5 Ways To Build Independence, Confidence and Success In Your Preschooler

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5 Ways To Start Building Independence, Confidence and Success In Your Child Entering Preschool

1. Practice getting dressed without help: putting on/zipping coats, putting on/taking off shoes (velcro shoes and slip-ons are great!), putting on winter gear such as hats and mittens. Dress your child in comfortable clothes that he or she can pull up/down independently when going to the bathroom.

2. Have a picnic lunch using the child’s lunch box to practice lunch time independence. Use this time to make sure your child can open and close the containers alone and be sure to pack a variety of foods to eat ensuring choice. It is important to practice the idea that the child should remain sitting to eat until your picnic time is over.

3. Have one-on-one short (45 min) play-dates so that your child can develop relationships with friends outside of school. Let your child learn to resolve conflicts by working things out by themselves. Don’t rush in to intervene unless it gets physical. End it while they are having fun so they’ll remember the positive experience.

4. Give your child the words to say when he or she is mad, frustrated, sad, etc. and is acting out. Often, “bad” behavior is just the child’s easiest way of trying to express him/herself.

5. Focus on the positive! Notice the little things your child can do and tell them about it.

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Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Your Preschooler

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The holidays are quickly approaching and we thought you might need a few ideas for gifts!

The most important thing to know is that your kids really just want quality time with you. Less is more! Think about the 4 gifts to give kids: something they need, something to read, something to wear, and something they want.

Here’s a very important reminder about giving gifts to kids!

To get through the holidays successfully with little kids, try to stick to your schedule as much as possible. Involve your kids in holiday preparations. They can help cook, make wrapping paper with their artwork, and help decorate.

Some of our favorite toys are the simplest, and the more open-ended the better. Here are some of our favorites picks to add to your child’s collection.

BOOKS:

We love books and any and all and audio books too!

Here is the link to our Book Club Account with great prices from Scholastic. Click “Connect To Your Teacher” and enter Class Code = DYBZ2.

TOYS & GAMES:

I have set up a special Amazon Store which has most of the toys and games mentioned based on some of our favorites from the school.

If you make a purchase using this link, the Cape Ann Preschool will get a small contribution towards Amazon gift cards that can be used to purchase items for the school.

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • -Blocks, Legos, Tinker Toys, Bristle Blocks, any building materials
  • -Small figures/animals
  • -Bath toys: cups, funnels, foam blocks (they float & stick to the walls), brushes to paint walls with water
  • -Child size kitchen gear: dishes, utensils, etc
  • -Art supplies: Oil pastel crayons (so much smoother, brighter, and easier to use than crayons – more fun than markers!), paint, watercolors, paper, child-safe scissors, glue stick, clay, easel
  • Pretend school- pointer, calendar etc
  • -Cards
  • -Memory
  • -Dress up
  • -Beads
  • -Dice
  • -Dolls
  • -Trucks
  • -Puzzles (Esp. Alphabet Puzzle)
  • -Playdough
  • -Deck of Cards
  • -Hula Hoop
  • -Magazine subscriptions- Highlights, Ranger Rick, etc.

Grady’s mother, Lindsay, is an Occupational Therapist and she sent us a list of gift ideas that she recommends for promoting fine and visual motor skills (many have been added to the Amazon Store).

  • Games: Pick Up Sticks, Don’t Break the Ice, Jacks, Marbles, Bed Bugs, Jenga, Ants in the Pants, Don’t Spill the Beans, Tricky Fingers, Kerplunk, Tiddly Winks, Operation, Magnadoodle, Thin Ice, Connect Four, Lite Brite, Hi Ho Cheerio, Perfection, Card Games, Etch A Sketch, Fleas on Fred, Dominoes, Jumpin’ Monkeys, Spirograph, Monkeys in the Barrel
  • Manipulatives: Legos, Tinkertoys, Bristle Blocks, Magnet Tiles, K’nex, Zaks, Waffle Bricks, Lincoln Logs, Wind Up toys, Pegs and Pegboards, Finger puppets, Spinning Tops, Zoo Sticks, Straws
  • -Any Crayola product for coloring/drawing, Dot Paints, Window Markers, Stamps, paints, watercolors- use any of these on an easel or piece of paper taped to a wall/door/refrigerator for added benefit
  • -Craft boxes with stickers, various kinds of paper, scissors, buttons, glue, etc.
  • -Any kinds of puzzles, Tangrams, Pattern Play, maze/puzzle (such as crosswords) books, connect the dots

