Sports: Benefits for the Body and Mind

Sports, or any physical activity, are crucial for a child’s development and well-being. Whether organized by a school, a club or just a few friends in their free time, sports offer countless opportunities for a child’s physical, social and emotional growth!

Physical Benefits

Getting active is important for young children who are at a stage in life where physical development occurs quickly. Specifically, sports help with physical growth in these ways:

Motor skills: Hand-eye coordination and timing come with movement and practice. Sports are perfect for training both.

Bone and muscle development: Occasional resistance stimulates the growth and strengthening of muscles and bones. Too much can hurt growth though, so don’t let your child go without rest.

Stronger vision: Taking in an appropriate amount of natural light will decrease the probability of your child developing vision problems in the future. But on really sunny days, a hat or glasses should still be worn to protect your child’s eyesight.

Social Benefits

Almost every organized sport is played with teams. The competition, and the team dynamic itself, comes with perks and lessons for your child:

Team skills: Communication, understanding rules and the importance of sharing are vital skills your child will learn when playing sports.

Friend group: Your child may not like every person on their team but spending time with other children at practice can foster strong friendships.

Confidence: Making friends is not always easy, but playing sports with other children offers opportunities for your child to practice introducing theirself and feeling like they are a part of the group.

Emotional Benefits

When it comes to developing emotional traits and qualities, childhood is an important time in a person’s life. Organized sports not only help build a strong foundation for emotional growth, but also have some added benefits:

Self-esteem: Being a part of a team can give your child a sense of importance, and going to practice to get better can offer a sense of accomplishment as well.

Lower stress: “Letting it out on the field,” is sometimes very healthy. Sports can be a physical outlet for stress, leading to improved sleep and a longer attention span.

Emotional recognition: By playing sports, children will learn that they must control their anger and recognize their emotions in order to keep a clear mind and perform well.

Choosing a Sport

Ultimately, it should be up to your child what sport they would like to play. Moreover, you should accept and support their decision. However, there will be times when your child will want to quit when things get hard. At that point it’s up to you to evaluate what would be best for your child’s physical, social, and emotional development.

To get started you can go online to find local clubs for age-appropriate sports, or find out what sports your child’s school offers after class. You can also observe your child during playtime and see what they like to do!

 

Sports and Activities with Prep

At Prep Academy Schools, we passionately seek to guide the growth every student through an innovative curriculum and a healthy balance of work and play. We have a variety of after-school enrichment programs that children can join to be physically active and develop important life skills.

5 Healthy Hobbies for Preschool Children

Hobbies are activities that are meant to expand the mind, develop skills and pass the time. They can reduce stress or be a creative outlet, but most importantly, they help with the physical, emotional and mental development of children.

Hobbies give preschool children the chance to express themselves in healthy ways that let them practice setting goals and planning how to achieve them. Allowing your child to explore their interests and put them into practice can bring out the best in your child, especially when they dedicate themselves to a hobby that is geared towards growth.

Here are 5 examples of hobbies that are healthy for your child’s development:

Origami 

This is the art of folding paper into particular shapes. There are instructions online, and even books, on how to make boats, dogs, 3D shapes, almost anything! This is a hobby that works as an age-appropriate challenge for any child because there are so many structures to fold with varying difficulties. Origami develops fine motor skills, exercises patience and ends with very satisfying results that you can see and hold. Plus, all your child needs is paper!

Drawing 

This is a classic pastime for children because it can be done anywhere at any time. While the results might not be very organized for every preschool child, the actual process of putting pencil to paper is sometimes the most fun part. Whether it’s about what they make or how they do it, drawing teaches children how to express themselves in as many ways as they can imagine.

Collecting Rocks 

Any kind of collection would work, but rocks are a great place to start. There are all sorts of rocks of different colors, shapes and sizes that may catch your child’s eyes, and they can be found anywhere you go. It requires careful observation of nature and ordering skills. As a parent, it tells you a little more about your child too.

Gardening 

Getting your hands dirty is one of the best forms of learning by experience. It’s highly involved and very satisfying, especially when your child sees the fruits of their labor, literally! Gardening requires care and responsibility, which will benefit your child’s development in the long run. It’s good for the earth, produces healthy food and can be relaxing if your child wants it to be.

