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Back to School Tips for Preschool Parents: 7 Ways to Help Your Child Settle In

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Kindergarten is the place where young children go to socialize and learn how to follow rules. Today preschool also takes on the roles of socializing, playing, and learning how to be in school. Preschool lays the foundation for success in kindergarten.

By age 5, research shows that 90% of a child’s brain has already developed. This statistic shows how vital preschool is to your child’s success. Preschool is for all young children. It has been shown to be especially beneficial poor and disadvantaged kids. The stress that accompanies disadvantaged children influences their cognitive development. Dual-Language learners also benefit from preschool.

back to school ideas for parents

Prepare your child to go back to school

Preschool is for all kids in 3- to 5-year age range. Some kids are exposed to rich language, books, and experiences. These kids are getting early learning all the time. Studies show that the connection between home and school is also important for children to get the most out of their preschool years.

The countdown to school should not begin in July. It should begin well before your child is preschool age. Reading to your child is one of the best activities to promote language development. Reading every day is one of the best activities you can do to prepare your child for preschool.

Transitioning to preschool can be difficult for kids and their families. As parents, it can be overwhelming to think about your small child heading off to school. The best thing we can do for them is to set them up for success. Going to school for the first time or going back to school after a break can be challenging. Preparing your child for these changes is vital to their success in those first days and weeks.

How do we accomplish this task? Check out these 7 back to school tips for preschool parents. Under each tip is a list of back-to-school ideas for parents.

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7 Summer Reading Tips to Prevent Summer Brain Drain with your Preschooler

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Parents of preschoolers in Tucson, Arizona may be looking for reading tips to help their preschool student retain skills and knowledge over the summer break. These seven tips are only some of the ways parents can encourage their preschoolers to love learning even in the summertime.

Choose Read-Alouds That Connect with Summer Activities

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Read out loud with your kids

Part of making summer enrichment fun for your child is choosing preschool reading books about subjects he or she enjoys. One way to do this is to choose books about summer activities you plan to do, are currently doing, or have recently done. Going to the beach, camping, swimming in a pool, and having a picnic have all been the subjects of books for preschoolers. A children’s librarian can recommend others.

Create a Family History Book to Document Your Summer

By making a book together, your family can extend the love of reading into a love of writing and using one’s imagination. This summer preschool enrichment activity allows you and child to work together. Use things the family did over the summer, coming up with imaginative words and images to describe them. Then create a tangible keepsake that you and your child can re-read any time.

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5 Summer Enrichment Ideas for Your Preschooler … in Tucson!

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Summer break is an exciting time for children. As a parent, you might worry about finding the best summer enrichment activities. The early years of childhood are crucial in child development. During this time, the young brain learns how to interact with the world and constantly absorbs new information. Parents must find activities that enhance the child’s mental and physical growth. Below are some suggestions for enrichment for your preschooler in Tucson.

Preschool Enrichment at Museums

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Museums are great for exploration

Spending time with your child at local museums is a rewarding summer enrichment activity for both parent and preschooler. The National Endowment for the Arts website emphasizes the benefits of regular visits to different museums. These experiences introduce preschoolers to a broad range of topics. This encourages children to ask questions and think creatively.
The Children’s Museum in Tuscon offers many exhibits for kids. Preschoolers learn about technology, art, the human body and safety among others topics. Most of these exhibits are interactive making this the perfect summer enrichment activity. During the summer months, the museum lowers Sunday prices and offers special programs. These programs teach science, technology, art, math and engineering. Wee Play, Wee Wiggle and Wee Explore are extra preschool classes offered each week.

Also in Tuscon is the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. This museum fascinates children. They display a variety of tiny statues and landscapes. The three permanent collections expose preschoolers to history, world cultures and fantasy lands. The museum also periodically shows traveling collections. The Tiny Tales program for youngsters is a monthly story and sing-along program. Afterwards, children take part in arts and crafts. For affordable summer enrichment, there is a discount on family summer passes.

Exploring Nature with Your Preschool Student

Support your child’s development by encouraging outdoor activities and spending family time in nature. Researchers like Hannah Mills Mechler, a child education expert, have discovered the benefits of preschoolers participating in summer enrichment outings in nature. Children begin to ask questions about the world around them and start to understand their part in it. Plus, nature walks provide good physical exercise and practice walking on uneven terrain.

