Aldersgate Preschool

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Emotional Intelligence

We’ve talked about our preschool’s belief in the importance of learning through play.  Just as important, we believe, is helping our children become strong socially and emotionally.  About 25 years ago. a couple psychologists coined the phrase “Emotional Intelligence” and defined it as the ability to regulate, express, and control one’s emotions.  While that may sound simple, it encompasses so much!


If you ever happen to be here in the morning, take a minute and watch our preschoolers doing curbside.  They walk into school, hang up their coats, greet their teachers, get some germ gel, go into class, put away their backpacks, and begin their day!  I would love to be able to listen to their inner voices as they’re doing all of that!  It takes a lot of thinking and remembering to do all of that!  And while they’re doing that, they’re waiting their turn, making eye contact and talking to teachers, being independent, practicing self regulation, and so much more!  When I polled kindergarten teachers about what skills they want children going into kindergarten to have, these are the things they said!  Imagine a kindergarten classroom with children who don’t know how to use the bathroom independently, wait their turn, line up, ask for help, regulate their emotions!


And while the children are here, they are learning all about how to be successful in this world.  In order to do well in life, we need to be able to play (get along) with others, to carry on conversations, to compromise, to advocate for oneself, to take care of ourselves as well as others.  Did you notice I used the word “compromise?”  I plan to do a future blog post all about sharing but quite often, you’ll hear the children say, “when you’re done playing with that, can I have a turn?”  That’s what we want to hear!  Or, sometimes when things get a little heated, we might even hear, “I don’t like it when you do that.  Stop!”  We want our children to be aware of their emotions as well as other’s.


And, some people believe that Emotional Intelligence is more important than IQ.  It’s an interesting point.  If someone is able to handle their emotions, to sit and listen, to wait their turn, etc, then they are going to be able to learn much more effectively.  And, quite often people are much more successful in life when they are able to have good relationships with others, advocate for themselves, be independent!  This is what we want for the children here at Aldersgate Preschool: to be successful, confident, empathetic, people!

Check out this article from Time about Emotional Intelligence:

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Children Learn Through Play… How?!

It is “enrollment” time around here at Aldersgate Preschool and it is at this time that Cyndi and I share about why we believe Aldersgate is a great preschool! I talked about what to look for in a good preschool last year. Check it out here


We also often talk about our biggest philosophy here at Aldersgate: the fact that we believe children learn most effectively through play.  Quite often, we as a society mistakenly equate play with being mindless, unmeaningful “extra” time for kids to just do as they please.  We hear the rumors about kindergarten and how “academic” elementary schools are with their high stakes testing and standards.  It’s scary.  And, so, sometimes we begin to think that perhaps preschool should look more like those elementary schools with worksheets, flashcards, rote memorization, desks, and direct instruction.

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But, how one defines the word academic is important.  If we believe that academic means “the act of study or learning” then we could easily say that play and academics do go together.

At Aldersgate Preschool, we believe that play is academic.  It is the way that children are meant to learn.  It is active, hands on, meaningful, and fun.


This past Friday as I taught in our 4/5 Year Old Enrichment class, we had a taste test to vote on who likes the taste of snow and who doesn’t. Before we voted, I made snow using a snocone machine and some ice. (Because it’s so much more meaningful when we get to taste the snow rather than imagine tasting it.) After counting the votes, we showed the number on our fingers.  Someone in class asked aloud, “I wonder how many fingers there are in this whole class!”  Hmmm… first we took turns sharing our estimates and then we all held up our fingers and counted, by 10’s.  Most children were able to do it and if they couldn’t, they quickly learned.  We counted to 100!  That’s a lot of fingers!  But, we weren’t done there, there were more fingers to count.  In the end, we counted to 140!

Just through a simple conversation, the kids practiced estimating, we worked on counting by 10’s, we counted to 140, and so much more!  This wasn’t part of my lesson plan but it was something that the children were interested in and so we “went with it.”  Did you know that when learning is meaningful to children, they are 80% more likely to retain that knowledge?


And child psychologists, specialists, teachers, and other early childhood experts would agree.

“For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play.” ~ Penelope Leach (psychologist, author)

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” Kay Redfield Jamison (professor of psychiatry)

“Playing should be fun! In our great eagerness to teach our children we studiously look for ‘educational’ toys, games with built-in lessons, books with a ‘message.’ Often these ‘tools’ are less interesting and stimulating than the child’s natural curiosity and playfulness. Play is by its very nature educational. And it should be pleasurable. When the fun goes out of play, most often so does the learning.” ~ Joanne E. Oppenheim (child development expert,  author)


So, at Aldersgate Preschool, you will not see worksheets or flashcards but you will see what we believe to be the highest, most effective methods of learning which will include:

*hands on activities   *science experiments   *building   *discovery   *singing   *reading  *questioning   *cooking   *talking   *games   *painting   *creating   *drawing   *moving   *thinking    *sharing    *counting   *cooperating    *planning  and so much more!



Things Are Changing

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

Winston Churchill

I often look for inspirational quotes about change – because I like change.  While I know change is often difficult for some to manage, I am energized by it.  That means I have to evaluate a new idea long and hard to be sure it is truly beneficial and necessary.  I am confident this change is a good one.

As our Yellow, Orange, Blue & Purple classes return to school they will notice some change in their rooms.  For a long time I have been thinking about doing something to help with the acoustics in the entry tile area.  Have you ever noticed how much sounds echo in that space?  In thinking about that we also saw that a better division of the rooms would be helpful.  So, we ordered acoustic panels and had some custom shelving made.  Here are some pictures of the space (and the staff in working to get things ready for your kids.)


the view from the office doorway


the view into the Blue/Purple side from the commons area


the view of the Yellow/Orange side from the hallway


Ms. Sarah putting symbols into cubbies

We also added acoustic panels in the hallway by the bathrooms.  I’m thinking the kids may miss their space that was like their own little amphitheater.



We can still use the panels as bulletin boards – watch for a post of gratitude about those soon.

I am continually grateful for so many people that help bring my ideas for change to reality.  Nate McGuire spent a day removing all bulletin boards and installing all the new panels.  If you know Nate please be sure to thank him for us!

So, we have change.  It may mean some trial and error and making adjustments but hopefully it is all to move toward “perfection” as stated by Winston Churchill.