AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE PA EARLY CHILDHOOD STANDARDS
St. Paul’s Preschool follows the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards as we create and adapt our curriculum to the various age groups within our school. Each month I will examine one of the standards we are focusing on in the classes and explain how the teachers are implementing it into their curriculum.
AL.4 Learning through Experience
AL.4 PK.A Relate knowledge learned from one experience to a similar experience in a new setting
In anticipation of the first day of preschool, there are some steps parents can take during this month to help prepare their children for the transition from the home environment to the school environment.
· Step up the child’s social life-Organize play dates for your child prior to starting preschool so he/she becomes comfortable with the idea of sharing and playing alongside lots of different children.
· Play listening and direction games- Traditional games such as Simon Says help a child to understand how to listen and follow directions.
· Read during the day- Bedtime stories are a wonderful experience for children but sitting together during the day and reading a book for 15 minutes will help children learn to sit and settle.
· Visit the preschool beforehand- Take a visit to the preschool before the first day of school arrives so your child is familiar with the surroundings. We have scheduled a “Sneak Peek” on Thursday, August 31. Red, Green and Lavender classes will be open from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Turquoise, Yellow, Orange and Discovery Day classes will be open from 10:15 – 11:15 a.m. and Blue, Purple, Gold and Literary Day classes will be open from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Please feel free to bring your child to the classroom at the above times to meet some of the staff and to see the room!
· Buy a special preschool bag- Together spend some time looking at all the different styles and options and then choose three that you are happy with and let your child pick his/her own from those. Limiting the choice helps your child make a decision and also prevents disappointment when he/she wants the bag that is bigger than him/her!
· Put a family photo in the preschool bag- Choose a family photo for your child to take to preschool and let them know they can look at it during the day when they are missing you. Remember to tell the teacher of this so he/she can understand when your child suddenly races off to go searching through their bag!
· Together plan a goodbye game- Come up with a special game for when it’s time to say goodbye. It could be a certain number of hugs followed by the biggest hug in the world! Never sneak out when your child is not looking as they will be frightened and feel abandoned.
· Plan a celebration breakfast- Make a fuss over breakfast on the first morning of preschool. Plan it together beforehand and make it special!
· Make a Starting to Preschool Certificate- Create your child’s very own Starting Preschool Certificate and present it to him/her over breakfast as an award. Your child will feel very important and perhaps those fears won’t seem so scary!
· Be Informed- Parents need to be prepared for preschool, too. Talk to the director and the preschool teachers to find out as much information as you can about your child attending preschool. If you know about the new routines and experiences your child will encounter, you will be ready to answer any questions they might have, such as: How will I get there? How long will I be there? How many days do I have to go? What if I want to go to the toilet? What room will I be in and what am I going to do there? Will I get to play? The first day of school can be an anxious experience for both you and your child. Preparing your child for preschool by answering all their questions honestly and in as much detail as they can understand can curb potential anxieties. Please consider attending the Parent Orientation Meeting for your child’s class. The teachers will go over a typical day, class rules and routines and can answer any questions you may have about this new experience!
· Encourage independence- Children who are able to care for themselves and their belongings will feel more confident at preschool. Parents can encourage children to practice personal hygiene, such as wiping their nose and toileting independently. Help your child to feel confident and independent by dressing them in clothing which is simple enough for them to manage with little adult help. Children who assist in packing their bag at home each morning will readily identify their own belongings during the day.
· Label equipment and clothing- Children’s belongings may look very similar to their classmates’. Labeling your child’s equipment and clothing with their name will help prevent loss, confusion and possible upset for your child.
· Share information with the preschool teachers- Children learn best when parents and teachers share together in a partnership. Your child’s preschool teacher has many students to get to know. Because you know your child best, you can help the teacher understand your child by sharing information, concerns and insights. Regular communication between parents and teachers bridges the gap between home and preschool and provides opportunities to exchange information that supports children’s learning.
· Keep the preschool teachers informed of changes- Changes to your child’s family situation can impact on their emotional and academic well-being. If you keep your child’s teacher informed of any changed circumstances the child can be supported if necessary. Examples of changes include the birth of a sibling; moving to a new house; divorce or separation or the death or hospitalization of a loved one. It is also important to notify the school of changes to contact details, such as address and emergency telephone numbers.
Parent Orientation meetings will be held during the month of August. The director, classroom staff and members of the “Parents of Preschoolers” Parent Group will discuss important information all families need for the start of the school year. Families can also access the Parent Handbook listed on this website for a wealth of information about the school, the curriculum and our policies.
QUESTIONS FOR THE DIRECTOR
Each month I will focus on a question or two from the families. Please send your questions to the director to: firstname.lastname@example.org
QUESTION: Why don’t you have a curb drop off for the children? It would be so much easier for parents to just pull up outside the door.
ANSWER: We believe it is important to create a sense of family and community within St. Paul’s Preschool. When you bring the children in to the building you have a chance to see the artwork and classroom space. You will be greeted personally by the teaching staff and will have an opportunity to let them know any pertinent information regarding your child for the cay. This type of entry into the day also helps the children with transition issues. A calm, sensitive separation is achieved when parents walk their children into the classroom, help them with their beginning routines (such as hanging up their coats, putting book bags into labeled baskets, finding name cards to put in the daily charts, etc.), and have a chance to see those special parts of the classroom or favorite toys and friends. The director is often in the hallways to greet children and families and to make sure that everyone’s needs are being met. The type of drop off also makes it easier for parents to get to know each other. Many life-long friendships between children and parents have begun in the hallways of St. Paul’s Preschool!
QUESTION: What if my child cries on the first day?
ANSWER: First, be prepared for tears! This scenario is played out at preschools everywhere! A child, screaming, holding on to mom or dad’s legs for dear life, refusing to even look at the classroom, much less walk into it alone is, believe it or not, normal. Children at this age thrive on familiarity so when they are placed into a new situation, it is common if they panic a little bit. The great thing about the first day of preschool is that there are a whole bunch of people in the room that are going through the same thing as you are!
Saying good-bye to mom and dad, particularly if it is the first time out of the house alone, can be difficult for many preschoolers. For some it is old hat…they have been in daycare for years or just have an incredibly easygoing, go-with-the-flow personality. The key is to make sure you are ready for your child to go to preschool. If you have any doubt or concerns, your child is going to pick up on it immediately. So on the big day, keep a bright smile on your face and stay positive! This will set a great tone for your child and make them realize that going to preschool is something they can and should look forward to!
For some children, the crying does not start until they see other children doing it. You can almost see the thoughts forming in your little one’s head, “If he’s crying, then there must be something I should be upset about too.”
A crying child is nothing new to a preschool teacher. They will encourage you to leave. It will probably be the hardest thing you’ll have to do, but it really does work. Nine out of ten times the child stops crying within five minutes of the parent leaving. You will return to the classroom a few hours later to find your child, happy and content with a pile of artwork they can’t wait to show you.
There will be a Parent Hospitality Room set up during the first days of school. Parents can stay in the building in this area. The director or office manager will routinely advise the families how the children are doing in the classroom. School staff often will call parents to let them know that their child is fine, when the child stopped crying, and what their child is engaged in doing.
When saying good-bye to a crying child, please remember the following tips:
· Do not remove your child from the classroom. It will make it that much harder to bring him back in. Your child’s teacher will likely be right by your side offering help and assistance.
· It might be tempting, but do not sneak away if your child becomes distracted by another activity. Your child needs to learn that school is a place he/she goes to without mom or dad and saying goodbye is part of the process.
· Do not ask if it is OK for you to leave and do not make a promise like, “If you stay here at preschool, I’ll buy you some ice cream when I pick you up.” This can reinforce the behavior if she keeps getting what she wants.
If your child does well on the first day, be prepared, you might not be out of the woods just yet! Some children waltz right into preschool as happy as can be and everyone is content. But then, out of nowhere, a few weeks into the school year, your child may start to cry when you leave. This too is very common. Basically the novelty of school has worn off and your child realizes that he/she is not with you. Keep bringing him/her to school and dropping him/her off as per the teacher’s instruction and this, too, shall pass!
Please read the following section each month. I will be introducing staff members and will review their credentials and qualifications as well as their philosophy of education.
LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO…
Kate Bahorich has been a staff member of St. Paul’s Preschool since 2001. She is one of the Turquoise Class teachers (3 Day 3 year olds). Before coming to St. Paul’s Preschool, Kate worked with children from infancy through five years at the Little Red Schoolhouse Day Care and then provided home day care for children- infancy through first grade. She has also worked with children as a Girl Scout leader and as a Junior Varsity Cheerleader coach. Kate has a CDA (Child Development Credential) from the Community College of Allegheny County and has a degree in Dental Assisting. In her “spare time” she is also a licensed real estate agent!
When asked about her philosophy of education, Kate states, “I believe that Early Childhood Education should be a positive experience for a child. They should feel comfortable and safe in a preschool setting while having fun. It should provide a variety of activities for fun and learning. Mainly, it should provide an exciting experience for the children so that they look forward to a classroom setting as they grow older.”
Kate loves challenging the children in her classes with creative learning centers and developmentally appropriate activities that link the curriculum for three year olds to enrichment experiences. She is enthusiastic, gentle with the children and is always smiling! The children in her class adore “Miss Kate” since she makes sure she spends quality time with each child every day!
We are blessed to have such a fantastic early childhood educator on staff. Kate is well loved by her peers, the children and the St. Paul’s Preschool families
Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children