The Official Grace Community School Blog (you’re on it now!) has been running since 2015. We’ve got a lot of content. If you’re new to the blog or haven’t poked around here in awhile you may be asking, “What should I read?”
We’ve put together a list of some of our best articles from the blog archives, sort of our “greatest hits.” Just click the links below.
Are you on the fence about whether or not to enroll your child in music lessons? Here are 15 reasons why you should give your kids music lessons!
1. All Kids Can Benefit to Some Degree from Music Lessons
Even kids who don’t grow up to be Mozarts can benefit! This includes children of all ages, backgrounds, and talents. While children have many different interests and abilities, the benefits listed here still apply. Here are some more reasons to give your kids music lessons!
2. Music Lessons Boost Skills in Areas Beyond Just Music
You might think that learning music just leaves you with children who have music skills, but there are many areas that benefit children way beyond just being able to play an instrument or sing. These skills help children in a multitude of ways. From improved social and language skills to increased concentration, people who take music lessons have improved quality of life.
3. The Benefits of Music Are Long-Term
Like riding a bicycle, many things you learn from music classes stay with your whole life. While a child might forget certain specifics of music, the cognitive and other benefits remain into later childhood and adulthood.
4. It Builds Discipline and Self-Control
Being able to play an instrument is no small achievement, and one that doesn’t happen without improvements in self-discipline and self-control — considered to be one one the most important traits for success in every area of life. You’ll be better at everything with more self-discipline.
5. Kids Music Lessons Sharpen Children’s Senses
Participating in music is a multi-sensory experience! A good musician has to use ears (to listen), eyes (to read music and pay attention to the instructor/conductor), and touch (to work the instrument). Every sense improves with practice, and this spills over to other areas that kids use those senses.
6. Music Lessons Boost Children’s Language Skills
Not just because of singing, but the area of the brain that handles music includes language skills. When kids get better at music, they get better at language, too. Also, the self-discipline required to learn an instrument boosts overall learning capacity.
7. Music Is an Area of Learning With Immediate Feedback
When you are playing a piece of music, and you make a mistake, you know right away! It’s unmistakable. Few areas of endeavor have such amazing immediate feedback.
8. It Can Boost a Child’s IQ
All that increased cognitive ability from kids music lessons we’ve been talking about? It actually boosts IQ scores That’s amazing! While high IQ is by no means the only indicator of success in life, it is important.
9. Music Allows Kids to Express Themselves
Few things give children the opportunity to express themselves like music does. Kids love music, and music lessons help them do it better. In particular, kids who are more introverted or find difficulty expressing themselves in other ways can turn to music as a creative outlet.
10. Music Lessons Can Physically Improve a Child’s Brain
The increased concentration ability, self-control, and math-language skills that come along with kids music lessons are the result of actual physical changes in the brain — which is why these benefits are long-term.
11. Performing Music in Front of Others Helps Kids Become More Confident and Helps Them Overcome Shyness
The best cure for stage fright is practice at performing in front of others! And the earlier kids gain access experience doing this, the better. They learn that making music is fun, and not something to be intimidated by. A by-product of this is increased confidence in other social settings.
12. Kids Music Lessons Boost Math Skills
In addition to helping with language abilities, music lessons boost math skills. In particular, learning how to play a musical instrument has been shown to help kids do better solving math problems. Even listening to music during a math test seems to have some benefit!
13. They Boost Standardized Test Scores
Really! This effect has been documented in multiple studies. It’s almost incredible how something as seemingly ordinary as music lessons can do so much. And don’t forget…
14. It’s Fun!
Maybe we haven’t pointed this out enough yet, but music is fun. Music — performing it, listening to it, and learning it — provides enjoyment. Music makes kids happy!
15. Music Provides a Lifetime of Enjoyment
Unlike more physical activities, music isn’t something that requires great athleticism to perform and enjoy. Nor is it something most kids will “outgrow.” The benefits and fun of music lessons are here to stay for a lifetime.
So What Else?
