The International Preschools is in the middle of its annual Fathers and Special Friends Read-Aloud. For this event, male relatives and friends of our students are invited into the classrooms to read to the children. This person can be a father, brother, grandfather, cousin, uncle, or special friend.
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.
Throughout the school year, the children at The International Preschools celebrate holidays from around the world. Each child’s family is invited to visit IPS and teach about a special tradition or family that he/she participates in at home. As a result, IPS children acquire a lot of information about world holidays and festivals!
One universal commemoration is the arrival of the new year. IPS students learned that there are several common themes among the new year celebrations around the world: eating certain foods, wearing new or specific types of clothing, and making noise via fireworks and noisemakers to scare away “evil spirits” to ensure a good year. This month, children at both IPS locations became well-versed on how we honor the new year here in our home of New York City, as well as how the Lunar New Year is observed both here and around the world.
A great way for parents to prepare their children for a new experience is to read books about the topic at hand. A story read aloud provides children with a setting, characters, and activities that they can relate to. Books also act as a springboard for questions both raised by the children and facilitated by the readers. Reading a book aloud, as well as discussing and answering questions, can help alleviate anxiety about a new situation.
There are many wonderful back-to-school books available for your child’s reading pleasure. Read on for a list of highly recommended books from The International Preschools to help kick off the school year!
Each year, The International Preschools hosts an event called the Fathers and Special Friends Read-Aloud. It was created ten years ago to foster a love of reading in young children. Because, in the past, mothers and female relatives had often made up the majority of guest readers, the Fathers and Special Friends Read-Aloud provided an opportunity for fathers, as well as other male relatives and friends (brothers, grandfathers, uncles, neighbors, etc.), to model positive feelings about reading to preschoolers. Currently, our Read-Aloud occurs in conjunction with the author and literary studies that take place in the Green (3s), Pre-K (4s), and Junior K (4s/5s) classrooms during the winter months. Continue reading →
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.”
At The International Preschools, every day is a day to take care of the Earth! During the month of April, the classroom themes center around Earth Day; sub-topics include ways to keep our Earth clean and safe for animals and people, including recycling and gardening. The goal is to teach the children small things that we can do to care for our Earth during April, that ultimately we can carry out year-round!
At The International Preschools, literacy and pre-reading skills are at the forefront of our interdisciplinary, play-based learning curriculum. During the months of January, February, and March, these skills are highlighted via our school-wide author and book studies.
The author study season is well underway at The International Preschools! Classrooms at all three locations are thoroughly immersed in learning about their chosen author, book, or character. This curriculum theme is an effective way to promote early literacy among young children. In keeping with our play-based learning approach, each classroom will create interdisciplinary activity centers about the books being read there. This method will assist in children retaining as many skills and as much information as possible about the books at hand, while having fun at the same time!
The topics of love, friendship, and being kind are underlying themes throughout every school year at The International Preschools. In February, the students at The International Preschools bring these concepts to the forefront of their learning by celebrating Valentine’s Day.
The teachers at all three locations approached this subject in ways that were both similar and unique. Colors commonly associated with Valentine’s Day (red, pink, purple) popped up in many classrooms. In fact, many of our Red Rooms (2s) used this opportunity to begin their color units. Children were invited to wear red, pink, and purple to school on Valentine’s Day, and some classes also held a show-and-share of red items. The “heart” shape was also used as a symbol of Valentine’s Day and love; in one classroom, students learned about the heart muscle and became versed in how to take their own pulses!
To further the concept of friendship and working together, many students participated in whole-group projects such as collaborative collages to promote the idea of functioning as a team. Many classroom writing centers provided older children with the tools to make their own valentines, including word boxes (with Valentine’s Day-related words and phrases for children to reproduce, such as “I Love You”), markers, crayons, pencils, paper, and scissors. This type of open-ended activity allows for students to work at their own ability level, the common goal being that the “process” is more important than the final “product, thereby reinforcing the school learning through play philosophy.
Small group and whole group discussions are important in our preschoolers’ learning. Many classrooms discussed ways that we can express our love and friendship to our families and peers. Children came up with a variety of answers as to how to do this, ranging from “giving hugs” to “playing with friends.”
Below is a list of love-and-friendship-themed books that various classes have read at school:
Clifford, I Love You by Norman Bridwell
The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond
Biscuit’s Valentine’s Day by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Heart Prints by P.K. Hallinan
Love is You and Me by Monica Sheehan
We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonezu
Love by Eric Carle
Hugs From Pearl by Paul Schmid
The ‘I Love You’ Book by Todd Parr
Clifford’s First Valentine by Norman Bridwell
We at The International Preschools wish you and your family a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
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The observance of holidays from around the world has long been a tradition here at The International Preschools. This week, each of the three locations commemorated Lunar New Year with school-wide celebrations on Friday, January 27th. The holiday, celebrated in most Asian countries, is also called Chinese New Year and honors a different animal in a 12-year cycle. 2017 is the “Year of the Rooster.”
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.