Pre-K Success Home Page Fri, 19 Jul 2013 17:33:57 +0000 en hourly 1 Guest Post: Assess Your Child – Cognitively, Physically, and Socially & Emotionally Fri, 15 Feb 2013 18:08:19 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]>

Betsy from Classroom Caboodle graciously asked me to write an article for her blog. In this article I explain how to set challenging and achievable goals for your child.

How to Meet Your Child Where He or She is:                                                                                                                Cognitively, Physically, Socially and Emotionally

This article provides activities and routines to implement to give your child skill practice to further develop in these 3 areas of Kindergarten Readiness.

Were you able to assess your child’s unique strengths and weaknesses? If so, please share any assessments or goals for your child with other Pre-K Success parents and caregivers.

Thanks! ~Denise

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Welcoming 2013 Mon, 31 Dec 2012 15:15:56 +0000 admin

Without direction there is no hope.

Embrace the New Year with optimism and great expectations.

I wish you wisdom, strength and a clear direction for 2013.

Happy New Year!

Denise Finnerty

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It’s Never Too Early for Back-to-School Prep! Thu, 27 Dec 2012 22:06:24 +0000 Pre-K Success Continue reading ]]>

Betsy Weigle

By guest blogger and classroom teacher, Betsy Weigle.


We can start getting our little ones ready for the first day of school well before kindergarten begins. The first day of school is a very difficult transition, so any preparation we can provide for our children will help them focus on the fun of school rather than the anxiety.


Here are some seasonal thoughts for kindergarten readiness.

Winter: Let’s Talk

The sooner we can start getting our children into the habit of talking about school, the better. When they are young, we don’t have to ask our kids what happened during the day because weíre with them all the time. That changes when we drop them off at school…that’s when questioning strategies come in handy.

Parents can practice by asking questions whenever their children are away for a period of time (such as at daycare).

It’s not very effective to simply ask, “How was your day?” It’s more effective (and much better practice for school) to use specific phrases such as:

  • Tell me the greatest thing that happened today.
  • Tell me the worst thing that happened.
  • What do you hope you’ll learn tomorrow?

If we begin to establish these conversational patterns with our children before they go to kindergarten, we’ll find it much easier to discuss the day’s events when they are in school…and you’ll be much more informed when you need to speak to your child’s teacher.

Spring: Getting to Know Your School

We don’t want the very first time that our children walk to school to be on the first day of the new school year. Although it will be several years before they are walking to school by themselves, it’s still important to familiarize them with the route. This is especially true if they will be escorted to school by one of their siblings. Older brothers and sisters are not always the most reliable escorts, so it’s important for your little ones to know where to go if they are somehow left on their own.

Familiarity with the school is also very important. Young children can experience a huge amount of anxiety when everything is brand new. When they are familiar with their new school and playground, they are better able to focus on their teacher and their learning without undue stress.

Make it a habit to play regularly on your future school’s playground, and even walk through the halls before it closes for the summer. It’s an easy way to increase their comfort level.

Summer: Cover the Basics

Some of the skills our children will need in school are basic but very important for parents to teach. For example, children entering kindergarten will find their lives much easier if they are able to unsnap, unzip, button and unbutton all of their clothing… and their backpacks as well. The Pre-K Success Kit was created by teachers and occupational therapists for children of all abilities to build fine motor skills, independence and confidence by simply playing with these Pre-K Success Kit tools.

Believe me: Your child’s teacher will be overwhelmed with buttoning and zipping on first day of school – she will truly appreciate any child who is self-sufficient in these tasks!

Another basic skill that must be taught is the ability to easily eat lunch on their own, which means ensuring that your children are able to open the items they will commonly be bringing with them to eat. These may include yogurt packets, juice boxes, or reusable food containers.

I know from my time as a mother to small children that we often open these items for our children when they are young, not thinking that they may be left completely on their own and somewhat mystified by the process on their first day of school.

It’s a fun idea to have a “school sack lunch day” a few times during the summer before kindergarten just to be certain your children are learning how to avoid frustration (and hunger!) at school.

School is a huge transition for our kids. Itís important to put some thought into getting them ready for their first, big day of kindergarten so the fun of school can start as soon as possible.

