April 19th, 22nd and 23rd: No School for Easter Break

May 1st – Noon Dismissal

May 3rd – No School for Apple Blossom

May 9th and 10th – Mother’s Day Luncheons

May 15th – Memories and Milestones (Celebration of 4’s and 5’s)

May 30th – Last Day of School

April 19th, 22nd and 23rd – No School

Spaces Available for 2018-2019 School Year

We have limited availability for the current year:

Feel free to call and inquire about remaining spots and to possibly schedule a tour!  (540) 662-7588

Summer Activities to Promote Development

Summer Activities to Promote Development

by Tricia Smith

 The summer months provide a different schedule for families with young children. Preschools are often closed from June through September; however, that does not mean that the youngest people in our community have stopped learning. For more information on simple ways you can continue to promote development during the summer months, please read the following suggestions:

Social Emotional:

  • Talk about feelings when the opportunity arises. For instance, if you forget something for a trip you could say, “I’m feeling frustrated that I forgot to bring the sunscreen.” Labeling emotions and then moving on to problem solving provides a helpful template for children when the going gets tough!
  • Consider setting up a Safe Place in your home. The Safe Place is the structure where people can take a break to breathe, name their emotions, and gain composure.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, doing “The Pretzel” (crossing the midline of your body), or visiting a special made Safe Place in your home.
  • Take opportunities to connect with your family. High fives, eye contact, and laughter create neural connections in the brain. Cooperation is fostered with connection!
  • Focus on the activities that you want your child to do. Rather than saying, “no running”, use “walking feet look like this.” The behaviors you focus on will be those that you see more often.
  • Freeze dancing and stop and go games are fun ways of helping children develop impulse control. It’s hard to stop moving when you are having a good time!

Gross Motor:

  • Take walks with your child. Visit venues where you can walk on sidewalks, grass, or mulched trails. Walking up hills is a great way to develop large motor control. Young children do tire easily after walking/hiking; however, each child differs in their physical stamina.
  • Play catch! Throwing and catching a soft ball is a great way to develop upper body strength, and hone hand/eye coordination. Rolling a ball back and forth is another great way to strengthen larger muscles and hand/eye coordination.
  • Plan on climbing. Climbing safe structures strengthens whole-body gross and fine motor muscles!
  • For an age-appropriate version of “Simon Says,” try moving around like bunnies, birds, elephants, and snakes. For a cognitive twist, ask your child to guess what type of animal you are!

Fine Motor:

  • Playdough and clay provide resistance that small hands need to write, use scissors, and zip jackets.
  • Weaving is another method to strengthen fine motor muscles. Looms can be created from cookie cooling racks and ribbon. This type of activity is also great for strengthening hand/eye coordination, and creativity!
  • Provide opportunities for your child to write in sand, dirt, mud, or tempera paint. Tracing fingers through different materials is an opportunity to strengthen index fingers.
  • Clothes pin pick up: Provide a bin full of materials and a clothespin. Ask your child to pick up the materials with the clothespin. Doing so helps greatly strengthen the pincer grasp needed to hold writing implements!
  • Blowing bubbles is a great activity for strengthening the small muscles around the mouth. Another fun activity involves blowing cotton balls across a table!

Cognitive:

  • Provide a variety of open-ended toys and materials. When children have the opportunity to decide how they will use an item, they are becoming active learners and problem solvers.
  • Provide a variety of loose pieces for children’s play. Keep in mind that young children under the age of 3 are still in the sensorimotor learning stage, which means that items often end up going in their mouth.
  • Utilizing loose parts during play strengthens children’s creativity, is open-ended, and can strengthen one-to-one correspondence (pointing and counting) concepts.
  • For older children, loose parts play can promote cardinality of numbers (the last item counted tells how many), and conservation of numbers (5 pinecones are the same whether they are in a basket, or spread out on a table).

Creative (closely related to cognitive!):

  • Provide items other than paintbrushes for painting activities. This supports divergent thinking!
  • Consider saving recyclable materials for process art activities. Young children enjoy creating 4-dimensional art and creations. These creations may be ongoing works in progress!
  • Music and movement is a wonderful way to tap into creativity. Young children, and adults, need to move!
  • Gather flat rocks for your child to decorate. Mod Podge can be used to seal in the child’s work!

Self Help Skills:

  • Each child has a job when they come to preschool. Consider continuing this ritual at home. Young children are capable of many tasks which contribute to the family. Toddlers can pick items up to keep the floor safe, and are capable of throwing their own trash away.
  • Two’s can utilize spray bottles filled with plain soapy water to help clean tables.
  • Three’s and four’s can utilize brooms, but will need some assistance with a dustpan.
  • Children can ensure that doors are securely closed to keep pesky mosquitos out. Consider having a “Door Helper” as part of your household contributions!
  • Consider keeping a similar schedule during the summer months in regards to dressing, eating, and bedtime. This makes the transition back to school that much easier!

