Monthly Archives: September 2015

Preparing a dish

Learning Circle Preschool and Kindergarten offers visits to prospective parents.

It may seem early, but now is the time to start planning for preschool for enrollment in the 2016-2017 academic year.

The Learning Circle Preschool, a non-profit preschool and kindergarten program at the foot of the Blue Hills on the Milton/Canton border, is offering prospective parents and their children the opportunity to visit its facilities at 3 Blue Hill River Road, Canton, MA. The visits give parents and children a chance to meet with director Katrina Selawsky, to talk about each family’s specific needs and to tour the school.

On Wednesday, Oct. 7th the Open House is scheduled during a typical school day for families interested in seeing classrooms while children are in session.

On Friday, Oct. 23rd the Open House is scheduled concurrently with Learning Circle Preschool’s Annual Food Day Festival. After visiting the classrooms indoors, parents and their children are invited to participate in activities focusing on healthy food choices, where food comes from, investigating the science of familiar vegetables, and planting. These are planned as part of National Food Day. Stories, gardening, arts, and science activities will be included as well as scheduled walks to Brookwood Farm (weather permitting).

On Saturday, November 14th, the Open House is scheduled for families who may prefer visiting on the weekend. On the same day, at 11 a.m., families may attend a community puppet show presented by Sparky Puppets called “Old Favorites” ($8 per ticket). This features re-tellings of three traditional folktales.

Learning Circle Preschool, accredited by NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) offers morning programs with two, three, or five-day options, afternoon enrichment programs, and extended day options that run until 4:30 pm. Facilities include three state of the art, open, sunny and spacious classrooms, a welcome room with library and a spacious playground at the foot of the Blue Hills, a short walk from Brookwood Farm.
With a curriculum inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, children enjoy engaging, hands on experiences that build a strong foundation for learning with individual attention and project work in small groups, respectful and nurturing interactions, opportunities to plan, reflect on, and work on projects over time, and an integrated language arts, creative arts and science curriculum.

Parents enjoy on-going communication, detailed documentation of each child’s growth and development shared in a portfolio system, newsletters and other written information about the program distributed regularly, parent meetings and discussion groups on educational and parenting issues, and a welcoming attitude towards parent participation in the program.

Class sizes typically range from 10-14 students, each with two highly qualified and experienced co-teachers. Decisions about placements for the fall of 2016 will begin to be made in December. For more information or an appointment, please call Katrina at 781-828-4800.

Please share this information with any families you think might be interested!

All About Me Books

Inviting Children to a New School Year

Especially at the beginning of a new school year, preschool teachers are thinking about ways to create spaces that offer invitations to the children – spaces that invite children to feel welcome and safe, spaces that stimulate personal investigations, spaces that encourage children to feel a connection to a community of learners.

We want children to establish a sense of place at school – a sense that they belong here and are welcome. We want to create an environment that children will want to engage with, explore, and connect with as they develop the emotional comfort to express themselves and create at school.

What have we been thinking about as this new school year begins?

It’s important that children see a family presence in their classroom so that they feel a personal sense of validation, respect and acceptance. Photo albums of children enjoying family activities and “Books About Me” that highlight each child’s family, favorite activities, and qualities offer children a concrete way to share family culture with their peers and teachers. Child photos on blocks or in other classroom centers offer a direct invitation to join activities in our classroom space.

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It’s important that children can “make sense of” their classroom environment – that they can feel and understand how to successfully engage in the centers that teachers create. Materials in easy reach and with clear labels, clear boundaries and open walkways (so that play is uninterrupted), furniture and props well scaled to the children, and centers well placed so that the activity level, volume, and scale of the play create a sense of freedom as children engage. All of these allow children to independently determine where to go for more or less active, collaborative, social or private play.

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It’s important that the children’s shared experiences at school are visible over time and are valued. Photos of children engaged with materials, homemade class books on common themes or with child photos, stories, plans, or other child-generated writing posted in view, documentation of common interests, questions or projects underway, all help deepen each child’s sense of connection to community activities and classroom life.

