4 Ways To Teach Your Child Empathy

As parents, most of us make sure our children are put in the best schools so they can reach their full potential and attain a high level of intelligence. However, one aspect of intelligence that’s often overlooked is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is important because it is the key to both personal and professional success, as it deals with the ability of being aware of, controlling, and expressing one’s emotions, and handling interpersonal relationships with logic.

One of the main aspects of emotional intelligence is empathy. It is important that parents teach their children the value of empathy at a young age because of the benefits that will aid them in growing and becoming a well-rounded individual. Children with empathy have more awareness surrounding their environment, tend to be better at handling conflict and difficult situations, are less likely to bullies, and are more likely to be compassionate and kind towards other children.

Here are 4 ways you can teach your child to be empathetic:

1.       Showing them your own empathy:

Children learn by watching others. If you’re not empathetic to them or to others, your child is less than likely to be empathetic. For example, let’s say your child makes a mistake and instead of understanding what might have been wrong, you get mad at them for it. As a result, children will learn to approach mistakes made by their peers in a similar fashion. Empathy helps children learn to be understanding.

2.       Teaching children how to deal with their own negative feelings using self-control:

If a child is unable to figure out why they feel certain emotions, it’s unlikely they’ll know how to deal with them. It’s important that parents teach children how to acknowledge their feelings. For example, if your child throws a temper tantrum after a situation you might deem to be “insignificant”, it’s crucial that you treat the situation with delicacy.

Ask them what made them mad and make sure they understand that their feelings are validated. A lot of parents usually have an urgency to want to fix things right away without making that first step to communicate. It’s important to know that, although frustrating, taking the time to listen will help your child learn how to deal with their emotions.

3.       Encouraging children to read more books and watch TV together:

Children acquire a lot of their role models through fictional characters in TV shows, cartoons, and movies because they unconsciously choose characters to empathize and sympathize with. In books, you can encourage your child to see life through another perspective. In movies, you can explain to them what characters are feeling and dealing with as the storylines develop.

4.       Encourage them to help others in need:

Whether it’s a big or small situation, encouraging your child to sympathize with those in need teaches them to care more about others. For example, if you have multiple children, teach your child the simple trick of trying to understand why one of their siblings might be frustrated in a given moment. Prompt them to ask questions as to why they might be feeling down, if something happened at school, if they were hungry, or if they’re just having bad day. The little questions will go a long way.

Teaching Empathy at Cranium Academy

At Cranium Academy, we value the duality of both academic and emotional intelligence. We pride ourselves in making sure our teachers lead by example and model empathy every day as they interact with students and fellow colleagues.

Teaching Your Child the Value of Money

We all want our children to grow up to be successful individuals. A strong academic foundation, like the one at Cranium Academy, is a great start but there are other ways that you can start ensuring your child’s future success. One of them is teaching them good financial habits. Attitudes and financial habits develop at a very early age, which is why it’s so important for us to teach our children how to responsibly handle money from the get-go. Below are some useful tips that might help you teach your children the purpose and value of money.

What is money?

Simply put, money is something that you can exchange for something else. Depending on your child’s age, you may want to teach her the word “currency.” You can give your child an example of this exchange by giving her a couple of dollars and allowing her to select a fruit or piece of candy from the store, which she can use the money to buy. This will help her grasp the concept of currency in everyday life.

Another great way to teach preschoolers the value of money is by playing “store” with pretend money. You can set up a “store” in your house with a toy register and allow “customers” to purchase household items using the pretend money. This will teach your child the value of money and how its used to acquire different items.

How do we count money?

Once your child learns the counting basics, you can explain to him that each coin has a different value and explain their relationships with one another. Help your child understand that two nickels are worth as much as one dime and that two dimes and one nickel are worth as much as one quarter. This will help your child understand that some coins are worth more than others but that they all have value in their own way.

