Creating a school family

One of the most important things we do here at La Canada Preschool is create a school family. When your child comes to preschool they enter the big world for the first time away from home. Here they will look to form a secure attachment with others. When you come to visit us you will notice how connected the teachers are to the children. Parents have told me that what makes our school stand out are the close connections they see between each teacher and all the children.

Our school family concept is promoted through an ongoing discussion we have with the children about being mindful with each other just like we are with our family at home. In the school family framework we teach children how to resolve conflict through respectful communication skills. We discuss how we take care of each other and work through our differences.

While there are many good preschools there are few environments where it feels like family. Consider coming to see our school family for a visit.

Are you happy at your current preschool?

Are you happy at your current preschool?

Are you happy at your current preschool? It can be a feeling you get when your child comes home and just doesn’t seem to like school, or maybe you feel that the school is just not a right fit. Here are some signs to look for:

Your child complains about going to school

You feel uneasy about the school when you drop in unexpectedly

There seems to be a lack of communication from the director

There is not a lot of art work coming home

You aren’t hearing your child singing songs they learned in school

There are not any social connections being made by you or your child

At La Canada Preschool we are sensitive to your family and believe we can help make a transition to a new school a smooth one. It takes patience and understanding to integrate your child into a new school. What is required is an understanding of the fact that not only is this a big process for your child but for you as well. Sometimes even more so for you the parent. I have been on both ends of this, as a parent myself and an educator. What is essential is to slowly bond with a child who has moved schools, as well as acknowledge the change. We often write letters with the new children, where they talk about their feelings of being at a new school. There is also a friends book we send home, where there are pictures of all the children with a biography, providing a great visual for you to share with your child.

While it can seem hard to make a mid year change is schools, I think we must always do what is best for your child. It is too important of a time in your child’s development to not find the best fit. Change is good when it is handled correctly, and we can do that for you here at LCP:)

How do preschools handle discipline?

How do preschools handle discipline?

Discipline is an important topic when working with children yet it can be a topic that is minimized or under spoken of by parents when looking for a preschool.

Here are the methods of discipline used in preschools:

time out or conflict resolution

There was an old school theory which still exists that time out is the best way to handle discipline in schools. Just search and you can find many schools and parents using this as a way to remove the child from the conflict, sending the message that the behavior needs to stop. While I believe it has its place in your home, in a school  setting it can make a child feel shame for being singled out in a public setting.

Conflict resolution suggests that children are educated about the value of communication that is respectful and honest, while expressing feelings of being hurt by someone’s actions.

Conflict resolution requires that teachers are trained to help children by modeling communication that is calm and well spoken, where teachers can also interact with children by teaching them how to articulate their feelings.

There are six steps we use at La Canada Preschool to teach conflict resolution:

1. Approach the children in conflict calmly and stop the conflict

2. Acknowledge everyone’s feelings

3. Gather information about what has happened

4. Restate the problem

5. As for ideas from everyone for a solution and help choose the solution

6. Be there to follow up and give support

When you are visiting a preschool ask the teachers and directors how do they handle conflict with the children. It is a question that is often overlooked yet one that becomes important as it will effect your child and set the stage for their ability to understand conflict in a social setting.

 

Preschool Search: Who, what, where, when and how

Preschool Search: Who, what, where, when and how

It is that time of year when parents start to think about looking for a preschool.

To help you with your search, let me give you the lowdown on LCP.

Who are we? We are a group of dedicated early childhood educators who believe in children learning through play. We have worked together for many years, and believe that if a child loves school that will set the foundation for all future learning.

What do we do? We provide a play based environment with mixed age groups, with art, music and literature being at the core of our curriculum.

Where do we do this at? La Canada Preschool is located in a beautiful neighborhood, with a large tree in the backyard, lots of sand, a garden, a real wooden playhouse, and non-institutionalized classrooms. We have been here 62 years.

When do we have preschool? Monday through Friday our morning program operates from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. Our Pre-Kindergarten is here from 12:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. The children may attend in the morning T-Th, MWF, or Monday through Friday. Pre-K is Monday through Friday.

How do we do this? By having an intelligent, caring group of families that support our work by believing in our little school and the good work we do.

Please consider taking a tour of La Canada Preschool.

 

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.

Kindergarten Entrance Date : A new law that makes sense

Kindergarten Entrance Date : A new law that makes sense

It has been confusing when parent’s ask me, “What is the date of entrance for kindergarten?”.

 There is a new law in the state of California that takes effect in 2012. The law states that children need to be 5 years old by November 2, 2012; then by October 2 in 2013 and finally 5 years old by September 2, 2014.

While this seems like a long time off, it has the potential to confuse parents who have not heard of this change, as well as prolong the time your child you be attending preschool.

Think about it this way, with the riogorous schedule of kindergarten, where we want children to be able to conform at a certain level, it can only help for your child to be older. Plus we are giving them another year of preschool, where they can grow, develop, and learn through play.

In Europe children are taught to read when they are seven, and they learn in two months. Here we teach children to read at five and many struggle for two years, until at seven, when their brains become developmentally ready to read and comprehend.

Let’s celebrate this new law in that makes sense. Finally instead of thinking about the tax dollars that will be lost, because that is one of the outcomes of this law, we are thinking about giving children more time to grow. Another year to be a princess or a pirate, to paint with your hands and experience in the magic of make believe. Thank you State of California.

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.

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?

Trick or Treating on Halloween: still the best

Parents have asked me what I think is a good way to spend Halloween with their preschoolers. I say take a walk down your neighborhood street for the time honored ritual of Trick or Treating is the best activity. We need to pass down this tradition that instills the best of what our lives are all about.

My grownchildren have told me that Halloween was one of their favorite holidays, as they remember being in our little neighborhood at night, with flashlights and in costumes, going from house to house. It was simple: no big party, no props, no electronics. Just us in our community. Can we start a movement to bring back the simple Halloween ?

While we all know the driving force for trick or treating is candy, isn’t there so much more that occurs when you are going from house to house on your own street where you live, seeing people sometimes only this once a year, laughing with your friends and partners on this crazy night. It is a simple premise that I believe we must preserve. A tradition that maybe carries more to it, creating a time for children to explore where they live, who their neighbors and most importanly the value of free candy.