Classroom Philosophy

Sandy Newnan has an M.Ed in Early Childhood Education and experience teaching at the community college level.  She has also taught 2’s, 3’s, 4’s and 5’s in several child care programs. She has directed three child development centers.  For 18½ years, Sandy was an educational specialist at Child Care Resources, Inc. (CCRI) in Charlotte. After leaving CCRI, she took an early childhood instructor position at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC).

While an instructor at CPCC, Sandy taught a variety of courses but her favorite ones were: Child Guidance, Infant, Toddlers and Twos and the Practicum I course (where she coached students and modeled best practice).

She has completed four modules in the Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) and completed RIE Foundations: Theory and Observation Course which provides an overview of Magda Gerber’s Educaring Approach®.  Through her involvement with PITC, she had the opportunity to visit the Reggio Emilia schools and the infant/toddler schools in Pistoria, Italy.  Visiting those schools, she was able to see firsthand the rich environment that surrounds the children and is so carefully planned by the teachers, and the respect the teachers have for the children.  After 11½ years of teaching at CPCC, Sandy retired and is not doing consulting in child care programs.

PPS is fortunate to work with Sandy Newnan in an advisory role from which the following philosophies were developed.

Our Philosophy

(Infants- 6 weeks to 12 months)

Infants

Our philosophy in working with infants is based on what we know about infants. We know the following:

  • Infants are working on developing trust and trust is developed when an infant’s needs are taken care of in a timely manner. As a result the infant begins to feel secure in his new world. We know that bonding is important for an infant’s development and the first attachment is with the parents. We also know that it is important for infants to bond with their caregivers. So we strive to meet their needs as quickly as possible. When an infant cries we try to determine the reason for the crying and respond to that need. If we cannot immediately respond to the infant we tell the infant, “Louise, I hear you crying and I will come soon to see what you need”. Then we go to the infant, as soon as we can, and Louise gets our full attention.
  • Infants are competent. They know what they need. So we pay attention to what the infant is trying to tell us. By paying attention we get to know each infant’s individual mannerisms and what their cries are telling us.
  • Infants are capable of solving some of their problems so we give them time to work through a problem. For example, if an infant has turned over from back to stomach and one of his arms is stuck under his body, we do not rush to rescue but we say something like, “I see your arm is stuck. I am wondering if you can get it out by yourself”. We wait to see what happens, if the infant becomes stressed, we would certainly help. When an older infant crawls under a crib and gets stuck, we get on his eye level and say, “It looks like you are stuck. Can you lower your head and come towards me?” We believe that trusting infants to solve some of their problems encourages the infant’s feeling of being capable and a problem solver!
  • Infants are developing language so we talk to them about what we are doing (“I am taking off your dirty diaper”.) and we talk to them about what they are doing (“I see you stretching your legs”.) We make eye-contact and talk to them-not about them. Describing what is happening as it is happening helps the infant to begin to connect words with actions. We coo back to them when they coo; we babble back to them when they babble. We are having the first “give and take” conversation with the infant! We read books to them and sing songs to further develop language. We use the infant signing program, Baby Signs, which pairs gestures with words and gives the infant a way to communicate before spoken language.
  • We acknowledge infants’ feelings (happy and sad) so when an infant is sad at drop-off time, we acknowledge those feelings by saying something like, “Jonah, I know it is really hard when mom leaves you. It is really making you sad.” We feel it is important for infants’ feelings to be recognized, acknowledged and not discounted. Even at a young age, infants can begin to feel that her feelings are valid.
  • Infants need to move every minute so we do not leave them in swings for very long or put them on boppy pillows (Unless the infant needs to be upright for a little while after eating due to reflux.) When infants’ movements are unrestricted they are able to move and develop their muscles.
  • Infants need to know what is going to happen next so we tell them, when we are going to put them down, when we are going to move away from them, when we are going to wipe their nose, when we are going to pick them up, etc. For example, we reach out our hands; make eye contact and say, “I am going to pick you up now.”
  • Infants need individual attention so we value our time when changing their diaper or feeding them. This is a time to talk about what is happening at that moment, e.g. “I am unsnapping your shirt; can you pull your arm out?” “You really enjoyed your bottle. You drank all of it”. “I see that you are going to eat your pears first.”
  • Infants learn through their senses so we provide objects of different textures, different shapes, different colors, different smells and different sounds. Everything in the infant’s space is touchable and mouthable. The infant also learns about her world through movement so freedom to move is important. All of these experiences help to develop the infants’ brain.
  • Infants have different temperaments: some are easy going, some are slow to warm up and some are feisty. So we work to develop a good fit with the infant-no matter what her temperament is.
  • Infants enjoy looking at other infants so we may place them beside each other on the floor so that they can see each other, touch each other and hear each other. This experience supports their social development.
  • At about six-eight months, some infants develop stranger anxiety so we move close to them when a stranger enters the room and acknowledge their feelings. If we know ahead of time that someone new is coming to the room, we tell the infants ahead of time to prepare them. We do not disregard their feelings but say something like, “Thad, I see that it worries you when a new person comes in our room. I am going to move close to you.” Our goal is to keep consistent teachers in the classroom so the children can form an attachment with his caregivers and will not have to continually adjust to a new caregiver.
  • At about six-eight months, some infants have separation anxiety so we acknowledge those feelings. We know that drop-off time can be stressful for parent and child. We also know that it is an easier transition for the child when the parent feels comfortable leaving her (children will pick-up on parents’ concerns) child. So we recommend that parents not linger or sneak away but tell their child good-bye -with a kiss and a hug. Feel free to call and check on your child anytime.
  • Infants need opportunities to explore objects without interruption so when we see that an infant is exploring (mouthing, holding, looking at) an object we do not interrupt that focus because we believe that learning is happening then. We wait for the infant to make eye-contact with us before we talk to the infant about what she is doing.
  • Infants reach milestones on their own time table so we do not try to rush them through any stage. We do not prop them up to sit because we know that in order to sit on their own, they need to develop their core muscles. These muscles are developed as the infant rolls over, kicks, etc. We do not put the infant in a standing position because we know that the leg muscles are not strong enough to stand until the infant pulls up on his legs himself. We provide space and time. We may place a play object just out of reach to encourage turning over or crawling. We believe infants need lots of floor time to help them move through their milestones. We put them on their backs so that they can stretch, kick and move their arms. This is the position that is least restrictive and gives the infant freedom of movement.
  • Infants need different play objects at different stages of development so we provide play objects that match the infant’s developmental stage. For example, young infants enjoy exploring baby food jar lids. They are just the right size to be picked up and put into the mouth. Older infants enjoy exploring containers that fit into each other. Simple objects make active infants. So the simpler the object, the more learning takes place because there are many things an infant can do with a simple, open-ended object.
  • Infants become accustomed to the positions that they are put in so if they are sat up before they can sit up by themselves, they will want to be in the upright position all the time. So we believe the best place for an infant to be while awake is on the floor-preferably on her back. If an infant is held a lot, he will become accustomed to being held and will not want to be put down. So we give infants plenty of opportunities for “floor time”. This is the time that the infant can practice playing alone or enjoying social interaction with another infant. The floor is also the best place for infants to work on their large motor development due to the firmness of the floor and the amount of space.  We, also, know that there are times to hold and cuddle!
  • We believe that it is important to develop a partnership with parents so we value a relationship that is open and honest. We know that parents know their child better than we do and can share important information about their child that would be helpful. Through our experience in caring for infants we can share what we have learned about infants. There are many ways to partner with parents and by partnering we can provide the best care for the infants.
  • Infants are developing a “sense of self” so we respect them for who they are and make sure that our words and actions are positive. They are learning what to be afraid of, how valued they are, how safe they are, how important they are, how much they are loved, etc. by the way we interact with them. We realize that through our words and actions, we are playing a part in the development of the infant’s self-image.

