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Dos And Don’ts Of The Preschool Classroom: What Parents Should Look For

preschool education activitiesSince 1990, the percentages of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs has grown from 33% and 56%, respectively, to 42% and 68% in 2013, per the National Center for Education Statistics. Clearly, more parents have come to realize that academic preschool programs are highly beneficial for childhood development.

Unfortunately, the truth is that not every preschool is created equal: some have more highly qualified teachers, better resources, and safer environments than others. That’s why parents need to be very diligent when embarking on a preschool search. Because many parents research new preschools during the summer months, we’ve outlined a few things to look for in a new preschool — and a few things you should hope you never see.

What Parents Should Observe In An Academic Preschool Curriculum

  • A safe environment: Above all, your child needs to be safe during all preschool education activities. Your choice in preschool should be a secure, healthy environment where students are closely observed at all times.
  • A balanced schedule: While a child’s day may be full of different preschool education activities, they should never feel rushed or fatigued by the strenuous pace. They should also not be forced to engage in activities for too long, or else they may easily become bored. An ideal curriculum should help children acquire and build on new skills, gain knowledge, explore their individual interests, interact with others, and achieve goals. This can help them become more independent, creative, and self-confident while fostering a love of learning and attitude of curiosity about the world.
  • Teachers who care: Early childhood education teachers can make a world of difference in how children learn throughout the rest of their lives. Teachers need to be nurturing while still expressing clear behavioral limits. Overall, teachers should be highly engaged and passionate about what they do. This attitude will transfer over to the children in their care.

What Parents Should Not See In A Preschool Environment

  • Unrealistic developmental expectations: Highly qualified preschool teachers should have an innate understanding of what can be expected from the children in their classroom. While they should encourage independence in certain ways, they should never allow children to take on tasks that could present a danger. Likewise, while the best preschool education activities challenge young children, teachers should have realistic expectations of what young children can and cannot learn at such a young age. If you observe a teacher who doesn’t seem to grasp how to interact with the children they’re teaching, look elsewhere for a preschool program.
  • A disorganized or too-rigid classroom: A preschool environment does need to be carefully monitored. Children should not freely wander around without becoming involved in preschool education activities or play indoors without being observed. That said, the environment should not be too rigid, either. Children should be able to explore and play without feeling anxious. It can be a delicate balance, but it’s an important one. If students aren’t being watched — or are watched too carefully — you should consider a preschool with more experienced teachers.
  • Inattentive or uninvolved teachers: Above all else, a preschool teacher needs to be involved in what’s going on in their classroom. Most states have regulations about student-teacher ratios for a reason, but without passionate teachers these rules are meaningless. Some teachers may feel they’re above engaging in their students’ playtime or may ignore their behavior. Not only does this not help children learn through play but it could also put them in danger. Teachers also need to actively set clear limits in the classroom. Children need to understand the consequences of certain behaviors. Should you see teachers who are disengaged or who let children run amok during preschool education activities, try another program.

With these classroom do’s and don’ts in mind, parents will be in a much better position to recognize a great preschool environment.

At Learn and Grow Academy, we pride ourselves on providing a safe environment and highly qualified instructors to help students thrive. To find out more, contact us today.

Preschool Preparation: What Your Child Needs To Know Before Their First Day

grade school readinessPreschool is typically thought of as the first step towards obtaining a high-quality education. Most parents know that academic preschool programs play a key role in grade school readiness – which is why three-fourths of all children in the U.S. are enrolled in preschool.

If your child is to start preschool this fall, there are a few things you can do to make sure they’re prepared for the preschool education activities they’ll experience. Here are a few points to cover with your child before the first day.

