Category: Parents’ Interests

End-Of School Transitions: From School to Summer

This week’s blog post is an updated version of one that originally ran in May 2017.

Children in the Pre-K 2 class brought in baby photos and then drew a picture of themselves as four-and-five-year-olds.

The last few weeks of classes at The International Preschools are exciting for our students.  Teachers and children begin play-based learning activities to celebrate the end of the school year:  outdoor classroom parties/picnics with parents, end-of-the-year gifts, and memory books.

But after the festivities have concluded, what’s next?  The “what’s next,” for some children, can be  filled with uncertainty, sadness, or fear.  Sometimes, these feelings can result in regressing behaviors, such as difficulty separating from parents or caregivers.  This is an opportunity for children to develop life-strategies for transitioning between one set of routines towards another exciting phase in their lives.

The process actually begins in September when teachers spend time helping students acclimate to the routines and expectations of the classroom.  This action is crucial in helping the children feel confident and comfortable in their surroundings; toddlers and preschool-age children crave stability in their day-to-day schedules, thriving most when they know “what comes next.”  Providing consistency is key to helping children feel safe, secure, and confident.

As a language development activity, children in the Pre-K 1 class identified something that they can do now that they could not do as babies. The answers were listed with photos of themselves as babies and as four-year-olds.

By May, when children feel confident in their classrooms, teachers are able to focus on the passage from school to summer.  In many classrooms, a “Baby Show and Share” is introduced.  Students are encouraged to bring in their baby clothing or baby photos to present to their classmates.  This activity allows children to see how much they have grown, learned, and changed over the course of a few years (and for some classes, a few months!).  Another focus during this time of year centers around building confidence and self-esteem.  As a whole group and individually, classes reflect on tasks that the children can do now that they couldn’t do a few months or years ago (i.e. ride a tricycle, write his/her name, use the bathroom on his/her own).  By doing this, he/she can see that taking risks and learning new things is something attainable.  The goal is that once this idea is reinforced in a child’s mind, he/she will be less afraid to engage in new experiences in the future.

Books provide a great springboard for conversations with children. The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing is a fun, rhyming story about a family getting ready for the summer adventures ahead!

Developmentally, young children do not grasp the passage of time as adults do; for them, the next school year is too abstract (and far away) of a concept.  The idea of summer (and swimming, camp, and playgrounds) is an exciting, happy event that will occur immediately after the end of the school year.  This is a soothing topic to focus on when preparing to leave a familiar classroom. These images help transitions feel less overwhelming and more naturally a part of their growth.

All of our classrooms celebrate the end of school with parent/child celebrations filled with songs, food, and fun. Happily, we will still incorporate these celebrations (for many classrooms) during this COVID-affected time by relocating our farewell parties from the classrooms to the school backyard and/or park.  The children are always encouraged to come back and visit their teachers, and to have play dates with their friends over the summer (and beyond).

Interested in learning more about our school?  Read the IPS mission statement by clicking here.

Ready to apply online? Visit our website today!

Share this:

Helping Your Child Manage BIG Emotions

There’s been a lot of changes for kids and adults alike over the last fourteen months! From being in “lockdown” during the height of the pandemic, to social distancing, to being apart from friends and family…to schools being completely remote, then hybrid, and now, for many children, going back to full-time, in-person learning…it’s been a wild ride!

Our Green 1 children display their “happy” emotion during snack (and a mask break!) at the 76th Street location.

My daughter returned to in-person learning in March, and she has been so happy going back to school. Much of her first year in elementary school has been filled with stops and starts (including a fourteen-day quarantine in the fall due to COVID exposure). Yet, despite the excitement and happiness about being in school, the love she has for her amazing teachers, and playing in-person with her friends, the return to full-time learning has been hard on her. She doesn’t have the stamina she had in previous years of being in school to last a six hour day, and meltdowns have occurred. Her kindergarten teacher assured me that this was normal, and that every child in the class has reacted to the full-time, in-person learning in different ways. Some are clingier to parents than they once were; others are frustrated easily; some are completely wiped out from the longer day; and others are just overwhelmed with starting anew…again…in March, no less, after doing this a mere six months ago in September.

