Create a Life-Long Reader in Your Child

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Thursday, March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ Birthday! March 2nd also launches the National Education Association’s Read Across America campaign to celebrate reading!

For a list of book recommendations, click here!

It is no secret that language and literacy skills are two key areas for children’s school and life success. Here are five ways you can help foster language and literacy skills while creating a life-long reader in your child:

  1. Initiate engaging conversations.
  2. Identify and describe different objects or actions.
  3. Use different types of words and grammar.
  4. Read books frequently and repeat a book multiple times.
  5. Use a sign or gesture when you’re speaking.

At AppleTree & Gilden Woods we designed a proprietary language and literacy program to enrich our current instruction methods in the area.

The C.O.R.E. Language and Literacy Program was developed to provide a structured and streamlined framework for our on-going instruction in language acquisition and literacy skills.  The program begins in our infant classrooms and continues as children progress through our classrooms.  Each age group’s unique lessons, activities, and vocabulary lists build upon previous lessons from the prior classroom; therefore, children draw upon previous knowledge and expand their understanding of concepts with each stage of the program.

Through vocabulary awareness and supplemental materials that extend learning beyond the classroom and into your home (Pratt’s Home Connection and Take Home Readers), your child’s language acquisition and literacy skills will grow each day.

Learn more about our C.O.R.E. Language and Literacy Program and schedule your personal tour by contacting your local AppleTree or Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool. Click here to find a school near you!

Heart Stamps with Everyday Items

Love is in the air!  February is sure to be filled with red, pink and lots of heart-shaped fun. We wanted to share some great ideas for making homemade valentines with your child. Together, you can create heart stamps with everyday items that you already have at home!

Tammy from Housing A Forest will show you how to create a heart stamp using a toilet paper roll!

Emily and Sarah from Boxwood Clippings use a potato for their heart shaped stamp!

And, Brit from Brit + Co shows us how to carve a heart shape into a pencil eraser!

Making valentines with your child doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you can use what you already have at home!

"Best Child Care Provider in Grand Rapids"

We are honored that Grand Rapids Magazine readers have named us the “Best Child Care Provider in Grand Rapids” for the fifth time!

We consider it a privilege to have cared for over 20,000 children and look forward to providing exceptional care and education to more families in the years to come.

Are you looking for a child care provider? Check out our Child Care Comparison Checklist and know the right questions to ask!

10 Benefits of Hugging Your Child

Saturday, January 21st is “National Hugging Day!” Hugging your child is a simple act and you probably do it multiple times a day. But did you know your child may benefit from your embrace long after a hug is shared?

There is a specific website dedicated to National Hugging Day, nationalhuggingday.com, which provides a list of 10 Benefits of Hugging:

  1. Hugs make us feel “happy”. When we hug another person, our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone associated with “happiness,” according to scientific studies.
  2. Hugs alleviate stress. Just as a good hug increases our oxytocin levels, it decreases our cortisol or “stress” levels.
  3. Babies need hugs as much as water and food. According to researchers at Harvard University, hugs help promote normal levels of cortisol necessary for child development.
  4. Hugs make us better students. Students who receive a supportive touch from a teacher are twice as likely to volunteer in class.
  5. Hugs improve our game. Scientists at University of California, Berkley discovered that the more affectionate members of a team are with each other, the more likely they are to win.
  6. A hug a day keeps the doctor away. A hug stimulates the thymus gland, which in turn regulates the production of white blood cells that keep us healthy and disease-free.
  7. A hug stops the bug. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon proved that individuals who were sick and received hugs had less severe symptoms and were able to get better quicker.
  8. A hugging heart is a healthy heart. Research from University of North Carolina showed that a good hug helps ease blood flow and lower cortisol levels, which in turn help lower our heart rates.
  9. A hugging couple is a happy couple. Couples that experience their partners’ love through physical affection share higher oxytocin levels.
  10. Hugs let someone know you care without having to say a word. According to Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, we can identify love from simple human touch – imagine how much love a big hug can communicate!

Be sure to give your child extra hugs today!

Making Friends

Your child’s ability to make friends and work cooperatively will help make their school experience a positive one

Does your child come home bursting with excitement about their friend at school or are they a bit more quiet?  Does your child know how to play friend with other peers during play dates or while at AppleTree/Gilden Woods?  Now, more than ever, your child needs the ability to play and learn with other peers in order to be happy and successful at school.

