Aldersgate Preschool


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Music To Her Ears

Aldersgate director, Cyndi Mawhiney, retired at the end of the last school year (May 2021). Cyndi brought many things to our preschool, but one she will always be remembered for is her love for music. During her time at Aldersgate, Cyndi built a music garden on our playground. Last year Aldersgate decided to honor Cyndi’s retirement with new musical instruments in the music garden. With generous donations from our families and church members, we were so excited to be able to add a thunder wall and musical flower to the playground!

We have loved watching children enjoy these new instruments this first week back to school! Whenever we see children playing in the music garden, we will know that Cyndi’s musical influence will continue to grow at Aldersgate.


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Life Starts Getting Good

As you know, my last day at Aldersgate Preschool is rapidly approaching. I have been feeling very nostalgic about it. I have had many people ask me if I am anxious for this next step in my life. I do look forward to having more time with my family (with the addition of our two newest ones we now have 6 grandkids), working in my garden, reading, finding somewhere to volunteer, and taking many trips (I especially love travelling in the spring and fall). Major milestones like this, however, always get me thinking and looking back at my life.

I remember our early years in marriage and raising young kids. I absolutely loved those years! As you can imagine, I loved molding our family and forming our children’s lives. I did home daycare so we often had up to 10 children at a time. I remember music shows we put on, carnivals for the neighborhood kids, 4th of July parades, and so much more. Those are the big moments. I also remember the day to day. Playing and playing for hours, digging in the sandbox, singing together, gathering with the neighborhood kids to play each afternoon, reading books and then more books, so much cuddle time, . . . . I also remember the harder times; the times I wished the kids would finally be in bed. the times I shoved the kids at my husband when he came home. the squabbles and tantrums (usually from the kids but I have to admit I’ve thrown a few in my day.) While I appreciated the chance to be home with my kids I also wished for more. We were very tight financially and I often thought my life would be so much better if/when we had . . . or could do . . .

I remember our kids school years. I was still doing daycare for some of it so we did those extra things like a food fight on the driveway, a neighborhood Olympics, wading kickball games, lots of sleep-overs, themed birthday parties and more. I also remember our kids probably watched way to much TV. I remember wondering if I was doing enough. We still didn’t have much money so I thought our kids were missing out because we couldn’t take big vacations, give our middle child the horse riding lessons she begged for . . . We couldn’t live in the big houses many of their friends lived in. Again, I wished for so much. I was sure those things would make my life better.

As our kids have grown and began their own careers and families, I have truly enjoyed becoming friends with them and not just their mom. I’ll admit I may feel that friendship thing more than they do – you know I’m cool enough to be their friend. (right?) Again, though, I have walked through that time wishing for more; more free time to do whatever I wanted, the ability to do extravagant things for the kids and to just worry less. (You know, are the kids going to find their best place in life?, college, weddings . . .)

I have been at Aldersgate Preschool since April 2002. That’s a long time. Truly my time here has been fabulous! I’ve enjoyed the special projects like building a playground, adapting to technology needs as they arose, building a large store of supplies and equipment for our teachers and so many more. I have especially enjoyed the day to day things; playing with kids, laughing at the things they say (almost daily), watching children grow in skills, building relationships with kids and families, working with people I adore and respect, hearing a child’s first question about God and so much more. I have always had wishes for more too, though. I just new a few things would make this job perfect; a handyman or custodian on site (I wouldn’t have learned to replace a toilet flapper though), rooms with bathrooms connected to them, a human resource department to ask questions about staff issues, etc.

I heard a new song recently that really caught my attention; Getting Good, by Lauren Alaina. I’ll attach it below but here are a few of the lyrics:

Once I fall in love, then I’ll be happy
But then you fall in love and there’s still a hole
Once I get some money, it’ll all be easy
But then you get that money, you still feel broke

Once I get a little older, I won’t worry
Then you get older and it don’t feel like it should
I’m thinking once I learn to grow right where I’m planted
Maybe that’s when life starts getting good

This caused me to pause again: to rethink my life, to look back and truly appreciate the good that I had, to accept the phase I am in and just ENJOY. I encourage each of you to grow right where you are planted! Enjoy the moment and phase of life you are in.

I have often told our preschool parents to enjoy these days because they will go by sooo fast!

The song ends with these words.

I’m thinking once I learn to soak up every moment
I’ll realize my life’s already good


I’ll realize my life’s already good
Thank God that my life’s already good

And truly, it is good!