Reading 

If your child wants to further explore their interests, books are some of the best tools for it. There is so much information on pretty much anything your child could think of. All they need is a book, a quiet reading nook, and some time to themselves. Reading improves language skills, vocabulary and sometimes, creativity. They can read stories to play with their imagination, or books that show them how to make things. If knowledge is power, then books are batteries.

 

There are so many hobbies to choose from that help children grow and learn. They just need your help to get started! Many of these hobbies have lessons to learn already built in. Talk to your child and watch them carefully to see how they express their interests. You might be surprised by what they like to do!

What Prep Academy thinks about Hobbies

At Prep Academy Schools, we want to bring out the best in all of our preschool students. With the help of our caring, nurturing and certified teachers, we dedicate ourselves to finding out what each child needs to grow and develop their passions. Through hobbies, technology and experiential learning, we believe in helping our children excel.

Parenting Pointers on Sharing

The phrase, “sharing is caring” gets thrown around a lot for new parents trying to teach their children how to share. Now, does that mean a kid who doesn’t like the idea of sharing is a kid who cares about nothing and will grow up to be selfish? Not necessarily. It probably means you have a young kid who’s going through a healthy set of developmental stages. So don’t sweat it too much.

While these stages are not always easy to work through, they are quite common. Young children learn how to be emotionally attached to things, then eventually become aware of their own identity, building their persona apart from their parents. All of this usually happens, by the way, before the age of six. And the thing is, only after going through those stages can kids really understand how to share!

Learning how to share is a very lengthy process; just because it doesn’t happen overnight doesn’t mean your child is ruined or that you have failed.

So concerned parents, be not afraid, there is still plenty of time to help your kids grow into healthy and sound individuals. Many parents have gone before you and have studied the most effective ways in teaching how to share, offering words of wisdom on raising children. Here are three parenting pointers for teaching kids how to share.

1. Let your sharing shine.

Learning begins with observation; kids have to see something first, to do it later. If mommy laughs when daddy plays with his food, expect the spaghetti to fly the next night. The same works with sharing. Whenever there is an opportunity to share something with your partner, make sure the child hears what’s going on and sees how happy both of you are after the exchange.

Keep in mind though, if you want your kid to learn how to share, you’ll have to share a lot of things too. Make sure both of you are prepared for that and plan how these “sharing moments” will go.

2. Watch carefully.

Problems will arise during group play-time, they are inevitable. As embarrassing as they can be (and scary, when worries of how they’ll grow up begin to creep in), they should be seen as fantastic opportunities to learn more about your child. The point is, look to see what kinds of influences might have taught your child how to behave in such ways.

3. Don’t force it.

To us, Mr. Booboo is just a teddy bear. To your child, he is a friend, valuable beyond measure. There are some things in life that are just too important to part with. The fear of loss (and understanding loss itself) is extremely important in a child’s development, but that doesn’t mean your kid has to learn it the hard way. The last thing you’d want to do is create resentment early on in life.

Understand the barriers and build from there. Be reasonable about what can be considered priceless and what you can separate from your child. This, too, will have a huge impact on your kid’s ability to prioritize. No two children are exactly alike; not even twins can be parented the same way!

 

These are a few tips to consider when teaching your children how to share, but it’s ultimately up to how you want to mold your child. Some methods will work better than others, so it’s really about being attentive and learning as you go.

Sharing at Prep Academy

At Prep Academy Schools, children are exposed to real social interactions in a productive environment, led by committed teachers who help each student realize their full potential in any situation. This allows children to learn how to share through enriching programs that value each student’s emotional and developmental needs.

The Benefits of Character Education

During a time when school violence and bullying have become so prevalent, it’s important now more than ever that we teach our kids more than just literacy and math skills. That’s where character education comes into the picture. Character education is about teaching our children values and setting a moral foundation for them that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Fairness, honesty trustworthiness, perseverance, compassion, generosity, responsibility, respect, and citizenship are the main pillars of character education.

