Aldersgate Preschool


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Rockin’ our Responsibilities

Did you know preschoolers (and even toddlers) are ready to rock some responsibilities!   Actually studies show children build self-esteem when the adults in their life trust them to do things.  They also learn the processes and the skills involved in doing various chores.

An article on the Psychology Today website stated, “One of your most important goals as a parent is to raise children who become independent and self-reliant people.   It is a fact that it is often easier to do things for children than to get them to do it themselves. We can clean their rooms or get them dressed in a fraction of the time and with much less stress.  It does not allow them to master skills, and it does not allow them to feel the satisfaction of a job well done and develop a sense of value, capability and accomplishment. Therefore, give your children responsibilities and hold them accountable for completing the jobs”

But, really, did they mean this for toddlers and preschoolers?  As with anything, you can start young if the expectations are developmentally appropriate.  For instance, a 12 to 18 month old child can go get the diaper and wipes when asked to while you prepare for a diaper change.  He can also pour food into the dog’s dish (of course this would be from a small cup and might not be the whole amount the dog needs but you get the idea.), throw away his trash, take his dishes to the counter after a meal and more.

Two and three-year olds can match socks from the laundry, wipe the baseboards, pick up their toys, put dirty clothes in the laundry, restock the toilet paper and more.

Four and five year olds can set the table, empty small trash cans, “make” their bed, help load the dishwasher, clean the table, wash windows and much more.

This February we will be focusing on Rockin’ our RESPONSIBILTIES!

We are READY, READY 

READY!


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Social skills – a conversation with a parent

I’ve been communicating with a parent about options for her son, outside resources such as speech therapy and ideas for developing social skills.  As I was writing an email to her this morning I thought it might be a good thing to share here.

We are working with her son on how to approach others that have something he would like and how to handle it if another child wants a toy he has.  He just turned 3 years old but this could be any child and any of the ages we have here at Aldersgate.  Just think about it.  Your child has been alive for such a short time.  He has already learned to eat and feed himself, He has learned to talk, walk, play with toys and so much more.  It takes practice to  understand and handle social interactions.

The parent had explained that they were attending the Parents as Teachers playgroup and another group gathering.  Here is what I wrote;

All the exposure to play groups, etc. are great.  At his age I would try to stay a little more in the background and see if/how he is interacting with others.  This will give you an idea of how to work with him at home or at future gatherings.

For instance, you can actually practice the sharing and turn-taking involved in playing with others while you play with him at home.  I would get involved in some play that has multiple pieces (i.e. blocks) and then ask him for a turn with what he has.  If he says no or just ignores you I would encourage him to use words to say if he doesn’t want to. “I’m still using it.”  Or “When I am done.”  If he would try to take something you have (and I would make yours pretty exciting so it would be something he would want) then you can tell him to use the words, “Can I have that.”  I would give it to him sometimes when he asks but other times I would say those same things to him – explaining that he can wait and you will let him have a turn later.  This will give him the chance to feel what waiting is like and to learn how to manage the disappointment of not getting what he wants right away.

As parents we feel funny depriving our kids of toys (while we are playing with them) since we are the adults – but, when we give things to kids right away, they don’t have a chance to practice the skills they will need when playing with other children.

This can also be true with following directions, etc.  If, as parents, we do things that the child is capable of doing for them (because we love them) we are actually depriving him of a chance to grow independent and to practice listening and then following one or more directions.  I would say at this age he should be able to hang up his own coat (or if this is too high for him I would find a spot for him to put it), throw his trash away and put his dish on the kitchen counter after meals, he could help get himself dressed and put on his own shoes (this might need some help once he tries a little).  In February we are going to have a focus on Responsibility for these little guys.  There are real benefits in having kids do “chores” around the house.  It is hard to believe but at three years old kids should begin being a helpful member of the household.  Watch for more on that coming soon.

I thought I would share a few of our kids working on those social skills while they play.  We practice everyday!

  


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Save those boxes

It may be too late for many, but I encourage you to save any boxes you have during the Christmas holidays – especially Amazon boxes.  Boxes sometimes make the best toys – as I’m sure any parent of a 1 year old soon figured out.  I remember my grandson climbing up on one of the boxes from a gift (we had closed the tabs so it was secure again) and then climbing down.  He has a January birthday so he must have been 11 months.  (Wow, look at those high math skills  – ha!)  Anyway, he did this over and over, and then over again.

Climbing on boxes is only one way kids play with boxes.  Older kids love to build spaceships, houses, cars or trains and so much more.  I used to do Home Daycare.  I remember using multiple boxes in a row as a train.  The children worked so well assigning roles, and deciding where the train was going.  The school age kids got involved making signs for the destination and for the boarding area.  We made pretend tickets.  This all developed naturally as they played.  This train play lasted almost the whole Christmas break – imagine keeping up to 10 children busy during those long winter days while all of them were out of school!

 

 

One of my favorite books is Christina Katerina & THE BOX by Patricia Lee Gauch.  Kids enjoy this but I have used it most with parent groups.  In the story Christina’s is so excited with her new delivery, a refrigerator.  She beams, “Oh, how grand and new.”  Christina replies excitedly, “It is!  Oh, it really is!”  She was, however, looking at the box.  The box became a castle, a clubhouse, a racing car, a floor of a mansion (after the box collapsed) – she was going to have a ball.  Eventually the kids scrubbed the floor with water and it disintegrated.  But, don’t worry, Christina and her friend soon had two new boxes from his mom’s washer and dryer.

Throughout the story the mother is ready to get rid of the box.  Isn’t that often the way?  We want to clean up the “mess” when kids often see it as an opportunity.

A newer book (published in this century – and boy that makes me feel old!) is Not a Box by Antoinette Portis.  Our copy happens to have been donated by the Inglehart family – thanks so much!  In this book the author asks a rabbit “Why are you sitting in that box.” The following page shows the rabbit sitting in a racecar along with the words “It’s not a box.”  We follow this format throughout the book with the box becoming a volcano, a robot, a boat, a pirate ship, a hot air baloon  . . . .

This book spurs a child’s imagination for all the different things a box could become.  I love it!

Image result for imagination is more important than knowledge

To see the source of the photo just click on the image.

Just imagine what your children could create with all those boxes that accumulate over the holidays.  Just add tape, paper, plastic lids (for wheels, well, actually for whatever the kids imagine), markers or paint (just put a tarp underneath).  You could even add shapes cut from the wrapping paper that covered the boxes.

Just imagine!


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10 Things I wish every Early Childhood Educator Knew

Your preschool staff had a wonderful continuing education training yesterday.  Cari Ebert, MS, CC-SLP (a nationally known speaker) shared her thoughts (backed up with research) of the the most important things for early childhood educators to understand.  I am so proud to say we already embrace the ideas she presented!  However, she gave us some wonderful research to back our thinking as well as tips and tricks of the trade.

She first addressed what teachers of young children should be – RESPONSIVE

– Responsive teachers are engaged  (they get down on the child’s level, talk with children (not at them), follow children’s lead, play with children)

– Responsive teachers are intentional (they embed learning into everyday activities and routines, teach in context, create child appropriate environments)

– Responsive teachers are playful (they are lighthearted, they are animated, they laugh with children, they build relationships)

     – Responsive teachers are sensitive (they respond to a child’s pace, limit the number of test-like questions, keep interactions natural, keep expectations realistic)

She then talked about how young children learn best:

In context (this is one of the reasons we do not do a letter of the week), exploration using all their senses, through social interactions (we often say social interactions are often the most important thing about Aldersgate Preschool), and finally through play-based movement.

Cari talked quite a bit about her worry about high-tech (screen) type play/activities.  

Here is a list of all the things high-tech play is displacing.  When children spend time with a screen they miss out on:

face to face interactions with other people

play-based movement (rolling, crawling, walking, climbing, running, jumping, skipping, hopping, hanging, digging, dancing – all of this movement supports the child’s natural development of muscles, coordination and even brain development)  You can see a previous post about the importance of movement HERE.

exploration of the environment

manipulating and playing with toys (and here she highly suggested battery-less toys)

the ability to wait (delayed gratification – those screens are pretty immediate in their actions)

outdoor play

parent-child verbal interations

Anna Sosa, Ph.D of Northern Arizona University conducted research that determined that parent-child verbal interactions were reduced when they had electronic toys, rather than traditional toys such as puzzles, shape sorter, blocks and books

Screen time also affects vision, sleep, language and motor skills. (This tags right onto my soap-box discussion during our orientation meetings this year)

With more time looking at objects close up (screens) more children have less time to develop their long distance vision muscles.  Therefore, we are seeing more children needing glasses for near-sightedness.

Sleep is affected by the use of screens.  This blue light affects the development of melatonin.  Screen time also takes away time for that heavy, deep play movement we mentioned before.  The children’s muscles haven’t been used an therefore the body does not feel tired for sleep

A recent study found that toddlers who were exposed to handled screen time were more likely to have expressive language delays.

Screen time limits the use of hands and development of those muscles and coordination.  We are seeing more issues with children being able to cut, hold utensils, etc.

Screen time displaces movement which contributes to strength issues – beginning with the large muscles (such as core strength) which then affects the small muscle development.

Cari explained the difference between speech and language.   Language referes to a whole system of words, symbols and gestures used to intearact and communicate with other people.  Speech refers to the actual words we speak.

