November was a busy month at Harmony. We began talking about our new Color (Brown), new Shape (Rectangle), new Number (3) and our new Month (November). Your children learned that the rectangle has four sides, two up and down straight lines and two side to side straight lines. Two are short and two are long. They painted the #3 and 3 Rectangles with sponges and used Brown paint. We related our #3 by having our 3 year old classmates raise their hands. The four year olds will get a chance next month! We continue to talk about the season being Fall but the weather being both warm some days, and very cold other days. Hats and mittens in the side pockets of backpacks are easily found and helpful for our outside time.
We continue to work hard on their self help skills. Having your children put on and take off their jackets, pack and unpack their snack bags and backpacks at home helps to reinforce those skills. It is so important to encourage them to do things for themselves. Independence is a wonderful accomplishment for them and is such an important part of their school year now and in the future. Attached is a helpful “chores” list!
If you have been checking the pictures we post on our Brightwheel app, you have seen how busy your children have been this month with our Thanksgiving Art! I hope their artwork is a wonderful addition to your Holiday Decorations at home.
The Harmony Students have all been working hard, learning lots and making friends. We talked a lot about the Thanksgiving Holiday and what it means to be THANKFUL, I hope you enjoy reading what your children are Thankful for! Please know how Thankful we are to spend time with your children. Harmony is a special community, we strive to be KIND, RESPECTFUL, SAFE, FIRST TIME LISTENERS AND OPTIMISTS!!!!! We are Thankful to be a part of your Children's first years of school!!
November has been a great month in Pre-K! I am proud of how well the children are practicing during our small group time. They are tending well during our calendar and alphabet work, remembering to use "the two hand rule" when they want to speak and they are listening respectfully when it is their friends turn to talk and or learn.
The children have learned how to build each letter using our Handwriting Without Tears wood pieces. . . . practice makes progress!
Each week, we learn how many lines each letter has, what kind of lines they have, what sound the letter makes as well as demonstrating different things that the letter begins with from our alphabet tray. The children are enjoying working on our Pre-K Alphabet Book. Soon, we will begin “practicing” using Handwriting Without Tears work-books. . . in teeny tiny time bursts. . .yet often. One of the concepts you could support from home, is the notion of going “forward” in a book; turning the pages from right to left and then using the book from the far left side to the right and down and then continuing onto the next page.
I am hopeful your child has showed you their awesome FOOT TAPS! They are working out every day; taking care of their “bodies” before we start to exercise our “brains” with our work!! We start out with some cardio: foot taps, quick feet, side hops, cross country skiing, down-hill skiing, up/downs, jumping jacks, cross jacks, squat jumps. . . then some strength and core work: push ups, v-sits, bridges, planks, side planks. . . and finally stretches. . . . before we begin calendar work. . . we are sweaty!
We have been working on self-help skills this month. The children are involved from beginning to end in every task/project. There’s the “prep” portion of a task/project. . . the “action” and finally the “clean up”. It takes MORE time, but the self-help skills and problem-solving skills gained while being a part of the whole process will last them their whole lives. Children are more excited to participate in the “action” of a task/project when they’ve had a hand in it’s preperation. . . . a home example would be choosing a recipe and going to the grocery store with your child to get the ingredients. . . then actually preparing the food and eating. . . the process NOT DONE until every pan/dish/counter is clean and kitchen looks the same way it did before you started. It is WAY MORE time consuming, but the knowledge and skills gained are worth the time investment. . . and eventually, you’ll have another cook in the house!
With the onset of colder weather, we are expecting the Pre-Kers to independently put on and zip their own jackets and put on their own hats, mittens and snow pants. Many of the children are able to zip on their own. It is most helpful when the children are expected to dress themselves at home; as well as be responsible to organize their gear. They are very proud when they are able to get themselves all ready! Practice makes Progress! It does take more time initially, but the time saved, down the road, in having an independent dresser is worth the time invested.
We have had a wonderful month! I am enjoying my time with your prekers very much!
In December, we will begin to play with “patterns”. We will start with simple AB patterns. “Patterns” are things arranged by a certain rule or rules. Beginning to understand patterns, those young brains are exposed to math concepts; for examples, counting stragtegies, problem solving, and algebraic reasoning. Patterning can be infused into all types of play. . . . beads, stickers, stamps, different color playdoughs, even folding different colored face towels into patterns. We will be working with “AB” and “ABC” patterns intermittently throughout the balance of this school year; but next month we will use KWANZA colors, CHRISTMAS colors, and HAUNUKKAH colors to pattern.
In December we will discuss the different ways people celebrate the holiday season. There will be equal attention given to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza. The aim here is to create awareness that there are many different holidays being celebrated during this season. I would LOVE input here. If there is something special you do with your family, and you are open to sharing it with the class, consider this your invitation. I personally celebrate Christmas, and share with the class a conversation about how my family has a birthday cake on Christmas Eve and sings happy birthday to a baby named Jesus. If you celebrate something else, would you consider sharing too? Please let me know!
Some reading suggestions. . .
