The Storyteller, November 2016
Observations and Reflections
Understanding Our Image of the Child: Where Teaching and Parenting Begin
“Imagine the school as an enormous hot air balloon. The hot air balloon is on the ground when the parents bring their children in the morning. Some parents think the balloon is going to rise up and fly around during the day. Others would really prefer that the balloon remain on the ground because that way they are sure their children are safe and protected. But the children want to go up and fly and travel everywhere in a hot air balloon, to see in this different way, to look at things from above. Our problem is that to make the hot air balloon fly we have to make sure that parents understand the importance of what the teachers and children are doing in the hot air balloon. Flying through the air, seeing the world in a different way, adds to the wealth of all of us, particularly the children” (Loris Malaguzzi, 1993).
Dear Families and Friends,
We each hold our own personal image of the child. It is based on our temperament and personality, our family culture, our experiences as children in educational settings, and is very much influenced by the larger community and culture. Our image of the child orients the way we interact with children as observers, listeners, teachers and parents. In many American preschools children play passive roles in their care and education—based on an image of the child as someone fragile, in need of protection, and in need of an adult to be in charge of and direct learning.
Malaguzzi affirms that “the child is very intelligent, that the child is strong and beautiful and has very ambitious desires and requests. This is the image of the child that we need to hold.” Children come to school seeking to understand and to build relationships—with other children, with adults, with materials, spaces and ideas. They arrive in our setting with great competencies to express, many questions to pose, and many theories to test.
The kind of image of the child that we hold directs the environments we create, the questions we ask—or wait to ask, the way we engage with children in the learning process, how we choose to observe without judging, how we make choices about the amount of ownership of routines and materials we offer to children in the classroom or home, or the extent to which we allow children to take (reasonable) risks–such as climbing up the ladder to the slide, jumping in a puddle, using authentic tools for woodworking and cooking, trying a new material for the first time, or approaching another child independently.
By the time you read this newsletter, the teachers and I will have engaged in two days of learning with Dr. Lella Gandini. She has proposed that our study focus on the relationship between the image of the child and the image of the teacher. She has provided us with articles to read as part of our preparation for her consultation—and our work on documentation and environments has also offered us another kind of preparation as we reflect deeply on our work prior to the consultation. Dr. Gandini’s observations in our environments during the mornings will help her to understand the image of the child we hold at Palisades Preschool and our meetings with her in the afternoons will present opportunities for worthwhile discussion. We know we have much to learn individually and collectively about this subject and look forward to our dialogue with Dr. Gandini. After her visit—and the November 1 Educator Tour—teachers and I will share reflections about these valuable learning experiences that will be made visible in a documentation piece for the hallway. Thank you for your generous support of our professional development initiatives—helping us to become “good hot air balloon pilots.”
Silent Auction—Friday, November 18 at the Annenberg Beach House
Last month the Auction invitations were emailed to all preschool and toddler parents and everyone was asked to follow the link on the invitation to the Givesmart website in order to register credit card and mobile device information. We thank you for your response to the invitation and for the wonderful donations that are starting to arrive!
The Auction is our large fundraiser for the school year and includes our own community as well as extended family and friends (as space at the venue permits). Dinner and dessert, wine, and beer are part of the evening’s experience. Each year’s event includes a few surprises, as well!
We ask that each family donate 2 Auction items–which can include tickets to sporting events, concerts or the theater, certificates to restaurants and spas, jewelry, art, wine, electronic equipment and passes to the LA Zoo—to name a few! Some families choose to put on a party of some kind (for children, for adults or for families) as their donation for the Auction.
We suggest that you check in with Karen regarding your donation choices to ensure that we do not have too many of one kind of item. Karen will be creating an Auction Program in advance of the event that includes all of the donated items and she will then email the program to our community. Donations and the donation sheet with the description and estimated value of the item will be due to Karen by Wed., Nov 9.
Room Parents are also coordinating one or two Class Baskets for each classroom and parents have been asked to make a contribution to these themed baskets in addition to donating two items to the auction.
