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I can remember as a child (yes, long, long ago, Ha!) the deep need to explain a situation to my parents and be heard, whether it was a mistake or willful rebellion and it was so important to me that they understood the circumstances. As we experience situations with preschoolers, they also deserve to be heard. As adults, we’re more knowledgeable but not perfect. There could be facts that we don’t know and a child must be allowed to share what they know and feel. We can’t let ourselves assume what happened, but truly investigate the situation to build a trusting relationship.
It’s important that they calm down, take a deep breath and be allowed time to get the words out without interruption. What better way to teach children how to listen! True listening means not thinking of what you’re going to say next – it means repeating what you’ve heard in your own words, “I hear you say that…”. It’s healthy and relieves stress to share our feelings – it’s ok to be angry if we keep ourselves in control.
Listening also means explaining what true and false is. It may be too soon for it to be understood but we must help our kids be aware that we want to believe them but their false words ruin that trust. I’ve used circle time opportunities to share that, for example, ”Is it true that I have purple hair?”, then we list other ideas and decide if they are true or not.
Our children need to know that when we’re disappointed, frustrated or upset that we still love them – it’s their choice that’s the problem, not them personally. They are still forming their self-esteem… it’s like jello: it’s not stable yet. Our negative comments (what’d ya do that for, that was dumb!) harm their self-image. They need phrases that address their actions: “What would’ve been the right choice?” to DISCIPLINE (it means teach) them your expectations. It takes many positive comments to heal the damage of one negative (if it’s ever truly healed). There are many times that parents also need to put forth effort to stay calm.
In our hurried schedules we will benefit in the long run by taking a few minutes here and there – it will prevent bigger problems in the future. Our children need to have a reason to respect us and they should be treated like we want them to treat us and others. Check into the Rural Parenting Iniative classes offered at our school – they have many benefits for all families.
Many times, preschool has a change or new information that needs to get to each family immediately. It will improve efficiency if your email is available to me. Please send me a quick email message so I can enter your address into my preschool contact folder. Your address will not be given out to others.
It’s easier to prevent disappointments and confusion. It could be a field trip has to change, a parent helper is sick and needs a replacement, etc. It will also allow me to acquire a substitute teacher if I am ill.
This would be an appropriate time to share (if you don’t know already) that my dad is dying of pancreatic cancer. He is very weak at this time and the struggle will be over soon. We are preparing parents to work and have lesson plans in place for the children should I have to be absent. Please let me know if you can find partners to work together as my substitutes (we’ll need several sets in case some aren’t available or needed multiple days). I’m putting together some lesson ‘kits’ for you to study now and feel comfortable with.
In the past, we have been successful in arranging it as a volunteer day in lieu of your monthly helper day. Here’s my email for you to click and contact me with your address: email@example.com
Thank you so much! Teacher Lois
Give yourself a challenge to save the word “No/Stop” for emergencies and safety issues. Practice finding alternatives for every situation, which can be difficult when you’re in the middle of a conflict, so use your ‘spare’ time to brainstorm – in a waiting room, in line at the store, getting fuel, etc. Imagine your day from start to finish and picture a common issue that you correct your child with a negative instruction. “Stop running in the house. Leave that vase alone. Don’t be so rowdy.” Turn it into a direction that tells the child what you want them TO DO. “Walk in the house. That vase stays on the shelf, go choose a toy. Now is a good time to choose a book and we’ll read it together.”
It would be miserable to work in an environment where the supervisor was constantly making negative comments but imagine the productivity and cooperation where encouragement and appreciation are given. Children are learning to make good choices – they will make poor choices as they develop. It doesn’t make them a bad child, it makes them just like us… human. They should be aware of the effect of their wrong choice and complimented when they make a good choice. As a child, I can remember wanting to know why and how decisions were made… it helped me be able to make my own as I grew older. Some parents look at it as disrespect or arguing. Use your children’s questions as an opening for discussion. If it becomes an argument, explain that they’re allowed to make some choices: pretending, books to read, clothes to wear, but some choices are for the parent and this is one that the parent will make. It will help them feel understood and less frustrated if their feelings are acknowledged. “Yes, I know you want to stay up late, but your body can’t grow healthy if you do. It won’t feel good when it’s time to get up in the morning. You can choose a story and climb into bed.”
I share a goal with the preschoolers and it’s surprising how well they are able to accomplish it… “Please do (a task) the first time you are asked.” Then, I become a ‘detective’ and ‘spy’ until I see it happen – then we recognize it and encourage it to happen again.
