It’s back to school time and we are off to a great start!!! We hope everyone had a great summer!
It’s been amazing to watch your children meet new friends, play together, learn new rules and routines and begin to settle into the school year!
The children want to go to school and “be big”, but growing up is sometimes scary. Starting school is scary. Leaving the security of home is scary. Coping with adults called ‘teachers” is scary. Coping with other children and expectations is scary. And yes, it is sometimes scary for parents to let their children go. We take this into consideration when we gently and supportively ease your children into the classroom. When we plan our curriculum, we are sure to include discussions and stories around separation anxiety.
This year promises to be one filled with fun and discovery as your child works and plays in an environment that is warm and loving, safe and challenging. The structure of daily activities is carefully planned to encourage independence, self confidence and cooperation through large group, small group and one-on-one participation in a variety of hands-on, interactive experiences. The activities will incorporate reinforcement in reading readiness, math, science, fine and gross motor skills, social/emotional skills and language development.
Often parents will ask me how they can help their 3 year old succeed in school. My answer is always, “let them play.” As an adult, Albert Einstein remembered a pivotal event in his life that inspired his interest in scientific discovery. He was 4 years old and stuck in bed with a childhood illness when his father handed him a compass to play with. He spent hours playing with that compass and remembers how it inspired his love of science. Don’t underestimate the value of play. Teach your children THROUGH play. Make learning come alive for them NOW because once they get to Kindergarten, there is a heightened focus on academics at the expense of play. Children learn and develop cognitive skills like math and problem solving in a pretend grocery store. Through play they develop physical abilities when balancing blocks and running on the playground. Through play they learn new vocabulary words they need to play with dinosaurs. They learn literacy skills creating a menu for a pretend restaurant. Play is also an outlet for anxiety!
At the beginning of the week, you will receive this type of newsletter. It will be your one-stop place for all important dates and information about classroom activities. It will also be a great way for you to reinforce what we are learning in the classroom. Parents are often curious about their child’s school day and sometimes disappointed by the amount of information their child shares with them. Often the question, “How was school today?” does not elicit the detailed answer we are hoping for. By referring to the newsletter, those questions will be answered. I believe that communication is the key to your child’s success and to a great parent/teacher relationship. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions or concerns at any time.
This past week our focus has been on school rules and routines. We have been reviewing behavior expectations and safety concerns daily. Since their name is often the first word your child learns to read, names are kind of a BIG deal in nursery! This past week and throughout the year we will work on name recognition and spelling. I have put your child’s name up everywhere in the classroom because recognizing their own name is very special to them. If you walk into our classroom you’d see names on the wall, on the furniture, on cards, on photo’s and even in the bathroom! Assigning them their own hooks to hang up their backpacks gives them a sense of ownership and belonging. Since all their work will go into their cubbies, the children learn quickly where to find their name.
Since music is such an important part of our curriculum, we have already started singing together in “Circle Time”. Some of the songs we’ve enjoyed are: “The Wheels on the Bus”, “I’ve Got Two Eyes!” (Ask your child why this is his/her favorite!) “Morning Exercise” and “The Chicken Dance”.
In order to help the children develop a lifetime love of books and reading, every day we have “Story Time”. This past week the children were super excited about our “Pete the Cat” series! They LOVE that blue cat sooooo much! Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons and Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes, by Eric Litman were read over and over again by popular demand! The stories are easy to remember and many are already singing along. Other books we enjoyed were First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. What a funny and creative way to show the unconditional love of a Mother!
Our lessons will remain pretty basic this week. We will continue to teach the children how to live in a classroom with lots of other children. This is the first time many of them are in a structured environment. There is SO much for them to learn. Before we can begin our academics, the children need to learn how to use centers and materials in the classroom. Many have no idea how to line up, sit in circle time, clean up blocks or how to treat the books in our library. They must learn how to stay in their seat, use manners, show respect and keep their hands to themselves. We need to teach them how to drink out of a paper cup, flush a toilet and wash their hands PROPERLY.
In addition to all that, we will begin the hard process of learning to take turns and share, and to start developing the vocabulary necessary to label our feelings.
The start of school is a milestone that is often anticipated with great excitement but also with lots of crying and uncertainty for both the children AND their parents. A prop to all of the Mom’s & Dad’s who have kept their goodbyes short and sweet!!! We know it’s not easy! For those children that are still having difficulty with their new routine, this week we will read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. In order for the children to feel loved and secure at school, we will make “Kissing Hands” for them to take home and share with you. In all my years of teaching, I have never encountered one student who couldn’t overcome his separation anxiety!
September will hold many new and enjoyable activities for the children. Next week they will begin their journey through the alphabet. Each child will receive a cut-out uppercase letter to decorate using arts and crafts that reinforce the letter. We will make them into interesting, colorful and creative alphabet books that will go home at the end of the year. Since our September theme is “All About Me”, we will be working on building self-esteem. “All About Me” is a mini-unit that I integrate with other activities at the beginning of the school year. The unit covers body parts, alike and different, feelings, manners and behavior. Projects, books and songs will reflect that theme. We will also begin our study of number, color and shape recognition this month.
With a positive attitude and a sense of humor we look forward to a fun and productive school year!
To many happy days,
*** Just a reminder! If you haven’t already done so, please send in a photo of your child for our picture board!