Child Development

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Explore Your Creative Genius this Summer!

Summer at Stepping Stone School During Stepping Stone School’s Summer Break Camp at The Brainery™, students will investigate their own unique Creative Genius while exploring the various art forms that inspire us. Each two-week session learning plan will focus on a different type of artistic expression, along with a leader in that art form. Campers will discover the potential opportunities open to them to become the creative geniuses of the future. Our camp offers six specialty camps in one place. All of our bi-weekly lesson plans are based on our unique Platinum Learning for Life™ cu...

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Kindergarten Readiness at Stepping Stone School

This month, many of the children whom we have watched grow from infancy will be donning their cap and gown as they walk across the stage to receive their prekindergarten diploma. Our end of the year programs celebrate the accomplishments of our advanced prekindergarten classes over the past school year. It is always a bittersweet moment: a mixture of the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and the uncertainty which comes when starting the next chapter in one’s life. Engaging with our Platinum Learning for Life™ Curriculum, these children have come to identify many letters a...

Advanced Pre-K
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5 Ways to Help Children Take Ownership of Their Behavior

My four-year-old is obsessed with connect-the-dot puzzles. Revealing the hidden shape after connecting each letter or number in sequential order brings him a special thrill In life, helping children “connect the dots” or recognize the link between actions and results enable children to see the relationship between their choices and the consequences of their behavior. This month, Stepping Stone School teachers will discuss the Communities of Character™goal for the month: Ownership.  Children will participate in discussions, learning activities, and read children’s literature ...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Big Body Play

Puppies do it. Kittens do it. Elephants and monkeys do it.  And yes, young boys and girls do it. Rough and tumble or big body play (BBP) like running, climbing, jumping and even wrestling is necessary for proper brain development in children and beneficial for building relationships and developing healthier bodies. At Stepping Stone School, we recognize the need for young children to use large muscle groups in safe yet physically challenging ways.  Our shaded outdoor play areas are designed with safety in mind with equipment appropriate for each age group.  During the rainy ...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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5 Ways to Teach and Encourage Respect

In preparation for this month’s Community of Character focus, I asked my four-year-old about Respect.  He pondered for several moments and then provided an exasperated reply, “I don’t know; what is it?” I found myself challenged to come up with the words to describe this character trait and fell back on examples of when we have seen respect displayed through the actions of others. Respect is one character trait you may easily recognize when you see it and just as easily identify when it is absent. Partnering with you to encourage this valuable character trait, our Steppin...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Developmentally Appropriate Chores for Children

Spring is in the air! Which also means spring cleaning is just around the corner. This year, consider including your children in this annual home ritual. Through age-appropriate tasks, children acquire important social skills as they continue to learn what it means to be a part of a family. Children learn responsibility, how to care for materials and pets at home, and how to work cooperatively with family members to get things accomplished. The 2015 Texas prekindergarten guidelines suggest that right around the time a child turns four, he or she begins to recognize personal role...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Mathematics Development and Learning

The “M” in S.T.E.A.M. stands for Mathematics! Concrete experiences with math concepts and interactions with teachers have a direct impact on your children’s acquisition of mathematical skills. When children manipulate materials in their classrooms and learning centers, they practice math skills. All Children at Stepping Stone School: Use number concepts and operations Explore and describe spatial relationships and shapes Compare and measure Demonstrate knowledge of patterns For example, in block centers, children explore the differences in sizes and shapes ...

Infant
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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The Five Best Coding Toys that Won’t Break the Bank!                               

At Stepping Stone School, we are excited to unite technology and learning as we teach introductory skills in our early childhood classrooms by focusing on Coding Foundations.  Coding foundations include higher order thinking skills associated with the coding process, including tasks like analyzing, predicting, planning, patterning, sequencing, sorting, organizing, and evaluating. Before introducing children to the technology tools used for coding, we practice the concepts of higher order thinking skills through screen-free, hands-on activities basic to the coding process. These a...

Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Kindness Matters

February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, to celebrate, Stepping Stone School is teaching children about kindness through daily interactions by focusing on acting friendly, giving generously, and being considerate of others.   Acting Friendly Exchanging Pleasantries Encouraging children to smile or wave is a small act of kindness in which even our youngest children can participate.  As they get older, teaching children to use polite phrases like, “Nice to meet you” and “Have a nice day” provides kind and friendly interactions in everyday situations. Inv...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Toilet Training Toddlers

It is that joyous yet challenging time in the life of a child, the moment parents trade in their child’s diapers for the coveted “big kid underpants.”  Most children begin toilet training between 2 and 3 years of age, but each child will reach this developmental milestone in his or her own time. The following provides tried and true toilet training strategies from our own Stepping Stone School toddler teachers as well as expert advice from pediatricians.  Remember as you enter this stage, it is important to let your child’s classroom teacher know your intentions.  Talk about t...