Hiking with young children has its challenges, but the Sabino Dam East trail is perfect for preschoolers. It begins with a visitor’s center with informative displays, water fountains and bathrooms. The actual trail is completely paved and a little over a mile to the dam. Preschoolers can experience nature and ask questions without worrying about difficult terrain. At the dam, they can cool off with their feet in the water before going back.
Another outdoor summer enrichment idea is the Reid Park Zoo. They have a wide selection of animals so it is likely that your child can see his or her favorites. One main walking loop features most of the habitats like rhinos, lions, zebras, brown bears and otters. There are also two separate loops, one for South American animals and another for elephants. Children enjoy seeing the camels and can even go for a ride on one. The indoor learning center teaches preschoolers about conservation and animal life. Throughout the day, zookeepers also give informational talks while feeding the animals.

Pretend Play and Summer Camp

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Pretend play stimulates imagination

Finally, preschoolers start to engage in pretend play involving costumes and story lines. Live theater and guided pretend play help children’s brains become quicker and more adaptable to new ideas. Plus, these fun shows help develop a child’s creativity.

In Tuscon, Trail Dust Town is a favorite summer enrichment activity. This is a wild west themed shopping center and small amusement park. Stunt shows amaze children, and they always enjoy the train ride through the replicated historical western town. Other attractions include a haunted house, fortune telling station and shooting gallery.

The above suggestions are some of the many ideas for enrichment for your preschooler in Tucson. Other more traditional ideas include summer camp at facilities like The Apple Tree Learning Center where they keep children engaged in fun learning activities. No matter what summer enrichment ideas you choose, your child will have an entertaining and educational break.

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May is National Foster Care Month

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May is National Foster Care Month. This month is set aside to recognize the individuals and families who give their time, their resources and their homes to children who are going through the most difficult times of their life.

Foster Parents

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Open your home to foster children

Most people would have a difficult time letting a stranger in their home to shower, sleep and eat. It would be the equivalent of picking up a homeless person and taking them home. You know nothing about this person except what you can see and perhaps what they have told you.

For foster parents, the person is a child. This child may have severe mental or physical trauma that is not apparent to the naked eye. Emotional damage may be hidden under layers of disdain, hatred and aloofness. Now imagine that you open your home, your family and your heart to this child. Is that hard to imagine? That is what foster families do every day. It is all about placing your fears and doubts aside to meet the needs of a child who has nobody else to turn to.

National Foster Care Month

May is the time to bring awareness to foster care. Foster parents are honored during this month. The need for more families to volunteer is brought to the forefront of the public eye. The needs of the foster care families are recognized. Resources are introduced to help meet the needs. After all, foster care is more than just opening your home up to a child in need. Foster care awareness is critical to help families and communities meet the needs of the children and the families that care for them.

Where to Find Help

Many people caring for children do not know that there are resources available to help them. Respite babysitting services, community clothing closets, support groups and even activities and sports programs for the children are all in place to help families foster these children. However, the problem is that not all families know about the resources available. During May, resources of all kinds are brought to the forefront in an attempt to help families caring for foster children.

Grandparents, aunts and uncles are often kinship caregivers. This means that they have assumed the role of caregiver since the parents of the child are not an option. Often, this causes a change in family dynamics. An adult child may resent the grandparent becoming the primary caregiver of their child. Maybe a grandparent does not know what to do about things like medical care, legal issues with the school, etc. Resources like

The Grandkin Guide can help grandparents to navigate the legal system, family issues and the new role of caregiver.

Such resources are critical to helping foster care families cope with the changes that come from having a new child in the home. Online resources, support groups, financial aid and more can all be beneficial for the care of foster children. Whether kinship care is decided between family members or set up by child welfare services, there is no reason to feel alone and adrift in this new circumstance. Help is available.

Why is Public Awareness so Important?

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Get educated about foster care

Foster care is often shown in a negative light. News stories of tragedies, rumors of greed and horror stories from former foster children get the spotlight, while great foster successes go unheralded.

Care of these children must be brought to the public in a positive light. People will remember success stories of foster children who went on to college and beyond. Foster parents who go above and beyond to help children find their passions, like painting or horseback riding, should be highlighted and commended. The children should have their success stories shared, just like in a traditional family. These children can thrive if the parents have the resources available to help them. Even severe mental and physical abuse of the past can be overcome with love and support from foster parents who really care.

Foster care takes a whole community to be successful. Outreach groups, support groups, legal and financial help, respite caregivers, teachers, child welfare advocates – everyone must work hand-in-hand with the foster caregivers to ensure these children are protected, loved and given the chance for a successful, happy life.

Use May as the month to educate yourself about the foster care system and how you and your community can help these families. A community picnic, a toy or clothing drive, volunteering your time or even offering your talents (like free piano lessons) – there are plenty of ways you can help with foster care. The keyword is ‘care’.

