Organizing the Toy Box Can be a Learning Opportunity

Boxes

Organizing the Toy Box Can be a Learning Opportunity. Photo source: prweb.com

Preschool-aged children learn by doing. Cleaning out their toy box or closet may seem like drudgery to them, but if given an objective, the job can give them a sense of responsibility and pride. Giving your child this summer chore means they can start the school year off in an organized manner.

Have your child empty her toy box or closet. Provide her with three boxes for sorting. One box should be a box “to keep,” one should be “to donate,” and one should be “to throw away.” Explain to her that some children don’t have many toys and would appreciate the toys she doesn’t play with anymore. Knowing that the toys she is parting with can make someone else very happy can often encourage a giving spirit. Explain, also, that broken toys and pieces should be thrown away or recycled.

Allow your child to sort her toys herself, without your input. You can always review everything later, but giving her that responsibility will make her feel empowered. You can even set aside toys that you do not want your child to donate ahead of time.

Once your child has determined what should go in each of the boxes, help her organize everything she kept. Let her do most of the work so she feels a sense of responsibility for her own things. Take her to a shelter so she can see where her toys are going. The closer you can get her to the actual person who will receive the toys, the better.

This simple task of your preschooler cleaning out her toy box or closet helps develop her sense of responsibility, sorting skills, sense of generosity, and organizational skills. Plus, she’ll have a cleaner, more organized room for the start of the school year!

Why not start your child at Square Roots Preschool this fall?

The Act of Hand Washing as a Learning Opportunity

The most effective way to avoid illness and infection is frequent, thorough hand washing. But, let’s face it, proper hand washing is not the forté of most preschoolers, nor is it their favorite thing to do. The abstract idea that germs they can’t see might affect them or others adversely is a tough one to communicate. So what can we do?

The first step is to teach your child how to wash her hands properly. Use warm water, soap, and scrub all areas of the hands, remembering the nails and between the fingers. How long should you wash? Try a simple song to help your child time herself. Things to Share and Remember highlights a great one:

song card 2_thumb[2]

 

Remind your child to wash her hands before eating or preparing food, after going to the bathroom, after outside play, or after coughing or blowing her nose.

Preschool-aged children love to create and admire their art, so work with your child to create your own reminders for your bathroom mirror. Small signs attached to the mirror that remind the family to wash their hands and the proper steps in order to do so. Your child can draw a picture and/or copy the words “wash hands.” Consider laminating the sign(s) so it holds up to bathroom moisture.

Allowing your preschooler to “own” their hand washing skills and feel confident will help them remember to wash their hands, and this activity helps teach word recognition, labeling, and proper hygiene.

Further reading:

A Lesson in Hand Washing

The Importance of a Child’s Gift

When a child gives you a gift, even if it is a rock they just picked up, exude gratitude. It might be the only thing they have to give, and they have chosen to give it to you. -Dean Jackson

The holidays are a time for giving, and though it may seem that our preschooler’s wish lists are endless, they also want to give. They typically don’t have money to spend, so they often make us gifts or simply choose something they find and make a present out of it. However small, it is important to accept these gifts with joy and remember to appreciate that it is the thought that counts.

This month at Square Roots Preschool, we have been working on teaching our students the importance of giving in many ways. One of the ways we are supporting these giving spirits is to help them make holiday gifts for parents and family members. These gifts have included clay ornaments, tree ornaments made from popsicle sticks, paint, and glittery things, and holiday pictures. The students have had a wonderful time spreading holiday cheer and can’t wait to GIVE what they have created with love to those they love.

Gift

Healthy Halloween!

At Square Roots Preschool, we strive to educate our students about wellness and making healthy choices. Snacks are organic whenever possible and always healthy, and each snack time is accompanied by a nutrition discussion. But what about Halloween? Did we make an exception?

No way! But we didn’t miss out on the fun, either. We opted against candy and punch and, instead, had some healthy snacks at our class Halloween party.

ImageWhat was on the menu?

• Ghostly Eggs–hard boiled eggs with spooky faces

• Monster Mouths–apples, peanut butter, raw sunflower seeds

• Spooky Spiders–bananas, pretzels, raisins

The children absolutely loved the fun party food, and it helped to fuel them for the rest of their exciting day.

The Importance of Early Childhood Nutrition

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. 

 In the early days of U.S. nutrition goal setting, scientists and experts focused on preventing deficiencies and undernutrition. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, these remain important problems for children. Here at home, however, we are faced with different nutritional problems; problems that stem from too much junk food, available 24 hours a day, and available incredibly cheap.

More and more the evidence is mounting that what our preschoolers eat has a great impact on their cognitive development, physical growth, immunity, and even emotional well being. Depending on what our children eat, that impact can be positive or negative.

I believe I speak for all of us parents in that we want our children to be successful, now and throughout all their life stages. In order to stack the odds, we need to properly nourish them to provide for optimal cognitive development. Cognitive development encompasses brain growth related to learning, memory, perception, attention, thinking, and decision-making. Brain development happens rapidly during these preschool years, and what we feed our children has a direct influence.

Nutrients important for optimal cognitive development include iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, B-complex, omega-3 fatty acids, whole grain carbohydrates, and protein. What foods contain these nutrients? Foods higher in protein also tend to contain iron and zinc, and these comprise meat, poultry, fish, as well as the non-animal options legumes (peas, lentils, beans, peanuts/peanut butter), nuts, and seeds. Whole grain carbohydrates are good sources of B vitamins, and include whole grain rice, pasta, bread, quinoa, and oats. The one exception to this is vitamin B12, which is only found in animal foods and fortified plant foods. Thus, if your child doesn’t eat animal products regularly, you will want to supplement his/her diet with an age-appropriate B12 vitamin. Vitamins A and C, to a certain extent vitamin E, as well as a host of numerous phytochemicals (chemicals produced by plants that affect health), fiber, and other vitamins and minerals are to be found in fruit and vegetables. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, and many vegetable oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in some fish, as well as walnuts, walnut oil, canola oil, soybean foods, ground flax seeds, and chia seeds.

In order for our children’s learning capacities to be at their highest, breakfast is a must, and breakfast is a great way to incorporate protein, whole grains, fruit, and possibly nuts. For example, old-fashioned oatmeal made with milk or fortified soymilk (vanilla flavor is really yummy), topped with chopped nuts and/or dried fruit, and served with 100% juice provides a growing brain with protein, whole grains, nuts, and fruit, along with all the accompanying vitamins and minerals.

As a side note, although cow’s milk contains protein, calcium, and vitamin B12, it is a poor source of iron; if consumed in excess, it can actually inhibit iron absorption. Fortified soymilk, on the other hand, also contains protein, calcium, and vitamin B12; however, it does provide iron (and some omega-3 fatty acids).

Perhaps some of our children are not adventurous eaters. Perhaps they reject many of the foods that are best for cognitive development. In my next post, I’ll discuss ways we can help our preschoolers eat nutritious, brain and body boosting foods.

 

(1)Nyaradi, A., et al. The role of nutrition in children’s neurocognitive development, from pregnancy through childhood. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013; 7: 97. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607807/

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognition

(3) Ross, A. Nutrition and its effects on academic performance. How can our schools improve? http://www.nmu.edu/sites/DrupalEducation/files/UserFiles/Files/Pre-Drupal/SiteSections/Students/GradPapers/Projects/Ross_Amy_MP.pdf

(4) Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: Phytochemicals http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals.html