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Aspen's Blog

Thursday, March 24th
Lara Knuettel, Director of Advancement

Finding the right preschool for your child is an exciting step in your life as a parent. Regardless of the type of program you're looking for, there are several crucial factors to consider. While safety and academics will be key to your decision making, where your child attends preschool matters.

A Kindergarten student practices measuring!

The highest quality programs are designed to provide ample opportunities for your child to socialize, play, learn and express his or her individuality in a nurturing and accepting environment.

Here Are 5 Important Things to Look For:

Intentional Play
In the context of a warm and nurturing environment, children discover meaning through exploration, learning activities, and games that integrate many content areas into one thematic unit of study. Great early childhood programs also recognize the power of play and the need for young minds to create and imagine.

Reading Readiness
A Pre-K literacy program thrives on play and hands-on excitement! Children should be deeply engaged in a myriad of active and meaningful learning centers that create the perfect environment for profound and important learning. In order for children to reach their full reading potential, it is important for teachers to lay a strong foundation in the fundamental building blocks of pre-reading. Find a program that is rich in these skills and gives children the opportunity to practice and hone their understanding of early literacy on a daily basis is important.

Nurturing Teachers
Teachers open the doors to learning by preparing an environment that supports exploration and discovery as the building blocks of knowledge. Children should begin their journey of becoming active and engaged learners with confidence, curiosity and imagination. The expertise of the faculty should shine through as they inspire each student to explore, discover, take risks, and make choices.

Math Focus
Four- and five-year olds are becoming skilled organizers and untiring negotiators who appreciate fairness, reason and logic. Time should be spent exploring their wonderful ideas and making sense of the world around them. Projects should be driven by children's interests and inquiry and may involve an entire class or a small group. The curriculum should be designed to allow children to express their increasing confidence and independence, while meeting the challenge of their noisy curiosity, energy and endless enthusiasm.

Family partnerships
A positive social-emotional atmosphere created by a healthy, supportive community increases the ease with which all learning takes place. During the early childhood years, young children begin to develop their confidence and self-esteem. Communication should be open and ongoing. Families and teachers should work together as partners to facilitate your child's initial adjustment and continuing development. Communication between home and school is the key to every child's success.

Visit Aspen Academy's Preschool

If you are looking for a high-quality preschool for your child, we invite you to visit Aspen Academy in Greenwood Village, Colorado. We remain as committed as ever to our belief that the role of a preschool is to offer children opportunities to form lasting friendships and develop independence and confidence in their emerging social and academic abilities. Teachers at Aspen Academy provide foundational lessons that match the individual readiness of each child to ensure that they experience success every day.

Monday, March 7th
By Brittany Javor, Communications & Community Strength Coordinator

Based on a Supporting Our Young Readers At Home presentation given by Aspen Academy's Instructional Coach, Scott McFarland, 93% of students who read 20 minutes a day will be proficient readers by eighth grade. Reading is one of the hardest things to teach, and a lot of learning to read stems from home.

Here are some easy takeaways from Scott's presentation that can get your young reader interested in books:

A group of Junior Kindergarten students surrounds a parent volunteer in the library.

Get a Library Card
The library is a great place for your child to be surrounded by books while also seeing other adults modeling reading behavior.

Keep Books Everywhere At Home
The more kids are exposed to books at home, the better. Display books in your study, living room, on your kitchen table, and in your child's bedrooms.

Encourage your kids to create reading nooks serving as a fun place for them to explore books, and have reading lights available to make reading more accessible.

Read More Independently
As the primary role model for your child, the more you model reading to them, the more they will want to read.

Create a habit of reading 15-20 minutes a day. Not on your computer, but reading a physical book or magazine so your child can understand what you are doing.

Read With Your Child
This one is somewhat obvious, but equally important. Read 15-20 minutes today with your child. This can include looking at pictures together, pointing out what you both find interesting, looking at different characters, and what you think the story about.

Feel free to read the book to your child several times until your child feels comfortable trying to read with you.

