June newsletter – Director’s Report
QUAKER VALUES – We have made a conscious decision at School for Friends to be more explicit about our Quaker values – with a focus on SPICES, Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, & Stewardship. We are starting with PEACE this spring. To create a more peaceful society, we need to take steps today. The energy needed for peace comes from within a community like School for Friends. One part of practicing peace is helping the children settle into silence during our Moment of Silence at Circle time.
In a recent article in Exchange magazine, I was reading an article by Ruth Wilson & Deborah Shein on “Supporting the Spiritual Development of Young Children.” I’d like to lift up a passage from the article:
“Practicing listening helps children appreciate both sounds and silence. Teachers can invite children to listen to silence. When introduced with reverence, collective silence can be a powerful experience. . . . Learning to be still so that silence can be heard increases children’s ability to control their own body and emotions, to focus, and to connect to the world in a different way than experienced when moving around and making noise. Increasing one’s ability to listen nurtures spiritual development . . . Children can hear their own breath and heartbeat, they can sense their own spirit, and know themselves more deeply when listening to silence. When children know themselves, they are better able to develop relationships with others and the rest of the world.”
- To all the parents who worked during our clean-up day on 5/6 – Sarah Fox, Alia Goodyear, Anne Hawke, AK Adams, Tom Hershenson, Ulas Karasu, Mimi Kirk (chair), JR Rice, chris Rowland, & Alice Dei.
- To all the parents who made our children’s fair so much fun, particularly chairs Jennifer Adams, Alia Goodyear, & Emilie Cassou.
STAFF NEWS –
- Four of our teachers will be pursuing early childhood degrees beyond their current degrees at Trinity University DC starting this summer – while working fulltime! That would be Darren Allen, Magy Youssef, Jackie Whiting, & Yasmine Brooks.
- On May 25, Jackie attended a full-day conference.
GOOD-BYE – To Elli Shaner and her parents. She will be staying home this summer with them and her new baby.
Monarch Butterfly Newsletter
Benefits of Science for Kids
For the past few weeks, while focusing on nature (plants, sky, clouds shadows etc.) and animals (hermit crabs, butterflies, turtles etc.), we have inadvertently been doing science without our (teachers) paying any close attention to the fact that all the topics were connected by one word “SCIENCE”. Below, the benefits of science are discussed as well as benefits that the butterfly room children have experienced. Science is an area that is quite responsive to a child’s need to learn about the world surrounding them. Children absolutely love science. The benefits of science for kids is tremendous. When children are engaged in a science project they are exploring. When children work together on science projects, their interactions will increase with conversation. Their conversations will result in cooperative behaviors. Children will begin to talk to each other about their predictions, what they observe, and they will ask questions.
Each day children do science of some sort regardless of the environment in which they live. Children observe and learn that things change and for that change to occur there is a process. The concept of change can be explored when making cake. Children know that the cake mix begins as a powder, then it changes to a liquid, next it becomes a solid cake ready for consumption. Paying attention to the process of making the cake offers new ways of utilizing familiar objects and events. These new ways help to create meaningful context that will teach new vocabulary and science concepts. When these opportunities present themselves, they provide learning experiences that are relevant to the child’s surroundings.
When children enter the classroom, they come with a range of capabilities. Some have been more exposed to scientific concepts than others. When these same children are working on a project learning the concept of sink and float, they may explore it differently. For instance, the child who has been exposed more to their environment may experiment more with several objects to decide if they sink or float. Then the other child may only explore with one object. It all depends on the student and what they have been previously exposed to. These open-ended science activities are imperative for meeting the developmental needs of children. Open-ended activities allow children to explore an activity at their own pace.
Children love to experiment independently, which is why hands-on science activities are essential for children to develop their individual needs. When children engage freely in science activities, adults can observe children exploring and seeing what they have learned. If we go back to the example of the concept sink and float, the child who is constantly testing new objects may be ready to move on to something more challenging. The other student who was only using one object may now be ready to explore more. While children test, and explore, they begin to realize that some experiments will work while others do not. This is critical to the learning process.
Science concepts require adequate comprehension and vocabulary skills. One of the best ways to teach and to reinforce science vocabulary concepts is by using non-fiction books. These books open the door for a variety of concepts. Additionally, they bring the concepts to life and provide a better understanding of science concepts. For those children who are early or emergent readers, it is a good idea to read aloud non-fiction stories and discuss what was learned.
Trial and error is important when learning science. Experimenting is one of the best benefits of science for kids. Adults can assist in this by planning some possible solutions and making predictions to what might be the most effective. Then test out those predictions. What worked? What didn’t work? How could you do it differently next time? You may want to have the student write down the experiences in notebooks to keep track of what was learned.
Smith, T. (N.d). Benefits of Science for Lids. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from http://smartandsnazzykids.com/snazzy-ideas/benefits-of-science-for-kids/
School for Friends has been incorporating the SPICES (Spirituality, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship) of the Quaker values into the curriculum. The Butterfly Room is focusing on peace. In the classroom, we work on building conflict resolution skills. We provide the children with scripts to use when a friend hurts their body or when they want a toy, for instance. This allows the children to foster effective communication and alternatives to violence. We see conflict as a springboard to moral growth. We use the conflict at hand as part of curriculum, asking each person involved to take responsibility for his or her part in escalating tension. For instance, the children are having a hard time allowing friends in their space and sharing toys. During circle time, one day they did not want to sit next to any of their friends. So, Jackie read the book “Rainbow Fish”. The fish had a lot of colorful glittery scales and did not want to share the scales with the other fish. He became lonely after refusing to share. The wise octopus told him to be happy, he must share his most prized possessions (his colorful scales). When he did, he became friends with all the fish and he was not lonely anymore. Jackie gave out little glitter “scales” to everyone. Throughout the day, the children took care of their glitter; they ate lunch with their scales next to them and even took their nap with it. We also encourage creative problem-solving and assume students have worthy, practical ideas.
Just a few reminders:
• Since it is getting hotter, we will be doing a lot of water activities outside. The water table will be opened every day that we are outside. On days where it is hot, we use the hose to wet the children. Please check your child’s cubby to ensure that they have extra clothes that is appropriate for the weather/season.
• Also, if you have signed a form authorizing the teachers to apply sunscreen, please send in sunscreen.
• Swim trunks and bath suits
• Water shoes
• Disposable swim pants (little swimmers) for those who wear diapers.
Red Panda Newsletter June 2017
Over the last past month, the Red Pandas have been learning about the beach. We have finished our beach theme and moved on to our five senses in our neighborhood. The children have enjoyed learning about the things we have around our neighborhood. They have told us the things that they see, touch, taste and feel around them. We will walk to Rose Park this month for to the children to further explore their surroundings. Our summer program will also begin this month.
Mary Ann Biermeier articulates the importance of the children’s interest in the article titled, “Inspired by Reggio Emilia: Emergent curriculum in Relationships Driven Learning Environments”. Biermeier talks about creating learning environments that foster creativity. Children often learn through play and doing things themselves. Biermeier continues to explain how “What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught, rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing, as a consequence of their activities and our resources.” Our children love to express themselves through art and in other areas of the classroom. The article also specifies that, “flexible environments allow teachers to be responsive to the interests of the children, freeing them to construct knowledge together in the classroom.” We often base our themes and curriculum on the things our children like to do. We typically ask the children what they already know about the topic and what they would like to learn more about.
The article also talks about fostering creativity through investigations. Biermeier describes that “although investigations often begin with children representing what they know through drawing, creating three-dimensional artwork is highly valued by teachers as a way to extend the learning”. Using different materials around the classroom help children express what they know. Having different experiences guides children to use their multiple intelligences and enhance their developmental experience.
-Check your child’s cubby for two sets of seasonal clothing (underwear, pants, shirt, socks)
-Clearly label all items!
-Sign up to bring in fruits and veggies for snack
-Sign up to bring in play-dough for our class
Spring has arrived in the Turtle Room! This past month, we have explored all the changes that come with the new season, especially focusing on our natural environment. We’ve had lots of observations about the weather and all things BUGS! Outside friends our busy digging for worms, finding cicadas and their shells, ladybugs, ants, and more! Inside the classroom we watched as our own live caterpillars went through the transformation of turning into butterflies, before releasing them on our playground. Activities and interactions like these are a great opportunity to work on gentle touches and calm, peaceful interactions, as well as caring for everything in our school community.
The Quaker beliefs that are at the core of our school can be highlighted through our latest explorations, here are a few examples:
– Simplicity (value acts of kindness over material objects): we see this as friends bring dirt for the worms or offer food to the caterpillars and inquire if they need anything else to eat and “get big”
– Community (connect with all members of the community): going beyond the walls of the classroom and creating a safe, inviting environment for everyone to enjoy. We see this as friends help to clean the sandbox, water plants and trees, and work in the mud pit.
– Peace (building conflict resolution skills and simple solutions to problems or disagreements): navigating who can hold the lady bug, taking turns and using show, gentle touches all work towards peaceful interactions.
Considering the Turtles have been so engaged and curious when we are outside, I encourage you to continue this outside of school hours. Below are a couple links for archived articles on the NAEYC website that has some tips and ideas for outdoor play which can be useful no matter the season!