  • Personal Hygiene
    Preschool policies may differ on potty-training: some schools require students to be potty-trained, while others do not. However, it’s usually a good idea for children to be at least well on their way to being potty-trained, as it can be stressful to handle bathroom issues on their own for the first time. Your child should also know to wash and dry her hands after using the bathroom. It can help to establish a bathroom routine while still at home and to ask before using the toilet. Make sure they know to cover their noses and mouths when sneezing and coughing, too.
  • Separation
    Preschool policies may differ on potty-training: some schools require students to be potty-trained, while others do not. However, it’s usually a good idea for children to be at least well on their way to being potty-trained, as it can be stressful to handle bathroom issues on their own for the first time. Your child should also know to wash and dry her hands after using the bathroom. It can help to establish a bathroom routine while still at home and to ask before using the toilet. Make sure they know to cover their noses and mouths when sneezing and coughing, too.
  • Following Directions
    Simple directions are a part of the routine at preschool. If you want to prepare children for this, it may be helpful to work on listening and following requests. These skills will become even more important as they grow up, so getting a head start on them now means they’ll have even higher levels of grade school readiness. They’ll have to put away toys, point to colors and shapes, and go to their cubbies during the school day. By being able to follow these simple instructions, you’ll set them on a successful path.

An excellent preschool program will set your child up for a successful life-long educational experience. Preparing with these tips in mind, your child will be ready to start preschool come fall.

Preventing Learning Loss: 5 Tips to Keep Kids Curious All Summer Long

back to school tipsFor many parents, finding the right preschool can take weeks or even months. In 2013, nearly 84% of five-year-old children were enrolled in preprimary programs, so there’s a pressure for parents to give their children the early educational experience they need to succeed. If your child has a year or two of preschool experience under her belt, she’ll probably have a high level of grade school readiness come fall. But whether your child will be attending primary school for the first time next year or you’re in need of some back to school tips for your older children, it’s never too early to start preparing. In fact, summertime provides all kinds of opportunities for continued learning. To ensure your child is ready for another year when autumn rolls around, you’ll want to follow these five tips.

Sign up for summer camp
Although sports-related camps are great, there are plenty of summer camps with an educational spin that will keep your children engaged and growing. These camps may be run through local organizations, museums, community centers, or even your school. Whether your child loves fun science experiments, has an interest in animals, or wants to explore faraway lands and planets, there’s likely a camp that can get them thinking and learning. Maintaining an active mind is one of the best back to school tips we can offer.

Drop everything and read
Making regular trips to your local library and setting aside read-aloud time can make a huge difference in your students’ interest in reading and in their reading comprehension levels. Many libraries have story time for local kids and may even host reading contests to see who can read the most books during the summer. If you’re able to make reading magical, rather than a chore, your children will seek out books instead of shying away from them. The key is getting children excited about reading. You could even act books out at home or create companion activities to the books you read together.

Encourage creative expression
If your child knows how to write, creative writing can be a fantastic outlet and can help them express their thoughts and feelings. You can encourage them to write a paragraph every day or help them write a few sentences and let them illustrate a picture to go along with it. In general, creativity begets creativity; in other words, their participation in a creative outlet — like performing, arts and crafts, storytelling, or even playing games — can make them more innovative in other parts of their life. They’ll learn to think outside the box and solve problems in new ways. This can be just as important for their development as any other educational activity.

Make math delicious
Numbers and math may not appeal to many kids, but you can help make them a bit more accessible — and yummy. Get your child involved in making healthy treats in the kitchen. You’ll pique their interest with the promise of deliciousness and will manage to bake some math right in. While younger children won’t grasp exactly how measurements relate to numbers, you’re still solidifying the idea that by combining several parts, you’re making a whole new recipe.

Visit local museums
During the summertime, your local museums are a great resource for learning and a welcome escape from the heat or rainstorm. Museums have exhibits that truly make learning fun for children. With focuses on science, math, nature, history, and even play and how it helps kids grow, these centers will soon become a favorite for your children. Many museums will even offer discounts for families during the summer season as a way of encouraging educational activities during the break.

To find out more about area summer camps or to learn more about our preschool programs, contact Learn and Grow Academy today.

