Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School
Dec 11

I love December! There are so many topics that fit in well this month!

Obviously, the holidays can be tricky. The beauty of being in a small co-op is that I can adjust how much or how few holiday activities we do according to our current population! Parents are always invited to come in and share traditions. It’s important for children to learn that not all people celebrate the same holidays, nor do they celebrate them in the same way!

Typically, we start the month with evergreens! Just as we decorate with leaves and pumpkins in the fall and flowers in the spring, in December we take clues from nature and decorate with evergreens! Yes, there’s a big tree in our room. (It’s also appears as a lollipop tree in the spring, and a “forest” tree during camp!) What is on our tree? Animals and frosty pinecones, of course!
We also painted with evergreen branches!

What do Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa have in common? Candles! I choose one day to learn about each of the holidays. Yesterday, we made potato latkes and developed our math skills by matching candles to menorahs.

Each year we learn about candles, their use and how we handle them. That of course, leads to fire safety, and “Stop, Drop and Roll.”

Jack Be Nimble gives us opportunities to learn about letters, rhymes, and phonemic awareness (of course we get to jump a lot, too!)

We make our own “candles.” (Ok, they’re cardboard tubes with tissue paper on them but hey, it’s preschool!)

As he was making his candle, one of my threes exclaimed, “I’m doing so WELL!”

At the end of our discussion of fire safety I asked the children what we know about candles. One of the children replied,
“When your mom lights a candle on the dining room table, don’t jump over it.”

Very good advice!

Comments Off on December’s Lessons
Dec 04

Every month I give parents a calendar with the themes/topics for each day. Today and Monday, I wrote simply, “gifts.”
On Monday, our “large group day,” we’ll be very busy making surprises. Shhhhh! I can’t tell!
But today, on our “small group day” with the fours, we talked about gifts on several levels.
I love word play. Whenever one of my sons asked what a word meant, we’d discuss what it meant in THIS context… but in THAT context…

The fours have a “mystery box” that they open on “small group day.” They take out an object and brainstorm reasons WHY I put it in there.

Today’s objects were a gift bag and a small gift box. Why did I put it in there? Some suggestions: “They both have holly on them. They both hold things. You can put your stuffed animals in them. You could put snacks in them. Bag and box both begin with B.” Then someone suggested that presents could be put in them. What’s another word for a present? Gift! Gift “conveniently” starts with initial g, so we got some phonemic awareness in there!

But what ELSE is a gift? A gift is a natural ability or talent. So we thought about our gifts… what we do well, what we’re good at. At first, I thought I was WAY over their heads, but then, they got it! After they created their own gift bags, they each told me five of their “gifts.” They couldn’t wait to tell me their strengths! It was heartwarming to hear their perceptions of themselves…Some were good at snuggling, drawing, making a sibling laugh, art… One child’s response… “I’m good at chewing my food,” absolutely delighted me!

I heard a marvelous speaker the other day telling parents that children need the gift of TIME. Play ball. Go to a museum. Watch the geese. He went on to say that adult children don’t give a eulogy praising their parent for a Christmas gift, but talk about the moments spent together. I wanted to stand up and cheer. (But believe me, it would have been really inappropriate!)

I think that’s one thing the parents here at RHCNS understand, the value of spending time with their children. Children LOVE being the helping child! They tell me weeks before that their “day” is coming! They are SO excited to show mom or dad the room, ring the bell, and hold the flag. The time commitment isn’t huge; it averages to about 4 or 5 times a year. It’s amazing how three hours can bring so much joy!

“Gift” your child with the gift of your time! A great “present” would be to be absolutely “present” in the moment! Snuggle with your preschooler, and get a book (one of Jan Brett’s would be marvelous!) Look at the illustrations. Take the time to examine the drawings in the borders. Marvel that it takes her an hour to draw an inch!

Another gift some parents tend to forget: the gift of PARENTING. Children need to be taught social skills! How you talk to your friends is different than how you talk to your parents, and very different from how (and what) you say to your grandparents!

Running? Great outside activity, but NEVER in a store or restaurant! Dancing? Great, but NOT in church! Rolling on the floor? See above. (and yes, I HAVE seen all of the above!)

As parents, we must remember, what is cute behavior at home can be downright annoying elsewhere!

Recently, the parents at school and I have made an effort to be consistent in encouraging manners when coming and going! Children need to be TAUGHT and reminded and reminded… to say hello, say the person’s name, and to MAKE EYE CONTACT! I heard a speaker in Dallas say that the little things we do now with our kids are like making little bank deposits… we won’t see the dividends for years to come!

If the basic idea of having a polite child doesn’t intrigue you, think of it this way: Children who can comfortably and politely talk with adults grow into teenagers who can do the same… and it really helps during college and hong kong job interviews!

Remind your child EVERYDAY to greet others by saying their name and making eye contact. Remind them to say please and thank you. Insist they remain seated at the restaurant. Over and over and over. Spend TIME with your child. Be present. Trust me, you’ll blink a couple of times, and your teenager will be saying goodbye and leaving the nest. Hopefully, when they come home, they’ll look you in the eye, and offer to spend time with YOU. Now THAT will be a gift!

Comments Off on ‘Tis the Season… of Gifts?
Nov 19

There are moments in a teacher’s life that stand out and confirm that yes, I AM in the right profession! Yesterday was one of those days!

Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School has teamed up with Stonebridge at Montgomery, specifically the assisted living center. Once a month, the four-year-olds at RHCNS go over to visit the seniors.

