Help your preschooler start the new school year

101_5663 As the new school year approaches there are a few things to think about if you have a preschool aged child either continuing their preschool journey or starting their journey for the first time.

101_5812 * Consider the time of day and the meals your child has before you take them back to school shopping.

1. In the morning after a healthy breakfast or after a nap and a healthy snack, young children have energy! 

2. Back to school shopping takes energy.  There is a lot of external stimuli children have to filter out every time they go to a public place and that takes a lot of energy. So why not go when your children are fresh from sleep and energized with food?

3. If the morning time doesn’t work try taking your preschooler to the store after their nap and a healthy protein rich snack.  Young children need their naps to ensure their bodies are getting the much- needed recovery sleep young people require as they grow.  And again a healthy low sugar and rich protein snack will give their bodies the fuel they need to focus when you take them shopping.

4. Melt-downs in the store usually occur because young children get hungry and tired before us adults do.  They are still learning how to navigate our world and sometimes the store is very overstimulating.  When they are tired and hungry they are less apt to be able to stay calm. listen to advice, negotiate, compromize, or communicate how they feel. If you can possibly plan your outings for when you know your child is energized, your trip will more likely be a success rather than an emotional rollercoaster. 🙂

101_5812 * Your child’s feelings.  Your child’s first preschool experience can be a bit overwhelming from the start.  There is back to school shopping, discussions of school and any other information they have gathered from older siblings experiences, TV shows, stories you’ve read about it, and their own interpretations of something new.

  • Be a bit more observant of your child’s emotions during this important time of year.  Little things your child does out of the ordinary can add up and tell you that your child may be experiencing anxiety, fear of the unknown, excitement, eagerness,  and a whole lot of happiness etc.
  • Take a little more time to allow your preschooler to adjust to the changes in their daily routines that will be happening once they start the new school year.  With summer coming to an end it may be a good thing to start making sure your child is in bed earlier than the summer hours.
  • Start back to school discussions a few weeks prior to school starting.  Check out back to school books at your local library or purchase some at your local bookstore.  Ask for assistance if you are having trouble finding exactly what you want.  Books are a wonderful way to naturally fall into discussions about school.
  • Include your child in the back to school shopping.  Children need to be a part of the whole process.  After all, they are the ones embarking on this new adventure, so it makes sense that they get to be an active participant in getting ready.
  • Take the time to really notice your child’s emotional state.  Pay close attention to any small to large behavior changes, mood swings, or how they are interacting with their older or younger siblings and friends during this transitional time in their lives.  Stress affects young children too.  And young children do not yet have the coping skills to deal with emotions they do not yet fully understand.  So be empathetic and sensitive to this new and somewhat nerve-racking experience in their lives. Be sure to give them some leeway since their emotions may be a little all over the place till they have actually started school and their fears of the unknown are calmed and replaced with joy and anticipation.

101_5359 Preschool is just around the corner, so make sure you schedule a tour and come visit The Marigold School of Early Learning!  I would love to discuss any learning goals you have for this new and exciting school year! 🙂

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

 

 

 

 

Enroll and enjoy learning!

101_5870 Using small spaces to their fullest potential!  Three provocations to spark interest, lacing cards for fine motor development, Mother Goose Number book for early literacy interest, and colorful dominoes with counters for early math skills. Not every child wants to sit while engaged in learning.  Many young children enjoy being able to stand, so I’m using that to my advantage having a smaller school. 🙂

101_5869 Now-days there are so many different options for lacing cards.  I can even make my own using card stock, hole punchers, yarn, and scissors.  For that matter setting up a project for children to create their own lace cards is always enjoyable and enables each to learn something new.  One thing I always remember is that accepting the way a child puts the lacing cards together should always be unconditional; no matter how each child is able to thread the yarn their efforts are accepted and encouraged.

101_5868 I like to make sure there are opportunities for children to explore all areas of learning, so that means making use of the materials I have in different ways.  Keep learning open, interesting and engaging.  When children are able to learn early math skills through play they have a much stronger foundation of understanding to build onto.  So once again I like to mix things up and set up provocations that may or may not entice children to play.  Play is a child’s natural way to question, manipulate, observe, discover and form new understandings.

101_5867 I like to add fairies for that dramatic play element.  Sometimes understanding new information can be more interesting and relatable if there is an object that a child regularly uses to express emotion and interest.  Children can sometimes communicate a bit easier when in the mode of dramatic play and are speaking through the doll or fairie, in this case.  It’s one more way in which a child works through new concepts and finds meaning.  Listening carefully to a child’s words during his/ her dramatic play is another great way to be given clues to each child’s interests and level of understanding in each given moment, day, week or month.