Betsy Weigle is the creator of an elementary teaching website and the author of a K-6 teaching blog. She teaches 4th grade in Spokane, Washington.


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Sharing Hope and Feeling Peace Tue, 25 Dec 2012 16:29:42 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> This year it may be difficult to get in to the spirit of Christmas as usual. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, peace and goodwill towards all.

“Only a 53-percent majority of all Americans are ‘hopeful’ about their lives in 2013 while about 44 percent say they are rather more ‘fearful’ about the year ahead, The Washington Post reports Tuesday, quoting a newly conducted Washington Post-ABC News poll.” ~PressTV

This year many of us are asking for the gift of peace. One way to feel peace is by giving love and hope at home and around the country.

So many lives are forever changed as a result of the Newtown tragedy. These 20 children and 6 adults are now a part of all of us as we remember them in our hearts forever. At times like these we search for meaning and look for ways to restore peace in our minds and hearts.

This mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has tested our faith and brought us to our knees. And the 2012 presidential election campaign divided the country and its outlook on the future.

President Obama shared words of  hope for the people in Newtown, Connecticut and for all Americans in his speech at the prayer vigil for Newtown shooting victims. “God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory. May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort, and may He bless and watch over this community and the United States of America.”

Are you and your family searching for ways to share love and hope leading into the New Year?

Ways to Share Love

Reach out. Be a model of light for others. We teach our children well when we include them in helping others in a difficult time and showing acts of kindness. Each of us around the country can help by working together to heal from this life-changing tragedy.

  • Light a candle for the victims and their families.
  • Say a prayer together.
  • Mail a letter- The U.S. Postal Service has established a special P.O. Box to allow the public to send condolences and expressions of comfort to those affected by the Newtown tragedy. Address them to: Messages of Condolence for Newtown, P.O. Box 3700, Newtown, CT. 06470
  • Send an Evergram online. This site allows you to show your support by writing a note, or recording an audio message or video for the community in Newtown, Connecticut.
  • Be a part of the 26 Acts of Kindness Project.
  • Participate as a family to do something for you own community.

“A Broken heart will turn into a stronger one within hope.” ~Toba Beta

Ways to Share Hope

How do you talk to kids about this? Not out of fear, but out of a place of hope. Children are looking to parents for strength and reassurance. You can model healthy coping skills and your hope for healing by giving to charities and organizations that are committed to helping Newtown, Connecticut get back on its feet. Ask your children to help you decide on one of the following ways to help people in Newtown.

The United Way of Western Connecticut has set up a Sandy Hook School Support Fund. The Fund will serve the families and the community of Newtown and all donations will go directly to those affected.

Newtown Youth and Family Services is a nonprofit mental health clinic. They are accepting donations and continue to assess the needs of the community.

Newtown Parent Connection is a nonprofit organization that addresses issues of substance abuse, and bereavement group counseling on the first Wednesday of every month.

The Newtown Memorial Fund has been set up in order to aid families of the victims with funeral costs. Donations will also be used to design and erect a memorial in the coming months.

My Sandy Hook Memorial Fund was set up by the parents of the children who survived the massacre. All donations will go to the families of the victims in order to help with any immediate costs they might face as a result of the tragedy.

The band, One Republic, has set up a donation site to aid the families of Newtown. The site has gotten a lot of celebrity buzz and they have already surpassed their goal of $50,000.

Connecticut PTSA Connecticut PTSA is working with the Sandy Hook PTA and community leaders in Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary to offer assistance in a number of different ways. Sandy Hook PTA Winder wonderland snowflake project.

Red Cross The American Red Cross continues to provide food, water and emotional support for the community of Newtown, Connecticut.

Save the Children Save the Children is helping families in Newtown with grief counseling and support. The organization also put out a list of tips on how to support your children through this tragedy.

I personally feel very hopeful when I hear and read about people coming together and organizing efforts to include each and every one of us in helping the people in Newtown start to heal.

I encourage you:

  1. Join me in having this conversation about hope with your family.
  2. Find a simple way to share love, hope and peace with the people in Newtown, Connecticut.
  3. Share the wonderful acts of kindness you learn about with your children and ask them for their ideas for showing kindness to others.


