Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.
Before I came to CHP, I worked at the Mary McDowell School for a number of years. I took over a class in an established classroom where I found a factory-produced poster on the wall which said, RULES FOR FIGHTING FAIR. The rules were appropriate and sensible, yet it struck me, why weren’t these rules written by the children in the class? What a missed opportunity!
The first fall when I started working at CHP, I introduced the project and the children dictated the rules which were posted front and center in the classroom.
When the time came that I needed to step down as head teacher/director to wear only my director’s hat, I passed the job on to Nicole. She asked if the children could illustrate the rules (what a grand idea!) which they did and then the rules were posted on a bulletin board in the classroom. The illustrations and text were so wonderful that we decided to publish a book to share with every child who attends CHP.
This year’s version is called KINDNESS AND SAFETY RULES AT CHP. This project works in many ways: It allows children to use fine motor skills, number concepts, communication skills and more. Even if your child is too young to actively participate in the process, you can read and share what makes CHP a fun and safe school at home. The activity strengthens the home/school connection while you sit with your child and read the rules at home.October 25, 2013 · Categories: At Home, Child Development, Parenting
Twenty Years at CHP, a Retrospective of Some of the Many Things I Have Learned about Children...
Three weeks plus twenty years at CHP equals the time it took me to compose this Carol's Wall, to record a list of what I have learned about children from the prospective of an educator and a mother. Some of these things I thought I knew when I started at CHP, and most I learned along the way. Here goes...
- Children thrive with a semblance of structure. Structure makes children feel safe because they know what to expect so they are not scared. Yes, life can be unpredictable and sometimes routines do need to fall by the wayside. The point here is that even when life pokes a hole in your attempts at structure, you need to get back on track, pick up the ball and begin again.
- Children are not miniature adults. Adults and children are entirely different entities. Yes, we are both the same species, but our thought processes and approach to life comes from such a different place. Do not expect your child to think and react to things the way you do, try to remember how long they have been on this planet and how much they have to learn. Adults are able to pull up information from our short and long term memory. Children do not have as many memory files as adults do, and they are still figuring out how to pull up those files. Remember this when you ask your child a question and he or she answers you the next day.
- Little kids forget. Do not expect your children to consistently perform to whatever standards you set for them. Children are affected by so many different things: Lack of sleep, too much sleep, too much activity, not enough activity and so on. When they forget, you need to remember so that the next time you are in a similar situation you can help your child be successful by prompting them. A little bit of prep goes a long way.
- Imagination is a wonderful thing, nurture your child's need to make believe and go with it.
- Children cry, it is okay. Recognize your child's feelings out loud. If you think they are sad, say so, "I'm sorry you are sad." If you are wrong, and your child says he or she is mad, you need to change gears and say that too. Asking a child why he or she is sad or mad can make them more upset because they may not know why they feel the way they do. Asking them what's wrong might make them worse, because they may not know why they are crying. Recognize the feeling and wait a bit. Don't speculate, just comfort your child and go with it, you just might find out why your child was upset in the first place.
- Celebrate the effort--spending a long time on a project, cleaning up, or walking that extra block without complaints. One of the biggest mistakes I made as a young mother, second to giving my children junk food, was by constantly telling them how smart they were. I wish I would have sung the praises of hard work and tenacity as loud as I announced their brain power.
- This one is a toughie. Do not relinquish too much control to your child. By all means, give your children opportunities to choose, but make sure their choices are simple and appropriate for a child, not another adult. For example, if your child insists on wearing summer clothes in the dead of winter, make sure those summer clothes do not find their way back into the dresser. Now you can allow your child to choose from the appropriate winter wear found in that drawer.
- You will find this in another Carol's Wall installment: Try not to read something to your child that you do not love. I believe the love of reading can be sparked by the person who reads aloud to a child who has not yet begun to read on his or her own. Even if you are reading a book you do not necessarily love, make sure you never read a book "cold." Children's picture books should be read with feeling, so that the young listener is enveloped into the book.
