What children learn when they play…

People ask me, “What are the children learning? They are just playing….”

Play is a child’s work. To create an open ended environment, where children feel they can choose without limitations, takes an eye for knowing what children are interested in and allowing them to explore. Here are a few examples of what are children are learning:

When we easel paint we learn to develop eye hand coordination, imagination, relationships to size and space, symmetry, and that my ideas have value.

When I play dress up I learn to be flexible in my thinking, to express myself with words, to try on different adult roles, to sort and organize, and to improvise in a symbolic way to represent abstract thinking.

When I play in the sand I learn the concepts of color, size, volume and shape, I learn to solve problems, how to negotiate with others, and to observe changes in matter.

When I draw and scribble I learn to hold a pencil, hand eye coordination, concepts of color, shape, and to express myself with words when describing what I have drawn.

These activities go on and on, and with each one there is a skill set being acquired through play.

I have been defending play for 30 years and will continue to do so everyday at La Canada Preschool…please consider coming to play with us.

UTube for Preschool Parents: Weigh In

In the world of technology I want to invent a new way to connect with the families at LCP. My computer guru, Steve, suggested that I post video of the activities at LCP on UTube, maybe even creating my own network. Wow, that sounds inspiring, and I want to do this, with your approval.

Please send me feedback, and say how you feel about this. I want to take it on, with the goal of posting viedo everyday for a month. Everyday I am in the classroom at our school I witness moments that make me realize the amazing experiences each child is having and how I want to share this with parents.

At the same time I want to be respectful as a child development educator to each family I work with. There are not any preschools to my knowledge that do this, and part of me wants to be the first.

Weigh in, share and thank you.

5 Snack Menu’s at LCP

One of the best things we do at La Canada Preschool is snack. We serve a mini-meal, one that always includes fruit and protein. Here is a week’s menu:

*Bagels and Cream Cheese w/strawberries

*Cereal and Oranges

*Pasta and Applesauce

*Cheese and Crackers and Applesauce

*Chicken Nuggets and Pears

You may also smell cookies baking in the over or banana bread, thanks to Miss Rosemary, who had taught at our preschool for 28 years. Where do you find this in the busy world we live in?

Children love to have snack, sitting around the table, passing  food. Miss Pammy’s group sits around the table some days for up the half an hour, talking, smiling, making eye contact, looking closely at each other. There are lively discussions about food, what is healthy food, and what we like to eat.

Studies show that when people eat together they make a deeper connection that without this experience. At preschool as well as at home let’s bring back places where children have the time to slow down, enjoy food with others, and watch what happens.

Five Things to Do with your Preschooler during Spring Break

Five Things to Do with your Preschooler during Spring Break

Spring Break is upon us, and I can hear parents in the preschool talking about what are we going to do with our children for a week. It seems our children are happy when we plan activities that are engaging and fun. Here are my recommendations for  enjoyable Spring Break:

1. Organize a park day. Get out the preschool roster and ask your child who they would like to have come to the park. Invite away. Pack a lunch, bring a chair, and be prepared to watch your child run around, have fun, and it’s free!

2. Create Art. This can seem like a lot of work, so I will give you some options> You can go to my favorite school supply store in Pasadena, Angels School Supplies on Colorado Blvd. Have a budget in mind, and let your child pick out the supplies. This can give a child empowerment, spark creativity, and keep them busy at home. If you want to attend an art class, I recommend PaintBox Kids in Pasadena. They have many options for classes where your child can be an artist for the day.

3. Take a hike: within our beautiful foothill community there are many options to be in nature with your child through hiking. I love Eaton Canyon as well, as the Lower Arroyo in Pasadena. Keep it simple, and you may set the tone for a live long love of hiking.

4. Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Echo Park is a local landmark and treasure, where for $15.00 you can take your child to see a live puppet show. Please make reservations and support this special place.

5. Make a Fort. If you do not have outside room, put a sheet over the dining room table. Create it with whatever you have, and let your child have a special place to hide, think and be.

Our children a with us for such a short time. Embrace Spring Break as a time to enjoy and bond with your children.

Preschool Registration: What have we created?

It is that time of year when we begin the registration process at LCP. We work at keeping it simple. Right now all our current families are turning in their forms. Then in January we will be accepting registration from new families. It is first come, first serve. No waiting list, no interview, no stress. How can this be I am asked? Every other school in Los Angeles has a list you need to be on when you child is three weeks old in order to get in. Or we have the lottery system, where you put your name on list, and hope you are hand picked in a lottery for a placement.
It seems we have created a culture of fear when it comes to getting your child into preschool. Here at La Canada Preschool we are refusing to be part of this trend. When you contact our school, you can be emailed information, come in for a tour, and be guaranteed a place by turning in a form on time.

So what have we created by making parents feel they have to fight for a placement in a preschool? My thoughts are fear; fear that if you are not on top of it you child will fall behind. fear that it is hard to get into the best schools, and fear that you may be not doing your job if you are not aware of these facts. What happened to supporting families, giving them a simple process that is sensible and secure. Why is it a competition to get your child into a preschool?

