Lorie Shetter, BCD Preschool and Elementary French Teacher
World Language instruction at Boulder Country Day School starts with students as young as 2 1/2-years old in our preschool. Research analyzed by the education support organization, Ertheo, shows that a major benefit of teaching world language to very young students is an increased ability to connect to other cultures and build tolerance (https://www.ertheo.com/blog/en/learning-a-second-language#connect). Both objectives strongly support BCD’s mission. When working with very young students, the focus is on providing exposure to the new language and instilling a curiosity for cultures around the world. Come Kindergarten, instruction begins to include lots of sensory lessons, allowing the children to explore their world and the new language with their sense of smell and taste.
"No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” Mark Twain’s quote is wise. It is also some of the best advice out there for parents and teachers. Just stop for a moment and think about it…
I recently listened to an NPR program in which they interviewed Steve Burns, the legendary host of the television show, Blue’s Clues. During the program they dissected the pace of show and the show’s use of well-timed pauses that, according to Variety Magazine, were "long enough to give the youngest time to think, short enough for the oldest not to get bored." The concept of Blue’s Clues was brilliant! It engaged children in creative and meaningful ways and the shows use of wait-time after asking a question gave children enough time to process the information and solve the problem in the show. To watch a short video clip of Steve Burns using this strategy, click here.
When I was walking through the woods during our Outdoor Ed trip, I could hear the indistinct shouts that Middle Schoolers make when they are outside and allowed to use "outside voices". I was heading towards the climbing wall, a triangular pyramid 25 feet in the air. This climbing wall was one of the many activities available for our Middle School students at Outdoor Education at the foot of the Rocky Mountain National forest. Students also had the opportunity to do other activities, including archery, mountain formation, and team building activities.
Over the course of this past summer I spent a great deal of time reflecting on the concept at BCD that I find most difficult to quantify: the power of our community. Time and time again, from graduating 8th graders to current families, folks mention the strength of the BCD community as a key component of the education we offer. It’s hard to grasp an objective data point or metric when trying to describe what I’ve come to know and love, so I usually rely on experience to tell our story.
Of all the skills we encourage our children to develop, social intelligence may be the most essential for predicting a fulfilling, successful life. Social intelligence is the ability to effectively negotiate interpersonal interactions and complex social environments. It involves effective communication skills, the ability to read non-verbal cues into how other people are feeling and virtues such as empathy and consideration.
Children learn appropriate behaviors by emulating adults. The easiest way to help your child learn qualities such as patience, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, and gentleness is to model these qualities in your day-to-day interactions with other people and with your children.
Preschoolers are social creatures, generally very interested in other and quick to notice and adopt social norms. They're becoming more able to control themselves, and more able to verbalize their feelings, opening up a host of options beyond for communicating and problem solving. The preschool years are a perfect opportunity to teach social habits and skills that will help them throughout their lifetime. If you would like to read a fascinating article that was recently in the New York Times about how work places are really just like preschool, click here.
It is completely natural for preschoolers to experience conflicts. Children this age usually want to have things go their way and yet have other children to play with. The ability to negotiate and compromise is honed through the conflicts that arise between toddlers. Be close by but do not intervene in a conflict until you feel that you absolutely need to. Even when you do intervene, make sure that instead of simply telling everyone what they should do, you help them empathize with each other and understand why they should behave in a particular way.
Some ways you can support the development of social intelligence in your child include:
Support their friendships. Honor and reinforce your child's developing friendships. Talk about them, remember them, create opportunities to play. Remember that children get aggravated with each other, just as adults do. It doesn't mean the end of a friendship, necessarily, just that they need help to work through the issues that come up.
Model respectful relating. Remember that your child will treat others as you treat her. Show your child respect, be tactful in the ways you talk to your child about how they are treating others, and help them work out difficulties when they play together.
Teach your child that people are important. Teach your child consideration for others. Model it for him early on, praise it, help him brainstorm to solve peer problems, and don't let your child intentionally or unintentionally disrespect another person.
Teach kids to express their needs and wants without attacking the other person. For instance:
"I don't like it when you push in front of me like that" instead of "You're mean!"
"I need a turn, too!" instead of "You're not letting me have the ball."
Help your child learn how to repair rifts in relationships. When we think about repairing relationships, we usually focus on apologizing. Giving children a chance to cool down first always works better and then ask them 'How can you fix it?'. Be sure to model apologies to your children and scaffold this process for them.
Remember, that teaching and modeling social skills is a process that takes time and patience. Stick to it - we promise you will see the results.
Children are acquiring literacy from birth; from dinner table conversations promoting oral language development, to bedtime storytelling demonstrating that meaning can be made from text, to creating shopping lists which help children learn sounds and alphabetic symbols.
The importance of enrolling young children in a high quality preschool is a no-brainer for many parents. However, choosing the perfect program often feels like a pivotal decision that will impact a family and child for years to come.
This week Preschool is using drawing and labeling experiences to create individual dictionaries. Each day students have added at least three words (of their own choosing) to their dictionaries. In turn, they use the dictionaries alongside their journals to help build confidence as well as develop appropriate writing habits and strategies.