EAGLES NEWSLETTER: June 2017
The Eagles have been investigating so much in their world and environment from birds, flowers, and currently to insects. It has been a pleasure to observe the Eagles as they take what they learn in the classroom into their community by sharing their experiences with their parents. They have taken great joy in creating projects in which they can show others what they have experienced and investigated.
Outside of our studies on flowers and insects, we asked the Eagles to share their thoughts and feelings on Peace. Peace is part of the Quaker testimonies’ S.P.I.C.E.S (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship), and it is beneficial for the Eagles personal growth to understand how that applies not only to them but to others. As a class, we created a peace flower in which the Eagles expressed on petals their thoughts or feelings on peace. Responses ranged from reading a book, helping others, getting or receiving hugs, and quietness. The Eagles are encouraged to seek, search, experience, and share their peace. It is also beneficial for all the adults in the children’s lives to discuss what peace means to them and how they show it or experience it. This will allow for learning as well as a concrete way for the children to observe peace.
We can assist the children with having a better understanding of peace by taking time out of our busy lives to show them. There are simple acts we can do as adults to demonstrate peaceful behaviors. This link http://www.positivityblog.com/inner-peace/ provides practices that can be done at home, in the car, and even at school. Another link http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maggie-lyon/finding-inner-peace_b_1099583.html discusses identifying what your “wars” are and being mindful.
Thank you for your time and dedication.
The Eagle team
Sea Lion Room June 2017 Newsletter
The Sea Lions have focused on problem solving for the past few months as a way to weave the Quaker peace testimony into the curriculum. Mary Lou Leavitt of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting wrote:
“Living out a witness to peace has to do with everyday choices about the work we do, the relationships we build, what part we take in politics, what we buy, how we raise our children. It is a matter of fostering relationships and structures—from personal to international—which are strong and healthy enough to contain conflict when it arises and allow its creative resolution. It is a matter of finding creative ways of dealing with conflict when it does arise, with the aim of freeing all concerned to find a just and loving solution.”
The Sea Lions were introduced to problem solving with puppets during Friendship Classes led by Amy Freedman, our speech and language consultant. She would close each class with a problem between Mo and Zippy. Examples include cutting in front of someone in line or wanting a toy someone else is using. The children were active participants while sharing their ideas for how the puppets could solve the problem. Our curriculum consultant, Jacky Howell, supports this strategy because:
“Puppets have the unique advantage of allowing children to lose their self-consciousness because they are separate from the child, yet at the same time allow and encourage children to express strong feelings. Puppets can allow children the opportunity to try on roles, experiment with ideas and concepts, and even to make mistakes. It is okay because it is the puppet, rather than the child, who is saying and doing those things.”
The Sea Lions were introduced to our puppets Shelly the hermit crab and Piper the sea lion as well as their distinct personalities. Shelly is quiet, shy, and does not like loud noises. She is also learning how to stand up for herself and react appropriately when overwhelmed. Piper is very active, loud, and oblivious to personal boundaries. When the teachers share a problem with the group, the children not only think of a variety of possibilities, but they also label feelings and consider perspectives involved. During free play, the children choose to use the puppets and may act out the problem solving scenarios modeled at circle. We hope that the Sea Lions will take their practice solving problems for the puppets and generalize this skill to their daily interactions and challenging situations they may face in the future to maintain peaceful spaces and be agents of peace.
-Its water play season! Please bring 2 or more sets of seasonal clothing
-Please sign up for fruits and veggies
Thanks, Sea Lion Team
Hello Tigers Families,
As a Quaker School, we always try to incorporate S-P-I-C-E-S (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality & Stewardship) into our curriculum. As the school year quickly comes to an end, we were asked to specifically create a curriculum that includes the peace testimony that introduces finding and connecting the inner light within ourselves and others.
We started the focus by asking the children, “What does peace mean to you and what does peace look or feel like?” The Tigers had many different answers, but it was unanimous that their responses all related peace to good feelings, helpfulness and being friendly to others. We recently read, “Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class” by Eileen Spinelli. The book introduced many situations where someone was unfriendly and the characters in the story had to decide if they were going return the unfriendliness or be friendly instead and find a solution that was helpful.
We have carefully selected books that will introduce or reintroduce people who have used peaceful resolutions to get their point across in their community such as Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King Jr, and Mahatma Gandhi.
When exploring the testimony of peace, we will focus on exploration through the arts, role playing, conflict resolution skills (problem solving), asserting yourself in acceptable ways, speaking up for injustices around you, exploring empathy while extending it to others and extending our M.O.S with in- depth reflections afterwards.
The Tigers are going to be able to make suggestions on what they think play an important role in a successful peace focus!
The Tiger Teachers