My goodness, this week has been a whirlwind with all the wonderful activities. We started the week with the New Providence Fair, very well attended by everyone from New Providence, Summit and the surrounding communities. I thank all of you for your visit to our booth and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
The Harvest Fiesta was incredible and I want all the parents to know that the teachers were amazed by the turnout and the excitement of the children was awesome. I had a lot of help organizing the pumpkins, getting the tablecloth on, putting napkins out, serving donuts. Those Pre K/ K students could organize any one of our parties with ease. They also helped Noah and Ms. Meagan set out the pumpkins, set up the obstacle course and/or help Ms. Ro get that music started.
Then to just round out our week the Pre/K and the Butterfly class went to the pumpkin farm to get more pumpkins. Hard to believe we can fit so much into one week but we did and thank you to all the parents who helped with the trip.
I wanted to spend a few moments letting all of you know that we are happy to have on board Ms. Rebecca who comes to us with a really great background in Early Childhood. In the past few weeks I have seen and heard language that all of us can relate to from Ms. Rebecca. Her suggestions have been top notch and her willingness to jump right in has won over Ms. Meagan, Ms. Ro, Mr. Noah and myself. I can see that she critically looks at activities provided to evaluate what the end goal is and does this meet the need of the child or children? Please continue to welcome her and let us know if you wish to participate in any of our activities.
In addition to Ms. Rebecca, we will also be welcoming Ms. Maria, who will be our new Assistant Director helping Marilyn and I keep it all together. She will start on Monday so many of you will get to meet and greet her as we celebrate Halloween. Here is a message from Ms. Maria herself:
Hi Santa Fe Friends! My name is Maria Clifford. I am an Educator, a Mother and Wife. My background is in Communication and Linguistics. I started out in a corporate office as a Communication Specialist and found it was not fulfilling. I have always loved children and found that I wanted something more in life. I pursued my Education degree and started working for a daycare. I love it! I have been so fulfilled in these past years and hope to continue to help educate children so they may enjoy life to its full potential. I hope to become close with all my families here at Santa Fe and become part of your family.
Once again, thank you so much for your support and for your hard work as we continue to care for your children.
This has been the most pleasant of all summers. I certainly hope all of you got to enjoy the warmth of our NJ summers. Dudley and I have had the pleasure visiting Connecticut several times as we watch our granddaughter grow. Just reminds us of watching all of your children–it never ceases to amaze us how quickly they mature into such wonderful people.
I wanted to fill you in on some changes. As you all know Cindy has left to be a full-time grandma and she is having a wonderful time! I will be seeing lots of pictures this week as she has already made a few trips to Canada and Chicago. Hard to be so far away, I am sure.
As most of you may know, I wanted to clarify that Meagan will assume the role of Head Teacher at the Pre-K site (a position Cindy had been doing for many, many years). The responsibilities of the Head Teacher are to ensure the implementation for the center’s child development and activities program for all children in the Pre-K building, and to ensure the appropriateness of all program activities are run according to both the age and developmental level of the children. This position requires the Head Teacher, an advocate for the school, teaching staff, and children to openly discuss and observe the purposes for any program activities taken place at the center. This will include that of working collaboratively with staff members for all groups of children in the building, as well as sharing experiences with the Infant Toddler teachers. In addition to Meagan’s position change—she will still be the Kindergarten Teacher.
We will also be welcoming two other new individuals to the centers, Margaret Manse as Pre-K Lead Teacher and Amber Oksuz as the Cuddly Cubs Coordinator at the Infant Toddler site.
Margaret has come to us with a BA in Education and additional work towards a master’s in Early Childhood. She has been teaching children between the ages of three and seven for a combined total of twenty years. “I look forward to being a part of the Santa Fe family. As I work with the children, I look forward to exploring, creating, and building foundations for them that will last for many years. We will work together to build on their cognitive and social skills that will help them to be independent problem solvers”- Margaret.
Amber has come to us with a Dual BA in Elementary Education and Special Education K-6, as well as gained additional experiences in Early Childhood working as a Collaborative Teacher, Shadow Teacher, and Assistant previously with students 3 months – 7 years old. She is a highly adaptable, energetic, and compassionate individual who has spent the previous 8+ years in the education field through her studies in child development, material exposure and play-based learning, and sought numerous professional development opportunities that have helped align her beliefs in the field.
