This past Sunday I was at my brother's house for dinner and I was chatting with his next door neighbor about her young grandson who lives with her. She was venting about the fact that he was getting into everything, he is constantly on the go and the fact that she was so tired from chasing him around. I found myself moving into professional mode. I started to talk to her about how pre-toddlers learn about things by exploring their environment, which to adults often feels like "getting into everything." I was going on and on about how children need to touch and taste and manipulate and what better place to do that, than in the environment in which they live. Because she was so stressed, she wasn't really buying into my explanation about how it was a good thing that he was so curious and active! After we chatted about this for a few minutes, I realized that I wasn't going to get her to change her mind by being a "teacher" or an early childhood person. We chatted about a few other things and ended the visit with me just suggesting that she enjoy her grandson. We talked about how he wouldn't be little for long and things would get easier in time. "Don't sweat the small things" for they are usually just that- small things.
Later that night I got thinking about how fast children grow. I find myself having this conversation with parents often. As challenging as things seem sometimes, it's so very important to remember how lucky we all are to have the opportunity to experience our children and all that comes with being a parent or a grandparent. Being happy is such a simple thing. Enjoying life and experiences, with a positive attitude and outlook shows our children that we are appreciative and approachable. Being optimistic and recognizing that the glass is always half-full, not almost empty is a good philosophy to live by. Challenges come up and there can be setbacks in life, but in all of those things are lessons; lessons that allow us to do a better job next time and often reinforce all that we have, not what we don't have. Being compassionate, understanding and forgiving are great lessons to share with your children.
I have quite a few inspirational quotes hanging in my house. My absolute favorite is "Happiness Matters." I feel like these two simple words speak volumes about the example that we can set for our children. Sharing that attitude and approach to life has an impact on the lives we touch. A simple smile shared with a stranger or a complimentary word to a person you know goes a long way.
So, as the lazy days of summer turn to the beautiful days of fall, think positive, be happy and show your children that things are good, life is good, and we all have plenty to be thankful and grateful for.
Get Ready for Kindergarten
by Jean Morrissey, Preschool 2
Entering Kindergarten marks an important milestone in your child's life and can be a big change from your child's preschool experience. Kindergarten programs have changed over the last few years and have become a more formal learning environment, with more direct teaching time in order to meet the goals established by the state or private school district. Kindergarten also has more structured learning times, more group projects and less free play time. As your preschooler approaches his/her first day of Kindergarten, you may find yourself with concerns and some of your questions may include: Is my child ready for Kindergarten? How can I help prepare my child for Kindergarten? How can I ease the transition process for my child? This article may provide some assistance in answering your questions about Kindergarten and Kindergarten readiness.
Is my child ready for kindergarten?
Probably one of the biggest concerns parents have about their child entering Kindergarten is whether their child is ready. All children come to Kindergarten with a different skill set. They possess a variety of experiences, knowledge, and abilities. Here are some guidelines for gauging your child's readiness:
- Recognizes name and may begin to write it.
- Understands and follows simple two step directions.
- Enjoys listening to stories, music, and books
- Is able to sit still for a small period of time for an activity and attend to an adult directed task for at least 5 minutes
- Is able to take care of basic needs (dressing self, personal hygiene, toileting independently)
- Is able to hold a pencil or crayon with a non-fisted grip
- Is able to use scissors with control
- Is able to speak in complete sentences and is generally understood by adults
- Is able to express needs and wants verbally
- Is able to cooperate with peers in group situations & activities (share, take turns)
- Is able to separate from caregiver without excessive upset
Also, your child's teacher is a wonderful partner in helping you to decide if your child is ready for Kindergarten.
How can I help prepare my child for Kindergarten?
Here are some tips to help your child prepare for Kindergarten:
- Two or three weeks before school starts, try to adjust your daily routine to fit the school day schedule.
- Be sure your child gets enough sleep. Children need to sleep 10-12 hours each night. At least one week before school starts, start getting into a sleep routine by going to bed early enough to get the necessary amount of sleep and start waking your child up at the time he will need to wake up on school days.
- Give yourself time to get ready in the morning so you don't have to rush.
- Feed your child a good breakfast. Research shows eating breakfast has a positive impact on school performance.
- Visit your child's school and teacher, with your child if possible.
- Practice walking to the bus stop or driving to the school. Schools often provide an opportunity for new students to ride the school bus during a visit to the school.