At AppleTree/Gilden Woods, our teachers model positive behaviors that your child will need in a school setting, such as asking to share something, saying something nice to a friend, and other ways to appropriately interact with friends.  These social emotional skills can help your kindergartener be confident, gain friends, solve social problems, and appropriately show emotions.

We encourage friendly interactions between children at circle time and while they are at learning centers.  This ensures that they are exhibiting skills such as sharing, taking turns, asking each other for help and working cooperatively on tasks that require more than one person.

We strive to provide ample age-appropriate materials for multiple children to play, including toys that can lead children to working together and interacting (such as the Home Living center which includes play food and dress-up clothes), while also providing opportunities for individual exploration and creativity.

By providing opportunity for the children to work together using appropriate social skills, we hope to provide your child with the tools necessary to be successful when going off to school.

The Importance of Extended Family – Especially Grandparents

Family is made up of the people who are there for you in difficult times and celebrate with you in moments of success and happiness.  For a child, his or her family includes parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins – all of which can play crucial roles in their life.

September 11 is National Grandparents Day

The first Sunday after Labor Day is recognized annually as “National Grandparents Day” – and for good reason.  Amongst the extended family members that are a positive influence in your child’s development, grandparents may be the most important.  Today, there are 80 million American grandparents – more than a third of the adult population!

According to Dr. Karl Pillemer of Cornell University, “The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is second in emotional importance only to the relationship between parent and child.”

According to an AGA survey, “72% of grandparents ‘think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life.’”  More than half of grandparents see their grandchildren in person at least once a week, according to A Place for Mom.  This time leads to healthier, happier grandchildren.

A strong grandparent-grandchild bond includes the child feeling emotionally close to their grandparent, regular contact, and the child viewing the grandparent as a source of social support.  This relationship can lead to less depression in the mother as well as the child in adulthood (The Attached Family).

Roma Hanks, Ph.D., says “grandparenting is the most important family role of the new century.”  “There is a growing alliance of grandparents who will positively influence the lives of their grandchildren and the younger generations in their society.”

We honor the special relationship between grandparent and grandchild by hosting our September Family Involvement Activity, Grahams with Grandparents.


Back-to-School with AppleTree & Gilden Woods

Have you made your child’s after school care arrangements for the 2016—2017 school year?  If not, we have the answer!  See your       Program Director today about space in our After School Club.

Our After School Club is available for children in Kindergarten through 12 years of age.  The club begins the first day of school and ends the last day of school, when our Summer Explorers program begins.

Children are offered a light, healthy snack upon arrival from school, then Homework Help time begins, complete with daily feedback        progress forms to support parent communication.  Crafts and games are abundant as well as ample time for outside play.

The club is a fun way for children to be safe and positively engaged after school.  Sign up today!

Snow Outside? Start Thinking SPRING Now!

There may be snow on the ground outside now and you are planning on another few weeks of winter weather, but it’s not too early to start thinking ahead to “Spring Break.”  If you and your family are not leaving for a family vacation during this week, you will need to think about where your school age child will enjoy Spring Break while school is out.

But don’t worry, AppleTree & Gilden Woods have you covered!

Spring Explorers 2016 is Now Enrolling!

A week of fun for your School Ager to enjoy while school is out, complete with field trips and fun activities.

Contact the school nearest to you today to enroll your child – Space is limited!

Making Thanksgiving a Family Affair

The holiday season usually brings everyone together, whether your celebration is out at a nice restaurant or consists of gathering at Grandma’s house with home-made fare.  For those who bake their own feast, hours are spent preparing for the event in the kitchen the night before and the day of.  Make these hours together count by keeping all family members involved, young to old.  Here are some tips for keeping your child engaged in the festivities, some interest in the current family traditions, and creative space to make new ones.


The Foodie

Picture from More4Kids.com – “Cooking with Kids for Thanksgiving”

  • Keep your future chef involved in the kitchen by finding child-appropriate ways that he or she can help.  Perhaps your son or daughter can help toss a salad, wash fruits and vegetables, bring you ingredients you need from the pantry, or divide out rolls into baskets.  Even the smallest hands can help prepare the feast and having your child help to prepare some of the dishes may encourage them to try new things if they are usually a picky eater.
  • Help your young foodie with some math skills by having them measure out ingredients needed for recipes.  They can read along in the steps and look at the ingredients list to know how much of something is needed and when it should go in.
  • Your school age child can also help you make your grocery list the week before.
  • If your child does not like certain dishes or desserts, help him or her find a kid-friendly recipe and make it together.
  • A child can assist with keeping the timer for when dishes should be done baking or when the turkey needs basting.

