Teaching Children Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a characteristic that shapes who we are as people. It is the groundwork for a well-balanced, happy life. Those that tend to hold grudges and have a hard time forgiving, hold on to negative energy and are molded by that. Those that are more likely to forgive are creating more space for positivity in their life and in the world.  “Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace.” -Tolstoy. Below are a few ways that you can model and promote forgiveness in your life and in turn help your children learn what it means to forgive and be forgiven.

Reinforce forgiveness—We often encourage children to apologize when they have upset someone or have done something wrong. It is just as important to encourage them to forgive when they are apologized to. Enforce phrases such as, “I accept your apology”, “I forgive you”,” I’m not ready”, “thank you”, etc.

Don’t force it – We want children to be open to forgiveness, but we do not want it to become a force of habit. It is important that children are able to process their emotions and rationalize for themselves. Forcing them to accept an apology, or give one for that matter, could just be a way of giving them an out and not fully allowing them to work through it and learn the lesson it holds.

Show your children forgiveness – Children’s behavior can be trying. As they are learning boundaries, they are finding ways to test them. These explorations can quickly turn into rule breaking, aggressive behavior, or acting out. If we are gentle, understanding, and forgiving with them, then they are more likely to be understanding and gentle when needing to forgive others.

Practice sincere apologies – When you are apologizing, or asking for an apology, encourage your children to structure their apology; acknowledge the wrong doing, admit the action without excuses, and commit to learning from this mistake and letting it go to move forward.

Use a visual aid – Using a tangible learning aid helps children process the lesson more easily. Try making a forgiveness tree with your children. Draw a tree with no leaves. Each time they forgive someone, together write who they forgave and why. With time the leaves will fill the tree and make it robust and beautiful. Reflect together about how big and beautiful the tree has grown with each act of forgiveness and liken it to everyday life.

Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is an important aspect of life. Start encouraging and modeling forgiveness to your children and to all of those around you.

Spring on the Mind

Spring is just around the corner and we are excited and ready at AppleTree & Gilden Woods. As part of our C.O.R.E. curriculum, children in our toddler and preschool classes will learn all about bugs, bees, and butterflies. The lessons throughout Spring are enhanced by raising and releasing butterflies.

Our K-Prep classrooms all receive a butterfly kit and habitat. Children are able to observe the life-cycle and watch as the caterpillars become chrysalis and eventually hatch into butterflies. Each classroom releases their butterflies into nature and the children enjoy the hands on experience and the opportunity to observe the entire life cycle. Visit nature-gifts.com for ideas to supplement this activity at home!

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Throughout the lessons, each classroom incorporates age appropriate activities, songs, games, and books. Each classroom reads Eric Carle’s, “A Very Hungry Caterpillar.” This is the perfect book to read at home with your children as well. It will help you discuss insect and animal life cycles and possibly different natural phenomenon that take place in spring.


Another way to incorporate springtime learning into your children’s lives is to visit Frederik Meijer Gardens. They have a butterfly room that is brimming with butterflies and fun activities all through the month of March! Check out their calendar of scheduled family events.

Spring Family Bucket List

It is finally safe to say that Spring is here! The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer, flowers are starting to bloom, and the birds are greeting us each morning. These sure fire signs of Spring are welcomed with open arms after a long winter. It is time to get outside and explore! Here is a family bucket list to help you embrace Spring and explore nature together!


5 Ways to Bring Reading Alive

March is National Reading Month. Reading aloud to children is one of the most important activities that you can do together. It encourages language development and early literacy skills. Make this month as special as it is important as you celebrate reading with your children. Listed below are a few basic reading reminders.

Reading Basics:

  1. Let your child choose the books of interest to them- this ensures they will enjoy the reading experience more. Reading the same books repeatedly is okay.
  2. For children three and older, occasionally ask your child if they would like to “read” the book to you. Avoid correcting any mistakes as they retell the story from memory.
  3. Identify book parts together; cover, pages, spine.
  4. Discuss and use the terms author and illustrator.
  5. Point out the difference between a letter, a word, and a picture.
  6. For children four and older, point out sight words as you encounter them. Do this with enthusiasm and in a fun way- be sight word detectives.