101_5890  Using small spaces and carefully planning out how to use my environment enables children to learn to their fullest potential.  The environment becomes a third teacher that not only reflects my goals for my school’s emergent curriculum, it supports children in their continual quest to learn for understanding.  Having a learning environment created to support children’s learning in all areas is not only ideal but very possible.  The Marigold School of Early Learning is a preschool designed for children ages three to five.  My preschool is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, Constructivist theorist Piaget and Vygotsky, along with Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory.  Together these theories support my teaching and your child’s learning. Let us work together to ensure your child is ready for kindergarten and beyond!  Join my small, growing community! 🙂

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

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Literacy in a preschool classroom

101_5770 Writing is something all children engage in even before most adults recognize their work as writing.  Remember that scribbles are the first stages of the writing process for developing minds.  So providing materials that children have easy access to for writing is a must. Once children know where the writing materials are and what they can use, all you have to do is step back and see what transpires.  Many creative stories come from children allowed to follow their own ideas.

101_5763 With smaller spaces to go along with small class sizes, I can be as flexible as I need to be with writing areas.  I’ve mentioned this many times before, but I’ve always incorporated learning the alphabet through sign language, so it is natural to put the two together.  This way I have two areas focussed on literacy meeting the needs of an age and developmentally diverse classroom. Children three to four can continue to practice their scribble to symbolic form. While children four to five can continue to express their knowledge thus far of symbolic form with letters, numbers and character drawings.

101_5676.JPG The reading corner is kept small to enable children some alone time or time to converse with one other friend.  This keeps the socialization factor strong in this area and supports the development of longer attention spans.  Strong friendships can emerge when there are smaller areas because children’s minds are not being divided into several small columns trying to pay attention to many friends.  An area enabling more focus to be put on the attention and time given to one friend allows for deeper socialization to transpire.  And conversing with a friend often leads to many joys of sharing much loved and over-read stories! 🙂

101_5762 For inspiration placing a picture, portrait or even a book near the easel area is one way to encourage more literacy growth.  When a child is inspired or has their own ideas for what they wish to create through painting, it often can be a work encouraged to continue through some questions.  If we want to see and hear more about what a child’s painting represents in any given moment we can encourage dialogue, write their words for them, and help them shape the ideas they have into meaningful experiences that were actually lived or imaginary stories waiting to burst out of their creative souls!  This is another very flexible area in terms of what to display and how interactive this particular space can be.  Following the interests of children and seeing where to challenge them keeps each interest area in the classroom as a “third teacher”.

101_5803 A keyboard is another great way to encourage literacy growth, and to support children’s desire to understand letter and number symbols.  Keyboards have letters, numbers, and symbols that are static, so each time a child presses the keys the keys stay the same.  As he/ she begins to recognize the letters in their names and other words each uses daily, the keyboard supports this learning due to the keys never changing.  The letters, numbers, and symbols can be counted on as a steady constant, a static learning tool supporting their early literacy development.  The keyboard is also a common tool they see people interacting with daily unless you are a phone user only.  And the keyboard itself can become a part of their imaginary stories.  Children’s imaginations are not stifled by the brick walls us adults have put up.  Remember children are uninhibited with their learning and imagination as opposed to us adults that often have to break down barriers to keep our minds open and creative.

101_5655 My summer bean growth experiment is another example of how literacy can be brought into learning naturally.  Having a growing plant inside the classroom opens discussions each day and with the plant changing so quickly the discussions can become very detailed.  Writing down the children’s thoughts, ideas and questions keep them interested and learning new information.  Combining literacy, science, math and yes social studies all through this experiment can be natural in a preschool environment.  As I list the many learning benefits keep in mind how the project approach is such a useful and developmentally appropriate framework for teaching and learning.  The list includes modeling writing, scribing words, asking questions, repeating dialogue, reading stories related to the plant growing, graphing the growth, counting the leaves, flowers, and beans, recognizing the color differences, gaining experience with time such as days, weeks and months,  learning how communities and families can come together while growing food, are all wonderful aspects of how one plant can bring so much information to young minds.

