Ferndale Early Childhood Center

Dedicated to joy, laughter, love & happiness of every child

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Note from the Director...

Greetings families,

It's hard to believe just how quickly this year is going with only a few school days left until break! Even more amazing is the amount of growth that is being seen with each and every child; definitely my favorite part of the job! This newsletter includes a few tips and suggestions to keep stress levels down during the holiday, continue with routine, keep active and the best toys for speech and language development.

Thank you to all that joined us for our Annual Thanksgiving Feast! It was so wonderful to see so much of our school family together to celebrate. And again, at our Polar Express Family Movie Night.

As always, thank you for sharing your child with us and being an appreciated part of our school family!

Wishing you well,

Heidi Schmidt

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Toys to Encourage Good Speech and Language Skills - Preschooler

1. Kitchen and food toys are great

for vocabulary concepts. Focus on

shapes, sizes and colors. Who

has more/less? Work on asking

questions to request or take


2. Dress up costumes are a great

way to practice taking on different

roles. Take this opportunity to

use different social skills while

playing. What questions/comments

would a pilot make? They would

greet each passenger as they board

the plane. They might ask a person

where they are flying.

3. Dolls are a great way to

encourage speech and language for

both boys and girls. Work on labeling

clothing and body parts. Practice

feelings or emotions when the baby is


4. Blocks promote imaginative

play. Pretend they are food, a train, or

wood for a campfire.

Mrs. Hall's top 7 steps to Prevent Holiday Stress Overload for you and your Child

Children crave consistency, stability and routine. So how do you help them cope through the holidays with all the hustle and bustle? The following tips will help reduce stress for young children, enabling the entire family have a happier holiday season:

  1. Stay with your routine as much as possible.
  2. Give warnings of transitions. " You have two more minutes to play with the blocks"
  3. Spend at least 15 minutes a day of one-on-one focused attention on a child before guiding them into independent play. Sometimes love is spelled t-i-m-e.
  1. Don't over schedule: Leave time for naps and rest. Be realistic about what your family can do.
  2. Communicate. Sometimes children feel frustrated but they don't have the words to tell you. Be aware of visual clues and give your child words to use: "I'm tired. I'm hungry. I need to jump." Listen to them and answer their many questions.
  3. Toys: Take their favorite toys with them through transitions or time away from home
  4. Bedtime ritual: Share books and cuddle time before they go to sleep. Have your child tell you what they did today. Help them express their "walk through the day" remembering the positive, happy things they did

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Keeping Active - Toddlers

Christmas break is coming up and many parents may be wondering what are we going to do to keep the kids busy (and from making me crazy). It is easy to put them in front of a television, computer, or gaming system but there are other activities that will not only keep children busy, but it will keep their brains developing. Physical activity is very important for the health and development of young children and decreases their chance of becoming overweight, obese, or developing other health-related diseases. Other benefits include

• developing muscular strength and endurance;

• building and encouraging self-esteem;

• increasing stability;

• building strong muscles, heart, and bones;

• developing object control skills;

• developing locomotor skills;

• enhancing thinking skills;

• developing object, color, and shape recognition

• developing cardiovascular endurance.


Activities can range from simple to more challenging and from play to learning. However remember and ensure to keep in mind that all the activities are safe and appropriate for the child’s age.

Some types of activity that many parents enjoy are activities that teach chores and help parents around the house. Toddlers and preschoolers can help put away cans and boxes, wash or dust tables, stack papers, sweep dirt into piles (with a child size broom), make-up their bed (if it has smaller linens), and line up shoes. Games can be developed while doing these activities with a little creativity. Comparing size can be learned by stacking various boxes (i.e. spaghetti, cereal, baking soda). Learning shapes and grouping by similarities can be learned with round cans, square boxes, oval paper towel tubes. Grouping can also be done with colors. Once the groups are put together, practice counting the number of items in the group and have the child write it down. Grouping and counting can also be done with toys and/or candies.

Lastly, there are fun games. However, once again, sometimes a little creativity is needed. Matching card games can be done with picture or number cards. If your child masters just matching, the game can be advanced with speed (if you know the game Speed) or by keeping a group of cards or keeping score (an easy version of Gin Rummy without the face cards). Scavenger hunts can be done by placing certain toys/objects around the house. Just make sure to remember or make a list of all of the items! A hopscotch board can be made by coloring different shapes with different color on 5-10 sheets of paper and making a beanbag with a sock. Children will practice jumping and hopping and balancing.
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Developing Motor Skills

Your child's mastery of fine-motor skills will allow him greater independence. Here are some of the skills your youngster will perfect in the preschool years.

