Ask the Teachers November 2013 – Having No Fun at TOYSRUS

Dear Teachers,

Its gift giving time and as usual, I’m torn. Every year we decide not to buy a lot of poorly made toys and stick to learning toys. As I go over the list, I try to ask myself, will this toy be more fun to play with than the box it comes in? I’m tired of donating toys that are barely used. How do I know what to buy?

Having No Fun at TOYSRUS

 

Dear No Fun,

Who better to know what to buy your child than you? You know what types of things they like, what they already have and how they spend their time. From a safety standpoint, use manufacturer’s age guidelines and limit small parts. Keep some “baby” toys for a while that use skills they have already mastered. As they grow and are challenged to learn new skills, it is comforting for them to return to familiar toys and feel a sense of accomplishment. Recognizing how much they have grown through their toys is self-esteem building. Play is your child’s work. Through play they learn and grow emotionally, socially, physically and intellectually. Toys offer unique opportunities to learn new skills, practice at current skill levels or exercise their imagination or muscles. Artistic materials (paper, paints, crayons, chalk, markers, scissors, glue, and stapler) expose their creative potential by developing their sense of color and balance, small motor skills, and self-expression and self-confidence. Puzzles help to develop spatial awareness, shape and object recognition, small motor abilities, eye-hand coordination, perseverance and problem solving. Card and board games help to develop patience, the ability to set and/or follow rules, and higher level thinking to develop strategies. Vehicles are good for dramatic play, measuring and estimating, and small or large motor development depending on the size. Dolls, stuffed animals and puppets are good for dramatic play along with language development, role playing, and imagination and can often serve as an emotional outlet to resolve issues. Building toys/blocks/marble runs are great for mathematic concept development, problem solving and dramatic play. Athletic equipment is always a favorite as young children love motion. Balls, hoops, and riding/peddle toys help to develop a child’s balance, gross motor skills and self-confidence. Children learn best when they have a large block of time to use their entire bodies, several senses and open ended materials. This type of play develops their overall body, too, as a child in motion is apt to build more muscle, develop a better appetite and sleep better at night than one who is sedentary. You’ll notice no mention electronic learning games which are best used with parental guidance on a limited basis with this age group. All toys can be used by your child alone, of course, but of the best gift you will ever give your child is the time you spend alongside them using your senses with the gifts they unwrap. Time to share a new book from their grandparents. Time to watch the puppet show they just created on the spot. Time to build with them using their new blocks. Time to teach them how to button, zip, snap, or tie using the new outfit for themselves or their favorite doll. Time to listen as they play the Mommy or Daddy with a new doll or truck. Time to hear your child singing G rated lyrics to their new kiddie CD as you drive around town. Playing with boxes will always be a fun bonus, too. They make great building blocks, space ships, and whatever else your child can imagine.

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Ask the Teachers October 2013 – Busy Mom

Dear Teachers,

Sometimes at pick up time, my child does not want to come with me. Can you have them ready for me so we can go quickly without all the fuss?     Busy Mom

 

 

Dear Busy,

The short answer is, sure, we can pack them up physically. However, there are learning opportunities for both parent and child in forming a routine that aids in developing their emotional intelligence that is crucial as your child grows. We help to teach even our youngest children that the only behavior we can change is our own – whether it involves helping a baby in the Cuddler room learn to soothe themselves for nap, a Munchkin coping with toys being grabbed away or a preschooler who cannot understand why classmates leave them out of play when they often respond by hitting. The answer lies in understanding and respecting developmental needs and daily experiences from their viewpoint. The following ideas might help your child in responding positively at pick up time.
* Does your child know who is picking them up? Children like to know what they will be doing next. Behavior issues can occur when someone they were not expecting arrives.
* Does your child know when they will be picked up? If you tell them or us a specific time, please observe it or let us know it has changed.
* Is your child aware of any appointments, classes, or circumstances after they are picked up that could cause them worry?

The following ideas might help you as a parent if you want their cooperation.

* When you come into their classroom, what do you do?

A. Give them your full attention and excited smile?
B. Allow yourself enough time to make it a positive transition?
C. Finish your cell phone call as you greet them?
D. Talk at length with other parents or their teachers?

 

A. is a great greeting to get them running into your arms: make it worth their while to stop what they are doing. They have been waiting all day to see your smiling face, share their stories with you and get a hug, cuddle or kiss.

B. is another great strategy: shelve your own agenda and get down to hug them and engage them in conversation at their level while gathering their belongings. Yes, even if they are still cooing and youʼre having a one-sided conversation.
C. is troublesome: when you continue your call, you model inattention, sending the message that they are less important than your call. Your child may return that message by ignoring what you are asking them to do in a sort of power struggle.
D. is problematic: when you talk to other adults, the same inattention be true. Children can feel disrespected and undervalued – less important than the adult you are with. They are so looking forward to their time at home with you and are anxious to get started. Also, when you talk to teachers, they may become apprehensive – or imagine consequences for a daytime issue.
Life is busy for everyone – parents, children and staff. We all need to respect this amazing time in the lives of our children and enjoy this journey alongside them. For more information, you may enjoy the reading the classics Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and The Hurried Child by David Elkind.

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Ask the Teachers September 2013 – Tired of Struggling

Dear Teachers,

My child confuses me. I never know if I will have a problem in the morning or evening during drop off or pick up. When I come early as a surprise, my child seems unwilling to go with me or expects my spouse. Some families never seem to have this problem. Any ideas?

– Tired of Struggling

 

Dear Struggling,

Although every family has had a difficult morning or evening, there are those for whom it looks simple. What seems easy is a well-crafted and established routine. What’s their secret? Ask them; they will gladly share their story. The common thread in successful transitions is a consistent routine with firm behavior expectations for arrival and departure – and the child is happily meeting them.

So how can you do that, too? If you awaken late, discover an illness, someone is traveling, etc. you could be headed for a challenging morning arrival without a routine to see you through. Your time together in the car is their transition time from home routine to school routine just as you will begin your mental transition to work after dropping them off. Talk about what might happen at school, the weather, and any final instructions, such as a change in the end of the day routine.

Example: “I packed cheese for lunch and look, I see your teacher’s car. Nanna’s going to pick you up today so I will meet you later at home.”

In general, the drop-off routine should be brief, satisfying to your child and center on direct interaction between you. Information for the teacher can be handwritten, emailed or phoned so that important information is not lost or forgotten. Your focus must center on your child’s activities to ready themselves for their day. ITC children have a limited ability to help with belongings while Pre-K children are mostly capable of removing their outerwear, hanging it up and stowing their lunch box. The sense of competence this gives your child (and the verbal reward they receive from you for accomplishing it) sets a positive tone for their day. After a quick hug, kiss, wave from the window or whatever your child likes or needs to feel good about the coming separation, they are ready begin their day.

 

Here are a few devices that have worked for families we’ve known. Make the trip to and from school positively interactive:

* Sing a song together in the car on the way to school (henceforth to be known in family folklore as “the school song” regardless of its original title)
* Tell each other things that you will do during the day to talk about later.
* Tell jokes or stories, play word games, rhyming games, notice signs, weather, etc.

Once at school:
* Suggest they eat breakfast, join a friend in the room or ask what they’ll do first.
* Decide on a set number of hugs, kisses, waves, secret handshakes, etc. before leaving.
* Leave at the end of the routine. Remain in control and know they’ll be fine.

The end of the day is equally important. Please keep in mind:
* You are both tired from a busy day that may have had its frustrations.
* Errands, classes, cooking, laundry, tomorrow’s meeting, etc. may be on your mind.
* Nothing else matters to them at this all important reunion time.
* Make a conscious effort to focus on them, their work, their words, and their feelings. It is important to find out from them how they spent their time at school.

You will have a cooperative child if they know they have the full attention of the one they love most at the end of each day.

 

 

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Ask the Teachers – July 2013 Uneasy with Change

Dear Teachers,

My child will be moving rooms soon.  How can I help assure that my child’s transition can be as easy and happy for them as possible?

– Uneasy with Change

 

Dear Uneasy,

Thank you for your interest in helping us to achieve our goal – the best possible educational environment for every child in our care.  And also for understanding that you are a crucial element working with us for your child’s benefit.  We are one childcare center with two locations working in partnership with you to meet the nurturing and developmental needs of your child at different developmental stages in their lives.

Although you may be skeptical or wish your child could stay little or with a particular staff member or routine, the most important thing you can do is to embrace the upcoming move and become genuinely positive about the imminent changes in all of your interactions.  Since parents interpret the world to their child, the way in which you present this change greatly affects how they will see and respond to it.  If you embrace the changes, so will your child; if you seem worried or unsure, they will reflect the same feelings in their own way.

 

Rather than wonder or worry about the unknown, here are some things you can do to help make the process of transition to a new classroom and forming new partnerships with the teaching staff more rewarding:

*  See the move as an adventure that your family will take together.

*  Visit your child’s new room.  Notice where items are kept to help in areas such as drop off, pick up and future conversations with your child about their day.

*  Talk with your child’s new teachers.  Ask questions and offer them your support.  They are looking forward to the opportunity to work with you and your child.

*  Talk excitedly with your child about the change – tangible evidence that they are growing up and require a more developmentally appropriate environment to keep pace with their growth.

*  Develop drop off/pick up routines that are satisfying, predictable and brief.

