News from the Head of School
One of the most difficult things to teach children is “conflict resolution”. It is a crucial skill to learn and one of the most basic yet complicated ones we carry out to our adulthood. Children need to understand that conflict is part of life given the fact that every individual has different needs and wants. Sometimes there may be one thing but more than one child wants it. The first reaction of the child can be aggression, calling the person names, becoming physical or becoming passive aggressive as in avoiding the other person. If the situation is not handled correctly, it can hurt relationships. If it is handled correctly, it improves relationships and self-esteem. They learn how to share the world and how to get along with people who will come their way throughout their lives. They stay out of unpleasant situations at home, school, work and other social platforms.
One of the key ways to help children with this skill is to guide them through the steps rather than giving them the solution. Keep in mind that you are allowing them to build the skill. They need to learn to acknowledge their point of view and to listen to the other party’s side without judgment and attack. When children are heard, they feel validated. This is an important feeling to develop self-esteem and help them build “healthy” relationships. When there is conflict, there are also strong feelings. Since children are not yet “mature” enough, they need guidance to control and express those feelings so that feelings do not complicate things more and do not get in the way of seeing everything clearly and approaching the situation fairly and reasonably. One of the first things to do is to help the child “calm down”. Then walk the child through the steps. Talk and listen. Find a solution and try to see if it works. If it does not, repeat the steps. Allow him to understand that the situation is not always a win-win. It may be win or lose or win some lose some. Cooperation and respecting views are valuable for life.
Dates to remember:
Simple Meal: Sunday, March 18
This annual event is a great way for the SfF community to contribute and give back to the Friends Meeting of Washington we are associated with. It is also a great opportunity to experience a Quaker meeting. The meeting starts at 10:30 and lasts about an hour. The simple meal will be immediately after at 11:30. The meeting house is at 2111 Florida Ave NW, walking distance from SfF. If you are driving, please plan to park on the street. Read signs carefully. The nursery is open during the meeting for children age 6 months-4 years. Due to limited space in the nursery, we kindly encourage children 4 and up to attend First Day school. The activity will be decorating postcards to send to Pennsylvania voters. Our very own Makai Kellog and Nancy Cook (Izzy’s Mom) will attend the children in the nursery.
Looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday.
Tuesday, March 20: Parent Workshop Part II – Addressing Challenging Behaviors 4:30-6:00pm. Please email me to RSVP.
Monday, March 26 Professional Development Day: School is closed
Reading Aloud to Children: Helpful Hints
Listening to literature read aloud is one of the most valuable and pleasurable experiences beginning readers and writers can have. It is so important to a child’s developing literacy, that reading aloud to the child(ren) should be a part of every individual or small group activity. Here is a chance to model good reading and thinking strategies and to expose young learners to the rich variety of literature that exists– fiction, nonfiction; poetry, biography; humor, fantasy… Immersing young learners in various types of literature helps them understand the critical features of written language, and the varying structures of different genres. When this exposure is accompanied by supportive and relaxed discussions, children are able to extend their world view, and develop important critical thinking skills.
▪ Plan enough time in each session (10 – 15 minutes) to read aloud, to enjoy, and to talk about a story, poem, or information text. Be flexible with time as young learners have short attention span and lots of energy.
▪ Choose stories that respond to children’s expressed interests and experiences. For very young children or Emergent readers/listeners choose books with vivid pictures, a strong story line, engaging characters and evocative language. Humorous and predictable books are particularly successful.
▪ Preview the book yourself so you can anticipate questions or reactions. If possible practice reading it through so you can decide where to pause for emphasis or to elicit questions, predictions or reactions.
▪ Introduce the book, pointing out the cover illustration, title and author. Invite some predictions or comments that help the listeners connect the book to their own experience or to other books heard or read. Or give a brief explanation about why you chose to read this book. “This is the story of a boy who goes on an unusual trip. I chose it because you just came back from a trip.” Or “This is the story about a special friendship between a mouse and a whale. I have read this many times. I wonder what you will think about it.”
