Welcome to a new year. Writing this newsletter during the staff development week, I miss the sounds and sights of the children around me and look forward to their arrival next week. This will be an exciting year. We have a new initiative:
- Anti-Bias Education – As an extension of our Diversity Policy, we will more consciously work on anti-bias education, explicitly seeking to implement this approach to social justice, including offering teachers professional development. See below for the overall goals.
STAFF NEWS – Each month in the newsletter, I will let you know what staff development the teachers have undertaken as well as other staff news. This month –
- Cyana Chamberlain attended two trainings in August, one on “Communicating Effectively with Parents” and another one “When Children Fall Behind in their Developmental Milestones.”
- We have one new teacher in the school this fall – Darren Allen. He works 4-6 in the Blue Room as a teacher’s aide. He has worked as a before-and-after-school and camp counselor for six years. We welcome him to our staff.
- Staff Development Week – During the week when school was closed, teachers spent nearly two days in in-service training. I lead a half-day workshop on “Anti-Bias Education.” Amy Eagan, from Child Development Consultants, led a workshop on “Challenging Behavior in the Classroom: Strategies to Minimize & Manage Inflexibility, Impulsivity & Epic Meltdowns.” Our curriculum consultant, Jacky Howell, led a fullday workshop on “Reflecting on Teaching” and “Creating Rituals and Traditions.”
KOREAN STUDENTS – On August 10, we hosted a delegation of college education majors from South Korea. They had many questions about multiculturalism and diversity in our school.
GOALS OF ANTI-BIAS EDUCATION
- Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
- Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.
- Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
- Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others and alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.
Quaker House Newsletter
Dear QH- Families:
The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time, and this year is no exception.
We are looking forward to a wonderful year together, and we that hope you and your children are anticipating the same.
The Quaker House Teachers have spent the past week carefully setting up the classroom so your child will feel welcomed and comfortable to make the necessary transition into their new environment. Even though most of the children are familiar with each other, it does always take some time to settle in and build a new community of curious and creative learners.
For the first few weeks of the school year, we focus on exploring the various areas of the classroom. All of the interest areas are purposefully organized, and together we establish where to find and return materials, how to use and care for them, and how to make meaningful and productive choices. To promote constructive communication we will, for example, establish various “signs” (visual/auditory) that will help us exchange ideas, feelings and needs in an appropriate and increasingly satisfactory manner.
Children will have the opportunity to play and work one-on-one with their designated buddies, in small groups, or sometimes with the whole class. This way the children have lots of time to interact with different friends, maybe play with a peer they normally wouldn’t choose, and establish new friendships.
To create a safe community we will encourage the children to develop and establish basic classroom rules and post them in plain sight. We will take the time, every day, to deal with the details of teaching cooperation and helpfulness – aspiring to a classroom in which children show concern for each other.
One of our main focuses this year is to incorporate an anti-bias curriculum that is intentional and can be fully implemented in all areas of the classroom.
The teachers are always there to support, comfort, and reassure, especially in the first weeks, and slowly build confidence and independence.
At the same time we are carefully observing and facilitating play, building trusting relationships and getting a sense of each child and their interests. This way we are able to plan a curriculum based on the interests and abilities of the Quaker House children and at the same time make it appropriately challenging so those going to kindergarten will be ready for Kindergarten next year.
We are very much looking forward to getting to know you better, and teach your child and you to the best of our abilities. We are very interested to hear from you what you would like your child to experience/develop during this school year, and if there are ways in which you would like to be involved and contribute to our classroom. Essential parts in building a QH community are you the parents. You can learn more about the classroom, curriculum, and teachers during the upcoming “Back to School Night” on Tuesday Sept. 15, at 7:30pm.
We are always open for questions, concerns, and suggestions throughout the school year, and look very much forward to a great year.
The Quaker House Teachers
Rainbow Room Newsletter
Welcome Rainbow Room Families to the new 2015-2016 school year! We understand that moving to the Rainbow Room is a big change from the children’s previous classes, but LaJuan and I [Makai] are here to make that transition as smooth as possible. There will be a new schedule, rules, routines, teachers, and classmates.
The drop off routine is different this year. If you bring your child to school before 9am, their belongings come upstairs where you can sign your child in on the classroom door and then your child stays in the Quaker House classroom until 9am from where we move upstairs. Lunchboxes can be placed in our own refrigerator in the classroom. Please remember to label lunches with your child’s name and the date. We also have a rack specifically for hot lunches.
As parents, your participation in your child’s school life is very important. Everyday a blog will be posted that describes the day’s events, a particular activity, or an exciting revelation by the children. By reading the blog, you not only gain insight to your child’s day but it also assists as a conversation starter with your child on your way home, at the dinner table, or before bed. Also, on the door there is a sign-up sheet to bring in fruits and vegetables to supplement our daily snacks.
LaJuan and I are looking forward to the children’s exploration of the classroom areas and materials through which they will build their own meaning and understanding.
LaJuan and I are always open to communication, so please feel free to talk to us about anything regarding your child. The best time to contact us is at 2:30pm which is nap time – unless there is an emergency. E-mail is also convenient. You will receive more information as well as have all of your questions answered at the Back to School Night on Tuesday September 15, at 7:30pm
- Bring in labelled rain jackets/boots that stay at school for rainy day play
- Two complete sets of seasonal extra clothes/ extra underwear and pull-ups are appreciated
- Make sure to clearly label all items!!!