Another area of development to encourage this year is fine motor skills -- or use of the hands. Just as gross motor skills enable your child to perform important everyday tasks, such as getting out of bed and going downstairs for breakfast, fine motor abilities allow for increasing independence in smaller but equally significant matters: opening doors, zipping zippers, brushing teeth, washing hands, and so on.

When combined with increasing hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills also open new doors to exploration, learning, and creative expression. In fact, research shows that emphasis on purely intellectual activities -- memorization of letters and numbers, for instance -- is far less useful at this stage than pursuits that encourage fine motor abilities and hand-eye coordination. These skills -- rather than counting or reciting the alphabet -- lay the foundation for academic learning in later years. In order to learn to write or draw, for example, a child's hand must be strong and coordinated enough to hold a pencil steady for a long period of time; in order to participate in school sports, games, and projects, dexterity and coordination must be up to par.

Among the fine motor skills your child will perfect in the preschool years are the abilities to:

  • paste things onto paper

  • clap hands

  • touch fingers

  • button and unbutton

  • work a zipper

  • build a tower of 10 blocks

  • complete puzzles with five or more pieces

  • manipulate pencils and crayons well enough to color and draw

  • copy a circle or cross onto a piece of paper

  • cut out simple shapes with safety scissors

The best way for you to help promote these and other hand-related skills is to provide your child with a wide range of materials to manipulate as her imagination dictates. Good choices include blocks (especially the interlocking types like magnetic blocks, Legos, bristle blocks, Tinker Toys, and construction straws), crayons, nontoxic and washable markers and paints, paste, glue, modeling clay, an easel, construction paper, safety scissors, a smock to guard against stained clothing, coloring books, and simple sewing cards. This is also a prime time for puzzles, sand and water toys, and musical instruments.

Encourage Your Child's Creativity

Once you've provided your child with the tools that inspire creativity, stand back and let him loose, even if things are likely to get rather messy. Preschoolers tend to focus more on process than on product. They throw themselves into exploring the properties and possibilities of materials like paint, mud, sand, water, and glue without worrying about the results. In fact, when your 3-year-old proudly displays his latest masterpiece, you should try not to ask, "What is it?" That question may have never even occurred to him.

Instead, admire the work for what it is: "That's really wonderful! Tell me just how you did it." Then, encourage him to explain to you in his own words how he felt and what he was thinking about while he was making it.

The less control you try to impose over your child's creativity, the better. This advice especially holds true when it comes to the hand your child favors. One of the milestones of this age is becoming right-handed or left-handed. In fact, handedness is an important sign of increasing brain organization. By age 4, some 90 percent of children have become clearly right-handed, while the rest have become dedicated southpaws.

The main determinant of handedness is heredity, so it's best not to tamper with your child's genetic predisposition. Left-handers are no less socially acceptable than righties. And when pressure from parents or preschool teachers induces a child to switch, doing so usually takes a long-term toll in emotional upset and poor coordination.

So let your child lead the way. And don't be alarmed if her fine motor skills progress more slowly than her gross motor development. Fine motor skills develop more slowly because the kinds of delicate movements that enable children to manipulate objects (stacking and nesting blocks or putting together puzzle pieces, for example) can be learned only over time with a lot of practice. Unfortunately, while most 3-year-olds will run happily for hours on a playground, few really have the patience to sit and copy a drawing of a circle or a cross over and over. And keep in mind that the smaller muscles of the body (like those in the hands and fingers) tire out more easily than the larger muscles in the arms and legs, so endurance and strength must be built up gradually before your child's dexterity can improve.

There's one more reason why your child's fine motor skills progress more slowly: They are closely linked to cognitive development. In order to build a fort with blocks, for instance, a child must be able to think in a three-dimensional manner. Adding limbs, hair, or facial features to an incomplete picture of a person means that your child is capable of understanding that two-dimensional drawings can symbolize real people. Your child must mentally compare the picture with stored images of what people look like to figure out what's missing from the drawing, and he must be able to manipulate a pencil or crayon well enough to fill in the absent features.

The thought process involved in such acts is far more complicated than that for figuring out how to climb a ladder, chase a ball, or walk out a door. So it's important for you to be patient, encouraging, and supportive of your child's efforts. Whatever he masters today will stand him in good stead once he starts more formal learning in kindergarten and beyond.

If you would like help with different activities to strengthen fine motor skills please see your child’s teacher. Article from Parents.com

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