October 2014 SFF Newsletter

Posted On Oct 03 2014 | BY School for Friends

Director’s Report

BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT – We were very pleased to see that 75% of our families attended Back to School night. I know that evening meetings when you have to arrange child care can prove to be a challenge. And I hope those of you who were present found the time well spent. We are hoping this year will be a joyful one. You will find that a diverse group of children will become a community of learners through the expertise and guidance of the classroom teachers. This year the board of trustees is working on two projects – expansion of our facility to add two more classrooms (more later), and the creation of a Quaker Life Committee, to nurture the essential Quaker component of our school.

STAFF NEWS –

  • I have had the opportunity to visit a few preschools already this fall. On the 4th of September I had a tour of Mundo Verde Public Charter School’s new building at North Capital and 1st St NW. They have creatively renovated a former public school and will be adding a new building of preschoolers during this next year. This year a couple of our children who left in August are enrolled there. Then on September 23, I visited a mixed 4/5 year old classroom at the Bank Street School for Children in Manhattan. And on September 30 I visited a 4-year-old group at the Downtown Little School off Fulton St in the shadow of the new World Trade Tower. I often try to visit preschools when I am in New York.
  • After nearly two years of work, Elizabeth Lambert has completed her Child Development Associate Credential. She completed 120 hours of on-line course work in early childhood education, a parent survey, an observation, and a test. Congratulations!
  • September 26, LaJuan attended a workshop “Building Phonological Awareness Skills.”
  • September 29-October 1, Makai Kellogg & Sabina Zeffler attended the gathering of Friends educators – Sustained Practice and Renewed Courage – sponsored by the Friends Council on Education.

VISITOR – On September 5, the executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) came to SfF for a brief videotaping session in the Quaker House classroom. NAEYC is the early childhood education professional organization to which we belong and which accredits us. You’ll find the clip on their website promoting attending the annual conference in November. In the background is the children’s artwork on the wall.

THE ESSENCE OF QUAKER EDUCATION – Peace and social justice (the last in a series) Friends school mission and philosophy statements include the core Quaker belief that there is “that of God” in every person. This commitment leads to the creation of school communities with an ethos of caring.

Teaching children to develop nonviolent responses to conflict is key work in Friends schools. In Quaker education, the learning communities purposefully develop peace education curricula and practices for nonviolent conflict resolution.

Important Dates

October 13 – Columbus Day, school closed

October 21 – Fall Family Social

November 11 – Veteran’s Day, school closed

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Quaker House

Children are naturally curious about all kinds of human differences from a very early age on. To make meaning of their world they learn to categorize. Pre-school children especially are developmentally beginning to sort and categorize things in their environment. This is also true about people’s visible traits.

Noticing differences is part of their normal development; our work is to help them avoid stereotypes and bias.

Pre-school children quickly assume that people who look like them also enjoy the same things they do, while people who look different are different in many ways.

“Children are very sensitive to adults actions and emotions and they sense our discomfort with differences. Meanwhile, they are constantly exposed to biased messages from the media and the conversations and behaviors of the adults around them. Young children are constantly taking in our society’s powerful messages about diversity: what group holds power, and wealth- and where they fit in.

Children need us to talk to them about these differences directly, explicitly, and in language they can understand. Instead of giving abstract confusing messages like “everybody is equal” or “we are all the same”, we can teach from the perspective that everyone is important and every person experiences the world in different ways which gives each of us different ideas and viewpoints.”

There is nothing more important in the lives of children than their families.

What better way to see, understand and celebrate diversity first hand as by learning more about each family in the QH-classroom at our Friday morning circle times.

Over the next couple of weeks, we would like to invite each QH-family to be part of one of these circle times (11am).

Our Friday circle time is meant to help your child learn to value themselves, their families culture/heritage, develop an in-depth understanding of “you and me”, and very importantly to know that their own families are respected and supported, but also learn to understand and respect the families of others.

The following suggestions may help you to initiate a conversation with your child when planning your circle time.

  • Who is in your family? (Siblings, grandparents, and other family members are welcome to participate in this circle time!)
  • What makes a family a family? What are things that define your family?
  • Where does your family (also extended family) live (heritage)?
  • Does everyone in your family like the same things?
  • How has/does your family change (moving, new baby…)?
  • What does you family enjoy doing together? Is there a way to enjoy that in the classroom? (Activities, foods, books, photographs…)
  • Think together; tell children briefly about celebrations or special events your family does together…
  • Share your own childhood stories with your child, or talk to them about their experiences so far.

From the past years we know how much the children look forward to this day and take pride in having their family be part of our school day.

So make sure to sign-up early on and please feel free to come to us with any questions you have.

We are looking forward to this special “Family-time” at Quaker House.

Thank you!

