COVID-19 has parents across the country wondering what the upcoming school year will look like for their children. Locally, many preschool and pre-kindergarten programs have been canceled due to the pandemic. This includes the Omaha Public Schools Foundation Parent-Pay Pre-K Program.

These closings are unfortunate because young children who do not attend a Pre-K program are missing out on the many benefits they offer. Research has shown that Pre-K is an especially important year because it provides children with their initial exposure to school and can set the tone for their educational journey. In other words, these programs get kids off on the right foot.

A report from some of the nation’s top early child education researchers, “The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-kindergarten Effects,” concludes that kids who attend Pre-K programs are better prepared for kindergarten than those who do not. According to the report, the best programs include instruction built on social and emotional skills, rich play, toys, games, art, music and movement. These complement explicit instruction focused on things like learning to count and matching letters to sounds and words.

Attending a Pre-K program offers children much more than an introduction to academics, however. Successful Pre-K programs teach children how to learn to learn, how to be curious about how things work, and how to find answers to problems. These programs also focus on things like self-control and behavior in the class, how to wait your turn, how to share, how to deal with frustration, and how to solve conflicts.

Many people believe that preschool and Pre-K programs are the same thing but this is not the case. Instead, Pre-K is a bridge between preschool and kindergarten. During the early preschool years, children develop vocabulary and language skills. By the time they reach the pre-kindergarten classroom, they continue to work on these skills but they also are gaining the confidence to work independently and complete more in-depth projects with their peers.

In Pre-K programs, everything students do takes on a richer quality because they are starting to do more abstract thinking. They are finding solutions to problems and taking leadership roles in the classroom. Pre-K programs prepare children academically for later school success by diving into the skills that they will use in kindergarten.

At Premier Academy, our Pre-K program will help your child get a head start on formal school. We have small class sizes, play-based learning, a handwriting curriculum, and much more. To learn more about our affordable Pre-K options in the Omaha and Elkhorn area, visit us at

Research shows that the interaction between a teacher and a child significantly impacts that child’s social and emotional development. However, it can be difficult to know exactly how to build such a relationship.

An article on, 4 Timeless Elements of Strong Student-Teacher Relationships, gets to the heart of what it takes to create long-lasting and powerful connections between students and teachers.

Here’s what it found:

  1. Consistent communication is vital
  2. An emotionally-safe learning space if critical
  3. There must be respect, trust and feedback
  4. Disparity is a barrier to learning

Almost everyone has a favorite teacher. What causes us to still cherish this relationship is how the relationship was developed, nurtured, and given space to evolve. At Premier Academy we work hard every day to build strong student-teacher relationships with the children we care for. To learn more about our affordable childcare in the Omaha/Elkhorn area, visit us at 

It is a commonly held belief that children need to form social skills before they can develop friendships. Child development experts tell us that the opposite is actually true.

Friendships begin to develop around 18 months, when toddlers are discovering their own sense of self. As a result, when a child finds another child who seems to be interested in the same things, a special bond can emerge. Of course, such bonds can be short-lived because of the limits of empathy, for example, but they form the basis for friend-making skills.

If you are the parent of a shy or introverted child you may worry that your son or daughter may not be able to make friends since he or she is uncomfortable in social situations. It is important to realize that there is nothing wrong with shy children, they simply have a different temperament. While you can’t make a child not be shy, you can help that child feel more comfortable interacting with other people, including their peers.

It is natural that you want your child to be confident and immediately at ease but some children take more time to warm up in social situations, making establishing friendships more difficult. The key is to work with your child’s natural temperament instead of against it.

What follows are some ways to make sure that you are doing all you can to make your toddler or preschooler comfortable in social situations without causing unnecessary distress.

  1. Give it time. Don’t throw your toddler into situations before they are ready. For example, visit a new childcare center with your child and stay there with them before they go solo.
  2. Praise them. If you notice your child talking to another child or exploring their surroundings, let them know you are proud of them.
  3. Model friendly behavior. Say hello to people you meet and be friendly. Remember, children are always watching how you react in situations and will model your behavior.
  4. Don’t make it a big deal. If your child is upset and clings to you, being overly comforting can send the message that they are correct in being afraid. Instead, no matter how much you are struggling inside, let your child know that you are confident things will be just fine.
  5. Avoid labels. If your child is resisting talking to others, avoid telling people he or she is shy in front of your child. Instead say that your child needs a little time to warm up. Your child will appreciate knowing that you are their advocate.
  6. Avoid comparisons. Every child is different. Comments like, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” will cause more harm than good. Instead, focus on helping your child become the best version of his or herself.