Lastly, here are two places where we always find great art supplies, learning toys and more:

Discount School Supply

Lakeshore Learning (on Route 1 near Trader Joes and Border Cafe)

Toodeloos! (on Main Street in downtown Gloucester)

If you have other suggestions for things I should add, please let me know! Happy Shopping!

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Transitioning from Pre-K to Kindergarten

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Last week, we invited the parents in our pre-K class to take part in the discussion about the transition from preschool to Kindergarten. This can be an emotional and anxiety provoking time for both preschoolers and parents. We hope to help make it as smooth as possible for everyone.

At Cape Ann Preschool, we try to meet with the area Kindergarten teachers to pass along information about who your child is at school (how they learn, personality, best type of teacher for them, class placement with/without friends from our school, etc). If we are unable to meet in person, we will give the schools copies of our reports and the paperwork that you give us to submit.

05102016BlueRoomCrayonWorkYour kids are ready for Kindergarten! So are YOU! They have learned so much, grown so much, and are ready for the next big step. It’s your job to help them get there smoothly. It’s best not to talk about Kindergarten and “how big they are now”; it’s too much pressure and might cause anxiety. Remind other adults in their lives to do the same.

Do keep the learning going all summer. Read, play games, count, create, ask questions, give them tasks to do. Have playdates, explore, practice life skills like lunch box gear, bathrooming, changing clothes, making eye contact, asking for help. These are all the things they will need to do by themselves next year and beyond.

Kindergarten teachers are mandated by the state to follow standards and a curriculum, and your child will likely not get the play time he or she really needs. Recess is short, free choice time is extremely minimal! Kindergarten is work. There is homework even on vacations. Keep a positive attitude about it. The kids read your reactions to all new experiences.

Let them have down time when they come home; don’t sign them up for activities at first. It’s a good idea to have them get used to the longer and more demanding days. Expect that they might fall apart at home because they have held it together all day long. That’s okay! They will build their stamina for the school schedule.

05102016BlueRoomWorkingCommunicate with your child’s teacher. It’s ok to be a squeaky wheel. Ask questions and let them know you care about your child and what they are learning; unfortunately, not all parents do pay such careful attention. Be proactive. Get involved. Volunteer in the classroom. (The PTO is not the same as being in the room with your child and his/her peers.)

Your children love learning! They see that it is important to you and that you and their teachers care about them. Keep it up! Be proud of them and keep your expectations high. Don’t do for them what they can do for themselves. They are ready and so are you!

We are here for you all. Please don’t forget about us; stay in touch! We want to know how the kids are doing and hear about life. If we could keep you all here we would! Enjoy these first “lasts”. They are special!

 

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Mother’s Day Breakfast 2016 in the Green Room

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We had a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration breakfast last week with our 3-4 year old class! They sang songs for their moms, enjoyed a meal the children had prepared, and presented their mothers with hand painted flower pots and cards. It was a special day for all!

Click here to view all the photos in the Mother’s Day Breakfast 2016 photo gallery (Flickr).

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Thank you to Lisa Bruce for taking photos of the morning’s festivities!

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I’m Home With My Kids By Choice. Why Should I Send Them To Preschool?

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At Cape Ann Preschool, we believe that preschool is a place of learning and support for both the child and the parents.

At preschool, we help children learn to separate from their parents, practice social skills with peers, learn self-help skills, and gain exposure to experiences and materials to which they might not at home. Teachers are trained to understand child development at this age and have years of practical experience. We recognize children’s areas of strength where they need to be challenged as well as areas in which the child may struggle and can provide support and guidance. Teachers facilitate learning and opportunities for interaction, Teachers are not play-mates we are observers and guides in learning through play.

We support parents as they move through this challenging time. During the preschool years, children are learning at an astonishing rate. Not only are they learning new language, facts, and skills, but they are learning to find their place in their world. This is often manifested through testing limits and boundaries. They want to be your “baby” and do everything themselves at the same time. They are learning to deal with new emotions and social situations. Their bodies and minds are rapidly developing which can result in changes in their eating, sleep, and behavior. We recognize the stress and struggles this can cause for parents navigating the changing attitudes and behaviors of your child. We have years of experience as parents ourselves and working with hundreds of preschoolers over the years. We are happy to listen, offer support, and help find strategies to your parenting dilemmas.

Preschool is a place for both your child and you to make new friends. Your children have the opportunity to make friends through play and time at school. You will be introduced to families with children your own age, who may be going through the same things with their child and have somewhat similar values (at least based on preschool choice). Being home with your child can be lonely! It can be awkward to approach other parents at the park, library, on a walk, etc. At preschool, most parents are in the same situation whether it’s their first or fifth child. Mingling at drop off in the mornings, pick up in the afternoons, arranging play-dates, and attending parent workshops are easy ways to meet other parents.

Sending your child to preschool is an investment in their future and your well-being as a parent. When looking for a preschool, be sure to find a school that feels right for your child as well as for you.

To learn more about Cape Ann Preschool and how our play-to-learn philosophy fits your family, please call 978-270-1896, email capeannpreschool@gmail.com, or visit our website at capeannpreschool.com.

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We Are (now) Cape Ann Preschool!

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Having announced the opening of our new location (in September 2016) right off 128 (at The West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church on Route 133 / 488 Essex Avenue), we’re also ready to announce our new name: Cape Ann Preschool.

Over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to spend time with preschool students from all over Cape Ann, and this year is no exception: we have students from Gloucester, Manchester, Essex, and Rockport. We really are a Cape Ann Preschool!

Lanesville Preschool opened in 1980, and moved to its current Gloucester Avenue location in downtown Gloucester in 2006. Ten years after leaving Lanesville Center, it was time to expand our umbrella, our reach, and our name!

We can’t wait for you to see our new space, but for now, please take a look at our new web site: www.capeannpreschool.com.

We are currently enrolling with 3 openings each in the Green Room (2.9 – 4 years) and in the Blue Room (4-6 / Pre-K). Please spread the word that our same awesome educators will be offering the same play-based curriculum, but in a new location with a new name!

Looking forward to seeing you at Cape Ann Preschool!

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“Ready for Kindergarten!”

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We cannot say enough about our family’s experience with Cape Ann Preschool. Our 4-year-old daughter is our third child to go through their amazing program. We chose Cape Ann Preschool for our children for so many reasons, but the first was the warm and nurturing teachers. Each school day is greeted by smiles and hugs, and if transitions from home to school are ever difficult, it is these teachers who you want helping your child (and you!) through it. They are calm, gentle, experienced educators who clearly love their jobs and love experiencing life through the eyes of preschoolers.

We chose Cape Ann Preschool for our children for so many reasons, but the first was the warm and nurturing teachers.

Our two older children are now in 2nd grade and Kindergarten. Both entered elementary school without worry, fear, or reservation. They had attained a true love of learning from Cape Ann Preschool that transferred seamlessly to their next schools. Shelley and Meghan set them up for success early on by teaching them developmentally appropriate social skills, introducing them to letter sounds and numbers, allowing them to express themselves through dramatic and artistic play, and providing them with daily sensory experiences which our children loved. Mara, in the Pre-K classroom, then built upon those skills and experiences while also introducing a stellar pre-literacy program.

