Parent Phone Calls and Communication

A few things in life have the power to make your stomach clench and your breath hitch, and unfortunately getting an unsolicited call from your child’s school is one of those things! Most schools emphasize parent contact for both serious and non-serious issues, but in that moment, when the phone rings, you have no idea which it will be. This is why we start off each conversation with who we are, where we are calling from, and the phrase “it’s not an emergency your child is ok!” (Of course in a true emergency we would lead with what action was being taken, such as calling 911, administering an epi-pen, etc.)

 

So why are we calling you? Here are a few of the most common reasons you might see our number pop up on your phone.

 

  • We have a question: it could be as simple as, “Did Johnny eat anything purple for breakfast?” or even, “Have you noticed any new behavior at home?”
  • We need something from you: “Johnny is out of diapers; can you bring more at pickup?” “Jane’s shoe has broken can someone drop off a new pair?”
  • We want to inform you: “Your wallet is in Johnny’s backpack!” “Jane pooped on the potty for the first time!”
  • We’re excited to meet you! We may call just to introduce ourselves as your child’s teacher, and check in before their first day!
  • In the event of an ouch from the neck up, we always call to let you know, from a small scratch due to their favorite toy, or a bump due to a tumble off a bike. In some cases, we will even ask you to come by and take a look. As the parent, you know your child best, and we want you to make the call on whether or not they are fine to stay. However sometimes bumps are not to be messed with and we may require you to take them home, and ask for a doctor’s night for them to return. We know that this involves a lot of scheduling and often calling on a grandparent, aunty or uncle for help, it may even involve missing work, but please be assured that at the end of the day we have the same goal as you, to keep your baby safe and healthy.
  • Sometimes kids just aren’t feeling well, we will often give parents calls when we notice things out of character, with behavior, bowel movements, or general wellness. We take temperatures often and if a child is running a low grade fever we may ask you to come pick up. High fevers mean you’ll get a call to pick up immediately.
  • There may also be a school wide announcement and we missed you in person so we’re calling to follow up.

 

Rest assured that we take communication very seriously and will always reach out to you when it comes to your child. It’s also a two-way street! We welcome you to reach out to us with questions, feedback, to check in, or just to let us know upcoming things that may affect your child. Communication is key, and we are constantly trying to improve and refine our communication styles.

 

Why Biting?

From toddlers to twos, biting is an unavoidable topic. While developmentally appropriate, and completely normal in many ways, biting is still an uncomfortable and sometimes scary reality for many families. When you find yourself asking, why, why, why, here are some common answers:

  • Expressing emotion: Oddly enough, young toddlers can bite as a way of showing love. “Toddlers have really intense feelings but don’t know how to show them,” says Dirk Flower, chartered psychologist. “Biting can be a way of expressing their feelings.”
  • Experimenting: Toddlers are learning how their body works – they put things in their mouths, and sometimes nip. It’s impulsive and they don’t mean to hurt. Often, a baby chomps on someone when they’re teething. Sometimes toddlers nip when they’re over-excited or over stimulated. Things smell good, look good, so a young child thinks, how does it taste? Then they go for it!
  • Defending: Young children learn to bite as a defense, especially if they can’t talk. Sometimes changes or upsets at home can bring on this type of biting. “These children are trying to establish a safety zone,” explains Dirk Flower. “When you bite, your victim moves away – it’s a great defense.”
  • Controlling: Some children know biting is a way of getting other children – or their parents – to do what they want. They don’t always do this consciously. It may happen when a group of children are jostling to be leader. Sometimes the youngest child in the family bites to gain power. And as any child who’s ever tried it has learnt, biting is a fantastic way of getting attention – and so what if it’s negative?
  • Frustrated or irritated: Your child wants a toy back. Or they want a biscuit or adult attention, or can’t cope with a situation. They may not understand turn-taking and sharing. Or things may have changed at home or the child feels under stress. Your child doesn’t necessarily mean to cause harm, but just can’t find the words to express themselves.

 

While we don’t like it, and try very hard to prevent and redirect these types of behaviors, biting can still occur. Depending on the ‘why’ you can then partner with your child’s teacher to come up with a plan. Just remember at the end of the day, your little one is exhibiting normal toddler/twos behavior, and we will work together to redirect that behavior into a positive growth experience.

 

The First Day: Quick Tips for a Smooth Transition

We know that first days can be tough (sometimes more so on the parents then on the children) and depending on the age of your child, there are various degrees of first day jitters. So here are 5 quick tips on preparing for a first day!

