make the difference! Nurture your preschooler’s creativity

September 2014
Vol. 19, No. 1
Camden County Public Schools
make the difference!
Nurture your
Eight easy ways to ease your
child’s transition to preschool
tarting preschool can be scary
for kids. They’re entering a new
world full of unfamiliar adults, kids,
rules and surroundings.
Even children who already have
their first year of preschool under
their belts tend to have a few backto-school jitters.
Here are eight things you can do
to make the transition easier:
1. Visit the school. Show your child
around and introduce him to his
teacher, if possible.
2. Meet children who will be in your
child’s class. Consider scheduling
a play date with a classmate.
3. Read books about school.
Wemberly Worried by Kevin
Henkes and The Kissing Hand
by Audrey Penn are two popular
books about the first day of
Copyright © 2014, The Parent Institute®
school. Your librarian can also
recommend other titles.
4. Describe your own first day
of school. If you were nervous,
remind your child that this feeling
didn’t last long.
5. Point out happy kids who are
eagerly walking into preschool.
Talk about how excited they seem.
6. Talk about all of the fun things
he gets to do in preschool, such
as listening to stories and playing
7. Be positive. Don’t say things
like, “I’m so sad. I wish you were
staying home!”
8. Do something special after the
first week of school. Celebrate
with an ice cream cone, a trip to
the playground or another treat.
The best time to
nurture children’s
creativity is in
early childhood.
It’s before they’re
caught up in the responsibilities
of school.
The first step in promoting
creativity is to show your child
that you value it. Here’s how:
• Allow freedom. Let your
child pursue art activities that
interest her. Don’t hover over
everything she does. Avoid
offering assistance that might
not be needed.
• Be encouraging. Praise effort
and creativity, rather than the
actual product. For example
say, “This is interesting.
Tell me about it,” instead of
“That’s a beautiful drawing.”
• Ask questions that allow for
varied answers. If there’s only
one right answer, it’s not the
best question.
• Expect a mess. Buy washable
art supplies. Protect household
items during messy activities.
Resist cleaning up your child’s
projects before she’s finished.
Source: K. Meador, “Creativity Shows Up Early and
in Many Ways,” Parenting for High Potential, National
Association for Gifted Children.
Source: E. Nechas and D. Foley, What Do I Do Now? Fireside.
Practical ideas for parents to help their children
Copyright © 2014, The Parent Institute®
Expand your child’s world and
mind by going on adventures
Adventures are an
important part of your
child’s foundation for
learning. And they
don’t need to be fancy.
Whenever your child sees or does
something that’s new to him, that’s
an adventure.
Plan a few adventures this fall
to help your child explore:
• Jobs people do. When you visit
your doctor or dentist, encourage
your child to ask them about their
work. Stop by your local fire
station. Point out people working
at construction sites, the grocery
store, the dry cleaners and restaurants. Talk with your child about
the work employees do there.
• Animals. Visit a nearby zoo or
aquarium. There your child
can see animals that he may
otherwise only see in books or
on television. Take a trip to a local
farm, petting zoo or pet store.
• Other cultures. With your child,
visit a restaurant that features the
food of another nation. Or check
out a cookbook from the library
and select a few recipes to try.
Let your child help you prepare
them. If your town has ethnic
festivals, attend them together.
Read children’s books and watch
movies about characters from
other cultures. Look online or ask
your librarian for suggestions.
Source: S. Parsons, “Experience Needs to Come First,”
National Dropout Prevention Center Newsletter, Clemson
“It is time for parents to
teach young people that
in diversity there is beauty
and there is strength.”
—Maya Angelou
A good night’s sleep is crucial
for your child’s developing brain
You probably know
that sleep is necessary
for your child’s growing
body. But did you know
that sleep actually helps
your child’s brain work better, too?
Getting enough sleep each night
allows your child to be more alert,
pay closer attention and remember
material with greater accuracy the
next day. To help your child get the
recommended 11 to 13 hours of
sleep each night:
• Develop a sleep schedule.
Have your child go to bed and
wake up about the same time
each day. Try to keep the same
schedule on the weekends, too.
• Get your child active and
outdoors. Exercise and fresh
air help kids sleep better.
