Category: Parents’ Interests

Back-to-School Jitters: Separation Anxiety

IPS is currently closed for summer vacation. Please enjoy an encore post on a timely back-to-school topic!

Pre-K children during their first days of school at IPS.

Separation anxiety (and the separation process) can be one of the most difficult times of the year for children and parents alike!  At The International Preschools, we take separation seriously and strive to provide the most productive and nurturing route for our students.  Click below for a blog post on separation anxiety and how to deal with it, which I run every year in September.  Happy first days of school!

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Snack Time and Lunch Time in Preschool: An Important Part of Your Child’s Day

At The International Preschools, all children have a morning snack time built into their daily schedule. Full day children have about 45 minutes for lunch, in addition to their morning snack.

Socializing at snack time with the Little Dolphins at 76th Street!

This is an important time of day for the children. First and foremost, snack time (and lunch time) keep the children nourished and their energy levels regulated for the activities that they will participate in. Many social, emotional, and cognitive skills are also honed and strengthened while enjoying a well-balanced meal or snack.

Here are some of the important skills that your child is acquiring during snack and lunch at The International Preschools:

  • Self-Help Skills: During snack time, children clean up their place setting on their own, which might require putting a placemat in its proper place; disposing of plates, cups, and utensils; and washing hands. At lunch time, children (where applicable) help to take out their lunches (containers, drinks, etc.) and put everything back inside their lunch box when finished. The children also put their lunch boxes back into their cubbies.
  • Expressive Language Skills: Teachers model responses and questions for the children. For example, if a child would like more of a certain snack (Chex, Cheerios, etc.), the teacher would model, “More Chex, please,” so that he/she can copy the verbal request. The goal is for the child to use the words on his/her own, in any situation, to ask for what he/she needs.
  • Number Sense: During conversation at snack or lunch time, a child might notice things such as how many Cheerios he/she has on his plate, or how many chicken nuggets he/she has in his/her lunch. This is play-based learning at its most casual! Becoming aware of what makes a number (i.e. that five objects make the number 5) is a math skills required for counting with correspondence, addition, subtraction…you name it!
  • Social Skills: Snack time and lunch time provide a perfect opportunity for children to socialize with their peers and teachers. Often, teachers will place children strategically next to different classmates at each snack time, so that they get an opportunity to chat with (and get to know) all of the children in the room. Teachers will model expressive language when needed, so that children can practice asking for what they want, interacting with peers, and reading social cues, to name a few skills.
  • Life Skills: In the Green (3s) and Pre-K (4s) Rooms, children have “jobs” that they are in charge of throughout the day. These jobs might change daily or weekly. Jobs instill confidence and responsibility in young children; achieving the goal of a job (such as watering a plant) boosts their self-esteem and motivation. A few of these jobs are completed during snack or lunch time: one child passes out the napkins, another might count the lunch boxes (to be sure everyone’s lunch is present), another child might pass out cups. At home, parents can allow children to carry out these jobs as well, in the form of setting the table (in part or in its entirety). Children love to help out, and giving them a job (or jobs) at home will help develop your child’s confidence as well.

Any time of the day can be a time for learning (the play-based kind is our favorite)!

End-of-year pizza lunch with the 86th Street full-day Green Room students (and teachers)!

Interested in learning more about The International Preschools’ play-based learning philosophy, and how it is implemented? Take a look at our curriculum pages on our website.

Ready for your child (and family) to join the IPS community? Apply online today!

Lunch Prep for Preschool

Lunchtime at school is a big step in a preschooler’s life!

For many parents, this September will mark the first time that their child will attend a full day of preschool. With that comes the nightly (or for some, morning) routine of preparing your child’s lunch.

It’s not an easy thing. After all, toddlers and preschoolers are notoriously picky and fickle about what they eat. Some days, a cheese sandwich is perfect. Other days, a cheese sandwich will be greeted with a resounding NO from your child.