Toddler
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Higher Order Processing Skills to Improve Resilience

When you look closely at the Stepping Stone School learning plans, you will see a set of parentheses under each activity in which teachers communicate the purpose of each activity.  We call these descriptive words our “Purpose Notations.” As a teacher, I often used the purpose notation “self-regulation” interchangeably with “self-control.” Not really understanding the differences. Recently, I read an article describing the differences written by Professor Emeritus and author, Stuart Shanker, “self-regulation is what makes self-control possible, or, in many cases, unnece...

Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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The Importance of Classic Literature

Research demonstrates that the single activity with the greatest impact on a child’s reading readiness is being read to on a regular basis. Each day, the children at Stepping Stone School listen to read-alouds, observe environmental print, delve into the classroom library, interact with our classic children’s literature collection and explore other books and printed material. These activities benefit children of all ages and support numerous pre-reading skills.   Daily Reading As Stepping Stone School, teachers read to the children in their classrooms and employ a number of st...

Advanced Pre-K
Infant
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Self-Regulation Tips for Toddlers

At Stepping Stone School, we strive to support our families through the many ups and downs of early childhood.  The toddler years are a pivotal time in the life of a child.  No longer infants, toddlers are transitioning, developing communication skills, and gaining independence.  This developmental stage is both exciting and challenging as we share in the joy of discovery, but also the frustration of toddler tantrums. Fortunately, experts provide several ideas to reduce the number of tantrums: Give Positive Attention. In a toddler’s mind, attention is attention, whether it is p...

Toddler
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Screen Time Guidelines

At Stepping Stone School, we continue to explore the latest research on behalf of our families to remain current with the most up-to-date educational practices regarding early childhood development.  In doing so, we have closely monitored the developing body of research surrounding the use of technology in early childhood education.  Our desire is to support families as they determine how best to balance healthy technology usage in their home while enabling their child to learn about the benefits technology offers. In recent months, much research has surfaced regarding the effects of e...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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3 Ways to Teach Compassionate Living

As this year’s calendar flips to its final month, I reflect on moments over the past eleven, noting certain instances which stand out in my mind.  These times are often the result of either being on the giving or receiving end of compassion.  Whether by tangible gifts of charity or simply the exchange of encouraging words, compassion takes many forms. In children, compassion may involve one child offering a comfort item like a teddy bear or blanket to a crying child.  Helping a friend pick up her toys or asking someone to come play.  Recent research supports theories stating childr...

pre
Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Helping Families Cope with Separation Anxiety

For many parents, it is the most challenging part of the decision to go back to work after having a child: the idea of leaving your child in the care of another.  This feeling of separation can be emotionally challenging for both parent and child alike.  At Stepping Stone School, the initial separation of the child from their parent(s) is of utmost importance. Rhonda Paver, M.A., founder and executive director wrote her master’s thesis on this topic and we continue to provide the smoothest transitions for families possible since our inception. Helping Parents Cope with Separation Anxie...

Infant
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Benefits of Play

Two-year-old Ellie set the baby doll in a chair at the table.  She balanced a stack of pretend food, a small plate, and a cup and set them on the table before her doll.  Ellie took great care to put the food up to the doll’s mouth and hold the cup to his lips.  Then, Ellie picked up the baby doll, patted his back and laid him carefully in the doll bed for his nap. Through her play, my daughter showed me just how well she knows her routine.  Ellie demonstrates caring attitudes as she fed her baby doll and gently tucked him into bed.  She is making connections between the symbolism ...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Importance of Sleep

I pulled up to my daughter’s elementary school at the end of her first day of Kindergarten.  I saw her waiting in the car rider lane with half of her hair pulled out of her pony tail and her thumb in her mouth – the tell-tale signs that my five-year-old was exhausted. Not all children are as obvious in displaying their exhaustion.   Dr. Michael Breus, clinical psychologist and a leading specialist on sleep disorders, connects a slew of behaviors with the amount of sleep a child gets each night.  Children who get enough healthy sleep are “optimally alert” which means they demo...

