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!

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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!

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