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.

10 Reasons why Art is important for Children

10 Reasons why Art is important for Children

When you visit a preschool it is essential to ask how much art the children are creating each day. At the core of learning is the desire to be creative, and children know the difference between true art and art that is directed by adult expectations. A good preschool needs to provide art through out the day, not just on certain occasions.

The best art is process art, where children are allowed to create their own vision, with the only result is that they like what they have created.

Why is art important? Here are ten reasons:

1. Art nourishes a child’s soul and true creative spirit.

2. Creating art promotes self esteem.

3. Art encourages children to give attention to the physical space that surrounds them.

4. When creating art children learn to solve problems and think for themselves, known as critical thinking.

5. Art teaches children to use their senses.

6. Children can share and reflect on their art work to help them makes sense of the world they live in.

7. When art is integrated with other curriculum, children commit to the learning process.

8. Art stimulates the right and left side of the brain.

9. Art teaches there is more than one way to solve a problem.

10. If a child learns to love art, this will stay with them forever.

If we want children to love art, it needs to be a part of their daily preschool life. This will far outlast knowing their ABC”S or how to write the alphabet.

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, passingĀ  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.

Kindergarten: How do we prepare?

Kindergarten: How do we prepare?

Last week I went a visited a public school kindergarten, and I was amazed at the expectations as well as sad to see the lack of activities that allowed for free choice or play. Instead children were asked to sit and work for almost the entire morning, with the exception of a twenty minute recess. While the children were engaged, and seemed happy, I couldn’t help but wonder, what can parents do to best prepare their child for this world of holding a pencil, paying attention, and read.

The good news is in the state of California there is a new kindergarten entrance date. Beginning this year your child will need to 5 years old by Nov. 2, as opposed to the old rule where they needed to be five by Dec. 2. Then in 2012 children need to be five by October 2, and finally in 2013 they need to be five by September 2.

What does this mean to our children and families? To me it is good news. The movement in education has been to take the play and developmental learning out of kindergarten, and replace it with more academics and longer days in kindergarten. Twenty years ago their were still dress up clothes, blocks and free play in kindergarten. Today that is all gone, being replaced with dittos and educational minutes. While many children enter ready for this, many children and their families are not. What the good news is that we hope with this date change the youngest children will be given a year to grow and become developmentally ready for the kindergarten.

Families need to be aware that expectations, while not always discussed on school tours, are there. The children who are doing well are children that are prepared, hopefully at preschool, for what lies ahead. Here at La Canada Preschool we believe in a curriculum that remains rich in learning through play, and at the same time introduces academic concepts. By that I mean we teach Zoo Phonics, a nati0nally recognized program by which children learn the alphabet phonetically with movement and song. Then we trace and play with our upper case and lower case letters in sand, salt and pudding. In the spring we put pencils to paper and slowing teach how to write each letter. We have calendar time, science experiments, number learning, and number writing, being done creatively.

All this along with a curriculum that emphasizes that when your child gets to kindergarten, they will know what to expect. We have an ongoing discussion of what you will be doing in kindergarten, what the teacher will ask you to do, and how much fun it will be. We believe that if children can spend a year in the Pre-K, still pretending to be a princess or a pirate, and at the same time give them a solid foundation for what lies ahead, then we have prepared your child for this big new world of kindergarten.

Our Outside Quiet Area

Our Outside Quiet Area

This blog is courtesy of Miss Pam, one of our amazing teachers:

Last week one of the children asked me if they could bring books outside to read in the yard. At first I was hesitant, thinking that the books would wind up strewn all over the yard. At the same time my instincts are to always listen to the children, as they are my best resource for curriculum. If the children feel they have a say in our school, what ownership that creates.

So now we have a new outside space we are calling the quiet area. We have placed a small table with chairs, some pillows and books. Here the children can sit and read, lay on a pillow with a book, underneath our beautiful elm tree. This morning there were children that wondered in and out of this space, taking time to look over a favorite story .

In the shade of the quiet area children can take a break from all the action in the school yard and have a time to enjoy a book. All this from a belief I have that the best curriculum is what we call emergent curriculum. We practice this when we listen carefully to the children’s interests and implement school activities based on those interests.

“Miss Pam I like the quiet area. Now we can read books outside too.” That made my day:)