News from the Head of School
Values are building blocks of an individual. One exists with his own values that he forms as he continues his journey in life. This is why we teach our children to make good choices and strengthen their skills to differentiate right from wrong. We model how to be honest and take responsibility even during the toughest times and when we make mistakes. We instill in them the importance of integrity and working hard. It is crucial to do your best and to stand by what you do. We teach them how to be just and advocate for the less fortunate and underprivileged. We want our children to be leaders and to not follow the wrong doers. We support them develop skills and an understanding to lift up others around them and appreciate each other with all the differences and the similarities they have. Kindness goes a long way and many times it is more important than being right. We want our future generations to do their best to see the good in everyone because there is light in everyone and we need to try to see that. We must cherish what and who we have in our lives and be bold enough to share our feelings and emotions. Remember, emotions make us human. We keep in mind that every situation, no matter how positive or negative it is, is an opportunity to learn and grow as long as we open up our minds to it. Only then true happiness and success will come.
Jennifer, Martina and Merate for organizing the Children’s event. It was a great turn out. We had current families, alumni families, families who will join us in the new school year, families who are currently on our wait-list and many of our teachers in attendance. Children and adults had fun and enjoyed nice conversations, activities and food. We had many parent volunteers. Face painting, tie die t-shirts and fun games were just some of the activities they ran. Thank you all very much for making this such a huge success. We could not have done it without you.
June 13 Teacher Appreciation Picnic
Eagles, Sea lions and Butterflies Parent Teacher Conferences (please check with your classroom for specific dates)
Our Turtles teacher Yasmine is on maternity leave until the end of October. She welcomed her baby. Both Yasmine and the baby are healthy.
Makai has returned from a five week sabbatical. She traveled around the country visiting many other schools. She had the opportunity to observe and study more about equity and diversity in early childhood classrooms.
Patti and Sabina attended Early Childhood Peer Gathering focusing on “Outdoor Learning”.
Five Essentials to Meaningful Play
Over the last 2 months the Butterfly friends’ creative minds has lead them to explore “Construction”, “How things Work”, “Pipes”, and “Community”. We have spent time building drains, taking a radio apart, learning how to get the water to turn on in our sink, reaching out to “Home Depot & Lowes from our new walkie – talkie to buy snake for the drain and pipes. Also we had fun exploring our community by walking to the bagel store, grocery store, post office, library, statues, and fire station. Always remember to build on their play and interest.
By Marcia L. Nell and Walter F. Drew
“One of my clearest childhood memories is slithering through the tall grass like a snake with my brother and sister.”
When you think back on your childhood, what happy play-memories come to mind? Adults today tend to think back on their childhood play-memories with nostalgia and often call them the “good old days.” Memories of joyful and meaningful play experiences help bind families together emotionally, even long after children are grown. Are our children experiencing the same kind of joy, meaning, and family bonding in their play?
Here are five elements essential to meaningful play that creates those rich memories we treasure:
Children make their own decisions.
When children choose how to play for themselves, they experience freedom in making those choices. They also begin to see connections between choice and the consequences or results of that choice. The type of toys or materials parents offer can help their children make more meaningful decisions. Open-ended materials can be used in many ways so children can decide for themselves how to use them. For example, a child can imagine a block to be a fire truck or any number of things. A toy fire truck, on the other hand, is usually used as a fire truck. Foam pieces, little wooden sticks, ribbon scraps, and other reusable resources are all open-ended materials that inspire creative thinking and delight when children use them to make something no one has ever made before.
Children are intrinsically motivated.
The impulse to play comes from a natural desire to understand the world. This play impulse is as strong as your child’s desire for food or sleep.1 It is this intrinsic motivation that allows a child to regulate her own feelings and desires in order to keep playing. Because children eventually find it more important to be part of play with their friends than to satisfy their own wants and needs at that moment, children learn self-control. And self-control has been shown to lead to success in later years, especially in today’s information age, where distractions are part of daily life.2
Children become immersed in the moment.
In true play, children are so fully engaged that they lose awareness of their surroundings, time, and space. In this risk-free atmosphere where reality is suspended, children have the security and safety they need to experiment, try new ideas, and investigate the laws of nature. Although they are immersed in their play, children still can recognize reality versus fantasy, something parents often wonder about.
Play is spontaneous, not scripted.
Often, play is totally unplanned. Other times, play is planned but a child impulsively makes a change. One child changes his mind, or perhaps a toy does not cooperate. This sense of the unknown provides children with opportunities to develop flexibility in their thinking and decision making, which is a vital life skill.
Play is enjoyable.
