February was a busy month for teachers attending staff development. You probably don’t know that each teacher (and director!) must attend at least 30 clock hours of training each year!
STAFF NEWS –
- February 2, Staci Bauer attended a fullday workshop on “Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning Birth-Pre-K”
- February 13, Jackie Whiting attended a workshop on “Elephant Fun@National Zoological Park.”
- February 19, Jackie attended a Professional Development Visiting Day and Presentation at ST. John’s Episcopal Preschool – a Reggio Emilia inspired program.
- Jackie also received training Using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire” on February 24.
Talking About the Body
The curiosity of one’s body starts from a young age and while it is common to see children who are comfortable with their own bodies, their questions and concerns can cause a parent to stop right in their tracks. Children begin to notice their different body parts, as well of those of their siblings, other peers and even mommy and daddy. This is completely normal.
In the Quaker House classroom, we have been studying the different body systems which have sparked many question including, “Where do babies come from?” and “Why can’t girls use the urinal?” It’s useful to remind yourself that when your child asks about the body, he or she is simply trying to make sense of his world.
Is there a right way to respond to your child’s question about his or her body and about the opposite sex? Don’t giggle, laugh or get embarrassed. Take the questions at face value. Offer direct, age-appropriate responses. If your child wants to know more, he or she will ask. When responding to questions, use the proper names for all body parts: penis, vagina, anus, and so on. Otherwise, children will use the wrong ones, which can interfere with their understanding of body parts and function. We also discussed that your body has private areas; anything covered by a bathing suit is private and should not be touched unless it’s a doctor or special circumstances such as bathing time by a parent.
The bottom line? The next time your child asks a question about their body, take a deep breath and begin a pleasant conversation that is factual and honest.
Quaker House Teachers
Spring please hurry – we have had enough snow days and Gross motor room days for the year! In the Rainbow Room the children are beginning to show a range of different feelings and emotions that can sometimes be difficult to read or communicate. We have also noticed that the children haven’t been clearly expressing or picking up on facial cues when given by their friends. Below is an article that explains the different things that you may encounter and solutions to help you understand how we can assist our children through this phase.
Helping Your Preschooler Understand Emotions and Feelings
The toddler and preschool years are filled with emotional outbursts, tears, temper tantrums and even shyness that may have parents at their wits ends. This is all new to your preschooler, as she is just learning to recognize her feelings. Helping her identify her feelings and giving her some strategies for dealing with them in constructive ways are all part of growing up. So what can parents do at home to help foster their child’s emotional development?
Brandy Franks, Founder and President of Absorbent Minds Montessori School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, uses this technique with preschoolers to help children identify feelings: “One thing we do is make a box with pictures of children showing different emotions. We use happy, sad, angry, embarrassed, excited and shy. Each side of the box has one emotion with the word and the picture. The children will pass the box around the circle in the morning and pick a face to describe how they feel. Each child then tells us what happened to make them feel that way or why they feel that way. We emphasize that it is ok to feel any emotion, and we teach the children to accept the way others feel. It is a great way for a child to express themselves without really knowing they are doing so.”
Not sure what to do to help your child deal with her emotions? Try a few of these easy to implement ideas:
- Talk it Through After a child has had an emotional outburst and had a chance to calm down, take a few minutes to discuss the events. Ask your child how she felt, what made her feel that way and how she handled her feelings. Your response might be something like this: “I’m sorry you felt angry that your little brother took your toy, but hitting him is not OK. What else could you do instead of hitting?” Have a discussion about other alternatives, such as asking the sibling to give it back, finding him another toy to play with and asking him to trade or asking Mom for help. Remind your child that using her words instead of her hands is always a better choice when she is angry.
- Act it Out Find a time to play a game of emotional charades with the whole family. Think of some scenarios that might cause a child to feel different emotions such as angry, sad, lonely, embarrassed, excited, happy and shy. You can use events that have actually happened with your children or make up stories. Have each player listen to the scenario and then show how she would feel and what she would do. Have a group discussion about other ways to handle the situation. This is a great time for Mom and Dad to share stories from your childhood about similar situations and both the good and not so good choices you might have made and what the consequences were.
