Aldersgate Preschool

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Empty backpacks sometimes mean better learning

I remember talking to a friend once about when her oldest went to preschool.  She questioned his teachers because he never seemed to bring anything home.  “If he isn’t bringing anything home, then what is he doing all day and what am I paying for?”  She became so angry about it, she pulled him from that preschool.  Years (and 6 more children) later, she laughs at the memory because she now realizes why his backpack was empty.


A perfect example: Our Blue and Purple classes learned about some animals last week.  The teachers could have talked about the animals, read a book about them, and perhaps given a coloring sheet or worksheet to the children.  But, how meaningful is that?


Instead, someone from Ernie Miller Nature Center visited and brought some real, live animals (and some animal skins, too)!  We’ve talked about it before: when children are able to see, touch, smell (use their senses) to learn, they learn it that much more effectively!


And, brain research has also found that when our emotions are attached to learning, we are a lot more likely to learn too!  While we didn’t touch the snake, we loved watching it!

We may not get to have visits with animals everyday, but we do try to keep the children’s experiences as authentic and hands-on as possible.  Lisa Murphy (early childhood educator and presenter) says it well when she tells us, “Children need experiences to attach words to.”

So, their backpacks may not always show you what your child is doing, but we hope that you know that we are filling their minds with wonderfully rich experiences!

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Do our preschoolers share?

We all want the same things for our children; to be kind, compassionate, and cooperative people.  I remember sitting at play dates when my children were little and hoping that they would be good.  By :”good” I mean, that no hitting or biting would happen, that they would share their toys and play nicely.

Hudson and AndieBelle

But, as good as all of that sounds, these types of expectations do not fit with what we know about preschoolers and toddlers.  Child psychologist and well-known researcher,  Jean Piaget coined the ages of 0-7 years as the Preoperational Stage.  It is during this time that children are egocentric meaning that they do not understand the world outside of them.  Developmentally, they are unable to understand another person’s perspective or feelings.  (Ever wonder why a 2 year old’s favorite word is “mine”?)

adalynn (15)

Given what we know about children and how their brains develop, expecting our children here at the preschool to share is inappropriate and impossible for them to understand.  So, you will not hear our teachers telling the children to share.


But, does sharing happen at our preschool?  Absolutely!  (As you may notice by the photos.)  We understand that children do not understand how to stop playing with a toy that they may have become all consumed with.    But, we work hard to model the concept to them.  We encourage them to look at a child’s facial expression to begin to understand about feelings.  And, we also know that we are blessed with a lot of toys here at the preschool that inspire play.  So, we also teach the children about taking turns.


While we really want them to care about others and play nicely, just as important, we want children to be able to advocate for themselves.  “When you’re finished with that, can I have a turn?”  This is what we practice, model, and teach our children.  Because that is what makes sense to them.  And you may begin to see children understand and practice this around 3 or 4 years old.

To read more about sharing, you can check out these articles:

Nine Words to End Fights Over Toys

5 Reasons I Don’t Force My Kids to Share

Should Little Kids Be Forced to Share in Preschool?

Positive Discipline

And this great book

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Letter Learning

Every now and then, we are asked if we teach letters.  This is a great question! Yes, we do!


It may begin with some sensory play as the children investigate the different substances in the table.  Around 2 or 3 years old, children can distinguish between numbers, scribbles, and letters!


And, they will take pride in identifying their very favorite letter: the first one in their name!


We begin with that one because it is usually the first one that children learn.  So, we practice identifying it and writing it!  It’s a great place to start!


And we continue to talk about letters as we read about them through books rich in text and illustrations.  We manipulate letters as we play.


And we play games that include letters… fun!


Letters are all around us and we learn in the most meaningful of ways: through sensory experiences, books, art, games, and play!  When learning is fun, it is that much more effective!


Building a strong foundation is most important in building future readers!  And, literacy is so much more than learning letters!  More importantly, it’s important to know that letters make sounds and those combine to make words and words make stories and on and on!