Why Celebree is One of the Best Early Childhood Education Centers in Maryland & Delaware

Why Celebree is One of the Best Early Childhood Education Centers in Maryland & Delaware

Think back to your childhood. Try to remember as far back as possible. Did you feel safe? Secure? Loved? Your parents did their best to provide you with a caring and nurturing environment, and now you want the same for your child. At Celebree, we’re parents too and we pride ourselves as being one the best early childhood education centers in Maryland and Delaware because we constantly strive to create a positive, educational, and secure environment where children can not only learn, but grow as individuals.

Are you looking for an early childhood education center in your area? Give us a call at 410-515-8750 to speak to a Celebree Enrollment Advisor about the benefits of our program or click here to find which of our 23 locations is right for you.

Our learning centers are safe and secure

Safety is one of Celebree’s core values and we implement a variety of safety measures at our childcare centers. Features such as closed circuit monitoring systems, classrooms with locking doors, and panic buttons enhance our centers security to keep your child safe. All of our entrances require individual parent ID numbers and visitors are required to present a photo ID to receive a temporary access badge to enter the building. In addition, our teachers and staff have all passed extensive state and federal background checks as well as screening through child protective services.

Celebree’s curriculum meets and exceeds state standards

The curriculum Celebree Learning Centers is designed to align with guidelines set by the Maryland State Department of Education’s focus on Early Childhood Education and the Delaware Child Care Act for Early Care and Education. We focus on several different types, or domains, of learning including social development, language and literacy, mathematical and scientific thinking, arts, and physical health. Our highly trained teachers break down the curriculum into fun, weekly lessons for the children.

We nurture positive social skills in every child

At Celebree we focus on helping children develop positive social skills that will prepare them for school and life. Our focus is to nurture a child’s sense of self while also establishing their role in the classroom and in the outside world. We do this by fostering healthy “purposeful playful” which helps children develop communication skills through fun, teamwork based activities. We also work with children to unlearn undesirable habits such as rough play. We understand that a large part of providing a nurturing environment is making sure that children feel safe and comfortable with their peers.

Worried that your child may be too young for daycare? Don’t be. We also design personalized curriculums for infants and help pre-school aged children prepare for kindergarten. High quality childhood education programs can have a positive impact on your child’s transition to elementary school, so it is important to enroll them early. Whether your child is 6 weeks old or entering 5th grade, they can benefit from the Celebreedifference.

We keep you involved

One of the main reasons Celebree is one of the top early child care programs in the state is because we understand how important it is for parents to be involved in their child’s education. Early childhood learning and development begins and ends with you, the parent. That’s why we provide a number of guides, tools, and other resources to help parents take an active role in their child’s education. We also post our weekly lesson plans in each classroom so that parents are never in the dark.

Schedule a Tour

If you really want to know why Celebree is one of the best early childhood education centers in Maryland and Delaware, schedule a tour and see for yourself!

The best way to tell if a learning center is right for your child is to visit, so we encourage parents and children to stop by and see our staff in action. To schedule a tour, give us a call at 410-515-8750 or schedule one online.

 

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The Benefits of Music Education for Preschoolers

Music Education for Preschoolers

You know the moment. You’re driving in the car and a song you haven’t heard in 10-15 years comes on the radio. Despite the time, you still sing every word of it. You remember the words, the tune, the pauses, even the drum solos. The power of music on our memory is phenomenal. That moment in and of itself, shows the importance of music education for preschoolers.

There have been many studies on the benefits of music education and the importance of music education in our schools. Despite that, this is an often overlooked and de-funded area. So how does learning music help with brain development and education? And are music lessons for toddlers important?

One of the primary areas where music helps with brain development and education is through language development. The organization, Children’s Music Workshop, claims that “recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.”  Given that music strengthens and enhances the development of language skills, it follows that social skills are enhanced as well. By being able to communicate well, it makes a child more socially competent.

Music’s impact on the brain can start at the earliest of ages. Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years, says “there’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain.”

Beyond language development, music education has also been shown to have an impact on childrens’ spatial-temporal skills. This means that children with exposure to regular (at least weekly,) music education have a better aptitude for visualizing solutions to multi-step problems. This ultimately contributes to enhanced abilities in math, engineering, computers and the like.