Piggybanks are another great way to help your child understand the value of coins. Encourage them to collect coins and save them in their piggybank. Then, pick a time to empty out its contents and have him count the coins inside. Your child will have fun sorting the different coins into piles and adding up the value of each pile, then adding up the grand total.

What are coupons and how do we use them?

Explain to your child that coupons are a way to save a little extra money when you go shopping. You can use newspapers and magazines that come full of coupons as a learning tool for your child. Many coupons include pictures of the items so it’s a good idea to go through the book with them and let them choose which coupons they think will be helpful to your family. Cut out these coupons and place them in an envelope.

Next time you take a trip to the store, give your child the coupon envelope. If she is old enough, ask her to help you find the items on the coupons on the store shelves. This activity is a great way to teach your child the importance of discounts and getting the best deals.

Why is it important to save money?

In addition to the concepts listed above, perhaps the most crucial one that we should begin instilling is how important it is to save money. A good way to teach this concept is by setting up a savings account for your child. Children generally tend to get excited about this because they feel like responsible adults when they have their own bank account. For children that receive allowances, encourage them to deposit a percentage of it into their saving account every time they get it.

When your child is old enough, explain to him that when he puts money in his savings account, the bank pays interest on it every month; so he is earning even more money than he put in. You can reinforce the importance of saving money by considering matching whatever amount your child saves. This will encourage them to save more money, more frequently.

Economics at Cranium Academy

At Cranium Academy, our Critical Thinking Explorers program uncovers the topic of Economics in an age-appropriate and easily understandable way. In our Cranium Explorers program, children build critical thinking and cognitive skills, creativity, focus, and communication while learning the topic of Economics

Building Cranium Character – Creating Good Citizens

Today many parents are not only searching for schools that will set up their children for strong academic success, but also for schools that will develop their child both socially and emotionally. Strengthening and building a child’s character while in school can be every bit as important as learning reading or math.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education.”  Many preschool and elementary schools focus solely on the academic portion of education. Through character education, children can learn valuable life lessons and develop a more grounded moral compass.  Programs that also teach character education are likely to far exceed parent expectations by encouraging positive character traits and ethical behaviors.

To wrap up our series on Building Cranium Character, it’s important to discuss the benefits of teaching your child how to become a good citizen.  Defined by Merriam Webster as “the quality of a person’s response to membership in a community,” citizenship is a character trait that will have not only a personal impact on your child but a widespread effect on others, as well. When we do good things for our society and for others, it shows that we genuinely care about our community. When children learn these ideals from a young age, they also learn quickly that the feeling of doing good things for others is very rewarding and often contagious.

How you can help your child become a good citizen?

Discuss citizenship and find good examples. You’ll want to first define exactly what a good citizen is, and talk about the responsibilities that come along with being a citizen. You can read books with your child that depict examples of citizenship in action. These real-world scenarios will hopefully encourage your child to become a good citizen now and in the future.

Take your child with you to the polls. Next time election season rolls around, use it as a teaching opportunity for your child. Bring her with you when you go to cast your ballot and teach her the importance of voting in a democracy. Be sure to explain how the candidates and the positions they aspire to hold can have a big impact on your community.

Do community service together. The possibilities for community service are endless, and there are countless ways for you to get your child involved. For example, you can encourage your child to get together the clothes that no longer fit them, and the toys they no longer use, and donate them to organizations like Goodwill. You can take your child with you next time you volunteer to clean up a park or a beach and use it as a way to explain pollution and how it affects both people and animals. Take him grocery shopping with you and have him help you choose the foods that you will donate to a local food pantry. Use this as an opportunity to explain the importance of helping those in the community that are not as fortunate as your family.

Visit your local nursing home. Explain to your child that the elderly in the nursing home often get bored and lonely and that is the responsibility of a good citizen to put a smile on the faces of those that need a little extra cheering up. This is a great way to teach your child how to care for others! You can encourage your child to write cards to the nursing home residents, or help you bake cookies for them. When you arrive at the nursing home, encourage your child to make friends with the residents by handing out the cards and the cookies.