In the end, don’t project your own social expectations on your children. Some children prefer independent play while others want to be in the middle of large groups. If your child, no matter what their age, is happy with the status of their friendships, you should be, too.

Keeping Your Child Safe from the Summer HeatSome of the best memories your child will make are running around, playing outdoors at Preschool, and being active in the amazing summer weather. However, all this running and physical activity in the heat of the day can put children, and adults, at risk for heat stroke, dehydration, harsh sunburns and other related types of complications.

Heat stroke can be very dangerous and not always obvious if you don’t know the signs and symptoms to look out for. The good news is that parents and childcare providers can teach their children to recognize when they are getting too warm and take the right steps to cool off before it gets to that point.

These symptoms may indicate that your child is showing signs of heat stroke:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Muscle cramps

If the child is not adequately cooled off at this point, the symptoms may progress to full heat stroke and include elevated body temperature, hot dry skin, lack of sweat production, rapid pulse, difficulty in breathing and agitation and confusion.

To help you child avoid heat exhaustion or the more serious heat stroke teach them to:

  • Always ensure that your child brings water with them outside and that they hydrate regularly throughout the day. At Premier Academy, each child has a water bottle that they have constant access to throughout the day. Children should be limited to water or sports drinks. Avoid soda, energy drink or anything containing caffeine.
  • Wearing a hat helps keep direct sun off of your child’s head and wearing lighter colored, loose fitting clothing allows perspiration to evaporate and cool the body.
  • Apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection every time your child goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet.
  • Limit activity during the hottest parts of the day or when humidity is especially high.
  • If possible, encourage your children to find games that can be played in the shady areas of the yard or playground during those hours
  • Teach your child to recognize when they are feeling too warm and to immediately notify you or their daycare

Last, and most important, never leave a child in a car unattended or leave a vehicle unlocked if there is a chance a child can climb into the vehicle and get stuck inside. The greatest cause of injury and death due to heat stroke is related to children being left in vehicles, often for as little as five minutes, resulting in tragedy that could have easily been prevented.
For any other tips or advice on keeping your child cool in the summer months, ask our amazing teachers and staff at Premier Academy. We are committed to providing you with quality childcare that ensures your child’s safety and growth.  Visit our website at for more parenting blogs, tips, and tricks!

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Raising a Confident ReaderAs parents and teachers we recognize the importance that reading skills play in our personal and professional lives. We read on a daily basis, and as a matter of fact you are reading as we speak. Once your child hits the appropriate development level to being reading, putting together a reading plan can make later learning a much easier process.

Children who partake in early literacy activities at home or at daycare, have more confidence than children who are not offered this resource. Premier Academy has the tools and resources to encourage reading, as we feel increased confidence will enable your child to socialize better with adults and other children at your childcare center. Check out these tips that ensure reading will be fun and easy!

We Are Always Reading:

Road signs, billboards, magazines at the doctor’s office, shopping, reading is everywhere. While at the grocery store with your child, read the back of the cereal box, the magazine cover or the sale signs. Ideas live everywhere you and your child go, and actively engaging in conversation about them will expose your child to more information about the world.

Every Day Job

Your child’s ability to sit and listen for extended periods of time as you read, is an indication that your child is ready to start reading themselves! Reading to your child and having your child work on sight words and sounding out letters every day will help them have a longer attention span, better listening skills, and the ability to learn new concepts. These tend be more crucial when they start Kindergarten than being able to memorize the alphabet or count to ten. Don’t get us wrong, those things are important, but being able to pay attention, listen, and grasp new ideas makes what they’ll learn in Kindergarten a whole lot easier to understand.

Use Rich Vocabulary

How you speak at home and how your quality childcare center teachers speak around your children helps foster a healthy vocabulary; which makes reading easier. Using rich language enables children to better express their feelings and experiences. Using words like enormous instead of big or outstanding instead of good, gives your child the vocabulary to express themselves in more specific ways.

Have Your Child Read to You

If you read your child’s favorite book to them time and time again, your child may begin to memorize the words. In order to make sure your child is actually learning the concept of reading and not just memorization, let your child read to you! They may know all of the words as they are in order, but make them pick out letters and sounds; pick out a word at random and have them sound it out. Even if they are not reading everything correctly, this encourages your child to share reading with you and others they may encounter.

Comprehension is Key

As you read with your child, keep them involved by asking specific questions about the story, and let them fill in the blanks. Try talking about the theme of the book, lessons the characters learned, and ask your child their favorite part. This not only ensures that they are reading words correctly, but that they are comprehending what they are reading.