The Mouse before Christmas, by Michael Garland
The Gifts of Kwanza, by Synthia Saint James
Hanukkah! by Roni Schotter
Happy Hanukkah, Biscuit, by Allyssa Satin Capucilli
In years past, we have had a Polar Express Party!! The teachers and I thoroughly enjoy the “Santa Buzz”; and loved setting the classroom up like a train, going to the north pole, wearing pj’s and enjoying hot chocolate and treats!! We will have another book swap; each child will bring a WRAPPED book to school on the day of the party. The Polar Express Dates will be December 21st and 22nd.
**we set a $5.00 limit on the bookswaps. . . here is an example of my favorites (step into reading) https://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Planet-Earth-StoryBots-Reading/dp/1524718572/ref=sr_1_6?crid=356XXH6M6L2E6&keywords=step+into+reading+level+1&qid=1701094428&sprefix=step+into+reading%2Caps%2C112&sr=8-6
Teacher holiday gifts: Gifts are really not necessary, we are so blessed! BUT, Please consider a grocery store gift card for the Hanover Food Pantry in lieu of any gifts; we would very much appreciate it and feel thankful every day! Here is more information on our food pantry in Hanover: https://www.hanover-ma.gov/hanover-food-pantry
It is run by volunteers. You would be surprised by how many Hanover families our pantry supports. When my children were young, I struggled with how to safely teach them the concept of charity, until I found our pantry.
Thank you so much to the families who have donated paper towels, and hand soap! We consume these items very quickly, and have a hard time keeping up!!! (We sometimes use as much as 4 rolls of paper towels in one class).
Please label EVERYTHING your child brings to school, and remember to check their backpacks for school art.
Please remember to send in easy to put on mittens. Gloves and big ski mittens slow us down and make it hard to navigate the playground. The more the children can do for themselves, the more time we get to spend outside; especially as the cold weather approaches, mittens over gloves, pull on boots rather than laced/up, and easy to put on coats are best here.
I remember taking full advantage of the early sunsets and putting my kids to bed EARLY! Here’s a helpful link on sleep requirements for our young population! https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep A good night sleep is so important for our youngsters!
Child Development Ditty 101:
“From infancy through about age 10, brain cells not only form most of the connections they will maintain throughout life, but during this time they retain their greatest malleability” (Pg. 49, The Exceptional Child, Inclusion in Early Childhood Education, 5th edition, Allen.)
I know in my own life, these words have profound meaning. “Research is showing that intelligence is not fixed at the time of birth, not determined solely by genetics. Instead, intelligence is greatly influenced by environment and experience. Current brain research also demonstrates the importance of experience during the early childhood years.” (pg. 26 aforementioned resource)
Children are designed to learn. “Learning of some kind is going on in every child, every day. These transactional learning’s can be both positive and negative; they are the consequence of direct and indirect (or unintended) teaching.” (pg.222)
“A preacademic curriculum includes the components that reinforce the concept of the whole child: physical activities, social interactions, and creative and affective (meaning multisensory) development. Each area of development contributes to the child’s cognitive learning.” (Pg. 339, aforementioned resource).
Many resources, both textbooks and trainings that I have read and or attended communicate a common theme; children are born with a genetic cognitive predisposition whose development and potential is greatly impacted by their environment and opportunities. I personally like to add to this “cognitive” development piece by talking about Howard Gardner’s 8 learning styles, mentioned in September’s newsletter. Every child is bright, and has their own unique learning style; they receive information in their own way. Also, I believe it’s important to say again that children’s cognitive development is connected to their social, emotional, and physical development; all areas are interrelated and important. Unfortunately, I am seeing an alarming disconnect between a child’s physical self and cognitive self in our schools. . . there are less and less movement opportunities throughout the school day, overall children are spending far too much time sedentary and indoors, and too much emphasis is placed solely on a child’s “cognitive” development without factoring in their social/emotional/ physical self. A strong, active child will have much more stamina in any learning environment. A learning environment that is physically challenging, age appropriate, nurturing, respectful, and multisensory is stimulating for ALL children. An interesting read: https://www.parentingscience.com/exercise-for-children.html
On a very personal note, of our five children, three have ADHD. . . . interestingly, they have also, naturally, been very active since they were babies. . . their neurologist attributed their ability to manage their school day and workload, because of their 2X/day vigorous workouts. The cascade of awesome brain chemicals resulting from those workouts mimic most of what an ADHD medication could have offered; but I find it so interesting that they probably have been solving their own “attention” issues from a very young age as they seemingly NEVER STOPPED RUNNING, JUMPING, CLIMBING, FLIPPING, WRESTLING, OR SWIMMING! (and now have careers that are FULL of movement. . . one is literally on a boat 24/7)
All positive and enriching experiences will help a child grow cognitively; even when you think they won’t remember!! Additionally, by letting children grapple with minor problems, we enable them to create their own solutions and thereby help them to grow and gain independence.
Here is another article, that I found REALLY interesting!! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607807/
You are the most important teacher that your child will ever have. My goal is to support your proactive parenting process; by sharing information with you, I hope you find interesting and useful.