March/April 2015 Newsletter
Everyone certainly enjoyed the warmth of the weather in the 60’s on Monday. I know that I certainly did and I cannot wait for more. The flowers are starting to come up in front of the PK Center’s front porch as well as the edges of my front walk. I cannot wait for the start of the growing season and neither can Mr. Dudley. Jeremy and Dudley started cleaning out the area for our garden last weekend. I am really lucky to have him retired with plenty of time to help with all aspects of the daycare. Everyone sees him doing his yardwork but not everyone gets to see him put a baby to sleep or help to feed a child who is just not taking food from us. He has been called the “baby whisperer” in the past and he looks like he hasn’t lost his touch. You will see him around more helping with the walks across the street as well as the summer camp walks all over town. Of course, all of you saw him quite a bit this winter as we worked very hard to keep the centers open as much as we could.
This week (April 13-April 17) we are celebrating your children. It is “The Week of the Young Child”. As many of you know from previous years, NAEYC celebrates internationally by encouraging all who care for the young child. So from Monday through Friday, we will be doing the following:
Music Monday — look for new music in each room – all rooms should be playing only children’s music created for infants through preschool. Classical music is also encouraged.
Taco Tuesday — nachos would do as well. Just the consistency and crunchiness makes it exciting for a child to touch let alone taste
Work Together Wednesday — everyday in our classrooms children work together — ask your child how they helped each other today.
Artsy Thursday — creative art work is the big excitement and you will see this in every room. Let’s see what the Cuddly Cubs has in store for us.
Family Friday — again this week is to celebrate your children as a part of an incredible family. Your children need to know that they are unconditionally loved and cared for by all of us.
Ending the week with Family Friday was done on purpose so that you as a family could donate a book to be given to children who do not have books in their homes like we do. Last year, we donated it to the Hillside Food Bank but I have learned of another charity who works to support the single mother and her child or children. Please find a book either new or slightly used that your child and you could give to someone less fortunate. I know that your generosity will certainly be appreciated.
Each and every day we commit to you and your family the opportunity for your children to experience the outside environment, to enjoy sensory experiences, to move freely in an uninhibited environment so that their development is encouraged in a natural and authentic fashion. In order for us to continue our facilitation of this growth, we wish to partner with you at every opportunity to insure maximum growth both physically, emotionally, socially and neurologically. Your responsibility is an awesome one but we are here to work with you.
A topic of increasing importance and critical for the emotional growth of your child is the concept of resiliency. Today it is crucial to help develop skills to empower your child from within to weather the challenges of the current happenings as well as the future. Allowing your child to experience challenges, withstand stress and adversity and follow through by finding solutions to their challenges helps your child experience their competence and capabilities as they handle each issue.
Now what should you expect from the teachers with regard to the above? It is important for us to provide what is known as a YES environment. What does this mean?? It means that the expectations and the routines are age appropriate so that the children do not experience frustration but rather experience success as they participate in our activities.
The article below “Creating a YES environment” is from Community Playthings and can be found at: firstname.lastname@example.org:
When a classroom environment is set up so that teachers have to constantly say “no” to the children, it is stressful for everyone. The teacher stops being a facilitator of the children’s play and learning, and instead becomes a police officer, monitoring what the children can and cannot do. To reduce this stress, a classroom must provide an environment where the children are able to feel successful through opportunities to explore without the limitations of adult expectations.
The following is what I expect from the teachers as they work with your children: At the end of this session you will note the author of these sentiments. Many of you have heard us discuss these elements for years and we need to make sure that this is occurring in every room. A philosophy which includes these factors will encourage the resiliency your children need to succeed in this ever changing world.
There are four important parts to a “yes” environment: respect for the child, process instead of product, opportunities for risk-taking, and the teacher’s role in the classroom. Being thoughtful and intentional about implementing these qualities in the classroom allows for less stress and more success, for both the children and their teachers.
Respect for the child
It’s important to know where your children are in their development. You can then set up the classroom accordingly, providing areas or activities at which they can be successful without the assistance of an adult. Doing this shows that you have respect for what the children are able to do. Of course, giving them a few challenges isn’t a problem—but it becomes a problem when the children feel like they have to ask the adult to do it for them.
If you put a child onto a tricycle, he isn’t going to learn how to get onto it himself. The next time, if you aren’t there, he’ll be frustrated about doing it on his own. Children will eventually learn to use materials and equipment once they reach the developmental stage which allows them to navigate those things. If they become dependent on us to do it for them, they won’t feel successful doing an activity that is beyond their skill level.
Process instead of product
In creating an environment of success, it is crucial to offer open-ended activities and not expect a particular end result. Children need opportunities to explore materials in their own way, at their own pace. They need to be allowed to make messes and make mistakes.
When a young child begins to paint off the paper and onto the easel or tray, it’s hard to resist saying, “Don’t paint on the easel,” or, “Paper is for painting.” When you focus on the process, though, you see that the child is learning about how the paint and the brush work and where they make marks. Ask yourself: does it matter if the easel gets messy?
Opportunities for risk-taking
Children need opportunities to climb and run, to get messy and get wet. Fortunately, they’re still small, and if they fall down, they’re close to the ground. Falling probably scares them more than it does injury to their bodies. While you can do your best to prevent hazards, you can’t ensure that children will never get hurt. You can be there to help if they do get hurt, but you shouldn’t hover.
If a toddler wants to climb up the ramp onto the climbing structure, and you’re not sure how she’ll manage, be nearby in case she needs help. Don’t place her onto the ramp or pull her down if she seems stuck. Don’t tell her, “No, that isn’t safe.” Doing so sends the message that you will always be there to move her onto and off of the ramp and that she isn’t capable of climbing the structure. If she never falls, she never learns how to hold on tightly, how to balance her body, or how to catch herself if she slips.
The teacher’s role
The most important role of teacher in a “yes” classroom is as facilitator. In this role, teachers give guidance and partner with children in their learning processes. This takes the emphasis off the teacher’s agenda and puts in on what children are doing and how the teacher can assist them.
If you’re feeling that the children are “out of control,” reflect on what is happening in that moment. Often, a teacher’s expectations of what should be happening don’t match where the children are developmentally and temperamentally. Rather than expect children to sit still for a story at circle time, you might have to change your own thinking in order to meet the children’s needs in that moment. If some children want to run, give them the option to run before the story—or excuse them from the circle altogether, which gives them an opportunity to run while the remaining children hear the story. What if no children want to sit still for a story? Perhaps it isn’t the right time, and you can try again later.
Teachers set up the classroom, create the schedule of the day, and plan the curriculum. We also have to be flexible because the classroom is for the children. The focus should be on what the children want to do. If we try to control too many elements, it becomes easy to feel “out of control” and stressed out. In those moments, it might be best to take a breath, maybe laugh a little, and understand that it’s time to try something different.
Creating a “yes” environment in the classroom doesn’t mean that teachers allow the children to do whatever they want. It means that we have patience for the children and meet their needs in a developmentally appropriate way. In doing this, we get back to what children actually want to do with their bodies. It may also mean that we push the limits of our comfort zones to get there. If it means less stress for every person in the classroom, the journey is worth it.
About the Author
Teresa Gonsoski has been teaching in the field of early childhood education for eleven years and has worked with all age groups, from infants to preschoolers. She has a Master of Arts in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College. She currently teaches in the two-year-old program at the Children’s Center for the Stanford Community, a parent cooperative.
Taking the above and creating this environment in your own home will lead to a much less frustrating daily routine. Encouraging your children to do as much for themselves is to your benefit as well as theirs. Yes, it will take some time to do this properly but it is well worth the competent, confident child that you will see emerge!!