There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
-Sir Rannulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest explorer.
April 22nd marks the 48th Earth Day celebrated in the United States. The concept was introduced to raise awareness for the many troubling environmental threats that Americans had been largely ignoring. At Academy of Early Childhood Learning, we would like to use it as a day to bring to light the importance of nature in children’s lives. 50 years ago, families and educators could take for granted that young children would spend time outdoors (Clements 2004). Present day children, with growing interest in technology, have the world at their fingertips through Google and Wikipedia yet have never peered closely into a newly bloomed bud or watched tiny ants empty a beetle’s exoskeleton. Tomorrow’s stewards of this incredible natural wonderland are in our classrooms today and are open to deepening their connection with nature (Rivkin 2014). There are many psychological, sociological and physical benefits outlined in the book, The Great Outdoors.
Mary S. Rivkin, The Great Outdoors
Clements, R., “An Investigation of the State of Outdoor Play.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood
It was 1960, Green Eggs and Ham was published, and Theodor Geisel (who you may more readily know as Dr. Seuss) implored, “In these days of tension and confusion, writers are beginning to realize that Books for Children have a greater potential for good, or evil, than any other form of literature on earth.”
Dr. Seuss had written Horton Hears a Who some years prior to Green Eggs and Ham as a way to connect to young readers in a positive way. His art had experienced quite a shift from the derisive propaganda cartoons and film he had published as part of the war effort. He wanted to effect change in society’s buds, our children.
He would go on to publish The Sneetches in 1961 with its civil rights theme, and ten years later, The Lorax, raising environmental awareness.
We can continue this important work in our homes and classrooms by teaching our children to be safe, kind, and responsible. We can encourage activities that show we value each other for our similarities and our differences.
Helping Children Adjust to New Settings and Coping with Separation Anxiety
For the last few weeks some of our children have been experiencing new classrooms or are new to our center. Some tears due to uncertainty, new expectations, and missing parents and previous educators is a natural and healthy part of your child’s development! Separation anxiety can present as tantrums, clinging, or even just becoming quiet and withdrawn when dropped off. As caregivers and parents, there are a few things we can do to help:
Plan a visit to their new setting, showing the child you are comfortable with the new faces and routines.
Have a short and positive good-bye ritual. (Please never sneak away!)
Relate your return time to their schedule. (I’ll see you after nap, snack, and gross motor time.)
Acknowledge your child’s feelings while encouraging appropriate behaviors.
Keep a regular schedule at home and with your drop-offs at school.
Discuss the use of a transitional object (small teddy to keep in their cubby for the first couple weeks) with your child’s teacher.
Make pick-up a reunion! Sometimes work needs to wait – a precious little person has looked forward to your face all day!
Books to Help Children with Separation Anxiety
Appelt, Kathi, illustrated by Jane Dyer. Oh My Baby, Little One. Orlando: Harcourt, 2005.
Edwards, Becky, illustrated by Anthony Flintoft. My First Day at Nursery School. New York: Bloomsbury
Penn, Audrey. The Kissing Hand. Terre Haute, IN: Tanglewood, 2006.
Rusackas, Francesca, illustrated by Priscilla Burris. I Love You All Day Long. New York: HarperCollins,
Tompert, Ann, illustrated by Robin Kramer. Will You Come Back for Me? Boston, MA: National Braille,
Viorst, Judith, illustrated by Kay Chorao. The Good-Bye Book. New York: Aladdin, 1992.
Zalben, Jane Breskin. Don’t Go! New York: Clarion, 2001.
Many of us are familiar with the frustration we feel when someone or their actions disappoints us. While that frustration can certainly be warranted, it’s also a good time to be introspective about whether your expectations have been clearly communicated. Children typically want to be pleasers, but they may not always know what things they should be doing and may only hear about things they shouldn’t have done. Be clear in the expectations for your household and communicate through specific positive feedback when you see the desired behaviors or results.
Becky Baily, the developer of Conscious Discipline, outlines the key differences between what many of us grew up with (Traditional Discipline), and the strategies we aim to implement (Conscious Discipline) in three parts. Traditionally, adults tried to make others change by prescribing the right punishment or withholding something desired. Conscious Discipline on the other hand, realizes the individual will need to change themselves due to an internal process driven by how we interact with them. Secondly, we may have been brought up believing rules and consequences govern behavior, while those studying Conscious Discipline come to realize relationships govern behavior. For example, I want to solve conflict with family members because I love them so much. Lastly, Conscious Discipline recognizes that conflict doesn’t have to be bad, but it does need to be productive. It is an opportunity for growth and for us as parents and teachers to show children how to reflect on their choices internally, rather than us choosing the right consequence. http://youtu.be/8j3gF1dh_t4
This summer, through national news outlets, we have again seen coverage of the unthinkable tragedy of infants and children being left in parked cars while the parent forgot them and went into work or into their home. As you may already know, educators at Academy of Early Childhood Learning follow our policy of making “care calls” to parents. Should your child not be dropped off at their regular time we will call to check if your child will be attending that day. Please help us by giving us a call if there will be a change in your routine. During our 17 years of providing quality care and education, it’s unknown if our calls saved a life, but perhaps a parent is thanking us silently every day.
One very common area in which parents struggle and look to our teachers for guidance or advice is in potty training. It is important to recognize your child’s readiness. Rushing the potty-training process can set them up for failure. Some common readiness cues we see include: staying dry for two hours at a time or through naptime, moving to a different area of the room or behind a shelf when having a BM or urinating, the child recognizing that they are wet or dirty and wanting to be changed, and the child showing interest in wearing big boy/girl pants or sitting on the potty. Every child is different and not every child will let you know in the same way, but more than anything, keep a positive attitude, use words of encouragement, and accept that there will be accidents. The following links have some helpful advice:
The following link details some of the behaviors in those whose potty training is a little more challenging:
One of the key pieces of PBS is having and teaching your child your expectations. They need to know what you expect of their behavior in order to fulfill those expectations. The key is to keep your expectations basic and age appropriate. It is important to show them what each expectation looks like as well. Walk through the task with them explaining what you are doing.
One of the easiest and most effective strategies we use is called the “pre-correct.” Simply stated you correct an anticipated misbehavior by stating your expectations before the behavior occurs. Example:I will read one book and then I will kiss you good night and turn out the light. By telling the children what you expect them to do, you can avoid a great deal of negatives. (no, don’t, stop, etc.)
Some parents have asked why their child does a behavior when they already know the expectations. Many things trigger behavior choices for children. Regardless of why, it is important to take the proactive approach. Re-teach what you expect of your child and continue to practice the correct way with them. If they forget how or do not complete an expected task, ask them if they need to practice again.