The children have been so excited to go and visit. Yesterday, the children partnered up with a “grandfriend” to make some fall crafts! I was SO proud of our little ones as they introduced themselves, smiled, and showed the seniors that you can NEVER have too much glitter glue! (Some of the seniors I’m sure were “sparkling” all day!

The smiles across the years were priceless.

Comments Off on We Have Grandfriends!
Nov 06

She… or I should say I, flew to Dallas Texas to attend the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference. Lucky for me, it falls on the same days as the NJEA conference!

I’ve been attending workshops, getting wonderful ideas, and meeting my idols. Jan Brett! Dr. Jean! Ella Jenkins!

Energy, enthusiasm, and singing adults can be found everywhere!

I’m so looking forward to coming back to NJ and implementing some of these great ideas!

Comments Off on What Does a Director Do on her Days off?
Oct 23

Our four-year-olds had a fabulous time visiting with the seniors at Stonebridge! We took turns bowling, and I couldn’t be prouder when one of my students would go up to a “new friend” and ask, “Would you like a turn to bowl?”

We entertained them with a few songs, including “The Itsy Bitsy Arachnid!,” “Tooty Ta” and “Mother Gooney Bird.”

They served us cookies, milk and juice!

Parents, seniors and children were very positive about the experience. We can’t wait to visit again!

Comments Off on What a Success!
Oct 18

Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery school takes pride in its staff. Our turn-over is low. (Our current Director is only our FOURTH in 50 years!) Our teachers traditionally have at least a BA in education. Our assisted teachers are experienced, loving people who were also “helping moms” at one time!

Our Director and Teacher:

Gerianne Linden earned her BA in Early Childhood Education with honors from Rowan University in 1980. She began teaching in the Fairfax County Public Schools in VA. She spent many years teaching in the Language Delayed/Learning Disabled classroom. She’s taught multiply handicapped teenagers, as well as two-year-olds! She also taught for several years in the Manville Public Schools. After taking a few years off to stay at home with her sons, she “graduated” from “Helping Mom” to “Teacher” at RHCNS in 2000.

Mrs. Linden has had experience as a full time working mother as well as a stay at home mom. She was a long time volunteer teacher/naturalist at the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, and received the Volunteer of the Year award in 2004. She brings her love of nature into the classroom as often as she can!

Mrs. Linden believes in providing a rich, hands-on curriculum for the children. You won’t see worksheets here! You WILL see children examining crickets, digging in dirt, and making their own “playdough!”

Come back later for more info on our wonderful assistant teachers!

Comments Off on Our Staff
Oct 18

This year, we’re starting a new adventure!

Rocky Hill Co-op will be visiting the senior citizens at Stonebridge Assisted Living! We’re so excited about this! Stonebridge is right down the road from us on Montgomery Avenue! We’re starting off with our “seniors” (the fours!) going to visit, and we’re going bowling! (Plastic pins will be set up for preschoolers and seniors to try their skills side by side!) Then we’ll “challenge” the seniors to join us in some of our favorite songs, including “Tooty Ta!” (The children have already picked out the songs they want to sing.) We’re looking forward to many more adventures together!

Comments Off on Intergenerational Fun!
Oct 18

It happens every year. The first day of school, I look at the new “threes” and think, “They’re so young!” We teach the children everyday basics. How to put on a smock by yourself. Reminding them gently that smocks go back on the hook when they’re finished painting. They learn to clean up after themselves, and help others when they’re done.
At snack time, each child is responsible for opening up their own napkin and spreading it in front of them, and pouring their own juice. When asked, “Would you like this snack?” We prompt them with “Yes, please,” or “No, thank you.” Frankly, it’s not uncommon for me to lose my voice during the first couple of weeks, it seems every moment I’m explaining something.

Then it happens. Something clicks.

It happened yesterday. The magic returned.

Two children were sharing a chair in the library center, reading together. Three children were “sharing” binoculars, smiling and saying, “We’re sharing!” The little boys who’d previously ignored each other were happily zooming trucks on the rug. Children were choosing their own activities, independently and happily. They put on their own smocks, painted, then hung up the smocks and washed their hands, all without prompting.

At snack time, everyone responded with “Yes please!” or “No, thank you!”

It was amazing. The children had grown up before my eyes. Just think, it’s only October!

Comments Off on They’re growing up so fast!
Oct 07

“Look at me! I’m doing it! “ Not all of our learning happens in the classroom! We have a beautiful playground/park we use everyday. One school rule that disappoints our youngest students every year is “no baby swings.” They look at the “big” swings with suspicion. Now, at the beginning of October, many eyes are bright, shining, and full of pride. They can “pump!”
I encourage all parents and staff to follow the same guidelines. Help children to reach up as high as they can on the swing, and “1, 2, 3, JUMP!” Once seated, we start them with a push FROM THE FRONT OF THE SWING!
Standing in front, the adult encourages the child to “touch my hands with your feet.” As they stretch their feet forward, the adult pushes on their shoes. We then encourage them to “tuck them back,” as we show them how to bend their knees. Yesterday, two more “threes” “got it!” Legs pumping, hair flying, they were sailing on their own power!
Are there any sweeter words than, “Mommy! Yook at me! Yook at what I can do!”

Comments Off on “Look at Me! I’m Doing It!”
Sep 12

Yes, it’s that time of year! It’s time to think about enrolling your child for NEXT year!
We’re having an Open House from 10:00 AM til Noon today, Saturday, October 18. Bring your child to see the classroom and come and see what we’re all about!

Staff members and parents will be available to meet and answer questions.

See you later this morning!

Comments Off on Open House: TODAY! Saturday, October 18, 2008