She Can See!

One of our preschoolers came to school with a new pair of glasses. She was very excited to tell me that her new glasses were like mine (same shape, similar color)! My favorite quote from her that day was, “Miss Sarah, did you know, there are trees across the street!”

Poor girl! We had no idea she was having a hard time seeing. I can’t imagine not even know there were trees across the street!

I remember when I first got my glasses. The thing that stood out to me, was that the trees had tops on them. Obviously, I KNEW that the trees had tops on them… until you can actually SEE the line between the tops of the trees, and the sky, you don’t realize that you aren’t seeing it…

Because we have two children with new glasses, and because our unit is dinosaurs, I decided to read Bumposaurus. It’s a book about a baby dinosaur who can’t see. He ends up going on quite the adventure, and finds himself snuggling up to a T. Rex (that he thinks is his mother). After his family rescues him, he meets his grandma, who has on glasses. When he tries them on, he can finally see! It was very appropriate for this week! Gotta love it when things line up just perfectly!

If you have glasses, do you remember what stood out to you when you first got them? What about the children in your life? What have they commented on as being new to them once they could see?

Welcome Back!

Recently, I was on vacation for a week. After I got back, we had a day off for a Staff Inservice Day. That meant it was a full two weeks that I didn’t get to see our 3-4 year olds (They come 2 days/week).

At the beginning of the PM class on my first day back, one girl peeked her head in the class, and yelled, “Miss Sarah!!!!” She ran up to me and jumped up for the biggest Hang-from-the-neck hug in history (ok, maybe not history, but you get the idea). It was such a great way to start the afternoon!

That same day, my dog was sick – very sick! I had to call for a sub, because he had to be let out every 1/2 hour-45 minutes. In between, I was cleaning up after him. It was horrible! I was only able to find a sub for the morning class. Luckily, my husband got home from out of town on time for me to make it in for the PM class.

Because of the rough start to my day, that big hug from that little girl was EXTRA special! I needed that hug as much as she did!

When I sent the email to the families in the morning class letting them know I would be out, one of the moms responded, telling me that her daughter had prayed for me the night before, and told Jesus that she missed me…

Today was my first day back with the T/Th AM class. So many of the children had big smiles for me, and told me how much they had missed me. It really is a great feeling to be so loved by so many preschoolers! Reason #142 why I love my job! :-)

Something Unique Happened… Twice!

Our preschool classroom is located in a strip mall. We have no playground to play on, and only a small grass area between the parking lot and the road to play in. Needless to say, we only go outside a couple times per year (usually for fire drills, or to do sidewalk chalk outside the door). We also don’t have a gym.

How do we help children get their energy out? We do action songs, stretching, and/or breathing exercises at every group time. The area we use for Circle Time is also our Large Motor area during free choice time. Every couple weeks, we rotate what children can do in that area. Sometimes, it’s a trampoline or balance beam, other times, we might have something like bowling or basketball.

Children usually play appropriately, but it sometimes gets a little out of control with balls flying or rolling all over. This one time, we let the boys be a little rambunctious, and we were amazed with what happened next.

In a class of 4-5 year olds, a group of three boys started playing what appeared to be a real game of basketball (but with 2 balls). The boys were attempting to block each other, were trying to get the ball from each other, and make baskets. They were cheering for each other when they made it (even if they were on the opposite “team”).

One of the boys was acting as both player and ref. He would stop the game with a “Time Out”, tell them to come back in the lines, then would pretend to blow a whistle, and throw the ball in the air, as if for tip off. What shocked all three teachers in the room, was not only the level they were taking this game to, but that they were following each other’s directions, and no one was getting hurt feelings when the ball got taken away from them.

Other children came in and out of their game.  They played for a good 10-15 minutes (if not longer). All the children involved had red cheeks, and were sweating by the time it was time to clean up.

In all the years we’ve been teaching together, we always dread basketball week, because it usually turns into children throwing balls all over the room, getting out of control, and we have to put the balls away for the day because all other attempts at redirection fail. Not this year!

This amazing “game” of basketball in our classroom was a wonderful glimpse of what CAN happen when you let children get a little more “wild” with their play. It has never turned to this before.

What’s even more amazing, is that it happened again the next day with our 3-4 year olds! We couldn’t believe it!!

Our Cute Kiddos

We have an adorable group of preschoolers this year. Once again, I’ll be posting some of the funny, quirky, or just downright cute things they say through the year.

One day, I was sitting at the art table. One 4 year old boy asked me, “Miss Sarah, why don’t you guys do this cool stuff?” I asked him what he meant. His reply was, “Do you play when we leave?” If only we could! If only life were so simple as to wonder why everyone wasn’t playing, because that’s what our world revolved around… :-)

We have a 4 year old girl who loves Spiderman! She has a Spiderman backpack, and wears a Hello Kitty locket with a note inside that says, “I love Spiderman.” I love when parents encourage their girls to love Super Heroes just as much as Princesses (and vice versa)! This is the second year in a row that we’ve had a girl who loved Spiderman so much (and it’s not the same girl).

On the same note, a former co-worker of mine let her little boy dress as Maxarella. It was an unexpected costume from a boy who is usually decked out in his sports gear! He made a beautiful princess, and according to pictures, wore it proudly!  Way to let kids be kids!! :-)

A 5 year old boy told us he wasn’t going to come to school any more. When Miss Kim asked him why, he said, “Because you always make me draw.” Apparently, he doesn’t like when we do journals at school. He has also told us the same thing because we make him write his name too much. He hasn’t quit yet, so maybe we’re getting somewhere? ;-)

A 4 year old girl who joined us late last year as a 3 year old, and barely ever spoke has found her voice. She doesn’t talk often, but when she does, she has loooong stories to share! This past week, it started with, “There’s somethin’ fishy going on at my house. My shoes weren’t in the shoe pile, they were downstairs, and I don’t know how they got there.” The story went on as to how she discovered said shoes downstairs, and how she put them in the shoe pile… I have no idea where this random story came from at the snack table, but it was quite amusing!

At the snack table, with our three year olds, we were talking one day about whether or not they were in any sports. Some kids said they play soccer, some are in dance. One girl said “I play Barbies with my Mommy and Daddy.” I asked her if she did anything else, like maybe dance class or soccer. Her matter of fact response? “I do gymnastics, and I play Barbies.”Apparently, this is now a sport in the 3 year old scene! ;-)

In our program, we use the Second Step social-emotional curriculum. After some issues with the puppets last year, I was introducing new puppets. Our morning class gets the privilege of naming the puppets. Last year (or maybe two years ago), they came up with the names Jack and Jill. The new puppets are Billy, and… well, we couldn’t exactly agree on a girls’ name. I suggested Maria. One boy got really upset. He said, “We can’t call her Maria, that’s our house cleaner’s name!” He has since, mostly gotten over the fact that our puppet has the same name as the maid.

Many of the children in our classes have a hard time understanding that we are not only teachers, but parents too. One boy who we’ve had for 2 years totally gets it. When I’ve been gone because one of my kids is sick, he has been known to ask how my kid was doing upon my return. One day, after I demonstrated art, he asked me what I was going to do with my art. He asked, “Are you going to take it home to show your kids?” He was so sincere, I thought it would break his heart to know I usually throw mine away. I don’t remember exactly how I responded, but I remember thinking I should be careful with how I respond.

What fun or quirky things have you heard the little ones in your life say?

Kids Who Make me Laugh

One of my favorite things about being a preschool teacher is listening to what children have to say. Little ones are incredibly funny! Often times, they don’t mean to be, but when they tell you things they are absolutely sure is the truth, and they obviously can’t be, they are very entertaining.

Here are a couple of examples of things I heard at the end of the last school year that made me laugh:

4 year old girl – “I went to the moon one time. We went in a rocket ship and we bounced really high in our space suits.” When I asked if that was a dream, she said, “No, it REALLY happened. I went with my mom and my brother!”

3 year old girl looking all sad – “I wanted to go to the moon, but my mom doesn’t have a spaceship.” I told her maybe when she was older she’d be able to go to the moon. She looked at me as if I were stupid, and said, “No, I’m going to be a COP!”

 

This summer, I have had the privilege of working at Lakeshore Learning. If you aren’t familiar with this store, many people refer to it as Disneyland for teachers. I have also heard teachers refer to it as their “candy store.” It is a dangerous place to work, because I am daily seeing many things I want for my classroom. That said, I get a great discount, and will be slowly adding items here and there.

Anyway, we often have children coming in with their parents.  One day, a 5 year old boy came in to the store with his mom. This boy had the entire store laughing! He is sure to be a stand up comedian some day. He also was sure that everything he was telling us was true. He told us all about his restaurant he owned called “Andover, New York.” The specials usually consist of “recipe soup”, but is different on Fridays when the other chef is there. He told me I should go in on Friday to try the other chef’s specials, because he is a much better cook. Then he told me that I should go at lunch time on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday if I want the recipe soup special. Instead of begging for everything in the store (like many children do), he told his mom (who was looking at educational items to help him with his reading), to stop looking at the “lame stuff”, and to please come look at the toys he wanted. At least he was polite about it, right? ;-)

 

What would this world be without laughter? A pretty boring place! Instead of being annoyed by children’s “fantasies” they are spinning, try to enjoy them, laugh with them, and you will find your heart feels a little bit lighter.

