News from the Head of School
“While acting on our deepest beliefs and values, we are also open to new ideas, new solutions, and new paths. We know that our understanding at any moment is incomplete, at best an approximation of the truth that may be improved by new insights.”- American Friends Service Committee
Learning is a lifelong process. As one of my colleagues says, “we all are in the process of becoming”. We teach children every day but we also learn everyday from children, families, and everyone else we interact with. We read, we listen. Information is everywhere. There is not a magical year, age or a step when one can say “I am done, I know everything I need”. Being open to learning is the key to expanding one’s knowledge. Strengthening skills and acquiring new ones are part of life. We are doing our work as lifelong learners so we can provide the best experiences for our children and for each other.
– I attended a three day gathering of Heads of Schools in April at Friends Center, Philadelphia. Among other things, we discussed how Quaker schools are different from other schools.
– Sabina has completed a class in Mindfulness. She is sharing valuable and practical techniques with us to implement in our work and personal lives.
– Makai completed her 5 week sabbatical visiting several schools and meeting with experts in our field. The focus was on equity and justice in education. She is sharing her observations and we are making plans to create meaningful experiences for staff, children and families.
Sarah Pleydell, who is an alumni parent and a professor at University of Maryland, provided 10 sessions for Tiger classroom. Children were introduced to arts and learning through the arts. It was a great way to connect play, arts and social emotional development pieces with Quaker values. Sarah’s observations were that children understand the difference between real and pretend, they can switch roles in an extended story drama and they have demonstrated great empathy for all the characters they have been, whether they are circus performers dreaming of a career on the high wire, or their proud parents, whether they are refugees fleeing a hurricane or volunteers coming from the US to help rebuild their homes.
Thank you to all parents who attended this informative session! Amy Freedman, from Child Development Consultants, facilitated a dialogue on challenging behavior. The title of the session was “Setting Expectations/Setting Limits and Creating Successful Strategies to Optimize Behavior”. We talked about Conscious Discipline (Becky Bailey) and how to set expectations so that the behavior is manageable. We also talked about how to manage our own emotions as parents so that we are in charge and we can model the acceptable behavior by validating children’s own feelings. Part two will focus on behavior management at the end of this month.
Our bi-weekly summer mosquito treatments for the playground have begun. We do not use insecticides but instead spray with garlic! Believe it or not, mosquitoes are repelled by garlic, and it is 60% effective. Whereas insecticides are about 75% effective, they pose other risks since both are applied to the vegetation. If we begin to see mosquitoes, we will apply insect repellent on your child if you have given us permission.
Monarch Butterfly Newsletter
Nurturing the Scientist in Your Child
For the past few weeks we, in the Butterfly Room, have investigated the life cycle of a butterfly and how ants work. These topics have stemmed from the curiosity of the children. One day, they saw an ant under the table and were curious as to where it was going and what it was doing. Therefore, we did a theme on ants and bought an ant farm. Every day, the children observed something new that they did not see the day before. Our ideas have allowed us to nurture the natural scientist in each child. When we saw this article on NAEYC, it reinforced what we were doing in the class. We are sharing it with you so that you too can nurture the natural scientist in your child.
Children are natural scientists. They are curious, love to explore, and ask a lot of questions. But you don’t have to have all the answers! Help your child develop the skills needed to think like a scientist, which will allow him or her to understand increasingly complex science concepts. Here are some ways to do that:
- Model your curiosity. Wonder out loud by saying things like, “I wonder what would happen if . . .” or “I am curious about . . . .”
- Listen carefully to what your child is saying and encourage your child to explain why he or she thinks a certain way by asking questions such as, “Why do you think the snail is eating that leaf?” “What other animals eat leaves?”
- Don’t immediately correct your child if he or she says something that is scientifically incorrect. For example, if your child says, “Only birds can fly,” you can ask, “What does a bird have that helps it fly?” Then ask, “What other animals or things have wings?” Guide your child to name some animals and objects with wings, such as “bees and airplanes.” Then ask, “Can they fly?”
- Encourage your child to make observations and then to record those observations, by writing, drawing a picture, taking a photograph, or making an audio or video recording. They can even act out what they saw happen. Give your child a particular notebook for recording these observations, and ask him or her to tell you about them.
- Engage your child in simple investigations, such as rolling different balls down a ramp to see which one goes farthest. Before you begin a study, encourage your child to predict what will happen. Afterward, talk about the results.
Encourage your child to compare and contrast things they see in the world around them, for example, “How are these two trees the same, and how are they different?”
- High-quality educational media can be a catalyst for real-world exploration. For example, if you and your child watch a video about how a roller coaster works, say, “Let’s build our roller coaster!” Then gather simple materials such as paper towel tubes, construction paper, and blocks to build a coaster for a toy car or marble.
