Enroll in One or More Programs for the Preschool Experience That Fits Your Needs

Square Roots Preschool offers two-day programs for families who want to introduce their children to a school environment but still want to enjoy lots of time at home. Attending preschool two days a week is a great schedule for younger children who are starting school for the first time or even for older children whose family schedule does not require them to be enrolled in a full-time program. Due to the fact that our class size is so small and our students get a lot of individual attention and instruction, our part-time students develop all of the skills needed for success in kindergarten.

Alternatively, we are now offering a four-day program when families enroll in both two-day programs. This option is ideal for families who want their preschooler to have a bit more instruction time or if the family schedule makes this a necessity. We offer a 20% discount on the second program for a great cost-savings. 

We work with our families on an individual basis, so please come check us out and see which program fits your preschooler best. Call 480.447.ROOT to set up a tour.

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Riddles are More Than Just Fun

Listening and evaluating clues from verbal directions is a skill that helps preschool-aged children gain meaning from the content of a book or story. Giving them opportunities to practice this skill will help them comprehend what they read or see.  Making up riddles for your child is a great way to exercise his mind to develop this skill. 

Make up riddles for your child to solve in the car, in the tub, or around the house. They can, at first, be related to your location so your child can pick up on visual cues, but as your child gets better at solving them, they can be more obscure. For example, if you’re in the bathroom, you could say, “You squeeze me. I clean your hair” (shampoo). Or “I am shaped like a pencil. I help you clean your teeth” (toothbrush). 

Getting your child to think about the characteristics of an object helps him think about what makes things unique. This activity will help with comprehension, listening, memory, attention span, and following directions.

Once your child gets the hang of it, have him make up riddles for you!

Writing Practice: It’s All About the Stuff

 

Writing Practice: It's All About the Stuff. Hand image source: nashvilleparent.com

Writing Practice: It’s All About the Stuff. Hand image source: nashvilleparent.com

 

Preschool-aged children can never get enough writing practice. From first scribbles to word formation, any opportunity to write is great practice. Encouragement is key, but–let’s face it–so are the materials. Keeping fun writing instruments and paper around will usually entice your child to take hold and write. Children also love to use adult-type papers and forms, so raid that office recycling bin for some fun possibilities.

A great way to incorporate writing practice into your routine is to set up a writing container in, say, the kitchen. Include post-it notes, index cards, small spiral-bound notebooks, pencils, crayons, markers and pens. Let your child write while you cook or do the dishes each day. Get creative with the materials you use. Ask your local restaurant if they have a spare order pad, and provide stationery, envelopes, stickers, and tape. Even old IRS forms look fun for kids (at least until they learn to read–wink, wink). Encourage your child to write a letter, take your food order, or fill out that dreaded tax form.

All of this practice helps your child develop her writing skills, help her learn left-to-right progression, and also promote creativity and imagination!

Related Reading:

Fun and Learning at the Grocery Store

Crawling is Not Just for Babies

Not Just Scribbles

It’s the Journey, Not the Destination: Learning to Write Your Name

In the Kitchen with Preschoolers: More Than Just Cooking

cooking

At Square Roots Preschool, we do a group project every day–something all the students do together. Cooking projects are some of our favorites. Not only are they fun and produce tasty results, they teach and reinforce a variety of developing skills for preschool-aged students.

What are those skills?

• Following Directions–We love open-ended free time, but it’s also important to know how to follow directions. In contrast to an activity like finger-painting, preschoolers can’t just toss any amount of whatever into a pot and stir. In order to produce a favorable result, we have to go step-by-step and do as instructed.

• Measuring–Knowing that a cup is more than a teaspoon is a great life skill to have, but on an even more basic level, preschoolers who cook know the real-life application of concepts of more and less, liquid and solid, and slowly and quickly. These are all concepts that cooking teaches.

• Self Control–Preschool-aged children are developing their self control. What better a test than not sticking little fingers into a community pot or chomping up an ingredient that’s meant to be part of a recipe?

• Patience–Cooking projects aren’t instant. Good things come to those who wait. Whether we’re baking bread or blending a smoothie, we have to wait for the final product, the fruits of our labor.

• Taking Turns and Contributing in Different Ways–We let each child have a chance to add an ingredient. Only one child can add a teaspoon of vanilla or a cup of yogurt. Each child might not get the exact ingredient he or she wanted to pour, but waiting for your turn and watching and supporting others as everyone contributes is a good skill to have.