 

©2017 Sandy Newnan, M.Ed.

Our Philosophy

(Toddlers- 12 months to 24 months)

ToddlersOur philosophy in working with toddlers is based on what we know about toddlers. We know the following:

  • Toddlers are working on becoming independent and autonomous. That is their task. The older toddler will say “me do it” so we give them opportunities to be independent. Examples of this are: getting their own tissue, washing their own hands, feeding themselves, etc. If they are struggling with a task and they have become frustrated, we give a little bit of help so they can be successful.
  • Toddlers like to use the word “No”. It is the job of toddlers to become independent. (This happens again when the child becomes a teenager!) They want some control over what happens to them. For instance, diaper changing. “NO, NO, NO.” We understand that this is a normal and important stage of development so we do not get upset by the “no’s”. We acknowledge the feelings and give them some choices. Some choices we may give are:  “Do you want one cracker or two?” “Do you want to read the book about a cat or the book about a mouse?” Toddlers enjoy using the word “no”. We give them fun opportunities to say “no” by asking questions like “Does the dog say meow?” “Can you eat a house?”
  • Toddlers are developing language so we listen intently when they are trying to communicate. We, also, help to increase their vocabulary by introducing them to new words, singing songs, reading books and describing what they are doing as they do it so they can connect words with actions, e.g.: “You are climbing up the big hill.” Changing diapers gives us an opportunity to be one on one with the child so we talk to the child about what we are doing as we do it. We also ask for the child to help, e.g. “Lift your legs so I can slide this diaper under you. Thank you for your help”.
  • Toddlers are learning to be social so we use lunch time as an opportunity for social interaction, a time to introduce new vocabulary words and encourage eating new foods. We model table manners by eating with the children and increase vocabulary by talking about what we are eating.
  • Toddlers are curious and are explorers so we provide interesting appropriate materials for them to investigate and we give them time to explore. This could include empty bottles, balls, water, containers, recyclables, etc. It is interesting how the simplest objects are the most interesting to them. Children learn best through “hands-on” activities. Exploring these items also help to develop fine motor muscles and hand-eye coordination. Simple toys encourage active thinking. The children are working on pre-reading, pre-math and pre-writing skills as they explore their world!!
  • Toddlers are learning about their new world and are interested in lots of different things. So the curriculum is based on what the toddler finds interesting which means we observe closely to see what they play with and how long they play with it. It is an emerging curriculum based on following the toddler’s interest and what is relevant to her. Vocabulary and math concepts are taught naturally as children play. For example, we may introduce the following pre-math concepts: “big” and “small” when they are playing with different size balls; “heavy” and “light” when they are filling up a bucket in the sandbox; “long” and “short” when they are playing with play dough.
  • Toddlers love to fill and dump so we provide opportunities for them to meet this need of toddlerhood. There are containers with loose parts (parts are big enough so that they do not become a choking hazard) for them to dump into other containers. However, we do not overwhelm them with too many loose parts.
  • Toddlers have lots of feelings: frustration, sadness, excitement, disappointment, scared, confused, etc. So we respect and acknowledge those feelings by saying something like, “You are disappointed that all of the peaches are gone.” We label their feelings so that they will have the words to express their feelings. We acknowledge their feeling and do not discount them by saying words like, “You are okay” or “There is no reason for you to be sad”. Responding to a child in this way helps to build empathy because we are modelling empathy. We get on the child’s level when we talk with them rather than hovering over them.
  • Toddlers have tantrums. We know that there are many reasons for these tantrums: over-tired, frustration because no one understands what she wants, too much excitement, etc. So we provide an environment that is calm but inviting, we provide time for vigorous active play balanced with quieter play, we acknowledge feelings and work on learning each child’s way of communicating and stressors.
  • Some toddlers have stranger anxiety so we move close to them when a stranger enters the room and acknowledge their feelings. If we know ahead of time that someone new is coming to the room, we tell the children ahead of time to prepare them. We do not disregard their feelings but say something like, “Thad, I see that it worries you when a new person comes in our room. I will move closer to you.” Our goal is to keep consistent teachers in the classroom so the children can form an attachment with her teachers and will not have to adjust to a new teacher often.
  • Some toddlers have separation anxiety so we acknowledge those feelings. We know that drop-off time can be stressful for parent and child. We also know that it is an easier transition for the child when the parent feels comfortable leaving his (children will pick-up on parent’s concerns) child. So we recommend that parents do not sneak away but tell their child good-bye -with a kiss and a hug. Even though, there may be tears. Sneaking away results in a child wondering when her parent may suddenly disappear. You may call any time to see how your child is doing!
  • Toddlers are possessive and not good at sharing. They use the word, “mine” often. Since we realize that a child cannot willingly share until they have first had the opportunity to possess, we say to the child, “Yes, it is yours until you are finished with it but when you are finished Sara would like a turn”. It is quite amazing how willing they are to share when they are in control. We, also, realize that if we, the adult, take a toy away from a child who has taken the toy away from another child, we are demonstrating that it is okay to take the toy away if you are bigger. That is a confusing message for the child!
  • Toddlers are learning how to interact with others. They may bite, hit, kick, throw or spit. So we redirect them to a positive behavior that meets the need that they are demonstrating.
  • Toddlers are working on large motor development and like to climb, run, jump and push. So we give them lots of opportunities for vigorous play. We provide age appropriate climbers, space for running and jumping and objects for pushing. However, we do not help them climb up on equipment because we believe that they are safer on the equipment if they have had the experience of climbing up by themselves. The ability to climb up by themselves tells us that their muscles are strong enough to be safe on the equipment and in climbing up themselves they know how high they are. We may suggest that they watch a friend climb up to see if they can learn the technique.
  • Toddlers’ attention spans are usually short so we don’t expect them to sit for a group time. We sit on the carpet with an age appropriate book and read to the children who choose to come. We know that they love music and will often join the group when the music comes on so music is an important part of our curriculum. We sing directions to the children because music is magical. We may sing a song to help them remember to stand by the fence and wait to go inside by singing. “Put your back on the fence, on the fence. Put your back on the fence and wait till I call (sing) your name.” Sung to a familiar tune: We, also, sing songs when children are waiting for lunch.
  • Toddlers need limits. It helps them to feel secure. So we provide appropriate limits, along with appropriate freedom. When trying to decide if what the child is doing is inappropriate, we ask ourselves:
  • Is the child in danger? We realize it is important to determine if the child is in real danger of getting hurt or are we being too cautious. Children need opportunities to test their physical abilities.
  • Is the child hurting others? Very often toddlers do not understand that they are hurting others so we help them to understand this by gentle guidance. “It hurt Margie when you bit her. See how sad she is.” If the child is attempting to hit us, “I am not going to let you hit me. I don’t hit you and I don’t want to be hit.”
  • Is the child tearing up reusable materials? For example, it is okay for a child to tear up his/her art work but not a puzzle. We help children learn how to take care of our books, etc.
  • Toddlers need predictability. So we keep the schedule as consistent as possible so that the children know what comes next throughout the day. We give them a “warning” before transitions. “You have a few more minutes to play before we go inside”. They are given a warning before diaper changing. This shows that we respect their time and know that they need time to adjust to the idea of a transition. We do not sneak up behind them to wipe their nose instead we explain that their nose needs wiping and asked if they would like to wipe their nose. If need be, we gently guide the nose wiping.
  • Toddlers are developing a “sense of self” so we respect them for who they are and make sure that our words are positive and not negative. They are learning what to be afraid of, how valued they are, how safe they are, how much they are loved, how important they are, etc. from the way we interact with them. We realize that children need positive encouragement but do not always need to be praised. We do not need to say “good job” but rather to verbalize what it is they did that was good. “You remembered which cot is yours!” “You really jumped high. I did not know that you could jump that high”. Being specific with positive remarks tells the child exactly what it was he/she did and also says to the child that we are really paying attention. This also gives the child the positive attention that toddlers need. Greeting a child with joy at the beginning of the day can make a big difference. “John, I am so excited to see you today because I would miss you if you were not here.” Through our words and actions, we strive to support the development of a positive self-esteem and a competent toddler.