*  Read all transitional information provided by the center about their new room.

*  Provide up-to-date contact information and a “call first” designate.

*  Provide your child with all necessary items to participate successfully in their day:  diapers/underwear, extra clothing, nap needs, special room needs, lunch/snack/water, etc.

*   Model patience during this time to lower the stress level for both yourself and your child  which help to create the positive room environment your child will enjoy.

*  Hold realistic time goals for adjustment, acceptance and new relationships to develop between your family and your child’s new caregivers.

*  Seek out your child’s lead teacher first if you have questions about your child’s care in their new setting.  They know your child and room routines best.

 

Change is part of life and children are amazingly resilient.  Successful adults are most often those who have learned how to react well to change by showing flexibility and problem solving ability as they react positively to new situations and challenges along the way.  Each transition is truly an exciting time of personal growth for our children, families and staff and we can all look forward to the upcoming classroom transitions.

 

 

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Ask the Teachers-June 2013 Needs More Than Mother Goose

Dear Teachers,

I notice that you use nursery rhymes listed as a separate component in your curriculum. I can understand it for babies; however, I thought my child was getting too old for them and should be working on things that will better prepare them for school. Why are they included?

– Needs More Than Mother Goose

Dear Mother,

Nursery rhymes are classic and they have become classic because they fulfill a need in young children. If you repeat them to your child over (and over) cuddling together as part of your bedtime routine, you will create warm memories for your child and perhaps revisit similar memories from your own childhood as well.

In addition, nursery rhymes are a wonderful introduction to important prereading skills including: identifying characters; predicting what happens next; recognizing the cadence in the poetry; memorization of text; expansion of vocabulary; alliteration (We Willie Winkie); and as an introduction to rhyming (where letters that sound alike have the same ending pattern such as house/mouse) and riming (where words sound alike but have a different ending pattern such as fair/care.) There are entire thematic units lasting anywhere from a month to a full year built around nursery rhymes used in early childhood education, which includes the years birth to Grade 3. By beginning with recognizable literature, early elementary children can often learn more easily and can gain a sense of competence.

The theme for this yearʼs summer curriculum is Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes and Fables from Around the World. Each classroom will be delving more deeply into nursery rhymes with developmentally appropriate activities to make them come alive in such ways as: drama, tasting curds and whey, having a plum on their thumb, building with sticks, art, puppetry, sitting on a tuffet, clapping along to the rhythm the horses, pigs or goats might make, etc.

A list of common nursery rhymes, whether sung or spoken, used in early childhood classrooms and the rhyming/riming words found within them are found below. By recognizing and using these words and word families, children become more aware of the phonics (individual sounds of letters), letter chunks (prefixes and suffixes), and word families (rhyming) found in the English language. It appears that Simple Simon is not so simple after all.

Word Families Found in Nursery Rhymes Continue reading

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SFC Newsletter 2013 – CATCH Program

SFC Newsletter 2013 

 

The CATCH Program – CATCH stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health

 

The Junior League of Summit has generously helped Santa Fe to become part of the CATCH Program which I thought was nationwide but apparently is now going international.  This program is provided to us with the goal of improving the health of our children through education and planned gross motor activities.  We have been given approximately $2000 of gym equipment which augments the activities suggested by the CATCH Program.

The curriculum guides — workbook and printed cards — takes the teacher and children through a variety of activities designed to help “catch” the enthusiasm of our children and to nurture their love of movement.

This vision is accomplished through:

  • Offering a wide variety of movement experiences and opportunities
  • Providing children a safe place to be themselves and develop skills at their own pace
  • Promoting physical development by giving children opportunities to practice and refine their motor skills
  • Developing fitness by engaging children in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

In addition to actively moving, the children will be actively learning about good nutrition and how to stay healthy with a good diet by identifying the GO and WHOA foods which are identified as such:

GO foods are nutritious and give us energy.

WHOA foods are not nutritious and will slow us down.

Activities and lessons are provided to teach to accomplish the above.

As we get this program started throughout the summer months we will be working to incorporate these activities into our monthly activity sheets starting in September.

Any questions, please contact Jane or Cindy who went to the CATCH training program.  We want to thank Kristen deGrandpre for getting us in touch with the Jr. League and also a huge thank to the Jr. League for their generosity.

 

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Ask the Teachers May 2013 – Sick of Feeling Guilty

Dear Teachers,

My child seems to be sick more than other children in his class. Although I would prefer to stay home with him, I sometimes take him in when he is just a little sick and feel guilty. What can I do to keep my child healthy?

– Sick of Feeling Guilty

 

Dear Sick,

Your concern and guilt are understood. We’ve ALL been there.