Here’s a bonus reason to give your kids music lessons: we have them here at Grace Community School! That’s right: Grace Community School has music lessons! These are fun 30-minute sessions where students learn the basics of music theory and get experience with a variety of musical instruments, including piano. Learn more about Grace Community School kids music lessons here.
Nothing sets Grace Community School apart from other childcare centers more than our learning program! We want to give you a brief overview of the learning programs here at Grace Community School. Our program starts at age six weeks and continues through kindergarten, and so does the learning. First and foremost, we are far more than a daycare.
Instead of Daycare, Why Not School?
Most people think of daycare as mostly babysitting with some social interaction thrown in for good measure. This is pretty much true, but not here. That’s why we are Grace Community School, emphasis on school. Instead of just daycare, we are an educational facility. But that doesn’t mean we’re boring. Many people think that play and learning are mutually exclusive. This isn’t true!
Learning can be fun, and it has to be — for children to learn, they need to be interested. We do all our teaching with interactive games and fun activities. Each game and activity goes along with the week’s theme.
Infants and Toddlers
Grace Community School’s learning program for infants and toddlers starts with the foundation of helping the child know he or she is loved and will be taken care of. Safety — both physical and emotional — is our priority. This is the basis for our infant and toddler educational program. Our caring and loving caregivers use developmentally appropriate techniques to aid in growth and stimulation of our youngest students.
Activities for infants and toddlers involve:
music and movement
These activities help the students:
learn to communicate verbally and non-verbally
develop gross and fine motor skills
build eye-hand coordination
develop socially and build trusting relationships with their caregivers
build problem-solving strategies
express their independence
As children grow and develop, they are ready for more advanced educational activities.
College Can Begin at Two
For children two years and older, we have our unique curriculum, College Can Begin at 2! This curriculum includes a special theme for each and every week of the year, and features dress-up days, parties, special events, art projects and themed learning activities.
College Can Begin at Two. Really! We start teaching kids as young as two years of age the basics of reading and math. The first group of letters our kids learn is the vowels — A, E, I, O, and U. But our students don’t just learn the letters; they learn the sound that goes with each letter along with a clue word to help kids remember everything. Once they learn the vowels, they tackle the next letter group and progress through the alphabet.
There is basic math instruction, too. Our kids learn their basic shapes like circle, triangle, rectangle, star, and heart, along with their colors. Our curriculum covers positional words like up, down, inside, outside, and so on. As students get older and learn, we introduce more concepts. Learning progresses at each student’s personal pace.
Kids at this age continue to build their social and emotional skills, learning about feelings and how to resolve problems. They develop relationships with other children and the adults in their lives, including their caregivers. They are getting better at controlling their bodies. They need practice with writing and drawing. Daily directed writing practice is part of the College Can Begin at 2 program.
Children are learning to speak more and increasing their vocabulary. Story time, poems, and conversations with their classmates and teachers build language skills.
Some of the things integrated into the College Can Begin at 2 Curriculum are:
non-denominational Bible Time
letters and numbers of the week
work sheets and coloring pages
interactive learning experiences
individualized phonics and math instruction sessions
take-home learning certificates and books so parents can keep track of their child’s progress
Our Preschoolers Can Read
This isn’t just a catch phrase! When developmentally-appropriate teaching methods are combined with one-on-one phonics instruction, the result is kids who can read. That’s right; we use phonics. It works! We send books and certificates home to keep parents informed of their children’s progress and help them celebrate their achievements.
Check out this link for a more detailed look at our phonics program.
Similar to Reading Circles, Grace Community School Math Circles provide students with mathematical instruction. Just as with reading, we start with the basics. The “1’s Family” introduces children to the numbers 0-9. We build from there and add counting to higher numbers, object sets, and more advanced math concepts.
Are you ready for kindergarten? It’s never too early to start planning! The pre-K year goes by so quickly. Finding a kindergarten program for your child can be stressful. Let us help! Good news: Grace Community School has kindergarten! Don’t worry about going to School Choice; your child can continue with Grace Community School in the safe, friendly environment your child is used to. Why should you choose our kindergarten program?
Is Learning Important to You?
