Welcome to The Nest Academy Learning Preschool

 
 

Dear Parents,

We are happy to inform you that the Nest Academy Learning Preschools/Daycare Centers in Alexandria VA and Lorton VA are enrolling now!

Early years of your growing child are very important for his or her future success. What do we offer? Carefully designed early childhood education program, rich and powerful curriculum, professional and dedicated teachers and flexible part-time and full-time options.

We will take care of your little one with love and respect.

Please, give our preschools a call to schedule a tour at one of our wonderfully located facilities in Lorton VA and Alexandria VA!

Kind regards,
The Nest Academy Learning Preschool

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Both The Nest Academy of Lorton & Alexandria will be closed as follows:

 

  • On Wednesday, November 23, 2016 ==> will close at 4:30 pm
  • On Thursday, November 24, 2016 ==> will close ALL DAY
  • On Friday, November 25, 2016 ==> will close ALL DAY

10 Best Family Car Games

Written by Ksenia LL

If you dread going on long car trips with kids, then, well, don’t! There are lots of ways to make it the best time for you and the whole family. You can look at it as an opportunity to connect with your children and enjoy each other’s company.

A few family car games and activities described in this post can help enhance some important life skills of your children, like concentration, communication, language development and creative thinking. Yet, the best part is they can help you to have a simply amazing family time.

  1. Silly Stories

Tell a story to your child that she knows very well. For instance, describe the day you and your spouse have met, the day your child was born, or how you have chosen her name. As you tell, add a few more “details” she didn’t know about (such as “…and when we saw each other, a big tiger appeared from nowhere, and spoke to us….”). Be prepared for a lot of giggles and very unusual turns of events when your child decides to help you finish your silly stories.

  1. Eatable – Not Eatable

Name an object, and ask your child to show you if he can eat it or not. For-example, if you say “an apple”, you child rubs his tummy, and if you say “a truck”, he pretends that he is pushing away the meal. The game is fun, simple and can bring a lot of laughter on your trip. The smallest members of your family might find it especially enjoyable.

  1. I Spy

Start the game with: “I spy with my little eye something…” and finish it by giving a clue of what you spy (like a letter it starts from or a color of it). It can be anything or anyone in a car. Take turns to spy. This simple and easy-to-learn game can keep your child occupied for a surprisingly long time.

  1. Travel journal

Offer to your child the opportunity to become a real explorer and write a travel journal during your trip. travel journal kids activityYou need a notepad, some crayons or washable markers and a glue stick. If a child doesn’t know how to write, he can draw the things that he sees around – an unusual vehicle, a bird or a river. You can leave a few empty pages in the journal for a receipt from a restaurant on the way, a leaf picked up somewhere during a stop or some printed family pictures.

  1. Game of 20 Questions

Good old classic game, just like “I Spy”. Think of a place, a person or a thing, and invite everyone take turns trying to find out what you are thinking about. All they need to do is to ask you “yes” or “no” questions until someone guesses right.

  1. Checklist

Checklist is an awesome game, which you have to prepare at home before your trip. Take a piece of construction paper and draw in some squares. checklistThink of the things you will most likely see during your trip, such as a big track, a red car, a bridge, a gas station, a policeman, a motorcycle and draw the pictures of them in the squares. You can use stickers too. During the trip, hand the checklist to your child, and ask her to watch attentively everything in the window and mark the things she can find.

  1. Where That Car is Going?

Look at the window, spot an interesting vehicle and ask your child where does he think it is going? Make up some stories together, such as a grandma, who works at a candy factory, visiting her grandchildren or a firefighter coming back from work. For older children you can make this game educational and try to figure out if a car in front of you is going toward or away from the state by looking at the state on the car’s license plate.

  1. Rhyme Game

Find an easy word to rhyme, like “a cat” or “a nose” and just start rhyming with your kid. You will be surprised to see how entertaining this simple game can be. Don’t worry if instead of a perfect rhyming words your child starts making up something funny but senseless. This game is a very good exercise for language development. Those meaningless variations of the real words your child will enjoy so much, are part of this exercise.

