Transitions

Wow.  This is tough.  Here I am, sitting at my computer, ready to type my last blog post as the Good News Preschool Director.  Deep. Breath.

In contemplating what I wanted to write about, I began to think about transition.  As I move through this transitional time in my life, it reminds me of transition times in the classroom and how tough those can be for children.  If there is misbehavior in the room, 90% of the time it happens in a transitional time between activities.  Why is that?

I think it is because as humans, we simply don’t like discomfort, and change causes discomfort.  Every time we have to adapt to a new situation, we have to stretch.  Whether it is going through a huge shift such as moving to a new city, or a smaller one like moving from one classroom activity to another, we have resistance at the idea of moving out of what is comfortable and known.  So we will dig our heels in and do what we can to avoid the discomfort.

In the classroom, our brilliant teachers help make transitional times much smoother by giving the children visual schedules, giving them advance notice of the upcoming change, and focusing their attention on the exciting parts of what’s to come.  And even with all of that intentional guidance, children still can feel anxiety about diving into what’s new.

With regards to my job resignation I find that I have a huge melting pot of emotions.  I am feeling the messiness of life, the discomfort of uncertainty.  I feel gratitude for the chance to invest more time to caring for family, but sadness at saying goodbye to the daily camaraderie of the Good News staff and fun times with the children.

In discerning how to ease my own transition, I look to our awesome classroom teachers and attempt to mimic the lessons they give.  I have had a countdown in my head until my last day with a list of things to accomplish before leaving.  I am concentrating on the positive aspects of what my future holds.  But most of all I am simply sitting with the discomfort, acknowledging its presence and praying for God’s peace as I move through it.

I pray the same thing for the Good News community.  Change is not easy but it can be a wonderful thing as we watch God’s plan unfold.

I thank each and every one of you for touching my life.  Parents, your children have been such a source of joy.  I may be biased, but Good News Preschool students are simply the best preschoolers around.  Staff, you are each so amazing and have blessed me beyond measure.  And Tracy, thank you for hearing God’s call in joining this awesome establishment.  I have no doubt you will be an incredible leader.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you all as Director.  I will miss you.

Love,

Suzi

 

 

Chinese New Year

I’m sure you all have noticed the awesome Chinese New Year displays in the foyer.  We are so incredibly blessed once again by Mrs. Anna as she shares the customs, foods, and traditions of the Chinese New Year celebration with our students.  Pre-K students have learned how families clean their houses (and reenacted by cleaning their classroom!), how parents give away red envelopes with money that represent luck and good fortune, how the Chinese calendar works, how to use chopsticks, and so much more.

Our younger students may not hear all of the special lessons, but they are exposed to the special celebration as well as they enjoy all of the festive decorations and information boards in the foyer.

Thank you Mrs. Anna, for all of your hard work to make a different culture come to life for us right here in Leander!

 

 

Up, down, all around

What fun we have building our gross motor skills!  Inspired by a stretching/movement program created for the elderly population, Mrs. Roxanne recognized that the very same gross motor development skills are needed at the opposite end of the age spectrum.  Children greatly benefit from exercises that specifically target things such as crossing the midline, changing direction, applying pressure, and using the whole body in a movement.  In practicing these motions they can apply them to their daily movements, but interestingly it also ties directly to cognitive development.  Crossing the midline is a precursor to reading skills!  By learning to track items across a plane, they develop the ability to track words across the page.  And by applying pressure to a ball or other object, students strengthen the tiny muscles in their hands that allow them to improve their writing skills.

This is just another wonderful example of how learning through play is absolutely the most effective way for preschoolers to grow and develop!

Why we promote service

Today we were visited by the volunteer coordinator of the Texas Humane Heroes organization.  We were so excited to hear from him all about this wonderful animal shelter, and learn how they care for cats and dogs.  Best of all, we sent him off with a trunk full of blankets and towels for the animals.  The children were able to see that the items they brought to school were getting used for a wonderful purpose.

One of our central missions here at Good News Preschool is to foster our students’ servant hearts.  Jesus tells us in Mark 10:43-45  Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

While we can talk to the children all day long about what we should do as God’s children, it is most effective to create opportunities for them to practice.  And today it was a true joy to help serve the Texas Humane Heroes.

Side note:  The volunteer coordinator Mr. Michael suggested that another way for preschool-age children can bless the animals is to come read to them!  He suggested that you call ahead, but that the children can certainly come sit with the animals and read them from their favorite book!

Joy

What started out as junk mail, bills, unneeded documents and other various papers created an insane amount of joy this week at Good News Preschool.  It was so simple, and yet so genius…unwanted papers that were put through the shredder were saved up, then dumped in the foyer for the sole purpose of allowing children utter freedom.  For 15 minutes both Thursday and Friday, children in each class were allowed to throw paper.  Yep, that’s it.  They could toss paper in the air, dump it on each other and their teachers, roll around on the floor in it, and jump up and down in piles of it.

