daycare and how we incorporate playtime, art time and learning time contact us today.

Preventing Separation Anxiety In Preschoolers

Monday mornings can be hard. After a nice, relaxing weekend, getting back into the hustle and bustle of the week is stressful for the entire family. Nothing could make a Monday worse than a screaming and crying child that doesn’t want to you to leave him or her at daycare. At Mary Margaret’s Daycare we train our teachers to help make that transition as simple as possible, but there are days when we see the hurt in parents eyes as they have to walk away from their child. So today we want to offer some of our best tips for preventing separation anxiety in preschoolers, both from the experts and our years of experience.

Dos And Don’ts For Preventing Separation Anxiety in Preschoolers

Little girl crying, preventing separation anxiety in preschoolers

Sometimes mornings are hard!

Do Talk About It Before Hand

One of the best ways for preventing separation anxiety in preschool, even if they have been going for years, is to talk about it with your child. According to Parent’s Magazine, the main source of anxiety around entering school in children is the fear of the unknown. New people, new rules, or even just a new day in a familiar setting is enough to set off your average toddler or preschooler. Reviewing what lies ahead will help to ease the transition as your child can be assured that there are no nasty surprises ahead.

Do Create Routines

Repetition and consistency can go a long way in making a child feel comfortable in a new surrounding. We practice this every day at Mary Margaret’s Daycare, and our routine helps make the day run more smoothly for everyone as the children know what to expect with each transition. Over the years we have seen many novel ways that parents create a routine around drop off and pick up. From playing I-spy on the way to school or simply talking about their favorite activities at daycare, each little routine helps give each child something to look forward to everyday.

Don’t Just Disappear

Another tip from Parent’s Magazine recommends a happy and firm goodbye before leaving.
We understand the desire to sneak off to work if your child is distracted by a fun toy or a new friend, but this can lead to separation anxiety in preschoolers later in the week. Leaving while your child is distracted can make them feel abandoned and more clingy the next time you leave.

Don’t Linger

On the flip side, it is important not to linger. It is tempting to try to stay and comfort your child when they cry and fuss at drop-off. Sticking around to help comfort them sometimes teaches the child that a crying jag will make mommy or daddy stay. You may find an even bigger scene the next morning. Instead, a happy and firm good bye with a promise to see them after school is the best way to start the day. Children will calm down faster than you think.

Do: Bring In A Small Memento

A little something from home can help ease some of the stress of being away from family for the day. A small laminated picture is the perfect, pocket sized reminder from home. Or maybe it is a little bit of fabric from a favorite blanket to carry around.  Sometimes, putting a special toy in a cubby is the perfect solution to separation anxiety in preschoolers. Just knowing that something special from home is nearby and ready for them at the end of the day can calm an anxious child.

Don’t: Bring In Your Whole Toy Box

On the flip side, we caution against bringing in too many mementos from home. There are two key reasons, The first and most pressing is that preschoolers are learning to share. Toys from home, especially those really special toys, may not help ease separation anxiety if our new friends all want to share it. Also, it is easy to misplace toys from home as they can get mixed up with toys from school. A forgotten lovey can lead to an awful night for parents at home. Any toys from home should be stowed in a child’s cubby. There it’s close enough for a quick hug but in safe place so it won’t be forgotten.

Do: Breathe Easy

Going to school, especially the first few weeks, can be a trying time for parents and kids. This is a normal part of child development. Parents, breathe easy knowing that it will get easier every day. Moments like this are important lessons that help teach your children routine and trust. They quickly learn that their family will always be there at the end of the day to get them. They also learn that there are new adventures to be had in new places! These are the lessons that we try to teach at Mary Margaret’s Daycare. Even if there are tears when you drop your child off with us, you can rest easy. Your kids are in for a fun and educational day that they can’t wait to tell you about after school!

Indoor Summer Craft Ideas for Preschoolers

summer craft ideas

Store aisles are stocked to the brim with school supplies, and you can feel the first day of school is just around the corner. But don’t get too carried away with back-to-school prep and forget that it’s STILL summer! Summer is a kid’s favorite time of year  – endless play, swimming lessons, and all the time in the world to catch fireflies and get dirty outside.

But what about those sticky hot or rainy summer days? Well, we came up with a list of some of our favorite indoor summer craft ideas to keep your kids having fun the rest of the season – rain or shine. Some are even educational and will give their brains a kickstart for the upcoming year.

Incredible Indoor Summer Crafts for Preschoolers

We love these ideas because they are inexpensive, easy, and perfect for all age groups so that you can do them with the whole family. Click on the titles of each craft for instructions and supplies. 

Paper Plate Tambourine

If you choose to make this craft with your little ones, be prepared for some noise. These are so fun for the kids because they can get creative and decorate them however they like. Another plus to this craft is you can probably find all the supplies at home.

