Every child needs to feel like they belong

Our book study on Challenging Behaviors in Preschool is coming to a close so for my final post, I want to talk about belonging.  After all, no matter what challenging behaviors we may face in our classrooms, it is important to remember that every child in the classroom needs to feel like he or she belongs…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

“Two of the big tasks in preschool are to help children make friends and become a part of the classroom community” (Bilmes, Ch.3, pp. 57).

You might be wondering what ‘belonging’ has to do with challenging behaviors. The answer is fairly simple. In order for young children to feel confident, happy, comfortable, and at ease with themselves and others, including the teacher, they need to first feel like the classroom environment is a place where they are invited, accepted, loved, and “a part of the group, not a part from the group” (Bilmes, Ch.3, pp. 57).

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach PreschoolThe importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Children who feel a part of the classroom community will be better able to focus on building healthy relationships and having a happy experience. That ‘sense of belonging’ is so important to the success of a young child in the preschool classroom that an entire chapter was dedicated to the word “Belonging” in the book titled “Beyond Behavior Management : The Six Life Skills Children Need – second edition” by Jenna Bilmes…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

“Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the children in our care have rich lives outside of our four walls (Bilmes, Ch.3, pp. 59).

Bilmes provides lots of ways to help young children develop that sense of belonging. I won’t try to cover them all in this post but I will highlight several that stand out to me. One of the first considerations is to remember that young children come from all different kinds of families and backgrounds. Part of fostering that sense of belonging is to welcome not only the child into the classroom, but for young children, they need to know that you welcome the entire family…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Getting to know the child means also learning about the child’s family, being sensitive to the child’s culture and traditions, and having an awareness of the child’s experiences at home. When young children enter your classroom, they are leaving the familiarity of their home and family. Anything you can do to bring the familiarity of their home and family into the classroom will help the child feel more comfortable in your classroom. Adding photos of the child’s family on the wall, talking to the child about the things he does at home, and even inviting parents to come and read or talk with the children will go a long ways towards helping the child feel more connected to your classroom environment…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

“We focus so much on helping young children develop independence that we sometimes forget about interdependence” (Bilmes, Ch.3, pp.68).

In order to build a sense of belonging, young children need to be in the process of developing their skills to work with others, play cooperatively, help others, have a sense of empathy, and be a part of a team. It is important to note that these skills are not automatic, they are skills that are developed over time through healthy routines and consistent expectations you set in the classroom.  Providing routines can help young children understand what to do so that they can focus on how to do it with others. Routines such as classroom jobs, morning meetings, and keeping a predictable schedule can help young children feel more confident and be more competent as a member of your classroom community…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

“It is as much the teacher’s responsibility to facilitate children’s friendships and belonging to the group as it is to teach them colors or numbers”
(Bilmes, Ch.3, pp. 78).

For any child to truly feel like they belong, they need to have friends in the classroom. This isn’t always as easy as it seems and part of the reason is that young children come to the classroom with all different skills levels of play. In addition, some children may still prefer to play alone while others enjoy playing with just one friend or a large group of friends. But no matter the skill level or the preference in playing with others, make no mistake, every child needs to feel like they have a friend and every child needs to feel like they are liked by you, as the teacher, and the other children in the classroom…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

When it comes to friends, it is also important to note the difference between “being friends” and having “friendly behavior.” Bilmes explains, “When you enforce friendly behavior rather than artificial friendships, children develop skills that will last them for life” (Ch.3, pp.80).  To promote friendly behavior, you can comment on the behavior such as “You two are doing a great job putting all those blocks in the basket together” or “Thank you for making room for each other at the table.”

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

There are many things to think about when it comes to helping young children build friendships so I want to encourage you to continue researching the topic of friendship and not just assume that friendship in the classroom is just a given. It takes your support as well as your understanding of child development.  As my students head back to school this fall, I hope I will be able to write more on the topic of friendships. Since reading this book, there are lots of tips that I have enjoyed reading for my own teaching practice.

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

If you haven’t had a chance to read each of the Challenging Behavior posts shared by my fellow bloggers, be sure to stop by PreKinders and you will see a list of each post by title along with a link to read each of those posts.

