- Current Events
December is an exciting and busy month in all preschools. It is a shorter month because of our Christmas break. School will close at the end of classes on Friday, December 16 and will reopen on Tuesday, January 3rd.
November is a fantastic time in a preschool. Because children are such interactive and observational learners and there is much change occurring in nature it allows us to have an exciting experience every day. As little scientists we have enjoyed collecting specimens out of doors – seed pods, dried leaves, drying flower heads which contain literally thousands of tiny seeds. We examine these under magnifying glasses and microscopes. We sort count and categorize the materials – often charting or graphing our results and discussing our findings in group time.
When the school doors open next week it will be to welcome the 42nd consecutive class of children and their parents to the Saint Chrysostom’s Day School. We are thrilled that many among the group represent a second generation who will experience the many benefits excellence in early childhood education within the context of a warm and nurturing community that is emblematic of Episcopal schools throughout the world.
April is an exciting month for all Early Childhood programs. Mother Nature provides us with some really exciting changes and opportunities to learn from the natural world. We look forward to charting the number of cloudy and rainy days versus the sunny ones and measuring rainfall with our homemade rain gages. We will also spend time in the garden watching for the worms that work with the rain to soften and aerate the soil and help the little green things that began as a seed to push their way up to the sun. We will also use the greenhouse in our outdoor classroom to sprout all kinds of things in peat pots and on trays. Additionally we will continue our study of transportation that includes all things that move on land, over water and in the air and will include some experiments on speed and velocity. Our Junior Kindergarten classes will do a two week study of Eric Carle, a very prolific author now 86 years of age who continues to write books that delight both children and adults. As is our practice the children will not only read and act out a number of his books but they will also create their own books in the style of Eric Carle.
I always think of March as a month of transitions. We transition from Central Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time, from winter to spring; in private schools it is the month when we mail out contracts to our incoming families for the 2016-17 school year and await the news of acceptances for our children who are old enough to matriculate to lower school programs of a number of area schools. It is also a short month for us because our Spring Vacation always begins at the close of school on the third Friday in March. Despite all of this it is a wonderful month packed with some exciting experiences for the children of our school.
We are happy to welcome everyone back to school for the beginning of the second semester. It is always wonderful to see the children on the first day of school after Christmas vacation. Two weeks feels like a long time without seeing them and all of the growth and development that has been taking place gradually during the first four months of school is immediately apparent. They are taller and much more confident versions of the children who began school in early September racing through the door, anxious to share with their teachers and classmates everything that happened over the vacation. They thrive on the routine of being in school and frankly so does the staff, me included. Although they do not completely understand the concept of a new year and the resolutions that are so much a part of the adult mindset during the first weeks of January but they have their own particular aura of anticipation as we return to school.
December 1st marks the beginning of Advent, a season that is symbolic of waiting and expectation. Children understand full well the inherent appeal and excitement of waiting and have not yet learned to conceal their enthusiasm or lower their expectations. This is one of many delights for those lucky enough to teach young children. The joy they take in all things becomes self-evident. In a recent Monday morning mediation, by Dan Heischman, Executive Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, he said: “It is very hard to become expert in something you don’t love”. His words resonated with me because it reminded me of what is most exceptional about the teachers in our school. Not only are they Master’s level teachers but their genuine concern and affection for the children they teach have made them true experts. To a person, they are focused and engaged with each of their students and their family; always searching for just the right strategy to maximize children’s understanding of themselves, their peers and the world around them. Madeline Levine in her bestselling book, Teach Your Children Well, focuses on how important it is to encourage your children to be resilient. I witnessed a wonderful example of a resilient three year old this morning. The class has made a bulletin board including family photos. She comes from a family with a brand new infant. The request has been made several times for the photos and this morning when she arrived at school she said to the teacher, “look I brought my family photos”. The photos were in fact drawings that she herself had made. The teacher labeled them with the names of each family member and put them up in the bulletin board. No one in the class commented because one of the greatest qualities that young children possess is that they are very accepting people who would not criticize or discriminate against one of their classmates. That kind of nastiness is learned behavior. So for this little girl it was a question of problem presented and problem resolved. She is what David Elkind would call an “invulnerable”. This characteristic of her personality is going to prove to be an invaluable asset throughout her life.
October is one of the most beautiful months of the year. October 4-10 we will observe the national celebration of Episcopal Schools. I am often asked, “What does it means to be an Episcopal School?” In answering that question, I would like to share some facts about Episcopal Schools and some thoughts about what is unique about the culture of Episcopal schools.
Ask any mother and she will tell you that the real Mother’s Day is not in May but in September – the first day of school. For teachers the first day of school is more like New Year’s Eve. Teachers are filled with resolve to make this the best year ever in their classes. All of the classrooms have been painted, and well stocked with brand spanking new materials. Floors are polished and sparkling and even the fish in the aquarium seem to anticipate the arrival of the children. On the first day there may be a mixture of laughter and tears – mostly laughter and each school year will bring challenges and surprises but what remains constant in any great school is the dedication of well trained and loving teachers.