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Simple Chicken Pot Pie Kids Love! Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:50:40 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> Good friends share recipes! This one is not only a family favorite, but it is now a neighborhood favorite; thanks to my friend Stephanie! And this recipe only takes 5 minutes to prep!

One of my sons’ friends claimed he did not eat vegetables, but the smell of this Chicken Pot Pie, right out of the oven, got the best of him. He decided to try a bite. His taste buds were delighted and he told his friends, “You can’t even taste the vegetables!” He now eats disguised vegetables in this chicken pot pie recipe.

Does your child claim he doesn’t like vegetables too?

I think the secret is in the Veg-All canned mixed vegetables and the Pillsbury refrigerated crusts! The Veg-All combination of vegetables is perfect for a chicken pot pie.

There hasn’t been a kid yet that didn’t like this chicken pot pie recipe!

Here it is, with coupons!

Pillsbury & General Mills Coupons


1 box refrigerated Pillsbury pie crusts, set out to soften before using

1 large can of Veg-All, or 2 smaller cans

2 cans of cream of potato, or any other creamed soup

2 cans of chicken or 2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon thyme (or not)

How to Make it

Heat the oven to 375°

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until well blended.

Spoon mixed ingredients into crust-lined pie pan. Top with second crust sealing and fluting the edges. Cut several slits in top crust.

Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

This is the perfect recipe to help warm up your family. It is a delicious lunch or dinner, especially for kids. 

What is your favorite comfort food recipe that your kids love? 


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Number of Children Being Diagnosed With Diabetes is Climbing Wed, 28 Nov 2012 16:25:46 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> According to the American Diabetes Association, Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Diabetes cases are up more than 100 percent in 18 U.S. states.

Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.

For too many Americans, diabetes is thought of as minor hindrance rather than a life-changing disease. Many parents and children know differently. From the devastating discovering to the daily food and insulin management, each family navigates the journey on their own. I hope my Pre-K Success audience becomes more informed about childhood diseases and what other parents are experiencing by reading these monthly awareness interviews with parents.

Katie and Julie Beck

November is American Diabetes Awareness Month. In an effort to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes, Julie Beck, mother of four, shares her personal story about their family’s journey with her youngest daughter Katie.

Denise: How did you discover Katie had Type 1 diabetes?

Julie: On the afternoon of April 7, 2010, we found ourselves watching our 3 year old daughter lifting off a heliport pad in a Life Flight helicopter bound for Loma Linda Children’s Hospital in Southern California. This surreal moment was something you only see on television shows, not in real life – not to our family.  Thoughts raced through my mind, “How will we find her at the hospital,” “How fast can we drive the 80 miles to get to her,” and “What if the helicopter crashes?”  It felt like utter devastation.

Reflecting back to the month leading up to that fateful day, I can see all the symptoms so clearly now.  It was textbook:  She was always tired but had stopped napping many, many months earlier.  During her very random and frequent naps, she would also have accidents and wet herself.  She was thirsty all the time, which I just chalked up to the fact that we were living in the desert at the time. Who isn’t thirsty when you live in the desert?  And, she had to go to the bathroom all the time. if you’re thirsty all the time, then, of course, you have to go to the bathroom all the time.

Two weeks prior to her going into Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), I was really sick with walking pneumonia; it was pretty bad, so when Katie started to exhibit signs of increased lethargy, a decrease in appetite, and fussiness, I chalked it up to her catching whatever I had, and didn’t think too much about it.

Then it dawned on me that maybe she had a urinary tract infection.  Her constant thirst and needing to go to the bathroom – I didn’t know – but thought it couldn’t hurt to take her in and get her tested.  After a urine test result came back, the doctor told me that it could be a UTI or that it could be diabetes-he would refer us to the lab where Katie would get a full work up.  I really didn’t know what to make of that information and I think our pediatrician was being very cautious until further lab results were conducted.

That afternoon, Katie was very sleepy and couldn’t stay awake. When she did try to eat, she would throw up very soon afterwards. Again, I just thought she was sick with the flu or something. The very next morning, April 7th, around 9 a.m., I received a phone call from our pediatrician who might as well been talking in code, because I couldn’t understand a thing he said.  What I did understand was, “Take Katie to the emergency room RIGHT NOW!!”  I immediately called my husband at work and told him to meet us at the ER right away.  It was all such a whirlwind.

