This week’s topic is parent/teacher conferences; this blog post originally ran in November 2016. Its information will help you prepare for what you’ll learn at our upcoming Green Room, Pre-K, and Junior K conferences on November 5th and 6th, as well as the Creche/Red Room conferences on December 3rd and 4th. Enjoy!
A friend of mine recently attended the parent/teacher conference for his eighteen-month-old son. Prior to the meeting, he questioned the importance of attending a conference for a child so young. What would the teachers possibly have to say about his son, he asked? After attending the conference, he had an answer: a lot!
At The International Preschools, parent/teacher conferences are held twice a year: once in the fall and once in the spring. Parents have the opportunity to speak directly with their child’s teachers about the child’s school experience. Whether your child is two-years-old and just starting school, or five-years-old and heading to kindergarten next year (or beyond), there is important information to be learned at every level. Here are some of the many topics you can expect to (or ask to) hear about at your child’s conference:
This week’s blog post was written by Heather Miller, an IPS alum who is the Director of LePage-Miller, Inc., an education firm based in New York City. A graduate of MIT, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Heather has developed and delivered educational programs for children for over twenty years. As a researcher on children’s interactions with educational technology, she has worked in China, France, India, and in the United States. She has written over 30 plays for children and lives in Manhattan with her family. Heather recently spoke to parents at IPS about her new book, Prime Time Parenting
A few words about my IPS experience—from a Class of 1976 preschooler:
“I attended IPG, as it was then called, in the mid-1970s at its midtown location on First Avenue. I vividly remember the warm, creative and welcoming atmosphere. It seemed to me that we were constantly painting at easels; I remember the feel of the paint under my paintbrush. The smell of the paint and the look of the paint bottles are some of my keenest and earliest sensory memories.
Having our flags in front of each of us at lunch made a big impression on my four-year-old self. I understood that these flags represented our countries, where our parents were from. In that respect, having a teacher place my two little flags in front of me at lunch each day told me that the school saw me as an individual. That felt wonderful. Some of us, myself included, had two flags. I remember looking around the lunch table, taking in the colors and patterns of the flags and looking from the flags to the faces they belonged to. Even though each of our flags were personal to us and our families, taken together, they were a celebration of our school’s glorious diversity. It provoked a wonder in the wider world, in all the faraway places our flags represented. I could connect our little flags at our lunch table to the huge flags that hung outside the UN Secretariat that I passed each day on the bus to school.
I remember being happy, busy, and engaged at IPS—and never being rushed. I remember being read lots of wonderful stories and having lots of time for imaginative play. I greatly enjoyed playing house in our outdoor playhouse and dreaming up stories and adventures with my friends. It was a place where a young child’s imagination could flourish. Many of my IPS classmates joined me in kindergarten at UNIS and two years later, when I moved to Convent of the Sacred Heart, I found several of my other IPS classmates there, too. IPS was a joyful environment, in the words of my father ‘a magical place’ that truly understood the developmental needs and potential of its young students. The school’s creativity, warmth and friendliness made a lifelong impression.”
Each year, The International Preschools invites parents to a fun and educational Curriculum Night during the early fall. The purpose of this evening is to teach parents the important aspects of the school day, including IPS teaching philosophies, topics of study, daily schedules and routines, and upcoming events throughout the school year, as well as answer any questions that parents have about their child’s school day. This year, on Wednesday, October 17th, parents at our 45th Street, 76th Street, and 86th Street locations will visit their child(ren)’s classrooms to learn about the school day from two points of view: the teachers and the students!
The International Preschools created and instituted an iPad/Technology program for our Green Rooms (3s), Pre-Kindergarten (4s), and Junior Kindergarten (4s/5s) classes several years ago. The 2018-19 school year will bring about some changes to the curriculum, led and instituted by our Technology teacher, Ms. Nikki. While some aspects of the program will remain the same, other parts of the curriculum will include new learning topics and a larger focus on concepts such as coding.
If you’re like me, you’re one of the many parents who are amazed at how quickly toddlers and preschoolers work their way around an iPad or an iPhone. Scrolling and clicking on various apps seem to be second-nature to young children these days. With technology being an ever-prominent aspect of day-to-day life, it’s a wonder that activities such as drawing, building with blocks, and movement or dancing haven’t fallen completely by the wayside.
Unfortunately, a reliance on technology to entertain young children is apparent everywhere you go. I’m always surprised by the amount of toddlers clutching an iPhone instead of playing with a favorite toy or looking at a book while riding in a stroller. In restaurants, it’s not abnormal to see children watching videos on an iPad instead of engaging in conversations with their parents or siblings.
In 2015, The International Preschools’ Board of Trustees established the Elizabeth Patrick Leadership Fund in appreciation of Ms. Patrick’s leadership as the Board Chair. The Fund was established to support professional development and educational advancement for faculty as well as provide for an annual award to a faculty member who has made a notable contribution to living out and promoting the mission of the school by taking initiative within the school community.
This year, the school had five nominees of highly qualified and deserving faculty members. Nominations were made by peer teachers and location directors. A committee consisting of a Board member, two faculty members, and four staff members reviewed the nominees and selected the winner. Continue reading →
Each May, The International Preschools celebrates the end-of-the year with a variety of play-based learning activities. It is a bittersweet time for everyone: parents, children, and teachers alike. While parents and teachers are incredibly proud of what the children have accomplished throughout the last nine months, it is also a sad time of year, as we all prepare to say goodbye for the summer.
Classroom teachers approach the end-of-year celebrations in different ways depending on age levels. For the Creche (1.5s-2 year olds) and Red Rooms (2 year olds), families gather in the children’s classrooms for an international potluck and children might perform a few songs with the grown-ups.
In the Green Rooms (3 year olds), teachers incorporate memory books, a photo/video collage and performances by the children.
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: classroom parties 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.
Spring is an exciting season in play-based curriculum. Following thematic classroom units on the Earth, students at The International Preschools explore life cycles. Students of all ages are introduced to live caterpillars who are then placed in a “butterfly garden” and observed and recorded closely. Preschoolers excitedly experience firsthand as caterpillars enter their chrysalises and emerge as butterflies! For a few joyful days, the children enjoy spending time with their new “classmates.” But soon, the teachers will tell the class that it is time to release the butterflies to live in their natural habitats. There is a bittersweet “ceremony,” where the butterfly gardens are opened and its inhabitants are set free, to live in a local park.
Chicken eggs are introduced at each location in early May by Quiver Farms and are placed in an incubator until they hatch. All of the students (and teachers!) from the entire school spend time visiting and examining the eggs. Soon, the location is filled with delighted squeals of our preschoolers, as they have a front-row seat to the arrival of baby chicks! Under careful supervision, the students help to care for, and even pet, these tiny creatures for about a week. They are then transported back to Quiver Farms to live after a final goodbye and hug from the children.
The Fathers and Special Friends Read-Aloud is a time-honored tradition here at The International Preschools. The annual event coincides with the school’s literacy units, which include book, character, and author studies. While the program was originally founded many years ago to identify male figures as reading role models for young boys, it has evolved simply into a wonderful opportunity for cherished caregivers and loved ones to provide a literacy-based activity for our preschoolers.
The International Preschools Blog is an opportunity to journey into the school's classrooms. Here you will find information about play-based education, diversity, classroom themes; all the things that make learning joyful and fun at one of the best preschools in New York City.