September is National School Success Month!

September 20, 2013 04:59 by Laurie

The start of the school year is the most exciting time of the year for students! Reconnecting with friends...new teachers...new things to learn. September is National School Success Month. Keep the excitement going with this helpful month-by-month guide filled with advice, tools and resources to help your child have a school year packed with fun and learning. Click here to read "The Countdown to School Success", provided by the U.S. Department of Education and the National PTA. A September through June guide that takes you step-by-step through a typical school year calendar.


Your Child's Creative Brain!

May 16, 2013 10:01 by Andy

Your Child's Brain:  Part 4

Creativity is 3 Times More Important than Intelligence for Lifetime Success

In 1958, Professor E. Paul Torrance studied a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tests.  For the next 50 years, scholars have tracked those children.  The conclusion:  childhood creativity is more than three times stronger than childhood IQ in predicting lifetime creative accomplishment.  

As important as this is, American creativity scores are actually falling.  The scores for children from Kindergarten through sixth grade are in the greatest decline.  This is occurring at a time when creativity is being identified as the number one leadership competency of the future. 

We must solve this creativity crisis!  Creativity is an essential part of what we do.  Our Play Village is a creativity laboratory that lets kids pretend, invent, discover and dream with friends every day! 

 

Part 5:

Cognitive Growth is Dependent on Emotional Health and Social Skills

According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, a child’s cognitive intelligence cannot be separated from his or her social and emotional health.  Emotional well-being and social competence are the bricks and mortar that make up the foundation for cognitive abilities.  Developing a healthy balance in the early years is a prerequisite for success in school, the workplace and the community.  All future learning is dependent on this important foundation.  Relationships are critical in this process, as a child’s social and emotional health is highly impacted by relationships with family members, adult caregivers and teachers. 

At O2B Kids, our Fun Crew Teachers and Counselors are brilliant at feeding a child’s social and emotional health.  We deliver more hugs, more smiles and more friends! 



Part 2: Experiences Wire the Brain

April 12, 2013 09:09 by Andy

An infant has roughly 100 billion brain cells at birth.  As a child grows and experiences the world, the number of brain cells remains fairly stable, but the cells grow in size as they connect to other brain cells, creating an intricate network.  This is often referred to as the brain’s wiring or circuitry.  Creating and reinforcing these vast neural connections are the key tasks of early brain development – and they are inextricably triggered by life experiences.  The result is that children who are exposed to positive, diverse life experiences tend to complete more yeas of school have higher paying jobs, make healthier lifestyle choices, and live longer, healthier lives. 

With over 200 weekly classes, free play variety and unique special events, the O2B Kids “New Learning Playground” is truly an “experience” supercenter when it comes to brain development!  And it doesn’t stop there!  Each year we have an Education Conference for our staff, and the April 2013 conference has one focus:  How Experiences Wire the Brain.  Our staff will focus on the science behind what we do – and remember what an incredibly important job they have!


Your Child's Brain - Part 1

April 4, 2013 06:14 by Andy

Research from the fields of neuroscience, molecular biology, genomics and child development provide amazing evidence into how children learn and grow. We have identified six insights that help define the education philosophy at O2B Kids. While our programs may look like high-octane FUN, there’s science – and a whole lot of benefit – behind what we do!

1. 85% - 90% of a Person’s Brain is Wired in the First Five Years of Life

In the first few years of life, 700 new neural connections are formed in the brain every second – every second!!! – through the interactive influences of genes and a child’s experiences. This process creates a foundation that determines a child’s lifelong ability to learn, to relate to others, to be productive in the work place, and to be fully engaged citizens.

At O2B Kids, our Nationally Accredited Preschool, Brighter Babies and Morning Magic Play Groups, Program Calendar Classes and Play Village experiences stimulate a child’s sensory, language and cognitive brain functions and provide a foundation for lifelong learning.


Letter to our Families

December 18, 2012 10:19 by Andy

Dear Families,

Along with all of you, our hearts are deeply saddened by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.  We join you in sending love, compassion, prayers and hope to the families whose lives have been forever changed.  And, like you, we share so much gratitude for the safety of our children.  We have all hugged our families a little more over the past few days. 

There is nothing more important than their safety, and it is a responsibility that we take very seriously.  For all of the safety policies and procedures that we have in place, we focus on both Prevention and Response. 

Our first task is to do all we can to prevent such a situation from occurring.  All of our entrances are staffed at all times, and every person who visits O2B Kids must check in at the front desk.  Only authorized parents, caregivers or students are allowed to enter, and daily attendance is recorded.  All of our locations have video surveillance, and that video feed is recorded.  Our facilities are deliberately designed with open spaces, windows and doors so we can see what’s going on, and communicate from one room to the next.  In addition, all of our staff has undergone basic safety training as part of their initial orientation, and as part of their on-going training. 

In addition to preventing problems, we do all we can to be prepared to respond to a concern if the need should arise.  All O2B Kids locations have an Emergency Response Plan in place which includes procedures for a lockdown.  Along with regular fire drills and tornado drills, we practice lockdown drills so that teachers and students know what to do.  We are again reviewing all of our safety and security measures with staff to ensure that we are as safe as we can be.