When we teach our children these core values in school at an early age, the benefits are plentiful. Below are some of the many benefits that character education provides:

  • Higher academic achievements: In a research study done by a Rutgers professor, the results showed that schools that focused on developing the moral character of their students proved to be more academically successful than those that did not.
  • Improved attendance: When a child learns how to be responsible, he will understand that going to school is one of his responsibilities. Not only does responsibility improve attendance, but it also helps them understand the importance of showing up to class and turning in work on time.
  • Fewer disciplinary issues: The focus on respect makes children value not only themselves but also their peers and their teachers. Respectful students take their assignments more seriously because they respect their own skills and abilities, as well as the teacher who gave them the assignment.
  • Reduced violence: When children are taught the concepts of fairness, compassion, and respect at an early age, they will use words instead of fists to solve their problems. This creates a learning environment of peace and harmony rather than tension and violence.
  • A feeling of safety: Both children and their parents have reported feeling safer knowing that they are attending schools where the other students also value the same character traits, such as compassion, respect, and trustworthiness.

Character Education at Prep Academy

Our curriculum at Prep Academy is designed to ensure the development of the whole child – intellectually, socially, developmentally and emotionally. Through age-appropriate activities and real-world scenarios, we help our students develop positive character traits such as self-worth, responsibility, self-confidence, and compassion. All of our teachers lead by example and serve as caring and nurturing role models for their students.

Is there a difference between daycare and preschool?

As you first begin to think about childcare options for your little one, you may become overwhelmed with how many choices there are. It can be difficult to figure out which early childhood education center will be best for your family’s needs. Of course, it’s not long before the big question arises: daycare or preschool? You may even find yourself wondering what the difference is (if any at all) between a daycare and a preschool.

To help you decide what will be best for your child, let’s take a look at some of the areas where daycare centers and preschools may be different:

Ages

Although each childcare establishment is different, many places that have ‘preschool’ in the name may not accept kids under the age of 2 or 3. Preschools typically focus on providing academic programs for children between the ages of 2 ½ to about 5 or 6. Daycares, unlike most preschools, tend to offer programs for a wider age range of children, oftentimes including infants.

Prep Academy Schools gives families the best of both worlds by offering a strong educational foundation for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years. Prep Academy provides high-quality education programs for infant, toddler, preschool, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten age children, also offering an enriching before and after school program for children up to 12 years old.

Curriculum

At a daycare, the focus can often be on keeping children on a healthy nap and sleep schedule, and entertaining them while their parents are at work. Some informal learning at daycare centers is often introduced through educational games and activities. Preschools, on the other hand, often implement a learning methodology of some type, such as Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, or Montessori.

Prep Academy Schools implements The Accelerated Program, a prestigious Flagship Early Childhood Educational Experience. This prestigious learning model was designed by Early Childhood Development Specialists with the accelerated student in mind. Educators at Prep Academy tailor their lessons based on the strengths of the individual student to make sure that each one is being challenged appropriately.

Kindergarten and Elementary Readiness

The aim of many preschools is to make sure that children are prepared to move onto the next level in their academic journey, which is usually kindergarten or elementary school. While some daycares may have a preparedness plan for higher education, it is often not their primary goal.

At Prep Academy Schools, one of our main developmental goals for our kindergarten students is to prepare children for future educational success by fostering literacy, mathematics, science, and art skills.

Hours of Operation/Calendar Schedule

Another big difference between daycares and preschools can be the hours of operation and the calendar schedule. While preschools are typically only open during your average school hours, and often follow public school calendar for breaks, daycares usually open earlier and stay open much later to accommodate working parents. Daycares are also often open year-round or provide camps during the summer and holidays when most preschools are closed.

Luckily, Prep Academy Schools offers an exciting summer camp program with topics in arts, humanities, sciences and more! Prep Academy also offers an engaging STEM camp with fun activities that keep kids learning and interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

 

At Prep Academy Schools, we mix the best elements of daycares and preschools to serve families in our communities with convenient, high-quality early childhood education. In addition to offering an advanced academic curriculum, Prep Academy Schools ensures that students are having fun and exploring their interests through additional enrichments such as physical education, foreign language, computer technology, music and art.

 

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!