  1. A Magic Bag

Collect some small toys in a little non-transparent bag before your journey. A bag itself might occupy your child’s attention for a long time. bag full of toys for kidsBut before giving it to her for the rest of the trip, play a game. Ask your child to put her hand inside of the bag and without looking tell you what she thinks she is holding there. Trying to recognize the toy by touch can be puzzling, but definitely fun. Even some old, well-known toys become magical in this bag.

  1. Words that Start with A

Randomly pick up a letter and start saying words that start with this letter. After your child understands the rules, offer him to do the same. You can take turns finding the words on the same letter. The one, who can find more words, wins.

And here is a little bonus for your car trip – the Silence Game. The rules are easy: the one who speaks first, losses. Don’t count on half an hour of science though, may be a few minutes at most. Just enough time to close your eyes, take a deep breath and think what an awesome family you have!

Have a good trip!

 

Welcome Allie!

Welcome Allie, a new student of The Nest Academy Learning Preschool!

Since we are in the holiday spirit, we wanted to share a beautiful photo, which was taken in the White House in 2014. On this picture US President Barack Obama is playing with Allie, and she really enjoys it! This picture is still up in the West Wing of the White House.

Happy Independence Day everyone! Enjoy the holiday!

10 Birthday Games for Preschoolers That Will Always Get Laughs

Written by Ksenia LL

No matter what your birthday theme or budget is, whether you are going to rent a place or simply do it at your own home, or how many people are going to be invited, these funny and simple games will make every birthday party a success.

Two bits of advice to keep in mind:

  • Ask a few parents before you get started to help out in every game. It will help the children to understand the rules faster, as well as bring even more fun to the audience.
  • It is a good idea to prepare little prizes (which can be added to goody bags later on) and hand them to every participating child. That way even if a child looses she wont’ feel too disappointed.

Here are the 10 Birthday Games for preschoolers that will always get laughs:

 

  1. Lost Color

Gather the children in front of you and tell them that you have lost all the important colors and you need help to find them. Alexandria VA preschoolExplain that when you will name a color, and while you count till ten, the children should find something in this color around them and touch it. Children who don’t find anything in this color by the time you count to ten are out. Do not forget about little prizes to make it joyful for everyone, even for those who loose.

 

  1. Only a Bagel

Pick a child and explain that you will ask him some questions, and he can give only one answer to all of them: “A bagel.” Prepare a list of funny questions beforehand and start asking them. Examples include:Alexandria VA preschool games

  • What is your name?
  • What do you like the most?
  • What do you like to ride on?
  • What do you like to sit on?
  • Where do you like to sleep on?
  • What do your parents like most about you?
  • Who is your best friend?
  • And so on…

You can imagine how much laughter will follow every “Bagel” reply. A child is out if he answers something else instead, and then the next child gets her turn.

 

  1. Eatable/Not Eatable

Ask the children to form a circle. You can stand in the middle of it and show them a ball in your hands. Alexandria VA preschoolExplain to them that you will start naming different objects while throwing the ball to each of the children. If the object you name is eatable, they should catch the ball, if not they should bounce it back to you. This game is always followed by bursts of laugher, when children find out that, for example, “a door” suddenly becomes quite eatable.

 

  1. A Barrier

Ask two parents to hold a rope about three feet above the ground. Alexandria VA daycareGather children in a line and explain that they have to walk under the rope. When all of them successfully do that, lower the rope a few inches down, and start again. Do this until the rope is so low that the children have to roll on the ground to be able to go under it.

 

 

  1. We Will Show

Gather all the children around you and explain that one of them should leave the room for a few minutes. While he is away, decide with the rest of the children which daily activity they can show to the child when he is back. Alexandria VA daycareExplain to them that they cannot talk while they are showing what it is. Choose something simple, like bicycling, teeth brushing, playing soccer, etc. Then, when he is back, ask the rest of the children: “What did you do today?” and they will act it out until the child guesses. Once he guesses, another child will get a turn.

