Teaching Children the Meaning of ThanksgivingThanksgiving is a special holiday: a whole day focused on spending time with loved ones and being thankful, without much of the commercialism that has crept into many other holidays. But before you pull up to the table to enjoy your delicious Thanksgiving feast, consider the opportunities this day presents to teach children about the important values of Thanksgiving, such as thankfulness, gratitude, and family.

Here are a few tips to teach and model important Thanksgiving lessons during the holiday:

  • Talk about why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Connect your celebration to the original story of the fall harvest celebration that brought together struggling, starving Pilgrims and generous Native Americans. Here at Premier Academy, we spend the week talking about the origins of Thanksgiving and what we are all thankful for!
  • Turn the television off during family time. Yes, there are the parades, football games, and specials, but try to keep most of Thanksgiving about the conversation and time spent with loved ones.
  • Talk about family traditions and tell stories. If your celebration involves multiple generations or multiple families, talk about traditions, “the good old days,” and your own childhood. Stories teach children about life and history.
  • Put aside differences. Families can be wonderful and enjoyable, but tension and stress are often a part of family get-togethers. Vow to put aside differences on Thanksgiving and focus on the aspects of your family for which you are grateful. While easier said than done, this provides an excellent model for children as they learn about relationships and family.
  • Talk about your Thanksgiving feast. Talk to children about where food comes from and how it was prepared. Everyone can share what their favorite food is and why.
  • Be thankful. Focus on the things you are thankful for; ask everyone at the table to say what they are thankful for or make a list of what your family is thankful for. To take this gratitude lesson to the next level, you could perhaps even hang poster board on the wall and ask everyone to write things they are thankful for throughout the day. Here at Premier Academy we are thankful for all of our families and children who make providing you quality childcare, such a joy!
  • Share & donate. Thanksgiving is a celebration of sharing and abundance. Develop a tradition of sharing with those who have less and involve children in contributing to a food shelter or other charities. This can help children to be thankful for what they have and learn the importance of helping others.
  • Create something for Thanksgiving together. Whether you’re cooking with your children or creating a craft, involving kids in the preparation or an activity is a great way to celebrate and enjoy family time. Don’t worry if the potatoes have a lump or two; the memory-making experience is worth it.
  • Have fun. Sometimes children spend long hours at the kid’s table while grown-ups talk and talk. Be sure fun family activities and enjoying one another is a top priority on Thanksgiving. Maybe you can start a new tradition like going outside and playing a family game of football, or even creating a Thanksgiving Trivia activity.

Here are a few fun facts to get you started:

>A ripe cranberry will bounce.
>All turkeys and chickens have wishbones.
>Canadians celebrate their own Thanksgiving every October.
>Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863.
>The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924.

From our family at Premier Academy to yours, however you spend your day, we hope you have a safe, healthy and delicious Thanksgiving with family, friends, and neighbors.

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Toilet Training in Child CareWe face many challenges as parents, but toilet learning may feel like one of the more daunting ones. And now that your child seems old enough to begin toilet learning, you also wonder how toilet learning works in child care. Relax. Like every other aspect of child care, you and your child’s teacher will work as partners in the process of toilet learning. Toilet learning while in a child care or daycare setting may be easier than it is at home. At daycare, your toddler sees other children visiting the bathroom, which can create a powerful incentive and example. Teachers are usually very experienced in toilet learning and can offer you a lot of support. Many schools have toddler-sized toilets and sinks, which can make the process much less intimidating. Ask for the teacher’s insights, and try not to compare your child to other children in the center. Soon, your days of changing diapers will be over and your toddler will seem oh-so grown up.