How to Introduce Your Child to Music

So does this mean you need to sign your 2-year old up for violin lessons? Not exactly. While learning to play an instrument at a very early age can produce significant benefits, merely being exposed to music from the earliest of ages has a proven impact on development. The good news here is that you can (and should) be providing your child with exposure to music at home from the get go. Here are some very basic tips to get you started:

  • Play music in the car. It does not have to be Raffi or something from Barney, it can be music you love and want to share with your child (just make sure the lyrics are G-rated). Any kind of music makes an impact, but if you can, provide variety. Classical, Pop, Classic Rock. Let your child decide what music they gravitate towards.
  • Have a dance party regularly in your house. The combination of music and movement helps children to learn about control of their bodies. Move fast to fast music and more slowly to slower music. Incorporate fun props like scarves or balloons to add to the fun.
  • Create your own band and play along with favorite songs. You can use kazoos or even just a wooden stick on a bowl or pan. Focusing on the rhythm as well as the melody can engage different elements of a child’s brain. And while noisy, it’s a lot of fun for everyone.
  • Live music is pretty special to be able to expose children to. They are usually fascinated by the sounds, the person playing and the instruments themselves. If your house has instruments, you’re all set. If not, see if you have friends or family who may play instruments. Or look in your community for live performances that are targeted at children. Some local libraries regularly bring people in for toddler hour to play and sing songs.

Above all, have fun with music. While the benefits are clear, you don’t need to be overly serious about it. Make it enjoyable for one and all. Sing a little song, do a little dance!

Connect Your Child with Music At Celebree

As one of the “7 Domains of Learning” at Celebree Learning Centers, the arts and music play a large role in our state-approved curriculum. We know what an impact music education can have on preschoolers, and take it seriously. As a parent, you’ll receive a quarterly progress reports from your child’s teacher across all learning domains including music.

Click here to schedule a tour of your local Celebree Learning Center, and witness first-hand our approach to integrating music with education. Or if you’d prefer, give us a call at 410-515-8750.

 

Nanny vs. Daycare: Which is the best path for your family?

Nanny vs. DaycareMaking the decision of what care options to provide for your child is one of the most significant decisions you can make early on. For most families, this decision happens before the birth as they start looking for infant child care. There are so many factors to making this decision – emotional, financial, practical – that it can be one of the most stressful aspects of your pregnancy.

One of the most common option comparisons is nanny vs. daycare. There are pros and cons for both. Each family is unique, so it is crucial to determine what your goals are for child care and know what benefits you are looking for from your particular situation. Start by making a checklist of what you require – hours, how many children, learning elements, cost, etc.

With your checklist in place, you can use the pros and cons outlined here to help you determine which path is likely the best for your family.

Nanny Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • A nanny can be more cost effective for families with multiple small children. Paying one person to watch your two (or possibly three,) children can usually be slightly more affordable than tuition for all of your children at a daycare center.
  • In-home care is more convenient and is more familiar to the child. This especially helps in the morning, if you’re trying to rush out the door. Not having to take your child somewhere can make the morning routine just a little easier.
  • If you work from home, you can see your child during the day, as your schedule allows.
  • Generally, a nanny can provide more flexible hours/schedule. This is ideal for people who work long hours or work an atypical schedule.

Cons:

  • Finances – Hiring a nanny is generally the most expensive child care option available. Additionally, you are required to pay various taxes (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment,) which adds to the cost.
  • There is no licensing, regulation or training required of the nannies.
  • On days when the nanny is sick, there is no back up coverage. And should the nanny decide to leave, they can leave you without any child care at all, without warning.