Play always has an emotional response attached to it. Without this emotional connection, the experience is simply an activity; it is not PLAY. Enjoyment is the direct result of engaging in play. It is FUN! These five essential elements of play outline why play provides your child with a rich experience. And isn’t that what we want for our children, to develop play memories that will become the “good old days”?
May 2018 Red Panda Newsletter
Over the past month we have truly watched the Pandas grow physically and develop new skills. In April, we started talking about “Taking care of ourselves and taking care of each other”. The Pandas enjoyed exploring various activities that encourage staying healthy and how to be helpful with others especially when they are upset or during daily social problems.
One of the activities the Pandas liked was Yoga! We read the book Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo, which has lots of different yoga poses (some more challenging than others) that encouraged the Pandas to do Yoga in large group and small group. We also talked about the different types of food that is healthy and had a chance to try some in a delicious smoothie! Along with Yoga, we practiced taking deep breaths by looking at different visuals to help us get ready for our Moment of Silence at circle time.
As the Pandas explored the different ways to take care of themselves and each other, they started to show interest in noticing the different emotions/feelings with each other and in the books we have been reading. We had a special activity from the Tiger room (upstairs) with some of the children’s different emotions/feeling with a brief description of the emotion they are expressing in the picture. The Pandas were so excited to get those pictures and interact with the visuals daily.
Finally, we came up with the Feel Better Box as a group at circle. The teachers demonstrated how we can use the box, and when we should get it to give to a friend who might need comforting. This has been a great process to watch, the children at times, still need prompting of when to get the box for their friends. Once they give the Feel Better Box to their friend, they either stay with their friend until they feel better or give them space until they are done using the items inside.
These experiences and activities have been scaffolding the process of learning empathy with one another. It has been great to see the Pandas practicing to care for each other and begin to recognize how their friends might be feeling. This will be a great foundation for them to start establishing stronger friendships and respond appropriately during daily problem solving and social problems.
A few reminders:
- Please make sure your child has 2 extra sets of the season’s clothing, labeled in their cubbies.
- Bring sunscreen and bug spray as the weather is warming up
- Sign in and out each day on the sheet that is on our door
May 7th: Rami’s Birthday!
May 8th: Cultural Heritage Dinner (in our classroom)
May 12th: Children’s Fair
May 28th: School is closed for Memorial Day
Thanks for your support and input!
Red Panda Team
May 2018 Leatherback Turtle Newsletter
Hello Turtles Families
During the month of April, we wrapped up our study of community helpers and transitioned into our study of the season Spring. In April, we noticed the change in weather on some days, we saw flowers blooming on the playground, and we noticed a few insects that flew into our classroom. We thought it would be a good time to discuss the changes that the Turtles are experiencing and seeing. We started off with a study of insects and bugs and transitioned to flowers, birds, and weather. We hope with the warm weather we are having, we can go on more community walks.
Taking walks with your child can be a wonderful learning experience. You can collect items for later use such as leaves for rubbings or rocks and pebbles to add to clay, playdough, or to paint. You can also create a scavenger hunt list of items for them to find (i.e. garbage truck, a blue car, a small bird, etc). Counting how many steps you take or how many parked cars you pass are some ways to naturally practice counting. Talking about the different signage they see is helpful, too (stop signs, one way, pedestrian crossing, etc). Walks do not have to be boring or tedious- they can be lots of fun for you and your child!
At the end of April (Friday, April 27th), I (Yasmine) left for maternity leave and will return at the end of October. Consequently, the Turtles will be in new classrooms before my return. We have spent time preparing for my absence and have had candid conversations with the Turtles about my “long vacation to take care of my baby.” One suggestion I like about transitions is sharing your feelings but focusing on the positive (i.e. “I am sad Yasmine left but I am excited that she is going to have a baby!”). Positivity goes a long way! It has been a pleasure and honor helping the Turtles learn this past school year and I am eternally grateful for all of the support you all have shown our classroom. I look forward to seeing you all at the teacher appreciation picnic in June! – Yasmine
- 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: May 2018
In April, the Eagles were raring to get outside and enjoy Spring! We discussed weather, different activities people enjoy (such as baseball, flying kites, and planting their gardens), and which animals have babies during Spring. We went walking to see what animals were out, and which plants were blooming. We examined seeds, and talked about what plants need to grow. Patti was gone for two days, attending an Outdoor Education conference in Pennsylvania (with Makai and Sabina).
In May, we’ve continued to learn about how plants and animals grow and change—their life cycles. We were excited to find that many things happen in cycles—such as the water cycle. We learned new songs, and our current favorite yoga pose, the “washing machine.” We’ll be spending more time outside, playing, planting, and interacting with nature.