“I am excited to be returning to the Santa Fe family! This is a great opportunity where I am motivated and ready to share my experiences and methodologies to help locate developmental milestones achieved, strengthen cognitive capabilities and many more with the wonderful staff as well as add a new element of inspiration to the centers. It has grown tremendously! My aim is to continue providing supports all-around to the ITC staff and advocate for the continual growth of the student’s capacity for learning through their many key explorations and experiences as proactive thinkers. We can work together to promote their individual interests and strengths as the remarkable individuals they are”
Amber is and has always been one of those who strives the best for all children. I am excited to have her on board. With the increasing numbers of infants and toddlers asking to come into Santa Fe, I have hired Amber to work as the Cuddly Cubs coordinator to work with Anne and her staff to coordinate our ongoing activities to bring about more sensory explorations and creative experiences for our little ones. She will work alongside Annie to assist in transition from one area to the next.
Furthermore, we will continue to make outside time paramount in terms of our children’s activities, encouraging hands-on and creative opportunities for active learning and personal growth. You as parents are encouraged to look at all aspects of what we do, comment, suggest. We hope you will take the time to get involved! Mike Kestin did just that recently. He taught all of us how to tie dye a shirt with enthusiasm. Their shirts are beautiful. Thanks so much for your time, your expertise as you shared this wonderful experience with our children. Please come back next year for a repeat performance!
Lastly! We want to ensure that everyday items can be turned into works of art. So please feel free to save everything for us and contribute!! We kindly ask that items be placed in a bag and dropped off in the office. We can most definitely utilize these items (e.g. lids, toilet rolls, empty wipes bins, jars, plastic bottles, etc.) and repurpose them as works of art.
Tell me where has the summer gone? This has been such a busy one and so much fun. The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games were just as exciting in New Providence as in Rio.
We have been busy getting ready for our new students. Much has been done in the rooms to ensure that all children have their own space, places to hang their coats, etc. — much is done behind the scenes to prepare the activities for the children to enjoy – purchasing basics, reading up on the latest STEAM info, getting all of our outdoor equipment ready.
This year we open with most classes very, very busy and full. In order to ensure that we cover all our classes, Ms. Karen, Ms. Jen and Ms. Ro will be working at both sites depending on the need. Ms. Maria and Ms. Maggie will go back to their school time calendar so you will see both of them as well.
Ms. Shpresa will be joining us primarily at the Pre-K site to assist with the older children. She holds an associate’s degree and experience in Early Childhood. We are happy to have her on board. We ask that all of you welcome her and her enthusiastic desire to work in our centers. Meagan and Cindy eagerly await her assistance and this will give me the opportunity to have Cindy help with some of our Grow NJ Kids projects.
In the PreK/Kinder classroom we will also have a Kean student, Ms. Kayla, working with our teachers as part of her junior field experience. We have been able to assist with the students on and off for several years and it has been a great experience for many.
At the beginning of the year we plan for the start of our parent/staff committee. The first meeting will be on Wednesday, October 5th. All meetings are held at the Infant Toddler location. For those of you not familiar with our committee, we invite parents to meet about 3 – 4 times during the academic calendar to discuss various topics related to the care and education of their children. In addition to this we plan educational topics around these meetings. I welcome any suggestions for topics of interest. I have already scheduled CPR/First Aid for parents on May 3rd.
I would like to reach out to all of you for your continued support as we start the new school year. Each room would typically have a parent representative who would bring any issues to the chairperson and then it is brought to the meeting. Please come forward to help out. We need a chairperson and parent reps for each room. Please email me with your name and willingness. We could always run it with co-chairs if this would work better and get more people involved. I am not going to assume that anyone from the past year is going to keep your position so please get back to me regarding your interest.
As you already know, you will see Ms. Stephanie and Ms. Rachelle in our rooms working with our teachers as we embrace the Grow NJ Kids initiative. We are currently interviewing for assistant teachers at the centers, so if you know anyone who might be interested and have experience in early childhood care you can send them our way. Thank you.