Not Just Books

Reading material comes in many different shapes and sizes, some of which may be more accessible to a new reader. Even things you wouldn’t think of like video games, magazines, and comic books all provide opportunities for reading practice. Other suggestions for adding reading into your home: playing board games, closed caption on your television, and having your child help with grocery lists are just a few great ideas.

Reading isn’t a Chore

Reading should be a choice, not a chore. Make sure there are a variety of books, magazines, and other materials available for your child to choose from. While it’s fine to make suggestions, children should be able to pick out stories on their own. Letting them control certain aspects of reading will help them view reading as fun and not just school work. Keep an eye on the reading level of the books your children choose. Let them stretch to the best of their ability, but be ready to help if they get discouraged.

Premier Academy promises to offer the best childcare to foster a love of reading in all of our kiddos!

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Is Your Child Ready for Preschool?What is the right age to start your child in preschool in Omaha and Elkhorn, NE?  You may worry about starting him too early when he’s not quite ready to grasp all of the new concepts that are introduced in a more structured, quality childcare setting. Or on the other hand, you worry about starting him to late and not giving him enough time to develop the skills necessary to succeed in Kindergarten.

If this decision proves to be difficult for you, you’re not alone. Parents seem to be strategically planning when to start their child in Preschool more and more these days. Certain childcare centers have cutoff birthdates for enrollment that can cause parents to worry about getting their child in to Preschool early. Other studies show that there are benefits to holding a child back to “buy another year” of maturity. This is so common, in fact, that it’s become popular in many parts of the country to have your child start school as late as possible. With a world full of articles and studies with sometimes conflicting results, how do you know what is best for your child?

The world of daycare and preschool isn’t always immune to trends, and the issue of holding them back intentionally to help them gain a competitive advantage is very trendy right now. But just like any trend, this one isn’t really proven to be as successful as parents may hope. At Premier Academy our preschool team can help you sweep aside the myths about early childhood education, and focus on the most important thing: Your child. The best way to answer the question of when your child should start Preschool is; when they are ready!

Signs That Your Child is Ready for School

Knowing when your child is ready to start school might feel like a daunting task, especially if you are not familiar with what skills and traits will make him successful in that environment. Don’t worry, Premier Academy is determined to provide the best childcare for preparing your child for Kindergarten. Here are some signs that your child is ready for our preschool program in Omaha or Elkhorn.

  • Is he comfortable working on art projects or looking at books on his own for a few minutes at a time? Can he focus on a task for short periods of time?
  • Basic skills.Can she (more or less) take care of washing her hands, eating, and the majority of her potty needs? Does she communicate her needs to you?
  • Has she spent time being watched by grandparents and/or other responsible adults? Is she comfortable being away from parents for a period of time?
  • Does he participate well with other children, not just playing, but in structured settings?
  • Predictability. Does she have a somewhat regularly scheduled day? Like eating, napping, playing at around the same time every day? Does she handle moving on to new activities well?
  • Can she handle the demands of the Preschool you’re considering with the amount of napping and activity she’ll get there?
  • Are the classroom size and the specific teacher a good match for your child?
  • YOUR preference.Would it work best for your family for him to go to preschool?

In the end, there is no perfect formula to decide when your child is ready for school. The best thing to do is assess your child based on the qualities listed above and make a decision that feels right to you and your family.  The staff at Premier Academy is here to offer expert advice about your child’s school readiness or any other area of concern. Come see us today!

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Understanding Quality ChildcareThese days, parents have so many different options when it comes to childcare. Parents can choose from childcare centers, home care providers, nannies, non-profit programs, state-funded programs, and so many others. There is a variety of titles for these services, including childcare, daycare, preschool, or early childhood education. Are these terms interchangeable? And how do they differ in terms of quality?

All of the options provide childcare, but saying “early childhood education” gives the impression of an additional educational component beyond basic care. High-quality care comes in many forms and under many terms. A program’s use of the term “early childhood education” doesn’t necessarily guarantee a high-quality program any more than “daycare” implies a lack thereof.

Regardless of what the organization is called, high-quality early education begins with some basic elements that children need to thrive. Children need and deserve teachers who understand them and treat them with kindness and respect. Families should feel that they are partners in their children’s care, who are wholly involved in the decision-making process. You will find all of this and more at Premier Academy!

Importance of Early Childhood Education

We see more and more in early education, the introduction of teaching methods and content designed for elementary-age children to the early childhood classroom. Studies about early education and child development have found that this could actually be extremely damaging to the growth and development of young children. The best childcare curriculum is based on a complete understanding of how young children learn – through engaging, hands-on experiences within a setting of comfort and trust.

Early childhood curriculum needs to take into account all developmental areas, including social-emotional, physical, cognitive, and language development.

