Asking Our Children "Why"...

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."----Martin Luther King Jr.


Predict:  to forecast. 
 
This week, our children worked quite a bit on predictions:
Will the rock float, why?

which car will go faster, why; if we change the height of the ramp, which will go faster, why?
the bear is tying a spoon to the end of his arrow, why?  

Asking children 'why', or "what do you think...",  at the end of your sentence, is one of the best ways to encourage your children to think about how things work, and they begin to form hypothesis, which leads to problem solving.  

file5781296468904.jpg

We are very used to them asking US why, now it is time to turn the tables.  

When they ask you why, you turn around and ask THEM why, what do they think?  It is time to stop answering questions for your children, and to get them to thinking about how to answer their own questions.  

These conversations lead to such opportunities for children to be creative, thoughtful, problem solvers, and for you to plant new seeds of information in their minds. Think about Steve Jobbs, Hewlett Packard, Mark Zuckerberg, ......they were/are problem solvers.  They asked why, over and over again.  They took things apart and put them back together again to understand how things work.  They did not rely on others to give them the answer or to solve their problems.  

There have been many recent articles talking about the importance of play and how play teaches children to problem solve, experiment and discover, without the interruptions of adults and 'rules'.  In fact, a question that is being asked of interviewees by top companies is "Tell me what you played when you were growing up."  

So, the next time they ask you why?, ask them what they think, sit back, and listen to the world open to new ideas!


Teacher Sharon Malone is the Teacher and Director for SJPPNS.  
After experiencing SJPPNS as a participating parent, Sharon realized her passion for children and the importance of the education of young children. Sharon has a BA degree in Art History and a Directorship Certificate in Early Childhood Education. Sharon is also a certified Music Together teacher.

More About Teacher Sharon

Positive Discipline

WHAT CAN I SAY?

This thing called “positive discipline” really does work. Most parents realize that a positive, respectful approach has great long-term benefits for their child in the many ways it helps them develop self discipline self regulation,  and self-esteem.

But putting positive discipline into practice in-the-moment isn’t easy. Many, many parents tell me they just forget what to say and do when they are tired, frustrated, or busy.  For most of us, it takes deliberate practice.  Having a sort of “script” to think about at first can help.


Certainly, you don’t want to use anyone else’s words all the time, because that won’t be YOU, and the most important thing you can give your children is your true self. But following positive examples is a good way to start.  Perhaps the following examples will give you some ideas and starting points:

PROVIDING VOCABULARY
“It looks like you might be feeling frustrated.”

BEING POLITE
“Thank you for sharing your snack with me.”
 
OFFERING SIMPLE SENSORY AND ART EXPERIENCES EVERY DAY
“It looks like working with the clay helped you feel better.”
 
BEING PATIENT- LEARNING TAKES TIME
“I can tell that you are working hard to wait politely for a turn.”
 
ASKING OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS
“How could we make that work?”
 
LETTING CHILDREN SOLVE PROBLEMS
“What do you think we can do about this?”
 
HAVING AGE-APPROPRIATE EXPECTATIONS
“We’ll go shopping another day when you’re not tired.”

 
UNDERSTANDING THAT CHILDREN NEED TO MOVE
“Let's see if jumping up and down 20 times helps you feel less frustrated. Ready, go!”
 
INVOLVING CHILDREN IN IMPORTANT JOBS
“I need some help with these heavy water bottles!”
 
PROVIDING COMFORT
“You can sit here with me for awhile if you want. Let me know if you need a hug.”

INSTEAD OF SAYING NO, TRY:
 
USING POSITIVE LANGUAGE
“You can throw the ball outside.”
 
BEING A ROLE MODEL
“Here.  I’ll share this toy with you.”
 
SETTING FIRM BOUNDARIES WHEN NEEDED
“I will not let you hurt other people.”
 
TEACHING SKILLS
“Let me help you think of a way to ask for a turn.”

PROVIDING OTHER WAYS OF COPING
“Want to read a book with me while you’re waiting for a turn?”
 
RESPECTING FEELINGS
“I can tell that you are very upset right now.”
 
GIVING INFORMATION
“Pets are animals that need a gentle touch.”
 
STAYING CLOSE WHEN NEEDED
“I will be right here in case you need help while you and your brother work on solving this problem."
 
GIVING APPROPRIATE CHOICES
“Would you like to brush your teeth before your bath, or after?”
 
OBSERVING, AND HELPING BEFORE A PROBLEM STARTS
“This room looks too crowded for 3 children. I’ll help put some toys away so there’s more room to play.”
 
HELPING CHILDREN LEARN EMPATHY
“I can see that that you're concerned about the baby's feelings.”
 
POINTING OUT THE EMOTIONAL CUES OF OTHERS
“When you look at his face, can you guess what he’s feeling?”
 
PROVIDING MANY WAYS OF EXPRESSION
“Would you like to draw a picture or build a sand sculpture about how sad you feel?”

