Life skills for kids to thrive start pre-kindergarten

The right school for early education can reinforce life skills to follow directions, focus, share and more. We're thrilled with how well our toddler has thrived in Chicago's Jewish Council for Youth Services (JCYS) at the Michael R. Lutz Family Center in Lakeview. Our JCYS school models life skills that we reinforce at home.

Just imagine...

Just imagine...

In fact, Parents Magazine (August, 2014) cover story deep dives into how The Lab School preschool at the University of Minnesota Institute mirrors our JCYS learning environment. The article depicts a school, just like ours, that facilitates free play and imagination. Our JCYS school is not on-line and there's no movies.

Although our three-year-old and 18-month-old can both navigate our desk-top, iPad and iPhones, there's so much more to the world than screen time. JCYS's awesome teacher-student ratio helps little ones problem solve so they can stand-up for themselves. There's lots of painting, music and even yoga.

Our oldest started JCYS at two-years-old, right after his baby brother was born. I was overwhelmed with the terrible twos. Although our toddler had a speech delay (thank you 606Speech), the other kids challenged him even more to find his voice.

JCYS models positive reinforcement to choose nice and good words. We do the same at home.

There are no time outs at JCYS, but loving teachers remind little ones to keep their hands to themselves. Teeth are for eating, not biting. Ears are for listening.

According to Parents Magazine, schools like JCYS, teach executive function (EF) skills. That's similar to the MBA negotiation class my Dad teaches at DePaul University in Chicago.

Parents Magazine expounds on executive function skills as a "neuroscience term that refers to a person's ability to organize thoughts, plan behaviors, say no to impulses, and manage and navigate between what she's feeling and what she does."

I love that our toddler and his class mates wrote their own summer rules "Ten Commandments" with guidelines and parameters they follow. We leverage those handy Ten Commandments at home, especially for our 18-month-old who is testing his own limits.

Parents Magazine quotes Walter Gilliam, Ph.D., director in Child Development & Social Policy at Yale's Child Study Center, "Executive function is the brain wrestling with its emotions.  Do I want to follow my first instinct or do I want to create a strategy that might work better?"

Like kids that age, there's lots of "why" questions with our three-year-old as he develops his own usually thoughtful ideas.

We're finding our toddler rhythm through imagination, kindness, lots of repletion and practice, thanks to our immediate and extended JCYS family. We all reinforce those life skills.

Thank you, again, to JCYS and our entire village who help us wrestle the jungle gym of parenting.

JCYS does not sponsor this post or give us any financial support.

From the archive: My Dad teaches us to be our best self;  Stop the daycare stigma and Toddler Ten Commandments

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Filed under: babies, family, wellness

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