Parent Safety Note: While your helper chef can assist in many ways, be sure to keep him or her away from the stove and oven.  Someone should always remain in the kitchen with food cooking, especially with young children.  Also, be sure to have adults carry hot foods and liquids, such as steaming vegetables, hot gravy, or hot coffee, to the table.


The Restauranteur

  • Your child can make menus with emergent writing and invented spelling or you can scribe for them by their pictures.
  • If your older child loves to play “waiter” or “waitress,” they can be sure to have all of the water glasses poured before announcing “Dinner is served.”


The Artist

  • Artistic children can pair with a Restauranteur type to decorate and illustrated the menus.  This is a great way for two or more children to work cooperatively together to make enough copies for everyone.
  • Give an older artistic child construction paper or a large size paper and black markers or black crayons to create their own coloring pages for their younger siblings or cousins to enjoy while waiting to be served.  He or she can also play Art Teacher by making sure that everyone has the supplies that they need and assisting and encouraging the little Picassos.
  • Give your school age artist a guest list and allow him or her to reproduce the names/letters onto place cards.  A younger sibling can help by sticking Thanksgiving stickers onto the place cards for decoration.  If your artist is not old enough to reproduce the letters by himself or herself, you can write them neatly and read them aloud to them, showing the names.

Picture from SugarandShimmer.blogspot.com


The Author/Reporter

  • Give your budding writer a decorative blank book and pencil.  Have him or her write the year on the front page and go to their relatives and ask them what they are thankful for this year and write it down neatly.  Then, they can report the list at the dinner table or after dinner and everyone can talk about what a wonderful year it has been.

Picture from azlearningbug.com


The Event Coordinator

  • Give your school age child a budget for buying decorations and help him or her find ways to stay on budget while finding festive items for your home and table.
  • Give your school age child a guest list and allow him or her to reproduce the names/letters onto place cards.  A younger sibling can help by sticking Thanksgiving stickers onto the place cards for decoration.
  • Napkins can be rolled around utensils and tied with a ribbon or pre-made napkin ring and placed on each plate before sitting down for the meal.  Or, look up fun, fancy ways of folding napkins and let them make it a fancy affair.

Check out this video from PBS Parents: DIY Napkin Rings


The Actor/Director

  • If your child has the acting bug and is not interested in the ideas above, perhaps he or she can enlist a few brothers, sisters, or cousins for a short skit before the dinner is served.

Why is Preschool Important?

According to First Steps Kent, “One of the most important predictors of a child’s success in school and life is whether he or she receives a high-quality preschool education.”

This statement is supported by a research study of children birth through age 5 as they entered their mid-thirties.  Children who received high-quality early childhood education/preschool were more successful than their peers who did not.  Additional research and studies confirmed this, as well as the experiences of the child, their family, and their teachers.

High quality preschool develops cognitive “thinking” skills – Children in high-quality programs have higher IQs and test scores in elementary and secondary school

High quality preschool develops language and literacy skills – Children in high-quality programs have larger vocabularies and pre-literacy skills which prepares them to read and write

High quality preschool develops social and emotional skills – During preschool, children’s attitudes and habits are shaped including how they work cooperatively with peers, make decisions, and understand emotions and relationships.


K-Prep encompasses our entire preschool program with special age-appropriate instruction for 3 year olds, 4 year olds, and Young 5’s.  At AppleTree and Gilden Woods, we understand that preschoolers need the freedom to explore, inquire, and engage.  That’s why our approach is so effective.  We provide a developmentally-appropriate environment for hands-on learning that is stimulating and fun, so your child can grow, play, and learn at their own pace.  They’ll love engaging in art, music, early math and science activities, and circle time – and you’ll love the confidence and mastery they develop.


For more information on why preschool is so important, visit FirstStepsKent.org

For more information on our K-Prep Preschool program, please see your Program Director.

© 2021 AppleTree & Gilden Woods. All Rights Reserved.