- Early Childhood
One of my favorite college courses was a class that explored the many different learning philosophies that can be found in early childhood education. We talked through approaches inspired by the Montessori model or Waldorf and eventually began to explore the Reggio Emilia philosophy. I found myself amazed and impressed by all I was hearing. Mid-lecture my professor casually mentioned that most containers for the things like crayons, markers, or loose parts in Reggio classrooms were beautiful baskets or glass. A classmate instantly raised a hand to ask how it would be safe for three-year-olds to handle glass, and I remember our professor smiling while saying, “It’s safe because we trust them to use them. Reggio believes children are capable, and amazingly, they are.”
The Empowerment of Independence
We use this belief throughout our classrooms at Stanley Clark. Paint is at child level because we trust them to choose, pour, create, and clean up their artwork. Glass containers line our shelves, enticing the children to play with what’s inside. In the forest, we talk about the boundaries of where we can climb, roll, and run, then trust that our students will guide themselves back when they reach those areas. Every day the children prove that they thrive with this independence, empowerment, and responsibility. And last year, as parents and teachers, we were able to see an entirely new level of capability from our littlest Tigers in carline drop-off.
The Freedom to Lead
For some of you, this will be a year of firsts, and drop-off may be an area where you aren’t quite sure what to expect. Rest assured, you will soon discover what a beautiful way it is for our children to begin the day when they are given the opportunity to walk into school alongside their peers. In August of last year, with the new protocols in place for safety, we were delighted to see the preschoolers and kindergarteners hop from their cars, wave goodbye, and walk boldly into the classrooms that they had been able to explore earlier in the week during Meet & Greets. We watched as four and five-year-olds helped the three-year-olds to carry lunchboxes to cubbies. We saw the children laughing with one another and taking ownership of their belongings. We greeted them warmly as they exploded into our classrooms, eager to share with us stories of their time at home. For a year that began with uncertainty, we quickly learned that our students genuinely enjoyed the freedom of being trusted with leading their arrival.
Ways to Encourage, Motivate, and Empower Your Children
We are so excited to welcome your students from the carline again this year and are confident that the success we witnessed last year will once again fill our halls. As we prepare as teachers for the beginning of our school year, there are a few things that you can do as parents to help encourage, motivate, and empower your children with us.
1. Set A Positive Tone
Have you heard the phrase, “More is caught than is taught”? This is especially true for our early childhood students. When your children see and hear you excited in the morning, that’s how they feel, too. It’s okay to acknowledge their worry if they bring it to you, but assume that they are excited about their new adventure and don’t feel the anxiety you may as an adult. State things matter of factly. “When we get to school and you’re out of the car, the teachers will be ready to say hi to you at the door and help you to your class. It will be so much fun for you to see your friends walking in!”
2. Understand and Support that School is Their Space
Your child’s classroom is now their place to grow, learn, develop relationships, and become the amazing people they will be. Trusting and respecting school as their place helps your child to feel ownership over parts of their day. After pick-up, ask your child what parts of school they enjoyed, and share parts from work or home that you enjoyed for yourself, too.
3. Create a Routine
Children thrive when they know what to expect. Letting your child know what will happen during their goodbye allows them to anticipate what will happen next. You might say something like, “Once you’re unbuckled from your car seat, we’ll give each other one big kiss and say, ‘See ya later alligator!’ Then it will be your turn to walk in.” It may feel like giving extra kisses and hugs if your child is hesitant will help to calm them, but this instead can make them feel as if they continue to ask for more, they will be allowed to play in the car or with you a little longer. Established drop-off routines help to reinforce that it’s now time for their school day to begin.
4. Practice Confident Language
If you’re sensing that your child is nervous, it may feel tempting to assure them, “I’ll be back so soon, don’t worry, it won’t be very long,” but this only reinforces the idea that there could be something to worry about. Using positive phrases and being mindful of the message you’re sending will help your child to head into the day with an empowered mindset. Phrases such as, “You’re going to have such a great day! I’ll see you at pick up!” send your child off with an encouraging last message.
The faculty at Stanley Clark are here, ready, and waiting to welcome your incredible children each morning. We know that occasionally tears happen, or a morning goodbye may not go as smoothly as imagined, but by the time your little ones enter our classrooms they are excited to play with friends and settle in quickly. We know they’ll soon be walking to your cars at the end of the day, eager to tell you about all of the special moments they experienced, many of which will be led by them!
About the Author
Preschool 4/5 Teacher
- early childhood