In my neck of the woods, a growing trend for preschools is to have drop off and pickup right at the curb. I’m sure this is convenient, and perhaps even a luxury in the rain. But really? These little guys are in preschool. Don’t parents want to see the classroom and touch base with the teachers every day?
One of the best things about walking into preschool is actually beneficial to the whole family. When you walk in and hang around the classroom twice a day, you get to know not only the teacher, but the other students. And their parents. You get to know them well because you spend a lot of time with them. Between dropoffs and pickups and extra activities in the classroom as well as school-wide occasions outside of school, you really have a lot of opportunity to form relationships. And if you keep your child in the same preschool for several years, you can forge life-long bonds. I think family friends, as in whole families that are friends with your whole family, are one of the best things in life. And so valuable for your children.
My friends who have placed their children in those other types of schools that enforce the curbside transfers have missed out on this. Preschool seems more transient and more like childcare to them. They have missed out on those playdates and Friday get-togethers when school is out. How sad.
One thing I love about the preschool years is that the parents can be as involved as they like. That ability dries up the second you hit public school. I think it makes such a rich experience for the children to see parents (theirs and others’) and grandparents being regulars in the classroom. It makes the children feel important, but also it shows that school is important to the adults.
One of my favorite things is when a parent wants to come in and do something with the kids. We have a regular mystery reader program, which is a lot of fun. Sometimes the parents come in with a special treat or do something extra like teach them a song or fingerplay to go with a book. Occasionally, a parent will plan a whole activity for the class. We had that yesterday. Here is the result:
While the kids were out of the classroom, a mom came in and got everything ready. When they returned, this is what awaited them.
She brought them aprons she had found in Colombia, and she made chef hats! How fun!
They made their own pepperoni pizzas!
They learned all the steps that go into pizza making.
They were very proud of their creations.
And then they got to eat! Everybody enjoyed it, even the pickiest of eaters. I’m sure that was because they made it for themselves.
I can’t wait to see what the next parent-led activity will be. I know it will surely be something wonderful.
I have found that children really, really want to feel special in the eyes of their teacher. They long for the teacher’s focus to be solely on them. I always try to give each child at least a few moments of my undivided attention every day to each of them. It can be hard to pull off with so many of them vying for it constantly.
One thing we do is have a line leader. The child who brings snack for the week has the privilege of leading the class everywhere we go. I made a Line Leader name tag for them to wear that resolves any disputes about who is or is not line leader. They are so proud to wear it!
Whenever we move around the building or grounds, they are at the head of the line and I am next to them. Dana, the other teacher, is at the rear, and the rest of them are in between. The other children often try and get in front, as everyone wants to get on the playground first. But Line Leader has protected status. I protect the position and ensure that the Line Leader gets first crack at his favorite playground equipment. So it is a desirable position, for sure!
But more importantly, it gives me a few moments to spend listening to that child exclusively. I learn about what they have enjoyed so far that day, as well as what their plans are for the weekend. They often want to hold my hand and are usually full of smiles. They also know that I will make sure their Line Leader status is not violated and it makes them feel special.
We had our open house yesterday, and got to welcome the moms and kids into our classroom. Most of the children stuck to their moms like glue…for about a minute. Then they spied our playdough and our dinosaurs and our matchbox cars. It didn’t take long for them to start running around and interacting like they were completely comfortable. I think it’s going to be a spectacular year! We have some really fun kids and some really awesome moms and I so look forward to getting to know everybody better.
Tuesday is the Big Day, and I just can’t wait!
This is Bob.
Here he is up close.
Bob amuses me. He makes me laugh. I hope he has the same affect on the class when I introduce him. I am going to use him as a “talking stick”. I want it to be special and desirable to be chosen to hold him, so they will not be touching him or playing with him outside of circle time. I am *hoping* that it will encourage the children to sit quietly and listen while their classmates take their turn holding Bob and talking. That’s a pretty hard thing when you are three. Every class is different, so I will parade Bob out early and see how the children react. If it doesn’t get the desired result, I may put him away for awhile, or maybe only I will be able to hold him for awhile. It always pays to be flexible and willing to alter your plan when dealing with three year olds. It’s really much more fun that way.
Eric Carle and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I love them. I want to do a lot with them this year. Our alphabet curriculum will follow a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom theme and I am looking forward to making a tree for the wall. Then as we complete each letter, we will hang that letter on the tree somewhere! I absolutely love Eric Carle illustrations. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is fun and I plan to read it and do an art project based on it. So many books to bring alive in the classroom! It’s my favorite time of day with the kids. I want them to learn to love reading as much as I do.
I have touched base with the parents and I’ve got some of the paperwork and planning done. Now I just have to fix up the classroom and welcome the kids. I can’t wait to see those excited little faces with their new lunchboxes and backpacks. (I need to remember my camera!)
I’ve got about 3 more weeks before we teachers go back and get our classrooms ready. One week after that, the children will fill our school with their new clothes and their excited (and nervous) faces. At this point in the summer, I am printing out lots of things for the classroom and trying to decide what new things I will make to use in circle time. This year, I have decided to introduce a talking stick. I am hoping it will encourage the children taking turns talking and actually learning to sit and listen to each other a little more. Pinterest had many terrific ideas, and I think I will incorporate several designs that I saw. I have already picked out a stick from my yard. I will try and persuade my Cub Scout son to use his whittling skills and his new pocket knife to help me strip the bark. Then I will lightly sand it and do some fun painting. I will also wrap a portion of it with varied colorful yarns and ribbons and leave some danglies. Finally, I will get a feather or two to dangle, so it might have a native American flair. I hope it goes over well. I will not let them touch or play with it unless we are using it in circle time so that it remains a desirable item. :-) I will post a picture when I am done.