Summer Intention

I’m beginning to feel like it’s finally summer.  School has been out for a few weeks and I feel myself beginning to lose some of the stress from the year.

This summer I plan on taking a few classes and get my daughter ready for college.  I will also take my dog for a walk, make many visits to Dairy Queen and enjoy some family time on the lake.

The beginning of the new school year will be here soon enough and I will need this time to recharge and take on a different perspective if I want to be of any value to my students and families in the fall.

Hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer and can carve out a little time to relax, too.

Last Day and Tough Decision

I said good-bye to my class last Thursday.  It was a great day filled with fun, memories and a bit of sadness.  For the past 5 years, it’s been tradition to have an autograph signing party.  Each child wears an old t-shirt and the children use Sharpies to sign their name on the back of each other’s shirts.  It’s so much fun and the class loves the activity.  I also allow them to sign my arm which they think is the greatest thing ever.

At the end of the day, the parents were all excited to tell me how much they loved the class and how their child has blossomed throughout the year. I have to agree with this statement as all the children are more than ready to move up to the next level.  I teach the highest grade at the preschool and all children will move on to private or public Kindergarten next year.

I have to admit, though, this year was the worst I have ever experienced in all my years as a preschool teacher.  We have a very small group of teachers and administrative staff.  I felt there was very little support,  and most times, I had to handle problems in my own way.  For this, some may say, I acted in a way that was not like my natural personality but more like a wacked-out crack-head.  If I have to be honest, I say most outbursts were due to frustration and the knowledge that our school has lost some of its “essence.”  The educational quality is still there but the environment has changed dramatically.

Some tough decision will have to be made this summer.  Do I suck it up and stay the course or do I make a break?  I know I will be disappointing several families who have waited a long time to have me as their child’s teacher but is that enough to stay?  I’m good in the classroom and my attitude does not reflect in how I teach or act toward the class and parents.  However, there is always a bit of an edge and a I find it difficult to separate what is happening in my room to what I see going on around me.

No one is indispensable and someone else may have more wind in their sails to carry on next year.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday – chirp, chirp

Today is the birthday for this little guy.  He really struggled to break free of his shell and he was exhausted afterward.  The other chicks kept pecking at him to hurry up so they could play.

chick

All the baby chicks will visit our room next week so the class can watch them play and communicate with each other….hopefully some of my students will pick up a few pointers on teamwork…..end of the year goofiness is in full swing.

 

Mom’s Day Lunch

You know the school year is nearing the end when our class hosts our annual Mom’s lunch.  Our school has an open door policy and friends and family can visit and spend time in the classroom any time they like but our special Mom’s lunch is the one they look forward to the most.

For about two week before the big day, the class is busy preparing special items for their Mom’s.  The highlight of the goodies comes in the form of a Mom’s portrait, a Mom’s dolls and keepsake box.

You can tell the children are interested and engaged in these projects because of the on topic chatter and the attention to detail in their Mom’s portaits.  The Mom’s dolls were also amazing.  The dolls are actually quite complicated and use multi-step directions from cutting out the doll form, to adding clothing, drawing appropriate facial features, gluing down hair and adding a monogramed necklace.  Each one is an original piece of art.  The last project entails making a keepsake box to hold special treasures.

Our school is lucky enough to have involved parents and each child had a Mom take the time from their day to come to class.  The children were out of control with excitment but eventually we made our way to the tables were everyone enjoyed eating together.

Our children are so lucky to have parents that care about them and you can feel the love.  It was a great day!

Image

Classroom Pets – a love story

I am lucky enough to work in a preschool that allows and encourages all types of classroom pets.

The best pet story I can recall is when my gerbil escaped from his cage overnight and I found him behind the file cabinet 3 weeks later.  Yea, that was a good one – but the better story comes from the time when I had two gerbils sharing a cage.  The pet store clerk said, go ahead, get two gerbils, they like the company and I’m like, OK, that’s cute, the class will love it.  They are both girls, right?

The class did love it until the day I came into the room, flipped on the light and discovered six tiny, wrinkled, pink, hairless baby gerbils in the cage.  Let me tell you that baby gerbils are not cute no matter how hard you try to convince yourself.  I turned my attention to the culprits and railed into them…Dude, really, you couldn’t keep it in your fur?  Are you that weak-minded?  Weren’t you packing little gerbil protection?

And you, Missy, with your innocent sultry eyes.  Did you seduce him with a paper towel roll and a romp on the wheel?  Did you seal the deal after you rubbed all against him with your soft ears and long whiskers? And now look at you, a young mother with six babies and a baby daddy that sleeps all day and goes for wild wheel rides at night.  Obviously, you are both young and foolish and did not think this through and you are both NOT girls!

When I think of baby animals, I think cute, furry and doe-eyed but that was not what was waiting for me in the cage that morning.