• Follow a bedtime routine. Take
a bath, put on pajamas, brush
teeth, read a brief story. Talk
about something positive from the
day. Then, it’s time for lights out.
• Make her feel safe. Put a night
light in your child’s room. Tell her
you will check on her.
Source: J. Mindell and J. Owens, A Clinical Guide to Pediatric
Sleep: Diagnosis and Management of Sleep Problems, Lippincott
Williams & Wilkins.
2 • Early Childhood • Parents make the difference! • September 2014
Are you teaching
your preschooler
to be respectful?
Showing respect for
teachers and friends
is critical to success in
school and life. Are you
teaching your child to
respect others? Answer yes or no to
the following questions to find out:
___1. Do you model respectful
behavior? This includes showing
respect for your child and for others
in your daily interactions.
___2. Do you teach polite language
such as please, thank you and may I?
___3. Do you encourage your child
to apologize for mistakes?
___4. Do you teach your child
to accept people’s differences?
Children come from many different
cultures and have different likes and
___5. Do you give specific praise
when your child shows polite and
respectful behavior? “Thank you for
knocking before coming into my
How well are you doing?
Mostly yes answers means you are
teaching your child the basics of
respectful behavior. For no answers,
try those ideas.
make the difference!
Practical Ideas for Parents to Help Their
Children. ISSN: 1523-1267
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P.O. Box 7474, Fairfax Station, VA 22039-7474.
Fax: 1-800-216-3667.
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Published monthly September through May by
The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc., an
independent, private agency. Equal opportunity
employer. Copyright © 2014 NIS, Inc.
Publisher: Phillip Wherry.
Editor: Rebecca Hasty Miyares.
Illustrator: Joe Mignella.
Copyright © 2014, The Parent Institute®
Simple discipline methods help
parents prevent big problems
Children need and
want to have limits
set for them. In fact,
children who have been
disciplined in a loving
manner generally do better in school
than those who haven’t.
Here are a few simple and
effective discipline methods to try:
• Enforce reasonable rules. Make
a few key rules and stick to them.
Consistency makes it easier for
preschoolers to cooperate.
• Allow give and take. Your child
has opinions, and it’s helpful to
compromise sometimes. But stand
your ground when it really counts.
• State things positively. When
possible, tell your child what to
do (“Put your hands in your lap.”)
instead of what not to do (“Stop
• Set a good example. Discipline
works best when parents are calm.
Show your child how to stay calm
when angry.
• Criticize carefully. Talk about
your child’s behavior, not your
child. Say, “That comment was
rude” instead of “You are rude.”
• Focus on success. Notice what
your child does well. Give specific
compliments. “You put your art
supplies away. You’re taking good
care of your things!”
Source: N. Paulu, Helping Your Child Get Ready for School,
U.S. Department of Education.
Make mealtime an important
part of your family’s routine
Experts agree that
family meals are essential
for children’s learning.
Children who regularly
eat at least one meal a
day with their families are healthier
and have better grades. Family
mealtime is even more important
than playtime, story time or other
family events to increase vocabulary.
Eating together as a family will
also give your preschooler the
perfect opportunity to talk about
her day.
Try these mealtime tips:
• Plan for meals. Let your child help
you make menus for the week and
create a grocery list.
• Be creative. If your family can’t
eat dinner together, plan another
special meal. Some families eat
breakfast together. Others meet
for dessert at the end of the day.
• Let your child help with meal
preparation. She can measure
ingredients and stir. Show her
how to set and clear the table.
• Make mealtime fun. Put dinner
in a box or bag. Lay out a blanket
inside or outside for a picnic.
• Teach manners—napkins in laps,
chew with mouth closed, etc.
• Keep talk positive. Avoid
negative topics or criticism.
Have each family member tell
one good thing about his or
her day.
• Start traditions. For example, you
might make pancakes on Saturday
mornings or eat sandwiches on
Sunday nights. The best traditions
only need two ingredients: family
and fun.
Source: “The Importance of Family Dinners III,” The
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at
Columbia University.
Q: My son bursts into tears when
I drop him off at preschool. It’s
been a week, and things haven’t
gotten better. Is there anything
I can do to make drop-off less
stressful for all of us?
