Joyful Parenting

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Family Traditions

The winter holiday season is often accompanied by specific activities we participate in each year like visiting family, giving gifts, feasting, lighting candles, and celebrating. These traditions often go back generations in one form or another.  Research demonstrates that family traditions are valuable for building strong family relationships and developing a sense of belonging between family members. When children are invited to participate in family traditions by talking about the reasons behind these special activities, the traditions become more meaningful often providing a se...

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Living a Compassionate Life

The holiday season often causes us to think of others.  What is it that a loved one needs physically or emotionally during this time of year? We ask ourselves questions like, “What can I do to make another person feel the joy of the season?”  Compassion involves not only recognizing the needs of others but also following through in action to meet those needs. Over this month, the children at Stepping Stone School will have opportunities to think of others as they learn about this important character trait.  They will create gifts and cards for families and friends. Teachers ...

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Welcoming a New Sibling

After almost nine months of preparation, most parents feel prepared to welcome a new child into the family.  But when the new child is a second or third child, how do parents prepare the soon to be older siblings? Various doctors and child psychologists have made several of the following suggestions: Make them friends before birth. Help your older child get acquainted with the new baby before birth by showing sonogram pictures of how the baby is growing. Let your child pat your belly, feel the new baby kick, and talk to the baby.  Tell your older child stories about when you were ...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
Toddler
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Developing Perseverance

Beyond intelligence and raw talent, the ability to push through challenges and continue reaching towards a goal is the best indicator of the future success of children. Persistence, as described here, is a character trait which can be taught and learned. (Crawford, 2016) At Stepping Stone School, we recognize the value of perseverance and encourage growth in this area daily.OurPlatinum Learning for Life™curriculum is specially designed to provide developmentally appropriate activities for children of all ages. Each child is provided the support and care she needs to become confiden...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
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Halloween Safety

With Halloween on the horizon, consider some of the following safety tips to keep you and your children safe during this exciting time of year. Careful Costume Considerations Think visibility One of the biggest concerns about Halloween Trick-or-treating is visibility, especially after dark.  Consider adding reflective tape to costumes and bags.  Encourage children to use glow sticks and flashlights with fresh batteries so they can easily be seen by drivers. Think safety Ensure your child’s costume fits properly to avoid tripping.  Consider face paint versus masks to improve your c...

Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Developing Integrity at Every Age

Each month, Stepping Stone School classroom teachers focus on specific activities to teach character development in an age-appropriate manner through our custom-created Communities of Character™curriculum which is part of our Platinum Learning for Life™curriculum. Our focus for the month of October is the character trait of integrity.  Integrity means following through with what you say you will do, doing what is expected of you no matter who is watching, and demonstrating consistency in both your words and actions. Experts have suggested the following to teach integrity to c...

Advanced Pre-K
Infant
Preschool
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Cooking with Children

Have you ever had Thunder Cake? It was my first successful from-scratch cake and I made it with a classroom full of four and five-year-olds. I was still fairly new to the world of Early Childhood Education and my principal challenged me to incorporate some cooking into my classroom highlighting the many benefits. Initially terrified at the thought of cooking with young children, I had brought in a prepackaged mix so the children just had to add water, stir, and bake - not a very engaging or tasty experience. Several weeks later, a colleague introduced me to the book Thunder Cake b...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
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How to Help Your Child Learn to Cooperate

I recently came across a cooperative board game in which three or four players work together to complete a task to win the game before they run out of time.  Interested, I tried the game out with my own children and here is what I found: While playing a cooperative game versus a traditional “single winner” game There was less arguing and whining between children, More laughing and encouragement of one another, and A quicker recovery time when the group lost the game. Working together, cooperating, provides an opportunity to come together for a common goal.  Whether pl...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Creating Routines: Promoting Love and Learning

From those earliest days after a child is born, parents begin employing new routines to meet the needs of an infant and keep up with the daily obligations of home and work. As children grow and develop, family routines change.  Research demonstrates when children follow a daily routine they may be healthier, better behaved, and could even perform better at school. (Education.com, 2018) Rules and routines create order and structure to the day. Knowing what to expect allows predictability, builds independence, and promotes emotional regulation. When creating routines, the CDC recommen...