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

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By | July 28th, 2014|Categories: Friendship|Tags: , |8 Comments

Christmas writing station

At Christmas time, we find ourselves naturally exploring pre-literacy and fine motor skills in so many areas around our classroom.  There are gifts to make, ornaments to hang, and presents to wrap, all which require the use of little hands.  Our Christmas writing station has been a big hit around here lately…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

When the weather became too cold for us to use our outdoor classroom, we brought our discovery table inside.  It can be challenging to figure out what to display on the table so that it is always seen as fresh and inviting to our children.  Setting out card and letter making materials seems to have done the trick…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

We have had our Christmas writing station up for several days now and the children never seem to tire of it!  We try to slightly vary the materials that we offer each day to keep it interesting to the children.  Collage materials are easy to organize and switch out of our handy dandy produce trays…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

We set out wrapping paper scraps, Christmas cards, envelopes, stickers, ribbon, paint chips, and pom poms, along with scissors, glue, and writing tools.  For our older children who are ready to write them, we also added some commonly used words and phrases, such as to, from, love, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

But perhaps the one element that  never changes, though, is the one thing that continues to make this center so inviting for our children.  Each child has their own mailbox…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

Our “mailboxes” are our DIY friendship blocks that we created at the beginning of the school year.  They are made of simple, sturdy cardboard paper tubes.  Each child’s picture is taped to their very own tube.

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

We went back later and added the children’s names to each tube too which helped with writing letters to each other. These friendship blocks make perfect the little mailboxes for our writing station…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

The children have been busy at work, creating letters and cards for one another.  Sometimes their creations end up in their own mailboxes for them to take home.  But more often than not, the children carry on this season’s spirit of giving and stuff their friends’ mailboxes with their creations…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

Every day, our writing station stays busy with children writing, coloring, cutting, and creating…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

We will, of course, use our writing station to create cards for our parents…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

And we may even wrap our parent gifts at our writing station.  But be warned.  If you set out wrapping paper and tape, your children may just begin wrapping up classroom toys…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

Pre-literacy and fine motor skills are always important elements of an early childhood program.  But I think promoting the spirit of giving is equally important in young children.  And our Christmas writing station does just that…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

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DIY Friendship Blocks

I put together a set of friendship blocks (or tubes) for my class to play with and as to also use as a tool for helping my students get more familiar with each other…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

To make our friendship blocks, we printed a photo of each child on paper and cut it out. Then we taped each photo to a tube using clear packing tape and placed all the tubes in the shelf in our block center…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

In my years of teaching, I have noticed that my students tend to begin the year playing beside each other (parallel play) rather than with each other. Because of this, it isn’t unusual for the children to take quite some time to learn each other’s name or to really put a name to face…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

Our friendship blocks are helping the children draw connections between faces and names. The friendship blocks also give each child a sense of community and belonging as they see their personalized block standing up and along side all the other children in the classroom…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

The friendship blocks are available for play all throughout the day but we have also been using them as a large group to create friendship towers…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

Or to invite discussion about ourselves or each other…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

Some of the children like to set their friendship tube next to them throughout the day while they do other activities…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

And as a little bonus, I printed and cut out an extra set of photos for our magnet board.  Yes, we are finding ourselves all over our classroom…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

And with the help of our friendship blocks and our people magnets, my students are getting a solid grasp on who is who in our classroom and are quickly feeling more comfortable with each other and as a community…

Friendship Blocks by Teach Preschool

About our Tube Blocks

To learn more about where we collected these tubes for free, be sure and read this post —-> Building and playing with our free tube blocks and where you can find them too.

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By | September 30th, 2013|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , , , |10 Comments

How to make friends in kindergarten

Today, Sarah from How Wee Learn has joined me to bring you a few tips for helping children make friends in kindergarten. Sarah is a mom of three children and has been a kindergarten teacher for many years. Now let’s take a look at what Sarah has for us all today…

Making friends in Kindergarten

Kindergarten is an exciting time for many children and their parents. But with that excitement comes some challenges. One area of concern for many parents is fostering friendships for their Kindergarten child. Every parent wants to be sure their child has a friend in Kindergarten.

Building Friendships in Kindergarten

How can parents help foster friendships for their Kindergartener when they are not in the classroom themselves? Having taught Kindergarten for years, I have some suggestions.

  1. Model and teach how to be a friend

Hopefully, before your child starts Kindergarten, she has had some time to be with other children – whether that is in a preschool, a playgroup, or simply at local parks. If your Kindergarten child has not had much of this yet, there is no better time to start. Use any opportunity to model and teach what ‘Being a Good Friend’ looks like. Focus on sharing and caring – but be sure to have your wee one expect the same respect. In Kindergarten some children are so busy sharing that they never get a turn themselves. Remind your little one that she must stand up for herself too.

  1. Send friendly postcards

One year, a wise Mama made sweet postcards on the first day of school and asked that I hand them out to all of the children at the end of the day. The postcards said the name of the child, her parents, and her phone number and that she would love to get together at a park for a play sometime. This was a great ice breaker and the child received lots of play invitations.

