This week, A Family Place opened its doors to our first group of three-year-olds—everyone has been eagerly anticipating this week! Our regular bus driver, Felicia, headed out with Teacher Diana Wednesday morning to pick up the kids. The kids boarded the bus with excitement and peered out over the windows commenting on places they knew, “Da Dragon payground! I go dere wit my mom!” They were greeted with warm smiles at the First Baptist Church entrance by the rest of A Family Place team: Teacher Christi (an intern from George Fox), Teacher Cara (director), and myself. Then, we headed in together to see what our day would bring!
Consistency is a big part of making sure children have a positive school day, especially in supporting our mission of providing a therapeutic space. Upon entering the room, we sing a greeting song together (see link above), and I share picture icons with the children that show what we are going to do that day: circle time, breakfast, play time, songs, snack, play outside (an eagerly anticipated event!), and say goodbye! After practicing Wednesday, we had it down Thursday, when we all sat down together during lunch and visited over our meal: “I ate pagetti for dinner,” “I like chicken,” “Tengo una bola azul en mi casa.”
Dump, Scoop, and Squish!
It’s amazing how young children are drawn to sensory experiences. Both days, the children were very engaged with our sensory areas: scooping, dumping, stirring up the sand table (then suggesting we add vehicles to do some work), self-selecting two primary paint colors for their murals (many beautiful pictures painted this week), and squirting out volcanoes of shaving cream on the table to rub, smear, wash off, and rub on again—so much fun! We’ll have a steady supply of these very therapeutic and fun sensory activities for our kids each day.
Can I Have a Turn?
Social skills and learning how to function in a group are crucial “soft skills” that we will be learning and working on daily. Many children this age still resort to getting what they want by simply taking it. I was so pleased to see children being willing to ask others for a turn with something after a single teacher prompt—”Can I have a turn with that train?”—and then waiting with teacher support to hear the other child’s answer: “Yes” “No”, or “When I am done.” Sometimes, the answer may not be what the asker wishes, but working on these listening skills, in addition to self-regulation and empathy, are daily parts of play that we will practice over and over, and over again!
With the threat of snow looming on Thursday, we were glad to be able to fit a full morning in for the kids—and another respite morning for parents! Though I know we all wish the snow would stick around long enough for us to get some good snow play in at school, we might just have to have more fun with shaving cream instead!
Ready to Learn and Grow Together
We are all thankful to be learning and growing with one another in our new classroom. As our Three’s classroom begins to fill, we are so pleased to give some much needed support to our children and our families in our community. With feet fully under us, we move forward in building A Family Place as a place to strengthen our children, empower our families, and grow together.
Written by Liz Wilkins, Classroom Teacher, Family Support Specialist