- Discuss any feelings or anxiety your child may have about going to school.
- Allow your child help pick out school supplies.
- Go shopping for your child's first day of school outfit.
Books are often a good source of both comfort and information for young children. Below are some books about Kindergarten that may help them understand what to expect. Use books as an opportunity to discuss your child's feelings and concerns he/she may have about starting school. Remember, it is always good practice to read with your child at least fifteen minutes, every day!
- When You Go to Kindergarten by James Howe
- Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee
- First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
- First Day of Kindergarten by Kim Jackson
- Welcome to Kindergarten by Ann Rockwell
- Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come by Nancy Carlson
- I Am Absolutely Too Small For School by Lauren Child
- We Share Everything by Robert Munsch
- Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolfe
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
You've done all the preparation that you can, and the first day is here! Here are some tips to get you and your child through that first day of Kindergarten.
- Don't linger on the first day. If you have the opportunity, go in, see the classroom, and help your child find something to do. Then give them a quick hug and kiss and say goodbye. Don't forget to let them know that you will be back.
- At some schools, school bus drop offs are managed by school personnel and you may or may not have the opportunity to drop your child off at the school. In this case, explain the school bus drop off routine with your child in advance.
- Get the school day schedule from your child's teacher in advance and discuss this schedule with your child.
- Your child will also reflect your attitude about this change. It will be beneficial for you to present going to school as a positive experience and have confidence in your child's ability to adjust to new situations. Most children adjust well to Kindergarten and begin this adventure in their lives with enthusiasm!
Song Lyrics by Toddler 4
The toddlers of Toddler 4 love this catchy tune. It's short and sweet and becomes an ear worm rather quickly!
ABCD Dinosaur (sung to the tune of the alphabet)
That is what the 'D' stands for.
Dinosaurs are really neat.
They have prehistoric feet.
That is what the 'D' stands for!
UCDC Philosophy Explained
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
Parent Question: I don't want my child to sleep when he's at UCDC. Can he be excused from naptime?
What a wonderful and equally popular question! Sleep is so important for all people and most especially, children. Babies need between 14 and 15 hours in a 24 hour period, toddlers need 12 to 14, and preschoolers need between 10 and 12. Some children get all of these hours at night, while most others need to refuel mid-day. And we all know that a sleep deprived child may be cranky, irritable, forgetful, and downright miserable.
Young children are very active and typically can't sustain the demands of a busy day in childcare without taking a midday break. Therefore, at UCDC, we offer a rest time for all children. Notice that we refrain from calling it "naptime," since this term implies to the children that they must nap. This is not the case. Instead, we create a relaxing environment that invites children to rest their bodies. We do this by providing each child with a cot and inviting them to bring a pillow, blanket, and soft toy to use during this time. We also turn off the lights in the classroom and play quiet music that will help the children to wind down and relax. Finally, we refrain from adult conversation during this time, so the children have the ability to fall asleep in a quiet and relaxing environment. The teachers in the classroom help the children to rest by soothing them in the way that works best for them. This may be having their back patted, rocking them, or just being near while they fall asleep. After 30-45 minutes of these soothing measures, typically the children that need to sleep have fallen asleep and those that no longer need a nap are invited to participate in quiet activities at a table. They may work on puzzles, create a piece of art, or play with quiet toys while the others continue to nap. If a child falls asleep during this soothing period, we assume that they need to sleep and we allow them to do this for as long as their body needs.
When children are ready, they will begin to show signs that they are outgrowing naps by taking shorter naps, or regularly staying up throughout our rest time. These signs show us that their bodies are maturing and no longer need a midday nap, but still require a short, quiet rest time in order to refuel for the full afternoon's activities.
Some parents feel that when children nap at school, they have a more difficult time falling asleep at night. A child that naps at school might possibly need a later bedtime in order to accommodate the hour or two that they napped during the day. This is sometimes welcomed by families that work full time since their time spent with their children throughout the week may be quite limited depending on their work schedule and commuting time. When considering an appropriate bedtime, it's also important to remember the total hours of sleep your child needs for their age and their temperament. For example, if your three year old typically wakes at 7:00 am and takes a two hour nap at school, they may not be ready for bed until 9:00 pm. But if he wakes at 7:00 am and doesn't nap, he'll probably be ready for bed closer to 7:00 or 7:30 pm. It's also important to follow your child's natural biorhythms and need for sleep. If you notice signs of fatigue (rubbing eyes, losing interest in playtime, yawning, becoming cranky, caressing her lovey, etc.), you should put them to sleep. If you push past this window of opportunity, they may not be able to fall asleep easily.
