Friday, June 28, 2013

Chapter 2: Encouragement- Building the School Family

By Kimberly Macenko

We are enjoying the warm sun this week. I have enjoyed seeing kids in swimwear and the smell of sunscreen in the air!

This week we are moving on to Chapter 2. What a perfect time to learn about Principle #1, “We are all in this together,” as we head into our annual class transition time.

A word that is used often in this section is the word UNITY.  Unity is oneness, or being a unit. We are all working together to make this school work. We don’t see ourselves as separate classrooms but as a family unit. We rely on each other every single day. Not because we can’t do things independently but because together we can do so much more!

In Reggio programs family and community are integral parts of the school family environment. We are focused on connections -- connections between children, teachers, parents, school, and through which everyone interacts and works together. How does this relate to our transition times?

1. Teachers in different classrooms are connected to each other and to students even outside of our classrooms.

Our teachers are more than just colleagues; we are friends and often times extended family for one another. We spend time outside of work building relationships. We have staff meetings where we work on building team morale and many of us choose to come to the school on our own time to fix up our classrooms together.  We spend several hours together each day on playgrounds, in gross motor areas, and in the art room. We even swap classrooms occasionally. We know many of the children’s names outside of our classroom and work hard to develop special relationships with children who aren’t in our rooms. So, none of us are strangers, and transitions will be made into rooms where children are familiar with their teachers and have already started building a trusting relationship.

2. Parents and Teacher’s attitudes directly influence the children. Remember we are a unified family.

Change can be hard. We get comfortable with something and tend to like to stay there. But it is good for us, and good for our children. Remember in the last chapter when we discussed controlling our own upset? Our attitude towards life and what is going on around us is absorbed by our children. It is easy to look at new people in our lives apprehensively -- especially new people who will be working with our children. But, the way we as parents act towards new teachers is noticed by our children. When our children see us act positively towards new things and excited about upcoming changes they will follow our lead and be more inclined to feel secure and safe as we encounter change.

For example. My daughter will be transitioning into the Bear’s classroom.  She is naturally feeling somewhat apprehensive about the impending move. But two of the wonderful teachers at this school, Bamborough and Katie, are helping her. My daughter is very close to her teacher Miss. Bamborough so she took my daughter, Kaitlyn, over to Miss Katie and said, “Miss Katie is my friend. Miss Katie is also your mommy’s friend.” She let my daughter know that her mommy and she both trust her new teacher and it is safe for her to do as well.   This made a real difference for Kaitlyn and she is beginning to view her soon-to-be new teacher Katie with warmth rather than resistance.

So, remember, we can all work on our composure and show our children that they can feel safe as they move to new classrooms and meet new teachers and friends.  Learning to adjust to new experiences, environments and people is probably the most important learning that happens here at The Little School.  Through positively experiencing change in the context of a supportive and nurturing environment, children gain the social and emotional skills necessary to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.

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