Educational Daycare Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Educational – Depending on your goals for your child, you can select a play based or curriculum based program. Curriculum based programs can provide a head start for toddlers in terms of learning the fundamentals of reading, mathematical basics and even beginning writing. These types of programs can provide a strong start for Kindergarten.
  • Availability – Often times, larger employers will provide on-site (usually subsidized,) daycare. If your company does not, you can usually find the type of program you are seeking near your house, office or somewhere along your commute.
  • Socialization – Unlike staying at home with a nanny, daycare allows children to have significant social interaction and learn about playing with others, sharing, communicating and more.
  • Licensing and Regulation – All daycare centers are licensed and regulated by the state, needing to adhere to strict guidelines. For education based programs, usually all instructors are trained in early childhood education, and often are provided with on-going education.

Cons:

  • Less individual attentional. Your child will nearly always have to share the attention of an instructor. States regulate the teacher:child ratio. Usually it is 1:3 for infants and 1:4 for toddlers.
  • Children can get sick more often. This is, without a doubt, true. But studies show that a child exposed to colds and viruses earlier in life will develop a stronger immune system and they are less likely to become sick in their later years.
  • More defined hours – Daycare centers generally have preset hours. While these hours are usually quite long (often from 7am to 6 or 7 pm,) they will not work for everyone. If you have an atypical schedule, this may not be the path for you.

Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer in the nanny vs. daycare debate – the decision should be what works best for your family and the future of your child. With a nanny or au pair you’re essentially sacrificing guaranteed education and socialization for the comfort of knowing your child is at home.

Connecting with a Local Educational Daycare Center

If you’re looking for an educational daycare center in the Maryland / Delaware area, you owe it to yourself to tour your local Celebree. Click here to schedule a tour or call 410-515-8750 today!

When Sports Hero’s Fall

Children especially are impacted when a sports icon, such as Ray Rice, undergoes a public personality transformation from squeaky-clean football hero to a terribly fallen star.

Kids hold celebrities to an untouchable standard and react to it when celebs demonstrate bad behaviors. When a local hero falls, it’s an opportunity for families to talk about values and character.

Here are some tips for parents when discussing fallen celebrities with children (the following is an excerpt from an article written by Dr. Kate Roberts):

  1. Consider a child’s developmental age. Children younger than age 10 generally lack the abstract thinking ability to process how a famous celebrity could be both great and popular and yet involved in a heinous activity. You can tell your child that this is an opportunity for their “hero” to learn from their mistakes. But as we learn in school it’s never okay to put your hands on people.
  2. Avoid editorializing. In general, even if your child is older, try not to share your opinion on the details of the matter until after you’ve heard what your child has to say. You’ll gain information regarding your child’s perspective if you listen to him or her and try to stay neutral while helping them process.
  3. Use the celebrity and their recent negativity or negative behavior as an example of what a hero is not. Present the celeb as someone who was idolized based solely on talents, and not his or her behavior and character.
  4. Define a hero as one who performs heroic acts.  This is an opportunity to help your children understand what a true hero is. Provide examples of your own heroes and describe the qualities of those you consider heroic. Examples— like a family you know that helped another family in need or the first responders who saved lives at last year’s Boston Marathon—bring heroes up close and make them real.
  5. Monitor your children’s sports idol worship. Children who are over-focused on celebrities are at greater risk for copying negative behavior. Parents often use football as a way to bond with their children. It’s important to be aware that this can backfire, as your kids are significantly more impressionable then adults. Even though the NFL is targeted towards the entire family, the content and context is often more adult-oriented  than child-geared.
  6. Explain that people have different personas. If your kids are old enough to watch sports TV, then they need to be old enough to understand the contrast between the celebrities’ public persona vs. their true character.  Parents can use this topic  as a forum for discussing  how sometimes people act different ways in different settings.
  7. Use this as an opportunity to reinforce the concept of moral character. Teach your kids about empathy and compassion. Explore your children’s capacity for empathy and find ways to build empathy, such as volunteering to help those in need or instituting an “acts of kindness” initiative at home.
  8. What makes a role model. Point out that kids who excel in any talent — sports, drama, music, academics — are often seen as role models. If your children are star performers for their age level, instill in them a sense of responsibility. Ask them for specific examples of what the celebrities that they idolize are doing for society and how they are behaving as role models. Remind them that they, too, might be seen as role models for younger children and they need to be aware of the importance of modeling good behavior.
  9. Help them to understand that being a good person is more important than performing well. How celebs act off camera is as important or more important than how they perform in their superstar role. Sometimes fans glorify superstars without knowing much about their character. The desire to identify with their glory and fame contributes to people’s willingness to overlook bad behavior.
  10. Don’t make excuses for the bad behavior. The fact that someone is a superstar doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for him or her to violate the rights of others. Explain to your children that top-performing athletes are responsible for their actions, just like everybody else.
  11. The higher the pedestal, the greater the disappointment.  Discuss with your kids how idolizing someone can lead to extreme reactions if the person they idolize ends up disappointing them. If you have an example of a fallen idol from your own experience, share that with them. The message here is to learn to view people realistically and avoid seeing them as better than they are. It’s easy to be seduced into thinking a great performer is great in every respect. Help your kids to see that no one can actually live up to such idealization and oversimplification.