 

 

©2017 Sandy Newnan, M.Ed.

Our Philosophy

(Twos)

TwosOur philosophy in working with two year olds is based on what we know about two year olds. We know the following:

  • Two year olds are working on becoming independent and autonomous. That is their task. Two year olds are capable. They often say “me do it” so we give them opportunities to be independent. Examples of this are: getting their own tissue, washing their own hands, feeding themselves, putting on their own shoes and jackets, etc. If they are struggling with a task and they have become frustrated, we give a little bit of help so they can be successful.
  • Two year olds like to use the word “No”. We understand why the two year old has become resistant. It is their job to become independent. (This happens again when the child becomes a teenager!) They want some control over what happens to them. For instance, diaper changing. “NO, NO, NO.” We understand that this is a normal and important stage of development so we do not get upset by the “no’s”. We acknowledge the feelings and give them some choices, e.g. “Do you want your diaper changed after the story or before the story?” We also think of ways to give them fun opportunities to say “no” by asking questions like “Does the dog say meow?” “Can you eat a house?”
  • We understand that children have their own time table for readiness for toilet learning. So there are signs that we look for to determine a child’s readiness which include three developmental domains: cognitive, physical and emotional. We encourage parents to also look for the signs of readiness. Below are a few of the questions to determine readiness:
  • Is the child physically ready? Does he have sphincter (the muscles related to elimination) control? Is she staying dry for longer periods of time? Is he dry in the morning? Can she pull up and down her pants?
  • Is the child cognitively ready? Does she understand the connection between the feeling of a full bladder and the need to urinate? Does she verbalize when she feels the need to urinate or have a bowel movement? Is he uncomfortable with wet or soiled diapers? Can she follow simple directions?
  • Is the child emotionally ready: Is he willing to use the toilet? Has she expressed interest in using the toilet?

We believe that the process of toilet learning involves the family, the teachers and the child. It is a partnership so we work together throughout the process. We also know that there will be accidents and that is part of the learning process. Children are not chastised when accidents happen nor do we reward with stickers or lots of praise. We may say, “You did it” or “You seem pretty excited that you used the potty.”