• Fine and Large Motor Skills–Pouring small amounts of ingredients is a great way to practice fine motor skills, as is pushing a button on a blender or cutting a strawberry (with a child-safe knife). Stirring the pot and pouring a cup of milk with accuracy help our students practice their large motor skills.

• A Sense of Accomplishment and Teamwork–Perhaps most important of all, students who work together to cook something are a team and get to enjoy the results together. Looking at each other and socializing over a slice of Friendship Bread or a Strawberry Smoothie lets the students know that they’ve done a great job and accomplished their goal.

All of these concepts can be explored at home, as well. Young children love to help in the kitchen, so take advantage of it, and teach them valuable skills in the process!

Preschoolers and New Years Resolutions

About our contributor, Christine Reese, MS, RD: Christine has a Masters in Nutrition and has been a Registered Dietitian for 8 years. Although she is vegan and cooks accordingly, her 3-year-old son eats an omnivorous diet. Her background includes counseling on weight loss, diabetes, and kidney disease in adults. She loves talking about all things nutrition.

 

Many of us are familiar with new years resolutions regarding weight loss and improved eating habits. Perhaps this year we want to include our preschoolers in the desire for health-promoting eating behaviors. Why not? Children learn by watching us, and there is no time like the present to incorporate brain-boosting, immunity-enhancing, bone-strengthening foods into our kids’ snacks and meals. It is also a good time to reduce reliance on (and perhaps even addiction to) foods and drinks that more closely resemble a chemistry experiment than something edible and nourishing. 

With opinionated preschoolers, some of whom are highly selective eaters, it is easier said than done. Take heart, however, because the effects are worth the effort, and armed with some tips, we can start our preschoolers’ new year on a nutritious note that flourishes into long-lasting, health-promoting eating behaviors. 

Tip #1: Compliment the chef. Why do companies use famous cartoon characters and celebrities to market food (and toys) to our kids? Because our kids like and look up to the characters and are thus influenced by them. Though sometimes hard to believe, we parents have the most influence over our children, and it is my thought that we should try to sell our cooking. I speak from experience here, and think part of the reason my son so willingly tries, at least one bite, most everything I make, is because he frequently hears compliments about my cooking. And, fortunately for me, the comments are usually addressed directly to him, such as, “your mom is a good cook.” As his influential mind absorbs this information, he possibly comes to the conclusion that what I make tastes good and can be eaten. (Sorry to toot my own cooking horn; I just want to provide a tangible example). So give compliments freely to whoever is the chef of the family.

Tip #2: Repeat. Perhaps we feel great about our cooking, but our little ones are not into that new broccoli dish we made last night. If you and/or the rest of your family agree the dish is tasty, wait a few weeks and serve (and compliment) again. Research indicates preschoolers may need up to 15 tries to accept and like a new food. 

Tip #3: Let them have opinions. When deciding on the weekly meal plan prior to grocery shopping, I think of a few meals to prepare for sure. Next, I think of several more options and ask my son if he is interested in eating them in the coming week. If he answers yes, I am ready to go; if not, we come up with some foods that do sound good. Of course, they have to pass the “mom test” and be nutritious, but we usually reach an agreement. If worse comes to worse, or involving kids is not in the cards, then use your best judgment, and/or have PB & J handy. 

Tip #4: Dessert for all. As human beings, we are inclined to prefer sweet, fatty foods, because eating them helped ensure our survival when food was scarce. Our preschoolers seem to exhibit this desire more than anyone else, which can make it difficult for us to steer them toward healthy offerings. Although this post is about decreasing such sugary, fatty foods, it is not about entirely eliminating them. So, when you do have dessert, include everyone, whether or not they ate all their veggies. I am against using food as a reward, especially when it makes eating healthier fare a punishment. Either everyone at the table gets dessert (if desired), or no one. And when you do decide to have dessert, then…

Tip #5: Be selective. Not all goodies are created equal. The path of healthful eating will have many diversions, and we must choose the best direction for our preschoolers. When selecting goodies for my son, I try to choose the items that contain more substance than sugar. For example, dark chocolate, and dark chocolate-containing desserts, are my preference, and after that, things that don’t contain artificial ingredients. As for cake and cookies, homemade options are best, because you can control the quality of ingredients, including reducing sugar a little. 

