Storyteller, September 2011
“Emotional well-being and social competence provide a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities. Together they are the ‘bricks and mortar’ of the foundation of human development. The brain is a highly integrated organ. Social development and regulation of behavior are as much a part of development as cognitive learning.”
- Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, (2007)
Dear Families and Friends,
As we prepare to begin another school year together—or to begin our first year together—I imagine that many of us are reflecting upon our hopes and intentions for the children’ s experiences at Palisades Preschool during the coming months. Fundamental to our expectations and planned possibilities is our shared definition of the underlying purpose of preschool. Why is it important for children to have a range of high quality experiences in a group setting before beginning their elementary school education?
There are, of course, many answers to this question and throughout the coming school year we intend to create numerous opportunities to engage in formal and informal dialogue with all of you with the goal of sharing our understandings about children’ s preschool years and explaining why we do what we do –as both parents and as teachers. Back to Preschool Night, Parent-Teacher Conferences and Afternoons with the Teachers are examples of meetings already planned for the new school year that will give us time for conversation about children’ s learning.
One piece of the explanation for the importance of preschool lies in the significance of the development of appropriate social and emotional skills. In a cultural and political era in the United States that places a high value upon “academic readiness,” it is essential that we acknowledge the role of social-emotional development as a foundation for cognitive growth–and as a pathway to successful social interactions throughout the life span. Many early education experts believe that being prepared for kindergarten—and beyond–has its roots in social-emotional learning.
In her book, Me, You, Us: Social-Emotional Learning in Preschool, Epstein (2009) describes four components of social-emotional competence:
- Emotional self-regulation and self-awareness
“. . .responding to experiences with an appropriate range of immediate or delayed emotions,” characterized by thinking ahead and acting with less impulsivity (e.g., “I can sit on the waiting bench or play in the sand box until it is my turn on the tire swing”). Language development and the ability to form and hold mental representations contribute to the growth of these abilities.
- Social knowledge and understanding
Becoming a participating member of the classroom community. The process of “decentering” during the preschool years happens as children begin to be able to take the perspective of others in the community. The knowledge of social norms and traditions is a part of social understanding. Classification skills also contribute to this area of growth (e.g., “I like to play with trucks, but my friend likes to play with helicopters”).
- Social skills
Employing a “range of strategies for interacting with others.” Again perspective-taking and empathy play a role in the development of these kinds of problem-solving skills (e.g., “I will get my friend a cup of water to make her feel better”).
- Social dispositions
Developing “enduring character traits” such as curiosity and generosity. Expressing feelings and taking responsibility for our actions are also components of generally valued social dispositions.
It is our intention that children’ s experiences in our small and large group settings at Palisades Preschool be rich with opportunities for the kinds of social-emotional learning described by Epstein (2009). When young children engage with peers, materials and teachers, the possibilities are often surprising and challenging—but also inspiring and exciting. We look forward to our work in support of children’ s social-emotional development this year and to our conversations with the children, colleagues and with you about this essential component of children’ s growth—and readiness for kindergarten.
See you soon!
Certainly, before we are able to guide and support children’ s budding social-emotional skills, we first must establish trusting relationships with both the children and their families. The early part of the school year, especially, is dedicated to this effort—in all classrooms. For new families and children, the July Transition classes, Home Visits and individualized separation strategies are all part of the relationship-building process that continues throughout our interactions over two or three years. If you were not able to arrange for a Home Visit during the summer, we will be happy to make appointments with you to briefly visit you and your child during the first weeks of school. A sign-up will be available on Sept. 14.
As a metaphor for the coming together of individuals to create new classroom communities and a new preschool community, we would like to explore the art of weaving with both children and adults. We have been investigating different kinds of looms and materials and we invite any of our family members with particular expertise in this art form to help guide the exploration. Please speak with Nancy if you would like to participate.
Additionally, with the initial goal of expanding the children’ s–and our own—sense of place at PPS we would like to explore the many sounds we hear in our indoor and outdoor environments. These explorations will be shaped by the developmental stages of the children in our program and by the children’ s interests and responses as observed by teachers and parents.
