PBS for a Happy New Year


With the busy holidays behind us, many of us are anxious to get back on schedule. Consistency in your expectations of your child at home as well as at school can be a comfort to your child.  If your child can serve himself at the table at school, they can probably do the same at home. Talk to your child’s teacher to find out what things your child is doing independently. You may be surprised at all they can do at home as well! Children learning self- reliance in a supporting environment makes for a happier classroom or home, and a more confident and competent child.  Remember to give Specific Positive Feedback when they do “wow” you with what they’ve done.  Happy New Year!

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Happy Holidays

We are in the middle of a season when many of us are taking stock in all the good in our lives, counting blessings, or giving thanks.  This holiday season reminds us each year to look around at all the positives in our lives.  We count how many guests will make it for dinner, not those not coming.

Sometimes, as a parent, it is too easy to get wrapped up in busy schedules, expectations not being met, and messes being made (and not cleaned up.)  Take a moment (take EVERY moment) in the coming weeks to bask in the wonder of being a parent.  Take a deep breath from atop your baby’s head, close your eyes and mentally record your preschooler’s laugh, or pause to note the size of the handprints you are scrubbing off the walls.  

We cherish the opportunity to be a part of those moments too.  From our hearts to yours, Happy Holidays!

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Disappointment is Good?


Ideas for this month’s paragraph are from a great article written by Jim Taylor, Ph.D. He goes into detail about the value of guiding your child through disappointment, rather than saving them from it.

Parental attitudes toward disappointment, or the perception that we’ve experienced a loss due to outcomes not measuring up to our expectations, shape how your child will handle these outcomes in the near future and into adulthood.

Childhood disappointment is actually a practice lap on the course to adulthood,” writes author, Allison Armstrong, “If you run interference whenever disappointment threatens, you’re setting kids up to run a marathon without ever letting them train for it.”

Parents can:

  • Allow your children to feel disappointment about the setback
  • Avoid putting a “spin” on the situation to make your children feel better
  • Offer a healthy perspective on disappointment
  • Support your children, but don’t give them a consolation prize
  • Help your children find ways to surmount the causes of their disappointment
  • Tell your children that they will survive these disappointments and will achieve their goals if they keep trying hard
  • Finally, make sure they know you lovethem regardless of their successes or failures.

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., teaches at the University of San Francisco. His specialty is the psychology of business, sport, and parenting.

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Learning is FUN…and sometimes messy.


Every parent has or will face the frustration of having their child’s clothes ruined by something their child got messy doing.  Sometimes it seems the newer and more expensive the clothes, the sooner it will have a marker stain, a scissor hole, or a friction burn.  It is important that our students come to school ready to learn and ready for success. (belts and potty-training don’t mix!) When we are outside, it is likely that your child will get dirty  (sometimes very dirty.)  All of these things are evidence that learning is happening!  Whether in the classroom or during gross motor time, your child is diving into the business of honing their fine and gross motor skills and expanding their understanding of the world through sensory exploration. Many sources even feel getting a little dirty is healthy for your little one!


The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play. – Arnold J. Toynbee

Thanks for all you do!

Jordan Sicht, Director

Academy South

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No One Is Born Grateful

Many of us have had the good fortune, opportunity, and/or drive to provide for our children even better than what we had as children.  As parents we can feel disappointed when a child falls short of showing what is deemed “appropriate gratitude.”  From an expensive scientific toy received as a gift to running all over town for exotic pet food or driving to another county for an afternoon of soccer, children forget to recognize the sacrifice others make for them.  Teaching children true gratitude, not just tossing out a quick, “Hey, thanks” is tricky, though.  Our efforts can do more than just make grandmas happy by receiving a thank-you card. “A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism — along with lower levels of depression and stress.”*

The article cited below has some great ideas on what we can do at home to create the kind of change we want to see in our children, especially in the holiday season that will be here before we know it.



Jordan Sicht has been with Academy of Early Childhood Learning since 2000.

He and his wife, Sarah, have two boys, 10 and 7.

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Helping Children Adjust to New Settings and Coping with Separation Anxiety

                                                                                         Soon some of our children will be experiencing new classrooms or are new to our center.  Some tears due to uncertainty, new expectations, and missing parents and previous educators is a natural and healthy part of your child’s development!  Separation anxiety can present as tantrums, clinging, or even just becoming quiet and withdrawn when dropped off. As caregivers and parents, there are a few things we can do to help:

  • Plan a visit to their new setting, showing the child you are comfortable with the new faces and routines.
  • Have a short and positive good-bye ritual. (Please never sneak away!)
  • Relate your return time to their schedule. (I’ll see you after nap, snack, and gross motor time.)
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings while encouraging appropriate behaviors.
  • Keep a regular schedule at home and with your drop-offs at school.
  • Discuss the use of a transitional object (small teddy to keep in their cubby for the first couple weeks) with your child’s teacher.
  • Make pick-up a reunion!  Sometimes work needs to wait – a precious little person has looked forward to your face all day!



