Friday, April 27, 2012

Kindergarten Anxiety

This time of year often causes a lot of anxiety for preschool children.  They are attending Kindergarten orientations and hearing a lot about “next year”.  As adults we know this elusive “next year” is actually about four months away, but to young children, it seems eminent.  They start to worry about leaving the comfort and predictability of their preschool setting.

They are hearing, “This is your new teacher”, or “You are going to the BIG school.”  “You’ll make so many new friends.”  Although these statements are meant to be encouraging, they can be frightening.  Your child is happy with his teacher, loves his classroom and his friends.  To hear that he now has to go somewhere bigger, without all of his close friends and the adults he has come to count on can trigger feelings of angst and may even cause some separation anxiety to resurface.  

I encourage you to tone down all the talk to going to Kindergarten as much as possible.  Sure you will talk about it when you visit, and you will definitely want to start talking about it as it gets closer.  For now, however, focus on this: the now.  Enjoy the last few weeks of preschool with your child.  Make the focus on what he is doing now. 

If you want to do some ground work for preparing for the change you can talk about what your child remembers about the start of preschool and how much he has changed.  How he may have been nervous at the beginning but came to be reassured and comfortable.  How he is now the expert at all the areas of the classroom and has become so independent.  How he has made new friends. 

Then when the Kindergarten start date comes closer, you can relate these preschool experiences to the beginning of kindergarten and how he will feel just as comfortable once he gives it some time. 

You’ll have to help remind grandparents and other relatives about this as they tend to be the biggest proponents of the “soon you’ll be going to kindergarten mantra”.  Just explain to your friends and family members that you are trying to be more low key about the change coming up and encourage them to ask instead, “what did you play today?”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our Sticky Easel

I recently read about this over at the Teach Preschool blog and I loved the idea of building on the easel.

This week I covered our easel with contact paper and secured it with duct tape.  I then put cups of pattern blocks on  one side and cups of colored yarn on the other.  The children have been exploring creating art on the sticky surfaces.

They have made designs, pictures, patterns and it is only Tuesday!  They are really enjoying this experience.

Surprisingly only one child asked if he could take it home.  Young children understand that it is about the process.  They are happy to make it and take it apart and make it again.

Give this a try-what else can you put on your sticky easel?

Making Casts-A Doctor Study Center

When I give presentations on emergent curriculum and The Project Approach to teachers they often ask about the various centers in the room while invested in the current topic.

Unlike with theme teaching, every center is not related to the topic being studied.  We set up learning investigations that are related to the questions the children have raised.

For example, this week we are making casts in our art center because the children became interested in how they worked and how they were different than other bandages.  So we are casting paper towel tubes and once dry, cutting them open with a saw the way a cast is prepared and removed to fix a broken bone.

We are using plaster and pieces of paper towels in strips to mimic bandages (for a lot less money)-and also because I had left all of the many fabric pieces I had cut up at home-gotta love Mondays :-)

The children mix the plaster and then dip the material in it, wipe it down and wrap it around the tube.
When they are dry we will be cutting them with a saw from our workbench area and then we'll be able to try them on and see how a cast would feel.

The other center in our room is our Doctor's Office which has been discussed in many recent posts.  In this area the children are "trying on" all of the information they have been gathering from books and our visiting experts.

Other than that, our centers right now do not have to do with the doctor topic.  They are engaging centers that use a variety of modalities and focus on other objectives of our program.  We are building puzzles, trying to figure out which cars go down a ramp faster than others, pouring rice into various containers and comparing them, using our sticky easel, retelling stories with felt pieces, practicing writing our last names or names in lower case letters on chalk boards, drawing, reading, building, singing and learning to get along-all of the many activities that make a good preschool program.  That is this week, next week will be a different set of experiences.

Children interested in the doctor topic have interesting places to play and discover and those who are not interested have places to play as well.  Tomorrow we'll be talking about whether or not we have more questions or things we want to discover about this topic or if we feel we have finished with it. And how will we share what we have learned with others?   It it not up to me.  It will be a decision we make as a learning community.

Giving Shots in Preschool:Our Doctor Study Continues

As part of our Doctor study we invited the mother of one of our students to come and speak to us about being a nurse.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the children were very interested in doctors due to their recent or impending 5 year check ups.  Many of their questions centered around getting and giving shots.

When I shared their questions with our nurse, she tailored her talk and brought an activity just to meet these interests.  This is the part I so love about emergent curriculum; the visits and field trips are truly geared to the specific interests of the children.

She did talk about the many things she does as a nurse and nurse practitioner.

 She then showed them (with me as the guinea pig once again) how veins are found and then blood is drawn.

She then talked with them about getting shots and why they are given rather than medicine by mouth.  She even referenced the epi pens that several children have in the class if needed.

But, once again, the most riveting part of her visit, was her stay in our doctors' office.  Here she was able to work with small groups of interested children and actually show them how to give a shot using her teaching materials.  This included cleaning the area, measuring and safety issues.

This play was able to address the questions the children had and let them make sense of an activity that is often scary to them.  They role played being nurses and giving shots.

Today a child came in to school proudly sharing his bandage and explaining how he had his blood drawn by a nurse and how she used the tubes this mom had shown us the day before.