3 Reasons to Enroll Your Child in a Summer Preschool Program

academic preschool curriculumMost parents know how important academic preschool programs can be for their child’s future development. The best preschools will help prepare your son or daughter for the language, math, and social skills they need to succeed in elementary school and beyond. But just because school will soon be out for the summer, that doesn’t mean your child can’t continue his or her educational, social, and emotional growth through an academic preschool curriculum. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the reasons why you should enroll your child in a preschool program for the summer.

  1. They can continue their learning

    At almost any age, the summer break can be detrimental to an ongoing education. While small breaks can help the mind feel refreshed, taking three months off can set students back quite a bit. Studies have found that having increased opportunities to learn, like attending preschool for a longer period, equates to additional developmental benefits. By attending preschool in the first place, children will significantly forge ahead. But by ensuring what they’ve learned during the school year doesn’t fall by the wayside during the summer months, they’ll be even more prepared to enter kindergarten.

  2. They’ll be supervised by educators

    Working parents can often use some help in the summertime. Although relatives and regular babysitters can provide some much-needed assistance in watching your children, they can’t provide the same academic advantages and structured days that preschool teachers can. The same goes for daycare workers; even if they have extensive childcare experience, they won’t do much besides monitor your child and engage them in some fun activities. With a summer academic preschool curriculum, your child will have a great time and continue their studies at the same time. It’s a two-for-one deal that most parents won’t want to pass up.

  3. They’ll be socially engaged without adding to stress

    The benefits of academic preschool curriculums extend beyond traditional learning. At preschool, children can socialize with their peers and will master important skills like sharing, cooperation, and responsibility. Increased social interaction will help your child become more confident and make lots of new friends. Setting up endless playdates can be exhausting for many parents, especially if they work full-time. However, preschool provides an easy way for children to create new bonds and build on the social skills on which they’ll rely for years to come.

Many preschools like ours offer summer programs that give children the chance to learn all year round. Instead of being parked in front of the TV until September, your children can experience all of the benefits of academic preschool during the summer season.

To find out more about the best preschool programs and summer camps Bergen County, NJ has to offer, contact Learn and Grow Academy today.

5 Questions You Need to Ask When Visiting Preschools

preschoolWithout a preschool education, almost 25% of at-risk children were found to be more likely to drop out of high school, according to a study by the Ounce of Prevention Fund. However, kids who do attend preschool are not only less likely to drop out of high school, but they’re also more likely to graduate from college, own a home, and start a happy family of their own.

Selecting the best preschool for your child can be a tough decision, especially if this is your first time sending a child off to school. It’s important that they have the best education and socialization available, but all of the options available to you can be overwhelming. For first-time parents new to the process, here are some specific questions you should be asking when evaluating prospective schools.

What is the educational background of teachers and staff?
Above all else, you should be making sure that your child’s teacher is qualified. A daycare might not require extensive educational preparation for its employees, but the vast majority of preschool institutions have a grade school readiness mindset that requires teachers to have a certain level of education and experience.

How is discipline handled?
The exact answer to this question is less important than whether it aligns well with your own beliefs about nurturing children. Discipline is something that everyone does a little bit differently. Your method of disciplining your children may not be the same as another parent’s, and discipline in the classroom may need to be approached differently than discipline inside your home. Before you send your child off to learn, it’s important that you fully understand what the school’s disciplinary program looks like and how that will affect your child. Young children are often testing boundaries, and you need to know how those incidents will be handled.

Do the students take naps regularly?
Growing children require more sleep than older school-aged children, so it’s essential to make sure your child is getting enough rest during the day to keep them happy, healthy, and alert. A quality preschool experience is one that allows for equal parts learning, active play, and rest time for children. It’s also important to know whether the school supplies nap mats and pillows or if you’re responsible for those materials.

Are references available?
The best way to ensure your child is getting a high quality education is to ask others who have sent their children to the same institution. A school should be ready and willing to provide references from parents past and present. This is an excellent way for you to determine the pros and cons of a particular school and a critical step to finding the right preschool for your child.