We can’t see their (whole) faces, but we can guess that the Pre-K Room at 86th Street is feeling happy while on a trip to Carl Schurz Park!

In my travels and research for IPS curriculum, I’ve come across several interesting articles with effective options that I’d like to share with you. I hope you find them helpful! Additionally, our Developmental Specialist, Jaya Misra, recently wrote a fantastic newsletter on limit setting, the concept of which goes hand-in-hand with children sharing big emotions. If you are a member of the IPS community, be sure to read that newsletter as well!

Managing Emotions (from PBS Kids for Parents)

Parents.com – Handling Emotions

Teaching Children About Emotions (from the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation)

Interested in becoming a member of the IPS community? Apply online by visiting our website. We are still accepting students for the 2021-2022 school year!

Observing (And Learning!) About The World Around Us

Red Room children use magnifying glasses to closely observe the parts of a flower.

The changing of seasons helps children embark on a learning adventure by employing their five senses. From the Red Room (2s) to the Junior Kindergarten (4s/5s), the children in every classroom are asked questions about what they see, feel, hear, smell, and taste when introducing a new season.

At our 86th Street location, some classes have started learning about the caterpillar-to-butterfly life cycle! Here, a child observes the caterpillars, as well as a life cycle chart.

Now that the spring season has arrived, the students are applying their senses to learn about what changes have occurred. How does the weather feel when you go outside? Do you need a heavy coat, or a light jacket? What do the trees look like? Are there leaves on the trees? What else do you see (flowers, animals, green grass)? What do you hear when you are outside (i.e. birds chirping)? Thinking about, and utilizing, the five senses helps children make connections between the world around them and the themes that they are learning about in the classroom.

In the Green Room, students observe the life cycle of plants by using a special translucent container. This way, the changes underneath the soil’s surface, such as the forming of roots, can be seen.

The next time you are out and about with your child, be sure to ask them some questions about what they are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting. It will open up a world of learning, as well as provide a prompt for meaningful conversation!

Want to learn more about The International Preschools? Take a look inside an IPS classroom on our website.

Ready to join the IPS community? Apply online today!

Discussing “Scary” Topics With Your Children

My five-year-old daughter pays attention to every little detail. Even when you think she’s not listening to your conversation (or taking notes on what you are watching on TV), she is. I know I’m not the only one who is constantly maintaining the balance between sharing information simply and concisely, while keeping other unnecessary news (that is, news not needed for a five-year-old’s ears) at bay.

In light of all the media coverage, be it on television or an iPad, about a variety of scary visual topics for our young ones (the storming of the Capitol Building, to name just one), I researched ways to answer questions or attend to comments that may come about.

I found a great article on the PBS website that gives great advice about tackling topics from the assault on the Capitol building to (unfortunately) more frequent occurrences, such as a fire. I hope you find it helpful! Here’s the link:

https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/helping-kids-navigate-scary-news-stories

For more on the community of The International Preschools, as well as how to apply online, visit our website by clicking here.

Holiday Season 2020: Keeping It Simple And Fun!

The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year. One of the best things about this time is seeing my two young children experience the traditions that I’ve loved and carried out when I was their age (and beyond).

This year’s holiday season will look different…for example, in our area, live performances of The Nutcracker and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular have been postponed until 2021, and tree lighting ceremonies are either not occurring or not allowing visitors. It is disappointing to miss out on those fun events, but there are many other ways to celebrate the holiday season that are memorable and meaningful for your children. Here are a few ideas that worked for my family (and ones we will try in the coming weeks):