And then – there we were…racing to Loma Linda, running in to the hospital to the front desk asking, “Where is the pediatric ICU?!”

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms aren’t alarming.

Denise: What is it like for your family managing Katie’s diabetes?

Julie: Katie’s diabetes care is a 24-hour responsibility for me to manage, as well as, to help educate her about her diabetes so that as she grows up, she will be very diligent in managing it on her own.  All four of our children are growing up understanding how their food choices affect their bodies, but especially how carbohydrates affect their blood glucose.  One of the most often asked questions we get is, “What can she eat?”  I have learned that Katie can eat pretty much anything she wants but we always stress the importance of making healthy food choices and portion control.  If there is a birthday party, she can have a very small piece of cake with most of the frosting scraped off.

In the beginning of her diagnosis, I stripped all the cupboards of practically everything because I was so scared to feed her anything.  I thought I was going to have to feed her eggs, cheese and meat for the rest of her life – all the “free foods.”  I didn’t understand that pretty much all foods have carbohydrates and that carbs turn into sugar.  Who knew??  I didn’t.

After five days in the hospital, I told my husband that I needed to go to the grocery store by myself and re-learn a whole new system of grocery shopping.  I was there for four hours and felt like I had never been in a grocery store in my life.  I must have called my husband a half-dozen times to ask things like, “What are sugar alcohols?”  “What is high fructose corn syrup?”  And, “If it says sugar free on the packaging, then why are there carbs?”  It was so confusing; I didn’t really know what to buy.

“And I remember looking at all of the other grocery shoppers and their carts, thinking it was all evil; food felt evil.

Information for parents and kids managing diabetes

Denise: What does a typical day look like for you and Katie?

Julie: The day starts with checking Katie’s “poke.”  For some reason, checking her blood glucose level with a finger prick is called “checking your poke” in our household. Katie is also able to “check her poke” on her own, or one of her siblings can help her. We have a little jingle for when she pokes her fingers We sing it while waiting the five seconds to see what the number is:

“Katie and I chant, ‘Is it high, low, or right in the zone.’ Then the number appears and we find out.”

When her blood glucose number appears on the display screen of her monitor, I write it down in a weekly diabetes tracking journal. Then we decide what she’s going to have for breakfast and I log the number of total carbs she will eat at that mealtime.  I administer her insulin (she’s on an insulin pump now) and then fix her breakfast right away.

About two hours later, she checks her blood glucose again and her number is logged.  If she’s hungry for a snack then we measure her snack, count the carbs and administer insulin to cover the carbs.  Lunchtime seems to come quickly and the routine of finger pricks, insulin, log book, continues for lunch, the afternoon snack, dinner, before bedtime, midnight and again at 3:30 a.m.

In the beginning, figuring out the meals was all consuming.  It was an all day, every day, exhaustive responsibility.  I’ve now learned to manage it with a little more ease, although I feel like I’m always learning something new.  Food is still front and center, but not evil by any means.

Can Diabetes be Prevented? Understanding the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

Denise: What can parents take away from your experiences?

Julie: From the beginning, we’ve made Katie’s diabetes management a family mission.  We forced the hospital to allow our three other children to be a part of the diabetes and nutrition training classes that we had to attend before being discharged from the hospital.  My husband was adamant about our children being involved in this journey…it wasn’t just Katie’s journey to make, but that her siblings would grow up having a full understanding about her care, food, nutrition, carb counting – and that they would be able to care for her and administer her insulin should she ever need assistance…now and in the future.

One of the best things that helped me get through the first few months was having access to another mom with a child who had diabetes – someone who had “been there, done that.”  My pediatrician put me in touch with this mom who had an older son with diabetes.  I called upon her for information and insight quite frequently.  The information she was able to give me was invaluable.  I really appreciated having her just a phone call away.

“Diabetes isn’t the end of the world.”

We have always taken the attitude that this is the way it is now and we are going to tackle it together.  We always include Katie on the decisions of where she would like to get her insulin shots and we never get mad at her or make her feel bad about it.  No matter how tired I am, no matter how guilty I have felt, no matter what – this was never her fault…it was just something that happened.