Tip #6: Out of site, out of mind. This motto really works. If the cookies/candy/potato chips are not around to grab, they can’t possibly be eaten. Have alternatives available, including in-season fruit, pre-washed and chopped veggies with hummus, or blue corn tortilla chips and salsa. Skip the Capri-Suns and Sunny D and instead stock 100% fruit juice, sparkling water, even tea, depending on the tastes of your child. In this case, we say “in sight, in mind.”

Tip #7: Fruit/Veggie each meal. Speaking of “in sight, in mind,” one of the simplest ways to help our preschoolers eat more produce is to serve fruit and/or vegetables with each meal. Perhaps they will not eat it, but the idea forms in their minds that fruit and veggies are a part of the eating plan. If you consistently serve fruit/veggies they like, odds are they will eat it. For example, my son loves green peas, but not green beans, so I only serve the beans every so often. As many of us can attest, kids typically prefer fruit, and some days that’s what will be served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Usually, I aim for vegetable servings at dinner, because I have a little more time to prepare this meal, and the veggie usually compliments the main dish much better than a lunch dish. Really, the goal is to get our children used to eating produce at each meal.

Hopefully, some of these tips will be useful to you and your family on your journey to nutritious eating. Just one more thing: it’s okay to not eat “perfectly;” I don’t know anyone who can manage that feat. The goal is to incorporate more fruit and vegetables in our children’s daily meal plans, and if we fall short one day, we try again the next. 

A Christmas Tree for the Preschool Classroom

Preschoolers love the excitement of the holiday season and love to share the fun with their friends at school. One way we have celebrated all month is by incorporating a classroom Christmas tree into our dramatic play area. Sometimes at home, some holiday decorations are too delicate for young children to handle, so we created a tree that could be touched and decorated with no fear of destruction.

ClassroomTree

Since space in the classroom can be limited, a contact paper Christmas tree was the way to go. First, we adhered a constructionpaper tree to the wall, then covered it in contact paper. During our Invitation to Play time, we offered the students decorations of all sorts: sequins, rhinestones, stickers, yarn, popsicle sticks, and more. Each day, the tree looked different as the students added and subtracted decorations. They sometimes worked individually, and sometimes as a group.

Our classroom tree was a festive way to learn about cooperation and social interaction and work on their fine motor skills.TrioTree

GirlTree

BoysTree

GirlsTree

Music as a Learning Tool

MusicWe all know how that commercial jingle gets stuck in our heads. Well, those of us who are old enough to remember a time before we could fast-forward the DVR through the commercials know what it’s like. Would we be able to recall that information about the carpet cleaner so easily if it hadn’t been set to music? Likely not. (Go ahead…take a break and sing that jingle that just popped into your head. We’ll wait).

Researchers believe that when young children listen to music, it forms pathways between cells in their brains. When children actively participate in the musical experience, the pathways can make their strongest connections. Not only does music makes our brains grow; it is liked by nearly everyone on the planet, and it is a primary learning tool for preschool-aged children.

Children between the ages of two and five are making their way in the world in countless ways, one of which is memorizing some basic facts of life, such as the months of the year, the days of the week, or how many sides a square has. Memorizing these facts by rote can be laborious and not very exciting. Instead, spicing it up with songs that young students can participate in make things more fun and speed up the memorization process.

At Square Roots Preschool, we have a song for just about everything: welcome to school (introduces the kids in class), months of the year, days of the week, snack time (helps us have patience and be polite), shapes, colors, letters, numbers, clean up time and lining up. Some of the songs help us memorize basic facts, and some help us remember the rules. In either case, music supports what we need to learn.

Some of the younger students may not be able to pronounce all the words, but the message sinks in. Parents ask “is there a song you sing about ‘up and down’? Johnny sings this whole long song, and all I can make out is ‘up and down.'” Well, yes, we do! And even though Johnny’s words may not be clear when he sings the words at home, he’s learned which way is up and which way is down. And he’ll get all the words soon enough.

We also use instruments in our classroom. Each day, each child gets to hold and pat the tambourine during the part of the song when we are welcoming him or her. There are other opportunities during our lessons and during play time for the students to explore a variety of instruments and songs, helping forge those important connections in the brain. And we have so much fun!

So, don’t be shy! Turn up the volume with your little learner!