Here are a few fun ways to bring reading alive this month:

  1. Buy a new book: Make a day of it and go to the bookstore. Allow your child time to walk around and find a book or two that you can read during special reading time, before bed, at rest time, or throughout reading month.
  2. Host a book swap: Instead of a normal play date, invite a few of your children’s friends to participate in a book swap. This allows them to share some of their favorite books with their friends while giving them a chance to try a new book.
  3. Make bookmarks: Gather some art supplies and make bookmarks so that your children can keep their place in some of their favorite books, or they can give them as gifts to their friends or grandparents!
  4. Visit the Library: Check out your local library. Most libraries host free activities for children of all ages. Check in and see what they are doing for National Reading Month.
  5. Introduce your favorite: Take some time to show your children your favorite book. Let them hold it, look at the cover, and give them a brief overview (this can vary depending on developmental levels.) Let them see you reading for fun occasionally.

It is never too early to read to your children. Start early to lay a great foundation for learning. Challenge yourself to take a few minutes every day this month to read aloud with your children. Enjoy this special month and honor reading together.

5 Books to Help Children Learn Self Control

At AppleTree & Gilden Woods we focus on an important character trait each month as part of our C.O.R.E. Values curriculum. Throughout the month of March, we focus on self-control. Self-control is learned through repetition, patience, and modeling. It can be a challenging character trait to embody and model for your children. One of the most effective ways that children learn is through reading. In honor of National Reading Month, here are a few books you can read with your children to help them better understand what it means to have and exhibit self-control.

Title: Better Than A Princess

Author: Sally Huss

Summary: With a trip to the store for a new dress, a visit to a café for lunch, and a stop at the beauty salon for a new hairdo there were ample opportunities for her to hone her behavior skills. That princess, who had been so helpful in the past, showed up again to guide her into being her best by being polite and in control of herself.



Title: Interrupting Chicken

Author: David Ezra Stein

Summary: It’s time for the little red chicken’s bedtime story —and a reminder from Papa to try not to interrupt, but the chicken can’t help herself! Whether the tale is HANSEL AND GRETEL or LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD or even CHICKEN LITTLE, she jumps into the story to save its hapless characters from doing some dangerous or silly thing. Now it’s the little red chicken’s turn to tell a story, but will her yawning papa make it to the end without his own kind of interrupting?


Title: I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness

Author: Susan Verde

Summary: Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde’s gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author’s note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace will help readers of all ages feel grounded, restored and in control.


Title: I Can Handle It!

Author: Ms. Laurie Wright

Summary: Positive self-talk is incredibly important for improving and maintaining mental health and the mindful mantra books are a way to plant that positivity right into a child’s head! Help your child learn to handle difficult emotions along with Sebastien, and provide a tool for lifelong confidence. Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate and our kids need help. I Can Handle It equips children with a necessary skill to alleviate everyday anxieties that arise in their lives.\

Title: My Mouth is a Volcano

Author: Julia Cook

Summary: My Mouth Is A Volcano takes an empathetic approach to the habit of interrupting and teaches children a witty technique to capture their rambunctious thoughts and words for expression at an appropriate time. Told from Louis? perspective, this story provides parents, teachers, and counselors with an entertaining way to teach children the value of respecting others by listening and waiting for their turn to speak.

Teaching Children Honesty

Teaching children the value of honesty can be a challenge.  It is one of the most important character traits, but it often doesn’t come without parental modeling and practice. There are a variety of reasons that lying may occur with young children. They want approval and they want to make you happy. Without realizing it, children may be saying things that are not fully true, in order to gain approval.  Children may lie because they misinterpret something that you say or ask them to do. Children’s brains do not function the same way an adult brain does, that’s why it is important to grant them some leeway and practice honesty with them. Here are a few ways to practice honesty with your children:

Acknowledge and Appreciate Honesty: Even if it isn’t a truth you want to hear, or it was hard earned, express encouragement. Tell them that you appreciate their truthfulness and let them know you understand how difficult it may have been for them to tell you the truth. The more praise they receive from telling a truth, the more likely they will be to continue on an honest path.

Celebrate Mistakes: Mistakes are inevitable, and they can be frustrating. Watch the way that you react to mistakes and make the most of them. Use them as a teachable moment while keeping your emotions in check. When your children see that we can make mistakes beautiful and learn from them, it will be easier for them to be honest in the future.

Set A Good Example: Telling white lies can become second nature, whether we realize it or not. Children notice things and hear things that you may not realize they are noticing and processing. If you bring awareness to your white lies and try to be more honest yourself, they will see that and model your behavior.

Avoid Asking Why: It is an easy question to ask and of course you want to know the motivation, but children do not process information the same way that adults do. When you ask a child why they hit or why they lied about it, it is setting them up to tell you an excuse. Hold your child accountable by asking simple questions to get to the answer and following up with questions that help them realize the why without using it as an excuse. Such as, “What were you feeling?” “How did it make you feel when that happened?” This will bring awareness to their emotions and equip them to better deal with those emotions in the future.