My years at Aldersgate have flown by. I have been blessed to play a small part in so many children’s lives. Many people have said I gave so much to Aldersgate Preschool but I definitely feel like this place, these kids, our staff (so many over the years) and our families (again, so many) have blessed me!

Yes, retirement will be good but all my years before have been exceptional. Each of you played a part in making them great!

For my own benefit I am including a few of my favorite pictures from my years here. Thank you for all the wonderful memories.


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Summertime Fun!

It is hard to believe that summer is almost here! Here are some ideas to keep you busy while school is out.

Things to do Outside

  • Ice Blocks– Freeze water with plastic toys in a clean milk carton (add food coloring optional) Allow child to use plastic hammer to chip ice to get the “goodies” out
  • Wash the Dishes– Fill a plastic tub with water and have child wash plastic dishes outside. Provide soap, sponges, and towels to dry.
  • Mining for Gold– Spray some small rocks with gold or silver paint and bury in your child’s sandbox or dirt in the yard. Using shovels, your child can dig for treasure.
  • Transparent Painting– Hang a clear, plastic tablecloth to your fence and using washable tempera paints, your child can use the sheet as a canvas.
  • Car Wash– Set up a car wash area for your child to wash their riding cars and tricycles using sponges and shallow dishes of soapy water
  • Sheet Painting– With an old sheet and spray bottles full of colored water (liquid tempera paint works great), allow your child to spray paint their creations.
  • Rock Collecting– Give your child empty egg cartons to hunt for rocks. Provide newspaper, small containers of water, washable tempera paint, and brushes for them to paint their rocks. (Parents can use clear nail polish as a top coat to make them shine)

Places to Visit

Favorite Parks


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Enrichment: what is it?

Enrich: /in'(verb)

to improve the quality of something by adding something else

We currently offer Enrichment options to our MW 3’s, Blue and Red classes. Next year our Preschool Lite class will also have this option. So what exactly is it?

This additional day gives teachers a chance to offer more activities that enhance the learning that is already happening in the children’s regular classes. While the curriculum is definitely age appropriate, it isn’t tied to the curriculum topics that are planned in their other class days. Our teacher’s cover things that are important to them and to their kids. This opens up a wide variety of subjects and ideas to delve into. The lessons focus on science, literacy, drama, cooking or art with each lesson. Our typical classes offer opportunities in these areas as well, however these additional classes give us a chance to do so even more. Our Enrichment classes offer that “something else” that improves or enriches the learning that is already happening.

Let’s take a glimpse into their days through pictures.


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Adjusting to a School Year of Change

Although many things are different this school year at Aldersgate Preschool, we have learned that not all change is bad. We are happy that our preschool has been able to remain open this school year and our kids are loving being able to play and learn with their friends!

Our children have been resilient to all of the changes, and we hope to be a place full of love and consistency for our kids and families during uncertain times.

We are so thankful for our wonderful teachers who have handled this year with such grace! The joy our teachers have while being with children is seen even under their masks.

We want to thank all of our families for being so supportive during this school year!


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Boundaries: the gift of security

“Give your child choices.” “Allow children to exert influence over their own lives.” “When children make choices it builds their self-esteem.”

These are all phrases we are familiar with in this era of parenting. I, too, believe these statements. However, I believe all of this should be framed within the boundaries of clear limits. These limits ultimately give our children a sense of security and a knowledge of being cared for and loved.

To understand what I mean, picture yourself driving a car in a world with no limits. No rules. At first the freedom of driving at whatever speed you desire, stopping when it makes sense to you, etc. sounds like a dream come true. (My husband would agree that I would like this – I admit I have a heavy foot.) Then, reality would most likely set in. You might approach an intersection unsure of who is stopping and who is going. Personally, the security of knowing I can cross an intersection confident others are stopping. Imagine how insecure you would feel otherwise.

Just as the rules for traffic help us feel confident as we travel life’s roads, I believe boundaries offer that same sense of security to children.

Our children are counting on us to provide two things: consistency and  structure. Children need parents … | Routine quotes, Teachable moments  quotes, Moments quotes

Even though every child’s goal in life seems to be to exert as much influence as they can in all aspects of their life. They seem to think, “If I don’t get my way I can, and will, throw a fit or keep whining until I get my way.” Why not, at 2, 3 and 4 years of aget the world revolves around yourself – right? Again this is all true. Children feel this way and test the boundaries that are set around them. Often! It’s what they are wired to do – and some more than others.