At La Canada Preschool I believe it setting the tone that we are here to support your family, beginning with a registration process that is respectful, simple and secure. With the world we live in families need to feel that a school wants them, as opposed to the feeling that they are lucky to be chosen to be in a school. Come on by La Canada Preschool: we’ll be waiting for you.

Candy Fairy Theory

Children have been coming to preschool this week telling me about the Candy Fairy. This is someone who they give all their Halloween Candy to, and in return they receive a toy for their donation. It struck me as this new trend is on the scene, what are we teaching ? Is it a good alternative, or are we not giving children to chance to be immersed in their obsession for candy?

To me the goal of control is self control, which I know it not an easy behavior to learn. Children need small lessons in learning how to master the desires we all have for pleasure in life. As a child to be able to go to someones house, say a few words while dressed up in a costume, and recieve free candy is like a dream come true. With  a bucket full of sugar you are given the chance as a parent to teach how to have the candy and moderate the amount that is eaten. If a gift is given to deter us from all of our obsessions does that negate to lesson of self control, taking away the chance for a learning experience? Or are we just all to fearful of what will happen if children eat too much candy.

My concern is that we are taking away from the children the opportunity not only to indulge but to regulate. Life is about continual regulation. Don’t eat too much, don’t watch too much, don’t do anything too much. So how do we teach this for the moments when we are not there to be the Candy Fairy?

Halloween and Preschoolers: Keep it light

As our children get old enough to enjoy more activities we need to be mindful of what is developmentally appropriate for them to experience. Here at La Canada Preschool, we have set up some Halloween decorations in a well lit room to create a preschool haunted house. If a child seems apprehensive, we do not make them come into our classroom where you will find a skeleton, a witch and some scary props. Yet as we have left the room decorated for the week we are seeing children slowly approaching this room full of make believe.

It is important the we stress the make believe of Halloween and demystify the scary images that can be frightening for young children. It seems that if Halloween is introduced slowly with caution not to frighten children, they are able to process this holiday that seems to be more of our culture every season.

Fears for children are normal and healthy. Think of the book, “There’s a nightmare in my Closet”. When we read this story a t circle time the children are glued and begin talking about how monsters are not real. If we can look at Halloween as a time to address fears as normal and part of our emotional make up, our preschoolers can enjoy this time and learn to keep it light during these dark days of Halloween…

What to look for in a Preschool: The 4 E’s

When looking for a private preschool the choices can be confusing. There are different philosophies of early childhood education, with many time schedules, tuition costs, and fees. Here is what you need to consider when looking for a preschool we will call the Four E’s.

Energy: what is the energy of the school say? Are there lots of rules, is it quiet or loud, does it feel open or closed?Spend a few minutes observing the feelings you get.

Education: What is the education of the staff, as well as the director of the preschool? Some directors have a Masters degree while some have taken as few as 12 units in early childhood education.

Environment: It has been said that environment dictates behavior. Are children allowed lots of freedom, are they moving freely though a relaxed setting, are there lots of materials? Observe the environment quietly for a few minutes.

Eyes: look in the eyes of the children. Are they engaged, connected and communicating?

Energy, education, environment and eyes of the children. That is a good place to start:)

I love a Parade !

We marched yesterday in the La Canada Memorial Day Parade as a preschool group and it was enlightening on many levels. First, I was able to really take in what an amazing community we are a part of. With each step we marched we were met with cheers from alumni, smiles and waves that brought a smile to each child’s face, as well as the adults. Secondly we took in a rich exercise in community spirit, something that cannot be taught in a classroom.

Who knew that walking down the street in La Canada could evoke such feelings of belonging to a community, being part of something bigger. Parents were able to feel that their being a part of our school is also being a part of a neighborhood where we all all accepted for who we are, with their beautiful young families looking to make sense of the world we live in.

As I marched in the parade for the thirteenth year I was reminded how blessed I feel to be here, in the moment, with each family, seeing there smiles and hearing the excitement amongst the children that we, La Canada Preschool, were part of a parade.

Teacher Appreciation Week=true validation

Teacher Appreciation Week=true validation

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and the true validation that our staff is feeling is a gift to behold. Today we had a beautiful luncheon, where parents not only brought in food but came in to watch the children so that the teachers could eat together. We have had flowers and chocolates, along with homemade cards by the children that put Hallmark to shame.

When we feel this type of outreach from the parents we serve, educators are inspired and rejuvenated. It reaffirms why we come to out little school every morning. Suddenly the work is more meaningful and again we are reminded why we are valued. None of my teachers make enough money for the work they do, yet when we feel the love of the parents it lets us know why we choose this profession; because it is more than just a job. It is an extension of the families we work with, and a collaboration in child development with the parents at the helm and the teachers as partners.

Thank you to everyone who reaches out and thanks a teacher. It sustains us.