Infant
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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It’s a matter of Integrity…

This morning a parent told me, “I was so surprised… my children (almost 5 and 3) got themselves dressed, made their beds, and brushed their teeth without me asking them!”  I told her their actions demonstrate that she is consistent in her expectations and she has established good routines in their home. I heard her repeat those words to herself as she headed out the door, “consistent expectations and good routines.” Each month, we at Stepping Stone School focus specific activities to teach character development through our Communities of Character curriculum which is a ...

Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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The Importance of Reading Aloud

It was just like every other afternoon in fifth grade, Mr. Huff gathered my classmates and me together to read a chapter aloud from a book.  This particular afternoon, we had set aside a few extra minutes to finish reading Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  A coming of age story about a boy, Billy, and the two dogs he loved dearly: Little Ann and Old Dan.  After just a few short weeks of following Billy and his dogs through the woods chasing racoons, we came to the saddest part of the story and there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire classroom. That school year as we sat at our...

Infant
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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5 Ways to Encourage Cooperation

I heard excited tones from across the room.  Children had gathered around the block center in anticipation. Four children had been working for the past fifteen minutes creating a structure.  Their goal was to use every block in the center. Making sure everyone had stepped back and out of the way, Elijah stood on his tip toes to reach across the broad base of their structure and set the final block in place exclaiming, “It’s the tallest tower ever!” The class erupted, “Wow, that’s so big!” … “I want to build one next!” … “I wonder how big it is?” …  ...

Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Coding Foundations

This past Saturday, I sat waiting for my four-year-old to complete his swimming lesson.  Looking around the pool deck, I noticed several people (children included) who were engaged with electronic devices: tablets, cell phones, e-readers. I began to think about the many aspects of our lives affected by changes in technology both socially and economically.  Due to advancements in technology, the job market has changed doing away with some current jobs, but also creating new ones.  Years from now, there will likely be jobs available which do not exist presently, but are brought abou...

Infant
Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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5 Things to Do with Your Children Before School Starts

My soon-to-be kindergartener asks regularly, “Do I get to go to Kindergarten today?” We’ve marked the calendar, purchased school supplies, met with other up-and-coming Kindergarteners, but, the day is not coming soon enough for my excited five-year-old. Whether your child is entering elementary school for the first time or returning for another year, here are five things you can do to help your child prepare mentally for the challenging rigors of the upcoming school year: Get Reading. Beginning in infancy, reading together builds language acquisition and literacy skills. A ...

Advanced Pre-K
Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
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Four Ways to Teach Young Children Fairness

That’s How You Play Three children were sitting around a table playing Candy Land.  After a few rounds, Naomi, age 5, picked up the deck of cards and started flipping through them to find the Princess Frostine card which would move her piece to a space close to the finish.  Isaiah, age 7, spoke up, “You can’t do that.  You have to take the next card in the pile or it’s not fair.” “But last time, I got the Gingerbread card and had to move backwards, that wasn’t fair,” whined Naomi. “But that’s how you play the game. I would have to go back to the gingerbrea...

Advanced Pre-K
Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
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Loose Parts

Four-year-old, Ethan, was huddled over a pile of rocks he had collected from around the playground.  As I walked over to him, he told me he was looking for “interesting” rocks.  Naturally, I wondered what made a rock “interesting.” As I watched, he began sorting his rocks into several piles according to the level of interest: crystal-like formations, streaks of a different color, or a unique shape. I asked him to tell me which pile had more and then watched as he pointed.  Pressing further, I inquired as to how he knew it had more.  First, he compared the size of the piles sh...

Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
Toddler
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Nurturing the Development of Responsibility

Just after my daughter turned two, she moved into Ms. Alisa’s classroom at one of our Stepping Stone School locations. My daughter had a doctor’s appointment that day, so I picked her up early.  I walked into the classroom just as the children were transitioning between activities and was amazed to see each child pick up his or her toys and place them back on the shelves where they belonged. “How did you get them to do that?” I asked.  “They’re cleaning up after themselves and putting things away nicely… they’re only two!” Alisa looked at me very matter-of-factly, ...

Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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The Power of Touch

Over nine months of waiting for that moment when I would finally hold my child for the first time.  It is one thing to carry a child through pregnancy, but something completely different to touch his face, feel his tiny fingers wrap around your own, and to kiss his soft cheeks. Touch is the first sense to develop in utero and is the most strongly developed by birth.  Through the science of touch, we learn about the presence of neurons in our skin which relay information about our environment through receptors specialized for touch.  Our sense of touch enables us to learn about ourselv...