Citizenship at Cranium Academy

At Cranium Academy, we incorporate character education into our advanced, well-rounded curriculum. Our exclusive character education program integrates positive discipline techniques with leadership exercises throughout each school day. We focus on building character traits like citizenship through fun real-world scenarios in which children are encouraged to use creative strategies that align with their emerging cognitive abilities. Finding a school such as Cranium Academy that values character education helps ensure that your child grows stronger academically, physically, socially and emotionally.

Building Cranium Character – Raising a Compassionate Child

When looking for a childcare center for their little one, most parents want to ensure their child is receiving the best academic education. But for young children, there is so much more to learn than ABCs and 123s. It’s important to look at the learning environment and the overall atmosphere of the establishment. In addition to academic development, does the childcare center prioritize the importance of learning valuable life lessons and developing a good moral compass? The best childcare center will focus on social and emotional development just as much as cognitive and physical development. They will teach children good character traits and ethical behaviors. They will recognize the importance of character education.

Character education is an ongoing process that helps children learn to become moral, caring, responsible individuals. Lessons focus on values such as respect, caring, citizenship, and compassion. Successful character education programs bring lessons in character values to life, putting values in simple terms for your child. Compassion is the desire to help someone who’s in distress. It is a feeling that can be acted upon in many ways. Here are some techniques you can use at home to help your child understand and exercise compassion:

Read about it

Reading about compassion is a great way for your child to better grasp the concept. There are some children’s books that do a great job of depicting scenarios where compassion is needed. Books such as The Teddy Bear by David McPhail, and A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead & Erin Stead, will spark conversations between you and your child about compassion and empathy. You can seize these conversations as the perfect teaching moments to explain the importance of caring and compassion. It’s important to ask your child questions to get them thinking, such as ‘Why do you think that child felt that way?”  “How would you feel if that happened to you?” and “How could he have handled that with more compassion?”

Emulate it

Children often learn quickly by observing your actions. That’s why it’s so important for you to act compassionately on a regular basis. You can do this by handling your day-to-day interactions with people in such a way in which your child is able to watch you be compassionate. For example, if you encounter a person that needs help, such as an elderly person coming out of the grocery store with heavy bags, stop what you are doing and offer to help. It’s important for you to take spontaneous opportunities like that, so your child sees that anytime is the right time to be compassionate, and to engage in acts of kindness toward others.

Act on it

The best way to show your child what compassion is all about is by acting on it. You can do this by giving back to the community through volunteer work. For example, you can take your child with you to donate food to a local pantry, visit a nursing home, or clean up litter in a local park. You can also ask them to help you make activity boxes for kids in local hospitals, which you could fill with playing cards, small games, puzzles, and small books.

Compassion at Cranium Academy

Unlike your average childcare center today, Cranium Academy takes character education seriously. We believe that fostering compassion at an early age is one of the most effective ways to prevent verbal, physical, and emotional aggression from taking hold. That’s why we incorporate compassion, or “caring,” into our character education curriculum. Our engaging character education curriculum utilizes real-world scenarios to help our students learn to use compassion in creative strategies that match their emerging cognitive abilities.

Building Cranium Character – Fostering Fairness

Most parents worry about finding a school with the best academic education for their children. But sometimes we forget that cognitive skills are not the only skills that need to be nurtured beginning at a young age. To help children be successful in school and beyond, it’s equally as important to help them develop social and emotional skills.  This is where character education comes in. Character education helps teach children essential life skills and values that they will carry with them throughout their life.

