EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Archive for March 2010

With your child in daycare or school, it is crucial that you stay connected with their daily routines and learning habits. One way to foster children’s learning is through joint efforts involving both families and schools, where parents and teachers share responsibility for creating a working relationship that will help children succeed academically. Following are some suggestions on how to build positive parent-teacher relationships.

As their children’s first teachers, parents and families can:

  • Read together. Read with your children and let them see you and older children read. When adult family members read to their children or listen to them read on a regular basis, achievement improves. Take your children to the library to get a library card and help them find books to suit their interests and hobbies.
  • Establish a family routine. Routines generally include time for completing homework, doing chores, eating meals together, and going to bed at an established time. These daily events are important to make life predictable for children and satisfying for all family members. Encourage your child’s efforts and be available for questions while she is engaged in academic work. Spend time discussing what she has learned.
  • Use television wisely. Limit the amount of time children spend watching television and help them choose appropriate programs for viewing. When chosen carefully, some TV programs can help increase interest in learning.
  • Keep in touch with the school. Stay aware of what your children are learning, what their assignments are, and how they are doing. Make a point of visiting the school and talking with the teachers through parent/teacher conferences or family nights. If you can’t visit, schedule a telephone call to discuss your child’s progress.
  • Offer praise and encouragement. Parents and families play an important role in influencing a child’s confidence and motivation to become a successful learner. Encourage them to complete assignments and introduce them to outside experiences that will enhance their self-confidence and broaden their interests.

For more advice on how to build strong academic foundations, visit

When your child is in preschool, he is a sponge for knowledge. He is learning and developing his own little personality, developing mentally as well as physically. Hand and finger skills of your three year old are especially peaking during this time.

You may start to notice that he can move his fingers independently as well as together, which means that instead of grasping his crayon in his fist, he can hold it like an adult (thumb on one side and fingers on the other). His spatial awareness has developed quite a bit, so he’s more sensitive to the relationships among objects (positioning toys with great care during play). He has a new sense of control that allows him to build, pour, unbutton, and use a fork to feed himself independently (spilling occasionally). He is interested in discovering new things, learning what he can do with scissors and paper, clay, paint and crayons.

As your child develops, he will need to focus his attention on new activities and toys fit for his age. Some quiet-time activities that can stimulate your three year old and help improve his abilities include:

  • Building with blocks
  • Solving simple jigsaw puzzles (four or five large pieces)
  • Playing with pegboards
  • Stringing large wooden beads
  • Coloring with crayons or chalk
  • Building sand castles
  • Pouring water into containers

Hand and finger skills are extremely important to develop with your preschooler. Give him encouragement, help and supervise him in larger tasks for a challenge. You may be surprised at how much he can already accomplish on his own!

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

History, research and experiences lead us to the conclusion that women are caretakers.  Intentionally or not, we nurture little girls differently than little boys. We “handle” girls differently than boys. Our play and actions often are pointedly gender based. We use language and labels that are clearly society’s way of helping little girls get into “the pink of things.”  There are decidedly strong feelings in families about ways of raising daughters.

One thing is certain though, children will learn to be themselves. With our without our prodding, coaxing, pleading or indulgences, little girls have this amazing way of becoming the girl they want to be. Our loving actions give little girls strength and assurance. Our giggles and grins offer horizons of opportunity mixed with true pleasure in their company. When we tell our daughters they can be anything they choose to be, we mean it wholeheartedly.

Little girls enjoy all kinds of activities, games, toys and experiences. They are, by nature and development, high language users, concerned with the little things and details of projects and partnerships. Little girls are keenly observant and quickly pattern their behavior and mannerisms after valued adults. They enjoy creative expressions in color and form, are tuned into rhythms and motion, form early and strong friendships and tend to wear emotions “on their sleeves”!

Some would say that little girls are bossy! With long personal and professional experiences, I prefer to say they are spicy! And great fun! What could be better than shiny party shoes and bows mixed with muddy jeans and overly bedazzled tee shirts. Who doesn’t enjoy a little 2 year old calling the shots in her family or the fussy birthday dress dripping with ice cream and sprinkles?