Supporting Science Learning
Children learn about science every day as they observe and explore. Families can support science learning at home by engaging their children with kid-friendly physical science topics such as wearable science, sports science, kitchen chemistry, and structures. Trusted resources like The Ruff Ruffman Show, a new PBS KIDS series, help children ages 4 to 8 learn core science concepts enhanced by videos, game-play, and hands-on activities. The character Ruff Ruffman, along with his assistants Blossom and Chet, answers questions from real kids, takes on challenges, and learns the value of perseverance—all while modeling science inquiry skills. Find out more at http://www.pbskids.org/ruff
Nurturing the Scientist in Your Child. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2018, https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/nurturing-scientist-your-child NAEYC
— Please ensure that you have two sets of seasonal clothes in your child’s cubby
— Please bring in swim trunks, bathing suits, towels and water shoes. We will be doing water play at least twice a week (sometimes more).
— 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 provide water bottles that have a straw and refrain from sending in sippy cups and label them
June 2018 Red Panda Newsletter
It seems like just a few months ago, we were starting the school year and now here we are in June and the school year is coming to an end! Every year during this time we (teachers) sit back and reflect on the beginning of the year- where we were, as well as where the children were and how far we all have come. Amazing would be an understatement to describe the level of growth and maturity we have seen in our children this year. It has been wonderful watching each of them grow into active, expressive, and curious two year-olds.
It’s so easy for the children (and us) to get attached and comfortable with each other but, the fact is, they are growing and forming their individuality. With summer right around the corner, it will be only a few months before the new school year starts, with the children in a new classroom and with new teachers. These transitions can sometimes be difficult. In their minds, all they know is the Red Panda room so it’s hard for them to imagine that next year they will be anywhere else other than with the Red Panda teachers and the Red Panda friends.
To help prepare them for this transition, throughout the summer we will talk with the children about going to a different class next year and plan small visits and interactions with other classrooms. It’s important to remember no matter how much we talk about it, it will not seem real until the first day of school.
Thank you very much for an amazing school year and we look forward to having a fun-filled summer program!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when transitioning your child into their new classroom:
- Know your child and remember all children respond to transitions differently depending on their age, temperament, and experience in school. Some children are slow to warm up to new environments and, if you know this is your child, make a special effort to help them feel comfortable with the transition (something as simple as visiting the new classroom with your child during drop offs or pickups this summer)
- Be positive about the transition even if you are unsure what to expect. Children have good intuitions and can normally sense when adults are anxious or hesitant. Talk about the transition and address any fears or concerns that your child may have. Continue to remind them of all the new and fun experiences they will have in a new room. It always helps to point out to the child that they are getting bigger and need to go to a bigger classroom.
- By now most children are totally comfortable in their classroom so consistent drop off routines may no longer be as necessary for your child but, starting next year, it will start all over again. Remember to maintain a consistent drop off routine with your child and don’t automatically expect it will be as easy as it currently is.
Important dates in June:
June 18th: Summer program begins!
June 28th – July 9th: Wesley on vacation
June 2018 Leatherback Turtle Newsletter
Hello, Turtle Families!
The Turtle room has had a very fun and busy month in May. The weather has finally started to get warmer, which allowed us to use the mud pit on the playground for more than just digging for worms. We also started using water as a form of exploration allowing the children to use their imagination to find different uses for it. They have been using it for painting, making sand castles, mud pies, chicken noodle soup, and a lot more.
For the past few weeks, while focusing on spring and nature (plants, flowers, bugs, science, etc.) we learned about caterpillars and butterflies, and we had our own caterpillars that we watched transform. When they arrived, the children were very interested in them, and through the whole process of their transformation they became more intrigued and really enjoyed watching the changes happen first hand. We released them into nature and watched as some flew away and others stayed and traveled around the playground for a little while. Also we learned about how plants and flowers grow. We did some science experiments such as how we can change the color of the flowers by using food coloring and how we can make pretend rain in a jar. Children love to experiment independently, which is why hands on science activities are essential for children to develop their individual skills. When children engage freely in science activities, adults can observe children exploring and recognize what they have learned by engaging in discussion.
On June 18, the summer program starts. It is full of fun activities for everyone! This summer will be structured in themes that last two weeks at a time, the themes will be camping, picnic, art, science, music, water-play, sports, messy play, carnival, special events and much more.
Since it’s getting hotter, we will do a lot of water activities outside, the water table will be opened every day that we are outside. On days when it is too hot, we’ll use the hose and sprinkler to play. Please check your child’s cubby to ensure that they have extra clothes that are appropriate for the weather. Also please bring your child’s swim trunks, bathing suits, and towels. Make sure they are labeled with your child’s name.
Every Friday we will send everything home that needs to be washed and ready to be brought back on Monday. This summer will be a lot of fun for everyone!!!
The Turtle Team
EAGLES NEWSLETTER: June 2018
The Eagles have been learning about varying topics related to Spring and Summer. The Eagles enjoyed having circle time outside, picking flowers, and discussing the weather change. As the school year comes closer to a close, the Eagles will take this time to revisit the benefits of having healthy positive relationships with others. The Eagles have been encouraged to continue to use their words to verbalize their feelings, thoughts, and to express their needs.