 

  1. Mummy

You need two rolls of toilet paper for this game. Pick four children and split them into two teams. Alexandria VA preschoolOne child from each team should stand still, while another team member rolls toilet paper around her friend trying to cover as much of her friend’s body as she can. Put some funny music on while they play. When the children are done, ask all of the parents to applaud to each mummy. Be sure to prepare plenty of paper rolls, since every child will likely love to be a mummy and to make one!

 

  1. Princess Who Cannot Laugh

Pick a girl who will be a Princess Who Cannot Laugh, or a boy who will be a Knight Who Cannot Laugh, then sit him or her on a chair. Alexandria VA preschoolExplain to the children that the Princess (or the Knight) doesn’t know how to laugh and the rest of children should try to make her laugh. Form a line, where one by one the children should approach the child on a chair and do anything they want – except for touching the child – to make the Princess or the King laugh. The kid who succeeds becomes a Princess or a Knight himself and sits on the chair.

 

  1. Guess Who

If all the children in the party know each other very well, then you can play this awesome game. Alexandria VA preschoolPick one child and tie a scarf around his head to cover his eyes. Choose a friend, a parent or even a stuffed toy to stand in front of the blind-folded child and explain that he has to guess who is standing in front of him. The child can use his palms to feel a person by moving them around the person’s face, hair and clothes.

 

  1. Paper Ball Race

Prepare in advance a few small paper balls by just rolling pieces of paper into balls. Alexandria VA daycareShow the participating children the starting point and the finish line of the race and explain that they cannot touch the balls: they can only blow them forward. The child who gets the first ball across the finish line, wins.

 

  1. Aliens

It’s time for quieter, but no less funny game. Alexandria VA preschoolGive a balloon and a few markers to every child and tell them that they are holding different planets – Mars, Jupiter, etc. Ask them to draw the aliens who inhabit these planets on their balloons. After the children are done, show off every balloon one by one for the parents to see and applaud.

 

Again, do not hesitate to involve parents in these games in the first few rounds. It will help the children to understand the games faster, as well as engage parents and children in the same fun activity!

Have fun, and don’t forget to take some pictures!

 

How Playing Music Can Help Your Child’s Brain Development

Written by Ksenia LL

When we watch a pianist playing a musical piece, we might think what he does is simple enough. It seems he just uses two hands to play piano keys, while reading his notes at the same time. But what he (or we should say, his brain) does, is much more complicated than that. Simultaneously, his brain is:

  • coordinating his hands while playing two different movements;
  • reading the language of notes (a whole other language than the one he speaks);
  • concentrating on playing rhythmically;
  • interpreting the music to show its emotional side by playing louder or quieter, slower or faster;
  • and listening and analyzing what he is playing, while continuing to play.

piano-78492_960_720

When this process is happening, his brain becomes active in many different ways at the same time. It builds unique connections between different parts of the brain and makes the brain more adaptable. No one other activity (mental or physical) can engage as many brain parts at the same time, as playing music does.

Basically, research shows that playing the piano—or any instrument—gives the brain a mental workout. This, in turn, can help develop a surprising number of skills, which is why it can be so beneficial for children to play an instrument.

For instance, did you know that playing music could help your child to be better at math? Or that it can make her better at planning and problem solving? Did you know that playing musical instruments is like a complete full-body work-out for the brain?

This video by Dr. Anita Collins from the University of Melbourne is a great introduction for these ideas.

 

Neuroscientists continue publishing more and more research that shows how important playing music can be for children. It benefits their brain development in many different ways and builds their character.

Here are the main mental benefits that playing music can give your child.