Along with this, early childhood programs can and should address academic topics, such as early math, literacy, and science. The challenge lies in teaching these skills in a way that respects how younger children learn. When learning is introduced through a hands-on, playful, engaging curriculum with kind and nurturing teachers, children gain confidence and develop a lifelong love of learning. They enter kindergarten with “ready to learn” skills, such as being able to ask and answer questions, wait for a turn, follow directions, and work cooperatively with peers. Some children enter kindergarten already reading; others need more time. The point is that each child is offered a rich feast of learning opportunities and allowed to grow at his or her own pace.

Great early childhood development and care goes by many names. The difference between a quality early education setting and a mediocre one is not the location or the name. Good organizations hire and retain good teachers, are committed to training and developing their teachers, and focus on respect for children and families.

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Child Development through Structured & Unstructured Play

Structured play is the kind of play where there is typically an adult leader and a specific, planned way in which the play will go. For example, organized sports or dance classes are structured play. Premier Academy offers an array of structured indoor activities through various companies in the community. Playing a board game with specific rules and directions with an adult playing or looking on is also an example of structured play. Your child can benefit from finding the right structured play activities but it should be complemented with opportunities for unstructured play. These are the types of activities that are typically child-directed with no set goals or direction.

The Benefits of Unstructured Play for Kids

Why is unstructured outdoor play important? There are so many benefits. A few are below:

  • Children need more physical activity. Many sources agree that today’s children are too sedentary. In addition to 20 – 30 minutes of daily structured physical activity, children should get at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity daily, and more is even better. Premier Academy is dedicated to providing the best childcare and quality childcare. In order to achieve this, we provide an amazing indoor gym and huge outdoor play area so that all of our kids get their necessary large motor play time.
  • Unstructured outdoor play offers opportunities to develop executive function skills. Executive function skills have been compared to an air traffic control system in each of our bodies. These essential life skills help us remember information, filter out distractions, switch gears when needed, and sustain focus over time (Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, 2015). Among the many benefits of imaginary play, one is helping children develop these executive function skills. Children develop rules for the imaginary scenarios they create, remember and try out complex ideas, apply the rules to the scenarios as they go along, and regulate each other’s behavior. Given the time, children can extend imaginary play for hours.
  • Children who play outdoors regularly are less likely to be nearsighted (Shephard, 2015). Sunshine and natural light help children have better distance vision.
  • Social skills are enhanced. There are many different skills children learn from unstructured activities. Children who have opportunities to work together with their childcare peers towards a goal learn friendship skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, care and cooperation, all critical skills for school and life.

Younger Children and Unstructured Outdoor Play

Younger children need closer supervision than school-agers. You can help them get started by asking them what they could do with a basket of smooth stones or a net bag filled with balls of varying sizes. Then step back, keep them in view, but let the play unfold and resist the urge to intervene too much. (Note: children also benefit greatly by having you engage in play with them; but occasionally let them figure out the direction of the play with their peers without much adult intervention). Consider loose parts for a variety of open-ended play possibilities. Examples of loose parts include natural items like sticks and stones of varying sizes, sand, water, small logs, and leaves and/or man-made items like hula hoops, balls, jump ropes, stepping stones, trikes, wheelbarrows, buckets, tubes, large blocks, or sifters. The possibilities are endless with these kinds of materials.

Children want to play outside because it is fun. That is enough of a reason to offer it. Look for ways to build unstructured outdoor play into your child’s week with many potential benefits for your child.

Kindergarten Readiness 90% of parents cited academic preparedness as being the most important factor in their child’s quality childcare. They want to ensure that their children are prepared to meet or exceed academic expectations and possess the ability to apply their skills in reading, writing and math.

Teachers believe that children should enter Kindergarten with an ability to understand broader language and math concepts, as well as to be prepared for the social and emotional aspects of school. In fact, most teachers indicate they believe that social and emotional preparedness are the most important lessons of a child’s preschool experience in order for them to be ready for academic success in Kindergarten.

  • Teachers agree that the most important indicators of a child’s social and emotional readiness for kindergarten are readiness to accept new responsibilities and independence; excitement for learning; an ability to make new friends; and showing respect towards others.
  • Most teachers believe a child’s daycare experience plays a critical role in the child’s preparedness for school.

There’s no reason for parents to be worried about school readiness. Children who come from homes where parents or siblings read, spend engaged time with their children, value literacy, and/or have some social interactions with other children in child care, playdates or groups, or preschool are usually well prepared for kindergarten.

But there are some common myths of which to be aware.