The road to raising an honest child may be a long and bumpy one. Remember to set a good example, appreciate their honesty, ask questions that help them work through any dishonesty, and use their mistakes as a teachable moment. Talk with them often about honesty. Honesty is part of our CORE Values curriculum at AppleTree & Gilden Woods. It is important to start at an early age to lay the groundwork, and continue to reinforce the behavior throughout their childhood and adolescence.

47 Positive Things to say to your Children

It is no secret that parenting is difficult. It requires more patience than you could ever imagine, and you don’t get any sick days. I have been a parent for all of five years now and am learning more and more every single day. I have been learning what type of tone, phrasing, and body language to which my son best responds. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me when he responds to a positive tone, kind words, and open arms. However, it isn’t always easy to give the positivity that children crave and deserve in difficult situations. These positive actions and words have such a strong impact on the child’s emotional, overall, and brain development.  Below are 47 positive things that you can practice saying to your children all the time to support your child’s social and emotional development and help you get through some of the more difficult situations without losing control of the situation.


February is Children’s Dental Health Month

February is Children’s Dental Health Month. Oral health care is an important aspect of your child’s health, and is often overlooked. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits help children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.  Here are some child friendly tips for healthy teeth:


Keeping your children healthy is a full time job. At AppleTree and Gilden Woods, we want to assist in educating on total body wellness, which includes Dental health. We focus on oral hygiene while keeping it fun with our Pedal’s Polishers Program. Check out our teeth-brushing contest throughout the month of February, including fabulous prizes and certificates along the way. To find an AppleTree or Gilden Woods near you click here.

6 Tips to Managing the Morning Chaos

If you are anything like me, mornings can be hectic. I always find myself stressed and out of time. There is so much to do from making and eating breakfast to packing lunches to tying shoes and making sure we at least try to go potty before we get in the car for the 30-minute drive to school and work!

Here are a few tried and true tips to help you get through those busy, chaotic mornings.




  1. Get yourself ready first: Wake up before your child and get yourself fully ready first. This way you are not juggling getting you all dressed, groomed, and ready. You can focus on yourself first and then on your child.
  2. Have meals ready to go: Pack lunches the night before and plan and prep breakfasts for the whole week on Sunday. Try to make breakfasts simple, easy, and nutritional; healthy items that can be microwaved or made quickly.
  3. Pack all bags ahead of time: Make sure your work bag, their school bag, or any other special project or bag is laid out on the counter or by the door and ready to go the night before. This will cut down time in your morning routine and help ensure items aren’t forgotten.
  4. Lay out Clothes the night before: Make this part of the bedtime routine. Lay out the outfit that your child will wear the next day. Have them take part when possible to foster independence and create “buy-in”. This will also help you plan if there are upcoming spirit days!
  5. Give plenty of ‘count-down’ warnings: Be sure to countdown minutes before you leave and let your children know when you are getting close. Children typically respond well to these verbal cues and it helps them prepare for the upcoming transition.
  6. Use a morning routine checklist: Create a visual chart to help keep your child on task while getting ready in the morning. Visibly being able to see all they need to accomplish before you leave will help keep them on task and alleviate some of the stressors.Here’s to hoping you can transition your mornings from chaotic to seamless and enjoyable.

4 Tips for Teaching Children Patience

Teaching children patience can sometimes test your own patience. Patience is a struggle for me. I don’t like to wait for outcomes. If I buy someone a gift, I want to give it to them right away. I think now more than ever, as a society that doesn’t have to wait for much, patience is even more important.

The best way to teach patience is to model that for your children. Here are a few ways to work it into your everyday lives:

Do Activities that require patience: Bake cookies, boil water for making dinner, plant a small garden, or grow a small cup of grass in the window. Activities that require them to wait for the reward will help develop patience in your children.

Incorporate time into your daily routine: Give warnings when transitioning from one thing to another. Try this before bedtime, before leaving for the store, before you clean up the play-doh, etc. You can also set timers for daily activities such as brushing teeth, washing hands, or general cleaning.

Sit through the commercials: During screen time, find a show that has commercials. There are so many streaming services these days that even a fun activity like watching a favorite show is teaching children instant gratification. If you can find a show with commercials, they will learn to be patient and wait for the good parts.

Work “patience” into your vocabulary: Remind your children daily to choose patience or practice patience. Use the word frequently and draw attention to it when you are modeling it. If you are in a long line at the grocery store, draw attention to how you will all wait together patiently until it is your turn. Working the word and the action into your every day will increase awareness.

Remember that they will not learn this overnight. It requires time, persistence, and patience! Best of luck!

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