Category Archives: Uncategorized

Notes from a Parent

Why I chose the afternoon preschool class for my child – and am glad I did!

My child’s first year at our neighborhood preschool was Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The afternoon class was the only class available as the morning was full. I took it because the program with Fine Arts looked amazing. I had waited too long to decide about preschool. It was one of those things I’ve noticed about parenting where the child grows up faster than I expected, and preschool just snuck up on me. To register at the end of April meant it was the afternoon class or “no preschool” at all.

Knowing that the neighborhood preschool guaranteed me a 3 day, Monday/Wednesday/Friday spot for the following year if I registered for the 2 day program I decided it was worth it, even though I wasn’t sure that the afternoon class was “right”. Despite the time of the class, I felt that the Fine Arts program provided an advantage in terms of positive experiences for my child. So sign up we did!

But still I had concerns…

  1. No afternoon nap—how was this going to work?
  2. My child was a slow-eater and lunch was an ‘event’. Could I get him out the door on time, without a fuss?
  3. The last thing I wanted was a sleep-deprived, cranky kid for the evening hours.

In short, afternoon preschool seemed like a huge challenge and presented me with change that I really didn’t feel ready for or prepared to make. This was me at the end of April—full of questions, fears, worries, and concerns—but wanting to do right by my child.

My mother had a saying “What a difference a day makes!” (not that I always agree with her! lol). But in my case, it turned out that our family had almost 140 days—including all of May, June, July, August and the first week of September—until preschool started. What can I say, but that in that amount of time my child changed, “grew up”, and his needs became different in ways I hadn’t expected nor could I predict.

Yes, he still had a nap during those months but it began to be shorter, and some days the nap became a “quiet time”, a rest time with books, independent of me.

Was he tired after preschool? Some days more than others—and on those days he had a short “cat-nap” after school, no more than an hour so that he could be refreshed and pleasant for our early evening activities. Occasionally he would be a bit grouchy at his wakeup call, but over a period of time we got used to the new schedule and routine.

As to my “slow-eater”, well that hasn’t changed much! My solution was to change what I could control—the sandwich! Instead of a whole sandwich at noon with me cajoling him to “hurry up and eat”, or with noticeable frustration spend our lunch together with me “tapping my toe” and “clock-watching”, I give him half a sandwich—the other half goes to school in his backpack for snack-time and is eaten while socializing with his new friends. I am not frustrated and it eliminates the need to nag!

Do I get a cranky child for the late afternoon and early evening hours? Maybe a little, but not really! (honest!!!) After preschool, he is always tells lively stories, or plays and teaches us his little songs that he knows. But there are some days that bedtime might be earlier, but that’s about it.

When all is said and done, afternoon preschool has been great, and I’m glad we signed on. One thing I’ve come to realize as a parent is that changes in a child are inevitable. Nap times come and nap times go—it’s all a part of growing up! When I see my child fostering little friendships on his own at preschool, and see him experiencing paint and glue and clay and…stuff that I probably wouldn’t have thought of, or if I did I wouldn’t have wanted to clean up the mess…when I hear him singing little songs to himself or coming to me with big explanations that start with “…this is what teacher says…”, when after dinner (or just about any time) he surprises me with some dance “moves”… these are the times I know we made the right choice to register him in preschool as a 3 year old, even if it was in the afternoon.

Now as a 4 year old our child still attends the afternoon preschool class, but now it is 3 days a week. Why? Because the friends he met and the families and neighbors I met have formed our own little community within the larger preschool context.

And next year? My child and his friends will move on to ‘all-day kindergarten’—“oh, no…not another change!!”—but then, it’s just another chance to grow up, isn’t it?!

by Jenny I.

All in a Day’s Drama…

Teaching Drama to 4 year olds?…now there’s a thought!   First, you have to explain what drama ‘is’…

My starting point is that in drama we are “telling a story with our bodies” and my first question to my 19 little ‘thespians-in- the-making’ is, “How do our faces tell a story?”

In a game the children select a “face” and they try to mimic that face for their friends. The friends must guess what ‘story’ is being portrayed!  Always funny is the child who chooses the angry or sad face but is so excited they just can’t stop smiling enough to harness their angry or sad!

Over the weeks we move through our bodies—how do our arms tell a story?  how do our legs tell a story?—and then we put everything together including our faces.  Suddenly we ARE sad, we ARE shy, and we ARE sleepy— or crazy, or silly!   In this, the children become very comfortable with themselves and their bodies.  They become confident in telling a story with all that they are!

Over the weeks we take on different ideas of ‘being’ as we bring in various drama exercises…and enthusiasm from these dear little souls always abounds.

One day we were sitting in a drama circle and we talked about different machines.  We had just done a drama with song and we had been a popcorn maker, washing machine and dryer and a blender.  The conversation was as follows:

Miss R.:  “What other things in our homes could we be?”

M:  “We could be hot tea kettles.”

Miss R.:  “Can you show us how to be a tea kettle?”

M. obliges and other children have input…what about the whistle sound that the tea kettle makes? and what about the boiling water inside the tea kettle? Then together we all try out our dramatic skills and we all become tea kettles…and then sizzling frying pans, and blow dryers, then vacuum cleaners. We use our bodies; we use levels—up and down, and side to side.  Ideas come fast and furious but through mutual discussion we all eventually agree what our bodies should be doing to tell these ‘appliance’ stories.  Consensus among these four year olds is a give and take affair and a thing of beauty for teacher to behold!

And then, just before our drama circle comes to a close I have time for one last little boy.

Miss R.:  “OK G., what is something in your home that we could be?“ G. takes a brief moment to consider and then taps his cheek a couple of times…I see in his eyes the bright light of the ‘Aha’ moment and the excitement comes to his lips…here it is…

G.:  “I know Miss Rebecca…we could be a wine bottle !!!”

I pause, and the teachers begin to laugh, and not quick enough to say anything in response, I watch…

And…in a split second, in complete unison, without any consensus building, without the remotest prompting needed— my theatre troupe rises to their feet.  This time I am the last to rise…this time no teacher prompting needed! I watch as in unison they put their arms straight into the air with hands together for a narrowed bottle effect and stand with legs together.  Someone shouts, “We need to take the cork out!!!”

Miss R.  “What happens then????” I say.

I watch as my little actors and actresses all start to make a “Pop” sound and movement which belies a cork coming out!  I watch as they bend to the left or right and mime filling a wine glass!

Ah yes…well, we all know that the best drama is life itself…not that the children are drinking wine…but…it’s nice that they allow their mummies and daddies that little something extra at the dinner table.   Funny that they all can be a wine bottle so ‘effortlessly’ and integrate it dramatically without any difficulty whatsoever!

Keep up the good work, Mums and Dads…it makes drama so much fun!