Having a Fun and Safe Halloween

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Having a Fun and Safe Halloween

As fun as exciting as Halloween can be, it is important to remember that for preschoolers it can also be a little overwhelming and a bit scary. You have the ability as parents to choose whether Halloween will be a holiday about monsters, ghouls, and goblins; candy and treats; pumpkins and cider; or a fun walk around the neighborhood. As with all holidays, you are in control of your child’s experience and it can always change as your child grows. We have put together some ideas about how to make it a great experience for the whole family.

Costumes

When choosing a costume, safety should be the most important consideration. Your child should be able to move comfortably and see clearly. Remember that children don’t need to be completely dressed up in order to be “wearing a costume”. There are many great ideas online about costumes that don’t require much and some are just like wearing regular clothes. If your child’s costume is dark in color, make sure that he or she has on some reflective clothing and attach a glow stick so that they can be seen as it gets dark. Attaching a glow stick to or putting it inside of their trick-or-treat bag is helpful too.

Don’t forget to explain that under all of those costumes and masks are just other children! This can be the scariest part of Halloween even if the masks aren’t spooky. Help your child understand this by putting a mask on yourself and then remove it to show your child that it’s still you underneath. You can also put a mask on your child in front of the mirror so that they can see the transformation in themselves too.

Your child may have loved or really been frightened by Halloween in the past. As they grow, children’s perspectives change be sure to try to understand their current point of view.

Trick-or-Treating

Halloween is a great opportunity to teach and reinforce safety ideas and also to practice using manners. You can practice trick-or-treating at your house. Parents or older siblings can model the process: walking up to the door, ringing the doorbell/knocking, saying “trick-or-treat” and using eye contact when thanking the person giving out the candy. Remind your child that it’s OK to get candy that they may not like as well as taking only one piece unless more is offered. Outgoing children should be reminded that it is not safe to entering anyone’s home or go off with strangers. Don’t worry if your child isn’t comfortable approaching people’s homes to trick-or-treat, you’ve probably been telling them to be wary of strangers up to this point!

When walking in your neighborhood, it can be stressful and scary for parents too! This is especially true if your child doesn’t always respond immediately when his or her name is called and/or stop when running. Be sure to take that into consideration, reinforce those rules, and practice before you head out on Halloween night. Kids can be excited and want to run ahead with friends but need to be able to stop in case a car is coming or they get too far ahead. You don’t need to visit every house in the neighborhood, and can trick-or-treat in the early evening. Your family rule is might be to get 10 pieces of candy or only stop by the homes of special neighbors; it’s up to you. Sometimes the most Trick-or-Treating fun is had by simply staying home and helping to pass out candy to others.

Candy

Don’t forget to go through the candy before your child eats any to check that it is safe (and of course, steal a few of your favorites!). You may choose to tell your children that they might be visited by the Switch Witch!

The Switch Witch is a friendly little witch who visits the homes of tired trick-or-treaters after they have fallen asleep on Halloween night. She switches out the Halloween candy for a special gift such as a small toy, a book, or a certificate to do something special with the family.

Candy Control

There are lots of ideas online for controlling all that candy and ways to make use of it. Candy can be sorted and stored to be added to cookies, used as ice cream toppings, and saved to decorate gingerbread houses. Organizations like Operation Troop Support will send candy to troops deployed overseas. Some dental offices offer candy trade in programs. You don’t have to eat it all! Please remember that candy should not be brought to school but saved at home as a special treat.

Happy Halloween!

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Hand Preference in Preschoolers

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At preschool we are helping children to learn to write, cut, and play using their fine motor skills. Often children are in the process of figuring out which hand they prefer to use to do these tasks. As they near Kindergarten, their hand preference should be established. It is important to reinforce the child’s hand preference in daily activities in order to strengthen those muscles and continue his/her midline brain development.

Both hands play a role in this process. When children are eating, one hand should be holding the utensil or picking up food. The other hand should be in the child’s lap. If your child uses both hands to eat, encourage him or her to sit on the non-dominant hand to avoid temptation to use both. When drawing, using stickers, lacing, cutting, and pouring the dominant hand should be doing the work while the other hand should serve as a helper to hold the paper still (drawing, peeling stickers), move the paper (cutting, lacing), and hold the receptacle (pouring).

These are all skills we practice in our daily activities as school. We encourage and remind the children to stick with the hand they use to pick up the object. Continue to help your child establish hand dominance in these activities at home as well and their ability to write and perform tasks efficiently will improve along with their confidence.

If your child is struggling with fine motor tasks and hand dominance, an occupational therapist may be helpful.

Here are some good resources for more information:

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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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