6 Ways to Handle “That’s Not Fair!”

“That’s not fair!” is a common refrain in preschool classrooms. Children often struggle to share favorite toys, take turns, and are prone to saying hurtful things such as “I don’t want to play with you,” or “I don’t want to be your friend.” As educators, we do our best to mediate hurtful situations during which children feel judged or left out. However, getting the concept of fairness to stick can be tricky. Continue reading

How to Incorporate Cooking in Your Classroom

by Patricia Dietz

Children are naturally curious and love hands-on learning through multiple senses. A great way to encourage more hands-on learning is through cooking in the classroom. Cooking with young children has many benefits for early learning and development, such as fostering early math skills, increasing fine motor skills, developing language and literacy development, engaging the senses, promoting healthy eating, and connecting cultures. Here are some tips and recipe ideas to help you get started with cooking in your classroom.

Continue reading

New Approaches to Holiday Celebrations

by Teresa Narey

The month of December can feel like a whirlwind. As educators, we often think about how to approach holidays in our classrooms this time of year. Three major holidays are highlighted this month—Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah—but culturally, we know that so much more is at play in the lives of the children in our care and in the world at large. If all of the children in your setting celebrate the same December holiday, then you may simply embrace it and move along. However, for more diverse groups, it may be a struggle to know what to do—to know what families would like for you to do. Before promoting any holiday in your setting, it is best to talk with families and caregivers about their preferences. You might also consider taking an anti-bias education approach, which seeks to promote fairness and inclusion in school settings by offering alternative and informed approaches to celebrating mainstream holidays. Here are 5 examples to consider: Continue reading

Welcoming Immigrant and Refugee Families to Your Setting

by Teresa Narey

Across the country, many families settle in on the fourth Thursday of November to commemorate Thanksgiving. It’s a time to express gratitude for the many joys that have brought comfort to our lives and to bond with family. For many, Thanksgiving is a time to welcome guests, old and new, and to even extend support to those in need. Though issues regarding immigration and refugee resettlement are challenging and yet to be resolved in our country, early childhood educators across the nation have welcomed immigrant and refugee families to their settings. They have been tasked with learning and teaching new languages, customs, and habits in an effort to build trust and community. Continue reading

Using STREAM Techniques After Disasters to Keep Kids Learning and Engaged

Guest Post
by Andrew Roszak
Executive Director, The Institute for Childhood Preparedness

With natural disasters on the rise, many child care programs have endured floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe weather conditions. These programs face many obstacles when re-opening, including a lack of electricity, supplies, fresh drinking water, and food, as well as the on-set of fear and mental health conditions in children.

We are always searching for new ways to make child care providers and teachers more resilient. One new trend is to incorporate principles of STREAM into early childhood education – to help students learn about S: Science, T: Technology, R: Reading, E: Engineering, A: Arts, and M: Math.

In the absence of a standard operating environment, and without creature comforts – such as electricity, providers may want to think about how they can incorporate the principles of STREAM in a post-disaster setting.

Continue reading

Encouraging Self-Awareness and Personal Space

by Teresa Narey

Teaching children about personal space and fostering self-regulation is arguably an early childhood educator’s most important job. Research tells us that children with strong social/emotional skills have more positive relationships, are happier, and are more successful academically than children who exhibit social/emotional difficulties. Children who are mentally healthy are generally more self-aware, that is, they understand their own thoughts, feelings, and actions, and how those things affect other people. The more self-aware you are, the more you understand your impact on other people. How, then, do we help young children begin to think about boundaries and self-reflect? How can we support them in naming their emotions and overcoming challenges? Below are 6 simple activities to get you started.

Continue reading

30 Transition Time Tips

by Katie Brazerol

Transitions are necessary throughout the day. If you’ve been an early childhood educator for even a short amount of time, you’ve probably realized that transitions are not easy for some children in your care.

Children often struggle with transitions because change can be difficult—even for adults. Sometimes the change involves moving from a fun activity, such as playing outdoors on a playground, to a necessary activity, such as cleaning up or washing hands and preparing for lunch. A child who is focusing most of her energy on a task may have trouble switching gears. It is important to first teach children to anticipate upcoming transitions. Give warning that a transition is coming to help children prepare for the change. Then, implement transition strategies that engage the children’s attention and help shift focus.

Below are 30 ideas to help children shift focus and transition to new activities in your setting.

Continue reading

Listen to Your Quiet Child

by Chalimar Ríos

A preschool classroom is usually full of colors, scribbles, toys, children playing and sharing, but most of all. . . a lot of noise. Over the course of the school year, a teacher gets to know each of her students—their noises, voices, laughs, and cries. There is always a particular voice, a more outgoing child, one who arrives with a hug and leaves with a smile on his face. Or, there’s the child who loves to play with lots of friends, and the one who plays with many toys at the same time because fun shouldn’t have limits!

But what happens when we don’t notice the child who does not want to stand up and participate when you are singing and dancing to a song? What about the child who always looks down when he arrives or leaves the classroom? What do you do with the child who is always quiet and calm? Maybe it seems that you do not have to worry about him, but that quiet child may have a lot to say.

Continue reading

Storytime Spotlight: September Reads

One of the most exciting updates to the FunShine Express curriculum this year was the additional books included in the Fireflies and Buttercups programs. The children’s books are consistently ranked highly on our customer survey as a favorite component. This year we made some changes in order to include an additional book to help you expand your classroom library!

Read more about the September books and why we selected these titles.

Continue reading