What Kindergarten Teachers Wish Parents Knew

  1. Kindergarten is not what it used to be. With increasing numbers of children attending preschool and schools across the nation instituting PreK and full-day kindergarten programs, students are not only entering kindergarten more prepared to learn but also have more time in which to do so.
  2. Kindergarten is a much more academically rigorous environment than many parents remember. Your kindergartener will be learning much more than how to share and use classroom materials. Be prepared to see your child’s reading skills blossom and her mathematical mind challenged.
  3. Volunteering in the classroom isn’t the only way you can help out.  Kindergarteners do a significant amount of hands-on learning and projects, meaning teachers often have a lot of prep work and non-budgeted expenses. Offering to provide the materials for a project or sending in staples like reclosable plastic bags, paper cups, napkins or tissues can save a teacher huge out-of-pocket expenses. Or, if you’re crafty, your child’s teacher would probably love to have you cut out or assemble project pieces at home.
  4. Learning is a full-time endeavor and you are your child’s primary teacher. Learning doesn’t begin at 9:00 and end at 3:00. Your child is going to learn a lot and be exposed to new ideas in school, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to keep that learning going. In fact, teachers rely on parents reinforcing newly learned skills as a way to promote ongoing scholastic success.

Help Young Children Make Healthy Changes

A new year means a new chance to begin healthier habits. And even preschoolers can make healthier changes as they grow.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says young children can resolve to:

  • Put away toys and and clean up messes.
  • Allow parents to help them brush their teeth twice daily.
  • Always wash hands after using the bathroom and before and after eating.
  • Help parents clean the table after eating.
  • Be kind to animals, and always ask permission before petting an unfamiliar animal.
  • Be kind to other kids, especially to those who seem sad, lonely or need a friend.
  • Talk to parents or other adults they trust if they feel scared or need help.

Babies in Day Care Catch Stomach Bugs Earlier, But Get Fewer Later

Adapted from

Babies in day care catch their first stomach bug earlier than home-based infants, but end up getting fewer of these gastrointestinal illnesses during their preschool years, new research suggests.

Analyzing a group of more than 2,200 children — 83 percent of whom attended day care before age 1 — Dutch scientists found a 13 percent higher rate of so-called acute gastroenteritis, or “stomach flu,” in day care children in their first two years.

Later on, however, day care kids seemed to enjoy a protective effect from their early virus exposure, and suffered fewer stomach bugs from ages 3 to 6 years than peers who hadn’t attended day care.

“Day care does influence the timing of [gastroenteritis] but does not increase [its] overall burden,” said study author Marieke de Hoog, a postdoctoral researcher in public health epidemiology at University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.

“It’s even possible that the protective effect persists beyond 6 years of age,” she added. “However, more research is needed to support that.”

The study was published online April 25 in the journal Pediatrics.

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Ensuring Young Children Grow Up at a Healthy Weight: Policy Opportunities to Prevent Obesity

Ensuring children grow up at a healthy weight requires action in a child’s earliest years-from birth to age two. Smart obesity prevention policies benefit us all by fostering a healthier population and reducing obesity-related health care costs over time

This policy brief gives an overview of the childhood obesity issue, highlights opportunities for prevention, and recommends five specific ways that child care settings and hospitals can help our youngest children get off to a healthy start.

To learn more about the wellness policy changes that have taken place in child care centers in Winter Park, Maitland, and Eatonville, click on the respective city’s name under “Early Learning Centers” on Healthy Kids Today.

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Farsightedness Associated With Literacy Problems in Preschoolers

smart boy with glasses

Article adapted from Education Week

Many young children have some degree of farsightedness—an ability to see objects far away more clearly than objects that are close up. Health providers are divided on whether moderate farsightedness even requires correction, with some arguing that children are able to compensate for moderate levels of distortion.

But a recent study found that children ages 4 to 5 with moderate farsightedness scored significantly worse on a test of preschool literacy—raising the question of whether eyeglasses might help make a difference. The research was funded by the National Eye Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Degrees of hyperopia, the medical term for farsightedness, are measured in positive diopters. Health practitioners generally agree that mild cases don’t need correction because children often outgrow it, but a child with hyperopia over +6 diopters should be considered for glasses.

Farsightedness is common in young children; a different NIH study found that about 21 percent of preschoolers have some degree of farsightedness, compared to 4 percent of preschoolers who are nearsighted, and 10 percent who have astigmatism, or an irregular curvature of the eye.

To read more, visit Education Week

Social-Emotional Development for Preschoolers

preschool early learning group play social emotionalThe importance of social and emotional development on a young child’s life cannot be emphasized enough. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, healthy social and emotional development is an integral part of a child’s health and wellbeing.  This development is defined as the ability to form satisfying, trusting relationships with others and includes, play, communication, learning, face challenges, and a full range of emotional behaviors. Key features of this development include how children interact with others and how they self manage their emotions and behaviors. In order to promote advantageous social and emotional childhood growth, studies indicate that introducing healthy positive factors in the classroom and at home are in the best interest of the child and will better serve their progress.

Social-Emotional Developmental Milestones

3 years-old:
• Copies adults and friends
• Shows affection for friends without prompting
• Shows wide range of emotions

4 years-old:
• Enjoys doing new things
• More creative with make believe play
• Cooperates with other children
• Would rather play with other children then his/herself

5 years-old:
• Wants to be like friends
• Likes to sing, dance, and act
• Is sometimes demanding and cooperative
• Can tell the difference between real and make-believe

Reference: Promoting Social-Emotional Development. Zero to Three

U.S. Youth Obesity Rates Hold Steady

Adopted from HealthDay News

Although obesity rates continued to climb among U.S. adults over the past decade, they have stabilized for children and teens.

More than 36 percent of adults and 17 percent of America’s kids were obese between 2011 and 2014, said researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These are the latest years for which national statistics are available.

Adult obesity rates climbed from slightly over 32 percent in 2003-04 to almost 38 percent by 2013-14, said lead researcher Cynthia Ogden, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Among youths aged 2 to 19, she said, 17.2 percent of children were obese in 2014, compared with 17.1 percent in 2003. “There is basically no difference [in the obesity rate in this group],” she said.

Obesity is a major cause of chronic disease, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, dementia and arthritis, said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, in New Haven, Conn.

Widespread efforts to encourage people to eat healthy and exercise may be having a positive effect, Katz said.

For the report, researchers used data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Other key findings for 2011-2014:

  • More women (about 38 percent) were obese than men (about 34 percent). No gender difference was observed among children and teens.
  • Obesity was higher among middle-aged (about 40 percent) and older (37 percent) adults than younger adults (about 32 percent).
  • More whites, blacks and Hispanics were obese than Asians.
  • Nearly 9 percent of preschoolers were obese, versus more than 17 percent of kids aged 6 to 11. Among teens, more than 20 percent were obese.

Adult obesity was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. BMI is a calculation of body fat based on height and weight. For example, someone 5 feet 9 inches who weighs 203 pounds or more has a BMI of 30. Among youth, a BMI in the 95th percentile or higher for their age and sex was deemed obese, the CDC said.

More information

For more on obesity, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.