Grace Community School students graduate pre-K reading — something public school students often don’t achieve until the 3rd grade, if then. The Grace Community School kindergarten program has demonstrated results. If learning is important to you, and you want an uncompromising education, this is the way to go. This is an advanced program! The phonics instruction at Grace Community School gives kids what they need to succeed, in reading and other areas. Students who have attended our school since they were young graduate our preschool program reading multiple grade levels ahead of public school kindergarteners. Our kindergarten graduates are reading at a third-grade level. The average public school kindergarten graduate cannot even be tested for reading skills! That’s why we have to give our kindergarteners a 1st-grade standardized test.
The Grace Community School math program continues into kindergarten, too. Your child will move seamlessly from the pre-K Math Circles right into the kindergarten levels. Our kindergarten students learn their addition and subtraction families, story problems, and more. Get a comprehensive list of what is learned here.
It’s more than just academics. All our learning instruction is done with fun games and interactive activities, including our famous theme weeks. There are parties, dress-up days, and special events throughout the entire school year. Get weekly photos including digital photo copies through the GCS Memories program. Grace Community School kindergarten finishes in a musical program complete with graduation ceremony and diploma presentation.
What Does Grace Community School Kindergarten Include?
Grace Community School Kindergarten includes:
all care 6:30 am to 6:00 pm, including before and after school care
breakfast, lunch, snack and drinks
the advanced reading and math program
weekly photo program
spring and Christmas programs
And of course, our special classes — Art Class, Dance Class, Karate Class, and Music Class — are also still available.
How Much Does it Cost?
Here’s the really awesome part! Everything is just $85 per week. That price stays the same throughout the whole school year, including many days that public school is closed.
What Do I Need to Do?
Let us know you want your child to stay here for kindergarten! Sign-up forms are available at your Grace Community School location.
Your Child Deserves the Best
For more than thirty years, we’ve been providing the ultimate in early childhood education. We want to make things easier and better for you and your child. You can find out more about Grace Community School’s learning programs at our official website.
Do you know someone else who might be interested in Grace Community School kindergarten? Click one of the share buttons below to share this post and let them know!
Helping Your Child Succeed in Child Care and Beyond
Every parent who drops a child off at child care has certain expectations of what will happen to that child. Each parent hopes that the child care experience will be a positive one, giving the child what he or she needs to grow, learn, and be happy.
These things include the basics: being kept safe from harm, fulfillment of physical needs, comfort, opportunities for friendship, fun. Most parents would also be happy if their children could learn something while away from home. These things aren’t the only things a child needs from child care!
Achieving Full Potential
Child experts agree that for the child to achieve his or her full potential – to rise above the median, to accomplish what is called “self-actualization” – the child must have more than the basics. You, as a parent, would no doubt like your child to do more than just survive – you want your child to thrive!
Unfortunately, if you bring your child to just any child care center, you will likely get just the basics – only the basics. It will be babysitting, for the most part. There is something not on that list of basics: love! It is not enough to merely take care of a child, the child who will thrive needs love, both at home and at school.
Remember: love is not just an emotion, it is also action! At Grace Community School, we know the parents of our students want the absolute best for their kids; so do we! Love means giving kids the best education possible.
Why Not School?
Here is where we see the very big difference between a daycare and a school; one is merely a place for children to bide the time where their parents are at work, the other is a real educational facility. Grace Community School is a school. We like to say, “College Can Begin at Two.” When children have the capacity to start genuine academics as young as age two, why not let them? Learning is fun! Let us take a look at some of the ways Grace Community School goes “beyond the basics.”
First, Grace Community School provides instruction in an area often neglected in child care: morality. You will not even see it listed as a domain in articles about child development. A truly great education must be built on a moral foundation. Virtues or character traits like self-control, diligence, and deferred gratification – characteristics of highly successful people – are actually all a part of moral training. A Grace Community School education includes moral training, both in our Bible instruction and integrated throughout the curriculum. Grace Community School kids learn the Golden Rule, as well as other Biblical principles like the Ten Commandments, and put them into practice. You cannot overemphasize the long-term importance this makes in the lives of children!
