The 2017-2018 school year is off to a great start! It has been a pleasure to welcome children and families to school over the last two weeks. What a couple of weeks it has been at the Co-op! Teachers have been focused on facilitating successful separations, beginning with our home visits for children new to school. It was easy to see the impact of those visits, as children arrived for their first day and smiled easily at the teacher who had come and spent time with them in their home. Home visits and our orientation week set children up for a successful transfer of trust from home and family to school and teachers.
A foundational belief of cooperative nursery schools is that it is more appropriate to bring the family into the school as opposed to taking the child out of the family and into the school. Our Parent Tot program is a beginning step for many families, while others experience this with separation classes.
For most classes, this means that parents consciously make the commitment to be with their child at school in the beginning weeks of the school year. And a commitment it is! Days are spent both in the classroom, and in the meeting room at school, while children learn that school is a safe place with teachers who care about them and their ideas, needs, and wants. In the meantime, parents are getting to know staff and school as well – will the teachers notice my child? Like my child? What does it mean about me if I am the first to be dismissed during the separation process? Or the last? These questions are re-visited year to year as children transition between classrooms or meet a new teaching team. As a staff we know that this process can be just as hard for parents as for children.
Along with this transfer of trust, comes first experiences with learning a very important skill for young children; how to identity when you need help and how to get it from someone other than a family member or home caregiver. Out of school, children experience adults that are anticipating their needs, who are attuned to their schedules, who have familiarity with how tired, hungry, and frustrated are expressed. In school, teachers are just beginning to get to know their students, and need to facilitate the success of not just individuals, but the whole group. This naturally brings the opportunity and necessity for young children to begin to identify their own needs, name them and their associated emotions, and learn to ask for help. This process begins anew each school year, as growth from year to year brings new developmental tasks. Learning to ask for help is an important skill for life, and that learning begins in early childhood.
As we move into the final week of September, please know that your insights about your child’s experiences over the last couple of weeks are invaluable to teachers as they work together to form a strong partnership with you. That partnership that will support your child’s school experience this year. I would also love to hear from you! My door is always open to parents.
I look forward to seeing you all at the meeting on Wednesday, September 27th. For families that are new to school, or returning families who may have missed this meeting last year, please join us at 6:15 for New Family Orientation. The Fall General Meeting for our whole school community will begin at 7 pm.
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