Books to Help Children with Separation Anxiety

Appelt, Kathi, illustrated by Jane Dyer. Oh My Baby, Little One. Orlando: Harcourt, 2005.

Edwards, Becky, illustrated by Anthony Flintoft. My First Day at Nursery School. New York: Bloomsbury Children’s, 2004.

Penn, Audrey. The Kissing Hand. Terre Haute, IN: Tanglewood, 2006.

Rusackas, Francesca, illustrated by Priscilla Burris. I Love You All Day Long. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

Tompert, Ann, illustrated by Robin Kramer. Will You Come Back for Me? Boston, MA: National Braille, 2003.

Viorst, Judith, illustrated by Kay Chorao. The Good-Bye Book. New York: Aladdin, 1992.

Zalben, Jane Breskin. Don’t Go! New York: Clarion, 2001.

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Rules and Regulations

As parents and caregivers it’s important that we don’t fall into the trap of creating rules for no reason other than conformity.  Many rules we follow as adults are for specific safety and responsibility reasons; speed limits, food prep temperatures and expiration dates, carrying insurance on your property, to name a few.  When we start having rules just for the sake of conformity, it can feel restrictive and agitating. Sitting in the only car at a red light for several minutes when there isn’t another motorist in sight might show this frustration.  We need to create more “roundabouts” in our children’s lives.  If we explain what needs to happen (the objective,) and are willing to accept a variety of possible methods to get to that end, we as caregivers/parents are more relaxed and your child is more empowered, self-reliant, and better prepared for their future.  I hope this helps!

Jordan Sicht

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The Function of Behavior

Many of you have just conferenced with your child’s teacher and have seen the component within that is a behavioral checklist.  Often we discuss the cause, or “function”, of the behavior.  Young children can often act out of control because that is exactly how they’re feeling.  As an example, if a 2 year old boy swings his hand at peers when they are nearing the center where he is playing, we need to help him to identify his feeling of worry.  He may worry that someone will knock down his tower or perhaps that there aren’t enough of that toy to share.  We can then provide him with the tools he needs to resolve this conflict.  We show children how to share, take turns, or sign the word stop.  It is important for us to teach replacement behaviors that are realistic.  A child may need to be taught it is okay to walk away and get a drink at the water fountain in order to cool off.  If we examine behaviors as objectively as possible, it can help us approach them as teachable moments and also will serve to preserve our relationship with the child.  (They really didn’t do it just to make you mad!)

Enjoy your children!

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Self Control


We see the effects all around us of adults that haven’t learned self-control, the ability to follow rules and understand limits. Developing self-control begins at birth and continues throughout adulthood.  Children learn self-control through group play and from guidance given from parents and other loving adults.

In order to help toddlers cope with limits we need to provide guidance and intervene when appropriate. Things we can do:

  • Stop the behavior.  Firmly, but not angrily, tell the child, “No hitting, hitting hurts.”
  • Label the emotion.  We need to feel understood. “You are angry that he took your toy.  It’s okay to be angry, but we do not pinch our friends.  Pinching hurts.”
  • Offer an appropriate “Can Do,” like jumping up and down or stomping feet.  A favorite of mine is the sign for “Stop” as it can be expressed emphatically.
  • Help the child solve their problem.  Go to the friend together and ask for the toy back.  Or, give them livable choices: “Do you want to play music while we clean up the toys?”
  • Be a role model for handling frustration.  “I’m feeling frustrated that I can’t find my phone and we’re running late.  I’m going to take a deep breath before we look for it.”
  • Create a cozy corner in your home.  This is a positive and soothing place to go when you need a break, not a time-out punishment.

For more information like this on child development, including other ideas for social-emotional development, go to Zero to Three, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families at

Jordan Sicht

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April 22nd is Earth Day

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

-Sir Rannulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest explorer.

April 22nd marks the 48th Earth Day celebrated in the United States.  The concept was introduced to raise awareness for the many troubling environmental threats that Americans had been largely ignoring. At Academy of Early Childhood Learning, we would like to use it as a day to bring to light the importance of nature in children’s lives.  50 years ago, families and educators could take for granted that young children would spend time outdoors (Clements 2004).  Present day children, with growing interest in technology, have the world at their fingertips through Google and Wikipedia yet have never peered closely into a newly bloomed bud or watched tiny ants empty a beetle’s exoskeleton.  Tomorrow’s stewards of this incredible natural wonderland are in our classrooms today and are open to deepening their connection with nature (Rivkin 2014).  There are many psychological, sociological and physical benefits outlined in the book, The Great Outdoors.

Mary S. Rivkin, The Great Outdoors

Clements, R.,An Investigation of the State of Outdoor Play.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood

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