We are also grateful for your help.   If there is ever a question or concern, please bring it to a supervisor’s attention immediately.   All of the O2B Kids family – students, teachers, parents and caregivers – play an important role, and keeping eyes and ears open helps ensure any potential issue is addressed. 

We have an ambitious long-term goal as well.  Every day we are helping children feel loved, confident, happy, courageous, and secure.  We are helping them feel good in their own skin.  We are hopeful that these youngsters will grow into responsible, respectful future citizens of our world.  That's what we are trying to do to make the world a better place, a more peaceful place.  This responsibility is humbling, and profoundly important. 

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me any time.  I can be reached at the O2B Kids Business Office, 352-338-9660 x 20 or via email at andy@o2bkids.com.  Also, there are many resources available to help you talk with your children about the scary stories that they may be seeing on the news.  We have posted links to some of these resources on our website. 

We are proud to serve you, and so grateful that you have partnered with us.  We wish you and your family a safe and peaceful holiday season. 

Sincerely, 

Andy Sherrard


Talking With Children About Scary News

December 18, 2012 06:11 by Kristi

As children learn about the scary events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, it will be very natural for them to have questions and concerns.  There are many resources available to help parents, teachers and friends talk with children about the tragedy and their own safety.  The following resources have been compiled by The Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County. 

1. Collection of resources:

http://www.schcounselor.com/2012/12/tragedy-and-disaster-response-resources.html

 

2. Talking to Kids About Sensitive Topics

http://www.darienlibrary.org/children/youth-promoted/talking-about-current-events

 

3. Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/talkingviolence.pdf

 

4. Talking with Kids About News: Age by Age Insights

http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/news/agebyage.html

 

5. Helping Your Children Manage Distress In the Aftermath of a Shooting

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/aftermath.aspx

 

6. How to Talk to Your Kids About the Conn. Shooting

http://www.npr.org/2012/12/16/167399094/tragedy-and-children-what-to-discuss

 

7. Video advice from Mr Rogers on how to talk to your children about scary news:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=LZbXM3Kzd7o


Why Your Child Should PLAY!

November 27, 2012 11:17 by Andy

The greatest teacher of all time is not a person, a classroom, or a book.  It is the simple act of playing.  During play, children learn how to explore, pretend, create, make friends, solve problems, lead, follow, try new things, develop skills and find their passions.  Play forces children to make decision on their own and rely on their own judgment.  Sometimes they will make poor choices.  But they will fail in non-threatening and manageable ways that will teach them as much or more as their successes.  So when the tower falls, they’ll build it again.  Taller and better! 

Play is so important to child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a “right” of every child.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says that play is essential to human development.  As adults, we should recognize that real playing is one of the most important things our children can do.  Traditional hands-on, hands-dirty, make-believe, rough-and-tumble, risk-taking, social play is our great teacher.   And we must make time for it.

Because O2B Kids believes in the benefits of good old-fashioned free play, we’ve created dedicated play spaces in our buildings and schedule time in each of our programs to simply play!  We call this Neighborhood Time.  It is one of the most important things we do. 

Play! 


Memory Days!

June 25, 2012 07:19 by Lieba

We LOVE creating Remarkable Events -- days that children will always remember.  The Spring Production is certainly one of those days!  This year over 300 performers, ages 3 - 13, dazzled audiences with their poise, talent and grace!  Congratulations to all of the dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders, actors, singers, and musicians!  And, many thanks to tons of O2B Fun Crew who were backstage helping change into tap shoes, calm nerves, line up performers, and keeping little ones occupied with art projects and animal crackers!  What a fantastic Memory Day!  

Enjoy a few pics! 

 


Only This

June 11, 2012 07:49 by Jami

Sometimes
there is only this to do.
Gather the loves in your life
and hold them close
to the lining of the inside
of all that you are.

As they move away,
each to their separate worlds,
there is only this to do.
See them in their own skins
and note
that to love them
and have that love returned

is, after all,
to have the whole 
of what you'll ever
long for.


Importance of Play

August 22, 2011 06:12 by Kristi

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.  And it is so important!  Technically, play is open-ended, child-directed, flexible, creative and FUN!  During play, children learn how to explore, pretend, create, solve problems, get along with others, lead, follow, make friends, build, invent, make decisions, try new things, develop skills and find their passion. 
But that’s not just our opinion!  Play is so important to child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a “right” of every child.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says that play is essential to human development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of every child.  Specifically, the Academy states that:
• Play is important to healthy brain development
• Play allows children to create and explore … conquering their fears while practicing adult roles
• Play helps children develop new competencies, enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges
• Play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills
• Play allows children to practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue
• Play builds active, healthy bodies. 
Most of us do not need the Academy of Pediatrics or the United Nations to validate the importance of play.  We have all experienced the joy and benefits of play throughout our lifetimes.  However, we are facing a cultural shift in how kids play.  Many families no longer feel comfortable sending their kids out into the neighborhood to play, and most schools have cut recess and free time.  This “neighborhood time” is often substituted for technology experiences’ where climbing virtual trees replaces climbing real trees.  The type and amount of children’s play is changing fundamentally.  But benefits are delivered best through traditional, hand-on, hands-dirty play.  Let's make it a part of our everyday!