The QH-teachers

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Blue Room

The first month of school has come and gone and we are looking forward to the coming months! All of the children are adjusting well to their school environment and as the weeks have passed, the transition from school to home has become a lot smoother. As the children are becoming more comfortable, they are starting to come out of their shells and are beginning to interact with their teachers as well as engage in parallel play with their peers.

In the month of September we welcomed everyone to school, introduced them to the Blue Room, learned about each other and everyone’s families. Our themes for the month of October include “leaves and trees” and “fall foods.” We will be doing various activities inside and outside, and learning about fall as the weather changes. We will also do our first cooking activity of the year! At the end of the month we will be welcoming our friend Felix to the Blue Room. Felix has come to visit a few times and the children are aware of who he is and what his shape is. The PM aide for the Blue Room will also be returning from maternity leave on November 3rd.

With the beginning of a new month, we are going to start giving the children more responsibility in the classroom. Now that they are getting the daily routine down we are going to start incorporating classroom jobs that will rotate on a weekly basis. The jobs that we will be starting with are a fish feeder where a child will be responsible for feeding the fish each morning with the help from a teacher. Two other jobs will take place at circle time, one is a shape caller and the other is the moment of silence timer. All of the children know their own shapes and most of their peers’ shapes so they will start to call them at circle time instead of a teacher. Also for our one minute moment of silence a child will be responsible for turning the sand timer over. The final job will be a door holder, someone to hold the doors open at the top and bottom of the stairs. Giving children jobs in the classroom gives them a sense of belonging as well as responsibility. As the year goes on and the children become more independent we will incorporate more jobs into the classroom.

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Rainbow Room  

Self-help skills are important for children to develop independence and self-esteem. By the age of four, children are expected to be able to be able to care for their own toileting needs, use eating utensils appropriately, dress and undress without assistance, brush teeth, clean up spills, put away items, and pour from a pitcher. These are just some milestones that the Rainbows are working towards. 

In the Rainbow Room, we provide opportunities for the children to practice and develop these skills. Without developed fine motor skills, completing many of the self-care skills can be more difficult. Providing opportunities to engage with materials that strengthen fingers and hands, such as Theraputty and Playdough, as well as practice using items such as scissors, short crayons and pencils, and tongs assist in building the muscles needed to complete self-help tasks. Breaking down tasks into smaller steps is helpful. By providing visuals of each step, such as the hand washing posters in the bathrooms, children can follow along until they have mastered it. Sequencing games as well as songs help children remember to break tasks down into steps. They will also be expected to take care of their personal items such as clothing or toys from home by hanging them on hooks or putting them away in their cubbies. Taking responsibility for the classroom is expected as well but only after making sure the children know where classroom items belong. The children learned the proper way to blow and wipe their noses, cover coughs and sneezes, as well as to wash hands during our hygiene unit. We encourage the children to dress by themselves with little adult assistance until it is clear that the child is not yet able to complete the task alone. The children practice using buttons, snaps, and zippers on their own clothing but we also have self-help boards that the children can work on as well. Talking children through tasks by using “first, second, last” helps them organize their actions. In the classroom, the children are responsible for setting the table. We will continue to encourage the children’s self-care skills to support their independence. 

Reminders

-Please provide two sets of seasonal extra clothes 

-As the weather changes, snow pants can come in and hang on the hooks until needed

-Label all items 

-Please sign up to bring in fruits and veggies to supplement snack 

Thanks! Rainbow Room Team

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Green Room

We have come to the end of the first month of school.  The Green Room children have made a great transition into their new class and new school.  They are busy exploring their new environment and are making new friends. The following are some of the topics we will be exploring during the month of October:  Sensory Play; The Five Senses; and Transportation. One of the topics we focused on during the month of September was Buddy Play.  The purpose for this topic was to help the children to build friendship with each other.  On the website of Psychology Today, Dr. Gwen Dewar wrote an article title, “How to help kids make friends:  10 Evidence-based tips.”  According to Dr. Dewar, the skills to build friendships does not … “just emerge” during your child’s development’.

Tips to help kids make friends

  1. Be an “emotion coach”:  Talk to children about their feelings in a sympathetic, problem-solving way.
  2. Practice authoritative (not authoritarian) parenting:  Equal level of warmth and control.
  3. Teach kids how to converse in a polite way.  Use dialogue.
  4. Foster empathy and sympathetic concern for others.
  5. Help kids “read “facial expressions.
  6. Coach kids on how to cope with tricky social situations:  Do role play at home.
  7. Monitor kids’ social life:  Supervise and help them choose their friends.
  8. When possible , let kids try to work things out on their own
  9. Watch out for bullying.
  10. Be aware of cultural difference.

Birthdays:

Clare:  10/13

Sully:  10/27

Angel:  10/25