UNDERSTANDING A CHILD’S DEVELOPMENT
“Mom and I are still eating but I can see you’re finished. Would you like to be excused to play with your toys now?”

It all comes down to one simple idea:  treat children the way you would like to be treated.  When we treat our kids with care and respect, they learn to behave in positive and productive ways.  

The good news is that you don't have to be perfect to make progress.  No parent can remember to use these kinds of magic words all the time. But practice does help make it feel more natural, and you'll gradually find it easier and it will feel more authentic.  Start small:  pick one or two things to practice at first, and build from there.  As your skills increase, you'll feel more confident. Your relationship with your child will grow stronger and more rewarding.  

Positive discipline works!


Exploring With Teacher Annie

TODDLERHOOD. The stage of life between 12 and 36 months is unique and special. Toddlers see things in their own way and have very strong feelings. Often, we adults have a lot of difficulty understanding what the toddlers in our life need from us. Explore the wonders of toddlerhood with me, from a developmental perspective.
(Note: I change names and details when discussing things that happen at preschool.)

read more about Annie Castle Deckert, M.ED.PSYCH.

Ready for the holidays?

I hope you all survived Halloween and are ready to dive into the Holiday Season!!!!

I always like to start the month of November by sending along some tips on how to survive the holiday season, as it can be a busy and exciting time of year!

  1. Stick to your child's routine as much as possible. This will help to avoid additional melt-downs and tantrums!
  2. Call a friend and set up a 'Shopping Swap'. Shopping without your children will allow you to focus so that you can get it all done with minimal stress, while knowing that your children are in good hands! You will all thank each other at the end of the day!
  3. Spend quality time with your children doing what THEY want to do!!! This is the BEST gift you can give a child!
  4. If you have family coming to town, make sure to communicate with them your child's routine. Extended family LOVES to spoil the children!!! They may allow them to get away with things that are normally not accepted in your home because they have so little time with them. Though it may be tempting to allow a more 'care-free' routine, be careful, as you are the one who will have to pay for it once everyone has gone. Sticking to the rules, routines and family values is very important to children, and the success of a happy home! (If you are travelling to visit family, the same rule applies.)
  5. Take time for yourself! The holidays can be very stressful so give yourself a break by doing something that you find relaxing.
  6. Have fun!!! Don't take on too much! The best part of the holidays is the time you get to spend with family and friends and you cannot do that you are always running and planning the next event!
  Snow Covered Bradford Pear Leaves

Snow Covered Bradford Pear Leaves


Teacher Sharon Malone is the Teacher and Director for SJPPNS.  
After experiencing SJPPNS as a participating parent, Sharon realized her passion for children and the importance of the education of young children. Sharon has a BA degree in Art History and a Directorship Certificate in Early Childhood Education. Sharon is also a certified Music Together teacher.

More About Teacher Sharon

October Fun

What children take from us, they give...we become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply, and love more deeply.
-Sonia Taitz

It's October and Teacher Sharon from SJ Parent Participation School shares what she did this week in her 3 day class which consists of mainly 3 and 4 year olds.

"This week the children learned all about spiders; they spun webs, acted out Miss Muffett, got stuck on a spider web, learned about where spiders live and what spiders to look out for, and they created GREAT BIG spiders!  On Friday, they help cut down the web they created on the play structure.

"In order for them to cut down the web, I brought out scissors and they worked very hard to cut through the web.  What was interesting about this activity, it was mainly boys that where cutting away!!!  I wanted to bring this to the attention of those with boys.  As we know, boys love to move and to do it outdoors, but as parents, we want them to begin to work on the skills that they will need to be successful in Kindergarten.  

"My suggestion is that at this age, do not ask them to sit at a table to cut, or color, take it outside to them! Do what we did at school.  Buy some cheap yarn, have them spin a crazy web, then give them some scissors and have them cut it down. Have them use scissors to help you prune flowers, trees, etc.  Once they have cut some items from the garden, give them some glue and paper and have them create something!   

"...Give them a paint brush and a bucket of water and have them paint the sidewalk, fence, whatever!  Always have chalk for boys.  They can create roads to drive on.  

"...All of these activities are not only fun, they help the children learn to use all tools that they will be using in a classroom."

"In order for them to cut down the web, I brought out scissors and they worked very hard to cut through the web.  What was interesting about this activity, it was mainly boys that where cutting away!!!  I wanted to bring this to the attention of those with boys.  As we know, boys love to move and to do it outdoors, but as parents, we want them to begin to work on the skills that they will need to be successful in Kindergarten.  


Question: It's October and my child was so excited to start school... I know they love it but sometimes they do not want to come... What is happening?

Reminder from Teacher Sharon: Before school started, you were (your child's) playmate; you did what they wanted to do, you did not tell them to go away, you did not push them.  Now, these are the social situations that they have to deal with, and they can be tiresome, so they are looking for the comfort of play that they had not so long ago. 