The search may feel overwhelming right now, but it can be broken down into individual steps. The importance of kindergarten and grade school preparation makes the process worthwhile. If you’re a new parent getting your son or daughter ready for school, then start looking for the best preschools near you before classrooms start to fill up.

What Parents Should Consider When Choosing a Preschool

academic preschool programsConsidering that 75% of children in the U.S. participate in academic preschool programs, most new parents will have to quickly make a decision about early education. And because preschool education activities can play such an important role in your child’s development, it’s a decision that requires careful consideration. With all of the educational options at your disposal, it can be tough to figure out which academic preschool program will be best for your child’s needs. While each family is different, there are a few consistent things to look for in a preschool.

If you keep the following three factors in mind when choosing a preschool, you’ll be sure to find the right programs for your children.

  • Background of Staff
    Unlike many daycare programs, academic preschools will typically hire teachers and staff members with educational backgrounds. This means that your children will be both supervised and taught by highly qualified instructors who practice contemporary teaching methods. Preschool can provide so many more benefits for young children than conventional childcare centers. However, you’ll need to do your due diligence and ensure that the staff at your schools of choice are up to your standards. The educational background of a preschool’s teachers can tell you a lot about what your child’s experience will be in the program.
  • Program Style and Curriculum
    A learning environment can greatly affect your child’s experience. Therefore, it’s pivotal that a given academic preschool curriculum lines up with your own beliefs on education. You’ll need to find out what a school’s overall philosophy is towards learning, and whether it jives with your own experience of how your children learn best. Ideally, a preschool program should encourage students to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. You’ll also want to look at a school’s typical daily schedule to ensure there’s a balance between play and learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions pertaining to this. Since this is what your child will experience on a daily basis, you’ll want to have a clear idea of their routine.
  • Fulfillment of Family Needs
    Aside from how the program functions, you’ll also need to consider whether the school is a good fit for your family life. For instance, is location important to you? Are you willing to drive a great distance to drop off and pick up your child if it means they attend the best preschool? Or does your schedule require something closer to your immediate neighborhood? If cost is a factor in your decision, then you’ll have to decide how far to stretch your budget while still providing your child with a great education. These are practical questions you’ll need to ask yourself when choosing a preschool program. If you pick a school that’s simply too expensive or too out of the way, that may force you to make sacrifices as a family. In the end, you need to choose a school that ticks all the boxes.

At Learn and Grow Academy, an academic preschool in Palisades Park, NJ, we’re dedicated to providing an excellent experience for your entire family. To find out more about our academic preschool programs, please contact us today.

Preschool Skills: What You Can Expect Your Child to Learn

high quality educationIn 2013, a good portion of toddlers were enrolled in preprimary programs. Around 42% of three-year-olds and 68% of four-year-olds attended preschool programs that year. Many parents understand that, in theory, the high quality education their children receive in academic preschool programs will ensure grade school readiness. But they may not be entirely sure how common preschool activities will allow for the acquisition of valuable skills. To help you better understand how the typical academic preschool curriculum will help your child develop and learn, here are just some of the skills you can expect them to acquire.

  • Early Literacy
    Academic preschool activities such as reading books aloud can be both fun and educational, and they help children expand their vocabularies by connecting letters with the sounds they make. In preschool, children will learn how to identify all of the letters of the alphabet. They may also learn how to recognize their own names and write them on the adorable art projects they bring home at the end of the day. While they’re having fun, they’re also listening to sounds, identifying them, and repeating them — the essential building blocks on the path to literacy.
  • Counting and Numbers
    In addition to learning letters and the sounds they make, children will also learn how to recognize and verbally identify numbers. Typically, they’ll learn how to count to 10 and learn what the basic numerals look like. While counting often involves memorization to start, children will later understand the connection between the numbers they say and the number of objects they see. Being able to correctly identify numerals 0 to 9 will help students build on their math skills in the future.
  • Communication
    When they’re at preschool, children have a chance to converse with others their age. Being able to interact with both other students and adult teachers will allow them to better express themselves and understand how others communicate. They’ll also learn valuable listening skills in preschool. Understanding when it’s important to sit quietly, behave respectfully, and listen to instructions, as well as when it’s okay to talk to others, are crucial to their social development.
  • Sharing and Responsibility
    Preschoolers will learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate. They’ll also learn how to regulate their own emotions and behaviors, allowing them to be more productive and happy at school. Teachers will express the importance of taking responsibility for keeping a clean and safe space for everyone to enjoy. Children will also learn when and how to ask for help, and when they might be able to be a bit more independent. While these skills might not seem quite as academic, they’re still part of obtaining a high quality education.