Second, Grace Community School teaches real reading! Reading is simply the most important academic skill you must learn in school; nothing else comes close. Society and technology have changed vastly in nature in recent decades, but the importance of reading has not diminished. Daycares might teach “reading readiness” or “emergent literacy,” but not Grace Community School. Our students learn the real deal. Accept no substitutions! Since reading is so vital to a child’s future, what better way to show love to a child than teaching him or her to read!
Our Math program is also second-to-none. Just as in the Grace Community School reading program, math students work at their own pace achieving various milestones and learning different skills. Children move on to the next Math Circle level when they master their current level. We celebrate both Reading and Math Circle achievements by sending home certificates and books with the kids so they can show off what they have learned! We put photos of students who have reached special milestones on our social media, too.
For children to perform at their best, their physical needs have to be met. Grace Community School provides FREE and nutritious breakfast, lunch, snack, and drinks for all students. Meals are prepared fresh onsite daily. Better nutrition means kids who are better able to learn. You can check out our USDA-approved menu any time on our website www.gracecommunityschools.com. Not only does the free meal program benefit students at school, but family life improves at home since parents do not need to spend time and money packing lunches. It’s a win-win situation!
We have a variety of extracurricular courses available for our students (ask your Grace Community School office how to sign up today!) The Grace Community School karate program is another program that benefits children both physically and mentally. Children ages three years and up have an opportunity to learn martial arts from an experienced American Kenpo karate instructor in a fun environment. The most important skill learned in karate is self-discipline. Self-discipline is sometimes called the “master virtue” because of its importance in everything a person does, and its use as in indicator of success later in life. More self-discipline leads to more success!
Along similar lines, our dance program enhances the lives of children in many ways. Children learn techniques of jazz and ballet while experiencing the joy that comes from moving their bodies to music. The kids are having so much fun they don’t even realize that they’re exercising and enhancing motor skills!
Piano and group music lessons are also available at some locations. Students learn both the theory and practice of playing piano as they progress through beginner’s piano lesson books, play games, and participate in fun music drill. The benefits of music lessons are many, even going so far as to boost SAT scores! Returning again to the topic of self-discipline, there is something about the immediate feed-back in playing music that improves discipline like nothing else. It’s a wonderful way to earn an instrument as well as increase overall self-control.
We also have Art Class! Each week our Art Class students create a special art project during thirty-minute lessons. It’s a different project each week (that goes along with our special theme weeks) that they take home. See why Grace Community School Art Class is one of our most popular extracurricular activities.
The various Grace Community School learning programs let children progress at their own pace combined with an orderly environment full of routines creates a comfortable, loving environment that makes kids feel safe. Parents need assurance, too! Updates via our social media pages and email list let you stay informed about what is going on at school, upcoming special events and theme weeks, and lots of other news. Also, our photo program lets you take home a printed photo of your child from school each week.
Set for Success
That’s a lot of extras! We know you love your child and want nothing but the best! That is exactly what Grace Community School gets you – the best possible education at the lowest cost, including the most important thing your child needs to succeed: love demonstrated through action. We are happy to have the privilege to serve you and your child. Don’t forget to tell your friends! Right now Grace Community School has an awesome referral program. Refer a child to any Grace Community School location and get $100! Find out more here or ask your location’s office for details.
Grace Community School goes beyond the basics to deliver a safe and caring environment, an unparalleled learning experience, and more extras than you will find at any other child care center in Southwest Florida. Most importantly, it sets your child down on a path that leads to success in child care and beyond. Find out more about Grace Community Schools and its programs at www.gracecommunityschools.com
If you’ve been to Grace Community School, you’ve probably seen the colorful, exciting learning certificates hanging on the wall, certificates that say things like “I’m a Reader Achiever.”What is all that? These are not things you will find in other childcare centers, nor are they mere participation awards. These certificates celebrate learning, real accomplishments. Our students are learning a lot, and learning is what sets Grace Community School apart from everyone else! We want everyone to know about our students’ scholarship, especially our parents. Our students are justifiably proud of their work. They can’t wait to show their parents what they have learned, and the certificates help them do that.