101_3132 Preschool is a magical place to begin your child’s school career.  Let your child engage in quality learning while attending a preschool that truly places him/her first.  The Marigold School of Early Learning came about because I wanted to provide children with a safe, happy, calming and inspiring place to experience many of their first guided learning interactions!  You won’t find obnoxious, loud and wasteful time being spent at this Reggio Emilia inspired space. I respect children and want them to all be happy and healthy as they grow and learn!  By guiding their learning for understanding in a way that truly respects each as creative and intelligent people, each will learn that they can spend time contemplating the things they see, hear and experience.  There won’t be any unnecessary interruptions placed on their learning time because each will learn how to listen to and respect each other.  Please join my small community and support your child’s thirst for knowledge! 🙂

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

The Marigold School of Early Learning! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Recognizing Emotions

101_5812 This is a question we ask children all the time and they often will give the “expected” response rather than their true feelings.  So to help support children’s need to express their true emotions and explore what those really are, give them the words they need so each can accurately express how they feel.  “How do you feel today? Do you feel happy, tired, sad, mad, excited..etc?”

101_5675 We all have emotions, yet the differences between adults and their awareness of how they feel and why is not yet fully developed in young children.  So we can support their development of those layers of feelings through various concrete means.  Having picture cards and mirrors available to children for them to explore, question and mimic.  Being nearby to offer advice, give suggestions and answer their inquiries will support their growing understanding of emotions.

101_5650 Dramatic play is one way in which children explore the concept of emotions.  Usually acting out what each has observed from family members really enables young minds to formulate their own understanding of how to express feelings.  This does not necessarily mean young children will fully understand the emotions they witnessed from family members, it just means they are taking in that behavior and making sense out of it the only way they can at this stage of their social/ emotional development.

 

101_5353 Sign language is also a great concrete way to help children learn about how to communicate their feelings.  Following the Reggio Emilia philosophy, children communicate through 100 different ways, or so to speak.  There are many ways in wich children express their emotions and, we as adults have to take the time to really listen, observe and pay close attention to the behaviors surrounding children’s communications to fully be able to support their social/emotional development.  And that really does mean not dismissing the small things that happen to children on a daily basis that may not affect us as adults, but really does impact a young child’s feelings. Being sensitive to children’s emerging feelings has a far greater impact than being aloof, distant or even cold.  Remember that we adults role-model behaviors we would like to pass on to children, so role-model compassion, understanding, and caring. 

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Reading, drawing, painting, and coloring are some really fun and developmentally appropriate ways for children to explore their emotions in a safe and fun way.  These forms of artistic expression enable children and adults to open a dialogue surrounding feelings and how we express our emotions and why we have the many feelings we experience.  

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Sensory exploration is also a great way to foster open communication for young children learning about their emotions and how to communicate their feelings.  Sensory materials enable minds to relax and calm any anxieties they have, so it is natural for children to open up about issues that have been bothering them or happy experiences they have recently been a part of. The key to being a great support is to always listen.  And that is true for all communication, even for adults; listening. 

101_5808 Each morning as you start the day you may want to ask yourself, “how do I feel?”.  By doing this one simple thing you can better prepare yourself for supporting young children and their emerging understanding of emotions.  It is often true that if we have a good grasp of our own psychological well-being, we have a better ability to help others.  And the people that need our expertise in this area are young, energetic and growing children! 🙂

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

The Marigold School of Early Learning! 🙂 

 

 

Food Card Provocation

101_5778 Using some space I set up a provocation combining food and counting.  I put forth the question, “how many servings?”.  Now I don’t expect preschool aged students to read this question, but I do expect them to be curious about what it says and ask for assistance with reading the card.  After that, this provocation falls directly into their hands.  How they interpret what I’ve set up is entirely up to them.

101_5783 I love using real pictures for children to look at, think about and figure out.  These pictures can spark conversations about what each had for breakfast, lunch, dinner or what they like or don’t like to eat.  I am always close by with ears perked to jump in and add to or assist with information to keep the learning process going.

 

101_5784 Using fairies to assist with drawing attention sometimes works really nicely because it can add one more dimension to the provocation.  With plums being in season right now, this picture is perfect for a conversation starter that children can relate to easily, especially if they’ve been enjoying this particular fruit lately. 🙂

101_5780 Back to the question card.  The purpose of a question card can be to draw attention to, provoke curiosity, open the door to deeper thought and meaningful conversations all centered around acquiring knowledge.  The question or questions I come up with are based on what students talk about with each other or things their parents have mentioned to me about their children’s interests and experiences.  Paying close attention and listening to children gives me the ideas I need to further their learning.  This provocation is promoting social interaction, literacy, math, feelings with likes and dislikes and language skills.  You also may not see this right away, but it is also promoting or leaving the door open for children to take risks with trying foods that they may have hesitated with before, but now seeing pictures of and taking part in conversations centering around food, they may want to try food they have not yet given a fair chance.

