Storyteller, April 2011
Teaching to Learn
“Reggio-inspired pedagogy is a way of being in the world–a way of seeing, listening, speaking, a commitment to relationships that honor identity and culture, a commitment to dialogue and action. It grows from and returns to listening, with an open and curious heart. When we listen in this way, we hear children’s efforts to make meaning of issues of identity, difference, justice, and equity” (Pelo, 2008).
Dear Families and Friends,
Early this month, our Palisades Preschool community will celebrate Week of the Young Child, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Our theme for the April 4 through April 11 WOYC events is: Children and Families Can Change Communities. This special week of recognition of the rights and competencies of children offers us all an opportunity to engage in a community-related initiative that connects us to a challenging social issue in our own neighborhood — homelessness.
Our PPS Outreach Committee is coordinating a collection of items for Upward Bound House, located on Washington Ave., just up the street from our preschool. Upward Bound House provides transitional housing to homeless families with children and maintains a small apartment complex that includes a library and a pantry. You might be interested in taking a look at their website for more information.
This year UBH is asking for new bedding (for twin and double beds) and bath towels (especially bath mats). A basket for donated items will be a part of our entryway environment during the first two weeks of this month. Outreach Committee members will deliver our donations to UBH on April 13th, before we begin our Spring Break.
Last spring we chose to support Upward Bound House with donations of paper goods and toiletries. The collection was a big success and the staff at UBH was very appreciative of our support. Some of our families were inspired to continue their involvement by supporting this worthy organization with dollar donations as well.
As part of our vision for last year’s PPS help for the homeless, we also asked the children in the Dandelion and Sunflower rooms what they knew about homeless people.
Here is an excerpt from the documentation:
What is Homelessness?
Samantha: People don’t have a home.
Gaspar: And don’t have food and a bed and nothing else.
Betsy: Homeless people—they live outside, but they don’t have a bed. One day I saw a homeless person sleep on the grass and it was a rainy day.
Charlotte: They wanted a home and there were no homes left in the town.
Zoe: I’ve seen a homeless person before. They actually sleep on a park bench. Homeless people become good people—then they become bad people—then they become really old.
Teacher: Are all homeless people old?
Teacher: Can children be homeless?
Zoe: No. The people that you don’t know can be homeless. They have long, long hair.
Charlotte: I know somebody who looks like us, but I don’t know what their hair looks like. . .
Zoe: They’re really bad.
Gaspar: No, they’re not. They are not old; they’re just a little bit old.
Samantha: I see them sleeping in jeans at Reed Park.
Sofia: Also, homeless people sleep in the garden.
Lila: They sleep on the sidewalk.
Teacher: Can people help the homeless?
Zoe: Buy a bed.
Charlotte: Own a house, own a bed, own everything they need.
Sofia: A person can give a homeless person a blanket and pillows.
Gaspar: They are waiting for the people to bring food to them.
Teacher: Who brings food?
Gaspar: Everybody does.
I invite you to read the entire piece of documentation about last year’s exploration of the homeless in our neighborhood that will once again be displayed in our hallway during Week of the Young Child. The children’s theories about homeless people and about how to help the homeless are quite interesting—and demonstrate that children really do “listen with an open and curious heart.”
Parents on this year’s Outreach Committee have suggested that we continue the conversation with our current children. We will be asking some of our four year olds what they think about this very challenging social issue in our community– and adding their words to our documentation piece.
Meanwhile, we hope that many of you will choose to join our initiative and collaborate with Upward Bound House this month, demonstrating that children and families can change communities.
Click on the links below or scroll down for this month’s topics:
- Milestones, Continued. . .
- PPS Summer Programs
- April 8th Parent/Teacher Conferences
- Egg Hunt!
- New MacBooks
- Staff Member, Jon Alonso
- Raffle Winners for A Date with Teachers
- April Calendar
- Coming up in May
- Pictures from March Events
- Preschool Mission Statement
Milestones, Continued. . .
In last month’s Storyteller, I described our first PPS Educators’ Tour, which took place on Feb. 25th. We decided to offer a similar opportunity in March, but this time for college students. On March 18th we welcomed about ten graduate and undergraduate students to our site for a morning of dialogue and observation. Many of the students were just beginning their learning about the Reggio Emilia approach and had some wonderful questions and reflections to share. One student emailed me the documentation she created to submit to her professor about her experience with us. It was interesting to view our school through her eyes. Summer and Nathalie led the thought-provoking and inspiring conversation that followed the visits to our classrooms and outdoor environment and I was again impressed by the power of “teaching to learn. . . .” We look forward to opening our doors to educators from our community and beyond in the next school year. The reciprocal learning is a valuable experience for all participants.