Even though society expects sports celebs to act like heroes – to demonstrate responsibility and see themselves as role models for the fans who look up to them — in reality, that’s not often the case.  While adults are able to separate celebrity character from their talents, children are likely highly confused and even suggestible when it comes to understanding the behavior of fallen celebrities. That’s why it’s our job as parents to have these conversations with our kids and help them understand that the glamorous persona they see on TV isn’t who that celebrity really is in real life.

The Truth About Snacking – Nutritional Guidelines for Children

Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out where a preschooler stands when it comes to food.  They don’t eat when we serve them dinner and then they want a snack at bedtime.  They may eat dinner every night for seven nights in a row and then not eat dinner again for two weeks.  They may just want to graze all day long and not eat any meals at all.  It can drive a parent insane.  But is this a problem, and how bad is snacking? Here are some nutritional guidelines for young children that should be able to help answer those questions.

The Truth About SnackingFirst off, it’s not a problem and is part of the typical cycle that young children go through.  But if you have concerns, be sure to call your pediatrician and ask for their advice.  And as for snacking, it’s actually a very good thing, and should be encouraged in the right manner.

In truth, preschoolers are little guys, so to expect them to be able to eat a large meal and then be satisfied until the next is just unrealistic.  Their tummies are small and their energy level is high.  So snacking makes a lot of sense for these little kiddos.  Snacking, done the right way, can provide additional sources of much needed vitamins and nutrients.  The key is to find the right combination of meals and snacks, to be flexible, and to have a list of healthy snacks that will help kids with their energy, growth and hunger management.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida outlines the following snacking strategies for young children:

One of the keys to promoting successful and healthy snacking in children is to be prepared. Following these tips will help you provide appropriate snacks to your child at the appropriate times and places (USDA, “Daily Food Plan,” n.d.):

  • Snacks should not replace a meal, so avoid serving large snacks. Small portions are especially important for those occasional snacks that contain lots of added sugars and are low in nutrients.
  • Serve regular meals and snacks every three to four hours. Allowing adequate time between meals and snacks will ensure that children are not too full to eat their meals. Structured meals and snacks also will keep kids from eating out of boredom. Although schedules are helpful, always listen to your child to allow him to recognize when he is hungry or full.
  • Avoid using food as a reward or a way to calm an upset child. Also avoid using treats such as cookies or candy to make up for a meal not eaten.
  • Be prepared by having healthy snacks on hand to make it easier for your child to make smart snack choices. Buying snacks from a vending machine or grabbing a bag of chips or cookies is usually an unhealthy temptation for families on the go.
  • Not all snacks are appropriate for everyone. Always keep in mind food allergies and potential choking hazards when planning snacks.

One last piece of advice.  Nothing can be more fun than sitting down with your little one and having a mid-day snack, so be sure to take the time to enjoy those moments as well.  Snack it up!

“How Was School Today?” Surefire Tips to Get Your Child to Talk About School, Without Making Them Cry

How to Get Your Child to Talk About School

How many times has this happened to you. You pick your child up from preschool, excited to hear about their day and what they learned, knowing they are in our learning based environment. You get them strapped into their car seat and start to pull out of the parking lot, when you ask “So how was school today?” More often than not, the response is either something like “Fine”, “I don’t know” or bursting into tears. So why does this happen, and how can you prepare for and avoid it? The following tips will help you learn how to get your child to talk about school, without crying.