  • Crafts: Our family celebrates Christmas, so this year, we’ve spent a lot of time gluing, painting, and decorating wooden, paper, and plastic ornaments to hang on our Christmas tree. For a great resource outlining some fun holiday craft and homemade gift ideas, click here: https://www.pbs.org/parents/sharing-your-creativity
  • Lights: We spent an hour last weekend driving around our town admiring the holiday lights that residents have used to decorate their homes. (We also saw a lot of inflatable holiday icons, since we live outside of the city.). Families in both urban and rural areas can enjoy this activity by walking or driving.
  • Cooking/Baking: Toddlers and preschoolers can help with the cooking and baking process for your holiday celebrations, whether they are with just your immediate family or with extended family members. Chopping vegetables (with a child-safe knife), decorating cookies, and mixing batter is fun for both children and adults and provides an opportunity for practicing skills such as problem-solving, following multi-step directions, and measurement, to name a few.
  • Books: My children love reading books about any and every holiday. Books provide opportunities for children to ask questions and make connections between the text and home (or school) experiences.
  • Holiday TV/Movies: There’s nothing more cozy than snuggling with your little ones and watching a holiday favorite. As an adult, one of my favorite holiday activities is to break out all the classic cartoons and movies (I’m talking about you, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street”) and watching them as often as possible throughout the month of December.
Red Room children work on their homemade holiday gifts.

Wishing you and your family a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!

Interested in making 2021 an awesome year by enrolling your child at IPS? Apply online today!

Helpful Hygiene Habits at The International Preschools

With the 2020-2021 school year approaching, the team at The International Preschools have been preparing to welcome back children into our 76th Street and 86th Street locations.  This will be the first time since mid-March that classes will take place in person, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IPS faculty and administration have put into place several increased safety and hygiene practices and protocols in order to keep our students and staff as safe and healthy as possible.  Some of these practices will include more frequent sanitizing of equipment and common use areas, limiting interactions between classes, and smaller class sizes.

Continue reading →

Books Promoting Diversity for Young Children: Part 1

At The International Preschools, celebrating diversity and an awareness of how we are all different, yet we are all alike, is the cornerstone of our play-based learning philosophy.  Children as young as age 2 are able to pick up on differences…and the acceptance and reactions of adults around them.

Books are an instrumental way to foster learning and to use as a springboard for discussions, in even our smallest students.  Here are a few books, appropriate for preschoolers, that promote diversity in a tangible, understandable way.  These books also celebrate traditions and everyday activities that look different, yet alike, in each family’s household.

Continue reading →

Fun Outdoor Activities For Your Kids During COVID-19

Building and sharing at the sand table during IPS Summer Camp a few years ago.

Although we are well into July and the COVID-19 outbreak, at least here in the tri-state area, has decreased significantly, more families are choosing to make the summer of 2020 a low-key summer. This means less going out, less traveling, and more time spent in and around the home.

As adults, we sometimes forget about the simplicities and plethora of activities that can entertain little and big kids alike.  Looking for some ideas to up your outdoor game?  Read on!

Continue reading →

Swimming-Related Books For Your Preschooler

Having fun and staying safe in the water at IPS Summer Camp!

Last week’s blog post talked about water safety and getting your preschoolers used to the water in a safe, fun way via play-based learning.

At The International Preschools, where our learning philosophy is play-based, we use a variety of tools from books, games, art, role-playing, and other methods in order to teach different skills and lessons.  To supplement your child’s exposure, comfort, and experimentation with the water, here are a list of books that he/she will enjoy reading…

Continue reading →

Swim Time: Getting Preschoolers Used To The Water

Penguin City Swim teaches IPS students to swim during the 2019 camp season.

The highlight of my summer as a child (and now, as a grown-up!) was/is spending as much time as possible in and around the water.  As an adult, I became a Water Safety Instructor with the American Red Cross and learned how to teach children of all ages how to swim.  Providing children with swim lessons is vital in order to promote a safe and comfortable relationship with the water.

As parents and caregivers, there are many simple things that we can do with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and bigger kids to get them comfortable in and around the water.  Similar to the play-based learning philosophy at The International Preschools, these tips and ideas will allow children to learn and be comfortable in the water while having fun at the same time!

Continue reading →