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11 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

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I remember those days when I couldn’t believe all the hype I heard about how to prepare your child for Kindergarten. After all, this is not first grade, my friends! I only wish I knew then what I know now. I’ve now discovered eleven ways you can prepare your child while having fun along the way.

Listening Skills

With all there is to absorb, it’s natural to repeat instructions to Kindergartners numerous times. You can prepare your child for Kindergarten readiness by giving simple, three step directions. For example, ask your child to put up toys, wash hands, and then come to the dinner table. Also, teach your little one what interruptions are, and model this as a parent. Your child’s teacher will thank you!

Sharing

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Teach your child to share

Socialization and play are important kindergarten readiness activities, and having to share with a large group may be a new challenge for your child. If you haven’t already, participate in playgroups, set playdates, or join children groups to let them experience taking turns with others.

Standing in Line

Although this seems like a simple task, it’s sometimes a challenge. Explain the difference between behind and beside by walking with your child and demonstrating how to stay in line. Behind and beside are also prepositions students will learn during Kindergarten, so you’ll be getting two for one!

Critical Thinking

Developing critical thinking skills in children should start at an early age. The earlier your child learns these skills , the more natural this way of thinking will become. By explaining cause and effect, predicting, and justifying, your child will be ahead of the game. Here are some critical thinking activities you can implement at home:

  • While reading, have your child infer what is happening by looking for clues, ask why a character is acting a particular way, and suggest creating another ending to the story.
  • Take a walk outside to discuss cause and effect, because it’s all around us in nature. For example, because it’s spring, the flowers are blooming. Go a step further by asking a prediction about what will happen when winter rolls around again.
  • Ask your child whether something is a good or bad idea, and have him or her justify with supporting details.

Critical thinking skills are highly encouraged at Tucson preschools. For additional critical thinking ideas, click here. You can learn even more about how to develop these skills in children by clicking here.

Reading Aloud

Take a trip to the library to locate good literature, or check online for suggested book titles. Teach your child about the cover, title, author, illustrator, and read to them fluently. Also, make inferences, predictions, and connections together to incorporate more critical thinking.

ABCs

In addition to learning the alphabet song, have fun using magnetic letters, dry erase markers, sand writing, finger painting letters. The more hands-on, the better!

Letter Sounds

In addition to identifying letters, start teaching the sounds of vowels and consonants. To help your child learn short and long sounds at home, use flash cards or explore educational websites.

Picture Clues

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Teach your child to read

This can’t be emphasized enough for little ones! While reading aloud to your child, search for clues that match the words read. Does the word make sense when you look at the picture? This is a necessary strategy that early readers will need to learn.

Counting

Have fun using jelly beans, candy, or cereal as manipulative tools to teach your child how to count. Add or remove to teach addition and subtraction, and divide into colors to teach sorting.

Shapes Around Us

Make it relevant! Take a walk around your home to identify shapes of furniture and other items. Next, compare and identify things in nature by walking around outside to discover a wide variety of shapes.

Responsibility

Finally, as much as we may want to hover over our precious children, teaching them to accept responsibility should begin now. Let them help you at home, provide routine and structure, and teach consequences. This will help your child develop a since of responsibility for their own actions.

Critical thinking activities for preschoolers are highly encouraged to help make your child’s first school year a successful one. At Tuscan preschool, there are creative opportunities that develop critical thinking skills in children and serve as stepping stones for Kindergarten readiness. Please contact us to explore our engaging learning programs that will prepare your child for Kindergarten!

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Take Action!

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What is NCAPM All About?

April of 2017 marks the 34th year of National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM), a time dedicated to raising awareness of this devastating social issue and ending child abuse once and for all.

Since 1983, this month has been a time for communities to have a dialogue about the ways to not only stop the abuse of children, but providing education and resources for families and young adults to make sure that the abuse and neglect of children doesn’t carry on for even one more generation.

What the Statistics Say (And What they Don’t Say)

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Cases of abuse are still high

Are the numbers of abuse victims still high enough to warrant a month of awareness and advocacy? Sadly, the answer remains an absolute “yes”.

Despite what you might think, America still has a huge abuse and neglect problem. Current statistics report a staggering 3 million children a year who deal with some form of abuse. Sadly, these are just the cases that are reported; we will likely never know the true statistics.

This is one of the worst rates of abuse in any industrialized nation. The time has come to say, “Enough!” We can do better, which is why each April we renew our promise to the children of America.

Time Can’t Heal All Wounds: Ongoing Symptoms of Abuse

Abuse would be bad enough if the hurting ended with sores and bruises, but abuse creates many scars that do not manifest until later in life (often manifesting in dangerously rebellious teenage or young adult behavior).