As for the why, often times, children are so taxed and overloaded from the day, that they just need some mental quiet time. When they get with Mom or Dad and are in their comfort zone, they can relax and let go of the need to be “performing”. This comfort zone is one reason why the response to the question can often be a bucket full of tears. The kiddo is just overwhelmed with exhaustion and emotion, and needs to settle into their security space. If this is the reaction that you often get from your child, the best thing to do is to wait before talking to them about their day. Let them have some quiet space in the car on the way home. When you get home, have some snuggle time so that they are reassured that there is nothing else they need to do but just be safe with you. After a bit (and maybe a snack,) you will be able to notice a shift in them and see that they may be ready to talk about their day.

If the response you get when you pick them up and ask the question is “nothing” or “I don’t know” that often is a sign that they may have been overwhelmed by all that they learned during the day and are still processing things. It can be frustrating as parents to get this response as you know they have been learning a lot, but they key here is to be patient and try to help them verbalize what they learned that day. Help them break the information down into bite size morsels that they can talk about. Here are a list of questions that can provide you with another approach in talking with your kids (preschoolers and older,) about how their day at school was.

Use These Questions to Get Your Child to Talk About School

  1. What was the funnest thing you did today?
  2. What was your favorite part of the day?
  3. Did you have any sad parts of your day?
  4. Who did you play with?
  5. How did you help someone today?
  6. How did someone help you today?
  7. What is the coolest thing you learned today?
  8. What do you like doing most/least at school?
  9. Who did you sit next to for lunch?
  10. Did you make anything today?

Don’t throw all these questions at your child at once. Pick one or two that you’re going to use that day to get your child started talking. Often, once they’ve had a chance to relax, establish their security and regroup, they will start talking on their own about their day. Often this will be later (or the next morning,) in the car, or at the dinner table. Use these questions as conversation starters, and then let your child roam wherever they want in talking about school. You’ll be amazed at all they learn and how they talk about it.

Avoiding the Back to School Boo Hoo’s – Kindergarten Tips for Parents & Students

It’s that time of year again – getting the kids back to school. For some families, this is a time of celebration that Summer is over, parents can get their schedules back and kids can see their friends again. For other families, it’s a time of sadness – their baby is growing up, how did Summer go so fast, and how many school supplies do I have to buy? For most families, though, it’s a combination of the two.

For children coming out of preschool and moving into Kindergarten, it can be a very difficult time. Dealing with so much change and excitement in their lives can be overwhelming to little 5 year olds, and their parents. So here are some Kindergarten tips for parents & students to help weather the storm of back to school together, and without too many boo hoo’s. And we’re so proud of all our Celebree graduates!! Stay in touch!

Take a Tour

For many students, it is the fear of the unknown that is most intimidating to them. Many schools have a visit day in the Spring to help incoming Kindergartners with their transition. This is a great opportunity for them to see the classroom, know what their new environment is like and to see who their teacher might be. If you’re entering a school that doesn’t offer a Spring visit day, call them and ask if you could bring your child over for a 20 minute visit so they can still get the experience. While it may not be as structured, it still helps to quell some of the nerves.

Make a Friend

Everybody needs a friend. If your child knows someone who will be in their class, make sure to get together with them in the two weeks before school starts. If you don’t know anyone off hand, work your network and see if there’s anyone who knows someone who will be in your class. If you’re not having success with that or are new to the area, call the school and ask them if they could connect you with a family of someone in your child’s class. They will likely have some families who have been at the school for awhile who they will know they can contact on your behalf. For a 5 year old, seeing a familiar face that first day will greatly lessen the nervousness.

Listen

Often times when our little ones are about to start Kindergarten, we’re really busy talking it up to get them excited (and try to keep ourselves from crying). But don’t forget to listen to them. Talk the night before and try to get them to share their feelings and what they think the day might be like. What are they excited for? What makes them nervous or uncomfortable? You’ll have to ask a lot of questions, and sometimes the same questions in different ways, but it will help them if you can get them talking.