Questions & Answers
A: It’s always difficult for parents
to watch their children fall apart
when it’s time to say goodbye.
But what’s going on is normal for
children of preschool age. Your
child is still very dependent on you
and being apart makes him feel
With the teacher’s help, you
can convince your child that he’ll
be safe and cared for at preschool
and you will always come back to
get him. Here’s how:
• Show your child you trust his
teacher. Tell him, “If you need
help, I want you to ask Mrs.
Jones. She will take wonderful
care of you.”
• Reassure your child about
your return. Draw a picture of a
clock that shows the time you’ll
return. Say, “When the clock on
the wall looks like this, I’ll be
here.” Or give him something of
yours, such as a handkerchief or
a photo, to keep with him.
• Follow a short goodbye routine
with your child. Perhaps you
can walk him to his cubby and
watch him store his backpack.
Then you can give him a hug
and kiss, tell him you’ll see him
soon, and go. Tears may still
fall for the first few weeks, but
eventually the routine will be
comforting to your child.
• Stay in touch with the teacher
about how your child does after
you leave. Ask her about the
activities he seems to like best
at school and be sure to talk
about them at home.
September 2014 • Early Childhood • Parents make the difference! • 3
Copyright © 2014, The Parent Institute®
The Kindergarten Experience
Teachers share
tips for success
What’s the secret
to making sure your
kindergartner has a
successful school year?
Seasoned teachers from
around the country weighed in to
share their best back-to-school
advice. Here’s what they had to say:
• Follow routines at home.
Children thrive when they have
a regular time to eat, sleep, play,
read, do chores, etc.
• Create daily rituals. Start school
mornings eating breakfast
together, if you can. Ask about
school every evening. And end
your day with a bedtime story.
• Encourage playing by the rules.
Know and talk about classroom
rules. Never tell your child you
think a rule is silly.
• Stay up-to-date on school news.
Read the information that comes
home from your child’s teacher.
• Tell the teacher about any
changes at home, such as a new
living arrangement or new baby.
• Use email, if you can, to contact
the teacher. It minimizes “phone
tag.” Writing notes works, too.
• Don’t say negative things about
the teacher in front of your child.
He should know that you and the
teacher are on the same “team.”
• Make homework a priority.
Schedule a regular homework
time and be there to support
your child.
• Don’t overschedule your child.
Extracurricular activities are
great, but children need some
downtime, too.
Three questions every parent
should ask about attendance
on’t let the fun of kindergarten
fool you—serious learning
is taking place! Research shows that
regular attendance in kindergarten
sets the stage for future success in
There are times, of course, when
missing school is necessary. To
better understand the school’s
attendance policy, make sure you
find out the answers to these three
1. What should I do when my
child can’t come to school?
Parents are typically asked to
call or email the school office
when students will be absent.
It is also helpful to write the
teacher a note when an absence
is planned.
2. What’s the difference between
“excused” and “unexcused”
absences? Certain absences are
generally excused (such as being
ill), while others may be
unexcused (such as a vacation).
If you must schedule an absence
during school hours, try to
choose the least disruptive time.
Also find out the limits on
unexcused absences and tardies.
3. Should I request makeup work
when my child is absent? Talk
with your child’s teacher about
her preference. Some teachers
like children to complete missed
work—even if they’ve only been
out a short time.
Playful activities can build your
child’s emerging literacy skills
Most kindergartners
are excited about
learning how to read.
You can keep your
child’s desire to read
strong with playful ideas like these:
• Read the world. Everywhere you
go, point out words. See if your
child can find the letters of his
name in signs.
• Visit the public library often and
let your child check out books.
• Collect “favorite words.” Every
day, write down on a card a word
your child likes—dog, pizza, ball.
Draw a picture of the word on
the card. Once you have a stack
of words, see if your child can
sort them by starting sounds or
by the number of syllables.
• Encourage your child to pretend
to read by retelling a favorite story.
Source: J. Hauser, Wow! I’m Reading: Fun Activities to Make
Reading Happen—Ages 3 to 7, Williamson Publishing Co.
4 • Early Childhood • Parents make the difference! • September 2014