Building Friendships in Kindergarten

  1. Have play dates outside of school

Since Kindergarten children are still so young, they still need help with friendship skills. Having play dates with friends outside of school gives parents the opportunity to continue building on social skills.

  1. Never hesitate to chat with the teacher

Most Kindergarten teachers put a lot of emphasis and focus on friendships and social skills. Most do lessons and specific teaching on what being a friend means and teachers try very hard to observe the children at play and address any issues as well as highlight positive behaviours. That being said, there are usually a lot of children in one Kindergarten classroom. There will be comments or issues that go unseen by the Teacher. Please never assume the Teacher knows of trouble your wee one is having. Children thrive in the classroom when parents are involved. A quick call to your child’s teacher is always welcomed.

Kindergarten is a time full of learning and adventure. It is quite the journey and having good friends makes that journey so much more fun!

About Sarah

Sarah from Three Wee Ones

I am a Mama to 3 wee ones and I have been a Kindergarten teacher for many years.  I now have the opportunity to stay home with my children and blog about How my Wee ones Learn at home.   I write daily about simple, creative, and fun play-based learning activities that are meant to support the natural curiosity and wonder wee ones have.  I love to connect and learn from other Mama’s and believe a supportive community (even an online one!) is what all Mamas and their wee ones need to learn, grow, and thrive.

A special thanks to Sarah for sharing with us today! Be sure to visit Sarah over at How We Learn!

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Celebrating graduation day in preschool

We are soon coming to the end of our current school year and in honor of the time we have spent together and what the future holds, we celebrate with a fun, simple, but very memorable preschool graduation…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

There are many different thoughts about whether or not it is “appropriate” for preschoolers to participate in a graduation program or ceremony. I can’t answer that for you because I think it all depends on the approach you take and if your approach will be a meaningful and enriching experience for your students and their parents. While you consider what you believe is in the best interest of your students and parents, I thought I would share what our graduation day was like last year and talk a little bit about why we celebrate this day together…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

Why we celebrate

I have a small preschool and all of my students are with me from the day they enter the program until the day they leave my program.  During their time with me, my students grow and learn so much that it is simply amazing. I don’t want the last day of their time with me to just come and go as if it wasn’t significant. I want my students and their parents to know that their time in preschool was precious and that I valued every second of it. I want to offer my students and parents the chance to celebrate the closing of their preschool years and the beginning of new experiences to come. Our graduates are moving on to new discoveries and new accomplishments but they take with them the many discoveries and accomplishments we shared together and this is all worth celebrating…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

How we celebrate

In my preschool, all the students are involved in the graduation celebration. They all march down the red carpet together with the younger (future-graduates) leading the way.  Last year, all the children marched down the isle to the lively tune of “I’m Bringing Home My Baby Bumble Bee.”  This got our program off to a fun, relaxed, and very preschool focused start…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

Before graduation day, we went outside a couple of times and practiced our walk down the isle so the children would know what to do on graduation day but my assistant and I were there to remind them as needed on the day of graduation…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

We also spent a couple of days practicing our songs that we planned to sing for the parents.  The songs we sing each year are usually all songs we have been singing throughout the school year so the children are already familiar with them and comfortable singing them together…

Lauging together on the stage

On the day of graduation, all the children sing a couple of songs together first and then our graduates sing a song on their own plus demonstrate a few things they have learned throughout the school year…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And then I call up each child to the stage. Each of our future graduates get a certificate for completing a year in preschool…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And each of our graduates get their diploma for completing their preschool experience…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

While each student is up on the stage, I take a quick minute to share something special about each child. This gives parents a little extra time to take photos and me the chance to tell how proud I am of each of my students…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And once all the children have received their diploma or certificate, we end our celebration with a fun song the children can freely dance and have fun with…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

The parents and children then all stick around and eat cake, visit with one another, and then we call it a night. I would say the entire presentation lasts about 45 minutes from walking down the isle to dancing to our last song. Because our graduation celebration is held outdoors, we don’t try and do a slide presentation but no worries, my parents have been seeing photos of everything we do in our classroom all year long in our private online forum and here on the blog.

Wrapping it all up

This year, I might change up the order or layout or the songs we sing just a bit but what will be the same this year and every year will be the focus of our celebration. The focus is always on the accomplishments my students made throughout the year and the great things that are ahead.  The graduation ceremony is designed to celebrate those things through a fun, relaxed, and simple preschool celebration.

PS. For those who are wondering about our graduation robes, we ordered them from Rhyme University this year. I hope I get them on time! As far as why we wear them? Because they are beautiful and it makes our graduates feel special. Besides all preschool age children love dressing up – especially to come to a celebration!