Learning Certificates Aplenty
There are a variety of accomplishments certificates can celebrate, such as:
Printing all those certificates each week takes a lot of time, as well as paper and ink. So why do we do all of this?
It informs parents of their child’s progress
Students love getting them and taking them home
It recognizes our students’ achievements
We want parents to have something to show their friends and coworkers
Demonstrated achievement is the greatest self-esteem booster. Grace Community School kids don’t just think they are special; they know they are special because of all the things they can do. The certificates just remind them. We want our students to be able to believe in themselves and be proud.
Real Learning = Real Self-Esteem
There is a lot for our students to be proud of! Grace Community School students often get into gifted classes when they go to public school, after having working multiple public school grade levels above their public school counterparts. Now it is clearer than ever that getting kids to learn to read early in life has dramatic importance for success later on. This success is what GCS students have to look forward to. Our Reading Circle program begins teaching children as young as two years of age the phonic sound of each letter and moves on from there to blends, words and reading books. There is no stopping them!
The GCS Math Circle program is similarly advanced. Math domain concepts are split into different levels. Math learning certificates go home when a level is mastered, and the child moves on to the next level.
Some of our longtime students have a hard time adjusting to government schooling because the material they already know entering kindergarten will not be taught until years later in the public school! (that is one reason why Grace Community School offers a kindergarten program for just $10 in tuition per week!)
Don’t keep all this goodness to yourself! Refer your friends and coworkers! We accept students from 6 weeks up through kindergarten for school, and up to age 11 for before/after school and summer camp. Show them some of your child’s certificates, and make sure they write your name down on the enrollment form as a referrer so you can get your $100!
On this blog we have previously talked about Math Circles, Grace Community School’s unique educational system for teaching math concepts and skills to our students. Because this program has been so successful, we are pleased to announce a new accompaniment to Math Circles: Math Achievers.
Like our Reader Achievers program, Math Achievers celebrate students who reach various milestones in their education. These include learning their shapes and patterns (Level 1), counting to 50 (Level 2), passing all the Pre-K Math Circle levels (Level 3), and counting to 100 (Level 4).
Originally published in the September 2015 issue of The Whale’s Tale.
Sometimes when people call us on the phone they ask, “Are you a daycare or a school?” The short answer is that we are both. The long answer is that there are a lot of important differences between daycares and schools. These are differences that many people might miss, but are actually very important. What’s the big deal? Let’s go back to the beginning.
Grace Community School was founded in 1986 to be something different. We stood out from the crowd. Southwest Florida had daycares, but what it was missing was a place where young children could come to get an uncompromising education – this was not available. An education that was focused on learning and actually taught reading, while at the same time being fun and inviting. What came about was an extraordinary learning center – a true school. Schools are traditionally educational facilities, but not all are created equal. There is a difference between “schooling” and “educating.” Grace Community School is a school in the traditional sense in that education is in the forefront. At its simplest, a school is defined as “an institution designed for the teaching of students.” The key thing here is “teaching.” What you teach the students, and how you do it, is extremely important. These days people use catch phrases and fancy-sounding terms like “early literacy,” “emergent literacy,” and “reading readiness.” These things may not mean what you think! Daycares do not teach reading. Believing in the abilities of our students, Grace Community School from the beginning has taught real, actual reading. Children are capable of so much more than some people give them credit for. The learning program at Grace Community School has expanded to become a whole-life curriculum including music, physical education, martial arts, non-denominational Bible study, individualized math instruction, and more. Nearly thirty years have gone by, and we are still different!