My suggestion is when you have the time for some one-on-one play with your preschooler, give it to them.  They don't need a lot of time, what they do need is your full attention!  Also make sure that your routines remain constant as well as your methods of discipline.  As long as everything remains constant for your children, the easier this transition will be for them.


Teacher Sharon Malone is the Teacher and Director for SJPPNS.  

After experiencing SJPPNS as a participating parent, Sharon realized her passion for children and the importance of the education of young children. Sharon has a BA degree in Art History and a Directorship Certificate in Early Childhood Education. Sharon is also a certified Music Together teacher.

More About Teacher Sharon

Just. Go. Play.

As we begin school, all parents are hoping for the ideal co-op preschool experience for themselves and their child.  We parents envision ourselves cheerfully and competently assisting all the children in our area of the classroom, while our own child happily and busily explores all the class activities, makes new friends, and comes to check in with us and give a quick hug in between adventures. 

Well.  Most Explorer kids and parents will have a number of these idyllic preschool days this year, but it’s not terribly realistic to think that all children will start out their school experience with this level of confidence and enthusiasm.  Many children, due to their own unique and inborn temperament, may take awhile to warm up to school.

During the first few weeks, your child may be sticking very close to you when you are at school.  This is normal for many kids, and they use this adjustment period to observe things from a distance, make sense of what they are seeing and hearing, and re-calibrating their expectations of the world based on these new experiences. 

So, this “clingy phase” of the new school year can be an important adjustment period for some children.  But our goals for all children is that they participate and fully engage in school activities once they’re ready.  What can parents do to help make sure their kids don’t get stuck in clingy-mode?

Here are a few simple things you can do to empower your child to move forward in their enjoyment of school, whatever their temperament:

-Show empathy but not sympathy.  “I can see you’re sad” is more empowering than “My poor baby.”

-Try not to push them away or nag at them.  When we’re too eager for our kids to Just. Go. Play, this tends to make them want to cling tighter.

-Accept their need for staying close to you, but don’t promote it.  Don’t be excessively cuddly, don’t give backrubs, don’t over-help, don’t give non-stop eye contact with your clingy child.  This type of parent behavior reinforces clinginess and fear of new experiences. Give a quick hug, and get back to your job of interacting with ALL the children.

-Focus on the other kids and on your job in the classroom, not on your child. Try to spend the majority of your classroom time talking with and assisting other children, doing the tasks on your work card, and learning to know all the children in the class.  This can be difficult when a fussy or clingy child is demanding our attention, so it sometimes takes deliberate effort. Be available for quick check-ins, but not for extended cuddling. 

-Remember that sometimes the most helpful parenting technique is Selective Ignoring.  If you are too busy to give attention to some of the clingy behaviors, your child will have less incentive to engage in them.

-Talk to your teacher. We teachers don’t know any magic tricks, and we respect the children’s need to adjust to school in their own time. But there may be things we can do to help you NOT reinforce the clinging, and to help your child feel more ready to engage in school.

-And the most important  lesson of all is one which Konne taught me 20-some years ago when my own daughter was stuck like glue to me here at school:  Be persistent and keep on keeping on.  By doing this, you’re giving your child a very important message:  “You and your education are so important to me that I’m happy to be here at preschool, even when you’re acting like THIS.” 

Enjoy this wonderful new school year,  whatever comes along.  Your child is learning every minute, whether it feels like The Perfect Day or not.


Exploring With Teacher Annie

TODDLERHOOD. The stage of life between 12 and 36 months is unique and special. Toddlers see things in their own way and have very strong feelings. Often, we adults have a lot of difficulty understanding what the toddlers in our life need from us. Explore the wonders of toddlerhood with me, from a developmental perspective.
(Note: I change names and details when discussing things that happen at preschool.)

read more about Annie Castle Deckert, M.ED.PSYCH.

Sharon Malone, Teacher/Director, SJPPNS

Sharon Malone, Teacher and Director SJPPNS

In 2007, Sharon received an “Award of Merit” from the California Council of Participation Nursery Schools for her dedication to the education of young children and adults. Sharon strongly believes in the co-op, play-based philosophy of learning for young children.

“Not only does the child develop to their fullest potential through exploration and discovery, the parents have the benefit of learning about the development of their children through their participation and education. This experience stays with the child and helps to build a strong foundation for their continuing education. It also builds a community of parents who remain involved in the education of their children well into their middle school years.”

Sharon grew up in Saratoga and lives in Willow Glen with her husband and two school aged children.

Annie Deckert - Explorer Parent Participation Preschool

I'm a preschool teacher, parent educator, and college instructor in child development and early childhood education. I've worked with toddlers and their parents for many years, and each day the toddlers teach me new things about this amazing stage of life. My daughters are now young adults, but I know that I was usually experiencing more growing pains than they were as our family made it through those wonderful but puzzling early childhood years. I believe that the more we know about how children develop, the more we can enjoy them. And the more we enjoy them, the more we can assist them in their growth.

ANNIE CASTLE DECKERT, M.ED.PSYCH.