Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School
May 30

At RHCNS holidays are part of the curriculum, but don’t overwhelm the curriculum. There is ONE holiday however, that we do a lot of preparation for: Mother’s Day!  As a parent co-op, we get to know everyone’s Mom (and Dad.)  Since it’s almost at the end of the school year, it’s the perfect time to thank our Moms!  Let’s face it, who deserves to be treated and pampered more than a mother of preschoolers?   The children plan the menu and prepare gifts and cards. They are interviewed about their  moms. They make them crowns, give them flowers, and serve AND clean up  snack!

Yes, Grandmothers are invited too.  It’s a day for children and staff to pamper our wonderful moms.  The pictures below need no explanation.  The faces say it all!

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Thanks Moms! We really appreciate you!

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May 30

It’s always a challenge to describe what our school is about in just a few words. How are we different from other preschools? What makes us special? Why are we advertising “Family,Community, Exploration?”

Let’s start with Family. We are a parent cooperative. That means parents run and operate the school. Parents elect a Board and make decisions about the school. They help in the day to day operations. They know what’s going on in the classroom. Does that mean we have only Stay At Home parents? Not at all. We have many full time working parents who get involved with what works for them. The actual helping in the classroom ends up being about five times a year.

On the first day of school, it’s common to see parents hanging around for awhile.

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Our separation anxiety policy has always been (and as long as I’m here, always will be, “If your child needs you to stay, you may stay.” I often tell parents, “If YOU need to stay, that’s a different story!”) I work WITH the parents. Some parents tell me, “S/he’ll be fine as soon as I leave.” That’s fine. If they child cries for awhile, I can handle it. (I started taking care of babies when I was 12. I have a LOT of experience with children!) Some children just need Mom or Dad to hang around for a day or a week to help them get adjusted. It’s all individual. (I had to stay for the first three weeks when my youngest attended.)

What is the child’s earliest and most enduring teacher? Family. What’s the most important influence on a child’s life? Family! It only makes sense that a child’s earliest introduction to school involves and includes family!

I’ve had other teachers ask me if it was disruptive having parents in class. I LOVE it! Don’t the other children feel left out when their parent isn’t there? At first, if they’re new, we may have to explain several times that everyone gets a turn. Today is his turn, your turn may be next month.

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In the above picture, a child is showing the rabbit to his little sister and Mom. She’ll be attending next year, and is learning “the ropes!”

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In this picture, a big brother (an alumnus) came to read to the class.

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Parents come on field trips. This mom is demonstrating how to relax in a stretcher as the children buckle her in at the local Rescue Squad.

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This mom is showing her daughter how to make a snow angel!

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Dad had a day off, and came in to see his daughter’s stories.

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Parents help at Trunk or Treat

 

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Dad can help reach the really high apples.

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Grandparents get in the act, too!

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Our Music Together Family Nights are fun for the whole family!

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This was a very special request! Can the new baby come in? Mom read a story about a new baby coming.

At RHCNS we become a school family. Parents can choose the amount of involvement, from the minimum amount to coming up with new ideas and helping wherever they can. What I liked the best when I was a helping parent was that I could see what was going on in the room. I knew I was welcome. I saw how my child interacted with others, and who his playmates were. I got to meet the other parents. (And yes, I have had other experiences. Before we could get into RHCNS, my older two were in different programs. They were ones where I could sometimes peer into the window on the door to see what was happening. I actually forfeited a $100 deposit at another school when an opening became available at RHCNS. I never once regretted it.

RHCNS is not for everyone. If you want an old-fashioned feel to your child’s nursery school, one where childhood is celebrated and nurtured, where you are an important part of your child’s education, then perhaps we’re a good choice for you and your family. How will you know? Come visit. Will your child be exposed to the ABC’s and 123’s? Of course. Concepts are presented in natural, hands-on, child friendly ways. Social skills? Most definitely! Science? Oh yes, all around the room! Play outside? Yes, even in the snow! I love this school. Our parents and children do, too!

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May 30

Today was a gloriously wonderful day.  Not hot, not cold, just right!  So we had our “camp” session outside all day!

We sat on the parachute under a tree to read stories, sing songs, and play group games.

We went inside to use the bathroom and wash hands before snack, but that’s all we needed “inside” for!

Here are some highlights:

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Painting on the slide!  Dip balls in paint trays, and roll!

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Painting on the fence was exciting!

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Mom got a different perspective…

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Leaping for the hoop is  right of passage!