  1. Stay calm and carry on! Your child picks up on your mood and stress, so keeping yourself on point can help keep them calm and excited. Remember that they are in good hands, and will have so much to share with you at the end of their day!
  2. Give advance notice. Talk to your child (no matter how young/old they might be) in advance of the first day. Tell them about the fun they will have, the routine they may expect, talk to them about teachers and how teachers will care for them. Emphasize that you will always be back to pick them up. The more you communicate with them, the more prepared they will be for the first day.
  3. Take your time. Give yourself a head start on the morning, so you can properly show your child their classroom, and meet the teacher. You’ll want to see and show your child where the bathroom is, or where they will be changed, and where personal items will be kept. Walking through a new environment with a familiar and loved face can help children establish trust for new places and people.
  4. Establish a routine. Do the same thing, every morning, for every drop off. We know that there will be those days where life interferes; but for the most part, children thrive off knowing what comes next. On the way to school it might be a good idea to go through the day with them. Remind them of when you will be picking them up.
  5. Stay connected. Talk to your child about how their day was, even nonverbal infants and todds benefit from having your attention and questions. they may react or answer nonverbally, but the language they are gaining is going to last a lifetime. For verbal children, give them a chance to talk about what they’ve done that day, and stay current on classroom activities and art projects so you can prompt them for more information. Many times at the end of the day, children will forget everything they did that morning, and remember just the last few minutes before pickup. Challenge them with questions like:
    1. Who did you play with today?
    2. What did you see/hear/taste/smell that was new?
    3. Where did you like playing the most?
    4. When did you eat? Nap? Go outside? (hint: helping even young children sequence there day is a foundational math skill that will help later on in school)

 

Many children take several weeks to adjust. Children who may appear fine the first week, may suddenly become clingy and tear stained the second week. Be patient, and be consistent, follow through with your routine and keep in communication with your child’s teacher to get updates.  First day jitters are normal, for kids and for parents, so if you need support just ask! You’ve got this- Have a wonderful first day of school.

Extending Learning at Home

While your child is experiencing a jam packed day of learning, discovery and academics at school, parents play a huge role in setting the foundation for successful learning. We know that it can be hard sometimes to think of fun learning activities after a long day at work or school. So we’ve come up with a few fun things that children of all ages will enjoy!

I Spy
(Cognitive development)
Not just a road trip favorite, this game is easily modified for different age groups. For younger children you can spy colors, shapes, and numbers. As your child gets older add in specifics such as- “I spy something purple and fuzzy that can fit in my hand.” To help with letter sounds and recognition in pre-k and kindergarten you can ‘spy’ things that begin with sounds. “I spy something that starts with this sound-mmmmm” or ‘I see a letter that comes before 5 and after 3” are just a few examples. This game doesn’t require any prep or materials, and can be vastly entertaining to play at home or in new environments.

NomNom Noodles
(Fine motor)
Some food is for eating, and some food is for playing, and luckily enough, noodles can be both! Cooked and uncooked noodles are great sensory for younger children who can squish, squeeze, pinch, and mash to help strengthen hands and arm muscles. As they get older, they can string noodles together on yarn or string to make necklaces, or use small amounts of water to stick noodles together to make a noodle castle. All that careful stringing, poking, pinching and threading helps keep hands strong for pencils and scissors.

Silly Songs
(Language development)
You may not be a world famous singer, or even the least bit musically gifted, but to your child you are the biggest and brightest star in their world. Singing to, with, and about your child can help strengthen their language, introduce new vocabulary, and expand on words and concepts that have been previously formed. Children love nothing better than when you get silly with them, and singing about their soft curly hair, stinky feet, or big blue eyes, gives them good descriptors to expand vocabulary. When singing try to use words that are just a little more advanced than their current language skills, introduce new silly words with different sounds, and try to use past, present and future tense.

Commuting Classroom
(Letter recognition)
Your time in the car can be fun and educational at the same time! On the way to school you can look for letters and numbers on license plates, billboards, and businesses. We suggest picking one letter or number per trip and focusing on it. As they get older it can become more difficult. For example, you can find an uppercase letter and have your child find the matching lower case. For younger children you can use colors, and talk about the cars as they pass. Using words like ‘in front’ ‘behind’ and ‘left/right’ are extremely helpful in building special awareness.

As always remember to have fun, these first few years are the best!

Books for Bedtime

No matter what time bedtime is, routine is paramount! Children thrive off of a consistent routine and a good bedtime routine can help the night and next day go so much smoother. Of course what would bedtime be without a few good night stories? Reading to your child can be a little difficult at times (especially if they’ve requested the same book, every night, for every day they’ve been alive…) so we’ve come up with a few suggestions that can be as fun for you as for your child.

The Going to Bed Book

By Sandra Boynton

(Great for younger children, simple, with bright illustrations and a calming rhythmic approach)

 

Time for Bed

By Mem Fox and Jane Dyer

(Peaceful and calming pictures, a quiet read for falling asleep)

 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

(fun and quirky, and they’re learning to boot!)