To help preschool and elementary-aged children understand what it really means to have good character, it’s best to keep it simple. Providing basic explanations and examples of what each trait looks like in their day-to-day life is key. One important element of our character is fairness. Let your child know that being fair means treating people equally, honestly and with respect. Fairness also means playing by the rules, taking turns, and not playing favorites. Here are some simple ways to help teach your child how to be fair:

Be a Role Model

Your children are constantly observing you and modeling their behavior after yours. To create a positive influence on your children, try being fair to everyone – your spouse, strangers, waiters, cashiers, etc. As your children see you being fair to everyone, they will learn that fairness is not reserved for only one certain type of person. Your children will benefit from the example you set for them as they begin imitating your fair behavior and speech.

Use Relatable Examples

Children’s books and movies are great tools to use as ways of helping children understand the differences between fair and unfair behaviors. The next time you are watching a movie or reading a book with your child, pause and take a minute to explain the situation unfolding before them. You can ask your child what they think the characters did that was fair, or what they did that was unfair. Movies and books are great teaching tools for fairness because they can make it easier to bring up and discuss important topics with children.

Positively Reinforce Fairness

Recognize your children if and when they exhibit fair behavior in any scenario. If you see them offer another child a turn with their toy or game, that is a reason for praise. If they take responsibility for a mistake they made, let them know they made a fair choice. Make sure that your children know that this kind of behavior makes you proud and that you admire them for it. It’s important to create a link between fairness and positivity so that your children don’t equate fairness with loss or punishment. You can create this link by offering encouragement and praise if/when your children exhibit fairness. Help your children understand that when they are fair in their dealings with others, everyone benefits – including society.

Fostering Fairness at Cranium Academy

At Cranium Academy, we integrate an exclusive character education program into our curriculum. This character education program focuses on building many character traits, one of which is fairness. Using real-world scenarios, character traits are strengthened through creative activities that align with a child’s developing cognitive skills. Our dedicated staff at Cranium Academy understands the importance of character education, striving to help each child build cognitive, social and emotional life skills that they will carry with them as successful students and citizens.

More in the Cranium character series: Responsibility, Generosity, Respect, Caring, and Citizenship

Kicking the Bad Habits: Nail Biting and Picking

If your child is about to start preschool or daycare, it’s time to start breaking some of their bad habits. In this series, we will cover some tactics that will help you kick those bad habits to the curb. Today’s bad habit is nail biting and picking. 

Nail biting and picking is the most common of the bad habits. Your child might bite her nails because of boredom, stress, or even just to imitate you. Nail biting is a bad habit that is also likely to continue into adulthood, so you should try to break this habit now while your child is still young. To nip the nail biting habit in the bud, try applying the following tips:

Address the anxieties.

Oftentimes nail biting can be a sign of stress. Figuring out what is causing your child’s stress is important so you can help him ease his anxiety. Sometimes it’s something as simple as the thought of growing up, or it could be a big change like moving into a new house or switching schools. You can help your child by talking him through his worries and reassuring him.

Keep their nails trimmed.

Long nails are almost always more tempting to bite and pick on. When they grow too long, they also have a tendency to catch on to things with their ragged edges. To reduce the nail biting or picking temptation, keep your child’s nails trimmed and filed down.

Offer crunchy snacks.

Chewing on food can be a good substitute for biting on nails. Offer your child crunchy foods like raw carrots or cucumbers to munch on.

Set goals.

Setting realistic goals with your child can also minimize their nail biting or picking habits. Set a goal of 24 hours without nail biting. If your child meets this goal, then you can reward her with something special, like an extra bedtime story.

At Cranium Academy, our goal is to build character and leadership in every student. To provide consistency between school and home life, we work hand-in-hand with parents to help children break their bad habits. If you’re working on kicking the nail biting habit, let your child’s teacher know so that we can help you with the process. One less bad habit is one step closer to building good character and being a leader!

More in this serious: Thumb Sucking, Hair Pulling, Nose Picking




Kicking the Bad Habits: Hair Pulling

If your child is about to start preschool or daycare, it’s time to start breaking some of their bad habits. In this series, we will cover some tactics that will help you kick those bad habits to the curb. Today’s bad habit is hair pulling.

