Storyteller, September 2012
“Our expectations of the child must be very flexible and varied. We must be able to be amazed and to enjoy—like the children do. We must be able to catch the ball that the children throw us, and toss it back to them in a way that makes the children want to continue the game with us, developing, perhaps, other games as we go along” (Tiziana Filippini, pedagogista, 1990).
Dear Families and Friends,
As we complete the initial phase of community-building in the new school year, we turn our attention to curriculum. The teachers and I have been observing the children in our spaces—and during home visits. We have been reading Family Books, talking with you and with one another, and listening to the children’s statements, questions and stories. We have been revisiting investigations from the previous school year. We have been collecting curriculum seeds that we will now share with one another at our regular after-school team meetings that begin this month. Relationship-building with materials and with all members of our community is an on-going element of our curriculum, but now we will begin to use our documentation to help us become more intentional in our efforts to support these relationships—and children’s interests.
Sometimes the interests are obvious, but it is important to look deeply at what children are telling us in so many different ways. An interest in dinosaurs, for example, might really be an interest in power, or size and proportion. As children give us clues about their passion and curiosity, we look for ways to “toss the ball back to them” and keep the game going. While we may make predictions about what will happen, we never really know the direction an investigation might take.
Each week I compose a Weekly Journal to the teachers that includes my reflections about our work with the children and with you—as well as announcements and reminders for the week. I thought I would share the reflection piece from this week’s journal to include you in our process.
Perhaps at our coming Back to School Nights, you will share your reflections, too. Thank you.
PPS Weekly Journal
Where is the metaphor?
September 4, 2012
What is Rishi seeking to know? The soft/rough, dry texture of the decomposed granite may be attractive. . .It also looks like he is examining the imprint of his fingers in the loose material. We may not be exactly sure what intrigues Rishi at this moment, but the photo welcomes our interpretation. Rishi has left a trace –a highly personal trace—and perhaps a simple, but meaningful metaphor is revealed: “One small handprint for Rishi, one giant handprint for mankind.” We create traces of who we are, how we think and feel, what we imagine. . .in relationship with a material, a place, a moment. Sculptors, architects, poets, musicians, chefs, painters—and everyone who stops to develop a relationship with a material and an idea—experiences this metaphor. Rishi stopped. He discovered a relationship with a material. He left a trace.
What should we do next? How do we keep the game alive? (finger painting, clay work, sand drawings, print-making, shadow and mirror play, choral response/recording–?)
Reggio inspired curriculum is emergent curriculum. But, many preschools with an emergent curriculum are not Reggio inspired. What is the difference? This is an important discussion for us to have at our meetings each time we look together at documentation. “Children are interested in bugs,” is not enough. What can we discover together about bugs? (And, I don’t necessarily mean looking on the internet or in a book.) Children do like to have information–and images from books and the internet can serve as provocations for dialogue and exploration, but after the books, how can we support their relationship with the interest? What is it that really intrigues the children? How can we lift or grow the “facts” to construct deeper meanings? Where is the poetry and the metaphor?
I look forward to your lists (in raw written or video/photo form—like the photo of Rishi). Let’s look together during our meetings this week at your curriculum seed collections. For the returning children and their teachers, the ongoing investigations are important—but, what else? For the new children and their teachers, how will we begin?
Thank you for your collaboration these first weeks of the school year. “Starting” is never easy—and the work remains challenging for the remaining 10 months. Nevertheless, for me, the inspiration, collaboration—and the beauty—give value to the tremendous effort. I hope the same is true for you.
With encouragement to go deeper,
Back to School Nights
Cherry Blossom & Rosemary parents: Tuesday, Sept. 11 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Dandelion & Sunflower parents: Wednesday, Sept. 12 from 5 to 7 p.m.
These evenings offer parents, teachers and directors the opportunity to spend time together in the preschool environments without the literal presence of the children (although their presence is always felt on some level!). We will start the evenings at 5:00 in the Parish Hall to begin the group conversations about the documentation process. The dialogue will probably take a slightly different form for parents in each group—since returning parents have more experience at our site with our approach to the documentation process.
The second half of the evening will take place upstairs in classrooms and outside in the workshop and outdoor studio. Refreshments will be served thanks to our Refreshment Committee.
Traces of your presence will be documented for the children’s pleasure the following mornings.
Intake Conferences—Cherry Blossom & Rosemary Families
CB and Rosemary classes will not take place on Friday, Sept. 21 so that teachers (and pedagogista) can meet with parents to listen to your observations about your children’s preschool experience so far—and to any concerns or questions you have about your child. The ASQ-3 can also be a part of this conversation. Teachers will soon have sign-up sheets for conference appointments (about 30 minutes each). Childcare will be offered for the time of your conference.
Thoughts about Super-Hero Play: A Request for Collaboration
After observing children’s play (especially outside) during the past few weeks—and over the years, teachers and directors believe that the wearing of super-hero clothing to school (t-shirts, shoes, capes, for example) directs the children’s play to super-hero themes. In other words, the costumes limit the play—and often steer the play toward aggressive behavior.
We realize that children naturally grapple with the theme of “good vs. evil,” but we think that the clothing worn to school has too great an influence on the way this theme is explored. We request that children please not wear super-hero clothing to school.
We will talk with the children about this request during our meetings so that they understand our reasons for limiting this kind of clothing and play.
We are also telling children that it is not okay to pretend to use weapons at school—such as guns and swords. We hear a good deal of “scary” language during this kind of play and some children are frightened by this language, not understanding that it is “pretend.” We ask that you talk at home, as well, about pretend play with weapons. “Weapons hurt people and we do not even pretend to hurt our friends at school.”
We also suggest that you try to limit the amount of children’s screen time in general—and, especially, shows that feature aggressive and violent behavior by the characters.
Thank you for your understanding about this request. Please let us know if you have questions.
PPS Board of Trustees
Palisades Preschool, a private, independent nonprofit organization, is governed by a Director and Co-Director and by a Board of Trustees. The Board’s role is to support the preschool through the oversight of fundraising and financial policy-making which includes the setting of tuition each year. The Board also assists with the legal aspects of the operation of the preschool and the arbitration of possible disagreements or misunderstandings that may arise. Additionally, board members serve as representatives of the preschool within the greater community.
We thank our 2012-2013 Board of Trustees for their participation and support of our program!
- Judy Tyler—President
- Jennifer Mirner—Past President
- Jeffery Rouze—Treasurer
- Megan Histand—Secretary
- Lauren Wolf—Silent Auction Chairperson
- Darren Hereford—current parent
- Susan Dickinson—current parent
- Rich Lin—current parent
- Janna Boelke—current parent
- Julie Smith—current parent
- Karen Booth—Co-Director (non-voting member)
- Nancy Sadler—Director/Pedagogista (non-voting member)
- Tuesday, Sept. 4—Preschool closed for Labor Day holiday
- Friday, Sept. 7—ASQ-3 observation form due to Nancy for scoring
- Tuesday, Sept. 11—Cherry Blossom & Rosemary Back to School Night (5 to 7 p.m.)
- Wed., Sept. 12—Dandelion & Sunflower Back to School Night (5 to 7 p.m.)
- Friday, Sept. 21—Intake Conferences for CB and Rosemary rooms (no classes for these 2 groups)
- Friday, Sept. 28—Parent Orientation meeting for Toddler Explorations classes (10 to 11:30 a.m.)
To Our Parents:
Thank you for your collaboration and participation during the past few weeks! We appreciate your taking the time to read our communications and documentation, your attendance at events and activities, and your cooperation with our policies and procedures. The school year has started very well—thanks to you, the children and the teachers.
PPS Family Picnic