101_5754 Hey, how many servings of your favorite foods have you had recently?  Or did you try any foods that you’ve shied away from in recent days?  I would love to know!  Share your experiences! 🙂

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

The Marigold School of Early Learning 🙂

 

 

Purple Beans!

101_5831My final week of beans!  They are so pretty! 🙂 I am very happy to report my beans have finished growing.  I don’t think being indoors will actually allow them to grow quite as large as they would have outdoors.

 

The package said the beans will turn green once cooked, which made me a little sad.  I had hoped to eat lovely purple beans!  Oh well, such is life.  Purple carrots stay purple. 🙂
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Anyway, I plan on sharing this small batch with my family.  I hope you all have tried growing something indoors, whether that be flowers or vegetables. 🙂

This was a fun experiment and a happy surprise, so I hope to repeat this next year!  And I will be documenting the experience once again with maybe a few different varieties of beans to see which do better indoors as opposed to outdoors. 

Happy gardening! 🙂 Please share some of your experiences!  I would love to read all about them!

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

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One Tax Payer’s Opinions

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Let’s discuss for once some opinions I have had for ages and just now have decided to share.  I’m not looking for a lot of people to necessarily agree with me, however, I read other people’s opinions on multiple subjects that I don’t always agree with.  I read information to gain new knowledge on a subject and to acquire a different perspective than my own. So please give me the same courtesy.

Throughout the eighteen years I have been an educator, I have been around countless other educators in various positions in the schools I have taught in.  To make this very clear, not all of the people I have worked with have been in the school-related positions they held due to wanting to be there and liking children.  Many, but not all, told me they did not enter the teaching field because they liked children.  Those people told me they entered the field because they thought it would be an easy career. Again this is not every educator, but it is in fact, true for a certain number of people who chose a career in education and became teachers. I admit that at the time I was being confided in by these people, I was really taken-a-back by what they were saying to me because that is the polar opposite of why I became a teacher and why I am still a teacher. Yes, I admit that I was naive enough to believe like many other members of our population, that people entering the field of education as a career choice do so because they truly love children and want to be a part of positively influencing the next generation.  I entered the field because I’ve always loved children and wanted to make a positive influence in their lives.  And I don’t really care if there are people out there, like one of my former principals, that thinks I see things through “rose-colored glasses”. Yes, you read right, one of my former principals did not like being a teacher let alone a principal.  To her, the job was merely a status symbol and a position of power that meant she could do harm to others while hiding behind a position in which only people with good intentions for the school community as a whole should hold.

To me children are people.  They deserve the right to learn and grow into competent, productive, influential people that will carry our country in the future. Children do not deserve to be around educators who do not really enjoy, respect or care for their chosen careers.  Children do not get to choose their teachers or the school they attend for the most part.  So to me, it is that much more important that people entering the field of education do not do so just because it is a job, but because it is a real career with far reaching impacts on young and impressionable minds. While I was earning my master’s degree one of the hot topics was the painful experiences we all had as children in schools.  Many grad students like myself did not have positive formative school experiences.  Many of us faced prejudices of all kinds and bullying from not only fellow classmates but teachers too.  A lot of tears were shed during my grad school experience by my peers remembering some of the horrific experiences they lived through and were still dealing with the harmful emotional aftermath at that time in our lives. We were all children once and we all know very well that traumatic experiences are remembered and impact us throughout our lives whether that be in a positive or negative way.  After all, children are not separate entities, children are people just as we adults are.