As parents and the adults in children’s lives, however, we are called to set limits that help children grow – feeling safe and secure. It sure sounds nice to let your child help decide what preschool he or she likes, if he or she wears a coat in cold weather, etc….. Instead, parents should set a consistent bedtime. (It actually helps there body get into a rhythm.) Parents should deicde that school is a priority so we are going today. Parents should decide when it is time to leave the park. And on it goes.

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Yes, children need choices. Yes, children need some influence of their lives. Let children have those things for the little things. Children can make choices within the boundaries: How are we going to bed tonight, crawl up the stairs or hop down the hall? After a reminder from parents that it is almost time to leave the playground, children can decide if they want three more pushes on the swing or one more time down the big slide.

I know, I am making it sound easier than it is. Truly, I remember the days of trying to decide if this was an issue I needed to make a firm boundary. I had a child who was a “Tantrum Expert.” Untilmately I believe she grew into the strong, capable woman she is today BECAUSE she was allowed choices but always encased within clear limits. Sometimes it was not convenient for me. Often I questioned myself. I believed in my gut, though, that she would benefit from knowing that I was the parent and she was the child. Today, as an adult, she is also my friend. I belive that is the privilege we parents experience once our children are grown in to adults. That is OUR gift.

Right now you have the opportunity, and I believe the duty, to give your child the gift of boundaries. Megan and I will gladly be your cheerleader. If your child is testing those boundaries especially hard, give us a call. Hopefully we can ease the burden, give you the strength to hold firm, or even make you laugh in the midst of the “storm.” My sister did that often for me and it helped me so much. We will gladly pass on the gift of support to you.

Cyndi Mawhiney


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Get To Know Me

I wanted to give everyone a chance to get to know me a little better. My name is Megan Lynn and I am excited to be working beside Cyndi as a co-director this year. I am already learning so much about this wonderful preschool!

 

I’ll start with telling you a little about my professional background. I grew up in the Olathe area and went to Olathe East High School. After I graduated, I attended Baker University and majored in Elementary Education. I also received my provisional licensure in Special Education. I knew from the very beginning that early education and working with kids of all needs was my passion!

I taught Kindergarten in the Turner School District in KCK for my first three years, and then I taught three years in the Gardner-Edgerton School District. I cherish the memories that I made at both of these schools with all of my Kindergarteners. These years helped me to realize how important the early years are for instilling a love for learning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My husband, Branton, and I met at the wedding of our best friends. He was the best man and I was a bridesmaid. About a month after the wedding, Branton asked his friend to set us up on a double date, and the rest is history! We got married in April of 2016 and bought our first house in Gardner. Last summer, we moved out to Spring Hill, KS with our dog, Lorenzo. In September, our son Colton was born!

 

 

 

 

Colton’s story has been a challenging one, but one I am passionate about telling! He was born with a Congenital Heart Defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries. Basically, his two main arteries were switched, so oxygen was not getting where it needed to go. Colton was undiagnosed until hours after his birth, so his first day of life was very scary. Thankfully God was looking out for Colton, and a doctor was able to quickly diagnose his condition. He was taken to Children’s Mercy right away and had open heart surgery at 9 days old. He experienced many complications after the surgery that prolonged his stay, but after 99 days in the hospital, we were finally able to bring our baby boy home! He came home with a NG feeding tube, but after a month was fully eating on his own. He continues to make big growth and hit developmental milestones. We were so excited to celebrate Colton’s first birthday on September 10th! We are so proud of our heart warrior!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel so blessed to have found Aldersgate Preschool. With Colton’s unique situation, I was home with him for almost his whole first year. I was trying to decide what my next adventure would be when I heard about the director position. My mom had taught preschool when I was growing up and I had learned a lot about how important these first years are for children. My years in Kindergarten have taught me how we need to set a love for lifelong learning right from the very start. I loved how Aldesgate focused on learning through play and building a relationship with God.  After asking many questions and spending time praying about it, my family decided this would be a perfect fit for us!

These first few days meeting and getting to know your kids have been so much fun! Adersgate is special place filled with amazing teachers that truly care and love the kids.  I feel blessed to be have found this preschool and get to know all of you!