Numerous studies have shown that time outdoors isn’t just good for young children’s physical health, it supports emotional/mental health and social development as well! Take a look at https://www.childrenandnature.org/ , The Children & Nature Network. Started by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and Vitamin N, this website has a wealth of information and suggestions for connecting children with the natural world. Many activities can be done when you only have a few minutes to spare, or only a tiny patch of “nature” to enjoy.
If you have more time or ambition, our area has an amazing selection of opportunities to share with our kids. In Virginia, for example, you can learn about nature and history at Claude Moore Colonial Farm: http://1771.org/.
Maryland offers all sorts of activities at Clearwater Nature Center http://www.mncppc.org/facilities/facility/details/clearwaternaturecenter-230 .
If you want to meet up with nature-interested families, or find activities sorted by age and aim, take a look at the Tinkergarten Outdoor Activities lists: https://tinkergarten.com/activities .
Since Summer is coming, it’s a good idea to check your child’s cubby to make sure they have enough extra clothes, and that they are seasonally appropriate. Rain boots and raincoats are still needed. Your child’s enrollment packet contained a form giving us permission to put on their sunscreen and/or bug spray. When you send these in, please make sure they are labeled, and put them in the first aid cupboard (above the snacks), or hand them to the teacher.
Lastly, if you are interested in taking walks, planting, or examining wildlife with us, please let us know! We’ll be emailing with field trip ideas and dates, and we’d love to have you come with us.
The Eagle team
Sea Lion May 2018 Newsletter
The whole Sea Lion class is officially four year olds! Although the teachers have witnessed the development of four year olds in previous years the children become four so quickly. I [LaJuan] frequently revisit various articles about the development and behaviors of preschoolers. I ran across the article written by Beth Stewart which is short and to the point. I have surely observed the topics mentioned in the article and I thought it would give you expectations of some of the behaviors and growth to come with the wonderful year. A summary of the article is below.
“What you’ve Wanted to Know about your 4 year old but have been too afraid to ask” by Beth Stewart:
Your 4 year old is full of energy, talkative and curious. She’s eager to show you what she can do. You and she will both be excited by her accomplishments. She constantly tests her environment and will waffle between feelings of security and insecurity. She may also be a bossy little tyke who makes up stories. You will experience emotional highs and lows with the age and each day will be a new challenge for both of you. Each child is different and what one child does at four might be quite different from another. However there are some benchmarks that you will find your four year old reaching the year.
4-year-old developmental milestones
Social skills for 4-year-olds
- shows more independence — able to brush her teeth and get dressed by herself
- demanding but also eagerly cooperative
- may be rude, or even tell you to shut up — the more you emotionally react, the more she will misbehave
- she wants to be liked and to please her friends and perhaps has a best friend which could be of either sex
- knows about everyday things like food, money and appliances and the concept of time
- as she has little sense of ownership, possession means she views all things as her’s
- has learned sympathy and sadness when someone or something is in pain — that is what she wants when she is in the same situation
- has become aware of sexuality and has a natural curiosity about it
- shows a high degree of interest in singing, dancing and acting
- brims over with imaginative ideas
- tries to distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality
- she may like telling “tall tales”
Motor skills for 4-year-olds
- has the coordination and balance of an adult — also the muscular strength to perform more challenging activities
- loves movement — climbing, swinging, somersaulting and skipping
- enjoys writing, painting, modeling, cutting, pasting and building structures
- hand drawn pictures will contain all of the essential elements like eyes, nose and mouth — although they won’t look like people to you
Language skills for 4-year-olds
- can count to ten or more
- can name at least four colors
- enjoys using four letter words she has heard a particularly enjoys the look on your face when she says them — don’t overreact!
Parenting SURVIVAL TIPS
Your 4-year old is at an important learning stage. Let her set her own pace as you provide opportunities to encourage her enthusiasm and creativity. Take her to the zoo, museums, and don’t forget the art gallery. There are many good books which illustrate the spatial concepts she needs to learn like over and under, and opposites like big and small.
Encourage your child’s relationships with her friends. However, you will find that with exposure, she will realize there are other values and opinions besides yours.
Physical safety is still a big issue as motor skills have increased substantially but judgment is lacking. She will need to be reminded to wait and hold hands before crossing the street and although he will probably loves water and wants to swim never leave her unattended.
As she expresses her normal curiosity about sexuality, don’t scold or punish. Answer her questions with short age-appropriate answers.
