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!

 

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.

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.

Age Appropriate Chores for Children

Developing a chore chart for children helps teach responsibility, helpfulness, and routine among many other beneficial skills. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

I am the proud parent of an adorable, sassy, independent 3-year-old who wants to be involved in everything I do… absolutely everything. As adorable and endearing as it can be when he wants to help clean the windows, or crack the eggs for breakfast, his helping can sometimes be counterproductive. Through trial and error, I have found that giving him his own chore chart is a great way to keep him engaged and to stay (mostly) on task myself.

Developing a chore chart for children helps teach responsibility, helpfulness, and routine among many other beneficial skills. It is important, when beginning a chore schedule, to be sure that you consider the age and capability of your child. To avoid possible frustrations for both you and your child, be sure to talk about each chore in-depth and set realistic expectations as far as time to complete and the quality of the job.

Below are some suggested chores for different age groups!

 

 

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.

Nurturing Meaningful Conversations with your Children

Do you ever ask your child a question only to get a one word response? They get home from school or a play date and you are excited to hear all about their experiences! All you’re looking for is a simple conversation that is somewhat meaningful and yet all you get in response is “good.” There’s a chance that we are asking the wrong questions. Of course we want to know all about school and all about the play date, but we are giving them the opportunity to end the conversation short by asking a question that requires a one word reply, otherwise known as a closed-ended question. We need to try and ask more meaningful, open-ended questions.

When adults ask children open-ended questions it provides them opportunities to expand their language development (verbal, receptive and written) and learn vocabulary. It also allows children to share how they think or feel. There is no right or wrong answer. When adults listen to children’s responses and continue the conversation it validates the child’s thoughts and feelings. Children’s creativity and problem solving skills can also be developed as a result of being asked open-ended questions.

It can be difficult breaking the habit of always asking closed-ended questions. Here are 10 examples of open-ended questions that may help adults break that habit!

The Benefit of Puzzles for Children

Puzzles are a win-win for both children and adults! To children, puzzles are a fun toy to play with. To adults, puzzles are an educational opportunity. So often children benefit from playing with puzzles without even knowing it. There are numerous ways that puzzles support a child’s development:

  • Hand and Eye Coordination– when children put puzzles together they are connecting what they see with their eyes with what they feel in their hands therefore, learning how to create a desired outcome.
  • Fine Motor Development– when children reach for and manipulate puzzles pieces they are strengthening their ability to produce precise movements with their hands and fingers.
  • Cognitive Skills– when children put a puzzle together they will have to use their memory to recall which pieces fit where in the puzzle.
  • Problem Solving– when children attempt to match a puzzle piece with the puzzle board it promotes trial and error. Children must use problem solving skills to accomplish the task of completing a puzzle with the correct pieces in the correct places.
  • Emotional Skills– when children work on a puzzle independently or in a group it provides an opportunity to practice patience and persistence. When the puzzle is complete it can also instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in children.

Here are some helpful tips to remember when completing a puzzle with your child:

  • Puzzles with large knobs may be easier for your young child to manipulate.
  • Use words to describe the puzzle pieces’ color, shape or pattern when you’re helping a child locate a specific piece.
  • Allow your child to choose a puzzle with a theme that excites them, this will encourage your child to engage with the puzzle even more.
  • If children are becoming frustrated with a puzzle allow them to remove the pieces and model how it should be put together first. Then, allow them to try it again on their own.

Hopefully these benefits and helpful tips encourage you to spend time completing a puzzle with your child today!

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