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You Grow Through What You Go Through – Staff Meeting 2020

We finally got to have our back-to-school staff meeting.  I always like to start the year learning about something relevant to where we are, and what we are doing.  This year our focus was on Growth Mindset.  If you haven’t heard this term before, it is a positive way to approach struggle and difficulty.  Seeing the world as possibility.  Carol Dweck is the leading author in this area.  She has spent her professional career studying how people develop a fixed or growth mindset.  Here is what Dweck says about Growth Mindset,

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Even children as young as four years old showed a tendency toward either a fixed or growth mindset.  In a research study they gave four year old children puzzles.  Once the children mastered the first set they offered the children a choice of working on more complex puzzles or completing the ones they had mastered again.  The ones with a growth mindset chose to learn as they struggled to complete the more challenging puzzles.  One girl exclaimed, “I’m dying to figure them out!”  In essence, a person with a growth mindset sees struggles and set-backs as an opportunity to learn.

We have definitely had some struggles and set-backs with this whole pandemic.  Thus, the reason I felt this would be a great area for us to focus on Growth Mindset.  We usually have some sort of get-to-know-each-other activity at the beginning of our meetings.  This year each staff member had a flower picture on one side of a play coin.  They used these to find their matching partner and then they each shared about the hardest thing they have ever gone through.  Then I asked them to flip it and think about what they learned from that hard experience.  “There are always two sides to every coin.”

 

So we then thought about what we have learned (and continue to learn) as we faced Covid-19 and all the difficulties that has come with it.  The teachers quickly thought of several things:

flexibility, new technology: zoom, seesaw, google docs, etc., adaptability, faith, patience.

I mentioned that the thing I noticed through it all (regarding Aldersgate Preschool) is we continued to focus on the children; what they need, how to keep them safe, what would help them the most, etc.  It was with that focus that we made decisions, changed schedules and so much more.  This has been our focus for years and it continued to guide us as we faced this new struggle.

As always, I had several quotes included in the presentation.  Here are a few I especially liked:

 

Growth mindset can apply to our intellect, our artistic abilities, our athletic abilities and our social/emotional abilities.  Most people fall at various points of a spectrum with this different areas.  Our staff took a little “quiz” to determine where they fit on this scale.  If you are interested in knowing more about your mindset, you can link to that quiz HERE.  It is also interesting to think about your beliefs regarding the different areas listed above.  I’ve often heard people say, “I’m not artistic.”  But, have you tried taking a class to learn how to see objects with specific lines, shadows, etc.

We also talked about the frontal lobe development of the brain.  This is the area that drives our emotions (such as perseverance) and our organization skills (such as knowing the next step, thinking of a new way to do something, etc.)  This frontal lobe is in the very beginning stages of developing while children are with us.  It actually takes about 20 years before the frontal love is fully mature.  So what does this mean as we think about the young children we teach. Teacher’s helped me think about how to finish the following statements:

Because our kids are in the baby stages of growing their frontal lobes they will:

make mistakes     have meltdowns      push limits      be distracted      constantly changing      challenge the way we think

So, then, we need to:

be flexible      be understanding      be patient     be supportive      engage them      know their developmental level      be persistent in finding ways that

reach them      remember they are doing things with a positive intent        educate their parents        give reminders

 

Megan then talked with the staff about how we go about teaching Growth Mindset ideas to our little ones.  She talked about giving the children a new way of saying things:

How to Teach Growth Mindset to Kids (The 4-Week Guide) | Teaching growth mindset, Growth mindset for kids, Growth mindset statements

Big Life Journal has a ton of information on their Growth Mindset blog.  I would suggest you take a look HERE.

Megan said that their are many videos available that have a growth mindset theme.  Sesame Street offers a good one HERE.   For those of you that like Bruno Mars, this will be a fun one for you.

Megan shared how she used this book to help children realize that we all struggle doing something while others struggle with something different.

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Then each teaching team took a book or resource and and had a chance to come up with their own ways to use it, or to develop a lesson plan.  It was great to hear their ideas and I will look forward to seeing some of these activities used with your children this year.

We also had a devotion and prayer focusing on being able to bloom right where we are.  Each year we honor a staff member (or two) that has shown grace and perserverance as she worked though a difficult time.  We call this our “Dancing in the Rain Award.”  Jennie Nichols, an Aldersgate Alum, died as a teenager from Osteosarcoma.  We give this award in her honor.

We sort of felt like we ALL deserved this award; having gotten this far through this pandemic.  I think maybe the whold world deserves this kind of award.