One of the best ways to stem the spread of infection is to keep your child home when they are ill. This socially conscious yet tough call is one that your childʼs teachers and classmatesʼ families appreciate. Not only does staying home allow your child the chance to heal, it also limits their exposure to more germs when their resistance is weakened. When your child is truly ill, all they want is you in the soothing comfort of their own home.

Our first obligation is to ensure that your child and their classmates remain healthy and safe. Teachers perform a visual health check of each child upon their arrival. If your child looks or acts unusually tired or uncharacteristically out of sorts, it is immediately noted. Often children know they are ill but lack the verbal skills to express their feelings or symptoms. Older children openly share sleep/health problems and medicines taken with teachers. Young children usually get more colds because of their developing immune systems and exposure to germs on a daily basis through friends. To support good health at the centers, each childʼs nap items are kept separated, toys are regularly machine washed or sanitized, and tissue use and disposal is supervised. Hand washing with soap and water is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of germs and is uniformly enforced in our rooms. When an ill child is identified through fever, for example, they are isolated until the parent arrives to limit the spread of infection to classmates. The child may return to school twenty- four hours after their temperature has returned to normal.

At home, you are hopefully taking the same precautions along with determining the amount of sleep, stress level, and nutrients/supplements in your childʼs diet which together all help to fight off illness. For those families with chemically sensitive or asthmatic children, a complete ban on chemical and environmental triggers such as scents, cleaners, hairspray and exposure to second hand smoke is necessary.

Occasionally, you will need to find other arrangements for your sick child on short notice. Your family should discuss this inevitability in advance and have a plan in place. Something as simple as parents alternating days off to care for their sick child works for some. Perhaps one parent has more flexible hours or the potential of working from home. Relatives are an obvious alternative for those lucky enough to have them nearby. Medical professionals may keep a list of sick-child providers for which you register in advance of use. Companies may provide sick child care as an employee benefit. If you belong to a social or religious organization, there may be families who would trade services: a stay-at- home mom may care for your sick child for a day in exchange for an evening out for them.

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SFC Newsletter 2013 – “Please listen to me.”

“Please listen to me!”

This behavioral session held on April 3, 2013 with much discussion and helpful tips shared by everyone was very successful.

We will continue these sessions in the future. Dates and time will be announced.

Download PDF

Listen to Me

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Other Ways to Say Good Job

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Show Active Listening

 

 

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Ask the Teachers April 2013 – Bedtime

Dear Teachers,

Our child rarely falls asleep at her bedtime, in her own bed or stays in her bed all night. The easiest thing is to let her come into our bed – but then nobody gets any sleep. How can we help her to accept her bedtime and all it entails? This seems to be a problem mostly during and after weekends. Weʼre exhausted when the work week starts and we know our child must be, too.

– Sleepless at Santa Fe

Dear Sleepless,

Sleep – both quality and quantity – is crucial for you and your child. You seem to have a good lead as to the cause. The timing you mentioned suggests that the weekend schedule variation from the weekday bedtime routine is the key. For the next few weeks, track your childʼs nightly activities as you get her ready for bed. Does it happen when friends are over? When she doesn’t have a bath? When youʼre too rushed for a bedtime story? Are feelings from recent behavior issues still bothering you or your child? Is one or the other parent traveling or not home when the child goes to bed? Hopefully, you will see a pattern or a trigger. If not, you need to keep looking.

In the meantime, your child needs to be know that you sleep in your room and she sleeps in hers. You have a bedtime and she does, too. Choose a realistic daily bedtime then put a digital clock in her room where she can see it. Children as young as two are able to see the number “8” and know what happens next. Establish a pattern of bath, story, song, tuck in, light off, door closed, etc. This sequence should begin without fail at the same time every night. Once she makes the connection of the visual number “8” with what happens next, change is imminent. No, change wonʼt happen overnight. Yes, it is likely to be loud, emotionally draining, and perhaps as exhausting as what you are already experiencing. Perhaps it will involve several nights taking turns sleeping outside her door while she gets used to the fact that she will spend the entire night there.

So why bother? You said it yourself, the easiest thing is to let her stay up late and climb into bed with you. Here are the real issues: What is best for your child and your family in the long run? How long can you, your spouse and your child live happy and productive lives with sleep arrangements as they are now? When (not if) will you teach your child that bedtime is a regularly scheduled part of their day which is not within their control?

Choices are wonderful when appropriate while limits are a parentsʼ best tools to ensure their childʼs health and safety. Children need to learn that a tantrum has no power over their parentʼs decision making. Positive reinforcement for good behavior choices they make all day long shows the child where their real power lies. Children thrive when they accept parental limits, such as bedtime, that are clearly and consistently enforced by both parents on a daily basis under all conditions.

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-Love, Family of 2 children enrolled from Infancy through PreK

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