Advanced Pre-K
Infant
Preschool
School-Age
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Preparing for Beginning Early Care & Education

We’re excited you’ve chosen to enroll your child sat Stepping Stone School.  We understand how changing routines, new encounters, and meeting new people can be challenging for both parent and child, and we want to make the experience as comfortable as possible for you and your family. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of suggestions to help you and your family feel prepared for this important and exciting transition. What can I do to help my child get excited about his/her new school? Talk positively with children about going to preschool. Discuss what it means, what ...

Advanced Pre-K
Infant
Preschool
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Best Childcare in Austin

What does it take to be voted “The Best Childcare in Austin” for 20 years?  It takes a dedicated, loving, family owned business, that truly cares about the families and children it serves. It takes over 35 years of experience and research into the best early childhood practices, and it takes compassion, nurturance, and commitment to the community we serve! Stepping Stone School has been voted Best in Childcare by Austin Family Magazine once again this year, making it 20 years we have been awarded this prestigious honor by the parents of the Austin Metro Area Since 1979, Stepping Sto...

Advanced Pre-K
Infant
Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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The Necessity of Beauty

Four-year-old, Jamie stood motionless in front of a flower.  Moving closer, I noticed a small white butterfly perched on the petal of a purple flower. Jamie reverently whispered, “See the dot on its wings, it has the same on both!” Going on he said, “It’s so quiet.  I like it.” Throughout the rest of the day, Jamie talked about the butterfly.  He thought about which flowers it may like best, where it may fly to next, he even wondered if he stood really still whether or not it may think him a flower. Jamie paused in the presence of a beautiful insect perched on a beautiful...

Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
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10 Safety Tips for Independence Day

My memories of Independence Day celebrations are filled with cookouts, visits from friends and family members, and staying up late to watch the fireworks displays.  My siblings and I would spend most of the day chasing each other around in the backyard and then join with our neighbors in the front yard to share in a cookout.  It was always an exciting time. Now with my own children in tow, the celebrations and fireworks take on a slightly different kind of excitement: keeping my children safe throughout the crowded parade routes, cookouts, and firework spectaculars. I have compiled ...

Infant
Kindergarten
Preschool
School-Age
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The Value of Drawing

Starting with Scribbles Handing a child a crayon for the first time is a game of chance often ending with the removal of crayon wax from his mouth.  However, once he is taught to use crayons with paper rather than as a teething toy, he soon notices the cause and effect relationship between his hand movements and the colorful marks on a paper.  The realization causes exhilaration: “I have control.”  Scribbles progress becoming more purposeful as he develops motor control. Around three and a half, children begin to connect the two ends of a line to form enclosed shapes. At this sta...

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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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Earth Day Activities for Children

Earth Day is April 22th and Stepping Stone School is celebrating the roots of Earth day as well as sharing an appreciation for learning through hands on exploration and investigation! The idea for a national day to focus on the environment was Gaylord Nelson’s idea.  On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans came together for a healthy, sustainable environment. In 1990 Earth Day went worldwide, uniting 200 million people in 141 countries bringing the importance of protecting the Earth and our environment to a global audience. After Earth Day 1990, a huge increase in recycling efforts ...

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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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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Seven Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits with Your Children

Stepping Stone School is your partner in raising healthy, happy and confident children. To that end, we serve balanced and nutritional meals and snacks and offer the following suggestions for encouraging healthy eating in children. Keep healthy food on hand. Keep snacks like fruits, veggies and low-fat cheese in a special place that children can access easily. It’s OK to have an occasional treat, but if you buy smaller packages of “junk food,” it’s easier to keep these snacks to a minimum. Make healthy foods fun. When offering something new try to mix it up and be crea...