▪ Read with expression that reflects the tone of the story or the characters. And not too fast. Vary your pace so you can pause for emphasis, or to allow time for child(ren)to think about what’s happening or what might come next.
▪ Allow time for children to study the pictures as you read, and to make comments and ask questions about the story. It is OK if they interrupt you. Be patient and acknowledge them.
▪ Encourage predictions, and then help children confirm or revise these as the story unfolds. Try to honor many ideas and interpretations, not just the “correct” ones. Instead of accepting or rejecting comments or ideas as right or wrong, use comments such as “that’s one possibility, let’s see what the author has in mind.” or “Well that’s an interesting idea. How did you think of that?”
▪ Watch the children’s expressions and body language and be sensitive to signs of boredom or confusion; you may need to change your reading plan, change the book or do more preparation.
▪ Save time at the end of the story to get reactions. Ask open-ended questions that don’t have right or wrong answers, and that can’t be answered with a yes or no reply. For instance ask what the child liked (or disliked) about the book, and why? You may ask what s/he thought about the characters or how the problem was solved? Find out if the book made the listener think of any personal experience or other book heard or read.
▪ Vary the length of time you spend reading aloud. Don’t be constrained by time. Some longer stories can be read over several sessions, if the time in between is not too long, and if you plan good stopping places. Don’t spoil a story by rushing to finish it. Children need to see that pleasurable reading involves time to savor language, ideas and pictures.
▪ Remember that for some children, listening to stories is a new experience, and they need to develop that interest and ability. Start with short, interesting selections, with strong pictures. In some cases allowing active children to manipulate play dough or to draw while listening may help. Be responsive to facial expressions and body language, and if the book is not working, don’t be afraid to stop, without being punitive. Next time you might find a better selection.
▪ Encourage discussion about the story. Ask the child questions about what’s going on, and encourage the child to predict what will come next — but be sure not to turn a discussion into a quiz!
▪ Most important: Have a Good Time!
In the Butterfly Room we had been making books come alive by doing exciting activities to go along with the books. For the next couple of weeks our focus will be on books.
Red Panda Newsletter
Happy March, families!
In February, the Pandas explored transportation in depth. We noticed how interested they were and would run up to the window every time they heard a siren on the road. We brought various books and visuals of all types of transportation for the children to see. They loved every book and are able to fill in the blanks while the teacher pauses during the story.
The children also were happy to paint with wheels! We did this activity a couple of time since they really enjoyed it. The children dipped their wheels of their bus, car, plane, or truck in different colors and drove on their papers while saying “vroom vroom”, or “beep beep!” We noticed many of the children begin to develop more words to describe what they were doing, seeing, or hearing while exploring the different types of transportation. As a large group, they were able to start to differentiate and categorize when they were given a visual with a type of transportation and encouraged to find the matching picture. They had so much fun taking turns finding out if the type of transportation they had was on land, in the water, or in the sky!
The children have been interested in the type of transportation they see randomly on the road, or while playing with them during their play time, but also in how they and their friends come to school. During circle, or throughout the day most of the children can tell us how they get to school. They love to even hear it in a song with their preference of transportation.
The children were engaged with every activity and will begin our first multi-step art project of making a boat for our classroom. This project will take many days to complete with multiple steps! The Pandas will be encouraged to paint, glue, and add various materials that they wish to add to their own boat for their classroom.
Thank you for your support and input!
Red Panda Team
A few reminders:
• Please ensure that you have two sets of seasonal clothes in your child’s cubby
• Please continue to sign in and out on the sign in sheet on the classroom door
• Please provide water bottles that have a straw
• Children are required to wash hands upon entering School for Friends
March 2018 Leatherback Turtle Newsletter
Happy March Turtle families!
We spent the month of February primarily learning about our feelings. We heavily practiced labeling and identifying feelings throughout the school day and ultimately created a feeling chart to help the Turtles learn to recognize their own feelings. We created a “feel better box,” which is a tool the Turtles can use to self-soothe or comfort a friend when they are not feeling their best. Our study of feelings will serve as a building block to ultimately help the Turtles learn to be empathetic.