What about daycare? If school is about providing a real academic program, daycare is about babysitting and basic care. In daycare, education is optional. There are no requirements, for example, that daycares teach actual reading. Sadly most daycares skate by with some “reading readiness” and a lot of toys. We have to do better for our children! Daycare programs are designed to prepare children for the public school, at best – which does not require literacy. Grace Community School students often graduate pre-k reading at a third-grade level. There is a very good reason one of our slogans is “College Can Begin at Two”! Our bright kindergarten students graduate reading at the fifth-grade level. Every child can learn to read — you just need to give them the tools. What are these tools? Phonics, individualized instruction, practice, and more practice! Grace Community School Reading Circles break the alphabet down into smaller groups so the kids can master one level before moving on to the next. After the alphabet and its sounds have been learned, then come the books. The result is preschoolers who can read! You won’t see this at ordinary daycares.
We now also have Math Circles at Grace Community School. Similar to Reading Circles, Math Circles help our students master mathematics one concept at a time, starting with basic geometric shapes and progressing to counting, one-to-one correspondence, addition, and more. Certificates are sent home for both Reading and Math Circles to celebrate our students’ achievements, and the names of these students are printed in this newspaper. We are proud of our students, and we know you are as well. That’s a lot of learning! Ordinarily, care and education at this level would cost more, but not at Grace Community School. Our low prices, special introductory rates, no registration fee, financial aid programs, and free food help keep costs reasonable. We know that is important for our families. Grace Community School has nine convenient locations throughout Southwest Florida. From Port Charlotte to Lehigh Acres and Golden Gate, there is a Grace Community School near you. Don’t forget about our referral program! Tell your friends and coworkers, and you can get $100 for referring a family to any of our nine locations. You can get more information about Grace Community School at www.gracecommunityschools.com, and why not start referring your friends today by clicking one of the share buttons below?
If your preschooler has been attending Grace Community School for very long, you are probably familiar with Reading Circles. If not, you can learn more about these here and here. Let’s talk about a more recent innovation, Grace Community School Math Circles. While mathematics instruction has been a part of our program from Grace Community’s beginning, Math Circles are still pretty new. The idea was to take the same system that has taught our preschool students to read for nearly thirty years, and implement it with mathematics. It’s been a huge success so far!
As our Reading Circles do with phonics, Math Circles break down the mathematics domain of the Florida Early Learning and Development Standards for Four-Year-Olds into small, easy-to-learn skills. Individualized instruction helps kids progress quickly. Once a child has shown mastery of one level, he or she moves on to the next level. Passing a Math Circle is cause for celebration! One of the guiding principles in our education programs is that children love and need to be rewarded and acknowledged for their achievements. All the books, photos, and, in this case, the Math Circle certificates, that go home also keep parents up to date on how their child is progressing. Each Math Circle certificate has fun and colorful images, as well as example material so kids and parents can practice the learning material at home, for even more fun! For example, the 1-30 Objects Set certificate has thirty planet cutouts for kids to count with, and the 3-Element Patterns certificate has colored square cutouts for pattern-making. Your kids will be proud to “show off” their new skills!
These are the Math Circle levels:
Counting by 1’s
1’s Family (0-9)
10’s Family (10-19)
20’s Family (20-29)
30’s Family (30-39)
40’s Family (40-49)
1-10 Object Sets
11-20 Object Sets
21-30 Object Sets
1st to 5th
6th to 10th
That is a lot of mathematical knowledge! Also in the works is an expansion of Math Circles for our kindergarteners and advanced pre-K students. This will include higher counting, addition, and subtraction families, before and after numbers, and more. Coming soon!
A photo posted by Grace Community School (@gracecommunityschool) on
The best way to build self-esteem in a child is to help him or her believe in his or her abilities, and the best way to do that is to help a child gain those abilities. This is one of the reasons early childhood education is so important, and part of why Grace Community School is committed to real learning, not glorified babysitting like at most daycares. We get to see how happy our students are when they take home their reading books and Reading and Math Circle certificates. Kids want to learn; it is our job as educators to help them do that, and the Grace Community School Math Circles program is a powerful learning tool!
You can find out more about Grace Community School, including information on our other educational programs, at www.gracecommunityschools.com. Did you enjoy this article? Why not share it with your friends by clicking one of the share buttons below? Better yet, share this article with a friend, and give them one of these flyers here. Be sure to write your name down on the “referred by” line to qualify you for a $100 Grace Community School referral!