- Sheets and blanket come in on Monday and go home for washing on Friday. If your child requires a pillow, please make sure it is a small size, and a soft naptime friend is welcome, but please limit it to one.
- Parents and children are required to wash hands upon entering School for Friends under licensing requirements.
The Rainbow Room team is looking forward to a great school year.
Makai, LaJuan, and Cristina
Green Room Newsletter
The First Days of School: Dealing with Preschool Separation Anxiety! By Lisa Medoff from education.com – I also added some comments and a few pictures from visits back in August.
Separation anxiety is a very common problem for preschool children, especially during the first few weeks of school. You may also see some separation anxiety in children after an illness, a vacation, or even a long weekend, where they have become accustomed to being at home for a long period of time.
A preschool child is at the age where he/she is learning to negotiate his/her independence, a concept that is both exciting and scary at the same time. With the realization that he/she is their own person, with wants and needs that are separate from yours, comes the realization that you may not always be by his/her side. Going to preschool can make this last point painfully clear, causing your child to become anxious about letting you out of his sight. Here are some tips for cutting down on separation anxiety during the preschool years:
- Remember that children do pick up on your mood, even if they cannot yet articulate their feelings, so try to remain calm and positive about your child going to school, especially if it is for the first time.
- Do not automatically assume that your child is worried about starting school or that she will have separation anxiety. Do not signal that she/ he should be nervous by asking leading questions, such as, “Are you worried about starting preschool and being away from mommy?” Instead, focus on the exciting aspects of starting school.
- Some families made a visit to the preschool back in August. It is a nice way to prepare them for the first day. We cannot wait to see everyone during our Back to School Night in September. If possible, spend time in the classroom and in the play areas. Make sure your child knows where the bathroom is located and any other orienting details that he/she needs. Prepare ahead of time for the first day of school, and make it a special event to look forward to. In the days leading up to the first day, talk to your child about what will happen that morning. Tell him how excited you are about all the fun he/she is going to have, and how you can’t wait to hear about everything he/she is going to do.
- Do not drag out the separation process, especially on the first day. Take your child to the classroom, hug her/he, tell her/he that you love her/he, tell her/he what time you will back to pick her up, and then leave. Do not stay or return if your child begins to cry. At School for Friends the teachers will know how to get your child involve and make her feel comfortable.
- Plan ahead about how you will handle your own feelings about leaving your child so that she/he does not see you getting upset, and then get upset themselves. Think about what you will say when you leave your child and how you will keep from getting emotional in front of her/him.
- Always be there on time to pick up your child. Being on time is especially important during the first few days of school. If she/he believes that you will be there to pick her/him up when you said you would, then she/he will be more likely to separate easily.
Children may display anxiety about separation in different ways, not wanting to get dressed in the morning, refusing to make eye contact with or talk to the teacher, or being overly clingy. Understand that different children react to separations and new situations in different ways; some children adapt more easily (which does not mean that they don’t love you or miss you while you are gone!) and some are shyer and take longer to adjust. However, if you can manage to stay consistent with your routines, both at home and at school, your child should eventually become comfortable with the process of you leaving her/him at preschool.
Planning ahead can cut down on problems with separation, both for you and your child. Stay calm, be positive, and trust the teachers to handle the situation once you leave. Keep to a regular routine as much as possible, and keep any other major changes to a minimum.
Blue Room Newsletter
Welcome to the Blue Room! We are very excited for the upcoming school year. It is very important to us for your child to feel welcomed and comfortable in their new environment. If there is anything in particular that we can do to help you or your child with the transition into school, let us know. We want to start off the year by letting you know a little about your child’s teachers.
Staci is the lead teacher and this is her fifth school year at School for Friends. She was born and raised in Oregon and moved to Washington D.C. 6 years ago upon graduating college. Staci went to college at The University of Oregon where she studied Sociology and Special Education. She enjoys sports, especially watching college football. Growing up she played basketball, softball and volleyball and also coached volleyball for elementary aged children. Staci’s favorite color is light green and she really enjoys Thai food and coffee.
This is Cyana’s fifth year working as an assistant teacher in the Blue Room. She previously worked at School for Friends for two years as a classroom aide. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and attended George Washington University where she received a B.A. in Sociology. Cyana has been working with children for over eight years, working in summer camps, babysitting, and in the classroom. Prior to full-time employment at School for Friends, she has worked at several different centers in the Washington area. She enjoys traveling, writing, sushi, sewing and sports.
Elizabeth Lambert grew up just outside D.C. in Alexandria , Virginia. This is her fourth year in the Blue Room. She attended Ohio Wesleyan University and graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology. Post graduation she worked and traveled the East Coast of Australia for a year, working at a primary school and ski resort. Upon returning to the Washington area, she was a substitute before joining the Blue Room full time. Elizabeth enjoys traveling, sports, and making new friends!
Both Cyana and Elizabeth have earned the Child Development Associate Credential
We will be starting out the school year by exploring the Blue Room and doing a lot of sensory activities. Don’t forget about back to school night on September 15th. We look forward to getting to know you and your child throughout the year!
– September 15th at 7:30pm: Back to School Night