Yanking hair is usually a quick way for children to exert control over their environment, when they’re still too young to communicate why they are upset. Once children discover the reaction they get from hair pulling, they make it into a habit to get what they want. If your child has ever yanked on your locks then you know how painful this habit can be! Here are some ways to break the bad habit of hair pulling:

Stay calm

Remember that by pulling hair, your child is actively trying to get a reaction from you. If you don’t let your emotions overcome you when your child pulls your hair, or when you catch him pulling someone else’s hair, then you will find yourself in the right mindset to come up with a constructive way to handle this habit.

Work out the reason

Toddlers pull hair because their vocabulary is still so limited, so they are often unable to find the right words to explain what is making them upset. You should try to work out the possible reason behind their hair pulling behavior. For instance, you could tell them that you understand why they are angry and then correct their behavior accordingly.

Talk to your child

It’s important to demonstrate that talking – not hair pulling – is the proper way to solve problems. Make sure you tell her that hair pulling is wrong because it hurts people.  As your child gets older and her vocabulary starts to grow, teach her to solve problems through alternative means. For instance, you could say ‘Instead of pulling his hair, what could you do the next time your brother grabs your toy?’ Then help her express herself in words.

Never pull back

Don’t try to teach your child “how it feels” by pulling their hair back. This only reinforces the hair pulling behavior by teaching them that hair pulling is the way to get things done. Always use the behavior that you want your children to imitate.

At Cranium Academy, our goal is to build character and leadership in every student. To provide consistency between school and home life, we work hand-in-hand with parents to help children break their bad habits. If you’re working on kicking the hair pulling habit, let your child’s teacher know so that we can help you with the process. One less bad habit is one step closer to building good character and being a leader!

More in this series: Thumb Sucking, Nose Picking, Nail Biting/Picking

Kicking the Bad Habits: Thumb Sucking

If your child is about to start preschool or daycare, it’s time to start breaking some of their bad habits. In this series, we will cover some tactics that will help you kick those bad habits to the curb. Today’s bad habit is thumb and finger sucking.  

During infancy, thumb and finger sucking is a completely normal way for children to soothe and entertain themselves. However, past toddlerhood thumb sucking can become one of the worst habits for your child. Not only can it be the source of teasing around age 5, but it can also leave permanent damage to their jaw shape, teeth, and speech. To nip this bad habit in the bud, try applying the following tips:

Talk it Out

Explain to your child why thumb sucking is a bad habit, such as how it can start making his teeth look funny. Let your child know that when he is ready to stop, you will be there for him.

Set a Limit

To start weaning your child off thumb sucking, you can tell your child that thumb sucking should not be done during the daytime. Limiting thumb sucking to bedtime or naptime is a good way to reduce the amount of thumb sucking your child does on a daily basis.

Praise Good Behavior

For every hour that your child goes without sucking her thumb, you should tell her that you noticed she didn’t suck her thumb and praise her for this good behavior.

Practice Self-Awareness

When you catch your child sucking his thumb, simply ask him ‘Do you know you’re sucking your thumb right now?’ Chances are he will say no because most kids don’t realize when they are sucking their thumbs. By asking him this question every time he sucks his thumb, you are raising his self-awareness.

Replace with Other Activities

You can distract your child from sucking her thumb with a substitute activity, such as a squishy ball or puppets.

Avoid Nagging and Punishing

Nagging or punishing your child and pulling his finger out of his mouth every time you catch him sucking his thumb can backfire on you. This will just make your child want to continue sucking his thumb even more and this will only result in a power struggle.

At Cranium Academy, our goal is to build character and leadership in every student. To provide consistency between school and home life, we work hand-in-hand with parents to help children break their bad habits. If you’re working on kicking the thumb sucking habit, let your child’s teacher know so that we can help you with the process. One less bad habit is one step closer to building good character and being a leader!