I’m currently going through the lunchtime process with my second child and, having been an early childhood educator for more than 20 years now, have also witnessed firsthand what works and what doesn’t. Here are some tips and ideas to help make your child (and your!) first experience with lunch-at-school a happy one:

  • Stick with what he/she knows. Be sure that your child’s lunch contains mostly items that he/she has eaten before and enjoys. Let dinnertime be the place where new foods can be tasted and evaluated. Then, new foods that are given the thumbs-up can be included in future lunches.
  • Give variety. Including a variety of foods from many food groups (protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, healthy fats) ensures that your child will eat something (even if he/she doesn’t eat everything). And on that note…
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. I’ve seen many well-meaning parents (myself included!) pack lunches with large portion sizes that don’t get eaten. It’s not that your child can’t/won’t eat that much…it’s more that having lots of baggies and containers with large amounts of food in them can be visually overwhelming. As a result, some children will just avoid the food altogether. Case in point: I have given my five-year-old the same types of food for lunch packed in a bento box (if you haven’t gotten one for your child already, look into it – they are awesome!) with small portions, and the same food in a variety of containers. She almost always eats all of the food in the bento box, but when the food is in larger containers, she leaves a lot of it behind.
  • Make it visually appealing! Visual aspects are sometimes as vital to kids eating their lunch as the actual food. If you’re crafty, and up for the challenge, click here for some cute lunchtime (or dinnertime) ideas.

Next week’s blog will touch on the skills that kids learn from having snack and lunch together at school…and they aren’t just food-related!

Interested in joining the IPS community? Visit our website by clicking here.

Food: A Toddler’s Journey (And How Preschool Snack Time Changed Its Path!)

My daughter (age 5) is, and always has been, a fantastic eater. She loves all kinds of food (steak at age 1.5!) and will try most things, even if she ultimately decides she doesn’t like it.

My son (age 2.5), not so much. He is (and always has been) a picky eater, eating mostly berries, cheese, crackers, yogurt, bread, and the like. Then, a few months ago, he suddenly started eating what I consider basically nothing, other than milk, yogurt, and the occasional slice of bologna.

Green Room kids enjoying ice cream sundaes at snack time on the last day of school!

Our beloved pediatrician did not have any problems with what was going on…he said kids go through phases and to keep on offering all types of foods to the little man. Which we did, to no avail.

Then, one day, we turned a corner. That corner, my friends, was preschool snack time. The little man joined summer camp in June, and after a day or so of politely refusing snack options, he was suddenly eating multiple helping of foods. Grapes? Yes please! Pretzels? Wow, never seen these before! String cheese? Absolutely!

I write this post, on this topic, in hopes of sharing my toddler’s food journey with you, as I’m sure there are many families out there who have struggled, worried, and battled this topic in their homes. Simply put, my little man wanted to do what his friends were doing, and as a result, he began eating more and trying new foods. It will happen for your family, too! (Even if it doesn’t seem like it.)

86th Street Summer Camp: Three cheers for ice pops!

In next week’s blog post, I will cover the topic of snack and lunch at school and some helpful hints when packing your child’s lunch for preschool. Many families will have children making the switch to eating lunch at school in September, and I hope these posts will help your child make this transition smooth and easy!

Ready to sign your child up for a full day of preschool at one of New York City’s best? Apply online on our website today!

Fostering Friendships in Young Children

Friends work together during IPS Summer Camp’s three-legged race at our 86th Street location.

Making friends, reading social cues, and initiating play are necessary lifelong skills. Children begin to learn the nuances of creating connections with their peers at a very early age. A baby as young as six months old will get excited when he/she sees another baby!

The strengthening of these types of social skills is a priority in preschools and other early childhood education settings. Teachers model behaviors for young children; this can include role-playing different social situations (i.e. wanting to join a group of children playing in the block area) and/or providing the necessary for the child to express what he/she wants or needs (i.e. a toy that another child is playing with).

Here are two great articles about how to cultivate your child’s friendship-making skills:

Scholastic: How To Help Your Child’s First Friendships Grow

PBS Kids for Parents: Growing Early Friendships

Interested in learning more about The International Preschools, and how our play-based learning philosophy supports social, emotional, and cognitive growth? Read about our curriculum on our website.

Know all you need to know about The International Preschools, and want to become a member of the community? Apply online on our website!

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!

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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!