Supporting body and mind development for a little girl does, in fact, give us “sugar, spice and everything nice.” That’s because true support includes dress-up games, soccer teams, dancing, blocks & trucks, baby dolls, swing sets, crayons & paint, golf clubs, books & bicycles, play dates and a quiet space.

See your children, girls and boys, in everything wonderful.  Celebrate who they are now.  Hold their hands as they become who they will be.

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

An age old trick to creating comfortable as well as exciting places for children is to literally change their existing space while keeping it the same. How is this done and what’s the point?

Here’s how and why!

In any size space, move the furniture. In a bedroom, change a bed to the other side of the room, add a small chair or table, switch out baskets where toys are stored in and change the lighting. Are there lamps or even lamp shades that can be exchanged? Add a colorful blanket to the end of the bed or a fancy pillowcase. Frame (inexpensive) your child’s paintings and works of art to create a gallery at their eye level, place hat or sweater hooks next to the  bed, tie the curtains with wide ribbons, add a calendar (for older children) and look through the house for other safe and appropriate items to exchange in their bedroom. Move the bookcase and highlight favorites with simple displays. Put colorful placemats on the dresser and be sure children have an eye level mirror (safety glass for young children). Plants and pets (fish, gerbils, birds) are wonderful ways to teach responsibility and caring – with your help.

Depending on their age, children will love to be the designer of this “new” space with you as their assistant!

Rotate toys and books – go through baskets and bins and collect toys and books that have been out for a long time. Tuck them away to be brought out later or in a different way.

Throw away puzzles that you still can’t find that last piece to after looking for 3 weeks! Throw away broken toys or the ones that haven’t had a battery in them for months. Donate outgrown favorites if they are in good shape.

Go through art supplies with your little one. I guarantee there will be broken crayons, dry markers, empty glue sticks and flat pencils. No one wants to use these but they are always around!

A quick and inexpensive splash of color, a new frame for a favorite friend, baby dolls and superheroes given a quick cleaning, and personal spaces given new love – these are lovely ways to support the very real ways children learn to accept and embrace change.

Appreciating and caring for personal space and property are life skills we want our children to have. Our attitude and models will support these skills. Engage children with simple tasks and experiences in their homes to see how this is done!

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Children’s birthday parties seem to have taken on a life of their own.

I have the unique perspective of watching birthday parties evolve over the years through working at EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers. I have young grandchildren and I have friends who work with party planning and events. I am amazed at young children’s birthday parties.

When my own children were young, birthday parties were family and friend events held at our home with snacks and cake and ice cream. On your birthday you picked out your snacks and cake and invited as many friends as how old you were. Families were invited but not required to attend a young child’s party. Invited guests’ parents were asked to drop off and pick up their child – close friends were invited but not required to stay with their child. All children and adults were fine with this.

Birthday parties were held in the afternoon on a weekend, preferably outside with simple organized games as children got older. Invitations and thank you cards were decorated, “signed” and sent. There was a rhythm to the day with the party being held typically for 2 or 3 hours. Sleep-over birthday parties were for teenagers.

The birthday boy or girl’s presents were nice toys or games, special books or music, a favorite sports item or a special invitation to attend a movie, fair, etc. with another family. Party favors for the guests were a small item typically associated with the party theme (i.e. Peter had a Buffalo Bills party and favors were a box of football sports cards for each guest).

These parties were enjoyed by children, relatively inexpensive, and manageable.

Parties have changed. Birthday events seem to have moved into a whole different expectation.

Think over the birthday parties your children have been invited to or have been a part of. Have you hosted a birthday party for one of your young children? What do you think?

I know that everything changes and grows with the different ways that neighborhoods and culture changes and grows. This is as it should be. Birthday parties for me were different than the parties for my children and now there is change in the parties for my grandchildren and the little ones at the Centers.

This is fine – as long as children and families remain the focus for the celebration of the joy your child brings each year. Your children are very little for a very short time. If the birthday party overwhelms the birthday boy and his family, step back and celebrate your child – not the event.

And remember to teach all children: Happy Birthday to you. You belong in the zoo. With the lions and the tigers, and the monkeys like you! Happy Birthday!

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director


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