Also during June 2018, the Eagles will create art to demonstrate to others what they have experienced over the year. The art will be a collaborative as well as individual effort. Thank you to all the families for being part of Family Week in which the children thoroughly enjoyed, attending and participating in conferences, and providing emotional/educational/ physical support to the children.
The summer program will be starting soon. Please remember to supply your child with sunscreen, bug spray, extra clothes, and a water bottle.
Below is a link in regards to child development for 3 years transitioning to 4 years:
Thank you for your time and dedication.
The Eagle team
Sea Lion June 2018 Newsletter
Summer is here! Thanks for making the Parent/Teacher Conferences a success. The children have closed out the regular school year and will begin the summer program on June 18th. Our summer program will include themes and activities for every classroom to lead in a developmentally appropriate way and across content areas. There will also be opportunities for collaboration with the other classrooms.
The themes this summer are Messy Play/Arts, Adventures at Sea, Sports, Nature/Camping, and Carnival. We hope to plan fun activities that are engaging, exciting, and hands on. We also have planned a celebration of the beginning of summer program for the children, a trip to a Mystics game at the Verizon Center in July, water play on the playground, and an end of summer fair that parents are invited to as well as other special days.
For water play and the mud pit, it is very helpful to have at least two sets of extra seasonal clothing including underclothes. Also, every Monday please bring in a bathing suit and towel for your child for water play that will be sent home on Friday. Sunscreen is important during this time, so please bring in a labeled bottle of sunscreen if you haven’t already and apply it to your child before/upon arrival. Both LaJuan and I will be on vacation at different times throughout the summer and will keep you posted so that the children can predict who will be substituting in the classroom on those days.
-Please sign up to bring in fruits and veggies for snack
Sea Lion Team
Tiger Classroom June 2018
Lots of experts agree, “Children learn best through meaningful interactions with real materials, caring adults and their peers, – not through the drilling of isolated skills.” That said, the stronger focus on the social-emotional development has given way to the increasingly academic instruction and expectations starting in Pre-K and carrying over into Kindergarten and elementary school. Using the Teaching Strategies curriculum and the standards for Kindergarten Readiness by the District of Columbia Public Schools as a framework, and following the interest of the children, the Tiger-teachers are always striving to keep the balance between being a play-based program and, at the same time, provide age-appropriate academic challenges to help children grow in all areas, and finally make a smooth transition from the Pre-K classroom to Kindergarten.
But what exactly is expected of children when they finally enter Kindergarten? With that in mind, the Directors Exchange invited (for two years in a row) Kindergarten teachers from public, charter, and private schools to join a panel to help shed more light onto this question. Participating schools were Sheridan, Sidwell, Beauvoir, Janney, Murch, and E.L Haynes. An educational consultant joined the panel as well. Although all the schools have different philosophies and approaches to learning, interestingly enough, all the Kindergarten teachers seemed to agree on the core expectations for children entering a Kindergarten class. They found that children with solid social-emotional skills, who are able to function well in a group and cooperate, take turns/share, as well as resolve simple conflicts independently because they are able to express and advocate for themselves, had an easier time performing well academically.
Being able to solve conflicts seemed to make a huge difference for the children especially on the playground, as there is far less adult presence and involvement. All of the teachers agreed that independence, meaning that children are able to take responsibility for their materials, the upkeep of the classroom and their personal needs and belongings, are very important skills to practice in order to function well in a Kindergarten classroom. Being able to zip their coats and tie shoes (this is a bonus), and be comfortable changing clothes, if necessary, were mentioned as well. This kind of independence also helps children know how to, for example, wait their turn in a classroom with more children than they are mostly used to, sit for longer periods of time, and participate in the many transitions during the school day.
According to the Kindergarten teachers, children who are generally curious, ready to learn, willing to take chances, flexible thinkers and willing to be actively part of teacher-directed activities, as well as follow directions will be able to transition and do well in their new environment.
Children entering Kindergarten are not expected to read and write already, except their name and all the upper case letters (public school). On the contrary, the teachers stressed that the different approaches they use in teaching reading and writing, when children are ready for it in Kindergarten, are essential in creating good and flexible readers, – opposed to inflexible ones that use only one approach to decode a text. Lots of exposure to a large variety of books, including non-fiction, identifying the capital and lower case letters in the alphabet, match most sounds to their letters, simple word/rhyme play are a good foundation to be able to follow the instructions in Kindergarten more easily.
In math, the teachers recommended that children most of all have a solid basic number sense, can rote count up to 20, recognize numerals up to 10 and connect them to a quantity, as well as know the basic shapes and colors.
Last but not least, they recommended to foster good fine motor skills and a sufficient pencil grip.
On the rather practical level they suggested that parents and Kindergarteners-to-be start getting on the new schools schedule a week or two ahead of the beginning of the new school year. This will ensure that your child is well rested. Always keep in mind that children may need more sleep than they normally do in the first weeks of school. Play dates with old and new friends on the weekends, and as much time as possible for free, unstructured play may also create a good counter balance to the new experience of a very structured and mostly instructional day as a Kindergartener.
The Tiger Teachers