The Feb. 27th edition of the Los Angeles Times featured an article about bilingualism that I encourage you to examine. The article cites recent brain research that strongly suggests that bilingualism may improve our ability to multi-task and may, in some cases, delay the onset of early signs of Alzheimer’s. This article caught my attention for two reasons in particular: one is that our own PPS community includes many bilingual families–and the other is that I spent a number of years during the earlier part of my own career as an educator teaching in bilingual programs. I believe very strongly in the benefits of learning multiple languages as a vehicle for understanding the world and its cultures—especially in a global community. The news that the benefits of bilingualism may extend to brain health and function is doubly encouraging.
Read the article at latimes.com »
PPS Summer Programs
Summer Camp and Transition classes begin on Tuesday, June 28th through Friday, July 22nd. Karen has mailed the Transition applications to our new families and applications for Camp are now available in Karen’s office. Children who will be moving to the Dandelion and Sunflower rooms in the fall as well as children who are graduating from our program in June are invited to join us for water and sand play, woodworking and studio experiences, in addition to music with Parker and activities with some of our other specialist teachers. This year we are including a soccer skills teacher one morning per week. Children bring their lunch to school. The hours are 9:00 to 12:30. We would love for your child to join us for all four weeks—or for just one week. You can enroll your child for the weeks that best suit your plans for the summer. Please see Karen or Nancy for more information.
April 8th Parent/Teacher Conferences
The preschool will close on Friday, April 8th so that teachers can meet with parents in our classrooms to look closely at children’s growth and development since the last conference in January. At this coming conference we will focus on children’s cognitive development—in contrast with the last conference which featured mostly authentic evidence of social emotional growth. Teachers have been quite busy recently– reflecting on the development of each child and working very hard to prepare beautiful portfolio pages, representing their observations and reflections. We look forward to sharing our observations with you and to learning more about your own observations of your child. Our studio teachers will be providing childcare during the time of your conference.
The Spring Egg Hunt is planned for Thursday, April 14th, just before we go on our Spring Break. The Egg Hunt Committee members will gather together that morning, before school, to hide the eggs on our play yard. (Karen organizes the eggs and has them ready for the “hiders.”) All children start the day inside and then, at about 9:15, the Cherry Blossom and Rosemary children enter the play area with the small bags that the preschool provides for the collection of the eggs. There is a flurry of looking and finding! –Unfortunately, we don’t really have room to invite all parents to attend this event, but those who are on the committee are welcome to stay. Following the Egg Hunt, we have a special surprise. . . and then the hiding process is repeated for the Dandelion and Sunflower children at about 10:15. This event is a lot of fun for children and a nice way to end the week before we go on vacation.
We have purchased six new MacBook computers for our preschool. Yes, SIX! This purchase represents a very large investment for our school and we would sincerely appreciate any donations that would help offset this significant expense. The hp laptops that were bought almost three years ago are “acting up” and interfering with the time and energies of the teachers as they work to produce the documentation that is so important to our approach. Our wonderful tech support person, Matthew Waldman of Ben’s Ranch, is helping us to set up these beautiful new tools and we are very excited to begin using them in our work.
Staff Member, Jon Alonso
Very sadly we will be saying good-by to Dandelion room teacher, Jon Alonso, at the end of this school year. Jon’s girlfriend has been accepted to a graduate program at Stanford University and Jon will be moving to that area to join her this summer. Jon plans to continue his own education, as well, going to school full-time in the fall. We will certainly miss our colleague who has added so very much to our lives and to the lives of children this past school year. We wish Jon great happiness and success!!
Raffle Winners for A Date with Teachers
- Cherry Blossom Room – James, Cole, Cooper and Koyuki
- Rosemary Room – Meg, Alexander, and Jack
- Dandelion Room – Lily and Michael, Vivien, and Makai
- Sunflower Room – Corbin, Liam and Takeshi
- April 6—Week of the Young Child Parade at 9:15
- April 8—Conferences, Preschool closed
- April 14—Egg Hunt
- April 15 through April 25—Spring Break
- April 26 (Tuesday)—Preschool resumes
- April 29 – CPK
Coming up in May
- May 6—Lunch with Loved Ones
- May 21 (Saturday)—Heal the Bay Beach Clean-up
- May 25—PPS Hundred Languages Open House 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Pictures from March Events
Breakfast with Loved Ones:
St. Patrick’s Day :
An Afternoon with Sunflower Teachers: