The Joys of Teaching at All Seasons Preschool

Posted October 19, 2017

by Kylen Glassmann

As the newest member of “Team All Seasons,” I wanted my first blog to speak to the joy that I have experienced in my first few months as a teacher in the Autumn room. I think that it is important to point out the wonderful things that happen each day and how lucky I feel to be in a place where my teaching philosophies align with those of the creators and the rest of the staff here at All Seasons Preschool. It is, although unfortunate, rare to find a place that services children and their families in such a unique and appropriate way. In our current educational system, so much emphasis is put on academia that vital aspects of learning in the early years are being unfairly swept under the rug.
Children need a supportive and safe place to learn; they not only need to learn the beginnings of academia, like writing their name and recognizing letters and numbers, but they also need to learn how to socialize. The social/emotional piece of early childhood is critical and has a larger role in learning academic skills than is currently emphasized in our test-oriented educational system. The most important way young children learn social/emotional skills is through play and this is verified through research. Without play, children don’t have the same opportunities to problem solve and learn how to interact with other people; without play they will not successfully learn skills like empathy, perspective taking, persistence, and patience. This, in turn, will affect how successful children become later in life, both socially and academically. At All Seasons Preschool, we provide children with these opportunities. We offer a safe and challenging environment where children are encouraged to take risks and make mistakes. We offer support, while encouraging children to be independent and to learn to problem solve on their own.
In my graduate studies in early childhood development and education, we consistently came back to the idea of “developmentally appropriate practice,” and what this means in the context of the classroom and development. Development is on a spectrum, and the way children behave is often indicative of what they have the capacity to do. It is our job as educators to help show them what they can do on their own, as well as help them to see what they are capable of with support and/or practice. In the world of early childhood, we call this “scaffolding”, and it is a beautiful thing! At All Seasons Preschool we are proponents of developmentally appropriate practice, like scaffolding, providing many opportunities for play, and allowing children to learn to problem solve on their own. Another way we implement appropriate practice is by having a mixed-age classroom. With a mixed- age, child-centered, and play based environment, we allow children to learn at a pace that is appropriate for them.  The older children become leaders and the younger children learn from their older, more experienced peers.

These are just a few examples of developmentally appropriate practice at All Seasons. I cannot express enough how impactful these customs are on a child’s growth. I can also speak to the amount of research that supports what we do here at All Seasons Preschool. I am lucky to have these experiences and to work in a place that believes in and works hard to create a beneficial environment for children and their families.

It’s Okay Not To Help

Posted October 2, 2017

By Jenny Kleppe

“Teacher, can you help me get up there?” says a little girl, pointing up a tree she just watched another climb.

“I bet you can climb up there all by yourself,” replies the teacher.

“But I can’t!” wails the little one, “You have to help me. It’s too hard!”

And so it goes, every year at the beginning of a new school year, we teachers watch children struggle when their requests for help are denied. Help to climb a tree, help to balance across a log, help to cross a puddle, help to stand on a rock, or help to get down…Teachers patiently decline and instead encourage children to try it out for themselves. Over and over, we say no to helping our students with physical tasks, even when other children can easily accomplish the task, even when they are disappointed, and even when they cannot do it without help.

It is a basic instinct to help young children, and it can be truly challenging for adults to watch children fail to do something on their own. We want to rescue them, help them complete a task, assist them in doing something that other children can do. We want children to feel included, to feel proud, and to feel accomplished. But if we help that little girl climb that tree, are we really helping in the end?

If children never experience challenges that they must overcome themselves, how will they ever learn to do deal with daily life experiences that are hard for them? How will they learn to evaluate or take a risk? At All Seasons Preschool, we encourage children to take part in healthy risk-taking and learn to challenge themselves. We are dedicated to our students’ safety; however, we do all that we can to increase a child’s reliance on themselves and decrease their reliance on teacher involvement.

There are so many benefits to healthy risk-taking in young children. They learn to practice self-reflection — “Can I do this yet?” “Is it safe?” “Should I jump down from this boulder?” Once they decide to make that leap, they can evaluate if their choice was a good one, often in the form of “Wow, that was fun!” Children who practice taking risks develop strong large muscles and greater strength and coordination. They also learn the adage of Try, Try, Again! (also known as persistence and patience).

This is not to say that we walk away when an eager child asks for our assistance. Instead, we redirect our students to find something that they can do on their own. We guide them to watch their peers, to ask others how they climbed that tree, and to watch where the climbers put their feet.

As the school year goes on, we return to the same outdoor play areas over and over. Since they have so many chances to practice safe risk taking, we get to hear our students’ joyous exclamations of “Did you see me!?” “Now I can do it!” and every preschooler’s favorite, “I did it all by myself!Tiana