The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is the perfect time of year for family engagement and community-building in preschool settings. This year, the holiday begins at sundown on October 2 and continues through October 9. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which Israelites wandered the desert, living in temporary shelters. Sukkot is also a harvest holiday about coming together and sharing food. Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Sukkot is a structure built for outdoor eating and sleeping called a sukkah. The sukkah, emblematic of the temporary shelters used during this period of wandering, can be made of any material, as long as it is stable enough to survive the wind. The roof, however, is typically made of natural materials, i.e., leaves, bamboo, etc. Once established, the sukkah is a space for family and community gatherings.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that honors those who died while serving for the United States military. Celebrated annually on the last Monday in May, it was originally known as Decoration Day. It began after the Civil War, and officially became a holiday in 1971. For many, Memorial Day unofficially marks the beginning of summer. Memorial Day is commemorated in many ways—some will hold gatherings and participate in parades. Others will visit cemeteries and memorials to honor loved ones. Celebrating the holiday often means acknowledging the concept of death with children. Though talking with children about death can be challenging, it’s not impossible.
When discussing death with a child, first find out what he or she knows. Many children have misconceptions, fears, and worries surrounding the concept of death. While talking about it may not solve all their problems, you may be able to provide information, comfort, and a clearer understanding of what death means.
This year, the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) occurs from April 11-17. As many of you know, the WOYC was established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to shed light on the needs of young children and families and to recognize the work of early childhood educators. This year marks the 49th celebration of WOYC! Be a part of this amazing lineage by celebrating in your setting and encouraging families to commemorate the occasion at home. Make the WOYC memorable by celebrating with something special each day! Choose from the following activities, and get the word out by choosing one of NAEYC’s recommended activities for Kick-Off Saturday.
When we think of geography, we tend to imagine maps, globes, and atlases. While these tools are relevant to learning about place, the study of geography involves so much more. For children, geography involves developing a sense of place by learning about the natural environment and understanding their relationship to it. It goes without saying that children are most in touch with the places where they live.
According to research on social studies in early childhood, geographic experiences support children’s social and emotional development by allowing them to foster relationships, use their senses, and make memories. When children are given opportunities to explore a place over time, they begin to understand how places can change and the affect humans have on them. Support children’s geographic explorations with these 7 activities: Continue reading
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
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
by Teresa Narey
A tenet of developmentally appropriate practice is establishing and nurturing a sense of community in your classroom or setting. This sense of community should encompass your relationships with the children, their families and caregivers, and with your colleagues.
We receive a lot of questions about our themes and how we select the activity schedule each year. In this post we talk about how we create and update our themes. First, let’s talk about the benefits of using themes in early childhood education in general.
Imagine having your teaching setting filled with delicious scents and seeing your children willingly dig into healthy foods. How can you make this happen? One of the best ways is to offer healthy cooking experiences. Whether you work in family care, a child care facility, or even a public school, there are many ways you can make cooking a part of your day.