Tips for Toilet Learning at Daycare or Child Care

  • Get on the same page. Talk with your child’s teachers about the approach they use. They can help you watch for signs of readiness.   These signs may include staying dry for lengths of time, expressing an interest in using the toilet, and being able to pull clothes up and down. You and your child’s teachers will work together to develop a plan for toilet learning. Share your own philosophy and any concerns you have. Mutually agree on how you’ll handle toilet learning and make sure that you consistently follow the plan during the evenings and weekends.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. An essential part of Premier Academy’s toddler care toilet training plan involves clear communication with our parents! We want to let you know what is working for us and we welcome any suggestions from you about what works best for your child. Let your child’s teacher know when your child last went potty when you drop off in the morning. Ask for the same information when you pick your child up at the end of the day, and read the Daily Experience Sheet for detailed information. Find out about the times your child uses the bathroom at school and try to duplicate this schedule at home.
  • Come prepared. Accidents are bound to happen during the first few weeks of toilet learning, so make sure your toddler is prepared to cope with potty accidents. Be sure to send your child to daycare with plenty of clean clothes. Skip the onesies, blue jeans, or overalls, and opt for soft, loose pants with an elastic waistband. These clothes help your child be more independent, and they also simplify the inevitable changes. Send your child in shoes that come off easily and don’t forget extra socks.
  • Expect setbacks. Toilet learning is a major developmental milestone in toddler care and it’s very common for children to make progress and then regress. Try not to get discouraged or express frustration to your toddler. Make sure that your child is really ready before you start toilet learning. The age of readiness varies from child to child, but most kids are ready to toilet learn between 20 and 30 months. Take it slow and use a relaxed, positive approach. Talk with your child’s teacher if you have questions or just need some extra support.
  • Push the fruits and veggies. What does nutrition have to do with toilet learning? Constipation is a common problem when children don’t eat enough fiber. Children sometimes develop a fear of toileting if they’ve experienced painful stools. Eating fruits and vegetables helps keep their digestive system regulated.
  • Accommodate special needs. A child with developmental or physical delays may need extra support to toilet learn. Talk with your child’s teacher about ways to help, which might include delaying toilet learning, using a visual chart, or practicing the steps of pulling down pants or washing hands prior to starting toilet learning.

As you go through the toilet learning process, try to keep perspective. Some children are very motivated and learn to use the toilet quickly. Others need more time before they completely master this developmental task. Remember that both you and your child are doing the best you can. Before long, your child will be diaper-free and ready for the next adventure.

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Teaching Your Child Healthy Eating HabitsIt’s never too early to teach your children healthy eating habits! Premier Academy is here to help. As we know, children often times shy away from the raw veggie tray and the fruit salad bowl, preferring a grab-and-go bag of chips or high-sugar cereal instead. But healthy eating isn’t all about broccoli and peas. It’s about habits and routines.

Here are a few ways to help your child get a healthy start on eating habits:

  • Remember that eating habits are established early and often are resistant to change.
    This is an important area of your child’s development, and you should not hesitate to speak with your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about health, growth, or weight. Premier Academy is committed to working with parents to make sure all of our child’s dietary and health needs are met.
  • Make dinnertime together a priority (no matter how difficult).
    The family dinner is an endangered institution, but it is a hugely valuable routine that is critical in establishing lifelong patterns and creating a connection to family memories. This can be a time for interesting discussions that also build language skills. Children at Premier Academy are welcome to socialize with their friends and teachers during lunch time. Posing a daily question, such as, “The best thing about my day so far…” can become a family ritual to which everyone looks forward.
  • Involve your children in the meal preparations.
    Children often love to help by washing veggies, peeling carrots, breaking lettuce, or helping to set the table.
  • At mealtime, have age-appropriate table expectations.

Allow children to serve themselves when possible. At Premier Academy we encourage building confidence and independence. Encourage small portions, but let them know that they can have second helpings. Model serving portions that aren’t too hefty. Resist the temptation to make your child “clean their plate” as this can result in patterns of overeating. Allowing children to stop eating when they are no longer hungry can prevent this pattern.

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Family Fitness IdeasIf we didn’t know it before, we know it now – being physically active and focusing on fitness is an important life priority beginning in early childhood to build healthy habits. At Premier Academy we provide quality childcare in Omaha and Elkhorn, Nebraska, and we believe that not only does regular exercise and physical activity increase physical and cardiovascular health, it can improve sleep, reduce stress, increase attention and learning, and minimize illness. Because the habits and preferences children develop early in life will shape their choices and behaviors for years to come, it is critical to establish good physical activity habits now.

But knowing the importance of exercise & healthy habits and doing something about it are two different things. The average family has more commitments than time to meet them, from homework to basketball practice to piano lessons. It often seems impossible to fit one more thing into the schedule, no matter how good it is for you. Premier Academy is here to help by making exercise and promoting a healthy lifestyle a part of our curriculum!

One way to fit fitness into the schedule is to turn it into a family activity. Not only is daily physical activity a healthy goal for everyone in the family, it provides us with an opportunity to spend time together and offers an excellent model for young children as they see the adults in their family having fun with fitness right alongside them.

