Friday, February 24, 2012

Have you hugged a PIG today?

Or, why I think you should join the Parent Involvement Group

Since the dawn of time (give or take), parents, teachers and administrators have been trying to figure out what the other is thinking. “What IS going on up there?” Truth be told, communication has been an area we receive a lot of feedback about, but why? How can we fix it? More email? Less email? More meetings? More committees? More karaoke machines? Carrier pigeons? Ack! What now?

No really, help us.

One of the main tenants of The Little School is community.... that’s you. We simply can not do it alone, nor do we want to.  We have an amazing pool of resources in our parents, and we’re in the process of harnessing that tremendously awesome energy to help keep the “little” in The Little School. We want your input on what YOU want your school to look like. This is a great place to tease out issues, and get more clarity on why we do what we do. Are we doing “it” perfect? Nope, but we are reeeally close, and we are asking for your help.

Last month the Parent Involvement Group discussed community events, fundraising for scholarships, July transitions,  parent-teacher conferences, Earth Day/gardening day, and parent education workshops. We haven’t even scratched the surface. In fact, we are still working on the plan to get to the core.

We really would love to see you, however I understand getting out of the house is difficult for families with young kids. I encourage you to read the minutes and contact your parent ambassador with any input.

When is our next meeting? I’m SO glad you asked: Monday March 5th at 7pm in the TLS dining room.  We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Staff Spotlight: Ms. Shannon

Let me introduce you to TLS's very own "Baby Whisperer". Shannon started as a middler teacher with The Little School when we opened in 2005. She founded the baby room in 2007, and not only created a niche, but has made an amazing home for the infants in her impeccable care. Simply put, there is nobody like Shannon. She has been the very foundation of our infant program, and continues to be a TLS rock. When I made the challenging decision to go back to work, it was made substantially lighter because I knew my baby would be cared for by one of the very best in the business. She is like a baby encyclopedia, and practically oozing with love for the kids in her charge. A Hillsborough native, she is also the mother of 2 boys, Jacob and Dylan. Shannon's spectacular cakes are also one of The Little School's best kept secrets. I asked her a few questions:

* What is your happiest childhood memory/what makes it so special?
I stayed with my Grandma whenever and however long I could.  We had the best time just being together.  There are are so many memories I have with her.  My favorite memory would have to be of us standing on the front porch watching it snow and throwing bread out to the birds.  

* What did you want to be when you were 12 years old?
A mom, teacher and an architect.  What a combination!

* What would you listen to if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life?
What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

* What's your favorite tree and/or what is your favorite flower? (Why?)
Weeping Willow- Love the shape and size this beautiful tree grows to be.
 Calla Lily- By far my most favorite flower.  It was my wedding flower.  I love the simple beauty of them.

* If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Live a life full of possibility and always dream big.

* What do you value and/or hold most dear at TLS?
The wonderful children I have had the pleasure to meet.  They have brought much laughter and happiness to my life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jen Dock Talks Conscious Discipline

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Our own Jennifer Dock was part of an panel on Conscious Discipline at The Summit School. Above is a audio link as well as a blog about the discussion. Conscious Discipline is a huge part of who we are as a school. Please take a listen and let us know what you think. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ouch! Biting Stinks.

There’s no way to make this sound cute: Biting stinks.

Biting stinks, however, it is a fairly reliable step in children’s development. I could set my watch to it.

My daughter came home with a bite last week. I momentarily saw red. When I was a teacher in a toddler room a few years back we had at least 3 children who were active biters, and a solid 6 pinch hitters. We tried everything from shadowing children (this is where a teacher follows a child) smaller group sizes, crunchy foods, re-arranging the room, seeking expert help, and even shifting kids to other classes. We devoted a tremendous amount of man and brain power to the issue. We documented our days and saw that we had significantly more biting attempts then actual bites. Go team!  Even still, in our darkest hour, I passed out 9 oops forms in one day. I felt like a huge failure as a teacher. It was powerlessness at its best (worst?). Every time I shared an oops report for biting to a parent, I felt an awful sinking in my stomach. The faces of the parents on both sides of the aisle reflected a mixture of shock, confusion, sadness, sometimes anger, but ultimately a sense of hopelessness as well. And then, slowly but surely, it stopped. What happened? Did that 18th round of “biting hurts” finally sink in? Did I earn my angel wings? Nope. They got older. It’s like magic.

There are many reasons why kids bite, and none of them are because the kid is “bad” or their parents (or teachers!) didn’t do the “right” thing.  In fact, they may be looking for space, attention, that super cool toy, mimicking behavior, or even as simple as teething. The list goes on. Babies grow into toddlers... with independence, attitudes, wants, and yes, teeth. They often cannot yet talk and can only access their most primal emotions. Even if they did have a name for what they are feeling, they have no real way to express it. Multiply that by 12 kids, mix it up, and you have a perfect environment for biting.

Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block, argues that the first step in dealing with young kids is to accept this simple fact: toddlers are neanderthals. As I watch my one year old grunt and ball up her little fists in anger, I know this is a metaphor I can get behind. This doesn’t mean that we throw in the towel and take cover until they are 6. It means that when a child bites, we can say "this is a neanderthal, I'm not going to take it so personally." Our job as parents and educators is to learn how to communicate with our little cavemen and do our best to keep the neighboring cavemen safe. We acknowledge the child’s emotions and give them words for what they are feeling. We arm ourselves with lots of hugs and ice packs. What we don’t do is exclude a child. We remind ourselves, “It is not their fault. They, too, are suffering the pains of growing up.”

So tell us what you think. Have you had to deal with this yet? Has your child bitten? Were YOU a child who used to bite? Have you seen those tell-tale marks on your kids? Tell us how you got through it. Let this be a safe place where we can give each other support and a light at the end of the toothy tunnel.