Infant
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Building Emotional Intelligence

I had just finished reading Alice Shertle’s book, Little Blue Truck to a group of preschoolers.  This picture book describes the caring gesture of a friendly little truck who helps a rude dump truck after it gets stuck in a huge mud puddle beside a farm.  The friendly truck drives into the mud puddle to try to help only to get stuck there himself.  One by one the farm animals rush to help Little Blue get out of the mud.  After much effort, the animals manage to push Little Blue out of the mud, who in turn pushes the Dump Truck out of the mud. I reread the Dump Truck’s words to Li...

Advanced Pre-K
Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
Toddler
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Learning Through Play

Children across generations no matter their race, culture, or gender participate in play: enjoying games, inventing stories, imagining and creating worlds within their world. Psychologist David Whitebread of Cambridge University states “Play is essential to their development.  They [children] need to learn to persevere, to control attention, to control emotions.  Kids learn these things through playing.” (Kohn, 2015). Behavior research connects play to children’s development at several levels: linguistically, cognitively, mathematically, scientifically, and socially.  Young c...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Teaching Ownership

In early elementary school, I started playing The Blame Game. My parents would confront me about a situation and I would blame someone else or something else for my choices. My dad’s solution - a song he made up and would sing with enthusiasm: “No more excuses, excuses are useless!”  Too embarrassed to stick around, I often missed Dad’s choreographed dance moves.  Through my dad’s refusal to accept excuses and his “delightful” little song, I learned to take ownership of my attitude and actions. As children grow, they often go through periods when they assume shifting b...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Benefits of Early Bilingualism

Infants have the innate ability to learn multiple languages.  According to research by expert Linda Espinosa, Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri at Columbia, the early years are an ideal time to acquire multiple languages. (Espinosa, 2015) Her research demonstrates when young children are exposed to a secondary language at an early age - no matter how short the experience and no matter the pairs of languages involved - there are observable neural changes in the way in which language is organized in the child’s brain.  Children as young as seven months, demonstrate highe...

Advanced Pre-K
Infant
Preschool
Toddler
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Block Play for Essential Early Development

It is a widely-held belief that block play is an essential part of early childhood development, but why? What do these seemingly simple toys help cultivate and why is it so vital to development? Here are some reasons you should consider forgoing those new expensive toys for this simple and superior option:   Problem Solving – Intentional “I want to build a house.” And unintentional – “if I want to make it high on this side how can I do it?” The child has to figure out how they will accomplish these tasks and answer these questions. Self-Expression – Blocks offe...

Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Journaling with Children

Most of us think of writing in a journal as a “diary” kept locked away or something we wrote in when we were teenagers. However, journaling is an essential literacy experience. Journal is defined as… Journal 1 a: an account of day-to-day events b: a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use. Given this definition, a journal can be a rich resource for all. For young children, journaling can be an opportunity to write the experiences and reflections of their lives. How can a preschool child journal if they cannot write? Literacy activi...

Advanced Pre-K
Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Three Stars and a Wish

The world we live in is hyper connected and technology driven, but in this fast-paced society we may have forgotten how to be present and connect with those around us. There are many times I catch myself checking e-mail or mindlessly scrolling through the Internet when my two beautiful children are playing happily in front of me. I am missing the most important moments with my children, and I begin to think, “Do I even know my children as well as I think I do?”   Taking time to connect and re-connect with those we care about and love is fundamental to our happiness, but how c...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
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What is Respect?

What is respect? According to four-year-old Julia, respect is “being nice to other people.” Pressing further, I asked “What does being nice mean?” She delightfully answered, “it means you give someone chocolate or a kiss!” As young as she is, this child recognizes that respect is the way you choose to treat another person.  “Being nice” as she puts it, is how one acts when demonstrating respect. How does one teach respect to young children? Demonstrate respectful behavior. Children often watch their caregivers looking for clues defining the expectations. If they ...

Infant
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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The Art of Kindness

In this busy world we live in, it is becoming more and more vital to remember to take a moment to be kind to ourselves and to others. Kindness is more than just an idea or a thing that we can do, it is a way of living. When we think of things we want our children to grow up to be, kind is definitely on that list. An act of kindness is something that can bring joy and harmony not only to the receiver but to the giver as well. The Random Act of Kindness  movement is sweeping the nation.  Sites like https://www.randomactsofkindness.org are wonderful resources for people and communities to ge...