Here are a few ideas for family physical activities that everyone can participate in:

Take a Walk

A daily (or a few times a week) walk is a perfect way to reflect on the day and learn about what’s going on in each other’s lives. Finding ways to go on fun nature walks or allotting twenty minutes after dinner for a walk around your neighborhood will not only help you and your family members re-energize a bit before tackling homework, but it will improve heart health and digestion.

Healthy Habits & Hobbies

Many of us have a list of things we plan to do when our children get older. But why wait? Dreaming of picking up your tennis racquet again someday; why not make it into a family fitness activity and take lessons together? Want to learn karate or taekwondo; what about a family class? Excited about a salsa dancing or a rumba class? Teach the kids a few moves and dance around the living room. With a few modifications, many adult fitness activities can become fun for the whole family.

Keep Physical Activities Simple

Getting more physical activity doesn’t always have to be a planned event. Ask everyone in the family to be on the lookout for simple ways to be more active. Try parking your car further from the door at the shopping mall, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking to the corner store instead of driving. Get creative and involve everyone.

Outdoor Fitness Fun

Depending on the season here in Omaha, there are many fun outdoor family activities to enjoy together. From riding bikes to kite flying and from gardening to building snowmen (or women), getting outside can be invigorating for everyone and can provide a few moments or all day opportunities for physical activity to boost family fitness. We are focused on making Premier Academy the best childcare in Omaha and Elkhorn Nebraska and part of our commitment is making sure our children receive plenty of outdoor fitness fun throughout the day!  When the weather isn’t cooperating, Premier Academy is equipped with indoor gyms so the fun never stops!

Family Challenges & Competitions

Sometimes a little family competition can be motivating. Ask everyone to set a physical activity goal: maybe learning to skip, jumping rope ten times without missing, or seeing who can keep a hula hoop going longest. Keep track of progress on a poster board in a central location. Or, use the Family Activity Log on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s We Can! website.

Fit for a Cause

It seems like there is a walk-a-thon or 5K opportunity every weekend here in Omaha, NE. Participate in a good cause and turn it into a family fitness activity. Involve the whole family in choosing a cause, training for the event, and then participating. The rewards will be many as your whole family contributes to a cause you are committed to, as well as participates in an event with others who are enjoying a physical activity.

Minimize Screen Time

Take a look at how often your child is in front of a screen. From video games to computers and television, it adds up. While not all screen activities are bad, they are, for the most part, sedentary. Set boundaries between kids and screens by helping children maintain healthy technology usage. Think about ways to minimize screen time like eliminating screens from your child’s bedroom, challenging children to be active during commercials (how many jumping jacks can you do during a commercial break?), and limiting TV on weekend days when children have many alternate active options.

Here at Premier Academy we make sure your child has at least one hour of physical activity each day! We offer a large outdoor play space and an indoor gym; so rain or shine, your little one is always active!

Regardless of what you do, it’s important to make family fitness enjoyable. Having fun together as a family is as important as the physical activity itself.

Outdoor Play for KidsYou’ve probably heard about the benefits of nature and outdoor play for children. According to the National Wildlife Federation, outdoor play boosts fitness and decreases the risk of childhood obesity; increases focus and academic achievement; and reduces stress and increases feelings of well-being.

As a provider of quality childcare, we understand and agree with all these findings. While less tangible and quantifiable, the “fun” value of being outdoors can also be beneficial to children, particularly when they can share that fun with a beloved adult.

Conservationist Rachel Carson wrote, “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” We think she’s onto something there. Below are a few simple outdoor activities for kids that we at Premier Academy think can help nurture a love of the natural world within your child.

Infants and Toddlers

Offer safe spaces for babies to crawl, walk, and explore, such as a variety of textured surfaces (e.g. grass, sand, or dirt). Point out and label birds, squirrels, insects and plants.

Toddlers are at a vantage point to observe things that we adults often miss. A simple walk around the neighborhood with the family can open a whole world to them if we simply slow down. We believe quality childcare starts with giving children the freedom to discover and explore! Make time to explore with toddlers, keeping in mind the journey, not the destination. How many plants and insects can you find? How many different textures or sensations can you discover?


Offer your child a variety of natural and re-purposed materials, such as old metal pie tins, sticks, ribbon, wire, spoons, shells, or rocks. What can you make with these materials? How about wind chimes, a bird feeder, or an old-fashioned mud pie?

Speaking of old-fashioned fun, remember Winnie the Pooh and his game of “pooh sticks”? Gather several sticks of similar size and give each player a stick. On the count of three, drop the sticks from one side of a bridge. Run to the other side and watch for the sticks to float downstream. Which stick emerges first? Based on the natural world you see around you, improvise fun outdoor games for kids.


