Aldersgate Preschool


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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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Make this Christmas Season Meaningful

I usually write a post about toy options we suggest for your kids for Christmas.  I looked back at some of my old ones and to be honest, I think those posts cover the options really well.  You can find those options HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERETHIS ONE is specific to books we like as gift options.

Instead, today I will write a little about traditions that would enrich young children’s (and your family’s) lives as we look forward to Jesus’ birthday.

Advent Calendar

The last couple of years I have prepared an advent calendar of activities for my grandkids.  (This might be a great suggestion to your kid’s grandparents as it does take a little preparation.)  I try to include activities that are very quick, days that give little treats, activities that encourage active play, activities that include art and finally activities that point to the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus birth!

I am including PDFs of the list of ideas I created to print for their calendar.  Feel free to click on them to download them for  your use if you like.  Just an FYI, they are not in date order.

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I also found this kindness activity list.  Just double click on the image and you can download it.

(Unfortunately I’m not sure of my source for this.  If anyone knows, please contact me so I can add it to this post.)

Light a candle at dinner time each night. 

Have each person take a turn sharing something about them: favorite thing to play, something good they did that day, something they would wish for, say something they love about the other people at the table, sing a favorite song (or sing different Christmas songs – by the way, our songs we are learning at school will soon be on our website for your listening enjoyment.  :), list people you love, a favorite memory, . . .

Read a Christmas book

This is something you could make a special time for each evening.  Some of our favorites that focus on the story of Jesus’ birth include:

Christmas in the Barn  by Margaret Wise Brown

The Donkey’s Christmas Song  by Nancy Tafuri

The First Night  by B.G. Hennessy

The Friendly Beast  an Old English Christmas Carol, illustrated by Anna Vojtech

Mouse’s First Christmas  by Lauren Thompson

The Nativity  illustrated by Julie Vivas

The Pinetree Parable  by Liz Curtis Higgs

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born  by Rhonda Gowler Greene

That Special Starry Night  by Jeff Carnehl

Who is Coming to Our House?  by Joseph Slate, Ashley Wolff

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star  pictures by Lesley Harker

The Giving Manger

This is an advent kit you can purchase.  I’ve seen it advertised many different places this year.  I love the idea of it.  You put the empty wooden manger in a visible spot in your home.  Through Advent you fill the manger with hay (placed with every act of service someone does) and finally you add baby Jesus on Christmas day.  You can read more about it on their blog HERE.   The menu bar will also take you to where you can order the set if you would like.

Celebrate with a pretty table

Your kids can take turns setting the table with whatever they decide makes it feel festive.  Perhaps old birthday napkins, home-made napkin holders (just cut up a paper town tube and let the kids either draw on it or apply stickers), special dishes, . . .

Christmas Blessings to those we love

Each night (or once a week), call someone you love and have the whole family sing them a song.

Connect through KindCraft

This local group has ongoing project of service for others.  They have a facebook group that you can find HERE.  This is how they describe themselves on the group page:  We have a heart for serving our community with our families. Our goal is to provide families with opportunities to serve once a month. We believe it is so important to teach our kids about compassion, empathy, & the importance of making a difference for someone else.

Hide Baby Jesus

Yes, I really suggested you hide Baby Jesus.  I started this one day (a long time ago), just as a joke with my kids.  I took the baby Jesus from our Nativity set and hid it in a little artificial tree that was nearby.  This then lead to a pretty consistent thing we did for the following years.  I liked to compare the kids to the Wisemen as they were searching for the Messiah – baby Jesus.

Blessing Jar

Thirty Handmade Days, a blog written by Mique, focuses on craft projects.  Don’t worry though, you don’t have to be too crafty for the blessing jar.  Mique suggest putting toungue depressors with things we are blessed with into a jar.  Each day you pull out a stick and then count how many of those things you have in your house.  You can read more about it HERE.

Here is a beautiful video about all the blessings we have in our everyday lives.

Okay, so that is a lot of ideas.  Some are very simple and others are more complex.  Honestly, you can do none of these and still take moments to remember to true reason for the season.   I don’t write this to put more pressure on you in this already busy time.  It’s just about taking time to pause amidst the hub bub of the holiday and be mindful of the gift of Jesus and our many blessings.

I wish each of you a joy-filled Advent season and a beautiful Christmas.


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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.

 


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New Year’s Resolution – taking a cue from our toddlers

My niece posted on Facebook about her New Year’s resolution.  She was taking a cue from her toddler.  I loved the idea.  There are so many things we can learn from our little ones.  Here are her ideas.

