News from the Head of School
Back to School Night was a huge success. We thank all of our families who were able to join us. The highlight of the night was surely the hands-on activities families were participating while sitting on the floor or the tiny chairs. Colorful rice, baby doll circle time and much more.
Open House on October 18, 2017, at 10 am. We are at capacity for our first open house. The next one is on November 8 at 10 am.
After School for Friends on October 26, 2017, at 7:30 pm. If you have older children who are attending area schools, public, charter, private or independent, we need your help. Please contact me if you would like to know more about this event and see how you can help us.
Family Support: Many families turned in their “activity forms”. Thank you for your willingness to support us in various ways during the school year. We will start reaching out to you as early as next week.
If you have not turned in your forms, please remember that we need your help especially for November 14, 15,16 and 17 when several of us are attending the NAEYC Conference. Makai and Sabina are also presenting at the Conference. How wonderful that our teachers are sharing their experience and knowledge with other educators around the nation and the world! Looking forward to more learning and sharing in the next few months.
Toddlers: Given the fact that for the first time in our school’s history we have very young toddlers starting their learning experience with us, we are constantly looking for ways to improve their environment and our practices. We have purchased several push toys/ mini trikes so that they can enjoy outdoors with the rest of the children.
Monarch Butterfly Newsletter
Sensory Play and Child Development
Sensory play is an important part of early childhood development. It lets children explore and learn about their world through what they do best – play. Throughout the month of September, the Butterflies classroom has engaged the students with sensory activities. Although it may seem messy, sensory play helps develop a child’s cognitive, language, social and emotional, physical and creative skills.
Cognitive Development: Two of the most prominent benefits of sensory play are the ability to make decisions and solving problems. Just observe a child when you give them a problem with the proper materials. Their minds go to work and they become little scientists; creating theories and testing them. For instance, how do you make sand stick together? Other cognitive benefits of sensory play are the development of math skills (counting, quantities, sizes, matching, timing, and classification) and science skills (gravity, matter, cause and effect).
Language Development: According to Steinberg in the article “Developing and Cultivating Skills through Sensory Play”, children can’t define parts of language until they’ve experienced the true meaning of the word”. Sensory play gives way to better understanding of the meaning of words through senses. To learn the meaning of sweet or sour, one has to taste it. Similarly, to understand the word rough and smooth one has to feel different surfaces. Until a child experiences something rough, smooth, sweet or sour firsthand, all it will be are words. Furthermore, pre-writing skills are developed when a child pours, spoons, and grasps. Also, hand-eye coordination is being developed while using numerous materials.
Social-Emotional Development: Sensory play allows children to be in control of their experiences. In being responsible for their experiences, children’s self-esteem is boosted by their decision making skills. Cooperation and collaboration are also learnt while playing together at a sensory table. Students work together to solve problems and they learn that each member of the “team” has a different point of view or opinion. Simply pounding, squishing, and feeling water through their hands allow children to stay in contact with their feelings while they figure out how to deal or control them (their feelings).
Physical Development: Children reinforce and practice their small motor skills while pouring, measuring, stirring, whisking, and manipulating the materials. They learn to control their bodies and give their bodies directions to accomplish tasks as they explore. Gross motor skills are refined as children explore, usually outside, with running through a sprinkler, examining surfaces with hands and feet, or foot painting.
Creative Expression: “Sensory experiences,” explains Angie Dorrell, “provide open-ended opportunities where the process is more important than the product; how children use materials is much more important than what they make with them.” Encouraging children to think creatively to solve problems and engage in imaginative play allows them to show their creativity and build their confidence.
Steinberg, D (N.d). Developing and Cultivating Skills through Sensory Play. PBS Parents. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/parents
Dorrell, A (N.d). Sensory Experiences Can Be Messy Fun. Earlychildhood News. Available at: http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com
● Please provide two sets of seasonal extra clothes
● Label all items
● Please sign up to bring in fruits and veggies to supplement snack
Red Panda Newsletter
Hello, Red Panda Families! We’ve made it through one month of school, woohoo! The Pandas continue to settle into their routines and classroom. For the entire month of September, we focused on getting to know the areas of our classroom. As a reminder, the areas are: playhouse, science and manipulatives, cozy corner, block area, music and movement, art, and sensory area. Some of the activities we did included circle time in the cozy corner with books, a little puppet show on sharing (getting to know playhouse), creating artwork as a class, and exploring the different sensory materials in our table. Obviously we want the children to have fun, but did you know that each area is set up to foster growth and development for this age group? This information was covered in the back-to-school night packet, but here’s a refresher on what each center offers developmentally.