On the morning of the first day of school, be sure to listen as well. If your child is battling you about breakfast, respect that. We all want to send our kids off to school with a full tummy. But on that first day, nerves can overcome and we don’t want them being sick to their stomach. Better to go a little empty than have a moment that won’t be forgotten, for all the wrong reasons.

Don’t Cry

Kids will look to their parents for direction on how to perceive a situation. If their parents are sobbing, the child might become scared and think that school is a bad place. So be strong and hold it in. You can always sit in the car for 10 minutes after drop off and weep with joy and sorrow.

Lean on your friends

Parents need friends too. So find some friends to start a great tradition with – gather people together for a breakfast to celebrate the new year. If that’s too much, grab your best friend and take a walk. Share your feelings with someone you trust. Letting them out will make you feel much better, and allow you to clear the way for your genuine happiness for your child.

Celebrate

All milestones deserve to be celebrated, and the first day of school is no different. Whether it’s the first day of Kindergarten or Senior year of high school, celebrate with your child and your family. There are only so many first days of school, make them all special.

Let us know how your first days of school go this year.

Why is Art Important in Early Childhood Education?

It’s a given that art is important for all children, starting at the earliest age.  Early on, it’s about the tactile feeling of creating art – the fingers in the paint (an inevitably in the hair and on the face,) the hands on the paper.  Soon, it becomes about a means of expression, how children can get their feelings and their ideas out in a visual sense.  It becomes about communication, a means for adults to talk about more complex subjects in a non-confrontational way.  It’s about self-esteem, as children create works they are proud of and can share with others.  All of these are such important gifts that art bestows upon our children, but they are not the entirety of what art gives to preschoolers.  Art can make substantial impact on learning outcomes.

From a learning perspective, art influences cognition and creative thinking.  At a preschool age, art can have a direct influence on literacy, math and science. Keep reading to learn more about the role of art in early childhood education, why it is important, and how it can be integrated to keep learning fun.

Art & Literacy

We’ve already talked about the impact art has on communication.  An extension of this is the benefits of literacy.  Research has shown that having a child create pictures of stories they have read improves their comprehension and leaves them more motivated to read new material.  By using art as an early form of communication, children are developing skills that will enhance writing expression and reflection.  It also expands their visual and verbal creativity.

Art & Math

Art, especially at the earliest ages, provides a wonderful introduction to basic math concepts.  Children can learn about and utilize different sizes and shapes.  They can work on counting objects within their art.  The inclusion or recognition of patterns and symmetry in art introduces some mathematical fundamentals as well.

Art & Science

The impact of art on science may be the most fun part.  We’ve discussed how tactile art is for the young child, but that tactile experience is the beginning of science.  Observations of how textures change, how colors change when mixed.  What happens to powdered paint or chalk as they dissolve in water.  What reactions do two items have when combined.

The Role of Art in Early Childhood Education

The introduction and inclusion of art in the early-education classroom is crucial, but can also be done at home.  To help get you started, here are three projects that families can undertake to utilize art to expand preschooler learning:

Math – Number Collages

  • Set out a number of small art materials, such as: beans, cotton balls, small fake flowers, poms, etc.
  • Give your child a large piece of paper and some glue.
  • Have the child glue objects on the paper in sets of two or three.

Science – Milk Painting

Materials:

  • Milk
  • Dishoap
  • Q-tips or toothpicks
  • Food coloring
  • Shallow plate or wide bowls

Instructions:

  • Fill a plate or bowl with milk.
  • Drop in at least 2 drops of each of four colors of food coloring. The more variety of colors the cooler the painting.
  • Generously dip the end of a q-tip/toothpick in dish soap.
  • Now dip the q-tip/toothpick into the milk next to a drop of color.
  • The first thing that will happen is the color will burst as soon as the dish soap hits it. It’s a great effect but very short lived. Once there is a little dishsoap in the milk it no longer “bursts”.
  • Gently swirl the q-tip/toothpick through the different colors and you’ll see little rivers of color start to form.
  • Continue until the colors begin to mix and become brown. Empty your plate/bowl and repeat.