Egg Carton Sail Boat

This craft is awesome because it is also part of a reading lesson. It’s perfect for all ages because you can make it very simple or more creative and advanced.

Nature Collage

This project leaves you with a memorable piece of art you can admire all year long. Go hunting for nature pieces on a beautiful day or save a few items from a beach trip. Pull out their collections on a hot or rainy day to make an art piece of memories.

Garden Rock Caterpillar

This art project takes painted rocks and pet rocks to a whole new level! We think this would be a perfect accompaniment to the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Coffee Filter Umbrellas

These are so cute to make on a rainy day. Preschoolers will love creating these colorful mini umbrellas that catch sun rays in your window.

Shaving Cream Marbled Rainbows

This is a wonderful sensory activity to do with your little ones. Sensory play is important for preschool aged children. Warning – this one gets messy!

DIY Kaleidoscope

Have extra Pringles cans? Turn them into awesome DIY kaleidoscopes!

At Mary Margaret’s Daycare Center, we have fun making crafts, participating in sensory activities, and creating art masterpieces all year long. We can’t wait to have all our school year buddies back at daycare. We hope you have fun making these indoor summer crafts. Share your creations with us and let us know your favorites.

Back to School Prep for Preschool and Kindergarten

Can you believe it’s already July? We feel like the little ones just left for summer yesterday! While some of your kiddos have been with us at Mary Margaret’s Day Care this summer, other’s have been home, and a few are coming back next year, all kids will have some trouble getting back into school mode come this August. And maybe you even have a first-time Kindergartner to send on their way. Pro tip: don’t hold back the tears, they will come no matter how hard you try. 🙂

Getting back into the swing of the school routine is especially hard on parents, but your kids need a little prep too. So we have a back to school prep list of a few things you can practice with your children this summer to help their minds and schedules prep for the new year.

Back to School Prep

What to Teach Preschoolers:

  • Empathy:

Over the summer keep talking to your child about feelings and empathy. Understanding other’s feelings is an important part of forming and sustaining friendships at school and in life. Kids who are aware of others emotions can play more fluidly and have less conflict with others. Talk to your children about their feelings and help them identify them. Summer is a great time to do this because they are having more play dates, interacting with family, and going to camp, the park or other public places.

  • How to Follow Directions

Even preschoolers can learn to follow directions, and it’s so important they can to do well in the class setting. Your child should be able to follow two-step directions such as sit at the table and listen or put on shoes and follow outside. In preschool, they will be asked to complete many tasks on their own so it’s important they can listen and follow directions from the teachers. Learning to follow directions also goes along with learning to share and take turns.

  • Fine/Gross Motor Skills:

Summer is the perfect time to enhance your child’s motor skills. To improve their fine motor skills give your kids crayons and paper often and let them draw, write, or even just scribble. For gross motor skills give them plenty of unstructured outdoor play so they can run, jump, and climb. When kids can run and play on their own, they get to know their bodies,  practice balance, and gain strength.

What to Prep Kindergarteners For: 

  • Math:

Kindergarteners should have a basic understanding of counting and numbers. Over the summer spend time counting with your child. When you walk upstairs, count with them. Snack time is a great time to learn numbers; count out crackers with them, have them add a few and take away a few and have them count again.Real life counting and number use is the best way to learn math.

  • Reading: 

Reading is a big topic in kindergarten and can be easy or more challenging for a child; every child is different at the age. The best way to help your child learn to read or become a better reader is to encourage a love for books. Visit the library over the summer and read a little every day. Have fun and read rhyming books, sing-along books, and stories with interesting characters.

  • Independence:

In Kindergarten your child will need and have a lot more independence than preschool. Give them a few small independent responsibilities over the summer such as cleaning their room, completing chores, or taking care of the family pet. Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence for school.

Back to School Tips For Parents:

  • We love this “Get ready for school!” checklist that can help the whole family get out the door in the morning.
  • Make mealtimes a routine before the school year starts. Young children need time to adapt to new things. Plan meals and snacks at the same time everyday so when school comes, the routine is familiar to them.
  • Talk to all the teachers.As preschool teachers, we love meeting the families of our students! This is the same for all teachers, no matter the age. When you talk to your child’s teachers, ask about homework, their teaching style, and any significant dates or events for the year.
  • Have a calendar. If you have multiple kids in different schools, it’s important o have a master calendar. This is a centralized place for all family events. You’ll need a family event calendar to track after-school activities, school programs, volunteer work, and teacher conferences.  Add specialized calendars and schedules, and you have it: a one-stop shop for family time management.Post the family event calendar in a public place so everyone in the household can see.
  • Have a practice run before the first day of school. Have your kids pretend it’s the first day of school and see how much time the morning rally takes.

Whatever stage your family is at, it’s always good to use some of these back to school prep tips. For those that are joining us for the first time or coming back to Mary Margaret’s for the  year, we can’t wait!

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