Vacation Homes and Hotel Accommodations are often part of the Live Auction that takes place at the end of the evening!!
We greatly appreciate the donations many of you have made to help cover the catering and beverage costs—and other aspects of the event such as flower arrangements and table decorations. Thank you!
We thank our Silent Auction Committee and Co-Chairs, Celina Meites and Elizabeth Kendall, for putting on the event and our Room Parents for coordinating the donations for the Class Baskets!
We thank Karen for all of the work involved in organizing the auction items and their sale!! We hope you will all join us for an ENJOYABLE and SUCCESSFUL fundraising event on Friday, Nov. 18!
A very generous PPS family has donated $20,000 to our school in conjunction with the Silent Auction!! Our Board members and Auction coordinators have enthusiastically considered best possibilities for the inclusion of this amazing gift to our school in this fundraising event. According to the donor’s wishes not to put pressure on our community to “match” the donation during the end of the evening “ask,” but to encourage all parents to participate as appropriate for each family, we are proposing that the donation be applied to what our community is able to raise for the school in the overall Auction. The participation of each family will be maximized by the donation. I am sure our community joins me in expressing our great appreciation for this kind gift to Palisades Preschool. -ns
Elementary School Applications
Families who are applying to independent schools for the 2017-2018 school year are aware of the application deadlines for each different school. As part of the process, the schools also ask that I complete an evaluation form. Please be sure to pass along these forms to me this month. In some cases, the schools will send them to me directly. As the work of thoughtfully completing the evaluations requires time, it is helpful for me to begin this month. Thank you. -ns
Speech and Language Screening
On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Speech and Language therapist, Bernice Sedlik, MA, will be present at our school to offer speech, language and hearing screenings. She is a veteran in her field and has helped us refer children in need of further assessment to local speech and language specialists. Karen has forms for parents interested in having their children meet with Bernice on the 9th. The cost is $28 for speech and language only, $15 for hearing, or $30 for all. Please speak with Nancy if you have any questions.
On Tuesday, November 22, parents in each class are planning to bring a special lunch to the children. If you have signed up to participate in this lovely initiative, please be sure to communicate with the teachers in advance about the foods you are planning to prepare. Food allergies and special diets are always considerations. The lunches will take place at the children’s usual lunch periods. The catered lunch will be cancelled on the 22nd, but we will follow our regular dismissal times: 1, 1:15, 1:30 and 1:40.
NAEYC Conference Educator Tour Update
Our school will participate as one of five Santa Monica schools in the Pre-NAEYC Conference Educator Tour on Nov. 1. There are currently about 250 educators registered to attend the morning presentations by Lella Gandini and Amelia Gambetti at First Presbyterian Nursery School and about 200 educators who will also tour the five schools. We will have over 100 visitors at our site on the 1st for presentations by our teachers and director, lunch, and a tour of our school. This is a big endeavor for our individual school and for the schools in collaboration. In addition to the benefits to our own faculty, we will be contributing to the learning of many teachers. We thank the parents who will be joining us at First Pres. for the presentations and we look forward to sharing this experience through documentation later in the month.
- Tuesday, Nov. 1—Preschool closed for Educator Tour
- Tuesday, Nov. 8—Tandy Parks mindful parenting meeting in the Library at 10:15 Voting for the election takes place in St. Paul’s church entryway (parking impacted)
- Wednesday, Nov. 9—Speech and Language screenings in the a.m.
Auction items, Class Baskets and donation forms due to Karen
- Friday, Nov. 11—Preschool closed for Veteran’s Day holiday
- Thursday, Nov. 17—Basket wrapping for Auction in Parish Hall in the a.m.
- Friday, Nov. 18—Silent Auction at the Annenberg from 6 to 10 p.m.
- Tuesday, Nov. 22—Thanksgiving Lunches in classrooms
- Wednesday, Nov. 23, 24 and 25—Preschool closed for Thanksgiving holiday
Pictures from School Events
Consultation with Lella Gandini