If anything ever had to happen to our children, then we will take diabetes any day over some of the other things that some families have to go through with their children.  Being one of those families that makes routine visits to children’s hospital to meet with the diabetes doctor, you certainly see first-hand some of the medical things that parents are going through with their children.  It can be heartbreaking.

“Katie has taught our family about sincere patience and compassion.”

Katie is a real angel in our family.  She shows all of us how to be better people every day; how to be more patient, how to be kinder to each other, how to be more compassionate; and how to be tougher.  The things she has had to endure in her young life are things that most people won’t encounter in their entire lifetime.  She’s a tough little girl…and so brave.

Julie and I encourage you to:

  • Pay attention to odd behavior and have your child tested if you suspect it may be related to something more serious.
  • Positively involve your entire family in your child’s diabetes management.
  • Read the highlighted links in this blog to learn more about how to help eliminate and prevent certain types of diabetes.
  • Please share your story and any helpful information for other parents.

More information:

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy lives. If you have or know a child who was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you may also be interested in our book, Guide to Raising a Child with Diabetes, 3rd Edition.




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Lessons for Giving Thanks Tue, 20 Nov 2012 21:56:11 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> How does a child learn gratitude?

Through guidance and practice. See below for a family activity that tells the story of Thanksgiving and encourages the sharing of one’s heart.

It begins at home with you as their teacher.

We all want our children to have a grateful heart.  Starting at an early age there are many “Please” and “Thank you” prompts given throughout the day in an effort to teach our children manners and gratitude. In teaching gratitude, we also hope to teach empathy. Children are given the opportunity to learn about other people’s feelings when they learn when and how to express gratitude.

We need to be diligent and patient in our efforts to teach our children gratitude.

Children are not born grateful; it is a learned behavior. It is a tricky concept for toddlers and preschoolers because they are egocentric by nature. It isn’t easy (or natural) for a young child to say, “Thank you” because they do not realize how their behavior affects other people or the impact their act of gratitude has on the future. They are preoccupied with living in the moment. Children need to be taught how and why to say, “Please” and “Thank you.”

You can help your child understand the concept of gratitude. 

Let your child see it in action.  And reinforce the idea of gratitude frequently by telling your child and your spouse, “Thank you” when they say or do something kind.  During Grace, my children now thank God for the meals I prepare for them (and understand that many other children go unfed). Their expressed gratitude is a direct result of hearing my husband model gratitude by thanking me each night for preparing dinner and sharing how grateful he is for it.

Explain the importance of acknowledging someone’s kind efforts. Grandparents desire and appreciate thank you notes. Give your child the opportunity to write or draw a thank you note to a family member or friend for a received gift. Also, share thank you notes you write and receive with your children.  Explain to them how it makes you feel to both write and receive one.

It is our job to teach and model how to give thanks. 

The more your child sees and hears you thanking people for their kindness, the more likely it is that your child will model that behavior.

There is more than one way to say, “Thank you.” Offer your child choices and suggestions how to express gratitude. It could be a phone call, a picture or a note, or even just a smile or a hug in a teachable moment.

There are many picture books that teach lessons on gratitude. Find a book with a gratitude theme then read and discuss it together.

Involve your child in a service project. Encourage your child to be a part of giving to others less fortunate. They will feel good about themselves when they see how their efforts positively affect another person’s life.

Celebrate Thanksgiving using these Thanksgiving Story Cards from iMOM. This fun family activity will serve as an important reminder to give thanks in all circumstances.

Print and place these loving Thanksgiving lunchbox notes from iMOM in your child’s lunchbox or backpack.

Grateful people tend to be happier and more optimistic. 

I encourage you:

  • To let someone know you are thankful for them and why.
  • Take turns with your child making a list of the things each of you are grateful for in life.
  • Be a role model of grateful behavior. Let your children witness you saying “Thank you.”
  • Put one of these iMom cards in your child’s lunch or backpack.

Please share below how your family teaches and models gratitude.

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Parents Navigating the Technology Trend Thu, 08 Nov 2012 16:49:09 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]>







According to a very revealing infographic recently posted on Mashable Tech,

39% percent of children age 2-4 have used a smart device, such as an iPad.