We did, however, select Ms. Kendra as our true recipient.  Kendra has worked so hard as we have changed our programming, re-enrolled families, given refunds, managed the paper work of all this, spear-headed the effort to apply for and receive a PPP Loan and . . . . . . .  All the extra challenges were met, faced and figured out.  I don’t know what I would have done without Kendra here this year!

 

We ended with each person making their own Growth Mindset flowers.  The picked a favorite quote that shows a growth mindset and then also included areas they are currently growing themselves.  I loved how they all turned out – so different but also working together so well.  This is fitting as this is how I believe our Aldersgate Staff are in general;

So different and yet work together so well.


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Ice cream Social – another year, another fabulous time!

Each year the Ice Cream Social promises fun, yummy treats, great auction items and a wonderful time with our Aldersgate Family.  This year met all those expectations fabulously!

Of course this event cannot happen without a lot of people!  Our staff helped set up things and worked different areas – I hope your children enjoy them all.  Some of our previous staff came back to help work our bake sale – thanks also to everyone that donated those YUMMY treats!  Kendra, as always, helped tremendously as we prepared for things and is now currently counting and organizing our proceeds.  Our preschool board, headed up by Julia Willhite, did a fabulous job collecting awesome bid items, scooping ice cream, gathering supplies and setting things up!

Here is the event captured in small moments! The weather cooperated and many enjoyed the playground in between all the other fun.  I love seeing our families enjoying themselves!

 

We are so grateful to anyone that donated items, sponsored items or even made items for us!  Our fundraising helps us maintain the quality program we are so proud of!  Below is a list of all the people that donated

 


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You mean I have to control my emotions too?

I haven’t really written about Love and Logic on this blog before.  It is an approach to parenting that has been around since 1977.  But, I don’t disregard it as “old school.”  I think there are a lot of valuable ideas within their process.  As with anything, I encourage you to read it and embrace the ideas that feel right to you.

This is how kellybear.com describes it:  The Love and Logic process includes sharing control and decision-making, using empathy with consequences, and enhancing the self-concept of children. They assert that their methods lead to improved student behavior and achievement. Their methods help children learn to be responsible and gain self-confidence.

I get regular emails from them at my preschool email.  It is something they call the Insider’s Club.  Their emails often cause me to pause and reflect – which is always a good thing.   Just click on the photo below to find the site where you can sign up.

Today’s topic touched a chord with me.  As much as I have patience with your children here at school, I struggle with managing my emotions when I am frustrated with things that don’t make sense, when I feel like I’ve made a mistake, and when things that are supposed to work – just don’t.  To be even more honest, I could list many other times that my lack of patience shines obviously for anyone around me.  (Dealing with services such as our satellite subscriber. . . .)  Perhaps you will see why this newsletter email especially spoke to me:

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I often struggle to control my own emotions. This is especially true when I am driving on city streets or highways. There seem to be more distracted and aggressive drivers to dodge than ever before. Which means I must be more alert, more aware, and more self-aware than ever before. It’s often a great struggle, of course, to remain calm and refrain from overreacting.

Kids today are in a similar fix. Are there more people out there who are hurting these days? More people who dump their emotional garbage onto others? More temptations and pitfalls for young people? Kids today must be equipped with better social and emotional skills than at any previous time in our society so that they can avoid the very prevalent threats to their emotional well-being.

Just as I often feel tempted to declare that I’m never going to get behind the wheel again and brave the dangers and frustrations on the highway, I often feel the urge to keep my beloved children off life’s highways and protect them from all the bad social and emotional traffic. It’s really rough out there and I don’t want one of my kids becoming a “statistic.”

The wisdom of Love and Logic has taught me that instead of overly protecting or overly warning my kids, I must teach them life skills. Life skills are more effective and more lasting than warnings or coddling can ever be.

There is sobering news about these life skills: they must begin with me. Teaching by example is a huge part of raising kids with Love and Logic. On the road, I might take a few slow, controlled breaths and tell myself something positive (and true) such as, “This too, shall pass.” I might repeat some other phrases such as, “Today, I will avoid appearing on an episode of ‘COPS’” (or a reality show, news program, or YouTube video).

While I am driving, I might be very honest in front of my kids by saying, “It sure is hard to have patience in traffic like this.” Does it help kids when we are honest about our own struggles while modeling skills to guard our own hearts and attitudes?

My best hope is that when my kids hit tough situations, they will guard their own hearts and attitudes, just like their dad does in traffic—most of the time!

Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
 
Jedd Hafer

 

I would check out their website HERE.    There are also two books that might be of interest to you.