Advanced Pre-K
Infant
Pre-Kindergarten
School-Age
Toddler
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ChildCare Exchange Magazine Cover Story feature in Jan-Feb 2017 Issue

Rhonda Paver intended to work as a teacher when she and her family moved to Austin, Texas, in 1979. Right off, she needed to find child care for her three children. Unsatisfied with the many large and small operations she looked into, Rhonda visited one final small house. The child care provider, looking exhausted, said she simply couldn’t go on in her business. Right then and there, drawing on her Alaskan family history of pioneering entrepreneurship, Rhonda decided she was going to build what she could not find. She and her family moved into that very building. The family lived on one s...

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The Marshmallow Test

Almost 50 years ago, Dr. Walter Mischel, psychologist and, at the time, a professor at Stanford University, conducted a series of studies on delayed gratification often referred to as The Marshmallow Experiment. During the study, Mischel’s team tested over 600 children looking for signs of delayed gratification and self-control. A child was offered a choice between one treat (a cookie, marshmallow, or pretzel) to eat immediately or two treats to eat later if they waited for a period of time (approximately 15 minutes). While the child waited, the tester would leave the room and then return...

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Nurturing compassion in the lives of children

December Character Development: Compassion I recently observed a precious exchange between sisters, four-year-old Katie and younger sister Ellie. Katie had already made several attempts to cross a low balance beam independently and so when she failed yet again, she crumbled to the floor and began to cry out of frustration.  Eager to comfort, Ellie toddled over to where her big sister sat crying.  Little Ellie practically folded her body in half to look her sister in the eyes, reached out her chubby little hand and patted Katie on the back, then leaning over a little more, gave her big s...

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Teaching gratitude and giving to young children

Generosity and gratitude are fundamental cornerstones of character development behind Stepping Stone School’s comprehensive Platinum Learning for Life™ curriculum. As our faculty model, our efforts begin in the classroom, practicing and teaching the value of sharing and caring for others. We promote these attitudes through charitable giving events throughout the year and teach monthly character building with focused learning activities. Research demonstrates that children develop an attitude of charity and compassion when they experience opportunities for giving throughout their d...

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Embracing Nature!

In the spirit of fall, I took my children to a nearby farm for some outdoor fun.  Squatting in a small field, I attempted to capture some cute pumpkin patch photos while the children sat on the itchy hay squinting in the sunlight: “It too bright, Mommy!” my three-year old says. My older daughter whines, “I’m hot!” And then the baby falls back, hits her head on a pumpkin and begins to wail. Outdoor time over… All too often outdoor time is grouped in the “Maybe later…” category of our lives or we shorten it to fifteen minute chunks of time and call it reces...

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November Character Development: Citizenship

How to practice good citizenship On the cusp of another presidential election, it may be that words like civic duty and voting are what come to mind when you hear the word “citizenship.” However, citizenship is much more than that – we don’t have to wait until our children are old enough to vote before we talk about making a difference in our community. We can begin teaching them how to be good citizens even now by: 1. Starting at Home. Set an example by respecting others and their property. Encourage them to clean up after themselves, follow the rules at home and at school, an...

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September Character Development: Cooperation

Two opposing teams stand on the cusp of a pit of mud.  A single rope with a flag tied to its center snakes through the ranks as the teams face off.  Tensions mount as each individual anxiously awaits the dreaded whistle blow which will announce the start to a summer camp favorite: the Tug of War!  The goal: Work as a team, pulling as hard as you can so you all don’t end up in the pit of mud. That “work as a team” part is key.  Unfortunately, many of us land in the proverbial “mud” before we realize that working together, cooperating, is key to many of life’s successes. Tra...

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The Benefits of Handwriting for Young Children

This past school year my kindergartener spent several hours a week learning keyboarding and document processing right alongside reading and writing.  As an up and coming first grader, he has been begging for access to my computer all summer long.  Beyond the games he can play, he has stated his joy at being able to write quickly while using the keyboard.  It is the same reason many adults enjoy using a computer versus writing with pen and paper: in the words of my six year old, writing by hand “Takes FOREVER!” But, the formation of letters through the sequence of hand strokes prov...

Advanced Pre-K
Kindergarten
Pre-Kindergarten
School-Age
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Why young children are thoughtful and curious beings.

“Don’t put that in your mouth!” “How did you get there?” “Yuck, don’t touch that!” Sound familiar?  Phrases like these are often heard erupting from the mouths of the parents of young children. So close to the ground, infants and toddlers often find the one lost cheerio that rolled behind the couch or wriggle their way into the kitchen cabinet with no plan of how to get back out.  Their eyes ever scanning their surroundings, touching everything, tasting anything, listening to the background noises we adults have learned to tune out - using each of their senses ...

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Why is it Fair…?