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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The Benefits of Quality After School Care

Many parents rely on afterschool programs to care for their child(ren) after they get out of school until they can pick them up after work.  Often though, it is difficult to know which program to put them in when the benefits of one program are unclear as compared to those of another.  Many research studies over the years have shown that there are indeed benefits to enrolling your child in an afterschool program, but only after certain conditions are met.   A study done at New York University that was recently published in Science Daily entitled Afterschool Programs Environment...

School-Age
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Fun Things to do With Your Children!

When the weather turns wet and cold and school is out for the holidays, it is nice to have some fun and educational indoor activities in your bag of tricks to keep your children engaged and learning. The best thing to do is to identify things your children can do themselves. Aim for activities that engage the senses and are at the correct level of difficulty (e.g. not too easy, not too challenging). Create an “Activity Box” with coloring books, action figures and a puzzle to encourage independent play. You can update the activities in the box every few months. If you are looking for ...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
Toddler
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Traveling with Children 101

Destination – picked; Plans – made; Luggage – packed… But what about the journey there?!?! You plan a great vacation, but then remember you must travel for SEVERAL hours with young children before arriving at your destination.  You may be thinking to yourself, “Whoever said ‘the fun is in the journey’ did not have to travel with toddlers.” Developmentally, young children have very short attention spans and require interaction and physical movement – all of which can be difficult to accommodate in the confined spaces of a car or an airplane. Helpful Tips for Your ...

Preschool
School-Age
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
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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...

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Pre-Kindergarten
Preschool
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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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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
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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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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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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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What I Learned at Stepping Stone School

It seems that many of our most important life lessons are learned during our early formative years. As adults, we take for granted these instrumental lessons picked up while painting and playing in our earliest classroom settings. Excerpt from “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum “These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Wa...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
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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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Gardening with Children

“Gardens offer children perfect laboratories where scientific concepts literally come to life.”  -Pam Mohrmann, author and educator My three-year-old can tell you the parts of a plant, a plant’s life cycle, and which parts of the plant are good to eat. He can identify several insects that help our plants along with several of the harmful ones.  He enjoys pulling weeds, inspecting fruit and vegetables, and eating them fresh from our garden.  This knowledge is the result of numerous experiences “playing” in the garden. Shortly after his second birthday, I gave him his fi...

Advanced Pre-K
Preschool
School-Age
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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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What to Do on a Rainy Day in Austin?

Although this time of year can bring a wide variety of weather, we can keep our children active and challenge them physically and mentally year round! “Rainy day” activities can be especially helpful to keep handy for any time outdoor play isn’t an option. Physical activity is a vital aspect of development and for leading a healthy life. Benefits of Physical Activity include: Muscle Development Strong bones, muscles, and heart Building stability Locomotor Skills Developing Self Esteem Small and gross motor skills Cardiovascular endurance It is very import...

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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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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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October Character Development: Integrity

All the World's a Stage I sometimes feel as if life is a performance. I put on my makeup and dress according to the role I will play that day, exchange formal lines like “Good morning, how are you?” and move from scene to scene through the business of life. Though many only see the performance on the stage, my children are in a unique position to watch my life play out both as a member of the audience and a part of the backstage crew: they see it all. The thought is both terrifying and compelling: They are learning from me at every moment of every day – understudies, of sort, t...

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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...

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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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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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Nine Things Parents of Successful Children Have in Common

"While there isn't a set recipe for raising successful children, psychological research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success," states Rachel Gillett in her article from Independent, "Nine Things Parents of Successful Children Have in Common." According to a series of studies from psychologists at Duke University, UCLA, and other esteemed university research departments, these factors predict success: 1. They teach their children social skills. 2. They have high expectations. 3. The mothers work. 4. They have a higher socioeconomic status. 5. They've attained hig...

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