This growing trend of children using smart devices comes from the direct result of parents and caregivers sharing their smart phones and tablets. Parents are most often the first to introduce kids to technology for both learning and fun.

In my house it started with the Leapster and then the Nintendo DS, and quickly moved to my iPad.  It makes sense that kids are becoming more and more interested and well versed in tablets like the iPad, Samsung Tablet, Kindle Fire, and Nook to name just a few! We adults own them, and kids know how to use them.

Touch is a natural and intuitive process, making smart devices very easy for young children to navigate. More and more children are starting off with these touch screen forms of technology and will most likely continue to follow this intuitive-type user experience trend.

Did you know that nearly half of first time mobile tech users aren’t even in Kindergarten?

There is no doubt that many of us have witnessed a toddler or preschooler being entertained by a smart phone or tablet while waiting with an adult somewhere.

And whether you are the parent sharing your device, or the one witnessing a device being shared, the opinions vary on what the appropriate age for introducing such technology “should” be, and how much time a child “should” spend on a tablet or any other type of digital gadget.

Personally, I think the discussion should go beyond the age in which a child starts using smart devices and how much time the child spends on any given device. I think what app the child is engaging with matters.

Every child is unique with varying interests and abilities, so it is important to choose apps that meet your individual child’s interest and skill level in order to help your child learn and acquire new skills.

Smart devices are a part of children’s lives today (whether we like it or not), and parents and caregivers are responsible for the apps they choose for their children.

With this growing trend, I am happy to know a company like YogiPlay exists. YogiPlay was created in order to give parents insight into their kids’ learning and development within a network of personalized, high quality, fun and engaging apps.

The company, YogiPlay, is made up of a group of parents who believe that mobile devices have the power to be both fun and educational for our kids. Their mission is to help families turn mobile phones and tablets into truly smart devices! 

“As parents we care deeply about the experience our children have on mobile devices. These devices are part of their lives and we want them to have the best possible content to play, learn and grow with.”

-Michal Sellin, Co-Founder of YogiPlay

Pre-K Success and YogiPlay are both passionate about how kids learn. And both companies are dedicated to creating and selling quality, fun and engaging learning products for kids.

Pre-K Success and YogiPlay agree that as smart device usage and mobile content for children continues to gain traction,  parents need to be intentional in their app choices. Both suggest that parents look for content that is both high in engagement value AND learning quality.

There are many great mobile apps that are built with a learning focus, teaching young kids everything from their primary numbers and colors, language and literacy, phonemes and phonics, problem solving and critical thinking, motor skills and music, spelling and more!

Bibi’s Nest, Animal Farm, and Catch & Go are just a few of YogiPlay-Boosted games that I recommend for their educational value, motor skill practice, and cool graphics and sound effects! YogiPlay’s parent interface allows you to purchase and download great apps with confidence.


I encourage you to:

  1. Be selective with the educational content you upload to your shared device. Is it researched based? Does it come from a trusted source such as YogiPlay?
  2. Be intentional about how much time your child spends on any smart device. Remember to utilize other educational tools, like the Pre-K Success Travel Kit, while your child waits with you.
  3. Be a part of your child’s learning and development.

Please share your thoughts below.










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Guide Children Towards Greatness Thu, 01 Nov 2012 16:08:06 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> This blog post has been written by Colleen Carroll, EdD, a children’s leadership expert and family consultant. 

Have you ever met a young child who has surprised you by his intelligence, or amazed you at her linguistic skills? Maybe you thought certain children are just “born that way”. YOU have the power to support your child in attaining incredible skills by following our expert’s fundamental tips for guiding lifelong learning.

“Building” genius characteristics in a child is possible. Even though this pursuit requires time, energy, and commitment, it is an exciting journey with amazing long-term benefits. Every child is clever, creative, and able to learn. Each has an incredible capacity to absorb information and immediately use it. As a parent-educator, your ability and persistence to capitalize on this is significant. It can make the difference between the development of average aptitude and abilities or extraordinary intelligence and talents. The earlier you begin the better, but it is never too late in a child’s life to start.