Cari also talked about the importance of phonological awareness skills and a language rich environment.  This is something I will share in a later post.

You can find more information from Cari Ebert on her group page on facebook or instagram.  She posts information and fun ideas for both parents and teachers.

We will definitely ask Cari Ebert to present again.  She has a few other presentations about speech & language, sensory input and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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What did you do at school today?

Every now and then I love taking my camera around and catching about 20 minutes of the activity in all the classes.  Let me show you what I captured today.

I began in the Red classroom.  They were in their small group and large motor portion of the day.  These activities are more structured with teacher planned activities.  In one group they were patterning tiny little animals.  Each child had a tray of animals.  You can find more about patterning here.  The other small group was “reading” from a set of guided reading books.  This activity gives children a chance to handle a book, notice the print, follow along with their finger as they “read” the repetitive sentences.  All of these are important parts of the emergent literacy skills.  As children finished their activity they could choose books to read.  I loved hearing the Noah’s Ark story told with much enthusiasm – although it must have been a different version than I’ve heard before – even with ninja’s joining the story.  Our class made number book was intriguing to several of the kids.

 

The Red class large motor involved finding shapes on the floor.  In the picture they are hopping to find an oval (or an ellipse – we use both words).  You will notice the hoops of different colors where the shapes are then classified by color.  What a fun way to build movement skills while recognizing shapes and colors – all while recognizing that items can be classified by different characteristics.

The Blue class was also in their small group and large motor groups.  In their small groups they were learning about ten frames.  This is something they will use often in elementary school.  It is a good visual for understanding the quantity of 10 and the different quantities it takes to add up to that amount.  The other group was was finding similar items and talking about the way they are the same and how they are different.  It is always easy for the kids to identify the differences but thinking about how they are the same is always a little trickier.  I also caught a picture of a sweet one waiting for her turn.  I love the little peek of a smile.  And waiting quietly is a skill to learn as well.

During their large motor they were moving and grooving to a song title Bean Bag Boogie.  This encourages the kids to identify body parts and then to balance the bean bag while moving.  It is good to see the variety of ways children use their bodies to carry the bags.

Our youngest group (Discovery Days) were having snack.  WOW!  Look at this group.  Sitting at a table and eating their own snack.  This group is learning routines that are so different from what they do at home.  They are also able to take their trash (napkin and cup) to the trash.  They feel important when they complete a “job.”  After snack the kids head over to play again.  I love watching the eye-hand coordination develop as young children investigate these large rubber blocks.  Eventually they will also discover balance when they place a larger block on the smaller square blocks.

I found our Green Class (Preschool Lite) ending circle time and transitioning to snack.  The first picture shows the group saying their prayer.  We do a song/chant “Open Shut Them” to gather attention as well as giving a routine which helps children focus on the prayer.  Following that, the teacher shows the children the name card.  The picture of their symbol gives them a visual while the written name (covered for this post) allows the child a chance to see their name in print.  Once the child sees his name he takes his symbol spot that he is sitting on to the basket and then heads over to wash hands.  If there is a child already washing hands, there are colored spots to help the children learn about waiting in a line.  There are a lot of steps to this routine.  Think about how much learning is happening in the simple act of going to snack.

Our 3/4 enrichment group were gathered at the back of the room while another teacher set up for circle time.  They were imagining waking up in the morning.  “What do we need to do next?”  This is wonderful recall for the children as they pretend together.  Once in the circle the children were excited to see which apple “won!”  As they arrived to class they put their symbol in a bowl to vote for either red, yellow or green apples as their favorite.  This is a wonderful chance then to talk about more, less, same, etc.  It is so much more meaningful when it is with something they have had some input.  I even heard a little one say, “There’s my  symbol.  That’s mine!”

As I was heading back to the office I noticed the Blue and Red classes heading to the playground.  I couldn’t resist taking a few picture there as well.  First, look at that nice line!!!  I congratulated them on how nicely they were standing behind each other.  It is interesting that a teacher reminded them before they started walking about staying just a little behind the person in front of you – not too close.  These are the kinds of things that take practice to learn.

The first thing I noticed once I got outside were a teacher and child talking together.  We have quiet places on the playground for just this reason.  Sometimes we don’t need to big large movement but a more quiet conversation.

I absolutely LOVE watching kids play on the playground.  From the impromptu Ice Cream Shop, to the social dilemma of 4 kids and three spots on the teeter-totter, the joyful singing on the tire swing and the concentration and perserverance of learning to move through the monkey bars.

A few children showed me a “bug” on the cement.  On closer inspection it was the shell of a cicada.  This was a wonderful learning opportunity as children discovered that there was no live bug inside.  Oh, the questions they came up with!  “Why is he not moving?”  “Where did he go?”  “Why is there a hole in it?”  And finally that shell dropped to the ground.  Here was a perfect chance to talk about cammoflage.  We never did find that shell again – it was hidden too well in his surroundings.