As part of our preparations for the new school year, we are in the process of modifying our Studio of the Senses (previously a light and shadow room and a paper room) to create opportunities for the children to play with sound. (Please look for requests from teachers in coming Weekly Stories for materials found in your homes that make interesting sounds. We plan to include these items in our Studio of Sound.)
At Back to Preschool Nights in late September, teachers will share Classroom Intentions related to our School-wide Intentions and other aspects of preschool life that are important to each age group.
One of our new parents, Julie Smith, has suggested that we form a Music Committee this year. I think it is a great idea—given that we have some particularly musical adults in our community this school year. The teachers and I will find several dates during the year chosen so that family members can visit children’ s classrooms and/or the Studio of Sound and share their musical talent or interest. We will have the sign-up available during the early part of the school year and family members who are interested can select dates and make appointments with teachers.
Another opportunity for family involvement at our preschool this year will take the form of a Friday Special Snack. We will create a sign-up for your participation and will share specific information for each class at Back to Preschool Nights. Parents do not have to be present on Fridays to participate; foods can be sent to school or left with teachers before drop-off. We will also be sure to share information about the food allergies represented in each class so that these foods can be avoided.
During the summer, Karen mailed your September tuition invoice along with several other items in a school-wide mailing. All subsequent invoices will be emailed to you, starting with the October invoice. If you are paying tuition on a monthly basis, the payment is due to Karen on the first of each month. A late fee will be charged for payments received after the 7th of the month. We do appreciate prompt payment of tuition and other fees. Thank you.
Credit Card Payments
PPS does accept credit card payment for tuition and fees as well as for the purchase of items sold by the school for fundraising. The bank charges for the transaction fees have increased in recent months and we will be adding a 2.4% to 2.5% charge to credit card transactions used to pay tuition and fees. We will reduce the charge or absorb it completely for the purchase of items related to fundraising—such as Silent Auction purchases in November. Please speak with Karen if you would like to have your credit card info securely saved at the preschool for monthly payments–or you can contact Karen at the beginning of each month with the information.
ASQ-3 at PPS
Two years ago, our teaching staff participated in a training sponsored by First 5 LA and UCLA and facilitated by Dr. Richard Cohen. The purpose of the training was to become familiar with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire-3, an in-home assessment completed by parents and then shared with teachers at an intake conference. At our New Parent Orientation #2 on Sept. 13th, we will share more information about this effective screening tool used to help parents and teachers detect developmental delays in young children.
PPS Family Picnic
All families are invited to enjoy a couple of hours of community fun at Rustic Canyon Park on Saturday, Sept. 17th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Bring a picnic lunch and a blanket and join teachers and directors in the shade of the lovely trees at the park.
Save the Date
Our 2011 PPS Silent Auction is planned for Friday, November 18th! This is an evening event for “grown-ups” only and will take place at the Annenberg Beach House. Please look for more information about this exciting evening once our school year is under way. We thank our co-chairs, Judy Tyler and Marika Spielman, and their committee members for getting a head-start on the planning for this year’ s auction.
We are very pleased to announce that Elizbeth Kuo will be joining Soraya as a co-teacher in the Sunflower room! Many of you met Elizabeth during the summer and probably observed how much the children enjoyed her presence with us during Camp. And, we would also like to welcome Leigh Johnson to our faculty. Leigh will serve as the fifth co-teacher on the Sunflower/Dandelion team, a new position we have created for the four year old classroom teams. Both teachers have interesting education and experience backgrounds. Please look for the Teacher Bios for our two new faculty members in the preschool hallway.
High on our list for the coming school year is a request for contributions to our PPS Scholarship/Financial Aid fund. We have a number of families who have asked for help with tuition for 2011-12 and we would like to expand this area of our funding. We do follow a confidential protocol for the award of financial assistance and have a small sub-committee of administrative staff and board members who make decisions about this aspect of our work with children and families. The ability to offer financial assistance helps us to fulfill our mission with regard to diversity—which includes economic diversity. Donations are tax-deductible. We thank you for considering a contribution to the PPS Scholarship/Financial Aid fund.
