News from the Head of School
Childhood memories have a lasting impact on our lives. Growing up I remember we had friends, neighbors and family members from various ethnicities, religions and with different abilities. We would celebrate holidays like Easter, Ramadan and New Year. Birthdays were my favorite because we got to eat all sorts of sweets. German cake, Pavlova (Australia), Kanafeh (Israel), Revani (Turkey)… I watched American movies and read books especially while I was learning English immediately after fifth grade. I often remarked by saying “ Wow, it must be great to live in a place where people are from all around the world. It must be like a painting made with all the colors you can find on a palette. Can you imagine the variety of food, clothes, and languages? So rich and exciting.” As I grew up more I quickly realized that diversity is not limited to food, clothes, and languages. It is much deeper than that. It is about who we are as individuals and living in peace despite our differences and imperfections. It is about recognizing, accepting and respecting each other and inviting one another to each other’s lives. It is about setting limits for our wants as to not invade the place of others and to forgo our needs sometimes so that we can compromise and live happily together. This is what we teach and model for our children.
We all have our strengths but we are not perfect. What IS perfect? For example, one may believe that a perfect child may be the one who always listens to instructions, does not question adult authority, cleans his room every day and is an all A student. What if you have a child who possesses all these qualities except one? Does it mean he missed the chance to fit in this “perfect child” definition?
The key is to be able to live with the imperfections and to model this for our children as they study our every move while developing their own personalities. It is to show kindness and to have empathy towards each other. To cherish the beauties, count the blessings, value the individuality and the uniqueness each person brings to our lives. It is not to miss what life has to offer when we are looking for the perfect. Now is perfect. People we have in our lives are perfect. In their own ways…
We are excited to welcome NAEYC representatives for our Family Friday festivities at 3:15pm on April 20th ! While we have activities planned for the entire week, we would love you to join us on Friday afternoon. Each classroom is preparing a special activity for this day. The theme for Family Friday is “sharing family stories.” This is a great time to show what we do at our school and share it with our NAEYC guests!
Cultural Heritage Dinner:
Turtles families showcased their traditional dishes on Friday, April 13 during the first cultural heritage dinner of this school year. We all enjoyed a wide selection of delicious and healthy food. Thank you Lyle Morton, Turtles room parent for organizing this event. Thank you all Turtles families for sharing a glimpse of your tradition with us!
- Cultural Heritage Dinner in Bird Room 6:00 to 8:00pm
April 17- Tigers
April 24- Butterflies
May 1- Sea Lions
May 8- Red Pandas
May 15- Eagles
- Clean-Up Day May5, 2018
- Annual Children’s Festival
Our annual fair is a month away! Please save the date and keep an eye out for more information, coming soon!
Monarch Butterfly Classroom
Fostering the Social and Emotional Health of Young Children
One of the advantages of attending preschool is the development of social and emotional skills, from respecting others to taking turns. According to Ho and Funk (2018), “Children’s social and emotional health affects their overall development and learning”.
Establishing trusting relationships
I. Showing warmth and affection consistently
- Having a pleasant facial expression
- Appropriate tone of voice at all times
- Appropriate touches when necessary: which includes a pat on the back, handshakes, brief tickles, and hugs. In order to respect the children’s personal space, we always ask “Do you need a hug?” when a child is sad. If for instance, we are tickling them, and they say “STOP” we respect their wishes. In doing so, we show the children that their feelings and words matter to us, and that we respect their wishes.
- Move physically close to children: it is always a good idea to stoop down to children’s level when talking to them. In other words, crouch to be at their eye level.
II. Respecting and caring about every child
- Listen with full attention and restate what they say
- Accept and reflect on children’s feelings
- Spend private, quality time with individual children through one-on-one activities
Teach social and emotional skills intentionally
- Using children’s books: “Reading and discussing children’s books is an excellent way to invite children to identify the characters’ emotions and relate the characters’ experiences to their own” (Ho & Funk 2018). In the classroom, if conflicts arise or someone (hypothetically) says I’m not your friend, one book that can be used to tackle that statement is Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. Or if someone is using hurtful words to her peer can pull out the book Words Are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdict.
- Planning activities: follow-up activities are done so that the children can apply what they learned from the reading. These activities are what we call, most times, teacher-directed activities. Some of these includes games, hands-on crafts, songs etc.
- Coaching on the spot: When they coach children on the spot, teachers help children realize what they are doing, understand how their actions affect others, and choose positive alternatives (Riley et al. 2008).
- Giving effective praise: To make praise effective, one must describe specifically what they see—without generalizing, evaluating, or making comparisons.
- Modeling appropriate behavior
- Providing cues: providing cues to children have shown itself worthy by improving children’s interactions or social behaviors with their peers (Bovey & Strain 2005). These cues can be a push sign on the wall which children can use to exert their anger or frustrations.
These best practices are techniques that we use in the classroom on a daily basis. These techniques can also be used at home. Below are some books that can help with teach social and emotional skills: Fox Makes Friends, How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends, Sharing: How Kindness Grows, and How I Feel Frustrated.
Bovey, T., & P. Strain. 2005. “Strategies for Increasing Peer Social Interactions: Prompting and Acknowledgment.” Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. What Works Briefs. http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/briefs/wwb17.pdf.
Ho, J., & Funk, S. (2018, March). Promoting Young Children’s Social and Emotional Health. Retrieved March 31, 2018, from https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/mar2018/promoting-social-and-emotional-health
Riley, D., R.R. San Juan, J. Klinkner, & A. Ramminger. 2008. Social and Emotional Development: Connecting Science and Practice in Early Childhood Settings. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf; Washington, DC: NAEYC.
- Please provide water bottles that have a straw and refrain from sending in sippy cups and label them
- Please continue to sign in and out on the sign-in sheet on the classroom door as this is a legal document required by OSSE licensing
- Please ensure that you have two sets of seasonal clothes in your child’s cubby
Dates to Remember:
- April 20th Family Morning Snack
- April 24th Cultural Heritage Dinner
- April 30th Jackie’s Birthday
April 2018 Red Panda Newsletter
Happy April, Red Panda Families! The current topic we’re exploring in our classroom is “Taking Care of Ourselves; Taking Care of Each Other.” As a part of this, we’re doing activities like smoothie-making, making a feel better box, and yoga/meditation! The research on the benefits of mindfulness for children continues to grow and shows us that mindfulness is just as important for kids, as it is for adults.
According to the Positive Psychology Program’s article, “Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens: 25 Fun Exercises for Kids,” research has found that mindfulness:
- “Mitigates the effects of bullying
- Enhances focus in children with ADHD
- Reduces attention problems
- Improves mental health and wellbeing
- Improves social skills when well taught and practiced in children and adolescents”
Though this article is written mostly about older children, we believe that the earlier our kids start learning mindfulness techniques, the better! As previously mentioned, we’ve been practicing yoga and noticing our breath in our classroom. We also have some guided meditations planned with visuals that are found in nature (tree, wind, sun) so the Red Pandas will easily be able to connect with it. Here are a few other tips from the article for practicing mindfulness:
- Validate kids’ emotions – in the practice of mindfulness, we encourage children to feel their feelings without judgement and focus on how we deal with these emotions
- Use mindfulness breathing strategies (noticing the breath, counting the breaths, etc.)
- Lead children in guided meditation
- Practice what you preach! Guide your kids every step of the way, but make sure you are taking those steps yourself, as well
For more information and mindfulness activities, visit https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/
Important dates in April:
April 13th: Usma’s birthday!
April 30th: Brenda’s birthday!
April 2018 Leatherback Turtle Newsletter
Hello Turtle Families
During the month of March, we continued learning about our community helpers. So far, we have learned about the different ways sanitation workers, firefighters, doctors, construction workers, and chef/bakers help us. We plan on continuing our study of community helpers over the next few weeks and hope to take a walking trip soon to visit a community helper. In addition to learning about community helpers, we have also strengthened our classroom community as we continued our Family of the Week events.
It has been fun and very insightful to learn about one another’s family history, culture, and traditions. We thank you all for sharing them with us and we cannot wait to learn more in the coming months. Having a sense of community at school is so important for the Turtles’ development. According to Child Time Learning Center, “children feel more confident and comfortable at school when they feel their families are a part of the community as well.” The home-to-school connection is an important part of the Turtles’ education. You can follow this link (https://www.childtime.com/parent-resource-center/parenting-articles/the-importance-of-community-for-young-children/) to get ideas of ways you can get involved. In addition to Family of the Week, we also have another opportunity soon to increase our sense of community – the Cultural Heritage Dinner. This is a time to share a special cultural or family dish in an intimate setting with your child’s classmates and teachers. The date is currently TBA.
- Please continue to sign in and out on the sign in sheet on the classroom door
- Please ensure that you have two sets of seasonal clothes in your child’s cubby
- Please provide water bottles that have a straw and refrain from sending in sippy cups
- Parents and children are required to wash hands upon entering School for Friends under accreditation requirements
The Turtle Team
Eagles Newsletter: April 2018
For this month, the Eagles will investigate what occurs in Spring from the weather to which animals they may observe in their community. The Eagles will create flowers out of shapes and tissue paper, make nests for birds using various materials, make butterflies, and take nature walks to experience Spring outdoors. As a class, we will also begin to plant seeds in individual flower pots in order for the Eagles to learn how to garden and take care of living things.
In assisting our Eagles with their emotional development, it is beneficial to provide support to them by using scripts for navigating situations. Examples of scripts we use in class are:
- How many minutes?
- How can I play/How can I help you?
- Are you okay?
- What do you need to feel better?
- Use your words
- Are you done using this toy?
- Are you ready to pack up? (when finishing eating)
- Did you wash your hands?
Also, you can use “I statements to support the children by understanding how to take ownership of their actions and words. For example, if a child says, “I hate you”, a response may be, ” I see that you are upset. Has something happened to you?” Then, model for the child by saying, “Sometimes, I feel upset when others take something from me too.” In conclusion, you may state, “I feel upset when a toy is taken from me” or “It is helpful when others ask me how many minutes.”
- Extra clothes
- Clean out the cubbies
- Mindful of how much time spent during drop-off and pick-up
Thank you for your continued support.
The Eagle team
Sea Lion April 2018 Newsletter
The Sea Lions are really excited about Spring and they can’t wait to take their coats, gloves and hats off. We are exploring plants and how they grow. We will be planting various items to see if we are gifted with green thumbs. The children are really intrigued and interested in gardening. I ran across an article written by Vicki Stoecklin and she says “Adults know the joys of gardening, but we are starting to understand what the experience of gardening can mean for children. Whether in a neighborhood, at school, childcare center or summer camp, we are finding that children reap benefits from sowing seeds and helping plants grow”. The information below from her article also gives us ways to introduce children to the amazing culture that will keep them enthusiastic about gardening.
Principles of Developmentally Appropriate Gardening
The first principle – and an important foundation for developmentally appropriate gardening – is that children are active learners. The best teaching occurs when the emphasis is more on joining the child in hands-on interaction, play and discovery than on imparting knowledge. Children have a natural curiosity that requires direct sensory experience rather than conceptual generalization. The tendency of adults is to create activities from the adult perspective rather than finding ways to adapt adult activities to children’s needs. If we as adults fail to provide an engaging hands-on experience for children, they will find their own, often inappropriate, way to interact with the garden. I have experienced this phenomenon many times in the children’s garden where I volunteer. When we do a garden tour, if it does not include enough “hands-on” experiences like stopping to collect, touch, taste and smell, I quickly lose the interest of the children and they find their own way to interact with the garden, like balancing on the garden rails, running through the beds and wandering to the next available space.
The second principle of developmentally appropriate gardening is that development occurs in children in an orderly sequence during the first nine years of life. All domains of development-physical, emotional, social, language and cognitive-change in a predictable way. Knowing typical child development for the age span that your program serves will provide a framework to guide teachers and horticulturists in preparing the learning environment and planning realistic goals and objectives. Age-appropriate gardening activities take into account children’s differing cognitive capabilities and psychological needs.
The third principle is that experiences and activities that stimulate children’s development should be presented in increasingly complex and organized ways. For example, children below age seven or eight are extremely visual in their orientation to the world, partially because, depending on the age of the child, they do not read or read well. A pitfall is to rely too much on verbal explanations of concepts rather than using visual representations of the same concepts, such as with pictures. I made this mistake myself with a group of eight-year-olds, and I failed to use a visual prop when I asked them to make rows for planting. They did not fully understand the concept of rows, much less know how to implement it in the soil as a team working together. Short-term memory and information processing is improved in the six-to-eight year olds in comparison with preschool children, but these skills are far from mature. For example, the adult capacity for short-term memory is seven chunks or bits of information, for preschoolers, five chunks of information, while 7-year-olds can usually retain six chunks of information.2
A fourth principle of developmentally appropriate gardening is that children need to be able to practice their newly acquired gardening skills. Since research shows that children’s development occurs more rapidly with practice, how can we expand our gardening scope to include others who influence the child’s choice of activities? How can horticulturists support teachers in the classroom and how, in turn, can teachers support parents, who determine what children do at home? Activities chosen and shared with teachers and parents must not only include information on the activity itself, but why it is important and how it can be implemented. For example, it’s not enough to send a child home with a seed, you should also include an explanation about what children learn from planting seeds, a small baggie of potting soil and maybe a peat pot or information on what other types of recycled materials could be used as a pot. Many parents would not have the time or money to buy soil or pots, but may participate in the activity if it is fully explained to them and they have the resources at hand to do so. Developmentally appropriate gardening looks at how to support the child within the context of the classroom and family.
The last principle is that children have preferred or stronger modalities of learning. A variety of activities will support children with the contrasted learning styles of visual, auditory and tactile. Howard Gardner has taken this concept a step further by identifying at least eight kinds of intelligence in humans. The multiple intelligences include linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal and naturalistic (the ability to read the natural environment). A variety of activities will allow children time to use their preferred modes of learning and also provide time for them to develop in areas where they might not be as strong.
The Sea Lion teachers would like to “THANK” everyone for making “Family Week” so amazing and sharing a glimpse of your lives with us.
The Sea Lion Team
Tiger Classroom Newsletter – April 2018
Hello Tiger Families,
A meaningful conversation is a genuine two way interaction; an exchange of ideas that involve careful listening, appropriate responses and balanced contributions. When adults have such authentic conversations with children, the children are given a chance to do their own thinking, to create their own solutions to problems and to express their own ideas.
During the day, it can be challenging to find the time to have authentic conversations. Involving children in the home and at school in everyday tasks such as watering the plants, and setting up the table for a meal not only strengthens language skills, but strengthens the bond between the child and the adult.
When meaningful conversations occur, some forethought has gone into making sure that the conversation can sustain the child’s attention. Teachers use open ended questions (these questions require more than a yes or a no) and comments that extend or scaffold a child’s thinking and involvement. Some examples of open ended questions would include: “”Is there another way to…”, “Why do you think that happened?” and “What did it feel like when…?””
When there is a child who has difficulties responding to questions or engaging in back and forth conversations immediately, teachers use ‘mapping’ as a tool to help. Instead of continuing to ask questions, the teacher describes in details what they are doing at an activity next to or close by the child. Gaining a child’s interest in an interactive experience by attracting their attention using mapping and actions – ‘Oh Jimmy, look at what I have found on my hand, a tiny, tiny praying mantis! Can you see it crawling up my arm?’
‘Teachable moments’, in moderation, are important, but not if they come at the expense of genuine, two-way conversations. They help children to develop the communication skills for active participation in their communities and for life-long learning.
The Tiger Teachers