Towards the end of February, we transitioned into our study of Community Helpers. We will spend the next few weeks learning about what roles and jobs people have within our community and how they help us. This area of study provides many opportunities to be creative in our play. We cannot wait to see what fun ideas we may come up with. Most of our activities are activities that encourage parallel play (playing alongside one another). We also provide opportunities to cooperatively play, but this is something they will become more interested in as they mature. Whether it is parallel, cooperative, or independent, play is very essential to a child’s development. At SfF, we teach and learn through play and below are a few reasons why:
– Children gain an understanding of size, shape, and texture through play
– Children increase their problem-solving abilities through games and puzzles
– Children can strengthen their language skills by modeling other children and adults
– Play offers a child the ability to master skills that will help develop self-confidence and the ability to overcome quickly from setbacks
You can read about the benefits as well as the different types of play at: http://msuextension.org/publications/HomeHealthandFamily/MT201003HR.pdf
– Please ensure that you have two sets of seasonal clothes in your child’s cubby
— 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 cubs and label them
– Parents and children are required to wash hands upon entering School for Friends under accreditation requirements
Yasmine, Marisa, and Treasure
Greetings, Eagle Families,
During February, the Eagles continued to discuss weather—and there was plenty to talk about! We spent a lot of time reading and reciting poetry, especially our favorite nursery rhymes. We enthusiastically accepted our new music teacher, Hope, and look forward to her arrival each Friday. The Eagles have been doing a lot of singing and dancing in and out of music class. Ask them to sing you “Cobbler, Cobbler,” or “Hot Potato”!
In March, we have started enjoying “Family of the Week,” and have been learning about food—different tastes, different types of healthy food, and how food gets turned into energy in our bodies.
One of the hardest lessons for a preschooler to learn is how to move on from a hardship. Some are significant, such as the death of a loved one. For a young child, though, ordinary daily situations stir their emotions and test their coping skills. Challenges like not getting the first turn with a desired toy, having a block structure that keeps tumbling down, a friend refusing to play “by the rules,” or having to clean up and move to the next activity, can be disappointments that are hard to get over.
Though they may seem miniscule to adults, these challenges are major for children just learning to see things from others’ perspectives, stay calm in the face of difficulty, and compromise. These are a set of important developmental milestones that add up to one essential concept: resilience.
According to beststart.org
“Resilience is the ability to steer through serious life challenges and find ways to bounce back and to thrive.”
Adults who have developed resilience tend to be healthier and live longer. They are more likely to have satisfying relationships, are less prone to depression, and tend to be more successful at school and work. Fortunately, as parents and teachers, we have an enormous potential for cultivating young children’s resilience! Also from beststart.org:
Many of the things that support healthy development in young children also help build their resilience.” These include a secure bond with a loving adult, relationships with positive role models, and opportunities to learn skills and participate in meaningful activities.
Parents can supply these by providing their children with good schools, support groups, playgroups, and even therapy. But, the most essential way parents help build their children’s resilience is through example. We can model calmness and flexibility, and let children hear us talk though our own problem solving/ attempts to self-regulate.
We can model our own strategies for dealing with difficulty, and share our feelings. For example, on the ride home, if another driver is making “unsafe choices,” a parent can say:
“I feel really frustrated when other drivers speed in front of our car and take our turn to go! That’s not safe or fair. I’m going to take ten deep breaths to help me calm down.”
Seeing trusted adults face difficulty and move on can have a tremendous impact on children’s attitudes toward adversity, and their ability to face it themselves. Given opportunities to practice and observe examples of self-control, confidence and optimism, children improve their own skills.
Another point to consider is that children need to feel safe before they can learn to self-regulate (control their behavior and manage their feelings). This feeling of safety is built when adult caregivers show young children respect and provide them with boundaries. Preschoolers need to feel heard, understood, and supported to nurture their sense of individual agency and self-worth. Listening to their concerns and opinions shows we believe their thoughts and feelings are important—that they are important.
It’s important to note that empathy does not have to be agreement. We can acknowledge what children think and feel, even when we disagree. We can let them explain what they want, even if it’s not what is going to happen. Just like adults, they want to feel heard and understood. But, we don’t always have to give them what they want.