Over time, the young victims of abuse may also be affected by the following issues:

  • Increased tendency towards drug and alcohol abuse
  • Serious depression, including suicide attempts
  • Higher instances of “risk-seeking” behavior, such as multiple sexual partners, and other unsafe sexual practices
  • An almost 80% instance of some type of psychological disorder

The list of effects is startling, but what is most unacceptable are the nearly 1,600 children who died as a result of abuse last year. Until that number reaches zero, the NCAPM will advocate and raise awareness of these issues affecting countless American families.

History of the NCAPM

Did you know that the first specific laws regarding child abuse were only signed in 1974? While we’ve certainly come a long way since then, there is still a social stigma and problem of reportage and awareness that we need to deal with as a nation.

What started as a single week of awareness in 1982 became a full-fledged month of action starting in 1983, and the events and actions have inspired the creation of new laws and statutes that aim to eliminate harm to innocent and vulnerable children.

Whether in your own community, online, or by joining a larger march or event somewhere near you, you can become part of the NCAPM’s history this April–don’t wait until next year.

Ideas to Get Involved

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Participate in abuse prevention

There are many ways you can participate in this nationwide awareness month. Activities can be simple:

  • Organizing a block party or “meet and greet” with your neighbors
  • Attending parent meetings at your children’s school
  • Finding city or government-organized events for NCAPM

Or, you can organize with other parents and local families to put on bigger events, such as:

  • Running for local office or a PTA board
  • Attending and speaking at local government meetings (such as city council)
  • Organizing letter-writing campaigns and petitions

Keep in mind, these are just a few ideas. Be creative and think about new and interesting ways that you can help children and families who have been affected by neglect and/or abuse.

Moving Our Communities and Families Forward

Whether you visit the official NCAPM website (provided by the government’s Child Welfare Agency) or you find local events to raise awareness, the important thing is to get involved. It’s also important to remember that April is only the beginning–staying vigilant and engaged in your family and community throughout the year is the best defense we have against future abuse and neglect.

For too long, the victims and families who have suffered from abuse and neglect have been silent. April is a time for these voices to be heard, loud and clear. Now is the time–take a stand against abuse and neglect!

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How to Develop Your Child’s Critical Thinking Skills

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Young children are like sponges during the early years of life, and it is a great time to develop critical thinking skills. They have a greater capacity to learn and grow before age six than at almost any other time in their development. Taking advantage of this stage sets kids up for future academic and professional success. The first five years of learning create a mental foundation for children to build from. There are many ways to enhance a child’s ability to think, solve problems and foster curiosity and creativity.

At What Age Does Critical Thinking Develop

SoCritical thinking activities for preschoolers | The Apple Tree Learning Centers in Tucson me parents may believe that critical thinking, reasoning and problems solving is for older kids. The foundation that allows older kids to do this begins in early childhood. Critical thinking is the ability to think about a problem logically, try various solutions and see what works and what doesn’t. A big part of critical thinking as answering the why question. You may have noticed that your preschool children are often asking why. They have insatiable curiosity, and they want to know why things work. They may not be solving word problems in math, but they are developing critical thinking.

Proper brain development in early childhood supports critical thinking. There are many aspects to developing critical thinking skills in children. This includes proper nutrition and sleep as well as putting them in a proper academic environment and giving them an attitude focused on success.
The skills related to thinking are in many ways even more important than particular academic skills. Your child will have plenty of opportunities to learn academic skills. How quickly and easily they learn those later skills depends on their ability to think, reason and process new information. Success in school also depends on a learning-centered attitude. Children who have no fear of new situations or information thrive in school and remain hungry for knowledge. The foundation for this success is created in early childhood.

The Importance of Preschool

Preschool programs offer the right environment for children to develop these skills. A professional preschool environment provides many critical thinking activities for preschoolers. This can include puzzles and games and opportunities to explore new places. When a child already has experience tackling new things with success, they won’t be intimidated by kindergarten. This foundation allows them to focus more on the academics presented in modern kindergarten classes.

Interacting socially is very important for young children, and it goes together with critical thinking. The ability to think critically about how other people act and how to act correctly with them is vital. Preschool gives kids the chance to do this before they enter kindergarten.

How to Improve the Thinking Skills of a Child

How to improve the critical thinking skills of a child | The Apple Tree Learning Centers in Tucson Thinking skills begin with curiosity. This is something young children have in abundance. They have a greater appetite to explore and test their environment than at any other time. Curiosity naturally brings up questions and the desire for answers. How children go about this process of asking questions and getting answers affects the development of their critical thinking skills.