So why was this such a big deal?  Because for 15 minutes the kids experienced some of the very best parts of being kids (shhh…actually so did the teachers!).  That is, they played.  As each class took their turn going nuts in the piles of paper shreds, the squeals of joy were simply contagious.

I think we forget to do some of these incredibly simple but powerful activities in our daily lives.  It is at the core of our emotional health to take time for laughing, even shouting for joy in the simple act of having fun.  There’s a lot we can learn from these kids playing in the “snow.”  We don’t necessarily have to buy the expensive toys, pay for expensive outings, or travel to an exotic destination.  We have the power to feel the most exhilarating of emotions by doing something as simple as playing with confetti.

So the next time you shred that boring bank statement, take a moment to appreciate that if you wanted to, you could take a fistful of those shreds, toss them in the air and dance around with your kids.  🙂

Happy New Year (and Decade!)

We are so excited to start off 2020 with a whole bunch of preschool fun!  Classrooms have been bursting with energy as the children share the excitement of seeing each other and their teachers again after the break.

It is always amusing to me that we talk about snow in January, which of course is a part of winter, but is a rather abstract concept for us here in Austin, Texas.  In order to give our children the best “snow experience” we can, we read books, create art, and then next week we will play in what we call TEXAS SNOW (paper shreds).  It is one of our favorite times of the year as we let the children make a huge mess in the foyer tossing “snow” in the air, making “snow angels” and just having a general good time.

There will certainly be an onslaught of photos coming late next week from our Texas Snowstorm, but in the meantime, here are some photos from around the school on our first couple of days:

‘Tis the Season

The Christmas season is in full swing at the preschool!  Every direction you look you’ll see holiday crafts, stories and activities.  We love getting to retell and celebrate the story of Jesus’ birth all month long with our students through many different mediums.

Mrs. Jen’s class is busy making stockings and trees, which require the use of fine motor skills and the practice of following directions.

Today in Mrs. Jan’s class the focus was on gingerbread houses.  The class learned about recycling as they turned trash into treasure.  These gingerbread houses allowed the students to have fun painting, gluing and expressing their creativity.

Mrs. Crystal’s class was busy creating beautiful ornaments to decorate their own trees at home.  These treasured works of art create a sense of pride in each student.  When these ornaments eventually get to go home, each child will look at it hanging on their tree and know that they were able to make something beautiful to add to the celebration of the season.

If you haven’t seen Mrs. Roxanne’s bulletin board, you must stop by!  It displays a nativity scene with some very special people standing in for our biblical characters.  Through this display and through her class activities, Mrs. Roxanne is helping each child understand the wonder and glory of Jesus’ birth.

Mrs. Mary and Mrs. Anna’s classes are bustling at center time with ALL things Christmas.  You’ll see sensory bins filled with ornaments, bells, and garland.  You’ll see children painting gingerbread houses, designing their own personalized gingerbread men, “making cookies” with gingerbread dough, coloring Christmas pictures, and much more.  And of course through it all the children are practicing independence, self-expression, cooperation, and fine motor skills.

If you want to get in the spirit of the holidays, there is simply no better place to do so than in the halls of our precious preschool!

Little Turkeys

Our precious little turkeys are very busy learning all about Fall and Thanksgiving.  Our Pre-K class has been studying Native Americans and Pilgrims, as well as using their reading and math skills to make pumpkin pie in a cup, and exploring all things corn!  Our younger classes have created turkeys, had mini Thanksgiving feasts, and read lots of wonderful Thanksgiving books.  As a school we have created our “Thankful Tree” in the hallway by listing so many things for which we are grateful.

We wish all of our families a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  We are grateful for YOU!

 

Happy Veterans Day

Our oldest two classes took on a special project this morning.  They took cards they had made to bless the veterans at The Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

This opportunity for the children to demonstrate acts of appreciation is something that makes our school very special.  We love that we are in such close proximity to a nursing home so that we can learn how to bless the residents there.

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Sink or Float

We are having a blast with science this year.  Not only do the teachers provide fun and engaging weekly science experiments with the children; this year we’ve added in visits with “Scientist Suzi.”  Last Friday Scientist Suzi talked about density with the children and we experimented density by both layering liquids as well as trying out solid objects in water.

Just as it is important for children to have concrete “play” social experiences so that they can process and practice real world interactions, it is important for them to play with science as well.  They need opportunities to make predictions and then test their predictions.  Sink and float games are a perfect way to practice this concept.  While it will be many years later before they truly understand density and mass distribution, simply making guesses and “playing” in their preschool years will give them concrete experiences to reference when they engage in advanced learning later on in their lives.