Has all necessary features....cute, furry, doe-eyed.

Has all necessary features….cute, furry, doe-eyed.

I was thankfully made aware that the babies need to leave as soon as they are able because the male gerbil has the tendency to eat their young and that is the kind of science experiment I’m not willing to engage in with a bunch of 5 year olds. I did as I was told and donated the dad and the six little ones to the Humane Society as soon as I could.

I like classroom pets but I don’t have a ton of luck with them.  Although, I’ve had my one fish for over 2 months so I think I’m getting better at it.

Over the years, I’ve housed several gerbils, a rabbit, and a parrot. I am also a foster parent to crickets, ants and worms which all find their way into my room from the outside.

stink bugs

My new challenge is surviving my stinkbug invasion. At this point, I’m getting the idea they think my classroom is going condo and in this market, even stinkbugs know a good deal when they see it.

 

 

 

 

 

Whose dream is it anyway?

photo

 

Yesterday I received a text from one of my very dear friends and she wanted to know if I had a picture of our two daughters when they took ballet together when they were around 5 years old.  When she asked my first response was, “I doubt it” since I did not record a lot of childhood memories as the iPhone wasn’t invented yet and my camera abilities were zero to none.  But, I told her I’d look.

I pulled out my version of a photo album.  It is basically a 3 ring binder that houses a big loose pile of pictures in between two covers.  There I sat looking through some of the old good times our family had together.  There were a few pictures of a much younger me, my husband and our beloved Border Collie, Jake, along with a pretty good progression of the early years of my children.

After more rummaging, I saw a glimpse of pink.  I pulled the picture from the pile and lo and behold, there it was.  A dark photo of my daughter and her friend in pink leotards. It was nostalgic, for sure.

After one session of ballet, my daughter was completely over it.  It wasn’t in her nature to be pink and frilly and she did not want to do anything that even remotely resembled being lithe and graceful. Eventually, she exchanged her tutu for a soccer ball.

Not in the cards for this girl!

Not in the cards for this girl!

In the early years, it is important to expose children to many different types of activities and I can confidently say I’m an expert in this area.  Within the past 5 years, my son participated in football, skateboarding, basketball, soccer, wakeboarding, and 2 more visits to soccer and basketball and in that process, he opted to break 8 bones.  Not an ideal situation, but those experiences are now a part of his make-up and he loves to tell his war stories.

My point is, let children explore all avenues of extracurricular activities.  See what they like and what they excel in.  During my days on the soccer field there was persistent chatter from parents bragging about how fabulous a player their child was and how they will only play for a Div. 1 school.  That is all fine and dandy if that is what your child wants not you.

A good rule of thumb is to check-in with reality and your child once in a while to re-evaluate whose dream it is to become the next prima ballerina or World Cup soccer star.

Children have the gift of time to test their likes and dislikes in extracurricular activities.  Why not let them be the star of their own show.

Social Training Wheels

training wheels

 

I’m obsessed with the book, The Pressured Child, by Michael Thompson, Ph.D.  If I wouldn’t be cited with plagiarism, I’d just scan the entire book and post it.  There is that much useful information.  The book gears itself more toward the beginning elementary through high school parent/student but it is very easy to see useful information for all stages.  As an educator, this is an invaluable resource.

I believe the crux of this book is about coping and social development.  Most of us already know that socialization begins at birth and it becomes more complex as we move forward in life.

Preschool is the training wheels for getting on the big boy/girl bike.  It is in this environment that children learn how to navigate in the simplest of social settings.  Learning the ABC’s of social interaction dominates the day for young children and the hardest thing for parents to understand is that children think differently than we do.  When children congregate in school, talking, touching, and reassuring one another, they are practicing their social skills with as much intensity as an orchestra practices a complex piece of music.  Social development amounts to a kind of symphony of its own and if you want to play with the orchestra, you’ve got to know how to read the music. (Thompson, 2004. pg. 59)

As parents, I know, at times, it is hard to see your child going through a rough patch on the social front and that is when you most want to spring into protective mode.  Please try to take the opportunity and use it as a teaching tool – instill confidence in your child that they are “cool” just the way they are and if being rejected by one child remember that there are other children in the classroom who would be lucky and want to have him/her as a friend.

Urie Bronfenbrenner was a renowned developmental psychologist and one of the co-founders of Head Start. He developed a bioecological model that provides the whole picture of the developing child. You can read more about his theory here. Another great theorist was Eric Erickson and if interested in learning about his 8 Stages of Human Development you can learn more about it here. I believe that both psychologists provide easy to understand theory’s on why people behave in certain ways and how they socially develop through life.

My children are almost grown and I see how complex the relationships are in the social jungle of high school.  Teaching children early coping social strategies will help benefit their overall ability to become bright, empathetic and great kids later on.

xox