Another way to help with bedtime battles is to establish a bedtime routine and stick with it. Children thrive in routine and it helps them to predict what will happen next, thus preparing them for sleep. This routine should be calming and include activities such as taking a bath, listening to soft music, reading books, and cuddling. Also, we know that skipping naps doesn't improve nighttime sleep. It sounds like a good idea, but it will sometimes backfire! The more overtired you allow your child to get, the more difficult it will be for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. When they are overtired, they can become too restless to employ the self-soothing routines that they typically use to enter into sleep.
As professionals that work with young children, we recognize that each situation is different. Therefore, we work with every child in meeting their individual needs. We also know that rest time is an integral part of our program at UCDC because it is a necessity for young children in order to allow them to be successful, happy, and healthy.
Book Review by Preschool 2
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long
Argh! Ahoy thar, mateys! Prepare to sail along with Jeremy Jacobs, as you read How I Became a Pirate, written by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon (of the No David! fame). Jeremy Jacobs was with his family for a typical day at the beach when he spotted a Pirate ship off shore. He tried to warn his parents but they were too busy setting up the beach umbrella and putting sunblock on his baby sister to notice. "Needin' a digger", Braid Beard (the captain) and his crew approached Jeremy, looking for someone to help them bury their treasure. After seeing Jeremy's sand castle, the pirates decided Jeremy qualified for the job. They took Jeremy on board and set off for a seaworthy adventure. When Jeremy found out that "pirates don't do anything they don't want to," Jeremy wanted to be a pirate forever. Later in the story, he found out what pirates don't do. He discovered that there was no one to tuck him in at night, no one to read him a story, and no one to comfort him during the storm. Jeremy led the pirates to a perfect digging spot to bury their treasure - right in his own backyard!
The children of Preschool 2 enjoyed repeating Braidbeard's orders as we read the story. This book inspired the children's imaginations as they embarked on their own pirate adventures, complete with pirate kings, queens, and princesses. Each child in the class got a chance to add a sentence to the story to create this ever-changing adventure. I hope you enjoy!
The Tale from the Pirates by Preschool 2
Once upon a time, there was a ship in the ocean. It was a pirate ship. It was the goldenest ship they ever saw. There was a pirate king called Captain Hoho. There was a queen named Sparkalina and Princess Fragalina. There was a storm. It had rain. Thunder and lightning crashed. It was called Cheryl Windstorm. The ship started to sink. Pirate Woofie fell off the boat. They sailed to the treasure. The treasure fell into the hole from the sand. They grabbed the treasure with the rope from the pirate flag. The treasure had spiders on it. They were poisonous spiders. They used a magic wand to get the spiders off. Woofie swam to the treasure chest and bit the treasure chest open. It had lots of treasures and lots of gold and two gold crowns. There were magic, sparkly crowns. They took the treasure to an island and buried the treasure and made a new home. And they lived happily ever after...No they didn't. Captain Hoho fell into the water. The queen and crew pulled him out of the water and gave him oxygen. The king and queen got married and lived happily ever after. Then he kissed the bride.
Spotlight on Staff
The Teachers of Preschool One
If I looked in your refrigerator at any time, what three things would I always find?
- "Coffee creamer, cold water, Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce" - Ammie
- "You will always find milk, coffee creamer and salad dressing. Kinda boring." - Jennifer
- "I always have Boca nuggets, some kind of juice, and cheese." - Meghan
What new hobby/talent have you learned in the past five years?
- "Being a mother!" - Ammie
- "I learned how to drive a stick shift. I have one now and it's so much fun to drive!" - Jennifer
- "I wouldn't say it's impressive, but does learning to play poker count?" - Meghan
What is the most creative activity you did with your children in your classroom this month?
- "Created a color matching game using paint cards from Lowes and clothes pins. The children loved matching the different colors." - Ammie
- "The kids in Preschool One found a huge stick on a walk one day. We took it back to our room and over the course of two weeks we transformed that stick into a masterpiece. Come see for yourself, it's hanging from our ceiling." - Jennifer
- "I really liked using the paper towel rolls with rocks and beads. We used all kinds of things to make rain sticks!" - Meghan
What is your favorite piece of clothing? Why?