These are just a few of the social, intellectual, and emotional skills your child will begin to develop throughout their enrollment in our preschool programs. To find out more about how our programs can provide a high quality education for your child, contact Learn and Grow Academy today.

Preschool vs Daycare: What’s the Difference Between Them?

daycareIf you are a new parent, choosing between preschool and daycare may seem like a rather difficult decision at first. Not only do you want to make sure your child gets the most out of the program, but you need to find something that fits into your schedule as well. In this article, we will point out some of the noticeable differences between preschool and daycare programs, and highlight why preschool is a better option for your child’s development.

The Hours

Preschool
Preschool hours are set up similarly to grade school hours. This can help provide grade school readiness, preparing your child for the schedule that they’ll face later on.

Daycare
Daycares don’t follow a typical school schedule, meaning that the hours may not line up with those needed by parents. This irregular schedule is also likely to cause children difficulty adjusting to grade school hours later on.

The Curriculum

Preschool
There are many benefits to the academic preschool curriculum, as its name implies. It is a precursor to grade school, meaning that academic preschool programs will focus more on the introductory skills a child will need when entering kindergarten. This can greatly benefit them in the long run, as it’s been proven that children who don’t receive a good preschool education have a tougher time reaching success down the road. In fact, around 60% of at-risk children who do not attend preschool do not go to college either.

Daycare
While some daycare centers do provide some form of education, they mostly just act as a safe environment in which parents can drop their children off when they are busy with work or other responsibilities. Daycare centers allow children to socialize with others without parents having to rely on a nanny. They do not, however, provide children with the necessary academic building blocks for success.

The Age Groups

Preschool
Preschools typically serve a set group of toddlers ages three through five. It can vary, depending on the center, but that is the general consensus. This allows teachers to formulate their curriculum around the age groups, thus providing a better education.

Daycare
Daycare has a wider variety of age groups from young toddlers to elementary school aged children. This means that the curriculum may be less structured, as the varying age groups need to be taken into consideration and activities adjusted accordingly.

When it comes to choosing preschool or daycare, the choice ultimately depends on your own personal situation. It is important to know how the two vary so that you can make the best choice for you and your child.

Grab Your Backpacks! Ten Great Reasons You Should Send Your Child To Preschool

grade school readinessIt can be all too easy to overlook the benefits gained from enrolling your child in preschool. Many parents see preschool as nothing more than structured playtime for a few hours of the day. In fact, the number of 5-year-old children enrolled in preprimary programs dropped by 5% between 1989 and 2013 (from 89% to 84%), according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Nevertheless, enrolling a child in preschool can make a great difference in both their home life and their grade school readiness. Here is a list of ten extraordinary benefits your child can gain from attending preschool.