I’m wishing all my parents and staff a wonderful beginning to another exciting year.
Summer camp at Santa Fe Centers is planned to create an experience to remember. This year the theme is the Olympics to be held in Brazil. Our very large play areas provide the perfect opportunity to conduct our own Olympic games. How we celebrate this world wide event is to learn about and experience the cultures of the countries participating. With the help of our families, we actually hear stories and enjoy food, dress, music and language from other lands. So far this year between the two centers we have visited Japan, China, Philippines, Colombia, Italy, Africa, France, Greece, Russia, Argentina, Australia and of course the USA. We still have much to look forward to as the summer is just half over.
Santa Fe has always incorporated cooking into our activities as a way to encourage children to expand their taste buds. We provide the opportunity to see where your food comes from by the gardening experience. The garden is now in full bloom – flowers in the front yards of school and home and vegetables in the garden. The garden is started by the children with the help of Mr. Dudley, who is part owner of Santa Fe. Many of the plants are started from seed by the children on the window sills in their classrooms. Mr. Dudley comes frequently to check on their progress and to make the decision when to plant. Everyone is very excited to watch the progress and to actually see what they are growing. You will find tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, mint, basil, and an Asian squash called Upo which Mr. Dudley uses in his Philippine cooking. Each of the classrooms have “beds” where they can plant their own, harvest their own and then taste their own. Fridays have become the day we all taste a fruit or vegetable — a very important part of encouraging good nutrition.
Come visit our garden. Santa Fe serves infants through kindergarten at our two locations on Springfield Avenue in New Providence. Those of you who wish your children to enjoy the outdoors in a stimulating and environmentally aware school, please come and visit. If you would love to teach in a creative atmosphere just give us a call at 908-464-3848 or 908-665-1235. We are very proud of what we do and what we have accomplished through the years. Look for us on www.santafecenters.com or on Facebook.
As we approach our 21st year we wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the trust that you put in us day after day in the care of your children. Caring for young children is one of the most important professions an individual can do. Therefore, we feel that continued staff development is essential and we require participation in the opportunities offered at Santa Fe as well as encouraging staff to nurture their interest and knowledge of early childhood at outside conferences. Our participation in Grow NJ Kids has given many opportunities to all of us. Please be assured of our continued commitment to provide children with activities that promote their growth in social, emotional, physical and intellectual areas.
It was a great experience for all of us to spend Staff Development Day participating in “hands on” activities. Our staff (Yenny, Toni, Marilyn, Meagan, Annie, Emily and Cindy) all provided exceptional information as well as on point experiences which created opportunities for learning and discussion. An Infant Toddler Specialist from Community Childcare of Union County provided an insightful session on Teamwork and Professionalism which was very well done and very beneficial to all. We started the day discussing the uniqueness of what we (Santa Fe) provide. Yes, of course, our outside environment is incredible with special attention given to our children through implementing the CATCH program on campus, as well as Stretch-N-Grow who come throughout the school year. Our intentional and reflective teaching methodologies focus on each child to ensure that individual needs are met. As we so many times have stated before, our intent is to ensure that each child feels competent and confident. Our support for the social and emotional growth of our children is of extreme importance to their future success. Our work to help a child regulate both feelings and behavior continues in each class.
We pride ourselves in maintaining our independent status in the community with no affiliation with any other daycares. Thank you for your continued support, and as always I want to assure you that I appreciate hearing back from you and that we are always open to ideas and suggestions. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you at any time.
Dates to remember:
May 11, 2016, Wednesday, 6:00pm-7:00pm: CPR & First Aid Overview at the Infant Toddler Center. Register by emailing your request to: email@example.com; babysitting provided upon request by email.
May 30, 2016, Monday: Memorial Day Parade – Santa Fe Centers will be marching in the Parade. Directly following the parade, the Cabildos will host a picnic in their backyard for our Santa Fe families; more information will be mailed out soon. The centers are closed on this day.