- "My cover up sweaters. I have them in many colors!" - Ammie
- "My flip flops. I even wear them in the Winter. I'm all about comfort." - Jennifer
- "Oh man, probably shoes because there are so many different styles and types and you can get creative with shoes. They set the tone for an outfit." - Meghan
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
- "My son, Christopher. Having him has truly changed my life! It is so incredible to be a parent and I try to enjoy every moment of it." - Ammie
- "My Dad. He's the most genuine, kind-hearted person I'll ever know. He has taught me more than I can say. Love you, Dad!" - Jennifer
- "That's really tough. But I have to say my Dad. He has this amazing attitude toward life and I've always tried to adopt it." - Meghan
What makes you laugh?
- "The children in Preschool One!" - Ammie
- "What doesn't make me laugh? When I'm with my friends, we often laugh until we cry. Usually about the most ridiculous things!" - Jennifer
- "Have you spent any time with me? Everything! I could laugh for hours over the things the kids (or I) say and do! I love to laugh." - Meghan
What makes you cry?
- "The children in Preschool One! Just kidding! Sad, sappy movies get me every time." - Ammie
- "Seeing my friends in pain or watching a sad movie. But, I rarely cry." - Jennifer
- "Can I just say sad things? Things about old people make me cry like the books, The Giving Tree and The Notebook. And animals too. Those ASCPA commercials get me every time too." - Meghan
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
- "My husband, Chris, tells me too many! I agree, but they all have a purpose!" - Ammie
- "Is 54 a lot?" - Jennifer
- "Oh man, really? I'm not going to count but let's say a lot...like a lot." - Meghan
What was the best thing before sliced bread?
- "Zebra cakes!!! Hehe, no really, it's anything chocolate." - Ammie
- "A loaf of bread??? I don't know!" - Jennifer
- "Probably the invention of the wheel. I mean, where would we be without it? Stuck at home, that's where!" - Meghan
If you had a thousand dollars to give away, what would you do with it?
- "I'd buy a ton of Happy Blankies from happyblanky.com and donate them to the NICU at Magee Hospital because nothing made me happier then receiving one for Christopher when he was born." - Ammie
- "I would keep it until Christmas and find a family on hard times to give it to. My family does this every Christmas and that's always the highlight of our day." - Jennifer
- "I would most likely give it to St. Jude. They do really special things for those children and I find it to be a very worthy cause." - Meghan
For Your Information...
Center Closing - UCDC will be closed on Friday, August 10th for Professional Development Day. The teachers and staff will spend the day in meetings and trainings. Enjoy your long weekend!
Urgent Safety Reminder - Please use extreme caution in our parking lot. We have been experiencing a higher pattern of traffic on Clyde Street, which we are hoping will soon dissipate. Also, we have had another car get hit in the lot. Again, no-one has come forward about the accident, which is causing a lot of frustration for both the administrative staff and the parent(s) of cars that have been hit in the lot in recent months. In light of this, we are working with parking authority, campus police and campus security to explore options to create a safer parking lot. But, the greatest thing that we need is for individuals to be more careful and take responsibility should you find yourself in a situation that involves another vehicle.
KidStuff Coupon Books - Sometime in the next few weeks every family will be receiving a KidStuff bag with a KidStuff Coupon book and information inside. Families will have the option to purchase the book for $25, half of which will go to UCDC to help offset costs for materials and resources, or to return the entire bag to the front desk. Families can also request additional books if family members or friends would also like to purchase one. As with past fundraising, we are making every effort to offer things that are usable and do not require lots of work on your part. We do hope that you'll opt to purchase your book which is full of usable coupons and offers for local attractions, restaurants and stores.
Licencing Visit - Our annual state inspection will be on September 4th. If your child has a physical due, please make sure to have the completed form in to the office by the date listed on your reminder letter. It is imperative that our files are up to date for the inspection. Families have been wonderful this year in proving things in a timely manner which makes it much easier for us get ready for the visit form the inspector.
Contracts - Please make sure to return your new contract to the office by the requested date of August 17th or sooner. This will also help with our licensing visit.
I hope you enjoyed our newsletter. See you next month!