Get an up-close view of pond life. Cut the ends off a large cylindrical plastic container, such as a large food container or even a milk jug. Secure plastic wrap over one end with a rubber band or waterproof tape. Place the wrapped end of the container in a stream or pond. Look into the other end. The glare of the sun is diminished when looking through the container, so it’s easier to see plant and animal life in the water.

Grow something. School-age children are at an ideal age to learn about gardening. If you have the space, you can try easy-to-grow crops like lettuce, carrots, peas, and tomatoes in a full-size garden, a raised bed, or even pots. Try fast-growing flowers like pansies, nasturtiums, or sunflowers. How about a few herbs on the patio?

When asked why he felt optimistic that humans would find solutions to the environmental concerns plaguing our planet, physicist Freeman Dyson responded, “Because people will always love trees.” If children are removed from nature, though, will future generations develop this age-old wisdom? We believe at Premier Academy that experiencing nature with children through outdoor play has benefits today and for years to come as children become the stewards of our planet. So, get out there. Turn over a rock. Feel the breeze on your face. Get some dirt on your shoes.

Importance of Brain Injury PreventionBrain injury is a common problem with young children, but a problem that can be avoided with a few preventative measures from parents. Brain injuries can be caused by trampoline accidents when children land on their head or neck, sports injuries are another common area that can result in brain injury and brain injuries among the skateboarding community are also very common.

Many of these injuries can be prevented if parents to make sure their child wears a helmet anytime they are riding their bicycle, a skateboard or scooter and when skiing – water or snow. Avoiding pediatric brain injury can be done by making sure your baby or toddler is in the right car seat, booster seat or other appropriate child restraints for your child’s age, height and weight.

Getting your child or teenager to wear a helmet when it just isn’t “cool” can be a real challenge. One way to make it work is to show them the professional athletes who are wearing helmets doing the same activities your child loves to do – cycling, skateboarding and even skiing.

Even the smallest accident that involves a head injury can cause irreparable brain damage. Be sure to follow the same safety measures on a daily basis – no bicycling or skateboarding without a helmet and never go on a car ride without buckling up. Place infant seats, booster seats and other small child restraints in the back seat where they are safe from the air bags should they be deployed. Finally, lead by example.  If you are on a family bike ride, be sure to wear your helmet and ever ride in the car without your seatbelts properly buckled.

For more information on childcare and parenting, check out Premier Academy’s Blog Page.

How to Deal with Picky EatersOne of the most common struggles parents have is dealing with picky eaters. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

  • Your toddler takes a few bites of food and announces he’s “done”
  • You can stock your fridge and shelves full but your little one will only eat the same 5 things over and over.
  • Your child asks for one thing, you make it, then she asks for something else then decides she wants something completely different altogether.
  • Coaxing your children to just take “one more bite” is a constant battle in your home.

First things first – meal times are supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable so you want to avoid these battles every time you sit down at the table. Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 typically have smaller appetites, so if they only eat a little at a time, that’s ok. However, also realize that their appetites can change on a daily basis and even from meal to meal. If they like carrots, don’t be afraid to throw some in at breakfast. Do they prefer eggs? Who says you can’t have eggs for dinner?

Dinner time is typically going to be the meal that your child feels like eating the least. It’s the end of the day and they are tired and unless they have been doing a physical activity like swimming or playing outside or at daycare at Premier Academy, chances are they aren’t going to be as hungry as they are at other times of the day.

If you are dealing with older children who are picky eaters, you may be able to reason more with them and enforce the “one bite rule” – meaning they have to take at least one bite of every food on their plate and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it again.

Here are just a few ideas for dealing with picky eaters:

  • Don’t nag or coax smaller children. Pick and choose your battles – plain and simply put, your child WILL eat when he is hungry.
  • Have realistic portions: Many parents set unrealistic goals for their children when it comes to mealtime. A good rule of thumb to follow: If your child is under the age of 5-6, use a tablespoon per year of age. If they ask for more when they’ve finished that then you can always give more.
  • Keep trying to introduce new foods – even if they haven’t liked them before. Tastes change and you never know when you find something new they like.
  • Avoid too much milk, juice and soda in place of food. Many kids will fill up on sugary drinks and have no room for food.

Remember, pick your battles and don’t make meal time miserable for everyone!