  • Two year olds are quickly developing language so we listen intently when they are trying to communicate. We, also, help to increase their vocabulary by introducing them to new words, singing songs, reading books and describing what they are doing as they do it, e.g.: “You are climbing up the big hill.”
  • Two year olds are learning about their new world and are interested in lots of different things. Developmentally, they are not all in the same stage of development. So the curriculum is developmentally appropriate which means that it is age appropriate, individually appropriate and culturally appropriate. It is based on what the two year finds interesting which means we observe closely to see what they play with, how long they play with it, and what skills are emerging, etc. It is an emerging curriculum based on following the child’s interest and what is relevant to her. Vocabulary and math concepts are taught naturally as children play. For example, we may introduce the following pre-math concepts: “big” and “small” when they are playing with different size balls; “heavy” and “light” when they are filling up a bucket in the sandbox; “long” and “short” when they are playing with play dough. We may introduce numbers when they jump: “Oh, you just jumped two times”; when they notice their pockets: “Let’s see how many pockets you have. One, two, three, four. You have four pockets. I don’t have any pockets”. I wonder how many pockets, Milly has.”
  • Two year olds are curious and are explorers so we provide interesting appropriate materials for them to investigate and we give them time to explore. This could include play dough, empty bottles, balls, water, empty containers, lids, etc. It is interesting how the simplest objects are the most interesting to them. Children learn best through “hands-on” activities. Exploring these items also help to develop fine motor muscles and eye-hand coordination. Simple toys encourage active thinking. The children are working on pre-reading, pre-math and pre-writing skills as they explore their world!!
  • Two year olds have lots of feelings: frustration, sadness, excitement, disappointment, scared, confused, etc. So we respect and acknowledge those feelings by saying something like, “You are really feeling sad that your Daddy had to go. I see tears on your face.” We do not try to make the child feel better but let him know that it is okay to feel what he is feeling. Responding to a child in this way helps to build empathy because we are demonstrating empathy.
  • Two year olds are capable of empathy so we want to encourage those feelings but we do not require them to say, “I am sorry” to a friend who they have hurt physically or emotionally. Requiring a child to apologize when he is not sorry is encouraging him to say something that is not true. Also, it gives the child the idea that saying, “I am sorry” makes everything okay. We model for the children by saying to the child who was hurt, “I am sorry that you were hit. That must have hurt.”
  • Two year olds are possessive and not good at sharing. They use the word, “mine” often. Since we realize that a child cannot willingly share until he has first had the opportunity to possess, we say to the child, “Yes, it is yours until you are finished with it but when you are finished Sara would like a turn”. It is quite amazing how willing they are to share when they are in control. When a child takes a toy away from another child, we encourage the child to say, “I am not finished with that yet”. We, also, realize that if we, the adult, takes a toy away from a child who has taken the toy away from another child, we are demonstrating that it is okay to take the toy away if you are bigger. That is a confusing message for the child!  
  • Two year olds are learning how to interact with others. They may bite, hit, kick, throw or spit. So we redirect them to a positive behavior that meets the need that they are demonstrating.
  • Lunch time is an opportunity for social interaction, a time to introduce new vocabulary words and encourage eating new foods. We model table manners by eating with the children and increase vocabulary by talking about what we are eating or what we did that morning or what we are going to do in the afternoon, etc.
  • Two year olds are working on large motor development and like to climb, run, jump and push. So we give them lots of opportunities for vigorous play. However, we do not help them climb up on equipment because we believe that they are safer on the equipment if they have had the experience of climbing up by themselves. The ability to climb up by themselves tells us that their muscles are strong enough to be safe on the equipment and in climbing up themselves they know how high they are. We may suggest that they watch a friend climb up to see if they can learn the technique.
  • Two year olds’ attention spans are usually short but we realize that when they choose the activity, they spend more time with it so they are allowed to choose where they play and with what. We know that group time should match the child’s attention span. For two year olds, group time includes an age appropriate book, a song, a movement activity and lasts about 10 minutes. We sing a song to invite them to group time. We sing directions because music gets their attention and is fun!
  • Two year olds need limits. It helps them to feel secure. So we provide appropriate limits, along with appropriate freedom. When trying to decide if what the child is doing is inappropriate, we ask ourselves:
  • Is the child in danger? We realize it is important to determine if the child is in real danger of getting hurt or are we being too cautious. Children need opportunities to test their physical abilities. We realize that climbing up the slide uses different muscles than sliding down the slide. The slide can safely be used in many different ways.
  • Is the child hurting others? Very often twos do not understand that they are hurting others so we help them to understand this by gentle guidance. “When you pushed her down, it scared her and made her cry.”
  • Is the child tearing up reusable materials? For example, it is okay for a child to tear up her art work but not a puzzle.
  • Is the child being responsible for his actions? Two year olds need to begin to be responsible (with adult help) for their actions, e.g. cleaning up spilled milk, helping to clean up toys, etc. We do not require the two year olds to keep certain materials in specific centers. We know that two year olds enjoy carrying items around the classroom. They may want to take their “baby” to the block area and make a bed with blocks. They may want to carry a bottle around the room because they enjoy holding it. What is important is that the items are returned to the appropriate center at clean-up time. This is important because it helps twos to understand about order-certain items belong in specific areas. This is also helping them to classify which is a math skill and it helps them to be responsible for their actions.
  • Is the child being disrespectful of others? For example, calling other children names, etc.

If we determine that the child needs a limit set, we often use an I-message to help the child understand our feelings and why we feel that way. “I am worried when you tear a page in the book, we will not be able to read it”. We can also encourage responsible behavior by saying, “We need to fix the torn page. I will get some tape and you can help me”.

  • Two year olds need predictability. So we keep the schedule as consistent as possible so that the children know what comes next throughout the day. We give them a “warning” before transitions. “You have a few more minutes to play before it is time to clean up”. They are given a warning before diaper changing. This shows that we respect their time and know that they need time to adjust to the idea of a transition. If the room gets too loud, we don’t get louder than the children, we start singing one of the children’s favorite songs (we sing it softer and softer) to bring the noise level down.
  • Two year olds are learning a “sense of self” so we respect them for who they are and make sure that our words are positive and not negative. We realize that children need positive encouragement but do not always need to be praised. We do not need to say “good job” but rather to verbalize what it is they did that was good. “That was very kind of you to share the doll with Susan because she really wanted to play with it”. “You really jumped high. I did not know that you could jump that high”. Being specific with positive remarks tells the child exactly what it was he/she did and also says to the child that we are really paying attention. This also gives the child the positive attention that two year olds need. Greeting a child with joy at the beginning of the day can make a big difference. “John, I am so excited to see you today because I would miss you if you were not here.” Through our words and actions, we strive to support the development of a positive self-esteem.
  • Two year olds want some “power” so we give them choices. They get to choose what centers they work in, they choose whether they do the art activity or not, they choose how long they stay at group time, they choose what book they look at, they choose whether they want more food or not, etc. We continue to look for opportunities to give them choices.

©2017 Sandy Newnan, M.Ed.

Our Philosophy

(Three Year Olds)

ThreesOur philosophy in working with three year olds is based on what we know about three year olds. We know the following:

  • Three year olds want to have some control over their environment. They enjoy doing things for themselves and helping adults with their task So we give them jobs to help around the room: watering the plants, setting the table for lunch, clearing their dishes off of the table, cleaning up their spills, etc. We give them choices in which either choice is acceptable.
  • Three year olds are curious and want to know about a lot of things. So the curriculum is based on what the three year old finds interesting which means we observe closely to see what they play with, how long they play with it, who they play with, what they talk about, etc. It is an emerging curriculum based on following the child’s interest and what is relevant to her. Vocabulary and math concepts are taught naturally as children play. For example, we may introduce “one-to-one correspondence when we say “Each one of you has one water bottle”; “big, huge, small, and tiny” when we say: “Are you going to take a big step or a huge step? A tiny step or a small step?”
  •  The three year old’s brain continues to grow so we look for ways to promote cognitive growth. The classroom is filled with materials that invite exploration and discovery. We would rather the child make his own discoveries. For instance, when children are provided with red and yellow finger paint, we do not say, “If you mix them together you will get orange”. We wait and let them discover the new color for themselves. When working in centers (blocks, dramatic play, manipulatives, art, books, sensory and science), the children are learning about spatial relations, balance, colors, math concepts, vocabulary, etc.) We know that children learn best through play!
  • Three year olds are curious and are explorers so we provide interesting, appropriate materials for them to investigate and we give them time to explore. This could include play dough, empty bottles, balls, water, containers, sand, paint, recyclable materials, etc. It is interesting how the simplest objects are the most interesting to them. Children learn best through “hands-on” activities. Exploring these items also help to develop fine motor muscles and eye-hand coordination. Simple toys encourage active thinking.
  • Three year olds are capable of being creative and thinking “out of the box” so we provide materials that are open-ended which children can use in many ways without fear of being wrong. The child is free to create whatever she imagines. We believe that the process is more important than the finished product. Therefore, there may not be a finished product to take home at the end of each day.
  •  Three year olds’ vocabulary is growing every day so we get on their eye-level and listen intently when they are trying to communicate. We value conversations with children. It lets us know what they are thinking and gives us an opportunity to add new words to their vocabulary. Three year olds are learning the rules of grammar, which do not always apply. For instance, the child has learned that “ed” is added to a word to denote past tense so she may say, “Mommy ‘goed’ to work”. When this happens we do not tell the child that she is not correct. Instead, we say, “Yes, your Mommy went to work”. The child will learn by our example. We, also, help to increase their vocabulary by introducing them to new words through songs, books, finger plays, etc. They love repetition so we may read a favorite book over and over. We know that reading age appropriate books to children helps to develop a love of reading which, in turn, inspires them to want to read.
  • Three year olds are working on large motor development and like to climb, run, and jump, etc. So we give them lots of opportunities for vigorous play. However, we do not help them climb up on equipment because we believe that they are safer on the equipment if they have had the experience of climbing up by themselves. The ability to climb up by themselves tells us that their muscles are strong enough to be safe on the equipment and in climbing up themselves they know how high they are. We may suggest that they watch a friend climb up to see if they can learn the technique. We provide opportunities that will increase their large motor development and challenge them physically: balance boards, stepping stones, climbing up the slide and not just sliding down the slide, hopping, jumping over appropriate height objects, obstacle courses, balls, etc.
  •  Three year olds are developing their fine motor skills (including hand-eye coordination) so we provide a variety of materials to develop those skills: play dough, scissors, Legos, puzzles, finger paint, sand, water play, tongs, beads and string, crayons, magic markers, etc. We know that using these materials develops the small muscles necessary for writing.
  • Three year olds have lots of feelings: frustration, sadness, excitement, disappointment, fright, confusion, happiness, etc. So we respect and acknowledge those feelings by saying something like, “Anna, I see that you are really disappointed that all of the pears are gone because you really like those pears.” Responding to a child in this way helps to build empathy because we are being empathetic. We are also increasing her emotional vocabulary. We also acknowledge the happy feelings!
  • Three year olds are capable of empathy so we want to encourage those feelings but we do not require them to say, “I am sorry” to a friend who they have hurt physically or emotionally. Requiring a child to apologize when he/she is not sorry is encouraging him/her to say something that is not true. Also, it gives the child the idea that saying, “I am sorry” makes everything okay. We model for the children by saying to the child who was hurt, “I am sorry that you were hit. That must have hurt.”
  • Three year olds are working on their social development. Many three year olds have moved from the parallel stage of play (playing beside another child but not interacting) to the associative play stage which means that they are playing beside each other with some interaction, e.g. playing in the dramatic play center. So we give them lots of opportunities to play beside or with other children to continue to develop social skills. They also have disputes with each other. We are available to help them work through their problems with the goal of giving them skills so they can solve their own problems. For example, we may say, “So you both want to ride on the red tricycle. Ayla wants to ride on the tricycle and Josh wants to ride on the tricycle. How can we solve this problem”? It is very surprising how many solutions they come up with to solve the problem when given the opportunity. We support them through this process but we try not to solve the problem for them. We want them to see themselves as problem solvers.
  • Three year olds need lots of opportunities to work on social skills. So we see lunch time as an opportunity for social interaction, a time to introduce new vocabulary words and encourage eating new foods. We model table manners by eating with the children and increase vocabulary by talking about what we are eating or what they are excited about, etc.
  • Three year olds are getting better at sharing but may not be completely ready to share. Since we realize that a child cannot willingly share until they have first had the opportunity to possess, we say to the child, “Yes, it is yours until you are finished with it but when you are finished Sara would like a turn”. It is quite amazing how willing they are to share when they are in control. We, also, realize that if we, the adult, take a toy away from a child who has taken the toy away from another child, we are demonstrating that it is okay to take the toy away if you are bigger. That is a confusing message for the child!
  • Three year olds’ attention spans are developing, we realize that when they choose the activity, they spend more time with it so they are allowed to choose where they play, with what and with whom they play with and how long. We realize that the length of group time should match their attention span so we read an age appropriate book, sing a song, etc. but we are careful to limit the time of the group time to about 15 minutes. We know that learning really takes place when the children are physically involved with materials-not sitting and listening to an adult.
  • Three year olds need consistent limits. So we provide consistent, appropriate limits, along with appropriate freedom. When trying to decide if what the child is doing is inappropriate, we ask ourselves:
  • Is the child in danger? We realize it is important to determine if the child is in real danger of getting hurt or are we being too cautious. Children need opportunities to test their physical abilities. We realize that climbing up the slide uses different muscles than sliding down the slide. The slide can safely be used in many different ways.
  • Is the child hurting others?
  • Is the child tearing up reusable materials? For example, it is okay for a child to tear up his/her art work but not a puzzle.
  • Is the child being responsible for his actions? Three year olds need to begin to be responsible (with adult help) for their actions, e.g. cleaning up spilled milk, helping to clean up toys, etc. We do not require the three year olds to keep certain materials in specific centers. We know that three year olds enjoy carrying items around the classroom. They may want to take their “baby” to the block area and make a bed with blocks. What is important is that the items are returned to the appropriate center at clean-up time. This is important because it helps twos to understand about order-certain items belong in specific areas. This is also helping them to classify which is a math skill and it helps them to be responsible for their actions.
  • Is the child being disrespectful of others? For example, calling other children names, etc.
  • The goal of setting limits is for three year olds to learn to self-regulate (emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally). The next four bullets describe some of the ways we help children self-regulate. We practice taking deep breaths to calm ourselves. We play games that require the children to follow directions, e.g. Freeze or Simon Says. We encourage children to talk about their feelings. As teachers we model self-control ourselves so as to be a model for them.
  • Three year olds need predictability. So we keep the schedule as consistent as possible so that the children know what comes next each day. We give them a “warning” before transitions. “You have a few more minutes to play before it is time to clean up”. “It is almost time to go inside. You have five more minutes to play.” This shows that we respect their needs and know that they need time to adjust to the idea of a transition.
  • Three year olds want some “power” so we give them choices. They get to choose what centers they work in, they choose whether they do the art activity or not, they choose what book they look at, they choose whether they want more food or not, etc. We are always looking for opportunities to give them choices.
  • We understand that children have their own time table for readiness for toilet learning. Therefore, sometimes three year olds have not yet mastered toilet learning. So there are signs that we look for to determine a child’s readiness which include three developmental domains: cognitive, physical and emotional. We encourage parents to also look for the signs of readiness. Below are a few of the questions to determine readiness:
    • Is the child physically ready? Does he have sphincter (the muscles related to elimination) control? Is she staying dry for longer periods of time? Is he dry in the morning? Can she pull up and down her pants?
    • Is the child cognitively ready? Does she understand the connection between the feeling of a full bladder and the need to urinate? Does she verbalize when she feels the need to urinate or have a bowel movement? Is he uncomfortable with wet or soiled diapers? Can she follow simple directions?
    • Is the child emotionally ready: Is he willing to use the toilet? Has she expressed interest in using the toilet?
      We believe that the process of toilet learning involves the family, the teachers and the child. It is a partnership, so we work together throughout the process. We also know that there will be accidents and that is part of the learning process. Children are not chastised when accidents  happen nor do we reward with stickers or lots of praise. We may say, “You did it” or “You seem pretty excited that you used the potty.”
  • Three year olds have developed a “sense of self” so we respect them for who they are and make sure that our words are positive even as we set a limit. We understand that building a caring relationship with the child is of utmost importance. We realize that children need positive encouragement but do not always need to be praised. We do not need to say “good job” but rather to verbalize what it is they did that was good. “Wow, you just figured out how to climb down from that big rock”. Being specific with positive remarks tells the child exactly what it was she did and also says to the child that we are really paying attention. This also gives the child the positive attention that three year olds need. Greeting a child with joy at the beginning of the day can make a big difference. “Greg, I have been waiting for you. I remember that you enjoyed working with the beads and strings yesterday so I put them on the table for you.” Through our words and actions, we strive to support the development of positive self-esteem and a competent three year old!

 

 

©2017 Sandy Newnan, M.Ed.

  • Our Philosophy
  • (Fours)
  • FoursOur philosophy in working with four year olds is based on what we know about four year olds:
  • Four year olds like to take the initiative. They enjoy doing things for themselves and helping adults with their task So we give them jobs to help around the room: watering the plants, setting the table for lunch, taking sheets off of the cot to be washed and then putting them back on the cot, etc. We encourage self-help skills.
  • Four year olds are scientists and researchers so the classroom is designed to encourage exploration. The curriculum is developmentally appropriate which means that it is individually appropriate, age appropriate and culturally appropriate. We know that children learn best when they are interested in the subject.  The curriculum is based on the children’s interest and emerges based on the children’s ideas and suggestions. We observe what the children play with, what questions they ask, how long they play in a center, what they are talking about, what books they look at, etc. and we plan accordingly. We provide a variety of open-ended materials to explore. Two of the most popular centers are blocks and dramatic play. Four year olds are builders so there are a variety of blocks in the block center so that they can pursue their interest in building. In the block center, they are learning about spatial relationships, mathematical concepts, problem solving, science, etc. The dramatic play center is inviting and provides a variety of experiences. The dramatic play center can be set up as a kitchen, a grocery store, a veterinary clinic, a pet store, etc. We may ask the children questions to provoke their thinking as they play. These questions do not have a right or wrong answer which encourages the children to use their imagination.
  • Four year olds are very creative and are capable of thinking “out of the box” so we encourage that type of thinking by providing art materials that are open-ended which children can use in many ways without fear of being wrong. The child is given art materials (markers, crayons, collage materials, glue, paint, etc.) and is free to create whatever he/she imagines. We believe that the process is more important than the finished product. Therefore, there may not be a finished product to take home at the end of each day. We also provide them with “loose parts” that can be used in many different ways and for many different purposes. We always wonder how they will use these materials and we are often surprised by their creativity.
  •  Four year old’s vocabulary continues to grow. Their sentences are becoming more complex. So we provide experiences that increase vocabulary and give examples of more complex sentences. We read stories that are longer, with new vocabulary words; we sing songs that have more than one verse; we sing songs that are silly in order to introduce rhyming words, etc. Singing songs helps children to develop their auditory memory. We know it is important for reading that children understand the language connection. We write their words on paper and read them back. Writing the children’s words on paper helps them to understand “what they think, they can say and what they say can be written down and what can be written down can be read”. This approach combines all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Four year olds are very active and require lots of time for vigorous play. Children like to engage in “rough and tumble” play. This play is more typical in boys but girls will sometimes enjoy this type of play. We realize that this is a part of a child’s normal development so we provide opportunities for running, chasing, rolling, throwing, tumbling, climbing, jumping, We realize that physical play promotes early brain development.
  • Four year olds are developing their fine motor skills (including eye-hand coordination) so we provide a variety of materials to develop those skills: play dough, scissors, Legos, puzzles, finger paint, sand, water play, tongs, beads and string, crayons, magic markers, hole punchers, etc. We know that using these materials develop the small muscles necessary for writing. At this age, some of them are interested in writing so we provide unlined paper and pencils/magic markers for them to begin to write their name or whatever they are interested in writing.
  • Four year olds have lots of feelings: frustration, sadness, excitement, disappointment, scared, confusion, happiness, etc. So we respect and acknowledge those feelings. For example, we may say to a child who is sad about a friend who does not want to play with her, “Polly, I see that it is really making you sad that Marla does not want to play with you right now.” Responding to a child in this way helps to build empathy because we are modeling empathy. We are also increasing her emotional vocabulary. After waiting for Polly to express her feelings, we may say, “How can you solve your problem?” We always want the children to be the problem solvers. We will support them through this process.
  • Four year olds can be very empathetic so we want to encourage those feelings but we do not require them to say, “I am sorry” to a friend who they have hurt physically or emotionally. Requiring a child to apologize when she is not sorry is encouraging her to say something that is not true. Also, it gives the child the idea that saying, “I am sorry” makes everything okay. We model for the children by saying to the child who was hurt, “I am sorry that you were hit. That must have hurt.”
  • Four year olds are in the cooperative stage of play. Peers are very important to them. They enjoy playing with other children and very often will call another child, “my best friend”. If unhappy with another child, they will often say, “You can’t come to my birthday party”. From a four year old’s perspective not being invited to a birthday party is the worse threat of all. We use this as an opportunity to talk about feelings, e.g. “I think that made Carla sad when you said she can’t come to your birthday party”. So we note the feeling but we do not require the child to apologize. We give the children lots of time to play with their peers, work through problems, decide who to play with, express their feelings and listen to other children express their feelings. They are developing important social skills that are necessary to be successful in life.
  • Four year olds enjoy talking to each other. So we see lunch time as an opportunity for social interaction, a time to introduce new vocabulary words and encourage eating new foods. We model table manners by eating with the children and increase vocabulary by talking about what we are eating or what they may be interested in that day.
  • Four year old’s attention span continues to increase and we know a long attention span is necessary for the child to be able to focus so we allow the children to stay in a center as long as he needs to during center time. We do not want to interrupt the learning that is taking place at that time. We realize that the length of group time should match the children’s attention span so we read an age appropriate book, sing a song, discuss the plans for the day, etc. but we are careful to limit the time to about 20 minutes-depending on their interest. We know that learning really takes place when the children are physically involved with materials-not sitting and listening to an adult.
  • Four year olds need consistent limits. So we provide consistent, appropriate limits, along with appropriate freedom. When trying to decide if what the child is doing is inappropriate, we ask ourselves:
    • Is the child in danger? We realize it is important to determine if the child is in real danger of getting hurt or are we being too cautious. Children need opportunities to test their physical abilities. We realize that climbing up the slide uses different muscles than sliding down the slide. The slide can safely be used in many different ways.
    • Is the child hurting others?
    • Is the child tearing up reusable materials? For example, it is okay for a child to tear up her art work but not a puzzle.
    • Is the child being responsible for his actions? For example, cleaning up toys after playing with them, etc.
    • Is the child being disrespectful of others? For example, calling other children names, etc.
  • The goal of discipline for four year olds is to help them learn to self-regulate (behaviorally, cognitively and emotionally). We know that appropriate limits helps children feel secure and to be able to self-regulate.
  • An example of appropriate limit setting is when children reach the stage of using “bathroom” words e.g. “poopy head”, which is usually four years of age. We are careful not to overreact because we know that a strong reaction from us will encourage more of those words in order to get our attention. Since these words are bathroom words, we ask the children to say them in the bathroom but not to another child since this would be disrespectful. Therefore, the limit is that “bathroom” words are said in the bathroom. Giving children permission to use those words in the bathroom and not overreacting usually results in a loss of interest in those words fairly quickly.
  • We play games that help children regulate their bodies, e.g. “Simon Says”. Children have to listen carefully to know when to follow directions and when not to. We also encourage the children to talk about their feelings instead of striking out. We encourage children to negotiate (express himself and then listen to the other child express herself and then come up with a solution) when there is a problem. We pay attention to the children’s body language to determine if they are overstressed, and if they seem to be, we intervene by talking about feelings, reading a book to them, encouraging deep breathing, bringing out the play dough or water play, etc. to bring their stress level down, We work to scaffold their learning by paying attention to where they are in all of the domains and then give a little bit of help to move them to the next level. But most of all, we model self-control ourselves If we are feeling stressed, we may say to the children, “I think I need to do some deep breathing exercises”. If the room gets too loud, we don’t get louder than the children, we start singing one of the children’s favorite songs (we sing it softer and softer) to bring the noise level down. At naptime, we may lead them through a deep breathing exercise to help them relax and to give them a tool for self-regulation.
  • Sometimes four year olds have disputes with their friends over toys, space, etc. So we encourage the children to solve their own problem. We label the problem: “It looks like you both want to play with the silver tricycle. We ask for solutions: “What can you do to solve your problem?” We listen to their suggestions. We help them through the process with as little help as possible. We want them to see themselves as problem solvers!
  • Most four year olds can handle a change in routine better than younger children but we still keep the schedule as consistent as possible so that the children know what comes next each day. We give them a “warning” before transitions. “You have a few more minutes to play before it is time to clean up”. “Soon we will be going inside. You have five more minutes to play.” This shows that we respect their needs and know that they need time to adjust to the idea of a transition.
  • Four year olds want to be in charge so we give them appropriate “power”. They get to choose what centers they work in, they choose whether they do the art activity or not, they choose what book they look at, they choose whether they want more food or not, etc. We are always looking for opportunities to give them choices. Children who are given appropriate choices are less likely to try to take “power”!
  • Four year olds have developed a “sense of self” so we respect them for who they are and make sure that our words are positive even as we set limits. We understand that building a caring relationship with the child is of utmost importance. Our goal is to have a positive, significant connection with each child each day. We realize that children need positive encouragement but do not always need to be praised. We do not need to say “good job” or give out stickers but rather to verbalize what it is they did that was meaningful. “Wow, I see that you and Mack just solved your problem. You figured out how to play with the truck together”. Being specific with positive remarks tells the child exactly what it was he/she did and also says to the child that we are really paying attention. Greeting a child with joy at the beginning of the day can make a big difference. “Cameron, I am so glad that you are here. Your friends will be happy to see you. They are working in the block area.” Through our words and actions, we strive to support the development of positive self-esteem and a competent four year old!