- Do what you can, each day, to make your child laugh. Being silly does not get nearly the credit it deserves. On that note, singing is good too, for both of you.
- Tell your child that you love them, every day. Remember that when you get angry, it's okay to get angry, but don't forget to tell your child that no matter how angry you get, you always love them.
I left the easiest one until last.
On May 2nd, the CHP Cooperative Community Support committee (thank you Rose Kob!) with the help of local Kindergarten teachers (thank you Carolyn Rivas and Lesley May!) and Kindergarten parents (thank you Pamela Herper and Kristin Brady) presented an evening to help our parents prepare for Kindergarten.
Here is the hand-out I contributed for the event.
Getting Ready for Kindergarten—Helpful Tips from Carol!
Kindergarten entrance time can be so scary…for grown-ups! We want the best for our children and when the Kindergarten process seems beyond our control, it is upsetting. Take heart, there are many things you can do to make your child’s Kindergarten experience more rewarding-and less stressful for you too.
Here is a list of things I did (or in retrospect wish I did) to help my own children have a successful Kindergarten experience. We all live such busy lives, there never seems to be enough time and it seems like we are always playing “catch-up.” Preparation and planning will go a long way on the road to a smooth transition to Kindergarten.
Where to begin:
- Sleep is important. Set a reasonable bedtime and be consistent. Kindergarten is full-day, full tilt. If you want your child to enter Kindergarten each day at their best, make sure they get enough sleep! Structure is important to everyone, especially to your little Kindergartener. Set a reasonable bed time and stick to it. It would be wise to begin this regime a few weeks prior to the beginning of the school year so that Kindergarten does not get a bad rap for causing an early bedtime!
- Be prepared. To eliminate potential trials and tribulations in the morning before school, make sure your child’s clothing is set for the next day and all their backpack is ready to go. If your child brings his or her lunch, it can be prepared the night before. Prepare lunch and place it in the refrigerator so you have one less thing to in the morning.
- Lunch Prep. If your child has never eaten lunch at school, or if you get a new lunchbox, practice eating lunch out of the lunchbox prior to the commencement of Kindergarten. I fed my own children from their lunchbox the summer before Kindergarten began, and they really liked it! I choose the food they liked for lunch and made sure that they could open the lunch box and containers inside by themselves.
- Eat Healthy. Get up in the morning with enough time to eat a good healthy breakfast. Food is the fuel your child needs to get their day off to a good start. If your kids are well rested and you are not running about looking for their backpacks or arguing over clothing choices, you might find that you have time to eat breakfast with them!
- Morning Activity. There is not enough physical activity in the Kindergartener’s day. If you can, walk to school and even get in a 15-20 minute run in the park or the schoolyard prior to the commencement of the school day.
- GET TO SCHOOL ON TIME! I cannot stress enough the importance of punctuality. Children need to enter the classroom together, to experience the structure and rituals that are part of the advent of each school day. When a child is late to school every day, they enter the classroom disadvantaged, almost as an outsider. Not only will your child benefit from entering the classroom on time, but you must know that our middle schools and high schools are highly competitive. Applicants are screened not only by academic performance but by absenteeism and lateness. Getting to school on time will teach your child to be punctual which will serve them well now and for years to come.
- Get involved. Your child’s teacher needs your help. Volunteer to become a class parent, donate supplies and let your teacher know you are ready, willing and able to do what you can to help out. Remember that your child is part of the Kindergarten community; what you do for your child’s school and classroom will help everyone in the school, including your child.
- Do not overschedule your child. I scheduled my children’s play dates and afterschool activities on Friday and Saturday because Kindergarten was a long day. I felt the most important afterschool activity was to let my children run-off steam in the park before we went home. After a run in the park, we went home and started homework. When you get home, always check your child’s folder for notes and homework. I never found success leaving homework for after dinner, as dinner time was the best time to talk about my children’s day and decompress.
- Have fun! Always remember that YOU are and will always be your child’s first teacher. Talk to your children, read books, visit the library, and broaden your child’s horizon by visiting new places and learning new things together.