Set the Foundation

The foundation step of building a genius is critically important. As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher, and throughout his life you will be the most important and influential teacher he has. You can help build the foundation of your child’s future talents and successes by introducing him to various subjects, activities, and concepts right from the start. Provide your young child with engaging activities to help develop his or her mind every day. Literacy activities are especially beneficial to support emerging readers and eventually create an interest in books. Try finger painting letters in bright colors on chart paper, or cutting out print from cereal boxes and favorite snacks and pasting them on card stock for children to “read”. Or for a musical experience, find objects around the house that make fun noises and create your own instruments to play. A coffee can turned over makes a terrific drum, while rice inside a plastic food storage container is a makeshift maraca. With a little ingenuity, you will begin to see learning experiences everywhere.

As he grows, let your child’s natural abilities unfold and his interests develop by fostering age-appropriate interactions with sports, crafts, musical instruments, and academic studies. Study your child. Does your son start dancing when music plays? Can he keep a beat with his hands? Maybe your daughter has a good arm with a ball, or is fast on her feet. These are signs of early development in music and physical ability, for example, and will become apparent at a very young age if you pay attention.

Be aware of gender biases by being true to your child’s actual interests. As these take shape and skill sets develop, cultivate continued opportunities to engage your child in the ones he gravitates towards and where he displays natural gift. Research shows that spending ample time on an activity is the one true way to improve that area. Practice really does make perfect. However, what you practice is the critical element. The Pre-K Success Kit offers hours of fun skill building activities. Build a child’s foundation by providing him with myriad opportunities—and then support the ones he enjoys and where talent is evident.

Make it Fun

The practice of enhancing genius-skills should be entertaining. Make it a priority for the whole family to enjoy the process. This may seem like a simple step but it is not one to overlook. You have certainly noticed that when a child is enjoying a game, it keeps his attention riveted. However, as soon as the fun ends, he is on to another pursuit. Be sure to create an element of excitement for long-term engagement. Consider hands-on play that supports learning and fine motor skills, such as building with Lego’s, Lincoln Logs or any other fine motor skills product. Help develop early math skills by providing gear, mosaic or tangram puzzles for geometric and spatial awareness. With toys that offer mental stimulation, your child’s mind will be productively challenged and connect fun with learning.

Floor puzzles promote motor skills and critical thinking

Be Intentional

Be intentional about where your family chooses to spend time, who your child spends time with and what your child spends time doing. Make the most of the valuable moments you have together in these early years. Plan activities and experiences that build “genius” characteristics for a life-long learner. Set time aside each day or week to introduce and engage your child in new activities and subjects. The added bonus to these efforts is the development of a strong bond with your child and memories that will last a lifetime.



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Where I’ve been…Working on 3 Way Wins! Wed, 17 Oct 2012 12:16:12 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]>  

Lakes Area Optimist Club 3rd Annual Run With Attitude Event

So many things are constantly competing for our time and energies. Because we are so busy, and have more than one important area in our life, it only makes sense to try to accomplish 2, 3 or 4 things at the same time! Usually, trying to multi-task is not only a lot of work, but stressful! I am talking about accomplishing 2 or 3 things that all make you happy, enjoying them all at the same time!

For example, I love spending time with my family and friends, volunteering my time to help others, exercising, and being outdoors. Therefore, I was able to accomplish four things that all make me very happy by leading my local Lakes Area Optimist Club in our 3rd Annual Run With Attitude 5K & 1 Mile Walk/Run event that supports children in our community.

Run with Attitude race will benefit at-risk youngsters

I noticed many people making an effort to win in 3 ways! Families were walking and running together.

Sports teams supported this community event and accomplished some fun and healthy team building in the process.

Companies sponsored this community event and colleagues participated in it together.

Public servicemen volunteered their time and spent part of their day out on the trails with the people they serve.

These are just a few examples of how I perceived people discovering 3 way wins. I can’t help but wonder about the other winning combinations that occurred that day. Whether racing, walking, volunteering, or just spending time at this event, everyone was happily “working” towards a 3 Way Win!

Fall is a great time to connect. There are many activities going on and great weather for spending time outdoors. Do you have plans for getting connected this fall?

I encourage you to try and accomplish a 3 Way Win:

  1. Find an activity to share with someone special.
  2. Invite that special friend or family member to join you.
  3. Participate in a local event that supports a cause you believe in.



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