May 2015 SFF Newsletter

Posted On May 12 2015 | BY School for Friends

Director’s Report

STAFF NEWS

  • In early April, Ebonne Dupree left and Clare Coppel rejoined our office staff. Welcome, Clare!
  • Thanks parents for giving us the day of April 13 for development. After an icebreaker led by our own Makai Kellogg, Jacky Howell, our curriculum consultant led the rest of the training – “Choosing Classroom Pets” and “Reflecting on Curriculum and Planning for Summer.”
  • Margaret Edwards received Pediatric First Aid training on April 15.
  • April 16 & 17, Sabina Zeffler & Makai attended a Friends Council on Education (FCE) Early Childhood Peer Network gathering.
  • April 20, I observed at Richmond (IN) Friends School as part of their FCE Membership Renewal Process.
  • April 23 Julie Baron attended a workshop on Positive Child Guidance at MCCA.
  • April 26-28, I attended a gathering of Heads of Friends School Elementary & Early Childhood Schools.
  • April 28 & 29 Staci Bauer & Elizabeth Lambert attended the Infant and Toddler Conference.

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THANKS – To all our room parents for organizing fun Cultural Heritage Dinners – Andrea Repetto Vargas, Dorris Lin, Alexis Albion, & Stacey Bosshardt. Families enjoyed themselves and another opportunity to be together.

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Quaker House Newsletter

Drama with Sarah

For the past several weeks, the Quaker House children have been exploring drama with Sarah. Drama allows the children to portray characters and tell stories through action and dialogue. It also positively affects children’s language development and literacy, self-awareness, social–emotional reasoning, and cognitive development such as problem solving and remembering and connecting experiences.

Sarah used the book, Amos & Boris by William Steig as a guide to explore and expand the idea of how powerful a friendship can be. Amos (a mouse) and Boris (a whale) had nothing in common but through problem solving, compromise, and respect they became the best of friends. The drama also focused on how helpful someone even as small as a mouse can be. It doesn’t matter your size, you can make a difference! The Quaker House children transformed into mice and worked together to help clean up the ocean from litter, and rescue Boris from being stuck on the shore. What an adventure!

In the QH classroom, we have been using the saying, “Agree to Disagree.” This saying is usually needed when the discussion of superheroes, fairies, and other childhood characters come up. Some of the QH children argue that they are real, some disagree. As friends, you both can still believe what you want to believe, yet must be respectful of each other’s ideas.

We are currently taking a short break from drama and Sarah will return with a new idea for us to explore. We are very curious and excited!

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REMINDERS:

  • Please check your child’s extra clothes bin and switch to LABELED weather appropriate clothing.
  • Please take home your child’s art work located in the classroom by the radiator and outside the classroom door at the end of each week.

Thank you,
The QH Teachers
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Rainbow Room Newsletter

Over the last couple of weeks we have been growing lima beans in separate greenhouses on the window of the classroom. The children checked daily to see if their plants began growing. It was interesting to see how responsible they were taking care of something that was solely theirs. After learning the cycle of a plant, they became familiar with the different stages of the plant’s development. They used terms like roots, stems, blossoms, and soil among other words to discuss their plants. The children paired with partners to plant their bean plants in a pot together to continue caring for them. We also will be getting new hermit crabs soon. The children will help care for them which will give them and create a warm environment for them. I searched around and found this article by Ruth A. Wilson titled “Caring for Plants and Animals fosters Empathy.”

Educators know that young children imitate what they see and experience; unfortunately these experiences may include evidence that our world is sometimes violent. Frequent exposure to violence may even suggest to young children that violence is the norm and is to be accepted.

One way to counteract this message is to help children witness caring behaviors and to become involved in caring activities of their own. While caring activities aren’t a cure-all for combating violence, they can be used as a vehicle for promoting empathy in young children. Once developed, these dispositions and behaviors can become life-long patterns benefiting both the children and the communities in which they live.

Fostering empathy—the ability to understand how others feel—is perhaps the most effective way to inhibit aggression and bullying behaviors. Empathy helps us become more inclusive and tolerant of differences.

Tending to the needs of other living things requires children to give thought and attention to something outside of themselves. As children interact with plants and animals, they learn that other living things have basic needs which must be met for them to survive. These experiences help children make the connection between caring behaviors and good outcomes, such as growth or affection.

Following are some specific ways in which you can foster empathy and caring in the classroom through involvement with plants and animals.

  • Introduce animals in the classroom. You may choose to have a classroom pet, such as a hamster or guinea pig. Even less hands-on creatures—such as fish, snails or earthworms—can become a regular part of the classroom environment. The important thing is to make sure the animal’s needs can be met through appropriate habitat, food and water. It’s also important to see that the animal is always handled gently and treated with respect. If you collect an animal from outdoors for closer observation, you should keep it only for a short period of time and then return it to its natural habitat, explaining to the children why this is important.
  • Involve children in some gardening activities. A garden—whether in a window pot or plot of land—can help children empathize with the fragility of the environment through plants. As children learn about the wonder of seeds, the growth of tender new roots, and the need plants have for uncontaminated water, they will also learn about ecological perspective taking. Perspective taking is the cognitive aspect of empathy, while caring is the affective or emotional side. We sometimes use the term “perspective taking” in reference to the ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions and the situations they’re experiencing. When we speak of “ecological perspective taking,” we apply this concept to our relationship with the natural world.
  • Help children discover and care for wildlife in the school yard. Through careful observation, children can become more aware of birds, snails, spiders, lady bugs, bees, butterflies, ants, squirrels and worms living right outside the classroom door. Caring for these backyard creatures can be as simple as setting up bird feeders and bird baths, providing yarn for birds during their nesting season, planting a butterfly garden—or even avoiding stepping on ants and spiders or disturbing a spider’s web.
  • Encourage playful identification with animals. Provide simple animal costumes or puppets. Have children crawl like a snake, fly like a bird or bury nuts like a squirrel.
  • Provide a variety of animal replicas and encourage children to construct habitats for their animals.
  • Identify and share pro-nature books with children. Pro-nature books give positive messages about animals and plants and suggest caring ways to relate to other living things.