We are convinced there isn’t a better Pre-K program on Cape Ann.

Both of our older children entered Kindergarten as readers. This was truly amazing for one of our children, as at the start of Pre-K he couldn’t even write his name. What is even more outstanding is that the program is so much fun! Having such confidence entering a new school allowed our children to focus on the other essentials of Kindergarten like making new friends, learning new routines and sustaining the energy for five full school days. We are convinced there isn’t a better Pre-K program on Cape Ann.

Our two older children are now in 2nd grade and Kindergarten. Both entered elementary school without worry, fear, or reservation.

We are so blessed to have found Cape Ann Preschool. Our daughter is so excited to be “moving up” to Mara’s classroom next year and we are so fortunate to know, without a doubt, where our fourth child will spend those truly special preschool years.

-Allison and Ed Pinkin

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We’re Moving!

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We are so excited to announce that we will be moving to the West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church at 488 Essex Avenue in Gloucester. We will be opening our doors in our new location for the start of the 2016-2017 school year on Tuesday, September 6th. The new location is so convenient, located less than .5 mile off Exit 14 on Route 133!

It’s an awesome space for a preschool! The preschool will be on the 1st floor of the church’s adjoining building and has a separate entrance directly accessible from the big private parking lot off of Essex Avenue.

The preschool space is a huge L-shaped room with a divider which we will use to create our two classrooms. We will have great flexibility with the rooms as we can open up the divider as needed for large group activities and special events. We have private bathrooms just inside the front door. There is plenty of space for all of our learning centers including art, reading, manipulatives, and more.

It’s a peaceful atmosphere as the classroom walls are lined with windows that look out onto our private, woodsy play area. The rooms each have exits right into the backyard. We are excited and have lots of great ideas to update the play yard into a fun and educational outdoor classroom.

Our new location should make the school more convenient for families living in Essex and Manchester. It’s only 4 minutes from our current spot so it’s still easily accessible from all parts of Gloucester and Rockport.

So, now that it’s settled, please spread the word to friends with preschool age kids so we can fill the place up with lots of laughter, learning, and love! We will be open 8:30am -12:30am M-Th and will offer a 3-4’s class on T-Th or T-W-Th and a PreK class M-Th.

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Parent Support

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Preschool is as much for parents as it is for the children. We believe it is essential for us to help you understand your child better as we see them in a different context.

We provide parent workshops, coffees, and group events throughout the year for parents to connect with the other families, learn from one another, and gain ideas and strategies for life with a preschooler.

Some past events have included:

  • Parent Orientation Night
  • Back to School Night
  • Games, toys and gift ideas to stimulate learning
  • Potty Training 101
  • Bedtime Tricks & Tips

Through our weekly blog series, we address timely topics and ideas relating to preschoolers and parenting.

We are available for parent conferences, check-ins, and questions throughout the year via email, text, and phone.  Formal conferences are held in the fall and written progress reports are distributed in the spring. Parents are encouraged to connect with us at anytime rather than wait for a formal meeting.

We believe it is important for parents to have a sense of the children’s day as it is happening.  We take pictures of the children in group play and in individual work, audio recordings of singing and play, and videos which are made available to our current parents via a private, password protected site and are often emailed and texted directly to parents daily.

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Getting Out the Door With a Preschooler

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It can be a nightmare to get kids out of the house especially if you have somewhere you really need to be!  As parents, we have had lots of practice with our own kids and as teachers, we have to get 10+ kids out the door at the same time.  We put our heads together to come up with our favorite tips and tricks for getting out the door without losing your mind.  The most important thing to remember is that it’s about you.  You need to be organized, prepared, calm, and authoritative.  Your children feed off of your energy and tone.

Give yourself extra time.  

