Wednesday, November 30, 2011

'Twas a Day at Explorer

By Katie Berg, 4-day parent and Explorer President

A year ago today, on the last day of November, I took my son to his 4-Day class and prepared to have an average day at Explorer Preschool.  After settling in, I took a moment to look around and realized something great about the school---even the average days are magical.  Inspired by the season and the holiday events at school, I wrote the following “’Twas a Day at Explorer”.  This year has been equally magical as I have shared similar experiences with my daughter in the 4-Day class.  Happy Holidays!

‘Twas the day before December, 12:15 at Explorer,
Teacher Konne looked out at the classroom before her;
The cubbies were waiting for backpacks to fill them
By students named Debbie, Samantha, and William.

Teacher Jackie was ready, all set for the day
While the children arrived to learn and to play,
And I in my Explorer shirt, donned the apron of blue
While my son signed his name and washed his hands, too,

When out in the yard there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sink to see what was the matter.
Away to the window, with wind in my sails,
I saw a full workbench, with hammer and nails

The children all pounded, safety glasses in place,
Sawing blocks of wood using tools from the case
When, what to my wondering ears should arrive
But a bunch of the children traveling inside

With a curly-haired teacher, sharing a rhyme,
I knew in a moment it must be group time.
More rapid than eagles, kids sat in the circle
And Teacher Konne announced, "Welcome, Group Purple!"

"Now, children!  Now, listen!  Now, sit on your bottoms!
The Nutcracker costumes have arrived; I've got 'em!
To the start of the music, to the start of it all,
Now, dance away!  Dance away!  Dance away all!"

As soldiers and mice practiced, all quite able,
The hungry kids came and sat at snack table;
There I waited, with latkes to toss
As they grated potatoes and spooned applesauce

And then, in the science room, laughter and cackles
As children learned why a dry leaf crackles;
All over the floor, covering the room
While the clean-up parent prepared to vacuum

In the literacy room next door, there were boxes
That children learned to wrap, as quickly as foxes;
Paper and tape, what more could they need?
And gift-giving teaches generosity, not greed

And where did they get the paper for wrapping?
Check the art station, you’ll hear table tapping;
They’re stamping the paper, all on their own
Preparing to wrap the gifts to take home.

Their eyes -- how they twinkled! Their dimples how cute!
Their cheeks were like roses as they carried their loot
Back to their cubbies, ready for giving
Along with the lessons that make life worth living:

These kids learned of holidays and family traditions
Through various hands-on, fun expeditions
They learned of the world, of friends, of self-control,
Of things that affect mind, body, and soul.

They sprang to their carpool, to their friends gave a whistle
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
 I wanted to exclaim, as I drove out of sight,
“For us, Explorer Preschool is doing it right!”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

By Geri Wong, an MWF parent

Every parent raises their children hoping that the siblings will grow up together and enjoy a lifetime of harmonious companionship, friendship, and support for each other.  But, if you've got more than one child who's an active preschooler, like I do, that can seem like a very lofty goal.  Or is it?  The Siblings Without Rivalry PEC seminar helped me understand the underlying causes for sibling rivalry in easy-to-understand concepts and provided some practical steps to minimize conflicts as well as resolve them when they occur.  On a deeper level, the speaker made me realize that even though my kids are young, they are every bit full of emotion, pride, sense of reasoning, and eagerness to please as any adult.  They want and need people to respect them and the things that are important to them. 

One of the tools presented was to give each child a protected play space—an area and toys that they can claim as their own.  The protected play space is their safe place where they can play without worrying that their sibling will knock down, say, their best train creation ever.  I found that sharing was actually easier for my kids when they knew they didn’t have to share everything.  It was amazing to me how major an impact such a minor physical change to my children’s environment had on their interaction with each other.  I learned that as parents, we can’t control everything, but we have the power to create an environment that fosters respect and consideration for each child, which, with a little luck, can place them on a path toward a wonderful relationship with each other.  What more could a mother ask for?