“Why is it fair that I have so much when other kids don’t?” kindergartener, Rachel Harris, pointedly asked. With her mother’s support and guidance, Rachel founded Let’s Help Kids, a nonprofit company which works alongside teachers and case workers to provide toys and experiences for the children of families who would otherwise not be able to afford life’s little luxuries. Over six years later, Rachel has helped over 2,000 children by providing presents for birthdays and holidays, Halloween costumes, summer camp tuition, swim lessons, and even movie tickets. It all began w...

Infant
Pre-Kindergarten
Toddler
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Responsibility. What’s that? 5 Actionable Tips to Teach Your Child How to be Responsible.

I recently spoke to an aquatics director at a large facility. The majority of her faculty is made up of young adults ages 18-24. Each year this director is surprised by the number of new applicants whose parents call to try to get them a job working in her facility. She refuses to hire those applicants. Why? Because if those individuals have not shown that they are responsible enough to find their own job, then she does not want to give them the responsibility to guard someone’s life while they are in the water. Responsibility is necessary for future success. How do parents teach th...

Advanced Pre-K
Infant
Kindergarten
Pre-Kindergarten
School-Age
Toddler
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The Effective Use of Computers with Young Children

Stepping Stone School recently made a major investment in new computer hardware and learning software which has been installed in every three year old through school age classroom at each campus. The use of computers with young children has been intensely studied since the early 1980s. Research has taught us that technology can change the way children think, what they learn, and how they interact with their peers and adults. It can also be used to teach the same old stuff in a thinly disguised version of the same old way. That is why Stepping Stone School has been a pioneer in the placement...

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Play Time is Essential

Today’s early childhood education research continues to bring evidence to light that play time is essential for social-emotional and academic development in young children. In The Importance of Being Little, child development expert Erika Christakis emphasizes that freedom to participate in unstructured play is crucial for children to inspire key learning connections. She says, "We have very crammed [preschool] schedules with rapid transitions. We have tons of clutter on classroom walls. We have kids moving quickly from one activity to another. We ask them to sit in long and often boring ...

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The Emergent Writing Philosophy of Stepping Stone School

At Stepping Stone School we are laying the foundation for success in literacy by providing children with early writing opportunities. Children begin demonstrating pre-writing skills as toddlers and these abilities continue to develop through the prekindergarten years. The Progression of Writing The first stage of writing development emerges between 15 and 30 months of age when children begin scribbling. Between 2 . and 3 . years, children incorporate circles and repeating lines into their artwork. These letter-like symbols may appear in a line or randomly on the page. At this age, most c...

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The Importance of Vocabulary Development

Vocabulary development begins in infancy and is the foundation on which children’s language and literacy skills are built. Research shows that the size of a child’s vocabulary is a strong indicator of future school success. At Stepping Stone School, your children develop vocabulary through developmentally appropriate planning, interactions and instruction from their teachers. Infants & Young Toddlers:  The very youngest are spoken to in soft, high tones that draw attention. Their teachers ensure that the children see their mouths while talking and that their actions correspon...

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The Benefits of Signing with Young Children

Our curriculum incorporates American Sign Language into all of our classrooms. We know that children build confidence as they increase their ability to communicate in signs. This leads to a greater confidence in oral communication as well. And, as in learning any language, it fosters a greater understanding and appreciation for the culture of that language. Signing is a kinetic act that stimulates activity in both the right brain, which is responsible for visual-spatial reasoning and long-term memory, and the left brain, which is responsible for processing language. When we sign wi...

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Discoveries in Nature

Children’s discoveries in nature can be made wherever there are trees, grass, dirt, leaves, twigs, sunlight or rain. We facilitate the discoveries by pointing out leaf shapes, insect life under a rock, ladybugs on a plant, worms in the soil and thorns on a rose bush. Of course, children really don’t need our assistance to make their own discoveries! They love the open-ended play of digging a hole in soft garden soil and adding a bit of water. They may make mud pies for a picnic or their own garden by “planting” twigs and leaves. Nature supplies the materials for play. Natur...

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Encouraging Self-Regulation in Young Children

Children’s self-regulation is closely tied to school readiness and success. As children develop and practice self-regulation skills, they are less frustrated and more successful, not only in school, but in social interactions and personal pursuits. Stepping Stone School teachers develop programming and environments that foster self-regulation skills for infants through school age. Each classroom offers opportunities for children to explore and take healthy risks while learning to respect the autonomy and interests of others.  Teachers listen thoughtfully to children, encouraging ...

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