Literacy:

  • Make story time a part of your day. Reading to your child for twenty minutes a day promotes early literacy, and listening skills.
  • Point out environmental print: from labels on food products, store signs, street signs, etc…
  • Provide time for singing or chanting nursery rhymes and songs. Songs that provide rhyming, repetitive verses allow children the chance to practice newly-found words. Older children can clap along to differentiate syllables, which strengthens phonological awareness.
  • Provide writing and drawing materials. Young children enjoy drawing and writing about their experiences and ideas. Say to your child, “Tell me about your drawing.” Write their dictation, and show them the words. These activities strengthen concepts of print: the fact that what we say can be written down, that printed words tell the story, and that print in our culture follows a left-to-right directionality.
  • Write in mud, sand, and dirt. This provides a small motor and literacy in one activity!
  • Tell stories, and invite your children to craft their own Practicing story telling helps children understand that most stories have a sequence; a beginning, middle, and an end. This is an essential skill for reading comprehension.
  • Take pictures of your activities. Ask your child to dictate what they did, and create a book. Children love reading stories about themselves and the important people in their lives.

We wish you a summer filled with fun, laughter, and learning!

 

Crime and Punishment!

Consequences are a part of our daily lives; unfolding with each decision we make. If we hit the Snooze button on our alarm clock, we are likely to run late. Taking the time to stock up on groceries over the weekend’s consequence almost guarantees that we won’t be making last minute grocery store trips several times during the week. How we feel about the natural consequence of our actions is a catalyst for change.

Young children are actively studying the complex world of pro-social behaviors and social norms. As with any subject, there is a learning curve. When a child has difficulty remembering the letters in their name or zipping their coat, our response is to teach the skill until the child gains mastery. Social skills fall under the same umbrella as traditional academic behaviors. This approach does not mean that children get a “pass” for hurtful behaviors. Again, the consequence and the way the child feels about it are catalysts for change. Adults can be helpful by noticing the impact of the consequences. At this point, the child’s feelings need to be validated so that they learn from the consequences of their actions. Telling children how they should feel removes the natural learning opportunity the situation can offer. (e.g., “You should be ashamed/feel badly for what you did today.”)

Let’s look at some potential scenarios which illustrate the difference between imposing consequences versus using natural consequences as a catalyst for change:

Intent to Punish:

Adult: “You pushed your friends at our playdate. You should know better! We will not be going on any more playdates.”

In this scenario, the adult has taken over responsibility for the child’s actions by doling out consequences. Notice that there is no dialogue, and that the adult is telling the child how they should feel and act.

Intent to Teach:

Adult: “You pushed your friends during the playdate, and now they are choosing to play on their own.”

Child: “They kept getting in my way, and now they don’t want to play with me.”

Adult: “You were hoping that your friends would play with you. You didn’t know the words to use when your friends got too close. The next time it happens, say, ‘Move back.’ Say it with me so we can practice now.”

In this scenario, the adult allows the child to focus on the feelings of sadness when his/her friends choose to play elsewhere as a result of his/her pushing. These feelings are the true motivation to choose a different way and learn a new skill.

 

So what happens when a child already has a skill but does not employ it? This is the area where we delve into imposed/logical consequences. This often occurs when a child persists in engaging in behaviors which are hurtful. Suppose your child continues the pushing after they have mastered assertively talking to their friends. We must first reflect on whether our child feels that they are safe in order for logical consequences to be effective. A child who does not feel part of the group will likely not feel safe, so they will not be able to learn from logical consequences. Their pre-frontal lobes (the area for problem-solving and decision making) are not accessible to them.

Logical consequences should be discussed before invoking them. It is helpful to say to the child who feels safe and already possesses the skill what will happen if they continue to engage in hurtful behavior. “You may choose to take turns building with the blocks, and finish your tower, or you can continue to grab blocks from your brother, and you will work alone so that we can keep you both safe. Tell me what will happen if you choose to grab again.”

The checklist for ensuring that logical consequences allow our children to take ownership of their actions and decisions is as follows:

  • Related: The consequence is relatable to the child’s decisions/actions, meaning that it should be a result of the child’s actions. (If a child is continuing to push or grab, and has the skills, then the child is showing that they need help to be safe. Working on their own would be a safe, relatable consequence).
  • Respectful: The consequence is delivered in a way that does not demean the child, but is done so in an assertive manner. (“You are showing me that you are choosing to work over here. Get your blocks and move to this side of the room.”)
  • Reasonable: The consequence should be in line with the action, and enacted if the child continues to engage in the unhelpful behavior. (If the child continues to grab and throw blocks, then using the blocks may not be a choice for that day.)

It is important to help children as logical consequences are imposed. Children may feel angry and lash out in frustration. At this point, we invoke the skill of empathy while acknowledging their upset. (i.e., “I know you were hoping to keep using the blocks this afternoon. We can get the blocks out tomorrow. Let’s breathe together; I know you can handle this.”) Again, although playing with blocks may seem like a relatively minor event to us adults, the child considers it a loss. Helping the child with a safe loss of not playing with his/her intended materials is a relatively safe, but meaningful consequence.

Natural and logical consequences provide the gift of reflection to our children. These outcomes allow children to reflect on their actions, desired outcomes, and the impact of those actions. Conversely, imposed consequences and lecturing remove the true consequences of children’s decisions away from them. Instead of focusing on the outcome of their decisions, children then begin to view themselves as victims. To become a young adult who truly takes ownership of their actions, we must support our children as they experience consequences, and veer away from rescuing or punishing. The manner in which we teach our children to handle consequences and subsequent upset really does provide a frame work for how they will handle consequences for the rest of their lives!

 

Resources: Bailey, B. (2014). Building Resilient Classrooms. Oviedo, Florida: Loving Guidance, Inc.

116 South Loudoun St. Winchester, VA 22601