Ready Set School Blog

The Utah Child Protection Registry

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Protect Your Family's Addresses:
The Utah Child Protection Registry is a free program provided by the State of Utah that helps you stop adult-oriented solicitations from being targeted at you and your family. The program allows you to protect:
  • E-Mail Addresses
  • Mobile Phone Numbers
  • Instant Messenger IDs
  • Fax Numbers

Companies and marketers that send adult-oriented messages, such as those promoting pornography, alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco, and gambling are required to screen their mailing lists with the State of Utah and remove registered addresses and numbers before they send their solicitations. Marketers that fail to remove registered addresses face felony charges as well as substantial civil and criminal fines.

Click here to register e-mail addresses now


10 Tips for Eating Out With Your Child

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10 tips to help keep your child’s eating habits from turning into frustrating public displays of disaffection and make your family’s meals out on the town more enjoyable for everyone involved.

  1. Maintain a Healthy Attitude. Eating out requires a lot of social skills—skills that children must not only be taught, but be given the chance to practice. Each time you head out to a restaurant, be sure to remind yourself that being quiet and sitting still with one’s napkin across one’s lap throughout an entire meal doesn’t come naturally.
  2. Pick a Restaurant That Caters to Kids… If there’s a “Kids Eat Free” sign in the window, the hostess is ready and waiting with a box of crayons, and the level of background noise is high enough to drown out any unexpectedly loud outbursts, it’s a safe bet you’re good to go. Don’t forget that as your child’s mealtime manners develop, you can look forward to dining at restaurants that cater to a more mature crowd.
  3. BYOB. bring your own backup. Bringing along a couple of mealtime accessories can go a long way toward making the meal go smoothly and helping your child enjoy rather than ruin the ambiance.
  4. Keep in Mind That It’s About Time. Many of the problems children have behaving in restaurants can be traced back to having too much time on their hands. Boredom and impatience are not your friends. Since the clock will be ticking from the minute you walk in the door, we recommend:

      Read more: 10 Tips for Eating Out With Your Child


Toilet Learning Skills for Toddlers

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Cognitive and Verbal Skills Needed for Toilet Learning

If you know how to drive a car with a manual transmission, you probably remember how hard it was to master this skill. First, you had to locate the stick shift, the clutch pedal, and the gears. Next, you had to get a feel for when it was time to shift gears, and learn how to do so smoothly while easing the clutch pedal down and up again.
During the toilet-training process, your child must learn to coordinate an equally complex combination of physical and cognitive tasks. She must familiarize herself with the necessary "equipment" (her body and its functions), associate physical sensations with the proper responses, picture what she wants to do (use the potty), create a plan to get there, begin using it, and remain in place long enough to finish, which requires both memory and concentration. Throughout this learning process, she must be able to understand your explanations, commands, and responses to some extent, and express her own feelings about toilet use.


Body Awareness

Clearly, all of this learning takes time. The first steps in this process involve bodily sensation—the ability to associate an inner feeling of fullness with the bowel movement or

Read more: Toilet Learning Skills for Toddlers


Review: Crucial Confrontations

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I love the insights of Crucial Confrontations. This one addresses a stress that is a sign of the times-debt. Whether or not you are in debt the principles of what it takes to break a bad habit are invaluable. If you and your partner are having a hard time breaking the habit of over indulging your child or if your environment is chaotic due to too much stuff (toys included) or a myriad of other stressors you can use the principles of the Influencer work to help you resolve “bad habits” and your families quandaries.

Dear Crucial Skills,

My husband and I have $40,000 in credit card debt. We've made all kinds of budgets and set all kinds of goals but still can't get together on this. We fight about it a lot and it's become a real source of conflict for us. We both want to get out of debt, but one bad deed keeps leading to another. How can we stick to our budget?

Good Intentions

Dear Good Intentions,

What a great question to kick off the New Year. I'm sure you're not alone after a tough financial year—many of us have had to try to change our spending habits to help us weather everything from economic anxiety to a true financial famine. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to change your good intentions into good behavior.

First, I'd suggest you and your husband play a game together. Let's call the game Name That Influence! The object of the game is to identify all the different sources of influence that are undermining your good intentions. You'll be shocked at how long the list is. Here are three questions to help you generate some specific answers:

Read more: Review: Crucial Confrontations


Giving Your Child Choices

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Young babies don’t realize that they are separate beings from their mothers and fathers, but somewhere around their second birthday they start to realize that they don’t really want to take that nap or they’re not going to eat those peas. This can be a trying time for any parent but it can also be a time for celebration. Their child is learning to define who they are by discovering their own distinct likes and dislikes.

