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!
As a parent to a three-and-a-half year old and an eight month old, one of the most difficult concepts to navigate is how to help your child when he/she is upset. It pains me beyond words when my daughter or son is (seemingly) inconsolable. Adults use distraction techniques to help soothe themselves and avoid having to deal with unwanted feelings. As an adult, I’ve learned to “compartmentalize” as a coping mechanism; that is, instead of being overwhelmed for weeks about an upcoming event, I’m able to shorten the anticipatory anxiety to occur only just before the experience.
Children, however, need to learn how to handle these difficult feelings not only with the support of their parents or caregivers, but also through the ability to self-soothe. (This is a technique best learned, in my experience, when you are younger, rather than having to learn it as an adult!) . The only way to learn to self-soothe is to allow your child to experience all of the feelings in the moment: sadness, despair, hysteria (on occasion), to name a few. A few years ago, I was aghast when our beloved pediatrician suggested that we leave our (at the time) nine-month-old daughter in her crib, whether she was crying or not, for short amounts of time in order to teach her how to get herself to go to sleep. After one or two nights of extreme upset (where I actually left the apartment, leaving my husband to hear the brunt of the tears), my daughter magically was able to go to sleep on her own. Who would’ve thought that could happen? Not me, even as an experienced teacher, but sure enough, it happened.
I recently read a blog post by Katie McLaughlin called, “The Train Analogy That Will Change How You See Your Crying Child.” It reminded me of what our pediatrician told us, and how incredibly helpful it was to myself, my husband, and our daughter, despite the pain I may have felt at the time. I’ve provided the link to the article for you all below, in hopes that it can help other parents and families.
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.
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.
“We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” This meaningful quote from David Brower perfectly describes how The International Preschools’ community feels about taking care of the Earth. We, as teachers, staff members, and parents, strive to take care of the Earth through modeling for our children and students, so that they too can take care of the Earth for their children.
Although dismissal time signals the end of the school day for some, the fun continues “after hours” at The International Preschools. Our school provides a wide variety of after school program choices for parents to choose from, all of which build upon the concepts being taught inside the classrooms each day.
- Language Development: Children acquire new vocabulary words when playing sports (i.e. “dribble” during Soccer) and learn to process and follow directions when playing games.
- Social Skills: Making friends and initiating play is an important concept taught in every IPS classroom. After school programs allow children to meet fellow students who are not in their everyday class.
One of the most entertaining everyday occurrences at The International Preschools are the many “sound bites” that children share with their teachers. Children provide unique yet innocent insights and observations about the world around them on a daily basis, from a trip that they will be taking with their families to a gaggle of puppies that they saw frolicking in Central Park. As teachers, parents, caregivers, and friends, we are happy to engage in these little conversations.
Sometimes, with both parents and teachers, these conversations can take on a more serious tone. Topics such as death, divorce, moving to a new house or school, or even the addition of a new baby can bring up worries and questions in young children. And, in the world that we live in today, the addition of terrorist attacks close to home can further exacerbate the internal fears within children.