You can’t focus on getting the kids ready if you aren’t ready yourself. If you need help getting out the door for school, get up before the kids to get yourself together; remember how much you can get done when no one is around? So, be sure you have your things gathered and ready to go by the door or even in the car before you start dealing with the kids.

Give them time.

If you give yourself time to prepare, you can focus your energy on your kids.  It’s important to make time to engage with your kids as they start their day. Snuggle in bed for a few minutes as they get up, read a book together, play for a few minutes, sing some songs, anything to connect with your child.   This is especially important if you have more than one child.

Prepare in advance.

Make it easier for you to be prepared by prepping the night before when your kids are asleep. Check the weather forecast then help kids pick out outfits and find appropriate shoes. Check your schedule for events to be sure you have what you need such as gear for swim lessons, etc.  Get lunchboxes out and ready to fill in the morning.  Don’t forget to check to see what you have on hand so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to find something they will actually eat.

Make a plan and tell your kids.

Kids want to help and aren’t great with surprises.  Be sure to tell them what is happening that day and give them an idea of how long they’ll have before you have to leave the house.  List off what you need them to do to get out the door: get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, make bed, pack backpack, etc. Be sure to remind them of the regular events such as school day, gymnastics class, etc. Some parents find it useful to use a chart to check off the chores completed.  Visual reminders are great!

Enlist their help.

Kids are capable!  They can make their own beds (it doesn’t have to be perfect). They should dress themselves, sit at the table for breakfast without getting up, and put their lunches into their own lunch boxes.  Please supervise teeth brushing and eating.

Keep it simple.

Breakfast does not need to be elaborate when you have to get to school.  You can get dishes done, dinner planned, or lists made while the kids eat their breakfasts.  Instead of flipping pancakes and cleaning sticky syrup or scrambling eggs, serve easy foods like toast, fruit, yogurt, cereal, muffins, etc. which require less of your hands on time.

Do NOT turn on the TV!

Even if your child gets up 2 hours before you need to leave, don’t do it!  It is a hard habit to break and it’s nearly impossible to turn the tv off in the middle of a show or get a child to do anything while watching without a battle.

Keep kids busy with open ended activities.

If your child has time to play before you need to leave or you want them to be safe and independently occupied while you shower or tend to other children, set them up with an open ended activity.  Be sure to tell them that once X happens (X= you finish your shower, the timer goes off, the baby is fed, etc.) it will be time to stop and get ready.  Some easy activities include: blocks, legos, coloring, playdough, and imaginary play.  Otherwise, if your timing isn’t spot on, you’ll have to pull kids away from an almost done puzzle, the last 10 minutes of a show, or the middle of a board game.  When it is time for the kids to stop, be firm.  Don’t let them manipulate you with “But wait…” or “I just need to…”.

Listen to music.

Music can set the tone for the day.  If you need to get everyone going, play something lively.  If you want to calm things down, find a song that fits.  You can use music as a timer, too. Tell the children, “At the end of the song, it’s time to…”.

Use visual cues and photos.

Visual checklist and photos can be an invaluable tool to help kids get ready independently.  If they are ready for school, they should match a picture of themselves with their coat, backpack, lunchbox, hat, mittens, etc.  You can change up the picture so that it is seasonally appropriate.  They can see what they need to have since they can’t read a checklist.

Make it a game.

To get kids to do things they don’t think are fun, turn it into a game. They love a challenge!  Say, “See if you can (or I bet you can’t) insert desired 1 step activity before insert timeframe such as: this song is over, timer goes off, I finish doing…,  the dog barks again.”  Get creative!

Celebrate!

When you have moments when you get out of the house smoothly, celebrate!  When everyone is buckled into the car, praise the kids for their efforts with specific comments; “You got your coat on all by yourself and that helped us to get ready on time.” Give three cheers, honk the horn, sing a silly song, or play a favorite song on the radio to celebrate this success!

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