Is “no” your toddler’s favorite word. Do you find yourself battling your two year old over the simplest things?  Don’t worry! Toddler’s can try the patience of even the calmest and most experienced parents. What’s a parent to do? Offering choices is a simple but effective parenting tool that will help reduce power struggles and help your child feel they have some control in their life. Offering choices allow children to comply with your wishes while having the “last word.” Humans love control and our children are no different. They feel empowered when they are given a choice but we maintain control by deciding what choices to offer.

Giving choices helps children attend to the task at hand, comply with your wishes, learn decision making skills, avoid power struggles, learn impulse control and establish and maintain self-control. A skilled parent knows to offer choices that don’t make a problem for them or anyone else. They know to offer choices that they can deliver. They also know when not to offer a choice. In matters of health or safety, children have absolutely no say in the matter. A wise parent would not ask their child, “Do you want to wear your helmet?” or “Do you want to take a nap?” They know that these are times when the child does not have a choice. Children need to understand that they do not have input into every situation.

A sensible parent knows that two positive choices optimize the chance for cooperation. They offer two positive choices that move the child toward the goal at hand. When delivering choices follow these steps:

Read more: Giving Your Child Choices


Utah Parents as Teachers

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Ready!Set!School! is brought to you by Utah Parents as Teachers, a program of Children's Service Society. Utah Parents as Teachers is a parenting program that supports parents by teaching child development, parenting skills, and providing ideas for age appropriate learning activities that parents can do with their children. We believe that parents are their child's first and most important teacher throughout a child's life.

Parents participating in the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program can participate in our monthly PAT group meetings, which are family activity nights with snacks, crafts, networking opportunities, and parenting information. Parents who attend the group meetings will then have the opportunity to be on our waiting list to receive personal visits once a month from one of our "super nanny/parenting consultants" PAT certified parent educators. You will receive a visit at your home once a month where you will get free consultations on parenting topics that you choose, and developmental information and activity ideas based on the age of your child.

Other services that you can receive are developmental, health, hearing, and vision screenings for your child to detect possible hearing and vision screenings, and access to a huge network of community resources.

Our 2011 schedule for PAT group meetings are currently held at Riley Elementary from 6:30 to 7:30 PM and Whittier Elementary from 6:00 to 7:00 PM and are focused on kindergarten readiness. Our activities for this year are planned as follows:

Read more: Utah Parents as Teachers


The Preschool Years and Parental Involvement

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We have all heard that parental involvement in schooling greatly improves a child's ability to learn, which is why homeschooled children often do so well on standardized tests, but how does this effect preschool age children? Do preschool age children who's parents are actively involved in their child's learning process, and who provide learning activities for their kids do better than children who just go to preschool? This is the question that researchers at the University of massachusets and Long Island University, C.W. Post Campus asked as they studied 163 preschool children, mostly form low income families, and their parents and teachers. Teachers rated the level of parental involvement, and preliteracy skills were assesed with standardized tests. You can read the full text of that study here.

Their findings were no surprise to early childhood professionals -- parental involvement was directly related to higher preliteracy scores on standardized tests. What does this mean for kids? It means that the more involved and supportive a parent is in a child's early learning and education process, the easier it will be for that child to learn crucial literacy skills later on.

This also means that if you want your child to excel in learning, as a parent you need to be actively involved in your child's learning process, and you cannot expect that your child will get everything that he needs from his childcare or preschool environment alone. So, how can parents be more actively involved in their child's learning? Often we as parents are so busy! I envy my sister just a tad, because she is a stay at home mom who homeschools (which doesn't work for everyone), but if you're like me, on a typical morning, I wake up, roust the kids out of bed, help my preschooler get dressed, and I make sure the two older boys get dressed, feed the cat, and get out the door and on their way to school with some food in their stomachs before rushing my three year old off to daycare so I can get to work on time.

The childcare that she goes to includes fairly intensive academic preschool instruction where she learns to write her name, letter recognition, and even basic spanish language instruction. She has a wonderful teacher, whom she absolutly adores. Will she be ready for kindergarten when the time comes for her to go? Probably, but here are a few simple things that we can do as parents that will ensure that our kids are not just ready to learn, but ready to excel:

Read more: The Preschool Years and Parental Involvement


Kindergarten Readiness = Success

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Every year, between 40 and 70% of Utah children enter kindergarten unprepared to learn. Kindergarten readiness is one of the major predicting factor to school success and to success later in life. Every year, between 40 and 70% of Utah children enter kindergarten unprepared to learn. Kindergarten readiness is one of the major predicting factors to school success and to success later in life. Did you know that if a child enters kindergarten unprepared to learn that his chances of either repeating a grade, dropping out of high school, or going to prison increase dramatically? And that he is 3 times less likely to be financially independent as an adult? Not only that, but children who are behind hinder the teacher's ability to effectively help other students reach their full potential.