Get Involved in MentoringMentoring is one of the oldest teaching methods in the world. Mentoring is really a personal coaching strategy where someone that has a specific skill or subject matter expertise works with another person to impart their knowledge in a very personal and connected way.

With January being National Mentoring Month, it is time for everyone to get busy in helping each other to learn something new or to master a skill they are having challenges with.

The Benefits of Mentoring

The great thing about mentoring is that it is a one-on-one learning method. When you first sat down with your kids and read them a story and they followed along with their fingers and said a word they recognized you were being a highly effective mentor.

Since mentoring is one-on-one the feedback is immediate and proactive. The learner doesn’t struggle through multiple mistakes; they are gently, positively and proactively supported so that they learn how to do the specific task or skill correctly the first time.

However, the benefits of mentoring go beyond just learning math, reading, the alphabet or how to print. It is about feeling the connection of learning and life, and also for the learning to gain self-confidence as they try to learn and master new skills.

If you stop and think about it mentoring is happening every day with your children. When you or their teachers teach them how to make cookies or how to use a new computer you are being a mentor. Kids that have this type of support are much more willing to try new things, to challenge themselves and to feel wonderful about the accomplishments that they achieve, even if they have a few difficulties along the way.

Get Involved

Talk to your child’s teachers about volunteering to come in and mentor a child. This is a wonderful way to not only help your own child see how you value school and education, but to also give to a child or small group of children that may not have an active parent in their life.

In addition, encourage your child to use mentoring services. Many schools have a “big buddy” system where children in higher grades come in and read or do basic math with a “little buddy” which is an excellent way to allow students to experience the benefits of mentoring in a very personal way.

Helping Children Deal with StressIt’s no doubt that children are one of life’s miracles but as our offspring we sometimes tend to forget that while they may be all that is good in us, they are not our clones and are certainly not little adults. They are incapable of handling things in the same way that we are – which means they are unable to manage stress like we can. Not to mention, something that we would easily overlook would be a severe stressor to our kids – for example, showing up at school and finding desks rearranged differently than they have been all year or a substitute teacher instead of their regular teacher.

If your child is having breakdowns frequently, having trouble sleeping or nightmares or being clingy when they weren’t before, are all signs that your child could be experiencing more stress in their lives than they were before. Trust your instincts if you notice a change in your child’s behavior and try these tips to help them cope with stress more easily:

  1. Let them know it’s ok to talk about it – some children have a difficult time expressing themselves or they may be afraid to say what they are feeling. Make it very clear to your child that if they are feeling out of sorts that it’s ok to talk about it. Help them share with you if they are feeling scared or nervous or worried about something.
  2. Encourage your children to find positive in what is a stressful situation in their lives – for example, instead of being worried over having a substitute teacher, remind them that they are safe even with the substitute and their regular teacher will be back soon.
  3. Teach your children simple stress-relieving techniques like breaking and finding positive even in stressful situations.
  4. Establish routines for your children, especially at bedtime. These routines, when coupled with relaxing music will help your child relax after a rough day.
  5. Be sure to spend enough quality time with your children each day. This will help them to become more self-confident and assured and if something upsets their normal routine, they are less likely to act out.

Working with your children now to handle stress will help them be better at coping as they grow into adults.

How to Choose a Good Role Model for Your ChildWe all have had at least one role model in our lives. Role models are important to our psychological well-being because they help us guide us through certain decision making processes that can ultimately affect the outcome of our lives. Children often have many choices when it comes to choosing role models – most often their first role models are parents followed by other adults and relatives, such as teachers.

Role models should be a point of inspiration and give us an idea of how we should behave no matter the situation. This is why it’s very important for a potential role model provide good behavior – behavior that children can imitate without repercussion. There are many choices when children are younger, however as they grow older it can become more difficult for good role models to be found.

Helping your child choose a role model involves finding a person who has good morals, doesn’t take part in behavior that is self-destructive, is hard working, creative and free thinking. And yes it’s true that you can’t pick the role model your child emulates, you can do your part to make sure they are exposed to the type of people who would make good role models to begin with.

Your child’s role model doesn’t have to be Superman or someone famous – in fact, a celebrity may not always be a good choice as many tend to indulge in self-destructing behavior or take part in behavior that is just unsavory to begin with. A good role model will be someone who is similar to you.

When your child has discovered that he or she has a role model, it’s important for you as the parent not to put this person on a pedestal. Role models are human and as such subject to failure and mistakes. You can recognize this person as a guide for the behavior you would like your child to imitate but not necessarily someone your child should act like exclusively.