Be patient.
Learning to read takes time. Be supportive, and enjoy each step towards that milestone.

What tips and tricks do you have for supporting your young reader? Comment below!

December 19, 2014

By Dr. Mark R. Carney

Here at Aspen Academy, we have had an exceptional amount of illnesses and absences, the majority of them from the flu. Though many of our faculty, staff, and students have received their flu shots, this sickness seems to be one that cannot be stopped! Aspen parent, Dr. Mark R. Carney, offered to shed some light on the topic with inexpensive tips and tricks on flu prevention this holiday season:

"Lately, my patients have been asking me what can be done to prevent the flu besides getting the flu shot. The good news is there are several very simple, low cost or free things that we can all do to bolster our immune system, and I'll discuss Vitamin D, probiotics, anti-viral herbs and stress reduction.

1. To begin, there is a strong correlation with low Vitamin D levels increasing our risk of getting the flu and it is extremely common for people to be low in Vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and are safe to use when a blood test has confirmed that levels are low.

2. Another example involves the healthy flora in our digestive tracts. These are the good bacteria that are found in cultured foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. Also, these can be supplemented and have good data that suggests probiotics lower the risk of getting the flu.

3. There are many wonderful immune boosting herbs such as Echinacea, elderberry, garlic, oregano, olive leaf, and several others that each have anti-viral properties. These can be taken as teas, capsules, and liquid drops.

4. On a final note, one of the best defenses against viral infections is to lower our stress levels because stress weakens our immune system. Since the holiday season tends to raise our stress levels, I routinely recommend that my patients ramp up their meditation, yoga, journaling, exercise, laughter, or whatever strategies work best for unwinding life's daily tensions.

As you can see, we have a great amount of control over flu prevention."

Found other successful remedies? Share them with us by commenting below!

Dr. Mark R. Carney is an internationally-renowned naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist practicing in Denver, Colorado at Thriveology. He is an expert in holistic medicine and acupuncture, and he works with all aspects of family practice such as weight loss, thyroid and other hormonal imbalances, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and cancer patients.

December 12, 2014

By Allison Bukowski, Cognitive and Leadership Coach

No parent ever thinks, "I wonder what I can do today to undermine my children, subvert their effort, turn them off learning, and limit their achievement." However sometimes parents send the wrong message to their kids despite their best intentions.

Dr. Carol Dweck is a psychologist who researched achievement and success, with emphasis on the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Her findings illustrated that the way children perceive themselves and their learning abilities plays a critical role in their ability to learn. Here's the difference between the two:

Fixed Mindset

A fixed mindset believes intelligence, abilities, and qualities are fixed traits, and talent alone creates success regardless of effort.

Growth Mindset

A growth mindset maintains that intelligence, abilities, and qualities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Which mindset do you think is better?

You guessed it. The growth mindset enhances relationships, creates a love of learning, and increases motivation and achievement.

So how do we help our children to develop this mindset?

1. Be more intentional in how you deliver messages about success and failure.

- For example, in praising your child by saying, "You learned that so quickly! You're so smart!" These might seem like positive statements, but if you listen more closely, your child is hearing "If I don't learn something quickly, I'm not smart."

2. Praise children for qualities they can control.

- Effort, concentration, strategies, decision-making, and persistence are all qualities that influence a child's ability to learn. Acknowledge them!

- Children praised for their innate brainpower might develop the sense that hard work is not necessary.

3. Avoid using labels.

- Labeling children as "smart" or "clumsy" gives them little control over changing how they are perceived.

4. Teach your children about their brains and emphasize the following:

- Our brains are a muscle that can be strengthened with practice.
- Every time we learn something new, our brain's neurons form new connections and these connections multiply and get stronger.
- The more we challenge our minds to learn, the more our brain cells grow
- Eventually the things that were difficult to do now come naturally

I encourage you to refer to Carol Dweck's book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success for more information on how to instill a growth mindset in your children. Having growth mindsets will allow children to reach even higher levels of achievement and motivation in life!

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