You may believe that this process happens naturally. Put a child in the right environment and they will go about this discovery process on their own. This is true in part, but adults play an important role. A parent or teacher serves as an important guide for young children. Rather than giving children answers, the adult can direct them to the answer and encourage their exploration. The adult can also ask questions the child may not think of as a way to prompt their discovery. An adult can help a child understand what they have found and analyze it.

A big part of analyzing is classifying and organizing. As a young child explores, an adult can help them identify and categorize what they are finding. For example, they may be wondering what lives under a rock.

Instead of telling them, the adult encourages them to go outside and turn over some rocks. They turn over a rock and observe what they find. They may not be able to identify all the creatures, so an adult steps in gives them names and types. These are the insects or these are worms, for example. This is much more powerful than just telling the child that bugs and worms live under rocks.

Finding the right learning environment is important for your child’s success. A professional Tucson preschool provides the right opportunities and professional staff. They understand how to improve an early learner’s critical thinking skills. You may contact us for information about enrollment and the programs and services we offer to children. There has never been a better time to consider preschool for your child.

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It’s National Kidney Disease Month. Read These Tips for Better Kidney Health

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Your kidneys are very important organs in your body. Taking proper care of them will help you live better and longer. Many people don’t understand kidney disease or how to prevent it. For National Kidney Disease Month, you can learn how to better care for your kidneys and prevent disease.

Get Tested

kidney | The Apple Tree Learning Centers Kidney failure is a slow and progressive disease that usually has no noticeable symptoms. Kidney disease awareness is important. Unless your kidneys have been injured in an accident, you may not know you have kidney disease without medical testing. Your doctor can perform a few types of tests to determine kidney function. These are usually blood tests or urine tests.

The blood test for kidney function is called glomular filtration rate or GFR. This measures the amount of creatine in your blood. Creatine is a waste product produced by working muscles. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering this waste from the blood. If the kidneys are not working properly, this acid will build up to unsafe levels in the blood stream.

The urine test for kidney function is called albumin-to-creatine ratio or ACR. The urine is tested for the protein albumin. This protein that should not be found in urine. If the test is positive, it indicates your kidneys are not functioning as well as they should.
There are five stages of disease that lead to kidney failure. There is no way to correct full kidney failure, so it is a life-threatening disease. The best option for a person in the advanced stages is a kidney transplant. Health can be maintained with dialysis, but this does not heal the kidneys.

Diabetes and Sugar

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney failure. When you have diabetes, your body has trouble maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering your blood, so when you have high blood sugar your kidneys are under a lot of pressure to balance your system. They eventually become overloaded and begin to fail.

There are many things that may contribute to developing diabetes. Sometimes the disease is genetic, and there isn’t much you can do about that. Most diabetes, however, is brought on by a poor diet. Excess sugar in the diet is one of the leading causes of diabetes. It is important to avoid excess sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that children consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day. This is also a good rule for adults to follow. Diabetes can affect a person of any age. The sooner you take steps to avoid it, the healthier your kidneys will be.

Salt and Blood Pressure

Blood pressure also has a major impact on kidney function. When blood pressure is high, more blood is forced through the sensitive tissues of the kidney faster. Over time, this may damage the kidney tissue that filters the blood. This tissue is very difficult to heal once damaged.

Too much sodium in the diet contributes to high blood pressure. Salt may also pose a danger to the kidneys directly. Sometimes minerals like sodium will harden in the kidneys. The result is a kidney stone. The kidney eventually forces the stone through the kidney tissue. The process is very painful. It may also damage the kidney tissue, which reduces function. The damage caused by passing a kidney stone often does not heal. A scar will form that is never able to filter any blood.
You do not have to eliminate all salt from your diet, but you should keep it to a healthy level. This means not adding salt to most foods and avoiding processed foods already high in salt. You can help balance sodium levels by also getting plenty of potassium from food and drinking plenty of water each day.

Drinking Too Much

too much alcohol | The Apple Tree Learning Centers Your kidneys are responsible for getting toxic substances out of your blood stream. Alcohol is highly toxic to the body, so your kidneys work extra hard to get rid of it. When you drink too much, you put strain on your kidneys and may damage them.

Alcohol also dehydrates you. Your kidneys’ other job is to maintain the right balance of water in your body. Consuming alcohol can make this job much more difficult. Over time, this may result in lost kidney function.
It is important to know how much is too much. Three drinks or less per day is considered safe for your body and is unlikely to cause serious problems.

Your diet has a lot to do with your kidney health. By maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and smoking and choosing healthy foods most of the time, you can keep both your kidneys functioning for your entire life. Many of the conditions that lead to kidney disease are preventable.