More in this series: Hair Pulling, Nose Picking, Nail Biting/Picking

Unlock the Power of Early Reading

You probably know that reading to children is a good thing, but do you know the specific advantages even the youngest children can gain by being exposed to reading? From the beginning, children can begin to develop a lifelong relationship with reading which helps them grow into adults who love to read and can communicate more easily. Here are just a few of the benefits of reading to your child even before the age of five: Read more

Get Creative! Exploring the Benefits of Art

If you have a child, or know one, you know that children naturally love art. You’ve probably noticed their eyes light up when given paint, crayons, or other art supplies. You may have also noticed that schools seem less able to allow time for creativity or art.

Simple creative activities are essential building blocks of child development. When learning to use a paintbrush, children work to improve their fine motor skills. By counting supplies or colors, they discover the basics of math. Experimenting with various materials involves science. Feeling good about the art they are creating builds self-confidence. And when a child feels free to experiment and make mistakes, they are free to invent new ways of thinking which extends well beyond the classroom.

It’s important to find a school which recognizes that making art and enjoying the art of other people and cultures is essential to the development of the whole child. Cranium Academy values the importance of art as a language, an important form of self-expression, and a critical tool to increase engagement and retention when integrated within other programs such as math, reading, science, and social studies.

The benefits of art include (but are not limited to):

Learning to express feelings in a safe way – Children can learn to express and handle negative as well as positive feelings through creating art.

Strengthening fine motor skills – By holding crayons and learning to control scissors and other art tools, children strengthen fine motor skills essential for writing and other activities.

Developing decision-making and problem-solving skills – How could I make this shape? What color should I use? Making art gives children various opportunities to make their own choices and decisions.

Valuing diversity and culture – Seeing that others have different points of view and ways of expressing them than they do is invaluable. Seeing other children’s artwork, as well as art from other cultures, gives children real examples of how different people express the same thing in different ways.

Encouraging innovation – When children are encouraged to create freely and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation and critical thinking that will be important in their adult lives.

Boosting self-esteem and experiencing success – Since there is no right or wrong in creating art, all children can experience a measure of success and pride in their artwork.

Practicing social skills – By sharing art supplies, cooperating to create a group project or clean up after one, creating art helps children gain valuable social skills.

Young Masterpieces in the Making at Cranium Academy

Cranium Academy teachers utilize two core art programs, along with art integration within other programs and subjects. Art highlights at Cranium Academy, including locations in Winter Garden (near Windermere) and East Orlando (near Lake Nona), include:

Preschool through elementary school curriculum meets all national art and state specific art standards.

Exploration of art history, including appreciation of art periods, styles, famous pieces and museums around the world.

All students are immersed in art projects from preschool through elementary school. Preschool students visit virtual museums through our interactive technology and create their own museums within their classrooms. Elementary students also get to experience field trips to museums and live performances within their community.

An animated interactive art program that teaches preschool and elementary school students the “language” of art while developing critical thinking.

Cranium Academy Students Use Art to Benefit Others 

On January 28th and 29th, Cranium Academy of East Orlando (near Lake Nona) will be holding its inaugural Art Exhibit & Auction. Each classroom will be working together to create a unique art project for the exhibit, which parents will then be able to bid on. All funds raised will be donated to a patient at Nemours Children’s Hospital through the Be Brave Foundation.

The mission of the Be Brave Foundation is to provide financial assistance to families in Central Florida with a child battling cancer. By removing some of the financial burden associated with treating pediatric cancer, we can assist the family in focusing on their child’s care and condition. For more information on this amazing organization, visit www.bebravefoundation.org.

Cranium Academy offers a completely unique preschool through fifth grade private school experience, plus unforgettable summer camps, birthday parties, after school programs, and more! Now serving more of the Orlando area with our Winter Garden – Windermere preschool and elementary school location and our brand new East Orlando location near Lake Nona.