This year, perhaps we should all strive to . . .

LIVE IN THE MOMENT

SAY Hi AND BYE TO EVERYONE

READ FICTION EVERYDAY

 

PLAY, PLAY, PLAY

BE CURIOUS

BE ASSERTIVE

(I love how honest and up-front children are with what they need or want. Couldn’t we all learn something from that. For this post, though, I am going to interpret this as a child being intent on what he is doing. I love watching a child “struggle” to figure something out.)

TAKE A NAP WHEN YOU NEED ONE

 

LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY

THROW A GOOD FIT EVERY NOW AND THEN

(While we see the need for this it’s not a part of our day we take pictures of.  Somehow I am sure you can visualize this without a photo.) 

HAVE FUN and BE SILLY

(I added this one.  We do this a lot around here.)


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We’ve received so much!

At this season of gifts concludes, I am reminded of so many ways our preschool is blessed.  This school year is no exception.  We have truly received some wonderful gifts.

Early this fall Marcus Nameth (Ms. Robyn’s son) gifted us with two amazing magnet ball walls.  He made this for his final Eagle Scout project.  I know he spent hours researching the best balls, glue, etc. to make the project most successful.  And it is!  The kids on both playgrounds enjoy discovering how the balls will move through the pipe tracks, dependent on the way the tracks are positioned.  What a wonderfully thought provoking play experience.  Plus, they have fun too!  We are so grateful that Marcus chose us as his Eagle Scout recipient.  Thank you Marcus!

 

Yesterday our teachers got to have some great fun.  We visited Lakeshore Learning, an educational children’s toy store that you can find out about HERE, for a teacher training.  Then they “worked” hard playing “Santa” for our school.  Actually, they had a blast choosing just the right things that will fill a need we have.   It was also interesting to find out which of our staff members are good at math and could figure out how to make the most of our money with the coupon discount they were offering that day.  I just stood back and watched them getting so excited about it all.

All this is possible because of YOU!  We used fund raising money to make these purchases.  So, thank you!

And finally as we prepare to leave for our Christmas break I cannot help but think about the greatest gift we’ve ever received.  God chose to become human.  He chose to humble himself to our limitations so that he could give us the gift of salvation.  That sweet baby in a manger is truly our King.  I pray each of you feel surrounded by the love of Christ as you celebrate this Christmas!


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Find Rudy (Inspired by the Find Momo books)

{I wrote this during the last couple of weeks of school but never posted it. I hope you enjoy it t

This past Christmas my husband and I got a new puppy.  His name is Rudy.

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He is a king Charles cavalier spaniel and poodle mix, a cavapoo.  While he can be ornery as all get-out, he is smart.  He learned very quickly to sit and stay.

I promise this will relate to preschool soon.

Also, at our house we love the Find Momo books by Andrew Knapp.

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Since our grandchildren call my husband Momo, these books caught my eye at Half Price Book Store. Andrew and his border collie dog Momo travel all over and take amazing photos with Momo “hiding” somewhere in the photo.  Here are a couple samples of his work.

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Do you see him hiding in the bottom right corner?

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Did you find Momo in this one?  Look under the guardrail.

As you can see, he takes beautiful photos.  (Sorry, the quality here isn’t as good as his originals.)

Here is a link to his website.

Anyway, with Rudy’s ability to sit and stay, my grand kids and I decided to use Andrew’s photos as inspiration and make some of our own “Find Rudy” photos.  Here is one of our first efforts.

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Some days I surprise my grand kids by texting a new “Find Rudy” photo to them.  This was one they liked.

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As you can see, my photos don’t rival Andrew’s but we are having fun.  My friends on Facebook also seem to be enjoying them.

Here comes the preschool tie-in.

These past two weeks Rudy has joined us at preschool.  The Blue and Purple classes have pet visits.  These pet visits provide a great chance for us to connect even more as a school family as we meet animal family members, to learn about some pets, to practice speaking in front of others and probably most importantly, and to practice asking questions for new information.  I was happy to have Rudy visit with each of these classes.

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On the days he was here, he joined me in greeting the children.  He gave them high-fives as they arrived.  Rudy would have loved to jump all over the children and lick their faces but even Rudy has to learn about personal space and school appropriate behaviors.

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Giving high-fives was still a lot of fun.  While he was here I took some time for a couple of “Find Rudy” photos at preschool.