As you can see, there is a lot happening here all morning.  From structured times, to open play time, it is all learning time!

 


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Fun while learning – indoor play

It’s that time of year.  Time to think about indoor fun.  Time to think about new activities to keep the kids busy and stimulated.  I spent some time looking at the blog BUSY TODDLERS: making it to naps, one activity at a time.  I am linking to several of her posts.  WAIT!  If you have older preschoolers, don’t despair, there are lots of things in here that would interest them.  Simply click on the photo to link to the full blog post.

Post it notes!  These are great fun for kids.  In the activity above the goal is to match letters to the ones in your child’s name.  You could do this for all the alphabet – or even for those letters your child is less familiar with (our Pre-K families probably got this information on their recent conference form!)  I would also consider making this an active game by having your child run, hop, spin, crawl, etc. to put on the letter.  All that movement will further stimulate your child’s brain.

This is the same kind of idea as the one above but with numbers.  For the youngest children you could just write the numerals in the colors of the sticky notes.  Encourage your child to match the orange sticky note to the orange numeral 3, etc.  They will be matching colors but can also build some awareness of numbers.

There is a wide array of concepts this post it note idea could adapt to; colors, shapes, emotions, and even sight words, etc. as children begin working on those in Kindergarten.

Manipulating stickers is a wonderful fine motor activity.  This changes the typical sticker play a little by placing it on a vertical surface.  Imagine how this will strengthen the wrist muscles.  For children working on patterning this would be a great way to do that.

If you’ve never thought about play in the bathtub (even when your child is in there for getting clean) I’d encourage you to, especially in the winter!  There are so many ways to play.  I remember my nephew often putting on his swimsuit and playing with plastic animals in the tub for almost an hour at a time.   I’m sure a quick search on Pinterest for “bathtub play for kids” will offer you a wide array of options.

While this is a fairly traditional (read “old school”) game, it’s still a good one!  The Peak Performance Center has a website all about helping people improve their performance.  In it they explain that human memory is a process that involves three domains: encoding, storage and retrieval.  This fun game supports growth in all three areas.  By the way, this is a great alternative to smart phones while you are waiting at a restaurant, etc.

Very young children will love this activity.  Surprisingly I am confident our oldest kids would also enjoy this as well.  While this seems like a “just keep them busy” activity, children are actually building hand-eye coordination, building strength in their hands and even cementing knowledge in the physical make-up of some dry foods.  Remember, there is learning active in all play experiences.

We LOVE shaving cream at preschool.  This is actually an activity I’ve done with my grand kids, multiple times.  They love it and they ask for it, even the seven year old.  At a recent conference, we were also talking to a family about using shaving cream as a way to practice drawing shapes, letters and numbers.  You could even combine this with the previous idea for playing in the tub.

 

Colored ice is also a staple around here.  Often the church staff or members ask us about the ice trays with colored water stored in the freezer.  You can also freeze a popsicle stick standing up in the tray (just stick it through some cling wrap) and then children can use this for painting too.  Also, adding salt to the mix brings in some science experimentation.

Perhaps you remember doing this as a child.  It’s so fun to expose a “secret” message, picture, shapes, etc. while painting with water color.  Psst, it’s just white crayon drawn on white paper.  You and your child could take turns drawing or writing the secret part.

This blog had a ton of other ideas.  I’d encourage you to check it out.  Also we have some previous posts about indoor activities.  Some include much more active play.  I’ve linked to a few of those below:

INSIDE PLAY

INSIDE ENTERTAINMENT

WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?

Have fun playing!

 


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Kindness is contagious!

Isn’t it amazing how just taking time to focus on something seems to manifest even more of that.  That is how I feel about our Kindness Campaign.  It is amazing how often I see children do kind things or hear a teacher talking about a kind action.

I LOVE IT!

Our teachers are sharing the kindness strips that our families send in during their circle time.  The children just BEAM when their kind deed is announced.

 

Again, I LOVE IT!

Our kindness chain is sure growing!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

Perhaps this focus has even helped you become more aware of kind actions all around you.  I sure hope so.

One little guy make cookies and took them to the Police Station to thank them for keeping us safe.

Today I noticed a little guy in the Blue class giving a thumbs up to his friends as they were performing a play of The Three Little Pigs.  I know that made them feel great.  He got to add a link to our chain.

I’d love to see any of the kindness activities your buddies are encouraging the children to do.  Please drop us an email or add it as a comment to this blog post.

As another way to carry the kindness focus into the homes you may want to pick up a couple of books about kindness from the library.  I found this wonderful blog post about books that encourage kindness.   HERE   I hope you enjoy some from it.