● In the art center: painting helps our pandas learn about spatial relationships
● At the sensory table: scooping/pouring and dumping items helps develop fine motor skills and playing beside other kids encourages getting along/turn-taking
● At music and movement: playing instruments teaches how to make music, while stomping in a musical march is one way a child is responding to the musical patterns
● In block area: taking blocks off the shelf and building is fostering independence, while putting the pop beads together is developing hand-eye coordination
● In playhouse: when putting on dress-up clothes, your child is learning to use self-help skills
● In cozy corner: opening books and turning pages is demonstrating their knowledge of how to use books
We can’t wait to continue to grow and learn with your children. The shift from summer to fall will present many opportunities to explore new things in nature and in our classroom. Thank you all for your support and communication in making the start of school transition as seamless as possible.
Magy and Wesley
Important dates in October:
Oct. 9th – First Peoples Day (SCHOOL CLOSED)
Oct. 10th – Kareem’s birthday!!
Oct. 26th – After School for Friends (7:30pm-9:00pm)
Oct. 28th – Mina’s birthday!!
Leatherback Turtle Newsletter October 2017
Hello Turtle Families,
It has been a pleasure getting to know everyone in our classroom this past month of September. The children are getting more comfortable with the classroom and are continuing to build relationships with each other. They are still learning about school and are starting to learn how to take care of our classroom and our toys. We also have been learning about taking care of Cupcake and how to treat her nicely.
Nutrition is an integral part of a child’s overall growth. It is important that children have proper nutrition in order to grow healthy and learn. Healthy eating starts at birth and is learned by parents and teachers therefore it is key to teach children the important values that they need for life. Not all children need the same amount of food or nutritional value to grow so it is important that you are not comparing your child with another child. Even at a young age, children and babies know when they are full or when they do not want to eat. It is important not to force children to eat because they may develop bad eating habits if they are forced to eat multiple times when they are not hungry.
Mealtime is also a time to interact with your child in addition to trying to get your child to eat. It is a time where parents can ask their child or children about their day. Parents can also tell children stories and they can build a strong relationship over mealtimes. All electronics should be turned off while having a meal so no one is distracted and everyone can talk to each other as a family. The article listed below has some good charts and suggestions on healthy foods and tips for picky eaters.
– Please ensure that you have two sets of seasonal clothes in your child’s cubby
– Please utilize thermoses for food you would like to keep warm for your child.
– Please label all items (clothes, lovies/stuffed animals, lunch, water bottles).
– Please provide water bottles that have a straw.
– Please be sure to pick up your child by 6pm; if you are going to be late, please give us a call at 202-328-2208.
– Parents and children are required to wash hands upon entering School for Friends under accreditation requirements.
Yasmine, Marisa, and Treasure
The Eagles had a busy, fun September, learning about their new classmates, teachers, classroom, and schedule. Now that they feel comfortable and confident, children who acted shyly at first may become outgoing, quiet children get loud, and serious children play for laughs. It’s also unsurprising to see compliant/rule following children “act up.” In fact, some of the Eagles have been showing “testing behavior,” trying to ignore or change classroom rules and routines.
This kind of “defiance” is actually developmentally appropriate, and a good sign about their adjustment to the Eagle class! They feel secure enough to take the risk of disobedience– just as they feel secure enough to engage with peers and teachers, speak up, or draw attention to themselves. It is also a sign that they are working out where the boundaries lie, and how much control they have over those boundaries.
The way adults respond to rule-breaking or noncompliance is important. You may have heard the key words “firm, fair, and consistent.” We (parents and teachers) have the momentous responsibility to discipline (teach) young children. Sometimes this means drawing a firm line—over and over again: “The classroom couch is not for jumping. That is not a safe choice.”
As noted in our Eagles Back to School Night handout, discipline serves as a means of maintaining a safe environment. We stress that emotions are acceptable, but hurting others is not. We also stress that individuals are important not just in themselves, but as part of our community. The Eagles are encouraged to voice their wants and needs. They are also encouraged to consider the wants and needs of others, and supported in making choices that work for the entire community. This may mean giving the child a decisive “No,” or it may mean figuring out a compromise: “Can we jump on the couch cushions if we put them on the floor?”
Over the past month, as the Eagles have been navigating their roles in our classroom community, they have also learned about “community helpers” such as firefighters, police, EMT’s, and mail carriers. Currently, the children are still eager to focus on these helpers. We will shift slightly towards learning about their vehicles and tools, as well as learning about the many musical instruments in our room. Who knows where that exploration will lead!