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As the children deepen their sense of belonging in their own classrooms, teachers begin to look for ways to connect children to the other classrooms and the other people who share our space. Our Welcome Room displays offer an opportunity for children to engage in conversations and activities of shared interest across the whole school, as does our saltwater tank. Planning whole school singing times, sharing playground games, gardening together, thinking about our “neighbors” when we walk through the hallways, all help children develop each child’s sense of belonging to a school as well as to a classroom.

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We want children to make connections to nature, and to develop the capacity to engage with and investigate their full environment. Taking advantage of sunlight and shadows inside, looking up at the clouds and sky, thinking about the animals we see, hear, or guess might live near our school, assuring that natural materials like stones, seashells, pinecones, or seeds are available indoors and investigated outdoors, encouraging children to think about motion through water or sand play or by “catching the wind” outdoors, are all beginning experiences that help us encourage children to slow down, observe, investigate, research and appreciate.

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Having experienced the first week of this new school year, we are now watching how children will receive our invitations, and what will unfold in each classroom and across the school. We are off to a great start!

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Transitions Into a New School Year – Saying Goodbye

As I was looking for articles to share with families addressing school beginnings, I found this one written a while ago but still worth thinking about.

School is an exciting place in the fall for parents, teachers, and children. It can also be a bit frightening for us.
It takes time for everyone to adjust to new situations and new people. For some children, coming to school is the first opportunity to develop friendships outside of the immediate family. Children returning to school for a
second or third year will be facing new classrooms, new teachers, and new classmates. And they will be approaching the school environment from a changed perspective, since they have grown since the last school year.
We teachers also go through a period of adjustment in the fall, as we get to know the children better, gaining insight into personalities, needs, and learning styles, over time. It takes a while to get to know how we can best
encourage individual children to make the emotional connections so important for a successful classroom experience.

We teachers will also need time to get to know parents, hoping to find ways to encourage parents to feel
comfortable about their child’s program, and comfortable bringing concerns about the program to us.

Parents are going through an adjustment too. You may be wondering how your child will like a new classroom, and whether or not he or she will get along with teachers. You may be concerned about how quickly your
child’s teachers will find the unique qualities that make your child such a special individual, or wonder if your child will be able to form friendships quickly. You might be uncertain about how to bring up a suggestion or concern you have, wondering how your child’s teachers will react.
If we as adults experience some anxiety about the beginning of school ourselves, it should come as no surprise that some children may express ambivalent feelings about this new beginning.

If your child is anxious about coming to school, or is experiencing a tearful separation from you on school days, try to remember that the feelings these behaviors may represent are natural, not uncommon, and they will pass as familiarity with the school routine and trust in teachers develop.

Learning to acknowledge one’s feelings and express them is, in itself, an important step for your child. He or she will find that teachers (as well as parents) can offer caring and sympathetic assistance, and that other people
(children and adults) have felt the same feelings in their lives. Try to remember also that tears at separation do not necessarily represent unhappiness in school, but may be an expression of the temporary difficulty a child experiences at the moment of saying good-by to a parent. In fact, most children are able to begin their day happily within minutes of their parent’s leaving. Sadness passes as enthusiasm for the materials, experiences, and
people associated with school take over.

As children and parents together become increasingly comfortable with, and knowledgeable about, the routines and expectations of a day at school, and as children experience the fact that parents do indeed return at pick up time for children, reassurances offered at the beginning of the school day will be able to ease the transition from home to school.

Practical Advice to Parents with Children Experiencing Anxiety at Separation.

  1. Look for the special ways your child handles the transition time comfortably; take your cues from your child.
  2. Support your child – try to be positive. (Children are very sensitive to your ambivalent feelings; these can represent doubt to your child, and add to his or her sense of insecurity.
  3. If you enter the classroom and choose an activity to aid in your child’s transition, choose something that has a definite end (puzzle, book, etc.) Let your child know that upon completion of this activity, you will
    be leaving. Then stick to it.
  4. It is helpful for some children to bring something from home – a favorite toy, book, photo of a family member, note, etc. This connection to home can be very reassuring

Helpful Phrases When It’s Time to Say Good-bye:

” This is a special place, just for children”

“Will you make me (daddy, sister, etc.) a special drawing today?

“Have a fun day”

Look in the public library or here in our school library for books that relate to children’s feelings about starting school, separation from family, loss, friendship, school routines, and/or developing self image and independence. These are all important themes at the beginning of the school year.

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