Santa Fe Centers, serving childcare needs from infants to kindergarten, celebrated their 20th Anniversary on Saturday, October 17th with their 1st Annual Fall Festival held on their beautifully cared for acre of land. Over 200 neighbors, friends and center families attended. Event organizer Emily Weisgerber and the center’s staff provided sand art, face painting, obstacle course, lawn bowling, ring toss and pumpkin decorating activities. The children and their families enjoyed riding an 18’ miniature fire truck around the grounds. Group movement activities using the center’s CATCH (catch.org) program activities are planned and implemented by the teachers. At the festival, families were encouraged to participate as they enjoyed the day. Refreshments were apples and popcorn in addition to a truck making ices and hot chocolate to order. Continue reading
The beginning of school is always filled with paperwork for the start of elementary school and I know it is time consuming to get to everything but becoming an active part of your child’s school days will lead to rewards in the future. So stay involved with whatever you can do so that you get to know the children, parents and the community.
Here at Santa Fe we do send out news from the older classrooms every week and periodically from the younger groups. Please read and ask questions of your children to encourage the development of speech as well as critical thinking as they continue to mature. I do try to send out a newsletter every 1-2 months to keep all of you informed about the overall centers as well as the individual rooms. Continue reading
Quality Improvement Program from Grow NJ Kids Hits New Providence
Santa Fe Centers is participating in “Grow NJ Kids”, a state-wide program known as QRIS (Quality Rating Improvement System). The adopted standards were developed in partnership with the Departments of Education, Human Services, Children and Families and Health in Union County, NJ. The centers began working independently on the standards after their initial announcement in 2013 and were chosen to join the network of Early Childhood Educational professionals in March 2015.
A quality improvement specialist from Community Coordinated Childcare of Union County evaluates our childcare programs and establishes goals with the teaching staff in the following categories:
- Safe, healthy learning environments
- Curriculum and learning environments
- Family and community engagement
- Work/professional development
- Administration and Management
Santa Fe Centers continues to support our staff as they broaden their education in the field of early childhood by completing a CDA, an AA or a BA. This shared knowledge base helps to facilitate the development of our children in all areas of growth — physical, social, emotional and cognitive. At first contact with families, guidelines are helpful in evaluating potential schools for their child. Some of the questions parents need to ask are:
- Is the program sensitive to and respectful of cultural and linguistic diversity? Does it expect, allow, and appreciate individual differences?
- Is the program based on current brain research to help each child reach individual social, emotional, physical and cognitive potential?
- Does the program respect and support each child’s feelings?
- Does the program promote feelings of psychological safety, security, and belonging?
- Does the program promote interactive hands-on learning, encouraging the child’s personal construction of conceptual knowledge?
- Do staff members build and maintain a professional, ethical and mutually respectful relationship with families?
- Do teachers use positive discipline strategies leading to self-regulation and development of higher level thinking skills?
- Does the staff model and promote a sense of joy in being with their children leading to each child’s feelings of acceptance, success, competence, and confidence in their abilities?
- Do staff members provide a variety of activities and materials that increase in complexity, difficulty and level of challenge as the children develop greater understanding and higher skill levels throughout the year?
The above questions will be helpful when evaluating a facility. For a more extensive list, please go to www.santafecenters.com . The key is that parents need to feel comfortable with the childcare they select for their child. For more information on “Grow NJ Kids” go to: childandfamily-nj.org
Jane Coleman Cabildo, RN, MS
I wonder about my child when they act silly to get my attention – or follows others who do. I must admit they are so cute and funny when they do some things (which I know are not great to start with) that I laugh and I know that by laughing, I am perpetuating those same behaviors. Iʼve noticed this most at birthday parties where there are lots of adults but, admittedly, most of us are talking to each other rather than watching our children. Some ideas, please, of how to help them to develop better skills.
Some of their antics are just too cute!
Every family has a different behavior bar – aka expectations. When children come together in social situations, their learned sense of justice, internal beliefs, self-esteem and self-regulation are tested. Setting a consistently high behavior bar – and reinforcing the positive behavior that we ALL want to see repeated among all children in the family or classroom – leads to less competition for attention in your busy homes, better relationships between your children as they grow, and more harmonious classrooms in their future.
