Aldersgate Preschool


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We are still working hard!

I’m so impressed with our little people and the work they are doing!  We’ve heard from our parents that children are excited about helping at home – and even asking to do more!

This is just what we were hoping would happen when we chose to focus on responsibility for our February focus!

I love seeing all the photos of children working at home.

 

Rocky, our dog that celebrates a job well done, has been busy visiting all the classes.  The kids are so excited when he does a flip just for them.  Kids in our youngest classes are doing work too.  They got so excited to see Rudy visit and perform for them!

If you are still wanting more information about helping your child with responsibilities, one of our preschool Board members sent me links to some great sites.

Life Over C’s even has a free downloadable interactive book and memory game. This connects responsibility with pre-reading skills.  You can find it HERE

The Happy Housewife posts about age appropriate chores.  You can find it HERE

I also found some notes I made earlier and wanted to share a fun chore that one of our teachers has her kids do – tightening the screws on the light switches and door knobs.  You can just imagine some kids thinking this is right up their alley!

Keep Rockin’ those Responsibilities!.

 


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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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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.

advent activities_        advent activities year 2

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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For mom’s with strong-willed, over-emotional, or otherwise challenging kids

Isn’t that all of us at some time in our parenting?  I’ve talked with so many mom’s over the years.  Mom’s that are questioning their parenting.  Mom’s that are second guessing their hard decisions.  Mom’s that are weary of the day to day “work” of parenting their “spirited” or challenging (in some way) children.

To all those moms I say. . . .

You’re a good mom too!

You are a mom in the trenches of tantrums.  You are a mom dealing with sensory issues and finding socks that “feel right” each morning.  You are the mom encouraging the very reserved child to try something new.  You are the mom that leaves in tears after dropping your child off because he is crying AGAIN.  You are the mom that faces endless decisions for what is best for your child.

Today is a busy day – another special parent day in one of our classes.  I’m stopping though, to write this, because it is so important.  Diana Markel, one of our previous staff, posted this on her facebook wall.  It spoke to me deeply.  You see I, too, was one of those moms.  One of those moms that wondered what people thought, as my child threw herself on the floor in the middle of Target.  One of those moms that had to leave a full cart of groceries to take home a child that was just out of control.  One of those moms that wondered if her middle child was drawing on the walls (mulitple times) because she wasn’t getting enough attention.  I was one of those moms that wondered what people thought of me as a, well, . .  a mom.

I’m sure that is why this article spoke to me so profoundly.  I hope this speaks to many of you as well.


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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!