Providing boundaries and following through with consequences also build resilience. Even though they may hate being told what to do, preschoolers feel safe when they know the rules, when they know how adults will react. When parents and teachers are consistent, children exhibit less testing behaviors. When we model, “I say what I mean, and I mean what I say,” they learn to do the same.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t bend the rules for special situations, of course! Being flexible for a good reason is essential to resilience.
Outside support from adults, plus children’s own inner strength (which adults help nurture) = resilience!
Patti and Darren
Sea Lion March 2018 Newsletter
The Sea Lions have been learning and sharing about their families. Grandparents are visibly represented in the classroom, Family of the Week has started, and there will be more opportunities for families to join us on trips. This spring will be filled with information and activities related to homes, community, and special visits from the people they love most. While the children will bewelcoming each other’s families, the Sea Lions will temporarily lose a member of their classroom family.
I [Makai] am very excited for the opportunity and privilege to take a five week sabbatical at the end of the month. The purpose of this sabbatical is to enhance my roles as Equity and Diversity Coordinator and social justice educator. While away, I will learn from some of the most brilliant minds in anti-bias education and anti-racism work. I will interview, observe, facilitate and learn within organizations, schools, and one on one. Border Crossers in NYC, Hilltop Children’s Center in Seattle, University of Colorado at Boulder, and the White Privilege Conference in Grand Rapids, MI are just a few items on my itinerary. In Philadelphia, I will attend my second gathering of the Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools as well as the Early Childhood Peer Network which are both through the Friends Council on Education. Through this professional and personal experience, I will grow as a facilitator, leader, and teacher-activist.
During these visits, I will pick the brains of my mentors, experts, activists, scholars and educators who strive toward making this world a just place by actively engaging in critical social justice work. My long term goal is to transition School for Friends from a diverse, anti-bias centered preschool into an anti-racist, multicultural institution.
I will document my sabbatical work (before, during, and after) on my blog: http://www.makaisecee.wordpress.com
I look forward to sharing my journey and applying my experience in the classroom and beyond.
Tiger Classroom Newsletter – March 2018
Making math fun and relevant to young children can be as easy as making time for play. As young children explore their environment and interact through play, they are beginning to notice relationships that are the foundations for mathematics. From counting, to making spatial connections, to understanding sequences, we can build upon the children’s natural ability to play while introducing them to the basics of mathematics.
As teachers, we see math being used as part of play every day. While in playhouse, children use the pretend pancakes to feed their friends. In order to distribute a handful of pancakes evenly among three friends the “pancake maker” has to use one to one correspondence (pointing to actual objects and counting aloud one by one). This is not just an example of one to one correspondence but also rote counting (counting aloud without pen and paper). These techniques are learned naturally through everyday play as well as familiarity with their environment. Young children also explore patterns and shapes, and compare sizes.
While sorting and matching things that are the same or different; children can also arrange things in simple patterns, based on their characteristics; they are beginning to understand the meaning of words and phrases like “more,” “less,” “a lot,” and “the same as.” Everyday at choice time, the Tiger kids have the opportunity to use the various manipulatives in the classroom. Manipulatives are a great tool to make simple and complex patterns from colors, shapes, purpose, size, etc. Children use measurement to describe, compare, and order things, using unconventional tools (like pieces of blocks, sticks, and even their footsteps). No rulers required.
During outdoor play the children can find lots of exploration of spatial relationships. For example outdoor play furniture gets moved around a lot. As friends play with each other one can hear phrases such as, “we should move the couch closer, the table is too far, move your chair next to mine”.
Free play offers a rich foundation on which to build interesting mathematics. These everyday experiences form the foundation for later mathematics. Later, children elaborate on these ideas, and we recognize that children need both these foundational experiences, as well as specific math activities. Preschool isn’t just about 1, 2, 3’s and A, B, C’s. It’s about teaching your child to take joy in learning, and to recognize that the world is full of fun lessons waiting to happen!
The Tiger Teachers