Teachers notice that parents tend to set the behavior bar quite high for first borns, confirming birth order studies: first borns are more goal-oriented as a result of a high behavior bar, along with a lot of parental interaction and consistency of rules. (Kevin Leman, The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are) The bar usually resets itself as the number of children and career involvement goes up while at the same time, the family’s energy level and available adult engagement time goes down. Previous family expectations/rules may become less consistently applied – or go unenforced altogether.
Within a family, this can make a first born child feel confused or angry. They may start to feel bad about what they see as unfair or preferential treatment of siblings and turn to negative behavior and self-talk to get the attention they need. Although we as teachers cannot explain it, we encourage the children to speak with their parents about their feelings.
“Iʼm bad. When I do the same thing as Brother, they tell me to stop.”
“When Sister sticks out her tongue, Dad laughs. When I do he says Iʼm rude.”
Read through the behaviors and motivations below and imagine how your “follower” would be most likely to respond in a social situation such as a birthday party as you mentioned.
|Behavior||Motivation for their Behavior|
|A starts entertaining or begins to cry when things don’t go their way||A is used to being rewarded for being cute or gains control of a situation by reverting to inappropriate behavior that is not development, age, ability, or event appropriate. It works.|
|B immediately joins the behavior||B is like-minded with negative behavior as their main attention getter. It works so they do it.|
|C stands back and looks in hopeless disbelief at the foolishness.||C is a good role model, frustrated by the Lack of adult attention their good choices get them. Perhaps they have a sibling likeA or B in their home.|
|D tries to get the attention of others through positive behavior – which they feel they must report verbally – to get the positive attention they deserve.||D is tired of following the rules and getting no reinforcement. They “report” how they followed the rules in hopes that they will be noticed and be positively rewarded – but may give up.|
|E keeps doing what they are doing, ignoring the incident.||E is behaving in a way that makes sense to them and is secure in knowing that they do not need another’s approval to make good decisions due to their well developed self-esteem.|
Each child described above is wonderful, unique and smart. The difference in the behavior between A and E is most likely the consistency with which each child gets positive attention for desired behaviors and/or natural consequences for behaviors that are not appreciated over time. There is no quick fix. Just as behaviors are learned over time, so must new acceptable behaviors be learned over time to replace them.
Your observation is key about birthday party supervision: whoʼs watching the children? Many children know how to behave appropriately yet in a group situation, without an adult giving them the expected external cues to stop, they are either unwilling or unable to stop themselves. This is known as self-regulation. That is where child E is the clear behavior leader: they have the internal will and ability to control their behavior and make the right choice regardless of who is watching or what anyone else is doing. They choose to do the right thing. There are other children who are opportunists who do know, intellectually, how to behave appropriately yet when they see a moment to choose badly, they do it. This is their response either because they predict that no one will notice (based on past experience) or that there will be positive reward rather than negative consequence for their behavior.
To avoid some of these issues in a household or classroom, each child must follow the same rules and have the same responsibilities at the same age. In a classroom, for example, if we remind one child to put their lunch box away when it is found on the floor, we must remind others who leave theirs on the floor. It would be unfair to clean up after one child and not another. They would notice and wonder, whatʼs wrong with me? or I must be special because they did not make me put mine away like so-and-so.
Sometimes adults forget what their younger ones are capable of doing; they forget that when their first born was 2, they were expected to put on their own shoes, for example, as they do in our Caterpillar room. When the first born child is asked to put the shoes on the 2 year-old second born child, it is frustrating for the older child who knows perfectly well that the 2 year-old can and does put their own shoes on. This also delays the second childʼs progress in developing age/ability appropriate self-care skills and sense of personal responsibility. All children must be encouraged to speak up for themselves, think for themselves, choose for themselves, problem solve for themselves and control their bodies by themselves. Growth in self-reliance bolsters their confidence. As adults, we must tell children daily in both words and actions that we believe in their developing skills, understanding and decision making abilities and give them the chance to show them – no matter how much faster we could do it for them.
One last thought: instead of using the word cute (which is a subjective judgment that others may not share) try to use strong, positive words to support their self esteem, character and forming identity which they can carry with them in the years to come instead. Words such as important, careful, helpful, courageous, thoughtful, kind, smart, caring, insightful, capable, hard working, diligent, cautious, perceptive, honest, and imaginative. They will be the stronger for it.
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!!