  1. Language and memory development.

According to the new research, published in the online magazine The Telegraph, playing music regularly can change the brain shape and enhance its abilities. It boosts many functions of the brain, and cognitive functions especially, like attention, memory and language development. The earlier a child starts learning how to play a musical instrument, the stronger her language skills and memory will be impacted and improved. (the source is here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/6447588/Playing-a-musical-instrument-makes-you-brainier.html)

  1. Hearing better and processing faster. 

When a musician is listening to an orchestra, he is able to hear many things at once. For-example, he can identify different instruments, changing rhythms, music arrangements, or some harmony. This ability to pull out different musical components is the same skill that allows your child to also deal with multiple pieces of information at the same time in the same way. So this skill can translate into the ability to comprehend and process the information faster, while also improving hearing. This is all according to Nina Kraus, Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Evanston, Il., in the following story: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/living-longer-learning-musical-instrument-protects-brain-memory/story?id=15482696

iStock_000009943158Smallhelping_your_child_become_a_musician_wrXUdyWHYc_l

  1. Enhanced reading and comprehension skills.

Reading music is basically reading another language. It’s not as difficult, as to learn French, but it’s still a language. When a musician is reading musical notes and other musical symbols, as well as complicated rhythms, he engages the same parts of the brain, which are responsible for reading and comprehension. Studies have shown that preschool-aged children who have been introduced to musical lessons on keyboards, had higher scores on the comprehension tests, according to National Association for Music Education. (You can see their research here http://www.nafme.org/take-action/what-to-know/all-research/).

  1. Better concentration skills as well as multitasking skills.

If we go back to the description of what a pianist is actually doing during playing a musical piece, we will see that it requires an enhanced ability to concentrate and multitask to be able to do it. Children can use these skills throughout the life, and not only when playing music.

  1. Ability of the brain to change and adapt faster during problem solving.

Musicians generally play two different musical pieces with two different hands. That creates new neuro-connections in their brains between the left and the right hemispheres. The ability to use the brain’s right, creative part, and the left, logical part, simultaneously becomes a very valuable skill. Some people call it “thinking outside the box” skill. This skill can translate into the rest of their life as children can both learn how to solve problems faster and find different ways to approach problem solving, according to Vanderbilt University psychologists, in the following story http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2008/10/musicians-use-both-sides-of-their-brains-more-frequently-than-average-people-65577/

playing music is good for brain

  1. Can increase IQ.

Some studies show that playing music can increase a child’s IQ by 7% in average, according to Lutz Jancke, a psychologist at University of Zurich.

  1. Improved emotional perception.

Understanding the emotional side of music can benefit executive functioning, according to Nadine Gaab, PhD, from the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts. Executive functions are a variety of mental skills that help people get things done. These skills help you do things like plan and organize, manage your time, and pay attention to details. These skills require a strong connection between both cognitive and emotional functions, which is exactly what playing music can develop (You can read more about this here: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/827116)playing music helps brain development

  1. Possible grit development.

There is evidence that shows that grit and learning a musical instrument go hand-in-hand. But researchers do not know, which comes first – grit or playing music. However, a child does have to become persistent, determined and resilient in order to learn how to play a musical instrument.

Yes, learning to play a musical instrument can greatly impact your child’s brain development. It might help him in many different aspects of his life. Children who practice music from an early age can do better not only academically, but they acquire a lot of very important skills, which can help them to succeed in life. They also learn, that these skills and their musical achievements are rewards from their practice, discipline and persistence.

Sounds like magic, shall we try?

 

 

Teach Your Children to Be Grateful

Written by Ksenia LL

Imagine that it’s one of those days when it drizzles, the sky is heavy and gray, and it is chilly and nasty outside. You have just parked your car and are walking with your child to his school, trying to avoid dirty puddles on the way. And then suddenly he is asking: “Mommy, do you see how beautiful the sky is? The cars are clean and shiny. The air is so fresh! I’m so grateful for this morning!” Does this sound like a made up story? It’s not; it’s a real one! It happened to one of my friends and her four-year-old son. You can imagine how suddenly their day was transformed. They did not see the puddles anymore, but a wonderful morning worth being grateful for. This is the power of gratitude.

thank you photoGratitude often doesn’t come naturally to us, so we have to learn how to be grateful, like we learn many other good habits. Every morning after opening the front door of her house, my friend would look around, take a deep breath and say something like: “What a beautiful day! What a fresh air! I’m so thankful for that!” She taught herself to feel grateful for every morning, and she taught her child to do the same.

The benefits of gratitude are truly amazing. It makes people feel less isolated and lonely. People who practice gratitude show more compassion and forgiveness towards others. They tend to feel happy and joyful more often than other people. And even their physical health improves. Some studies show that grateful people have fewer headaches and pains in their bodies. They have lower blood pressure. They also take better care of their health.

With all these benefits, this could be one of the most important skills we can pass on to our children. So what are the best ways to teach your child to be grateful?

Of course, your own example is very important. Try to find time during the day to tell your child (and yourself) what you are grateful for today. Are you grateful for the sunny day? For your mom’s call? For having such an amazing kid?show your own gratitude Try not to repeat yourself. Instead, every day find something around you that makes you feel grateful. Your child will learn that from you. Soon he will notice all the beautiful things in his life, which other people might not have, and he will feel grateful for them.

 

There are many gratitude activities and craft ideas for kids that you can find on parenting blogs. A lot of people connect them to Thanksgiving Day, but you can do them all year long. Two of my favorite gratitude activities are Gratitude Jar and Gratitude Tree.

Gratitude Jar

gratitude jarFor this activity you need a jar and some paper to write gratitude notes on. Ask your family members to write about what they are grateful for every day and put the pieces of paper in the jar. Empty the jar every month or two and make it a family tradition to read and discuss the gratitude notes all together.

Gratitude Tree

gratitude tree

To make a gratitude tree, you need about three branches in a vase (you can use stones or sand to keep the branches stable if you’d like) and colorful paper leaves (which you can make with your child beforehand). Make a hole in each leaf and put a piece of string through it. Every day, ask your child (and other family members) to hang three leaves with your grateful wordson the tree. Watch your tree become more and more beautiful every day.

 

One of the best tools to learn how to be grateful for what we have is a Gratitude Journal. There are different ways to do this activity with your children, but I will describe my favorite one here.

Family Gratitude Journal

Family gratitude journal

To start, you need a journal.  To make it a fun craft activity, decorate it with your child. You don’t have to do something big. Even stickers will bring a personal touch to the journal. Ask your child to draw a few things she is grateful for. She can do this every day or a few times a week. Involve other family members by asking them to write in the journal about different things they are grateful for. They can write next to your child’s drawings or on the separate pages of the journal. If your child is too small to draw (or thinks she is too grown up), she can also write about what she is grateful for.

It is also a great idea to teach your child to be grateful for the challenges we go through in our lives. Robert Emmons in his article “Why Gratitude is Good” mentioned as an example Mother Theresa. She talked about how grateful she was for the opportunity to help sick and dying people. I am grateful forShe felt that experiencing emotional and physical difficulties enabled her to grow stronger spiritually. You can explain to your child that sometimes even the bad times of our life can be worth being grateful for. They can make us stronger and wiser.

There are many things we can teach our children. There might be even more things we want them to have. But at the end of the day there is something left which matters the most – if your children feel happy. Being grateful to your life, to the people around you, and being grateful to yourself can bring the feeling of happiness and satisfaction within us. It does sound like an amazing gift we can pass on to our children.

Easy Tips to Help Your Toddler to Adjust at a Daycare or Preschool

Written by Ksenia LL

The time has come to bring your little one to a daycare or a preschool. You probably have already heard from other parents that the first few weeks might be very stressful for both you and your child. And while separation anxiety is very common during this period, there are some ways to help your child to adjust at a daycare or preschool and to make the transition smoother for both of you.

1. Stay Positive

The main thing you should remember is to have a positive attitude. Studies have shown that emotional state of babies and toddlers is strongly connected to their parent’s. kids at preschoolSo, your child can pick up on negative feelings you might experience and make it very hard for both of you. Pay attention to the way your talk about her going to a daycare or a preschool soon and what your body language is. If your voice is shaky and you can’t bring yourself to smile sincerely, your child will tune into your feelings and not your words.

2. Talk about this Wonderful New Period

Start talking to your child about the daycare or preschool she will start attending a few weeks before the actual date. Describe the things she will learn there. Show your child how confident you are that going to the daycare or preschool will be a positive experience, how wonderful and trustworthy her caregivers are, and how proud you are of her.

3. Read Her Books about Daycares or Preschools

Look for books about starting preschool or daycare at your local library. There are plenty of stories about how challenging starting daycare or preschool can be and how rewarding it becomes after some time. Reading these stories together will help your child understand the main character and his feelings, which will help prepare your child for adjustment.

4. Make Up or Remember Relevant Stories

Tell your child stories that start something like this: “Once a little boy (or a girl) went to a daycare for the first time…” Add some fun adventures and a happy ending. For instance, you can talk about how he was sad to leave his mom at first, but then he really enjoyed making new friends and couldn’t wait to go to school every day. If you can remember, you can even tell her about your own experience with daycare or preschool.

5. Play Daycare Day with Your Child

Create a role game with stuffed animals, cars, trucks or anything your child likes playing to act out what day care will be like. For-instance, a big elephant could be a teacher, a big bear could be a mother or a father, and all the smaller toys could be the children. Show the elephant feeding the kids, reading to them, putting them down for a nap. And, of course, show the mother or father bear coming to pick up his little one at the end of the day and giving her a hug.

6. Tour the Facility Together

Visit the facility together with your child prior to leaving her there for the first time. It will make it easier for her to be without you if it is in an environment she is already familiar with.

7. Try To Make the Transition Gradual

kids are playing with a ballOf course, not everyone has the flexibility to ease a child into daycare or preschool, and not all children need this. But if you have the opportunity and your child seems like she could benefit from a gradual transition, a good way to help that transition is to start with one to-two hours on the first day. Then, gradually build to your full-time schedule by the end of the first two or-three weeks.

8. Share Important Information with Caregivers

Give your child’s to caregiver all the information about your child that could be helpful, like: what your child likes and dislikes and what you usually do to cheer her up or to calm her down.

9. Say Goodbye Before You Go

Don’t leave her without saying a proper goodbye. When you promise your return, be specific with the timing. Some researches believe, that even infants have an internal clock that lets them how long they have been apart from their parents. Make your goodbye quick, and don’t come back if you hear her crying. Hanging around when you were about to leave will make it harder for you and your child.

10. Bring a Security Object and a Picture of You

Bring your child’s favorite toy or any other comfort object, and ask the caregivers to show her your picture if they think she needs some comforting. Some studies shows that even babies behave more calmly when they can see a picture of family members or even some of their parent’s clothes.

11. Show Your Child You Understand What She Feels

Tell your child that it is very normal to feel sad or scared when she is starting something new. Show her that you understand her emotions by telling her a story of a time when you had to start something new, for instance. You can explain how scary it was at first and how it got easier over time. Remember, that a toddler’s language is very limited, so keep the story simple – but you still might be surprised by how much they can understand.

12. Make New Friends at a Daycare or Preschool

If possible, try to make friends with some parents at the daycare or preschool and organize a play date. Your child will feel much more comfortable playing with children she plays outside of the school too.

13. Don’t Make More Changes

kids are playing at daycareUntil she has made the transition and is comfortable in her new school, avoid making any other changes in your child’s daily or night routine. For-example, don’t transition from a toddler bed into a big girl bed or try to potty train at the same time. Doing two major changes may overwhelm her and make both things more difficult.

14. Love and Support Your Child

Be especially attentive and loving during the transition period. Your child may be under stress, which can show in many different ways, including clinging to you, ignoring you, or showing some aggression. Try to be patient and understanding.

 

All of these tips are great for making the transition as painless as possible. However, you still may see your child in tears every time you drop her off at a preschool or daycare during the first few weeks. It is very normal. And while you may feel sad about it right now, remember that the hardest time will pass. Very soon you might feel even a little disappointed, when your little one likes it so much at school, that she doesn’t run over to you at the end of the day, eager to come back home with you!

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