Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nursery School - New Year and New Program!

I am very excited about the upcoming Nursery School year. Over the past 6 months on my leave from A Gym Tale, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the past 6 years of Nursery School as well as becoming a parent and my parenting practices with a preschooler. I have also taken a course on creating children's play spaces and creative learning practices. As a result I feel it is perfect timing to begin implementing some changes to the program. These will not be big changes to the overall program, but some little adjustments that I think will have a big impact. I have met with the Nursery School teachers this morning and I am really happy that they are just as excited and ready for some changes as well.

To begin with, we will be focusing on the very basics - our goals for the children. Some of these include fostering independence as well as instilling a sense of capability and confidence, increasing attention and involvement with activities and promoting social interactions and friendships. Many of these goals are the ones that I hold most important for my own children.

At home, I place a lot of importance on making my home completely 'child friendly' and encouraging Ewan to be able to do things on his own - for example we have stools at every sink, a learning tower in the kitchen for Ewan to help prepare his lunch and help with cooking, his own drawer for plates, utensils and snacks and clothes placed at his level so he can dress himself. These practices had a huge change on Ewan's level of confidence and he takes such pride in being able to complete these daily tasks all by himself. What better time to introduce these self help behaviours than now, when he naturally wants to do everything on his own!

As a means of increasing Ewan's attention span and encouraging him to bring his play to a deeper level, I have begun creating 'invitations' while he is napping or before I go to bed for him to wake up to. These invitations can be as simple as a hose beside a giant bucket with bath toys, an art easel ready with paint, or trucks outside his sandbox. But sometimes I will put more preparation in and leave out squirt bottles with coloured water or a variety of spices and baking powders with lots of spoons and bowls for mixing. I have also begun leaving out themed baskets that might include some jungle animals, along with the Lion King book (Ewan's new favourite), and a barrel of monkeys. When invitations for play are set up Ewan tends to spend more time playing independently and often goes back to the invitations over several days.

I am overjoyed with how social Ewan has become. It was exactly a year and a half ago that I did not think Ewan would ever leave my side. And now Ewan does not even look back and can make friends within minutes. Ewan has learned how to approach children at play as well as initiate play interactions. He doesn't beam any brighter than when he has met a new friend! I am so very excited for him to get to know so many more children this year in the Nursery School program!

With these goals in mind, myself and the teachers are set to get down to the children's level, see things from their perspective and act as co-learners and collaborators with the children in order to create a fun, play focused approach to natural learning.

 Over the next few weeks I will be doing a series of posts on further changes to the program and learning centres. These will include learning through play with an emphasis on writing centres, reading nooks, creative art, science and math as well as dramatic play, music and gym time.

If you are still looking for something for your child (between 2 - 5 years of age) to take part in this Fall,  I do still have several spaces free in the afternoon program. Please do not hesitate to send me an email with questions or call A Gym Tale directly.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Fun!

I have not updated in some time as we have just been enjoying our days outside too much to stay in to use the computer! So far, the kids and I have filled our days with friends, visits to the splash pads & park, the farm, and lots of relaxing time lounging at home. It has been a wonderful summer so far!

Isla is also 6 months old this week. I cannot believe how fast time is passing. She is now sitting up, she can reach and grab things, everything goes in the mouth and is very excited about the prospect of eating - she repeatedly grabs food right off my plate! Isla and Ewan are also interacting so much more now. It is amazing to see her personality beginning to shine through. Here are a few shots of them being silly -

Lots of exciting things have also been happening at A Gym Tale. To begin with, the Canada Day celebrations in Barrhaven were so much fun - we had a fantastic day! I could not believe the show that Alan and some of our family and staff put on at the children's stage. It was a complete surprise to me! The put on an amazing musical show incorporating some Disney songs and songs of their own! We will be doing an encore presentation at A Gym Tale for a customer appreciation day in the near future.

The kids and I have also spent several mornings at the camp program - Ewan has had a ball with the teachers and kids and special visitors. It has been great getting to meet so many new faces and seeing everyone - staff and kids really enjoying themselves! Some of the special guests so far have included Rays Reptiles and Radical Science. We will also be having a Super hero, princess, Captain Jack Sparrow and many more fun visitors. The camps also include favourite activities such as the indoor playground, gymnastics skill building, arts and crafts and some outdoor events.

The summer is also the best time to review the past year - the ups and downs, the successes and areas we need to address and alter. I am excited to be taking a course on creating children's spaces to maximize imagination and learning through play. I am sure there will be several ideas I will be able to incorporate into our Nursery School and School age programs.

I hope all of you are also enjoying your summer!