- Color Me Happy Art can be a wonderful outlet for children who may not have the words to describe how they feel. You might create a special “feelings journal” for your child to use when she is upset. Provide her with crayons or markers and let her draw. Even toddlers can scribble to help blow off some steam after a temper tantrum. If your child would like to, she can tell you about her picture and how she was feeling when she drew it. Simply saying “tell me about your picture” might be enough to get your child to open up and share her feelings with you.
- Bring on the Books Check out a few of these books from your local library or ask your librarian for her favorite books about emotions for preschoolers:
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (Parenting Press, 2000)
- Feelings to Share from A-Z by Todd Snow (Maren Green Publishing, 2007)
- Way I Feel Series (Includes When I Feel Angry, When I Feel Scared, When I Feel Sad, When I Feel Jealous and more) by Cornelia Maude Spelman (Albert Whitman & Company, 2004)
- Best Behavior Series (Includes Hands are not for Hitting, Teeth are not for Biting, Words Are Not for Hurting, Feet Are Not for Kicking) by Martine Agassi (Free Spirit Publishing, 2004)
Making time for a few simple activities can help foster your child’s social and emotional development which is important in the preschool years. Taking time to talk, share your feelings and explain how you deal with your emotions and your modeling are sure to rub off on your little one. It will make you both feel great when you can be partners in discovering and dealing with your child’s emotions.
It’s important to read aloud to children of all ages
- Reading aloud presents books as sources of pleasant, valuable, and exciting experiences. Children who value books are motivated to read on their own.
- Reading aloud gives children background knowledge, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read. The more adults read aloud to children, the larger their vocabularies will grow and the more they will know about the world and their place in it.
- Reading aloud lets parents and teachers be role models for reading. When children see adults excited about reading, they will catch their enthusiasm.
- Reading aloud can introduce books and types of literature—poetry, short stories, biographies—children might not discover on their own.
- Reading aloud introduces the language of books, which differs from language heard in daily conversations, on television, and in movies. Book language is more descriptive and uses more formal grammatical structures.
- Reading aloud lets children use their imaginations to explore people, places, times, and events beyond their own experiences.
- Reading aloud gives children and adults something to talk about. Talking supports the development of reading and writing skills.
- Reading aloud supports the development of thinking skills as children and adults discuss books, articles, and other texts they read together.
- Reading aloud is fun.
Reading aloud is more than saying words
- Talk about what you are reading—before, during, and after a read-aloud session. According to the IRA/NAEYC position statement (1998), “It is the talk that surrounds the storybook reading that gives it power, helping children to bridge what is in the story and their own lives.”
- Use the text to discuss real-life experiences and issues. Stories and books can be springboards to meaningful discussions about many different topics.
- Make the book come alive. Vary your expressions and tone of voice to fit the plot. Use a different voice for each character. Pause when appropriate to create suspense.
- Read for as long as children can pay attention. Gradually read for longer periods of time as their attention spans grow.
- Involve the listener in deciding what, when, and how long to read. Invite active participation during and after the reading.
- Follow up after reading a book. Offer materials for art projects and dramatics. Look for more books by the author or on the same topic. Plan an activity that builds on what you have read.
READ ALOUD so toddlers can
- continue to associate reading with warm, pleasant feelings while learning about words and language.
- expand their listening skills.
- build their vocabularies with words they understand and can use.
- consider books as fun and valuable play materials.
- make links between pictures and stories in books and things and events in their world.
- remember and join in with repetitive rhymes and phrases.
- begin creating pictures in their minds while listening to stories.
- begin understanding a few print concepts, such as pictures and print are symbols for real things, and that we read words, not pictures.
- have fun!
Choose books toddlers like
- Toddlers are learning to cope with feelings. Look for books with characters handling typical emotions and experiences.
- Toddlers feel competent when they can participate. Read books with rhymes and predictable words they can remember.
- Toddlers can pay attention—for a while—if they are interested. Read wordless picture books and storybooks with brief, simple plots and only a few words per page.
- Toddlers are curious. Read books about special interests and books about new people, places, and events.
- Toddlers are increasing their vocabularies and listening skills. Read books a few levels above their current vocabulary that introduce new words and ideas. Also look for books with lots of pictures of things to name.
- Toddlers are beginning to make sense of concepts such as size, color, shape, and time. Read simple picture-concept books that reinforce their learning.
- Toddlers are learning self-help skills. Read books about daily routines such as using the toilet, washing hands, and taking a bath.