Sea Lion Reminders:
-Please make sure your child has two or more sets of LABELLED seasonal clothing in their cubbies. Water and mud play will be occurring more often.
-The sign-up sheet for fruits and veggies are on the classroom door
-Please apply sunscreen before/upon arrival to school
The Sea Lion Team
Tiger Classroom Newsletter – May 2018
Appreciating Children’s Humor
Q: “Knock, knock—-Who’s there? —-Boo—Boo Who?”
A: “Well you don’t have to cry about it.”
Q: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
A: “To get to the other side…”
Have you been hearing knock-knock, chicken, or other kind of jokes from your child lately? They appeared out of nowhere and have increased and expanded from thereon in the classroom. From your child’s first nonverbal attempts as a toddler to demonstrate a sense of humor by for example putting their shoe on their head, or a toy in their food, humor has come a long way.
In the Tiger classroom, especially at the lunch table, some children are more concerned to get their joke across then to eat their food. The children love playing with the sound, meaning and purpose of words, as they tremendously enjoy triggering roars of laughter amongst their peers and managing to get the attention of the group.
“Humor is an important and unique human element of communication that helps children build relationships with each other.”
Jennifer Cunningham, who researches humor in young children, includes humor as a type of play. She does this for three reasons:
- Humor is enjoyable in the way that most play is enjoyable.
- Humor constructs an unreal world much as make-believe play does.
- The enjoyable, unreal world of humor often performs the same cognitive, social, and emotional functions as play in general.
On the one hand it’s a good sign that children are developing the necessary mental flexibility to have a sense of humor. It is beneficiary when engaging in creative problem-solving, makes us feel better when we make mistakes, or encounter failure. It is also a sign of how safe and happy children feel in their environment. On the other hand pre-school humor filled with repetition, chanting, “nonsense-talk” (at least initially to grown-ups ears), and especially potty talk can be at times agonizing to adults. “Things that are not okay to say in some situations are somehow safe when we are only joking. The more adults are upset by it, the more hilarious it is for children. They build a sense of camaraderie around “breaking the rules”.
Knowing when and how to engage in humor, is part of emotional intelligence and something the children will surely learn as they mature. In any case humor reflects children’s growing understanding of the world they live in and their cognitive and social/emotional development.
“Sharing laughter together often serves as the precursor to other forms of social intimacy. Laughter becomes one of the earliest and most enduring tools for getting to know one another. The humor context is so powerful that it breaks down even difficult social barriers.”
As educator it is every year again and again fascinating how different groups of children develop their own unique brand of humor. It is noticeable how humor and laughter supports children’s learning, if we as adults are able to join in with them and share their excitement for their new and developing perspective, understanding, and abilities. With humor and laughter comes emotional range. Along with lightheartedness, and playfulness comes creative thinking.
Research shows that children laugh approximately 200 times a day, whereas adults only 15-18 times.
“We have a great resource in children when it comes to increasing the humor and laughter, and joy in our lives. All it takes is slowing down to see, and appreciate children’s humor!” (Deb Curtis)
Stages of Humor Development
Taking a cue from Piaget’s cognitive stages, leading humor researcher Paul McGhee, first proposed a comprehensive stage-model of children’s humor in 1979. This model, last revised in 2002, maps the type of humor the child is likely fascinated with to underlying changes in her ability to perceive and make sense of her world.
Stage 0: Laughter Without Humor. McGhee dubs this pre-humor stage “stage 0,” although children may exhibit smiling and laughter.
Stage 1: Laughter at the Attachment Figure. In this stage, the child demonstrates an increasing awareness of her interpersonal surroundings and participates in social humor with a parent or other attachment figure through games such as peek-a-boo.
Stage 2: Treating an Object as a Different Object. At stage 2, the child begins producing “jokes” nonverbally by performing incongruous actions, such as putting her bowl on her head as a hat, or pretending to talk into her shoe.
Stage 3: Misnaming Objects or Actions. Once the child’s vocabulary hits a critical point, she can extend her incongruity humor to misnaming objects or actions. McGhee notes that children at this stage often enjoy calling things by their opposite name—cold as hot, boy as girl.
Stage 4: Playing With Words. As the child’s verbal competence grows, she is less dependent on objects as the source of humor. She may experiment with rhyming words, made-up silly words, and other humorous play that does not directly link to concrete objects within her reach.
Stage 5: Riddles and Jokes. As the child develops, he begins to understand that humor has a meaning, and that jokes must resolve from something absurd into something that makes cognitive sense. He often starts memorizing riddles and jokes and uses them as a means of initiating social interactions with peers and adults.
Hope you enjoy a good laugh with your child today!