The best job description ever!

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Kite flying with my young friends. Photo credit: Miss Susie.

Like every other job, teaching preschool has its own stresses.

We are now four weeks into the new school year, here at Miss Amy’s Child Care.
We have had many changes. We now have two 2-year-old classes. The teacher who used to teach the 3-year-old class is now teaching one of the 2-year-old classes. We have a new teacher for the 3-year-old class. Some children have moved up a class or moved on to Kindergarten! The pecking order has changed and friendships have changed too. Things have been a little crazy at times but now, finally, the kinks seem to have straightened themselves out, and as the leaves start to fall we fall into our routines.

I love my job. What other job has in its job description to love, and one of the perks being to be loved back, unconditionally?

I wipe away tears, kiss boo-boos and have mine kissed in return. I rock a sad little person until he or she is ready to face the day. I receive a timid smile and a tiny hand in mine.
I wipe noses and bottoms and I get to share the trials and triumphs of potty-training.
On some days I eat ten birthday cakes and gain no excess weight! That’s the power of imagination.
From my young friends I get asked the most interesting questions, which truly challenges my own knowledge, and helps me to grow. I always try to answer honestly and sometimes we try to find the answers together. We are amazed and in awe, at all of the wonders of this world.

Did you know that very young children have an incredible ability to pay attention to the very smallest of details? They carry that knowledge around with them until they need it, sometimes not for a very long time. Like little sponges, young children absorb knowledge any way they can. They are masters of this art!
Have you ever really listened to a very young child? They are so wise, so honest, curious and extremely witty, too! Be careful about having sweet nothings whispered into your ear though, no matter how sweet their sentiments may be. Whispering is an art and young children take a long time mastering this, releasing a lot of moisture into your ear canal, as they practice.

I love my job. To love and nurture, and keeping my young charges safe. To reassure, encourage and to watch this amazing transformation from a toddling 22 month old to a child ready for Kindergarten.

How lucky I am!

– Miss Maria, Teacher for one of our two 2-year-old classes.

Holy Rollies and the Wilderness

It’s Monday and at Miss Amy’s that means “Outdoor Classroom”.  We take a short journey to a nearby park and explore what mother nature has to offer. The children look forward to it and it’s the perfect cure for the Monday blues. We let them guide themselves and try not to intervene too much. Today we brought clay for impression making, their sketch books, pastel chalks, charcoal, pencils, and a bug net.

The park we visit is beautiful but it is far from a jungle or even a forest, but the kids always equate our visits to being in the wilderness. They seem to go into foraging mode almost instantly.

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A feather collection is started

The bug net spiked their interests immediately. They caught and observed a firefly, dragonfly, and an earwig.

 

Then one little boy noticed some decaying wood under a tree. He lifted up the wood and exclaimed, “Look Holy Rollies!”. One of the older kids said, “Do you mean Roly Poly’s ? They like to live under wood!”. The younger boy agreed that that’s what he meant, but for the rest of the day almost everyone referred to them as holy rollies.

-Miss Amber

Cry Wolf!

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Barter Stage II

At Miss Amy’s we are so lucky to operate in a town that has so many interesting things to do and see. One of our favorite experiences is the Barter Theatre. The Barter is  one of the longest running professional theatres in the nation. We are very blessed that they offer a troupe of actors (The Barter Players) that specialize in performances for young audiences.

Every year the children look forward to watching the plays. It’s a big deal to them! They get a little “dressed up” and they work on using their best manners. We walk through our wonderful town exploring the sights.

We couldn’t have a trip to Stage II without stopping at the “wishing fountain”.

Then we were off to the show. We saw “Cry Wolf“. It’s a fantastic play written by the wonderful Catherine Bush. It was a mash-up of many classic stories. The kids absolutely loved it! They were on the edge of their seats for the entire show. It’s my absolute favorite thing to watch first timers when the lights dim. They have no idea what’s about to happen, but are immediately captivated  every time.  It is so rewarding for them to witness kind of art!

This quote from a Huffington Post article, entitled How Theater for Young People Could Save the World  really illustrates the benefits the children get from the experience.

” Theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.”

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We had a fantastic time at the theatre. You might have heard us howling all the way home…

-Miss Amber

 

Trike-A-Thon

Recently we held our annual Trike-A-Thon. We have done this for 22 years. We use this as an opportunity to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and to teach the children about bicycle safety. We have raised over $31,000 over the past years. The children look forward to this every year. They are always very excited to show off their bikes and helmets. Every year I am astonished at how determined they are to help the children and families at St. Jude’s. Even our smallest friends seem to know they are riding for a purpose. The children did a total of 874 laps between all three classes and would have probably doubled that if it hadn’t started raining!

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Thanks to all the parents, family and friends that made and have made donations!

Snowy day fun.

We have been watching the snow come down from inside Miss Amy’s Child Care and we have tried to catch snowflakes on our tounges outside in our playground. We have made tracks in the snow with our feet and played with snow and ice in our outdoor kitchen. We made snow angels and looked for our sandbox (hidden under all that snow). Where was it? We made snow balls and contemplated why our mittens became wet after having played outside in the snow for a while. Where did the water go and where did the ice come from? We discussed the difference between snow on the ground and falling snow. We designed snowmen and looked hard for snowmen parts – sieves with long handles for the arms and tin buckets for hats as well as sticks and anything else that may look good on a snowman. What does a snowman taste like? Today some of the children decided to find out for themselves by licking one of them! Miss Susie started a game of snow soccer on our snow clad lawn, the children had not lost their touch!

– Miss Maria, teacher for the 2’s class.

 

“K’s Playground”

When we are really paying attention to how children learn, how creativity informs their processing of new learnings, and how new learnings are expressed creatively, we can open ourselves to the experience of being awed.

The Atelier is a magnificent space for observing how knowledge tucked in the subconscious can be made apparent in children’s artwork.  Art is a whole mind-body-spirit  experience and expression.

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Case in point, a child approached the easel today and began to paint.  A letter K appeared seemingly spontaneously. The child marveled at what she herself had put on her paper. “A K!” she exclaimed, “I painted a K!” She went on to add more paint, more color. When she finished, she declared her painting, “K’s Playground.”  Learning through play, indeed.

–Miss Lori, Atelierista

The Golden City

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For weeks, the four and five year olds have reveled in creating a 3-D “construction site” made  by glueing many random loose parts on an old chipboard we had lying around in the atelier. The board was secured to a small table, just big enough for two children at a time to sit at and work on the site. A small provocation table sat next to it with a book on castles of Scotland, a basket of found bits such as shells, feathers, marker lids, bag ties, acorns, essentially anything found or normally discarded, and lots of glue. Each duet could work on the site with the only rule being that they couldn’t un-do someone else’s work.

Once we felt we had come to a point of completion, the site was spray painted with gold. The children immediately exclaimed, “A golden city!!!”  We have learned what beauty lies in the collection of small things, carefully assembled and showered with attention. The whole is indeed greater than just the sum of it’s parts.

Miss Lori, Atelierista

Play – A Serious Business.

Children play hard, testing their limits and finding new ones. They practice strength and balance, both physical and mental. They practice critical thinking. They try to figure out where they fit into society by role play. They can only fully realize their full potential by being allowed to freely explore, and in play, practice what they learn and try out different scenarios.

– Miss Maria

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“People tend to forget that play is serious.”
– David Hockney, contemporary British painter.

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“A child loves his play not because it’s easy but because it’s hard.”
– Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician.

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“Play fosters belonging and encourages cooperation.”
– Stuart Brown, M.D., American pediatrician.

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“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.”
– Kay Redfield Jamison, contemporary American professor of psychiatry.

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“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.”
– Fred Rogers, American television personality.

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“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.”
– Diane Ackerman, contemporary American author.

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“Children have always learned and created places for themselves through play.”
– Donna R. Barnes, contemporary American psychologist.

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“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”
– O. Fred Donaldson, contemporary American martial arts master.

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“We all need empty hours in our lives or we will have no time to create or dream.”
– Robert Coles, contemporary American child psychologist.

Have a great weekend!

– Miss Maria