Whatever your methods, be consistent. How confusing would it be to drive in a town where the police could give a ticket for no reason or not give it when it’s deserved. I would not respect that law enforcement and it would make obedience meaningless. (Except I want to have safe roads to drive on!)
Find something positive to say everyday (actually, many times during the day). “You worked hard on that block structure. It’s very tall and didn’t fall down. Let’s take a picture of it.” “It’s exciting that you can pretend you’re a sheep – that takes imagination. What would a sheep walk like?”
As you work in the classroom once a month, let’s take advantage of learning from each other and be better people - I’ll never know it all and see lots of room for improvement in myself. So, don’t be hard on yourself when you make a mistake but strive to change - children are resilient and if you model how to apologize, they will learn a valuable skill. If you need to explain to me a mistake that I made, please use kind words as you discuss it with me. It’s important for me to know about it but ask that we are professional and not discuss between parents – it only breaks down our relationships. I’m an approachable person and will listen carefully to your concerns. Your child is the priority in my classroom… but I’m human and depend on you to teach me about your child. Our children deserve the best!
That title sounds dry compared to what will take place! Some subjects are familiar, some are new. A new curriculum set has been purchased to use as a foundation for the lessons. It’s exciting to prepare for learning experiences that allow each child to learn in their own way. Each developmental domain is included in the lessons: social/emotional, language, physical, fine/gross motor and cognitive. Centers will incorporate language/literacy, science/discovery, math/manipulatives, dramatic play, music/movement and art expression. In addition, we will learn about Mr. Yuk and things to not put in our mouth. Along with the upper classrooms, we use the Heartwood curriculum that teaches about character: courage, loyalty, justice, respect, hope, honesty and love. The 2nd Step Program shares strategies to share, calm down and problem solve. It explores feelings of self, others and how to react to them. Lots of things to do and so little time but we’ll sure have fun in the process!
The first thing that needs mentioned is that no two days have ever gone ‘as planned’. And that’s as it should be: the children’s needs direct their learning, so the ‘routine’ has to be flexible to meet those needs. There is a schedule that we follow for events that can’t be changed: our turn for recess, lunch time and a stable flow with circle time, then snack is after recess, etc. For the most part, our day follows an order of events but it may be shortening circle time if everyone has high energy and we switch to some learning that involves movement. Everything we do in the class is beneficial in some way… play is their work, whether waiting a turn, watching cause and effect – their brain is always absorbing and thinking. So, with that in mind, here is a sample of our daily routine:
Arrival/free choice play - put away personal items, jacket into cubby. Enter classroom, wash hands (use restroom first if needed). Activities will be set out for them to choose and it can help with separation anxiety if you want me to play with them there.
The 4′s class has a circle time @ arrival, then on to the cafeteria for lunch. They can purchase a school lunch or bring one from home. Milk is available to purchase separately.
Clean-up/Recess – We clean up toys that we’re finished with, ask for any restroom needs, get coats and line up at the door for recess. We play 45 minutes, so that’s a long time to be too cold or too hot – please check each day that your child has appropriate attire.
Circle Time – We have stories, songs, check the calendar, play some group activities. It’s flexible enough for me to stop when they are ready. We choose an elimination game to send a child to wash, like musical chairs, etc.
Snack/Puzzles/Books – We sit together at the table and have a school snack. Be sure I know about any food allergies and please provide a substitute snack. The school provides one birthday snack per month for all children celebrating that month. We can hold an individual party but will eat the regular school snack. As each child finishes, they pick up their cup and napkin, put it in the trash and can work quietly at a book or puzzle.
Centers – This is a flexible time that I can continue a story that was unfinished, take a walk if we’re learning about the leaves changing… but the ‘plan’ will be to have about 4 activities to choose from while myself and the adult helper supervise and visit each one. They may be self-directed activities or some that need constant direction. It may include painting, writing, counting, matching, journaling, etc.
Games – Structured table games are selected for small groups to play as adults arrive. I will try to give you an overview of our day at this time. Game time has helped to distract a child that is the last one to leave and it becomes a special time with me. If you are late, (please call to let us know if you can) be assured that I will help your child see it as a treat to do a special activity with me, but please plan your afternoon carefully to arrive promptly by 3:15, as I have meetings or teach piano after school.
If you have questions about our routine, feel free to call or email me.