September 14, 2016

Please remember to bring a crib sheet, blanket and lovey for rest, and to label lunchboxes and water bottles.  Thanks!

Happy Wednesday, RHP families!  This is Anna - I'll be popping in to the blog every once in a while to share my thoughts on the teaching and learning I'm observing in our classrooms and to give you a window into connections I notice between the work of the Green and Purple Rooms.

With more than a week of school already under our belts, I can confidently say that the year is off to a great start!  It's been a pleasure over the past week to spend time getting to know new students and catching up with returning children.  I'm amazed at how quickly children have begun connecting with school - making new friends, building relationships with teachers, and starting to explore and create with classroom materials.  In many ways, the first few weeks are the most important of the school year, with kids and teachers hard at work on the parallel projects of building individual independence while also establishing a sense of community in the classroom.  Nowhere are these goals more evident than in the way teachers have chosen to help children integrate their family and school lives.  

In the Green Room, where many children are experiencing their first full days away from from home, talk of home and family is everywhere!  The family photographs you shared have been posted in cubbies and made into Family Books, which will be available all year for kids to look at and share.  For some, carrying the book around with them helps being at school feel safer and more connected, while others are happy to take a few moments to share their books with teachers and new friends.  Aside from being a way to keep families present in the classroom, sharing family books is a lovely chance for even the youngest and newest kids at school to be the experts on a subject.

In the Purple Room, afternoon meetings have been devoted to sharing family pictures.  Each child will have a turn to share images of the important people and pets in their lives while the other children listen and make connections.  These pictures will find a permanent home on the Purple Room family door, where they'll be a topic of conversation and a point of connection all year.

In both rooms, all this talk of family and home has carried over into work and play.  Exploring our animals' habitats has been one way for children to think about homes and families at school: Moon and the snails provide endless conversation fodder!  Children have been building houses and homes with all kinds of open-ended construction materials, making family the topic of their dramatic play, and even using the Montessori sensorial materials to build "houses and homes."  Several kids have spent lots of time this week taking on the roles of parents to dolls, stuffed animals and puppets, too.  One especially realistic game I witnessed involved children dropping the dolls off at "school" in the book nook, saying goodbye, and then taking walks around the classroom before going to "pick them up."  We're so happy to see kids exploring and processing these new routines through play!

I'll close with some words from the children that stood out to me in my chats this week for the way they clearly expressed thoughts about the beginning of the school year.  

A returning Purple Room child told me about an experience from this summer: "One time I went to a new school by the ocean.  But I didn’t like it as much as Red Hook Playgroup.  I was in the Green Room a long long long time ago, and we made cookies.  I shared with my dad a chocolate dessert.  That was fun. I think, the Purple Room, it's fun too."

A Green Room child explained his understanding of separation by saying, "My mama and daddy are at work.  They’re my special friends.  My friends at school are Mak and the Green Room friends.  Laura and Tara are my other special friends at school.  I miss my family, but they’ll come back soon.  After nap time."

We know separation can be as hard on parents as it is on kids, and we thank you all for helping to make this year's transition into school so smooth!