 

©2017 Sandy Newnan, M.Ed.

Our Philosophy

(Pre-Kindergarten Children)

Pre-KOur philosophy in working with pre-kindergarten children is based on what we know about “old” fours and “young” fives. We know the following:

  • Pre-kindergarten children like to take the initiative. They enjoy doing things for themselves and helping adults with their task So we give them jobs to help around the room: watering the plants, setting the table for lunch, clearing their dishes off of the table, cleaning up their spills, taking the sheets off of the cot to be washed and then putting them back on, etc. We encourage self-help skills.
  • Pre-kindergarten children are scientists and researchers so the classroom is designed to encourage exploration. We know that children learn best when they are interested in the subject. The curriculum is developmentally appropriate which means it is age appropriate, individually appropriate and culturally appropriate. The curriculum is based on the children’s interest and it emerges based on the children’s ideas and questions. We observe what the children play with, what questions they ask, how long they play in a center, what they are talking about, what books they look at, etc. We know that through play we can introduce the children to science and math concepts; expand their vocabulary; develop their fine and gross motor muscles and encourage thinking skills through questions that provoke their thinking.
  • Pre-kindergarten children are very creative and are capable of thinking “out of the box” so we encourage that type of thinking by providing art materials that are open-ended which children can use in many ways without fear of being wrong. The child is given art materials (markers, crayons, collage materials, glue, paint, etc.) and is free to create whatever he/she imagines. We believe that the process is more important than the finished product. Therefore, there may not be a finished product to take home at the end of each day.
  • Pre-kindergarten children’s vocabulary continues to grow. His sentences are becoming more complex. So we provide experiences that increase vocabulary and give examples of more complex sentences. We read stories that are longer, with new vocabulary words; we sing songs that have more than one verse; we read fun poems in order to introduce rhyming words, etc. Singing songs helps children to develop their auditory memory. At naptime, we read chapter books without pictures, we ask the children to imagine the pictures in their head. We ask children to create their own stories. We know it is important for reading that children understand the language connection. We write their words on paper and read them back. Writing the children’s words on paper helps them to understand “what they think, they can say and what they say can be written down and what can be written down can be read”. This approach combines all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Pre-kindergarten children are very active and require lots of time for vigorous play. Children like to engage in “rough and tumble” play. This play is more typical in boys but girls will sometimes enjoy this type of play. We realize that this is a part of a child’s normal development so we provide opportunities for running, chasing, rolling, throwing, tumbling, climbing, jumping, We realize that physical play promotes early brain development.
  • Pre-kindergarten children are developing their fine motor skills (including eye-hand coordination) so we provide a variety of materials to develop those skills: play dough, scissors, Legos, puzzles, finger paint, sand, water play, beads and string, crayons, magic markers, tongs, hole punchers, puzzles, etc. We know that using these materials develop the small muscles necessary for writing. At this age, some of them are interested in writing so we provide unlined paper and pencils/magic markers for them to begin to write their name or whatever they are interested in writing.
  • Pre-kindergarten children are still learning how to handle different feelings. So we respect and acknowledge those feelings. For example, we may say to a child who is sad about a friend who does not want to play with her, “Polly, I see that it is really making you sad that Marla does not want to play with you right now.” Responding to a child in this way helps to build empathy because we are modeling empathy. We are also increasing her emotional vocabulary. After waiting for Polly to express her feelings, we may say, “How can you solve your problem?” We always want the children to be the problem solvers. We certainly will support them through this process.
  • Pre-kindergarten children can be very empathetic so we want to encourage those feelings but we do not require them to say, “I am sorry” to a friend who they have hurt physically or emotionally. Requiring a child to apologize when he is not sorry is encouraging him to say something that is not true. Also, it gives the child the idea that saying, “I am sorry” makes everything okay. We model for the children by saying to the child who was hurt, “I am sorry that you were hit. That must have hurt.”
  • Pre-kindergarten children are in the cooperative stage of play. Peers are very important to them. They enjoy playing with other children and very often will call another child, “my best friend”. If unhappy with another child, they will often say, “You can’t come to my birthday party”. From a pre-kindergarten’s perspective not being invited to a birthday party is the worse threat of all. We use this as an opportunity to talk about feelings, e.g. “I think that made Carla sad when you said she can’t come to your birthday party”. So we note the feeling but we do not require the child to apologize. We give the children lots of time to play with their peers, work through problems, decide who to play with, express their feelings and listen to other children express their feelings. They are developing important social skills that are necessary to be successful in life.
  • Pre-kindergarten children enjoy talking to each other. So we see lunch time as an opportunity for social interaction, a time to introduce new vocabulary words and encourage eating new foods. We model table manners by eating with the children and increase vocabulary by talking about what we are eating or whatever they are interested in that day.
  • Pre-kindergarten children’s attention span continues to increase and we know a long attention span is necessary for the child to be able to focus so we allow the children to stay in a center as long as she needs to during center time. We do not want to interrupt the learning that is taking place at that time. We realize that the length of group time should match the children’s attention span so we read an age appropriate book, sing a song, discuss the plans for the day, etc. but we are careful to limit the time to about 20 minutes-depending on their interest. We know that learning really takes place when the children are physically involved with materials-not sitting and listening to an adult.
  • Pre-kindergarten children need limits. It helps them to feel secure. So we provide appropriate limits, along with appropriate freedom. When trying to decide if what the child is doing is inappropriate, we ask ourselves:
    • Is the child in danger? We realize it is important to determine if the child is in real danger of getting hurt or are we being too cautious. Children need opportunities to test their physical abilities. We realize that climbing up the slide uses different muscles than sliding down the slide. The slide can safely be used in many different ways.
    • Is the child hurting others?
    • Is the child tearing up reusable materials? For example, it is okay for a child to tear up his/her art work but not a puzzle.
    • Is the child being responsible for his actions? Pre-kindergarten children should be responsible for cleaning up their spills, cleaning up their toys, etc.
    • Is the child being disrespectful of others? For example, calling other children names, etc.
  • Sometimes pre-kindergarten children have disputes with their friends over toys, space, etc. So we encourage the children to solve their own problems. We label the problem: “It looks like you both want to play with the silver tricycle. We ask for solutions: “What can you do to solve your problem?” We listen to their suggestions. We help them through the process with as little help as possible. We want them to solve themselves as problem solvers!
  • Pre-kindergarten children continue to develop their self-regulation skills (behaviorally, cognitively and emotionally). So we play games that help children regulate their bodies, e.g. “Simon Says”. Children have to listen carefully to know when to follow directions and when not to. We also encourage the children to talk about their feelings instead of striking out. We encourage children to negotiate (express himself and then listen to the other child express herself and them come up with a solution) when there is a problem. We pay attention to the children’s body language to determine if they are overstressed, and if they seem to be, we intervene by talking about feelings, reading a book to them, encourage deep breathing, bringing out the play dough or water play, etc. to bring their stress level down, We work to scaffold their learning by paying attention to where they are in all of the domains and then give a little bit of help to move them to the next level. But most of all, we model self-control ourselves If we are feeling stressed, we may say to the children, “I think I need to do some deep breathing exercises”. If the room gets too loud, we don’t get louder than the children, we start singing one of the children’s favorite songs (we sing it softer and softer) to bring the noise level down. At naptime, we may lead them through a deep breathing exercise to help them relax and to give them a tool for self-regulation.
  • Most pre-kindergarten children can handle a change in routine better than younger children but we still keep the schedule as consistent as possible so that the children know what comes next each day. We give them a “warning” before transitions. “You have a few more minutes to play before it is time to clean up”. “It is almost time to go inside. You have five more minutes to play.” This shows that we respect their needs and know that they need time to adjust to the idea of a transition.
  • Pre-kindergarten children want to be in charge so we give them appropriate “power”. They get to choose what centers they work in, they choose whether they do the art activity or not, they choose what book they look at, they choose whether they want more food or not, etc. We are always looking for opportunities to give them choices. Children who are given appropriate choices are less likely to try to take “power”!
  • Pre-kindergarten children have developed a “sense of self” so we respect them for who they are and make sure that our words are positive even as we set limits. We understand that building a caring relationship with the child is of utmost importance. Our goal is to have a positive, significant connection with each child each day. We realize that children need positive encouragement but do not always need to be praised. We do not need to say “good job” or give out stickers but rather to verbalize what it is they did that was meaningful. “Wow, I see that you and Mack just solved your problem. You figured out how to play with the truck together”. Being specific with positive remarks tells the child exactly what it was he did and also says to the child that we are really paying attention. Greeting a child with joy at the beginning of the day can make a big difference. “Cameron, I am so glad that you are here. Your friends will be happy to see you. They are working in the block area.” Through our words and actions, we strive to support the development of positive self-esteem and a competent five year old!

 

©2017 Sandy Newnan, M.Ed.