- Toddlers are doers. Read books with flaps to lift and textures to feel.
We have tried these ideas in the Green Room
- Read the same books again and again, if asked. A toddler will let you know when he or she has had enough of a book.
- Read slowly so the toddler can make sense of what’s happening in a story.
- Offer crayons and paper to occupy toddlers who find it easier to listen when they are busy.
- Vary your voice to fit the characters and plot.
- Use puppets and other props related to the story.
- Repeat interesting words and phrases.
- Stop often to comment, ask questions, and look closely at the illustrations.
- Encourage a toddler to join in: turn pages, name things in pictures, make sounds, repeat rhymes and phrases, and think about what might happen next.
- Talk about the pictures and point out details a toddler might miss.
- Talk about the book and how it relates to a toddler’s real-life experiences.
© Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. Reprinted with permission from www.rif.org.
Reading Aloud in the Green Room has been a great interest of the children. Throughout the day children pick out several of their favorite books like “The Billy Goats Gruff”, “The Gingerbread Boy”, “Going on a Bear Hunt”. We have brought the books alive in the Green Room by acting the stories out, making masks and baking Gingerbread using the felt board.
Bus, A.G., M.H. van Ijzendoorn, & A.D. Pelligrini. 1995. Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read: A meta-analysis on intergenerational transmission of literacy. Review of Educational Research 65: 1–21.
Commission on Reading. 1983. Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children. 1998. International Reading Association (IRA) and NAEYC. 1998. Joint position statement. Learning to read and write: Developmentally appropriate practices for young children. Washington, DC: NAEYC. Also available online at www.naeyc.org. © Reading
It finally seems like winter is almost over and the weather will soon be one that is acceptable and enjoyable. To get everyone prepared and as excited about Spring as me, I decided to focus this newsletter on nature. I found an article in young children titled, “learning to love the earth… And each other” This article focused on the need for children to have direct hands on experience with nature. Reading books to children about nature (bugs flowers, etc) is always great but that alone is not enough to grasp the child’s full interest or understanding of nature. Digging in the dirt for worm or helping plant flowers and watching them grow over time will leave much more of an impression on the child. The article states “when children have daily opportunities to care for plants and trees, animals and insects, they practice nurturing behaviors that help them interact in kind and gentle ways with people as well.”
Depending on the generation one was born in, going outside and exploring nature was a part of your daily life. However now, it seems with all the different forms of technology available, children have become disconnected from the outside world, the natural world. Instead of spending time running around outside, collecting rocks, splashing in puddles, children now spend so most of their free time indoors. “The lack of outdoor contact had shown to effect children in many different ways such childhood obesity, dislike and fear of outdoors.” The fact is, children need nature. It helps them grow, develop, and it increases their curiosity about the world they live. At SFF we are aware of this which is why we try hard to implement nature throughout the year. As the weather gets warmer, we will begin to put water in the mud pit and allow the children to explore with it. In previous years parents have helped plant flowers and vegetables on the playground and this year will be no different.
It’s always inspiring to read these type of articles but the hard part is deciding what to do next with the information. We as adults and child care providers must go the extra step and figure out how to incorporate nature in children’s lives and we must look beyond the playground and the local park. Author Ruth Wilson states “…it seems in Western cultures children are encouraged to focus their learning on cognitive models rather than on firsthand investigation of the natural environment.” As an early childhood educator I believe with the appropriate outdoor environment children will grow in all different areas of learning. They will begin to ask more questions and even seek finding the answers themselves. There’s no right or wrong way to explore nature (as long as you’re being safe and taking care of it), so children have total freedom to express themselves how the want.
Lastly, the article suggests tips for parents and teachers to try in order to help bring nature back into the daily life of children:
-grow flowers or vegetables in wooden planter boxes (which we do)
-think differently about weather ( we are one of few schools who go out in a wide range of weather conditions and this is great for the children to experience them. Rainy days are for jumping in puddles with rain boots, snowy days are great as the children explore with the snow and see what they can create).
-go on an I spy walk around the neighborhood (use the senses and talk about what you see, hear, and smell outdoor
-create a worm bin (This by far is one of my favorite things to do outside with the children. The amazement in their eyes after digging in the dirt for a worm and then finding one is priceless).
“If a child is to keep alive his unborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in” environmentalist Rachel Carson.