Literacy – Cloud Painting

Inspired by Eric Carle’s book Little Cloud

Supplies Needed

  • Construction paper (shades of blue and white preferred)
  • Tempera Paint (or other washable paint) in shades of blue and white
  • Cotton balls

What To Do

  • Read Little Cloud together for inspiration
  • Pour paint into individual small containers.
  • Dip cotton balls into paint and dab onto paper.(Any color combination and shape is fine.  After all, clouds come in all shapes and sizes!)

Creating Good Habits – Internet Safety For Preschoolers

It seems silly to think of Internet safety when it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, but it is never too early to start establishing good habits.  Internet exposure starts early with smartphone and tablet apps specifically geared for toddlers and preschoolers.  Many families are even doing much of their television watching via the Internet versus through cable or satellite.  But at this age, children are almost always using the Internet with a parent or guardian helping them out, which makes this a perfect age to start building a good understanding of what is ok and what isn’t.

These 5 tips will help you start to build your household Internet usage guidelines for toddlers and preschoolers:

Limit usage of the computer/device to a common area – to be able to help teach good habits, you need to know what the child is doing with the device.  Keep usage to only times and places when a parent/guardian can engage with the child.

  1. Set time limits – as with any screen time, it is important to establish usage time limits so that a child understands that this is not something to be used all the time, but is an occasional occurrence.
  2. Utilize parental control settings – with parental controls, you can put limits on site access.  Some controls will even let you manage and monitor the time that a child is logged in.  There are usually usage tracking settings as well – important for older kids.  If it’s on a phone or tablet, you may want to set controls for in app purchases, to avoid any unwanted expenses.
  3. Create a list of acceptable sites/apps – provide your child with appropriate content and help them to understand what is meant for them and what isn’t (texting, not for them).  It can be fun to search out game apps with your child that will provide them with ways to learn letters, numbers, shapes, etc.  Work together to compile a group of apps and sites that will entertain and educate, and that won’t drive the adults in the room crazy.
  4. Utilize locking features – in order to achieve the control you would like to have, use the built in locking features on your phone, tablet or computer.  That way, you can ensure you are aware of the time they are spending and the sites and apps they are accessing.

As children get older, there are many more habits and guidelines that are important to establish, but these five will give your child a solid foundation to build off of.

Coding Classes for Kids?

Preschoolers coding? Most adults find that hard to believe as they’re still trying to figure out how their smartphones and tablets work (how do you actually power down?!) But coding classes for kids have entered the mainstream and can (and should) actually start with the preschool age group.

A little bit about coding. So what exactly is it? It’s the various computer languages that are used to make applications, websites and software. It is considered by many to be the global language of the next generation. By the time our preschoolers graduate college, the bulk of the professional careers will likely have some relation to coding and those who don’t understand it at all risk being left behind.

There’s a real push in the U.S. to incorporate coding courses in schools at younger ages. Like any language, the younger a child is when they are exposed, the easier it is for them to learn and become more fluent in that language. Yep, it’s the new Spanish. The organization code.org created the “Hour of Code” program that launched last year with the goal of getting school-age kids to spend some time with the basics of coding. Thousands of schools across the country participated with millions of kids having their first try at creating with code.

But back to preschoolers and coding. While we’ve talked in the past about the importance of limiting screen time, there are some cases when screen time is important. This is one of them. There are many programs available to help expose kids as young as preschool to coding exercises. This allows kids to not just interact with a computer or tablet, but to actually create something in the environment.

One of the better programs for kids this young is Scratch Jr. (www.scratchjr.org). This is an iPad and Android based program that allows kids to start coding immediately using the building block system. Kind of like Legos for computer programming. While it doesn’t require the kids to know the specific languages, it introduces the concepts of process and flow, action and reaction. By putting the blocks together, kids can make characters move, dance, sing, etc. It provides an immediate gratification for the kids and allows them to create the action. A program like Scratch Jr. is carefully designed to match a youngsters various areas of development so is a safe place to start.

The beauty of programs like this for parents is that they can spend time with their kids working through these fun building block games and while the kids are learning, the parents can get exposure too. You may not start a family app development company before Kindergarten, but it will put everyone on the right path to becoming code literate.