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.

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!

Come See What We’re About!

At Square Roots Preschool, we’re growing life-long learners.

Establishing strong roots is important for the future. Square Roots Preschool exists to provide a secure and stimulating early education experience that promotes each child’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Our goal is to help grow a desire in children to be life-long learners.

Why Square Roots?

• secure, comforting transition from home

• small class size of 4 children (state ratio is 1:13) enables the teacher to have a powerful impact on each child’s development.

• degreed teacher and support staff

• on-staff consultants: early childhood development professor with over 40 years experience and degreed speech therapist

• healthy snacks, organic when possible

• nontoxic, natural environment free of harmful chemicals

• safe, stimulating outdoor play area

• ongoing, thorough communication with parents and opportunities for family involvement

We are now scheduling tours for fall enrollment for ages 2-5. Please call 480.447.ROOT or email taryn.squarerootspreschool@gmail.com for more information.

 

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learning one-to-one correspondence

Children may learn to count, say, to ten at a very young age, which is a wonderful skill to have. They have memorized the numbers in the proper order, and can recite them reliably. Memorization is also a valuable skill. This counting they do is much like learning a song. They learn the proper sounds to make in the proper order. But does the counting have meaning to the child?

Often times, not at first. Learning one-to-one correspondence is a bit trickier.

But what is one-to-one correspondence?

One-to-one correspondence means that we understand one number represents one object. This is something that adults–and even older children–can take for granted. A child who does not yet understand one-to-one correspondence may keep counting past the number of objects that are actually there, or may point to objects faster or slower than they are counting. For example, if there are four apples, the child may know to count the apples, but may not understand that each apple equals “one.” They may point to the apples and count “one, two, three, four, (then back to the first apple or in a different pattern), five, six…” But, wait. There were only four apples.

So how do we teach this one-to-one correspondence to our preschoolers?

At Square Roots Preschool, we take a hands-on approach, making sure students count by touching, and we help them, sometimes by guiding their fingers and helping them adjust the pace of their counting to correspond to the objects in front of them. We do this throughout the day here and there, and we also have a specific time each day that we work on this concept during circle time. Each week, we focus on a number. We count to that number and point to corresponding objects in English and in Spanish. We point to the days on the calendar as we talk about the date, counting each one as we go. We point to tally marks and stickers. We also place objects in compartments to better illustrate how each number is its own. In art, we can use paint dotters to count. The variety of objects helps keep things fun for the students.

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!

Preschool Valentine’s Day Celebration

ImageWe like to celebrate special holidays and events at Square Roots Preschool, but we don’t want to cast learning aside. This week for Valentine’s Day, we planned a variety of festive activities that kept us on track with our lesson plan. Check out some of the things we did:

Our sensory bin held a Valentine’s Day theme. Inside, the students found metallic streamers, heart-shaped jewels, pinto beans, glitter, sparkly foam hearts, folded paper, feathers, and cupcake liners. The students scooped, poured, and picked through the bin, discovering shapes and textures.

Our sensory bin was full of love.

Our sensory bin was full of love.

We reviewed letters Qq, Rr, Ss, and Tt this week, and part of that review was to “trace” those letters, both capital and lower case, in candy conversation hearts. With the promise of receiving a couple of candies to eat if they resisted temptation and focused on the activity, the students (mostly) kept on task.

Letter review.

Letter review.

Our Valentine’s Day projects included heart-shaped name puzzles. Each student received the pieces to his or her name to place in the correct order and glue onto paper.

Heart-shaped name puzzles

Heart-shaped name puzzles

The students made Valentine pockets to help collect Valentines from their classmates.

Valentine pockets.

Valentine pockets.

Though we had a fun Valentine’s Day party, we didn’t trade our healthy snack for junk food. We dined on fresh, organic produce in shades of red.

Our healthy snack.

Our healthy snack.

Other activities included matching cards in the suit of hearts, heart writing practice, bubble print hearts, and heart hopscotch. We learned how to say “Quieres ser mi valentin?” during our Spanish lesson, and how to say “I love you” in Sign Language.

Our students had a fabulous time this week learning and celebrating, and we even had time to move and groove to love songs during our Valentine’s Day party. Happy Valentine’s Day from Square Roots Preschool!

Not Just Scribbles

Scribbles done by a young child may seem to be senseless and unimportant, but they are so much more. The first mark your child makes on paper will likely be a scribble of some sort, and when your child enters preschool, he or she will likely create may “scribbly” masterpieces.

The act of scribbling, itself, helps build the muscles in the hand that make writing possible. As your child gains more and more control over the scribbling, fine motor skills develop.

You’ll notice your child pointing to their scribbles and declaring what they are, often in great detail. The scribble likely looks nothing like what she is describing, but her words will let you know what she intended–the picture she had in her head. The act of describing the scribble helps build imagination and encourages thoughtful drawing. As her skills develop, the objects she intended will become more recognizable. As real shapes start to appear in your child’s drawings, your preschooler will build confidence and become excited about drawing and writing things that can be recognized by others, all the while, refining fine motor skills.

It is important to help your child learn to hold their writing instrument properly so that he can develop muscle memory for proper writing and drawing right from the start. Small children will likely first grip the writing instrument in a fist-like position. An early transition to the proper position is important for developing writing skills.

At Square Roots Preschool, we practice proper pencil holding. Our younger children create lots of scribbles. We ask them what they draw, and they give us lengthy explanations. We help them label their drawings so everyone can enjoy what they intended. We also work on tracing our names each day. In addition to the parent sign-in book, we have a child sign-in book. The youngest students start out scribbling on the sheet. Then the markings become more localized, and then the name appears! It’s a progression, all stemming from those first scribbles.

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Learning About Our Senses by Doing

Each day at Square Roots Preschool, we work on a group project that requires the students to work together. Sometimes we focus on phonics, sometimes science, or gardening, or cooking. We recently learned about our five senses through hands-on exploration and observation, which is much more effective for preschool-aged children than simply discussing the concept.

We used a familiar object that would intrigue the students so that they could look at it in a new, detailed way: the marshmallow! By passing around one marshmallow and allowing each child to have a turn to make observations, the students were able to listen to one another and absorb all of the information. We saved the sense of “taste” for last so that each of the students could have their own, fresh specimen. The children made some insightful (and sometimes funny) observations:

SIGHT: “I see bumps,” “looks like a lofty snowball,” “lots of white dots”

SMELL: “smells like good,””smells like nothing,” “smells like gluten-free bread”

TOUCH: “feels soft and silky,” “sticky,” “squishy,” “feels like bread and white chalk,” “powdery”

HEARING: “I hear touching,” “a gerbil scurrying around,” “nothing”

TASTE: “vanilla,” “not spicy,” “good”

By observing, experimenting, and discussing the marshmallows, our preschoolers learned all about their five senses by doing. We asked our parents to reinforce these concepts at home by finding objects to explore and describe.

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. 

Classroom Conflicts and the Benefits of Smaller Class Size

Conscious Discipline cites that a typical preschool classroom has sixty conflicts per hour. That’s one per minute! The main reason for this is larger class sizes of same-aged children who have the same needs and skills. This is a recent problem that is on the rise. When young children are in classrooms filled with conflict, there is less learning time, their social skills are hindered, and the environment can create lasting behavior problems.

In the past, young children were typically taught in multi-age groups, and conflicts were fewer. Students of different ages offered different skill sets to contribute to the group and had different needs, so there was not as much competition.

At Square Roots Preschool, our class sizes are much smaller than an average preschool. Our classes have six students maximum. Those classes have students ranging in age from 2-5. The teacher has time to attend to the needs of individual students, and there is more instruction time since conflicts are fewer. In our classes, we practice conscious discipline in order to help our students resolve conflict. We help them communicate how they want to be treated by asking them questions about the situation with the goal that they will learn to manage conflict situations on their own in a respectful manner. We help by suggesting words that they can use and talk about how we can handle a conflict situation better in the future. We practice our skills and learn to treat one another with respect.

The Conscious Discipline video, “Are Children Safe in Preschool?,” illustrates the importance of empowering children to be socially successful as well as develop cognitively during their preschool years.