Warm Fuzzies

The week before Spring Break was an amazing week at preschool. Not because the children were doing anything extraordinary (although they were), or because lesson plans were beyond amazing, but because I felt our teaching team was really appreciated!

On three separate occasions, we had parents showing their appreciation for our teaching team. Now, I have gotten emails before that say “Thank you for all you do” in the past. I don’t know why it hit me differently this week. Maybe, because they were all in the same week. Maybe, because it was completely unsolicited… I don’t know why, but it really made me feel good! :-)

The first warm fuzzy came in the form of an email. One of our 3 year olds had a really tough day. His friends were pushing in front of him, not taking their turns, etc. He was feeling very sad. I talked to his mom about it after class. The next day, I got the following email. Yes, this is an amazing family that we are so blessed to work with. If only every parent had this attitude (focusing on things that make them happy):

“I just wanted to say thank you for sharing with me about some things that happened in class yesterday. We were able to speak to B about it to find out how he felt. He shared that it did make him sad. So I decided to ask him if there was something that happened in class that made him happy. His response was, ” yes! ” so I asked him what it was that made him happy. He said, “it made me happy to sit next to Ms. Sarah.” So I asked what makes him happy about sitting next to Ms. Sarah and he said, “because she is funny!” 

I just thought I should share with you because I feel it’s important to focus on the things that make us happy and for him it happened to be you yesterday.
Thank you for making him happy. It means a whole lot to us.

You and Ms. Kim are what make it fun for the kids and make it exciting for the kids to come to school. You do a great job and I am happy B gets to have you both again next year :) (hopefully!)”

The second warm fuzzy came in the form of a card from a family. The card was letting us know that their preschooler passed his pre-Kindergarten screening with excellent scores. The parent said “We just want to say thank you, because we know you both had a lot to do with that. This year at Preschool has been very good for him. Thank you for all you do.”

The third warm fuzzy came from a grandparent after class. I was letting her know that her preschool age grandson participated in our large group action songs for the first time all year. She thanked me for letting her know, and said, “thank you so much for everything you guys do for those preschoolers. You give them so many great opportunities…” She went on to let me know that her daughter had asked her if she wanted to sign her grandson up for next year’s preschool classes at a site closer to her (the grandma’s) home. The grandma told her daughter that no, she felt he should stay here, because he has come such a long way, she thinks we are great teachers, he gets great opportunities, and finally, because he will be with peers that may be at the same school for kindergarten the following year.  Program wide, he would have great opportunities at any of our sites. It felt really good to hear the grandma say that she was willing to drive further to keep him with us. :-)

I’m not writing this to toot my own horn (or Miss Kim’s). I just wanted to say how good it feels to receive compliments from time to time. Make sure if you appreciate someone, you let them know. You just might make their day (or week)!

Emailing Parents

This year, I have been sending out weekly emails to parents letting them know anything we did that was special, and what we will be doing the following week. Sometimes, I send out links or other resources too. This seems to have been greatly appreciated by parents, and has opened up communication in ways that we previously have not experienced.

More parents are emailing me to check in on their children, let me know they will be absent, etc. We also have a higher number of grandparents, aunts, or daycare providers dropping off and picking up children, so many parents are not there to hear/see what we did each day. Email has been a wonderful way to keep lines of communication open, and keep parents “in the loop.”

Email has also been a great way for me to touch base with parents when I have concerns that I want to talk about. People are so busy these days, that reaching them by phone can be difficult. To be honest, I am so busy, that calling parents during non-school hours can be difficult. While I know that email is much less personal than a phone call, it is sometimes the best way to reach out. There have been times when a parent and I use email to determine the best time for a phone call, or for them to come in to the classroom.

The downside

First and foremost, not everyone has email, or checks it regularly. Even with email reminders, newsletters, etc, information sometimes still gets missed. Attachments don’t always want to open, so we end up needing to give them a paper copy of our newsletter anyway.

Also, at least 2 times this year, one of my contact lists “broke.” I still don’t know quite what happened, but both times, it was in the class that has the most movement as far as kids coming and going. I think it has something to do with the removal of people from the list. Parents who have been relying on those emails to know what’s going on (or get their child excited for the week) get frustrated when they don’t receive them. Not only do they get frustrated, but they also miss out on information that may be important.

While email and technology can be really great for teacher or classroom communication, it is not perfect. This year, it has proven to be more effective than not, despite the “downsides” I mentioned above. Overall, I think parents feel better connected to the classroom, and I feel better connected to them.

My weekly emails are something I started doing this year, that I will definitely continue in years to come!