Helping children develop empathy for other living things means more than saving some lady bugs and spiders. As children develop empathy for plants and animals, they are also developing perspective-taking skills which are critical aspects of social emotional competence. As children develop perspective-taking skills with plants and animals, they’ll be developing a sense of empathy for people as well.

We hope to continue to foster empathy through caring for nature in the Rainbow Room and promote positive relationships and perspective taking!

*Thank you to all of the parents who have chaperoned our trips. Also, thank you to the parents who came on Clean Up Day!

Thanks, Rainbow Room Team
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Green Room Newsletter

Listen, Talk, Answer—
Support Your Child’s Learning

“Each of us must come to care about everyone else’s children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children and grandchildren is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people’s children. After all, when one of our children needs lifesaving surgery, someone else’s child will perform it. If one of our children is threatened or harmed by violence, someone else’s child will be responsible for the violent act. The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people’s children.” This quote is by Lilian Katz, who just spoke at an Infant and Toddler conferences in April. She is a well-known educator. I [Jackie] enjoyed reading this quote.

Most children come home every day with stories to share. Do you stop what you are doing and listen carefully? Your child probably asks a lot of questions. Do you try to answer them? If you do, then you already know the benefits of giving your child time and attention. Teachers call these daily conversations powerful interactions. They help adults and children keep in touch and enjoy being together. These interactions also support children’s learning. Here are some communication tips and examples of the types of things to say.

Acknowledge and accept all of your child’s emotions.
This helps your child feel safe and secure and willing to share all kinds of feelings. “Are you feeling happy? I see a big smile on your face.” “You look a little sad. Is there something you want to talk about?”

Describe what you see your child is doing rather than just saying, “Good job.”
He will know that you see and appreciate his efforts. “Wow, you’ve added lots of squiggly lines and circles to your drawing.”

Help your child make connections to familiar experiences, ideas, or information.
“I know you like pineapple. Today we’re having papaya for breakfast. I think you’ll like it as much as pineapple. Let’s see what you think.”

Offer a small challenge to nudge your child to try something new or a bit harder.
“You ran so fast to the fence! This time, can you think of a really slow way to get there?” Repeat and extend what your child says to you. As your child looks through a book and says, “I like lizards,” you might say, “I know you like lizards. What do you like about them?’

Use interesting words to build your child’s vocabulary.
“I think this ice cream is delicious. I love the creamy texture and swirls of caramel.”

Source: Adapted from A. Dombro, J. Jablon, & C. Stetson, 2010, “Powerful Interactions Begin with You”, Teaching Young Children 4 (1): 12–13.

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Blue Room Newsletter

Spring has arrived in the Blue Room! April brought us warmer weather, fun activities and lots of smiles! This past month, we have explored Spring and all the changes that come with the new season: budding trees, bugs, rainy days, and gardening. Big thanks to all the parent help we’ve had in making our playground community a beautiful area for our flowers and vegetables to grow!

With Mother Nature changing so much right before our very eyes, why not go out and take full advantage! “Explore the Great Outdoors with Your Child” is and archived article on the NAEYC website that has some tips and ideas to for outdoor play which can be useful no matter the season! Here are the highlights:

Explore safely. Be sure to dress appropriately, particularly in these rainy months and set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to join in the fun if your children want you too, it helps you keep a watchful eye on their safety but also all the discovering they are doing. Discovering what will come, especially as they use their sense to explore: looking and listening to their surroundings, touching, smelling and even tasting when given permission.

Let the children choose what to explore. No suggestions, just see what they do on their own. What excites them the most? Do they jump in puddles to see what will happen? Dig in the dirt to find treasure or creatures? Search the trees for bird nests or insects? They are investigating their surroundings in their own way, so follow their lead.

Ask open-ended questions. As they begin to explore on their own and make discoveries, ask them about it. Questions that prompt an answer based on their observation: “what”, “why” and “how” are great ways to start of a question. For example, “What did you find?” “Oh, a worm?” “What does it look like?” “How does it move around?” “How does it feel?” The more your child observes, the more the world around will make sense.

Touch, lift, and look under. By touching the natural world around them, a child is able to more fully understand it. Gently touching a ladybug or grasshopper can lead to an understanding of how animals move. Looking under a log may show that creatures live all around us, and we need to be careful not to disturb their habitat.

Guide children to draw conclusions from the observations they’ve made. The best learning can happen when children come to conclusions on their own. Asking questions or describing what you see, feel, hear or smell can guide them to a new idea. “Do you remember when we went on a walk and there was snow on the trees? What do you see now?” “I wonder why it is all gone?”

So if you are ever in need of a fun afternoon, just venture outside and let nature do the work!
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Important Dates:
May 18th-22nd – Staci’s vacation
May 25th – Aria’s Birthday
May 25th – Memorial Day: NO SCHOOL
May 30th – Olivito’s Birthday