 

Sleepyheads

By Sandra Howatt and Joyce Wan

(you’ll be nodding off by the end too)

 

5 little Monkeys (Jumping on the bed!)

By Eileen Christelow

(not to encourage any bed jumping, but sometimes you gotta be a bit silly)

 

I Love you Stinky Face

By Lisa Mccourt and Cyd moore

(heartwarming and touching, and cuter then cute)

 

I love you to the Moon and Back

By Amelia Hepworth and Time Warnes

(doncha though?)

 

Llama Llama Red Pajama

By Anna Dewdney

(all the llama llama books are a sure fire hit!)

 

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon

By Patty Lovell and David Catrow

(a little self-esteem boost before bed)

 

Everyone Poops

By Taro Gomi and Amanda Stinchecum

(well they do, and this is an entertaining read for kids and adults of all ages!)

 

 

 

Be a STEM Superstar!

  1. STEM topics are not silos. Good STEM programs integrate the concepts of science and math with the tools of technology and then apply them as engineering to problems in the real world. For example, an activity to measure the speed of a toy car can involve the science concepts of speed and acceleration with the technology of a timer and the math of Speed = Distance / Time.
  2. Make activities relatable and tangible. Making concepts relatable and tangible to young people involves them in the learning. At the start of an activity, use open-ended discussion questions to draw out existing knowledge and experiences. You can explore friction as the next science topic, or you can challenge the kids to make a skateboard roll further. Which sounds more interesting? The second approach allows young people to draw on their own experiences and provides a personal investment in the discoveries.
  3. Inspire curiosity and critical thinking. The entire collected knowledge of the world is now available in our pockets via our smartphones. Young people no longer need to just know facts and figures; they need the critical thinking skills necessary to interpret and use that information. One of the most important benefits of STEM is that topics are taught against a background of analysis and questions. Learn the art of asking open-ended questions and use discrepant events to pique curiosity.
  4. Learn by doing. STEM learning begins with play and exploration. One of the key advantages of the afterschool environment is the ability to provide small-group, hands-on, inquiry-based learning in a nontraditional setting. Choose hands-on activities where materials are provided for small teams to explore, experience and experiment with.
  5. Make connections. Learning does not take place in compartments. When you learn a new idea, you do so in the context of what you already know. For example, if exploring the concept of friction, connections can be made to slipping on ice. Drawing existing knowledge or experiences provides a framework of understanding and improves retention. It also provides the groundwork for then applying concepts to new problems and challenges.
  6. Inspire collaboration. Create an atmosphere of teamwork. Actively teach and role model teamwork skills. Promote an inclusive, respectful, relaxed environment that supports new ideas and questions. The control of the learning process should be transferred to the young people. Create new roles and rules for your groups that stress responsibility.
  7. Celebrate failure. We often learn more when something does not work than when it does. Promote an atmosphere that rewards risk taking and experimenting. Failure is a natural part of experimenting and taking risks.
  8. Facilitate, don’t dictate. The old model of teaching facts from the front no longer provides the skills needed in the 21st century. Provide problems not answers, encourage questions and celebrate experimentation. Be prepared to deviate from your lesson plan, depending on where the kids’ investigations and decisions take them.
  9. Process the STEM experience. Ask open-ended questions that encourage everyone to discuss and reflect on what they have learned. Keep evaluation child-centric and experiential by designing activities that assess knowledge by applying it to new scenarios. For example, an activity on friction can be evaluated by challenging the students to race wind-up cars, where the wheels spin ineffectively until more friction is created.
  10. Be a role model. Be passionate about experimentation and enthusiastic about what the young people are learning. Be a cheerleader for STEM: Draw connections to real-world benefits and careers. Evolve as a learner yourself, and pay attention to the art of teaching. Ask yourself: Are your activities inclusive, gender neutral, relatable, inquiry-based and fun?

http://naaweb.org/professional-development/item/460-10-tips-become-a-stem-superstar

Bringing up Bookworms

In today’s techy world, it’s easy to forget the importance of books when we have digital screens. However more and more research is showing the benefits of raising children who love books. Whether digital or not, books, stories, and reading with children should be a top priority both in school and at home. Since we’re a bit partial to a good old fashioned, cover and spine type books, here are just a few things to keep in mind!

  • Have you read a story today?
  • Have you told a story today?
  • Have you listened to a story today?
  • Can your child name the parts of a book?
    • -Cover
    • -Spine
    • -Title Page
    • -Author
    • -Illustrator

 

Story time can happen anywhere, inside, outside, upside down! (Well, maybe if you were Dr. Seuss…) So get out there and read, listen, look and learn with your child.