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We even took a “Find Rudy” picture with one of the classes.

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With technology, these kinds of things become even easier.  Is there something you could start taking photos of using your phone?   Perhaps you can do a Letter Hunt – (i.e. capture the M for McDonalds.)  Do you have collections of things you could take photos of and then create an I Spy book?  You could go to an area like downtown and take photos of interesting architecture you see.  (perhaps you could even find shapes or letters in the spaces.)

A friend mentioned Chatbooks as a fun app for quickly organizing and ordering phone photos as small books.  I haven’t tried it yet but plan to do that with my Rudy pictures.

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What a fun way to be creative with our kids (or grand kids!)  We would love to see what you come up with!

 


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Thankful for families, Thankful for play

Think back to your favorite times with your extended family as a child.  I’m sure you remember food.  Somehow that is always an important part of our gatherings.  My guess, though, is that you remember playing next.  Playing with your cousins and hopefully playing with grandparents, aunts, uncles, mom and dad.

I went around the classrooms today to snap photos of their Thanksgiving activities.  The first two classes I visited (Blue and Red) were busy playing group games.  At first I thought, hmmm, I’m surprised they aren’t doing something more “theme” oriented to Thanksgiving. Then, I got to thinking that this game play is often times at the core of our Thanksgiving experiences.  We play together.

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Our younger classes were busy playing as well with blocks, play dough, dolls, balls made from scarves . . . . and more!  What I loved most was that many times I saw adults playing with the children.

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By the books we read today were about giving thanks.   My heart fills with gratitude and thanks for each of you, our families.  I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you get a chance to play!

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Honoring Jennie Nichols with a new award for our staff

Many of you generously donated toward our end of the year DVDs last year knowing that the funds we raised were going to the Nichols family to help with Jennie’s medical expenses.  I am sad to say that Jennie died on June 20th.  Jennie was 14 years old.

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Jennie Nichols attended Aldersgate during her toddler and preschool years (as did her brother Graham.) Her mom, Kelly Nichols, was on our preschool board.  The family also attended Aldersgate United Methodist Church.  Jennie battled osteosarcoma for two years.  For those of us that knew Jennie we were sure she would win the fight against one of the most deadly childhood cancers.  She was that tough. She was that strong.  Physical and emotional strength, however, was not enough to beat bone cancer this time.

Many of us followed Jennie’s journey through her facebook page.  One of the most poignant moments was when Jennie stated that she now understood a quote that hadn’t made sense to her before.

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(link to site by clicking photo)

And Jennie danced!  She let us all join in her hard journey while making us laugh with her wit.  She even named her IV pole and gave it a personality.  Jennie is a true inspiration for me as I face different hardships.  I wish I had her wit.  I wish I had her determination.

After Jennie’s death, Kelly received a gift of several yellow umbrellas with Jennie’s name surrounded by a heart printed on it.  She gave some to us at preschool.  We are putting them to good use.

We have established the Jennie Nichols “Dancing in the Rain” award.  Each year we will be honoring a staff member that most embodies this spirit.  Here is the certificate they will receive.

Jennie Nichols dancing in the rain award

I was happy to present this award to Michelle Loe at our last staff meeting.  As many of you know Michelle gives of herself so easily.  She loves and welcomes everyone she meets.  Michelle loves every child (and adult) unconditionally.  Michelle is always the first person to reach out in support when one of our staff members has a burden in their own lives. A few years ago I personally received her loving care and attention as she cooked meals that would fit a specific diet I needed to follow in preparation for my thyroid cancer treatment.  This is just one example of how Michelle reaches out.  Michelle is also affectionately known as the “mom” of our staff.  She does many of the drudgery jobs (shopping, dishes, laundry, etc.) that help our preschool run without a hitch.  She does all this with a smile!  Michelle is a shining example of what this award represents.  I know she doesn’t like the limelight but be sure to say something to Ms. Michelle next time you see her.  She deserves this recognition along with the small gift of thanks that accompanied it.

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One final note about Jennie’s story.  The Nichols were blessed to be able to pay all their medical bills and still have some additional funds left in their medical account.  Recently they used the funds to make a payment toward the Zach Sobiech cancer research fund that supports research specifically for osteosarcoma.  Their gift helped the fund reach their $1,000,000 goal.  How cool is that!  Here is a wonderful article about the payment reaching the goal and more about this effort.

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It is especially fitting that all this is happening this month.  In case you didn’t already know, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.