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I love my creative thinkers!  “What if…we put chalk in the water before we draw?”

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Teachers hop, too!

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This I’m told, is “chalk soup.”

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Leaping like a frog!

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“We made chalk paint for our hands!”

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Taking a quiet break.

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There were blocks for building.

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Finding balance.

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Enjoying being a child!

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May 28

Once again, I’m way behind on the blog. The end of the year is very busy!

Here are some of yesterday’s happenings:

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May 24
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May 04

At RHCNS, we currently have two guinea pigs, a rabbit, hermit crabs and fish as our long-term residents. We are also hatching chicken eggs, caterpillars, lady bugs and praying mantises.

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Everyday the children take responsibility for feeding the “critters.” Opening the hutch latches and food containers requires fine motor dexterity and hand strength. One to one correspondence is reinforced with the reminder of “One scoop for one rabbit, two scoops for two guinea pigs.” Of course, everyone loves petting them! The benefits are many.

HOWEVER! Animals are not toys, nor educational materials. They are living creatures who need more than just some food and water everyday!

Before you rush out and get a pet, really examine whether or not, you as a classroom teacher have the time and money to take on the responsibility.

Time: The animals take time everyday. I probably spend at least 15 minutes in the mornings cleaning the cages before the children arrive. As preschoolers, they are not responsible enough to handle the mess. Periodically the hutch needs to be thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed.

Weekends and vacations: What will your plan be? I’ve never been comfortable sending the critters home with children. One blogger I’d read (before I started bookmarking, blogging, etc. so I don’t remember who it was) said it perfectly. ONE ADULT needs to be totally responsible for the animals. It’s not fair to the animals to send them home with children whose parents may not want them, may have other animals who harass them, and be subject to possible mistreatment (intentional or not) by children. If you have a classroom pet, you need to have a plan for weekends, vacations and summers.

Guinea pigs are basically walking, eating, pooping, whistling ovals. With a large cage and another guinea pig, they are quite content and happy in the classroom. Ours whistle during snack time, reminding us that they want a snack, too!

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Rabbits are a bit more challenging. Bucks are smellier than does, but both need to be spayed or neutered. (Who is going to pay for the vet bills?) Rabbits also need intellectual stimulation (toys, interesting environment) and lots of exercise! I get to school at least an hour or two before the children arrive to allow Fire Bunny to run around. All electrical wires need to be raised (she once bit through our telephone wire!) The one way that rabbits are easier is that they are easily litter box trained. Fire Bunny will run, hop and jump around the room then go into her hutch, use the litter box, and come out again. Once, when I was cleaning her cage, she “helped” me by taking the tray of water I had nearby and flipped it over for me!

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Money: Can you afford the bedding, food and vet bills? Both guinea pigs and rabbits need their claws trimmed periodically. Even the aquarium can be costly, as the filters sometimes need replacing or a disease sickens the fish, requiring medication.

In our classroom, I explain to the children that the animals belong to me, and I am sharing them. I take responsibility for their medical care and expenses. If we get a student who is allergic to fur, I will need to re-home the mammals.

Both PetSmart and Petco have “Pets in the Classroom” grants. I’ve used them several times, and found that while the grants are a big help, they don’t cover the entire cost, be prepared to spend more!

We have just had chicken eggs hatch in an incubator. Before I even got the eggs, however, I made sure they resulting chicks will have a safe place to go afterwards. (The farm who gave me the eggs will take the chicks back.) Chicks are not toys nor backyard pets.

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I adore my animals. I’m at a stage in my life where I have the extra time and can afford the weekly bedding, etc.

So, before you get a pet in the classroom, ask yourself if you want the additional responsibility and expense of a living creature who will depend on you to live.

  1. Who will the primary adult caregiver be?
  2. Who will pay for daily upkeep and vet bills?
  3. What responsible adult will take care of them on weekends and vacations? (Yes, of course, children can be responsible. Ultimately however, there must be an adult who supervises.)
  4. Be prepared to do a lot of research. Different animals need different care. Don’t just buy hermit crabs and think a wire cage and a shell for water will do it. Hermit crabs need heat, humidity, and the right substrate in order to molt and grow!
  5. Are you willing to clean cages every morning?

If you’re willing to spend time and money, (and clean stinky cages) the rewards are many. Animals can enhance your curriculum, provide comfort and bring joy. Just don’t forget about the responsibility. The animals will depend on you, too!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our guinea pig, “Courtesy,” entertains a student
who loves to run and play, but can’t!

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