Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tips for Preparing for the First Day of School

What an exciting time of year!  Summer is coming to an end and families are gearing up for the start of school.  As a teacher in a Pre-Primary classroom, we get to experience a family's first time sending their child to school as a 3 year old. As exciting as it is, it can also cause some anxiety-the unknown, change, and concern of a child's emotions can cause parents to be a bit apprehensive as their child starts a new chapter in their life.  As teachers prepare the classroom and lessons, there are also some great tips for parents to follow as we approach the first day of school.  
*Begin by talking to your child about school in a very positive way. Tell them the reasons you chose the school for your child:  wonderful materials, great playground, caring teachers etc. Children are adaptable to change, especially when they know what to expect.  If the school is new for your child, try and schedule a time they can visit the school prior to the first day.  It's helpful for children to see the space and meet the teachers. 
*Set up a plan for drop off~ask the school/teachers what their procedure is and what they suggest for the drop off.  Many schools have car lines and recommend starting the Carline routine the first day.   However, if you feel more comfortable walking your child in the first day, that shouldn't be a problem.  Practice how drop off will go with your child at home-role play and explain that you are dropping him/her off at at safe place where they will have fun and meet new friends.  Be prepared for the fact that separating may not go smoothly at first, but be confident that the teachers have a lot of experience on how to handle these types of situations.  
*Know that most children will become calm and interested in the classroom soon after you depart.  The teacher can give you an update of how things went when you pick up your child at the end of the day.  Most children learn to separate pretty quickly.  If there is a pattern of a difficult separation, talk with your child's teacher to come up with a plan that can help support your child.  
*Remember that teachers and parents are working together to instill self-confidence and independence for every child.  The goal is to help your child enter the classroom confidently, hang up their backpack, wash their hands and choose work.  Every child will reach this stage of independence and teachers and parents should be respectful of that process for each child. 

Ultimately, your child will learn to love their school and look forward to coming each day!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Reflection on a Class taken this week

I attended a class this week presented by Xavier and GCCME (Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education).  The name of the class was 'Montessori and Special Education-Returning to Our Roots'.  The week was so rich with knowledgeable and passionate presenters as well as time set aside to share and learn from other Montessori teachers from here locally as well as out of town.  As I reflect and remember, many things are stirring in my heart and mind.
Dr. Thomas Knestrict from Xavier University shared his research on the resiliency of families who are raising a child with special needs.  He spoke about the importance of Rules/Routines/Rituals.  These are important for all children, but particularly children with learning challenges or special needs.  Here is why it's important to establish rules/routines/rituals in your family.
**Rules are important because it establishes order and predictability.  Even though children won't always agree with the rule we are asking them to follow, the fact that there are rules that are followed consistently sends a message of security and love.   
**Routines are also a way to create structure and predictability.  This helps a child organize themselves within a safe framework of people who care about them.   From small tasks (setting a table, throwing dirty laundry in the hamper, helping prepare a meal) to larger tasks (mowing the lawn, washing the car, cleaning the house) routines are a way for children to find a rhythm to their lives which again, helps them to feel safe and secure.  When everyone knows and understands a routine, it can provide stability for the entire family.
**Rituals are routines with meaning. Rituals bring about connectedness among family members.  Rituals help family members attach to each other in healthy, loving ways. They also helps establish a value system in the family.  Caring about nightly meals together, or going to church together teaches children what is important and shows that the family is going to stay committed to doing these  consistent activities because of what it brings the family. 

How can you establish these things with younger children?

~Bedtime routines can be a special time with young babies through school aged children. Establishing a routine that is followed each night is a good idea-bath, story, lights out each night give children an opportunity to relax and prepare for sleep.
~Pick a day each week to go to the library or visit a favorite park.   
~Serve something special one particular night a week (Monday is pasta night or Tuesday is taco night). 
~Do a monthly give away of toys/books/clothes to a local charity-involve children in this process and routine of giving away.

Decide what is important to your family and help bring order and stability by implementing rules/routines or rituals.  I'm quite certain everyone will enjoy the time together!