When I read current articles surrounding “Common Core”, I am still saddened to learn that public education will always be a big business before it will be an institution of learning.  As a young adult I never really knew or understood at the time that schools, especially public shool systems, were really just big businesses and that educating young minds was the last goal on their agenda.  I’m sure many people who read this statement will question this, because, after all, school is school, isn’t it?  Wrong, schools are businesses that need money to run.  Hense the times we have to vote on whether to give schools more money to allow them to continue functioning as mini-cities, while other aspects of our community that need public funds reap only a trickle of much-needed financial support.  Yes, children are important, yes children need the monetary support of their communities to make sure they have all the benefits of education that will enable  them opportunities to be successful as adults.  However, whenever there is a new approach to teaching and learning being implemented wide-spread, there is a ridiculous amount of panic.  I realize I just said that public school systems are big businesses first and institutions of education last, however, they still are institutions of education.  That means that there still are people out there trying every day to create a curriculum that reaches all children and not just the 50% that is so common for our country.  New approaches to education should not be received so negatively.  Any new ideas that are designed to help reach all children should be understood completely before we jump ship and start screaming about how unfair the “new ” way of learning is to children.  Don’t we owe it to the very children that will be learning this new system to at least learn all we can about the “new” methods being implemented?  Don’t we owe it to ourselves to keep learning and helping to establish better and better educational systems?

Now I’m not on board with the whole “let’s keep testing” idea.  I am all for holistic learning.  Children need the outdoors, art, music, and any other creative, hands-on, interactive approach to learning that is possible to implement.  What is so easily forgotten by the “powers that be” is that young minds are concrete thinkers for quite some time before they are abstract thinkers.  Children are social beings first and they each require time to explore, question, manipulate, investigate, discover and utilize any information they gain during those very concrete and  real ways that we adults engage in throughout our lives. Taking away a child’s natural developmental need to gain knowledge is ridiculous and should always be questioned.  If any of you have been noticing the Facebook posts of concerned educators and parents out there fighting to keep recess and the arts in their respective schools, you know very well how easy it is for the “powers that be” to forget that children are not yet adults and need this time in their young lives to truly be able to explore and interact with the environment to gain understanding of the world they live in.  All of us adults had those real and concrete opportunities, so why do they keep  wanting to take that away from the generations coming up?  I’ve noticed that question is never answered by the “powers that be”.

My second to last point or soap box is that I wish more people entering the field of education could find the confidence to be there because they enjoy, like and respect children.  If you are going into the field of education just because you have some misguided imaginary concept of this being a position with an imaginary ladder to climb, maybe you should rethink why you want to be a teacher.  Or ask yourself why you want to be a principal.  Stepping on your co-workers, your teammates to climb an imaginary ladder is not what being an educator should ever be about.  There is no ladder to climb in this field!  Being in the classroom is not being on a pedestal; it is working for our future.  Being a principal or superintendent is about being the liaison between the educational system and our community.  Questioning yourself as to what your end goals are for entering this field should come before any imaginary and superficial ideas you may have.  And it doesn’t matter what career choice there is, no one should be stepping on others in order to get ahead.  Those in positions of authority should have enough common sense to see right through “bullies” and not give them the time of day.  Respect your staff and respect the positive things each brings to their working environments each day.  Respect children and do not enter a career that is all about children and their futures if you don’t really like or respect them as people with the right to learn and be happy learning.  Children should not be traumatized while going to school ever! The formative years should be ones filled with happy memories to pass on to the next generation and the next.  Children should not have to face teachers that yell and scream at their students.  Teachers like that should never be given a free pass to abuse their students. I say this because I witnessed this behavior from some former co-workers and was “bullied” by those very people.  And my principal at the time looked the other way and then joined in the harassment.

So I not only was a victim of abuse as a teacher in the public school system, I witnessed young innocent children being bullied by their teachers and the principal and those around looked the other way and by doing so endorsed the behavior.  Any person in the field of education that witnesses children or fellow co-workers being bullied and harassed should not stand their silent.  They should stand together and stop the abuse. Remember that a victim of bullying did nothing wrong and there is never any valid reason for the harassment to begin with. I lost a lot of respect for most of the staff at that particular school because of their cowardly and ignorant attitudes and behavior that supported the emotional abuse of not only young children but of a co-worker of theirs.

Again, I say to those entering this field, please really think about whether being an educator is for you and if so great!  If not, make sure you discover this before you do harm to others with the idea there is some imaginary platform you want to stand on or some ridiculous praise and recognition you are seeking.  Maybe being an entertainer would be more fitting to those who want to climb an imaginary ladder.  Remember the classroom is the best place to be because that is where several young minds are eagerly waiting to learn and learn and learn!  As an educator I have always seen myself as a team member; someone who wants to work with and not against. I am partners with parents and fellow teachers, so I see each of us with different strengths and weaknesses.  How can we learn if we are all the same and how can we be positive and influential role models if we are all carbon copies of each other and not happy with our chosen profession.  Be an educator because you are a good person and you want to be a positive life-long influence on the children you meet each year! 🙂

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

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