Darren and Patti
Sea Lion October 2017 Newsletter
Just imagine: you are on the playground supervising a group of three children. They are engaged in dramatic play where there is a “monster” and two “good guys.” A chase ensues and one of the children takes their thumb and pointer finger to create an L shape with their hand, points at the “monster” and shouts “bang, bang, I killed you.” As the adult, do you: A. reprimand that child for “shooting” B. end the play and suggest a new game or C. let it go?
This scenario is a reality for teachers and parents at school and home. There are many reactions and philosophies that come into play and at times it is a struggle between one’s own morals and normal child development. Diane Levin is an expert on the effects of media on children and I have attended her workshops at the NAEYC conference where she shares insight on media, consumerism, and violence. I [Makai] recommend her book “The War Play Dilemma: Balancing Needs and Values in the Early Childhood Classroom” which she wrote with Nancy Carlsson-Paige. This book opened my eyes to the appeal of war play to children, the effects of war play, and what the role of the adult is regarding war play.
The authors state that “children use play in their own unique ways to make sense of individual experience and to work on the issues of their developmental stage.” Some developmentalists believe that “because children show a deep interest in war play, it must be an important form of play through which they meet needs and grow.” War play is attractive mainly for what it represents, power. Children are the single most powerless group of people and having control through this play is a powerful feeling. Some of the healthy benefits of war play include understanding the difference between reality and fantasy, practicing impulse control, understanding others’ points of view, and becoming autonomous.
The main concern that the authors express about this play is how it has changed over the years. Due to an increase of violent images and television, children’s “play” is turning into imitation of what they see. When a child is imitating, they are not in control of the content and therefore not constructing their own understanding and deciding for themselves what is real; “for play to fulfill its optimal role in development, it should be primarily assimilative and stem from the child’s needs.”
The end of the book describes different approaches adults use to deal with war play and the pros and cons of using them. The options listed are: ban it, let it go, allow it with limits, or actively facilitate it. While reflecting on these options, I found that I have used all of them at some point. Talking to the children who voluntarily engage in war play has probably yielded the best results where I have not taken over their play, understood their game, and thus keeping the children’s self-esteem intact.
As a teacher, my goal is to provide my students with enough skills and information so that they will grow into productive and peaceful members of society. It is hard not to scream “NO!” when I see children engaged in war play. My typical spiel to the children is that weapons, even pretend, can be scary and do not make people feel safe and that School for Friends is a safe place. I ask that the children who want to engage in gun play ask permission of the other children first. By not pushing my own judgment on the children and truly understanding what needs the child is meeting through this play, I hope to keep a more balanced mindset toward children and war play while making sure my students feel safe.
-Please check extra clothes cubbies for at least two sets of LABELED seasonal clothing.
-Snack sign up is on the classroom door
Sea Lion Team
Hello Tiger Families,
Self-help skills are important for children to develop independence and self-esteem. By the age of four, children are expected to be able to care for their own toileting needs, use utensils
to eat appropriately, dress and undress without assistance, brush teeth, clean up spills, put away items, and pour from a pitcher. These are just some milestones that the Tigers are working towards.
In the Tiger classroom, we provide opportunities for the children to practice and develop these skills such as cleaning up 15 minutes earlier to allow each child to successfully use the bathroom and dress themselves for outdoor play time. We encourage the children to dress by themselves with little adult assistance until it is clear that the child is not yet able to complete the task alone. The children practice using buttons, snaps, and zippers on their own clothing but we also have self-help boards that the children can work. Without developed fine motor skills, completing many of the self-care skills can be more difficult. Providing opportunities to engage with materials that strengthen fingers and hands, such as Theraputty and Playdough, as well as practice using items such as scissors, short crayons and pencils, and tongs assist in building the muscles needed to complete self-help tasks.
Breaking down tasks into smaller steps is helpful. By providing visuals of each step, such as the hand washing posters in the bathrooms, children can follow along until they have mastered it. Sequencing games as well as songs help children remember to break tasks down into steps. They will also be expected to take care of their personal items such as clothing or toys from home by hanging them on hooks or putting them away in their cubbies. To help make this attainable for your child, we ask that you label all their child-sized belongings.
Taking responsibility for the classroom is expected as well but only after making sure the children know where classroom items belong. Talking with children through tasks by using “first, second, last” helps them organize their actions. In the classroom, the children have “jobs” which we rotate throughout the year. Doing these jobs as explained to the children, help the community including Spike (Our classroom bearded dragon), and give them a sense of pride and responsibility. We will continue to encourage the children’s self-care skills to support their independence.
The Tiger Teachers