  • Myth #1 – Learning the ABC’s is crucial to school readiness.
    The Truth: While this is important, reciting the ABC’s is really about memorization. It’s more important that children recognize letters and identify their sounds to prepare for school.
  • Myth #2 – Children need to count to 50 before going to kindergarten.
    The Truth: Again while it is important that children understand the order of numbers, when it comes to school readiness, it is far more important to understand the idea of 1-to-1 correspondence (each number counted corresponds to an object, person, etc.) and understanding quantity.
  • Myth #3 – The more teacher-directed the learning, the better.
    The Truth: Children understand concepts more fully when they are engaged in exploration and learning versus being told by a teacher. Teachers should be there to help guide learning.
  • Myth #4 – The more a childcare program looks like the school we remember as a child the more children will learn.
    The Truth: Young child learn best in an environment that allows them to make choices; to select their own materials for at least part of the day; and empowers them to try new things with a teacher who guides the learning.
  • Myth #5 – Children need quiet to learn.
    The Truth: Children need a language-rich environment where adults provide responsive language interactions and where vocabulary is regularly introduced.
  • Myth #6 – Learning to write is all about letter formation.
    The Truth: While letter formation is one part, even more important is understanding the idea of recording one’s ideas on paper. When a child makes some scribbles and says “This is my daddy,” write your child’s words on the picture and she will begin to make connections between spoken and written words.

Learning some “school skills” like lining up and raising hands before transitioning to school will certainly help make the transition to formal schooling easier; however, the best way to prepare your kids to enter school is giving them the chance to fully explore and experiment in an environment with caring adults who guide, support, and extend their learning.

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Reading to Children: Tips for Making Storytime MemorableReading is a perfect way to spend quality time with your children. While helping children to develop essential literacy and reading skills, stories spark children’s imaginations and create memories that last a lifetime. Here are a few simple tips from Barefoot Books for making storytime a memorable and enjoyable experience for families.

  • Ask your child for book suggestions. Even the youngest of children have preferences in books. Find out your child’s favorite books for storytime and then suggest some of your own from when you were a child. Don’t forget about classic tales and adventures, such as myths and legends about knights and castles. You can also choose to read bilingual stories or stories from around the world as a way for children to experience different languages and cultures.
  • Consider your child’s attention span or your family’s schedule. When reading to children, it’s not always necessary to read an entire book. Reading one chapter a night at bedtime or even a few pages at a time will keep your child engaged and excited for the next storytime with you. It also helps build suspense and recall.
  • Consider different times of the day to read to your child. Reading time doesn’t always have to be at bedtime. Some families enjoy reading with their children early in the morning as a special way to start the day. Premier Academy promises to provide quality childcare in Omaha and Elkhorn by helping to foster a love of reading in your child all throughout the day.
  • Keep your child engaged in reading. Ask questions along the way to help promote speech development and comprehension. Point out words that might be new to their vocabulary and talk about how the words are used and what they mean. Are there far-off lands that are featured in the book? Find them on a map together. At Premier Academy we incorporate books into our weekly theme and curriculum daily. We ask questions that evoke emotion and reflective inquiry, such as, “What would you do in this situation?” “Why do you think the character behaved in that way?” “Have you ever encountered a similar situation?” “Who does the character remind you of?” “How does the character feel?”
  • Read aloud together with your child. If you have an experienced reader, rather than reading to your child, try reading with him or her. Ask him or her to read a page aloud and then you read a page. Sharing the story in this way will help you discover new things about each other and elicit dialogue.
  • Be creative during storytime. Use your personality to bring children’s books to life. Using different voices for each character or acting out parts of the story can make story time even more memorable and enjoyable for you and your child.
  • Find different places to read to children. Under the trees in the evening with a blanket and flashlight; swaying on a hammock; cuddled up on a favorite couch; at the breakfast table; sitting on the front step watching the world go by…a place to read can be just as unique as the stories themselves.
  • Continue engaging with books after the last page. Look for creative ways to extend the learning of the book. Some ways to do this may be to do a family craft together based on the illustrations or theme in the story; listen to music that is in some way related to the story; research recipes from where the story is located and cook them together; act out the story with your child; write a sequel to the story together, etc.
  • Keep a children’s storytime journal together. It’s never too early to begin teaching children to write. Note the book or story shared, the date, the reactions of other family members. Younger children may wish to draw a picture representing the book. Older children can help complete the journal entry. The journal will become a beautiful memento to look back on the books shared during storytimes together.
  • Take pictures of your family reading. There are few things sweeter than pictures of family members curled up listening to stories together. You can use these pictures to illustrate the passage of time as family members grow, tastes in books evolve, or the books become longer as the children grow older.

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