Monday, December 22, 2014

Choosing the Best Preschool Program for Your Child

In many ways the same as choosing a summer day camp, picking a preschool program for your child involves some research. Like kids at day camp, preschool students do best when attending a program suited to individual needs and personality, preparing students both academically and socially for future academic endeavors. Exciting but sometimes a bit overwhelming to parents, choosing a first school is easier if you know what you’re looking for and how to find it.

Before You Start Looking
A great first step in a preschool search is to ask yourself exactly what kind of program you’re looking for your child. A preschool may be offer a small, nurturing environment more geared to introducing kids to a group environment or may sport a big, bustling, more academically-oriented atmosphere. Think about what’s most important to you, whether it’s fees, educational philosophy or proximity to your home or workplace.

The Right Fit for Your Child
Nobody knows your child the way you do, and you need to take into consideration whether you think your youngster can thrive in a particular environment. Visit each potential school as ask yourself whether you can picture your preschooler fitting in and being comfortable. Ask the school about teaching style, philosophy, daily activities and discipline policies. See if you can visit and spend time just observing.

Educational Philosophy
It’s important to ask about the school’s education philosophy as there are many ways to approach learning. Some schools may introduce academic subjects like math and reading earlier, while others have a play-based learning approach. Many are a mix of various philosophies, including the Montessori Method, the Reggio Emilia system and the Waldorf approach.

What is the Philosophy on Reading Readiness?
Does the school focus on teaching early literacy skills? This is a point on which a lot of schools differ and you should try to go with the approach that seems right for you and your child. Reading readiness varies dramatically among young children; a good preschool will help all children feel successful. Kids who are pushed to read before they are ready may develop a poor attitude toward this all-important skill.

Size of Class and Student /Teacher Ratio
Although each state has its own laws regarding class size and student/teacher ratio, some schools may adhere to a smaller size with more individualized attention. If your youngster is easily overwhelmed or distracted or may need more adult attention, it may be particularly important to pick a program with smaller group sizes.

What is the Atmosphere Like?
Try to be sure the school has an atmosphere that is bright, busy, clean and engaging. Are there lots of posters and student art on the walls? Are there clean, well-equipped indoor and outdoor play areas? Do the kids seem happy, excited and enthusiastically involved in activities and do you observe positive, compassionate interactions between students and staff? Are all children actively involved, with plenty of work centers for art, building, projects and dress-up? Are the children working both cooperatively and individually, able to choose some of their own activities during the day? Are there opportunities for active, creative and dramatic play? Most of all, do you think your child would be happy here?

Maplewood Country Day Camp Preschool Program will provide the ideal combination of fun and learning that will build the foundation for your child’s future academic success, socialization skills and inspire a lifelong love of learning. Visit the site:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Five Fun Preschooler Activities to Enhance Learning

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Getting kids ready to learn doesn’t have to be stressful; it can be fun and exciting. From pretend play to cuddling up with a story book, here are five super activities to share with your preschooler that will help him learn.

Curl Up With a Book
Read to your child and let him see you read. Many people have fond memories of favorite bedtime stories read aloud, and this special time together is a wonderful gift to give your own child. Reading together can foster a lifelong love of words and reading in your child. Don’t forget to have fun when reading aloud; ham it up with funny voices and a bit of extra drama. Not only does it reinforce how words sound, but it also makes the act of reading more enticing.

Make Believe
Preschoolers love to play make believe, and pretend play is not only fun, but also helps develop vocabulary, communication, problem solving and creativity. Encourage imaginative play with your youngster by providing just a few props and a bit of direction; you’ll be amazed at the hours of creative play that can stem from something as simple as a book about knights and castles or a trip to the aquarium. Basic props like stuffed animals, building blocks, a doctor kit or maps and postcards can lead to all sorts of wonderful adventures.

Kitchen Wizardry
What better way to learn math than by whipping up some delicious chocolate chip cookies or a creamy bunch of macaroni-and-cheese? Not only does cooking with you help kids branch out in their culinary tastes, it also provides fun-filled lessons in measuring and numbers. Let your little one count eggs, pour water into a measuring cup or set the kitchen timer. Read the recipe aloud, pointing to different words and teaching about the order of the steps. Not only is cooking together a great bonding experience and a fine math lesson, it also boosts confidence and lets kids explore the kitchen’s delightful sensory world, from the feel of pounding dough to the smell of apple pie in the oven.

The Magic of Music
Researchers have long appreciated the link between music and learning, finding that the rich sensory environment provided by song and dance help forge pathways between developing brain cells. And of course, singing and dancing are great fun; just ask kids at day camp! Youngsters who play music or sing tend to do better in reading and math in school and get along better with their peers, just a few of the reasons songs are such an important part of childhood programs like summer day camp. Sing along with your child, perhaps starting with you singing the verses and both of you chiming in on the chorus; think “Old MacDonald”. You’ll be surprised at how fast your youngster will pick up the words himself. You can encourage a sense of rhythm by practicing clapping to the beats of a favorite song.

Words All Around
Surround your youngster with the written word. You can label various objects in your preschooler’s room, make a sign for the door or make him or her a special personal mailbox to fill with intriguing notes. Let your little one see the importance of writing in your everyday life, including notes, lists and letters, reinforcing the importance of the written word. Even if your youngster just scribbles cheerfully, take time to “write” with him or have him tell a story about one of his drawings as you record the words.

Learning can be a fun and worthwhile experience for kids. Maplewood Country Day Camp Preschool Program will provide the ideal combination of fun and learning that will build the foundation for your child’s future academic success, socialization skills and inspire a lifelong love of learning. Visit the site: