Toddlers and Technology: Healthy Habits in a High-Tech World

The use of technology at an early age can have a lasting impact on a child – both positive and negative. Of course, this all depends on how much, how often, and to what extent a child uses technological devices. Although many childcare centers and preschools will incorporate technology into their curriculum as an educational tool, some schools and parents alike resort to technology as way to occupy a child when they are unable to entertain them – and this is when problems arise. However, used in the appropriate way, technology can be a valuable developmental tool for both parents and childcare centers.

Problem: Too Much, Too Often

Some public health organizations and professionals have voiced their concerns that health issues could arise during child development from overuse of passive technology. Many believe if the children are glued to a screen for hours on end every day, it could lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which could lead to obesity.

Too much time spent on the tablet or the computer could also play a role in weakening the bond between parent and child. The more time children spend connected to their device, the less time they will spend connecting with their families.

Solution: Time Restrictions and Quality Time

Limiting the amount of time your toddler spends sitting in front of a screen is a simple way to prevent any potential health issues. You can do this by making a screen time schedule, and sticking to it.

The next time you think of handing your child your smartphone or tablet to keep them busy or entertained, swap it out for a book that you could read to them and have a discussion. This will not only limit the amount of time your child is spending on a device, but it will also foster a deeper connection between you and your child as you spend quality time together.

Benefits of Technology in Childcare

When used the right way, technology and technological devices can be a huge benefit to our children. Many preschools and childcare centers have recognized the value of technology and have implemented the use of computer labs and workstations in the classroom. At home, you can do the same by finding educational computer games for your child, and downloading educational apps on your tablets and smartphones. Doing this will ensure that there is an educational purpose behind everything your child does with technological devices. With structure and guidance, your child can learn so much from technology.

Technology at Prep Academy

At Prep Academy, we offer a healthy balance of technology and hands-on exploration. We believe that introducing young children to the appropriate use of technology can better prepare them for success in the 21st century! Our campuses have modern computer labs and our tech-savvy team of educators is committed to teaching essential computer skills. Students learn the basics of keyboarding, educational internet use, word processing, and the latest in ‘edutainment’ software in daily classes.

We also use technology to stay connected with parents and families. Prep Academy Schools uses ProCare and Brightwheel childcare management software to strengthen the communication between our staff and the families we serve. The ProCare system allows us to share student information and billing with families via an online parent portal. The Brightwheel software system allows us to connect with families on a regular basis via an app service that provides electronic classroom management and parent engagement features.

With our balanced approach, students get a jump start on learning that includes innovative technology, hands-on discovery, and so much more!

5 Summer Reading Tips to Avoid Summer Setback

According to the National Education Association, “Summer sizzles when you add the excitement of a good book! But if kids take a vacation from reading, skills may fizzle over the break.”

“Summer setback” happens when a child loses comprehension skills over summer vacation due to an extended period without reading.  As parents, it’s important to prevent summer setback by encouraging children to read so that they are prepared for the upcoming school year.

If you’ve been wondering how to get your child to read this summer, then you’ve come to the right place. We know how important it is to keep your child reading, especially during the summer months when school is out of session. To keep your child learning through literature this summer, we’ve come up with a few tricks and tips to help you out:

  1. Let your child decide. When you go to a bookstore or library, let your child pick out the books that interest him. You want your child to fall in love with reading naturally. By giving him the freedom to choose his own books, you can encourage this process.
  2. Make reading appealing. When your child is bored and looking for something to do, it’s important to fill this time with reading. You can do this by finding clever ways to leave your child alone with books. For instance, you can keep a basket of books in the places that you know your child is most likely to get bored, such as the bathroom or the backseat of your car.
  3. Create a reading nook. You can create a small fort-like book nook and theme it with something that your child is really into, such as outer space, the beach, or a rainforest. This will not only bring out your child’s imagination when she is reading, but it also gives her a space that she can call her own. This will make reading a special activity for her.
  4. Bring the books to life. Book-inspired activities can really extend the reading experience by bringing some of the elements of the book to life. You can find plenty of book-inspired activities online, and try them after your child’s reading time.
  5. Start a club. Children will be more inclined to read if they have someone to do it with them. Have your child ask one of her friends to read a book with her. She can invite her friend into the super cool book nook where they can talk about the book together. You can bring a few discussion questions to get things started. A book club will not only improve your child’s comprehension skills through discussion but will also cultivate their love for reading by making it a more social experience.

When you find ways to bring reading into your child’s summer, you can help them avoid ‘summer setback’ and jump start into the new school year!

Reading at Prep Academy

At Prep Academy Schools, we include reading as one of the main elements of our curriculum. Our students learn new concepts about many topics through reading. They are encouraged to have discussions about these topics. Our educators also use individualized instruction to sharpen each child’s reading comprehension skills.

5 Kid-Friendly Restaurants in the Polaris Columbus Area

Enjoying a nice breakfast, lunch, or dinner when going out to eat with your family should be an opportunity for everyone to relax. But going out to restaurants with young kids can often turn into a stressful balancing act. Dealing with everything from screaming and crying to picky eaters who can’t find anything on the menu, dining out with kids can end up being more demanding than relaxing. That’s why finding kid-friendly restaurants is so important for parents and families. Finding restaurants that welcome kids can help lessen worries about the experience you may face while dining out.

Here are a few kid-friendly restaurants in the Polaris Columbus area:

  1. Sweet Carrot: Located on the east side of I-71 on Polaris Parkway, this recently opened fresh casual restaurant serves “made-from-scratch comfort foods.” It features a great kids menu with plenty of kid favorites such as grilled cheese and mac ‘n’ cheese.
  2. Carfagna’s Kitchen: Located just a few minutes from Polaris Fashion Place, on the east side of I-71, Carfagna’s Restaurant is a family-owned and operated establishment since 1937. Carfagna’s serves homemade Italian dishes at a great value and includes a children’s menu with a variety of kid’s favorites.
  3. Sunny Street Café: Offering creative prehistoric-themed menu options for the kiddos, such as “Dinosaur Pancakes,” “Pterodactyl Eggs,” and “Jurassic Grilled Cheese,” Sunny Street Café is the ideal place for families to go for breakfast or lunch in the Polaris Columbus area.
  4. Scramblers: With nine locations in the Columbus Area, Scramblers is another great brunch spot offering fun kids dishes such as “Smiley Face Pancakes.” Scramblers also hosts evening events, such as bridal and baby showers, family gatherings, and holiday parties, for groups of 25-200.
  5. 101 Beer Kitchen: With much more than adult beverages and three locations in the Columbus area, 101 Beer Kitchen offers food, drinks, and brunch menus for kids and adults. The kid’s menus include a main dish, two sides, a drink, and a special sweet treat all for $6.00.

At Prep Academy Schools, we encourage families to seize opportunities to spend time with one another in different settings. We believe that going out to restaurants is a great way for families to open channels of communication with their children. Dining out at kid-friendly restaurants in the Polaris Columbus Area is also a great opportunity to teach children valuable life skills such as creating good first impressions, being polite and using good manners.

6 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Polaris and Columbus, Ohio

Weekdays can get crazy for families with busy schedules. From school and work to sports and dance practice, not to mention homework, sometimes it seems like the week will never end.  But when the weekend finally rolls around, you may find yourself with a little free time to get out for some much-needed family fun. The Columbus metropolitan area is a great place for families looking for something fun to do on the weekend.

Families living in the Polaris and Columbus areas of Ohio don’t have to look very far for some weekend activities.

Below is a list of kid-friendly places in Polaris and Columbus, Ohio:

Fun in the Jungle, 345 McGill Street, Sunbury, Ohio: This indoor family entertainment venue offers a large jungle-themed play area, arcade featuring over 1,000 games, mini bowling, virtual reality, birthday parties with private rooms available, and food.

Glow Putt Mini Golf, 161 Granville St, Gahanna, Ohio: Featuring a safari themed 18-hole miniature golf course, this glow-in-the-dark venue is perfect for both children and adults. The prehistoric dinosaur theme makes it a cool place for birthdays or weekend outings with friends and family.

The Jungle Gym, 755 US 23 N Delaware, Ohio: Offering gymnastics classes, parkour, open gyms, rock climbing, and parties, The Jungle Gym is the perfect spot for kids with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. The Jungle Gym also features options for kayaking, slacklining, indo boarding and more.

Recreations Outlet, 484 W Olentangy St, Powell, Ohio: With basketball hoops, trampolines, playsets, and spas, Recreations Outlet is considered “Ohio’s Playground Headquarters” with a little bit of something for everyone. Although this is a showroom for their products, Recreations Outlet lets everyone test their products before investing in them, offering pay-to-play options, play passes, and birthday parties.

Magic Mountain Fun Center, 8350 Lyra Dr, Columbus, Ohio: This action-packed venue features attractions including Go-Karts, Miniature Golf, Laser Tag, Bumper Boats, KidsGym Climbing Playground and Video Arcade. Offering both indoor and outdoor attractions, Magic Mountain Fun Center is the ideal place for family fun any time of the year, rain or shine.

Peapod Play Café, 4874 Thompson Rd, Columbus, Ohio: This chic café, featuring life-size playsets and obstacle courses, is perfect for families with little ones. Offering a clean and comfortable environment serving coffee for adults, this is a great spot for play dates and to meet other parents in the community.

Striking the right balance

At Prep Academy Schools, we understand that learning and play go hand in hand with children. Play activities and opportunities for family bonding enhance school learning and help kids build confidence. We strive to achieve a healthy balance of work and play for our students. Children who attend Prep Academy Schools are challenged academically with our exclusive Accelerated Curriculum designed by Early Childhood Development Specialists with the Accelerated Student in mind. We balance this challenging curriculum with fun activities and a creative learning environment.

We encourage our families to continue this creativity after school and on the weekends by exploring the fun options that the Polaris and Columbus communities have to offer. At Prep Academy Schools, we believe that a healthy balance of work and play leads to healthier children and adults!

Have Fun While Painting with Your Preschooler

If you’re tired of the dried up paintbrushes with the crusty, frayed bristles – ditch them! It’s time to get creative and have some real fun while painting with your preschooler this time. Here are several ideas that will help you get started on bringing the fun back to painting with your preschooler:

Flower Painting

  1. Flowers are nature’s alternative to paintbrushes! Go outside with your child and pick some wildflowers or have her pick a few from an old bouquet that you no longer want on display.
  2. Once you have your flowers cut and ready, show her how to press them into the paint and then onto the paper plate or cardstock.
  3. Explain to your child how the flower’s petals act similarly to a brush’s bristles.

Leaf Painting

  1. Go outside with your child and have him pick out leaves of different shapes and sizes. Make sure that they are still fresh and green and not dried out. Crunchy leaves will be too stiff to lay in the paint and will just end up falling apart and messing up your paint.
  2. Pour different color paints onto a large cookie sheet and then smear them around. Your child can use his fingers or a spatula to reduce the messiness.
  3. Lay the leaves flat onto the paint and have your child press them down so that the entire leaf, including all of the crevices, gets covered in the paint.
  4. Peel the leaf off the paint carefully and give it to your child to press down onto a clean sheet of paper. Make sure he presses it down firmly so that as much paint as possible is transferred from the leaf onto the paper.

Straw Painting

  1. Have your child dip the end of a paper straw into a paint color of her choice.
  2. Show your child how to blow into the straw from the clean end and watch as the streaks and spatters begin to form on the paper below.
  3. Repeat the process with different colors and have her get creative with different designs as well.

Bubble Wrap Painting

  1. Use double-sided tape to attach bubble wrap to a rolling pin so that it’s covered all the way around.
  2. Have your child dip a sponge in paint and use the paint covered sponge to coat the bubble wrap rolling pin in the paint.
  3. Let your child roll their rolling pin across a large sheet of paper to create a textured masterpiece.
  4. You can repeat the process with other textured materials such as the mesh bag that oranges come in or even rubber bands.

At Prep Academy Schools, we believe in creativity and letting children express themselves by letting their imaginations come to life! Although we have our students participate in many fun activities right here in our classrooms, it’s important to let their creativity flow at home as well. We encourage parents to continue growing the gallery of artwork on the refrigerator and most importantly to have fun with their preschooler through activities like these!

Teaching Your Preschoolers the Value of Money

One of the most important life skills that anyone can acquire (even as a child) is the ability to manage money. At a very early age, attitudes and habits towards money begin to form. This is why it’s such a good idea to make sure that your preschoolers develop positive financial habits as early as possible. Teaching your preschoolers the value of money can be easier than you think. Here are some helpful tips that you can use to teach your child about the purpose and value of money.

Counting Coins

Once your preschoolers know how to count, you can start to explain to them the value of each coin and its relationship to other coins. For example, you can teach them that five pennies are worth the same amount as one nickel, and two nickels are worth the same amount as one dime. This will help them understand that all coins are valuable, but some coins are worth more than others.

A piggybank is another great way to help your preschoolers understand the value of coins. Teach them how to save coins in their piggybank and have them pick a time to empty it out and count the coins inside. Your children will enjoy sorting the different coins into separate piles and adding up the value of each pile.

Money as a Currency

Preschoolers can learn that money is a way of exchanging things. You can demonstrate this by giving your child a small amount of money (a dollar or two) and then asking them to select a piece of candy or fruit from the store. Explain to them that the money you gave them can be exchanged for the item they selected. This will help them understand how valuable money is in day to day life.

Young children can also learn that money is a currency through playing “store” and using play money. You can encourage this game by setting up a small “store” in your house and allowing “customers” (you can use stuffed animals or dolls for this) to purchase items using the play money. Having them set prices on different items can teach them that certain things are more valuable and therefore cost more money. This will help them understand that different amounts of money are used in acquiring different things.

Couponing

Teaching your preschoolers that couponing is a practical way to save a little extra money on an item is another good way to help your children understand the value of money. You can use coupons as learning tools for your children by allowing them to look through a coupon book with you and having them pick out which coupons they think would be the most useful for your family. Cut out these coupons and put them in an envelope.

The next time you take a trip to the store, put your preschoolers in charge of carrying the coupon envelope. Ask them to help you locate the items on the coupons. This is a valuable learning experience for your children on the importance of finding discounts and choosing the best deals.

Saving Money

One of the most important financial habits for children to learn is how and why to save money. A great way to teach this is by making a savings account for your preschoolers. Young children will get excited about this because it makes them feel like adults by having their own bank account. It is also a great way to teach them financial responsibility. If your children receive an allowance, encourage them to deposit a percentage of it into their savings account so they can watch the money grow over the years.

 

At Prep Academy Schools, one of our main focuses is on mathematics. Beginning in our Pre-K program, students learn basic number concepts by manipulating and counting real objects. We also work to instill life-long values of honesty, integrity, and responsibility, which are all great qualities to have when learning the value of and managing money.

6 Fun Ways to do Chores With Your Family

Teaching your children to do chores at a young age not only helps to lighten your load, but also helps teach them how to be responsible and self-reliant. When kids help their family around the house, they gain skills in management, prioritizing tasks, and basic organization that will last a lifetime.

Chores don’t have to be a bore though!  There are so many creative ways to have fun while doing chores. Here are some great ideas to get your family excited about the great game of cleaning.

  1. Provide incentives.

Tell your child that she can enjoy rewards from dusting all of the shelves (at child’s reach) in your house. A creative way to do this is by hiding treats, stickers, or pennies in, on, or under knickknacks or books.

  1. Make a list.

This is a great way to have your kids compete to see who can do the most chores. Hang a list of chores in the kitchen and give a different set of stickers to each child. Every time a child completes a chore, have him mark the list with one of his stickers. At the end of the week, you can see who did the most chores by the amount of stickers they have on the list. Give them a small reward, such as a few candies or a small toy, for being the Helper of the Week.

  1. Play “Go Fish.”

Use a basket of clean laundry to play go fish. Separate the socks among the players, leaving a pile to draw from. Each player, in turn, will hold up a sock and ask another player if she has the matching sock. If the answer is no, then the asking player has to take a sock from the draw pile. When all the socks are matched, the player with the most pairs wins!

  1. Get creative.

Use any leftover, unmatched socks as dust mitts for your child. Place your child’s hand inside the clean sock and teach them how to use it as a superhero puppet that gets stronger powers by eating more dust.

  1. Have a scavenger hunt.

Make a list of everyday items that never get put back – such as shoes, magazines, cups, and toys. Set a timer for five minutes and have your kids go around the house collecting these items and putting them back where they belong. Whoever picks up the most items and returns them to their rightful spots is the winner.

  1. Make a cleaning caddy.

You can turn any old bucket into a personalized cleaning caddy for your child. Grab a permanent marker and write each child’s name on the bucket, then ask them to decorate it with stickers or other drawings. You can put cleaning supplies such as sponges, dust rags, and paper towels inside. This is a great way to make each child feel special during chore time.

At the end of the day though, chores are much more than just fun and games. At Prep Academy, we believe that chores are a great way to help children reach their full potential. We encourage each family to play an active role in helping motivate their child to take on responsibilities around the house. By playing the great game of chores with your whole family, you are also helping develop one of our core values – teamwork. When children and parents work together on something, both will benefit from collaboration. Parents can always use the extra help, and children learn invaluable skills that will benefit them for a lifetime!