Saturday, March 30, 2013

In like a lion...

Spring has sprung at TLS… slooowwwllly. Though the weather may have not have felt warm and fuzzy, our kids, teachers and families have been doing a great job warming this joint up!  As they say about March, "In like a lion, out like a… lamb"? Umm, too cold for that. Another lion? Humm, that one doesn’t work. How about "In like a wacky Dr. Seuss day, out like silly colorful egg hunts?" Yeah, that sounds more like the TLS way. Check out some of the fun that we have been getting into this month. 

Our Grizzly Bear teachers celebrate our 3rd Dr. Seuss day with  a homage to  Wacky Wednesday.  I must say, this level of wacky isn't too far from everyday in the Grizzly Bear room. 
My buddy Luke lets his awesome inner wacky shine and shout on Dr. Seuss day! 
Dr. Seuss day brought lot of "Cats in Hats", and lots of "Things". Thank you too all the parents who played along and rushed out for that last minute stripey hat or in the case of this friend, blue hair dye! 

Here's another "Cat in the Hat"! Thanks to all of our awesome parent readers who delighted the kids just by showing up and being a part of the day. 
Even our Ittsier Bittsier Spiders got into the spirit of the day by creating this sploosy-squishy painting with their feet, hands, and... is that a belly button print I see? 
Onceler beware! These Truffula trees are not for the chopping. 
The Fliers dug into The Foot Book with both feet!
On March 17th, a mysterious green friend named "Lionel the  Leprechaun" signed in at TLS Duke for the day. 
Lionel the Leprechaun left quite an impression. The kids excitedly showed me his mess. With an exasperated shake of the head, the kids were thrilled to clean up after this troublesome friend.

Our teachers spent their monthly staff meeting with Reggio trainer Mary Courtney.  Mary discussed with us the 100 languages of learning. Kids (and grown) express themselves in a zillion ways. How do we as teachers help keep the doors open to all of these expressions? What can we as adults do to open ourselves as wide as our wide eyed kids?  
How do we teach art to kids? What is the difference between art and craft? What messages are we giving to our kids when we approach art? Our Reggio trainer gave us lots of food for thought.  
These Space Invaders are enjoying the pre-game huddle and showing off their super re-purposed egg baskets. Marybeth laid down the egg-hunt etiquette--- or egg-iquitte to amazing results. 

This egg Explorer shows is his egg-hunt game face.
Success! Alex plucks out a primo egg. 

Wesley finds his first egg. The excitement builds!

All over the campus,  kids got into the act. This Zany Zooer finds a bounty of eggs

The Curious Caterpillars take advantage of this rare springy day, and throw the windows open to let spring it!
Don't forget, Garden day is around the corner. You can spread the TLS love by helping to build and beautify the campuses. Power drills and peonies welcome. One of my favorite days at school, garden day truly encompasses the Reggio "it takes a village" philosophy. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Principle #3: Start the day the brain smart way!

By Kimberly Macenko

Hello Little School families. How were you this past week at controlling your own upset? I sure know that writing the last blog was a big help for me at home and in the classroom. On Thursday, two children were extremely frustrated when their toys got taken. I bent down and handed each toy to the child I thought had it before. This usually solves the issue, but they continued to cry. For a split second, I started to stress out. I took a deep breath, put my hands in the air, and let it all go. I released the stress, and was able to help find a solution!

We need some ways to start our day in a great way, so let’s look at our next principle. Principle #3: Start the day the brain smart way and implement stress reduction activities. I am going to split this principle into two parts. I will discuss mornings this week and stress reduction activities next week.

How our morning goes sets the pace for the rest of the day. A stressful morning can make you feel unsettled all day long. Not just for you, but really for your child as well. A calm, relaxing morning, on the other hand, can help you feel ready to enjoy the day ahead of you. Our children need routine. They feel secure when they know what happens next. In our classroom, our one year olds magically know exactly when our two snacks and lunch are. They get used to a routine and it makes them feel safe. When lunch or a snack is late, they get very frustrated.

Help make your morning and your child’s morning less stressful by creating a successful routine and faithfully sticking to it. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy at first, but doing your best and being repetitive will eventually create a safe atmosphere for both of you.

In our modern, hectic day, routine can be so difficult. While some are blessed with a fixed schedule, others of us deal constantly with ever changing schedules. But don’t fret, you can still have a consistent routine even if the hours need to be adjusted. A daily routine filled with daily rituals can make mornings feel more consistent even with a changing schedule.

Some things you can do:
1. If your job allows, get up at a consistent time, both you and your child. If this isn’t possible, try to make sure you are getting a consistent amount of sleep each night.

2. Get up early enough to create special rituals with your child that stay consistent no matter who is taking them to school. Do them each day in order so your child can learn and know what is expected and he or she becomes part of your routine. You can sing a song each morning with your child as they wake up, get up early enough to have a consistent breakfast or snack with your child, or other rituals that show your child he or she is loved. 

The list goes on, but the important part is that you make things less stressful for you and your child by always knowing what is expected and by creating special rituals full of love.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Conscious Discipline: Principle #2

By Kimberly Macenko

Hello again from the Duke Campus. Last time, if you remember, we learned about composure and self discipline. A never ending, tough, learning lesson, right?

Principle # 2: Healthy, secure relationships require that we control our own upset. No one can make us angry without our permission.

With this principle, we are digging deeper into self discipline and learning about anger management as well. Sometimes when we, as parents and teachers, are frustrated with our children’s actions or behavior, we start to believe that our children are making us act negatively back in response to this behavior.

In the Conscious Discipline book, author Becky A. Bailey states that we see the world not as it is, but through a lense of judgement on what we think it “should” look like. When the world or a situation doesn’t fit into that, we are not happy. Becky Bailey shared this idea from a toddler’s perspective. A toddler is drawing a picture with crayon on a painted wall, when the parent takes the crayon away from the child, they become extremely upset. From the parent’s point of view, this is wrong, and just something we don’t do. But as a toddler, coloring is the good and normal thing to be doing. So, both parent and child become upset. For the parent his or her world isn’t being run the way he or she thinks it should be. Remember, the anger we, as parents and teachers, feel isn’t being forced upon us by our children but by an inner turmoil caused from within ourselves.

Want an assignment for this week? Then work on Commitment #1 from the book:

“I acknowledge that when I feel upset it is because the world
is not going my way. I am willing to spend more time working on
owning my own upset. I no longer want to give my power away
to others, then blame them for taking it. I want more control of my life.”

Learning how to recognize this inner turmoil and how to deal with it is the way to effective anger management. This can help us become better parents and teachers. Trigger thoughts are one of the components that cause anger and stress. A trigger thought distorts a situation, making it feel much bigger than it actually is. A skill we need to learn is changing these negative trigger thoughts into calming ones. As soon as we see these triggers we can start using techniques to shut them down. Tell yourself, “I can handle this, I am calm.”

When we approach situations calmly, we can make them more of a learning moment for our children. As they grow, this will help them build character and responsibility.

When our children act out, we need to see that they are trying to cope with frustration and disappointment instead of acting to deliberately hurt us as parents and caregivers. It isn’t about us, but about them dealing with their new world. Until next time, think of this:

“Self control is an act of love and a moment-by-moment choice.”