According to a research study done by the Santa Clara County in California, after tracking results of school readiness for seven years, from 2001 to 2008, the findings were that "Children who enter kindergarten near‐proficient across all readiness skills perform significantly better on standardized tests in English and math in third, fourth, and fifth grades than do children of different readiness profiles."


Some other interesting findings were:

  1. that the 20 readiness skills consistently sort into four basic building blocks:
    • Self-Care & Motor Skills
    • Self-Regulation
    • Social Expression
    • Kindergarten Academics
  2. Students who started out ahead on kindergarten readiness scores stayed ahead, while students who started out behind in kindergarten remained behind up through the 5th grade.
  3. Although the gaps narrowed in the higher grades, children who began kindergarten unprepared were still being outscored by their peers who started out ahead, even as late as the fifth grade.
  4. Proficiency on kindergarten academics skills showed to be the strongest predictor of later test scores in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Children who scored high on kindergarten academics and who were also high in Social-Expression demonstrated the biggest boost in achievement.

They also found that even "though kindergarten academics has the strongest associations with higher test scores, the solution is not drilling children on their letters and numbers at ever earlier ages," but rather to take "extra efforts to boost critical readiness skills during the summer prior to kindergarten" to "better position children for academic success." This is why some kind of preschool program the summer prior to kindergarten has shown to be the best way to prepare a child for kindergarten.

Read more: Kindergarten Readiness = Success


Welcome to the Ready!Set!School! Blog

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As a part of our website's upgrade and re-design, we have replaced our forum with a blog to keep you updated on Ready!Set!School! activities and to provide a place where you can still participate and post questions or comments.

Not only can you do the Ready!Set!School! activities independently, but Ready!Set!School! is currently being taught in workshops around the state in our Parent Information Resource Centers (PIRCs) to give you the opportunity to participate in Ready!Set!School! as a group activity, and to help give you support as you complete all of the Ready!Set!School! activities with your child.

In conjunction with the website upgrade, we are also getting ready for our big 'Jump Into Ready!Set!School!' event which will be held on August 22nd at the Discovery Gateway. If you have never been to the Discovery Gateway children's museum, you should take this opportunity to go there with your kids and be prepared for a lot of fun!

Everything is hands on - there is a pretend play area with a 'farm' where children can pretend to plant a garden, feed farm animals, and pretend to ride a full sized horse. There is also a pretend grocery store where the children get to 'shop' and play at being the cashier with actual kid sized checkout counters. The 'groceries' can then be taken 'home' to a pretend play house that has a reading area/living room, and a play kitchen with cupboards, a refrigerator, a play oven, and a sink. There is a 'construction' zone with a crane and giant foam blocks where the children can build structures, or just stack the blocks and knock them over again. Also, there is a huge water play area and there is a toddler play area for children under 3. There are dress-ups at nearly every station. Children can put on cowboy clothes at the farm, a grocers apron at the store, an apron and a chef's hat in the kitchen of the playhouse; there are fireman, policeman, and postman costumes, and even a postman's bag of letters to be delivered to mailboxes that are at each station.

Of course there are so many other things as well -- there is a giant xylophone with music to play, and upstairs there is a science and learning area with activities that even older children can enjoy, including a news station with a teleprompter and a real-life non-working helicopter that is set up for the children to play in, complete with paramedic and pilot vests to wear. After spending the day at Discovery Gateway, my 3 and 6 year old were not wanting to leave, and my 14 year old asked if I thought she could get a summer job there!

For our "Jump into Ready!Set!School! event, all of these activities will still be available, and in addition, we will be adding a display where children can go to complete some of the activities from the Ready!Set!School! curriculum. There will also be face painting, balloons, a magic act, and animal shows, including a visit from Oscar, a baby kangaroo, who will be our mascot for "Jump into Ready!Set!School!" event. We have arranged a discounted admissions price of only $3.25 per person with the coupon that is available here on our website for you to download .

You will need to print one coupon per family, and take it with you to Discovery Gateway to get the discounted rate.

Read more: Welcome to the Ready!Set!School! Blog


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