Also on our Fall, 2011 Wish List:
- 2 new white MacBook computers (to add to the 6 MacBooks we purchased last spring)
- Donations for the purchase of new birch shelving for the Sunflower and Dandelion rooms (to add to the 7 new shelves we have recently purchased for the Cherry Blossom/Rosemary rooms and for the Studio of Sound)
- 4 new small Canon digital still cameras
- 1 new deluxe digital still camera
Special appreciation goes to Jeff Rouze, PPS Board Treasurer and the man who has helped us this summer with painting and floor waxing inside our preschool and with the clean-up and interior renovation of the little house next door to the school that we use for the storage of so many of the children’ s materials. A million thanks! Another big “thank-you” goes to Ben Haines, a new member of our parent community, who gave us numerous hours on his summer weekends, painting the outdoor furniture and play structure. We also want to thank Laurie and Oliver Cornell, who volunteered their time this summer to help with the cleaning and organization of the storage house next to the school. What an effort! And, once again, former parent, Doug Mirner, has organized a number of facility improvements for the preschool—new doors inside some of our indoor spaces, a new fence behind the building and a new cover to our sandbox. Thank you! An additional expression of appreciation goes to gardener, Francisco Santos, who manages to make our grass and flowers look beautiful in spite of all the “love” they receive from the children!
Stay & Play/After School Small Group Classes
We currently plan to begin Stay & Play (1:30 to 2:30, Monday through Thursday) during the week of Sept. 19th. Children who are dismissed at 1:00 or at 1:15 are also eligible for Stay & Play and stay with their teachers until the Stay & Play teacher is available. After school small groups will begin on Sept. 26th. We plan to include Soccer Skills as one of our possibilities this fall. Please look for more information about the classes offered for the coming 10 week fall session.
Toddler Explorations Classes begin on Oct. 3rd with a Parent Orientation from 9 to 11 a.m. in the preschool Library. Children start the program on Oct. 17th.
PPS Calendar Change, beginning with the 2012-2013 School Year
As announced via a recent email message to all PPS families, the preschool year will begin in mid-August of 2012 and end in mid-June, 2013, creating an 11 month preschool calendar. The school will close for cleaning and maintenance each July, with no summer program. Please speak with Nancy if you have any questions about the new 11 month calendar.
Preschool Mission Statement
Our mission is to serve our community by offering a preschool experience for children and families that celebrates diversity, creativity and kindness. These values are embedded within a rich child-centered curriculum that provides individuals and groups with opportunities to investigate, explore and express themselves through meaningful play.
PPS Faculty Members for 2011-2012
Cherry Blossom/Rosemary Team:
- Anne Roberts—Cherry Blossom Room
- Lisette Sandoval—Cherry Blossom Room
- Nathalie Fournet—Rosemary Room
- Tanya Folsom—Rosemary Room
- Nicole Bertholet—Support Co-Teacher
- Summer Jefferson—Studio Teacher
- Craig Parks—Outdoor Studio Teacher
- Soraya Pursoltani—Sunflower Room
- Elizabeth Kuo—Sunflower Room
- Tiffany Romero—Dandelion Room
- Sylvia Maximo—Dandelion Room
- Leigh Johnson—Support Co-Teacher
- Valeria Vacchi—Studio Teacher
- Craig Parks—Outdoor Studio Teacher
Toddler Explorations Class
- Laurie Cornell
- Parker Bent
- Karen Booth—Preschool Co-Director
- Nancy Sadler—Preschool Director
- Oliver Cornell—Webmaster
- Matthew Waldman—IT Consultant
- Gloria Serrano—Housekeeping
PPS Board of Trustees:
- Judy Tyler/Jennifer Mirner—Co-Presidents
- Jeff Rouze—Treasurer
- Darren Hereford—Secretary
- Kristen Abraham—Former Parent
- Marika Spielman—Current Parent
- Richard Lin—Current Toddler Parent
- Megan Histand—Current Parent
- Susan Dickinson—Current Parent
- Karen Booth—Preschool Co-Director (non-voting member)
- Nancy Sadler—Preschool Director (non-voting member)
Pictures from School Events
June Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
Franklin Haynes Puppet Show