  1. Motor Skills: In preschool, a lot of physical activity happens throughout the day to keep your child entertained. This allows them to fully explore and develop their balance, hand-eye coordination and overall general motor skills
  2. Prepare for Math and Reading: Curiosity in children is commonplace. They want to learn, and academic preschool activities gives them a chance to do that. From learning numbers, letters, and sounds to all sorts of fun educational games, preschool offers a child the chance to begin learning about math and reading in a fun environment.
  3. Desire to Learn: In addition to teaching your child a solid base foundation for math and reading, academic preschool programs also foster your child’s natural curious nature. This allows them to want to learn more and encourages knowledge and discovery.
  4. Language Skills: Through preschool education activities and simply being in an environment where language is everywhere, this can exponentially improve your child’s own speaking ability. They will learn new words and learn to form longer sentences.
  5. Learning to Care For Each Other: Bit by bit, children in preschool learn to care for both themselves and others. Teachers show them how to be responsible, increasing their sense of self-worth, and show them how to help others, increasing their compassion.
  6. Choice: Though it may only be small choices, a child in preschool will learn how to make decisions for themselves. They can choose if they want to play a game their friends are playing and how to ask for help from the teacher when they need it. These tiny choices now will grow into much more responsible decisions later in life.
  7. Structure: The classroom provides a lot of structure and scheduling to a child. This helps encourage a child on how to think and act in an organized manner and how to follow simple rules.
  8. Social Interaction: The sooner a child can interact with a child their age, the better. They will learn how to communicate and voice their feelings in a calm and easy way, while being shown how to build strong friendships with others.
  9. Kindergarten: One of the most obvious benefits preschool provides is it allows a smooth transition into kindergarten for the child. It gives them grade school readiness and ensures that they already have a foundation for learning. Grade school readiness is crucial to foster a child’s growing, thinking brain.
  10. Growth: Far beyond that of just grade school readiness, a child will have the opportunity in preschool to grow in many ways. It promotes healthy development and helps a child learn skills they need in order to be prepared for school and life.

Every parent wants to make sure their child grows up health and happy. Enrolling them in preschool is just one of the many priceless things you can do in order to make that happen.

For more information on grade school readiness, or if you’re looking for a preschool in New Jersey, please visit Learn and Grow Academy’s website at www.learnandgrowacademy.com.

How to Determine Whether Your Child Is Ready For Preschool

 preschool education activitiesWhen parents seek out daycare alternatives, the benefits of academic preschool tend to win over families who want their children to develop both intellectually and socially. In fact, the number of three- to five-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs like nursery school and preschool increased from 59% to 65% from 1990 to 2013. That means that the majority of parents understand that preschool education activities are highly advantageous for their children in terms of how they grow and learn.

Before sending their kids off to preschool, parents need to evaluate whether it’s the right time. Each child develops at a slightly different rate, and preschool education activities can help children at all skill levels. However, there are a few points you should always consider to determine whether your child is ready to go to preschool yet.

  • Potty Training
    Many preschools and daycare centers require children to be potty trained. That doesn’t mean your son or daughter will be expelled over an accident, but his or her progress in potty training should be a factor in your decision making. If your preschool of choice does have such a requirement, you’ll need to ensure your child meets this obligation. Some preschool centers don’t require kids to be potty trained, but it’s still a good idea to at least get started before enrollment begins.
  • Sharing and Social Interaction
    While it’s not a requirement for kids to master all social niceties, they should at least have experience interacting with other children. If your child has had limited playtime with other kids, consider getting him or her involved in a play group before starting preschool. Your child should be able to share, take turns, and cooperate with other students.
  • Following Instructions
    In preschool, children will be in a structured environment, and they will be expected to follow simple rules and instructions. Preschool students will learn how to go from one activity to the next throughout the day, as well as clean up and follow other directions. While not a requirement, if your child is not able to consistently handle such transitions, you may want to work on this prior to enrolling.
  • Separation
    When you send your child to preschool, he or she will have to be separated from their parents for at least a few hours during the day. Children who have gone to daycare or who have spent time with babysitters or nannies usually don’t have a problem entering preschool. On the other hand, children who have rarely spent time away from their parents or outside their home may have trouble adjusting. The first week of preschool may still be difficult for both student and parent; however, in most cases, children are able to quickly adjust and overcome their anxieties about separation after experiencing a few days of routine and fun with their new classmates.

Preschool education activities and lessons are the best way to ensure grade school readiness for your child. For more information or to discuss whether your child is ready for preschool, please contact Learn & Grow Academy today.