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Links to Grow On

Ideas for Graduation Day on Pinterest

Totally Tubular: Creative expression on a tube

I recently had a parent donate a paper roll dispenser to my class and so we have been having some fun exploring different ways we can use our paper roll dispenser, besides just dispensing paper.  Over the past few weeks we have been going totally tubular and placing different sizes of tubes on our dispenser for a little creative expression through painting, drawing and writing…

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

For painting, we put two of our tube blocks on the paper roll dispenser and set out some paint for the children to explore. The children enjoyed painting all around the tubes and turning the tubes as they went along….

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

Because there were two tubes and two sets of paints, most of the children explored the totally tubular center with a friend.  What a great way to promote creativity, conversation, and collaboration!..

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

And as a reminder, you can read more about the tubes that we are painting on in my previous post titled, “Building and playing with our free tube blocks and where you can find them too“…

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

Not only did we do a little tube painting, but we also tried a little tube drawing only for the drawing tube, we used an oatmeal container covered with paper…

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

The oatmeal tube gave our students a larger canvas to work with.  As each child finished drawing, we either removed the paper and added a new one to the oatmeal container or we covered the drawing with a new sheet of paper or we left it and others would come and add to the drawing that was already there.  We let the children tell us what they preferred to do as we went along throughout the day…

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

Some of the children preferred to work alone on the drawing tube and others preferred to draw with a friend…

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

Instead of changing the tube, this time we kept the oatmeal container and changed out the paper from white drawing paper to black construction paper…

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

The children used white chalk to draw on the black construction paper…

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

No question that the tubular painting was the biggest favorite of the children overall but each new tube, process, and writing tool has provided its own type of interesting experience along the way…

Totally Tubular by Teach Preschool

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By | January 17th, 2013|Categories: Around the Classroom, Creative Art|Tags: , , , , |4 Comments

Making friendship bracelets in preschool

Many of my students are new to each other this year so to help them become more familiar with each other, Mrs. Courtney and I spent a little more time on helping the children get to know each other…

We started our discussion on friendship by taking a picture walk through our Clifford Magazine by Scholastic and today’s topic was on different ways we can make friends…

After reading our Clifford magazine, we invited the children to make friendship bracelets. To prepare for our friendship bracelet activity, Mrs. Courtney and I cut up straws into small pieces and put each color in a different baggie along with a pipe cleaner….

Each child chose one baggie of straw beads and were then invited to share their color of beads with the other children so that everyone could make a bracelet with all the different colors…

Some of the children were very comfortable asking others if they could please have one of their beads to add to their bracelet. Other children were not so comfortable asking and needed Mrs. Courtney and I to help them do the asking.  But every child was happy to share their beads with anyone who asked…

In the end, we didn’t worry about whether every child made a bracelet that had all the colors and neither did the children…

Instead, we let the children interpret this process in a way that they enjoyed or understood…

Some children were very interested in collecting a bead from all the other children and some children just preferred making a pattern or using only their favorite color of bead…

Regardless of how the children chose to make a bracelet, this process did encourage the children to talk to each other and to spend a few minutes sharing and helping each other along the way…

Thank You!

I want to give my friend Wendy Young over at Kidlutions: Solutions for Kids Spin-Doctor Parenting a big thank you for sharing this idea with me!  Since my class definitely put their own “spin” on this idea – be sure to stop by Kidlutions to see the Friendship Bracelet Tutorial!

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By | September 16th, 2012|Categories: Friendship|Tags: , , , , |5 Comments

Working together to create our friendship apple tree

In my previous post, I shared our sticky apple table and mentioned that each child selected a few apples from the sticky table to add to our friendship apple tree…

While the sticky table apples were happening at one table, the children were also painting our friendship tree at another table…

Mrs. Courtney mixed a little glue in the green paint so the apples would stick to the tree when we were ready…

The children worked together to paint both the top of the tree and the tree trunk. They used a small scraper to add a texture to our tree trunk as well…

We also added each child’s name to the apples so that every child would have their very own apple on the tree…

Because there was glue in the paint, the children were able to add their apple, stem and leaf to the tree before the paint dried and then we set the tree top and trunk aside to dry…

And once the apple tree was completely dry, we displayed it on the wall for all the children to see their names and to help us remember that we are part of a community…

 

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Links to Grow on

A collection of Apple Crafts from the Crafty Crow

A is for Apple from Preschool Daze

Apple Pie Playdough from Little Wonders’ Days

Ten Thumbprint Apples from House of Baby Piranha

By | September 15th, 2012|Categories: Friendship|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

Sticky table friendship apples

It is very important at the beginning of a new school year to help the children begin the process of making new friends and feeling part of a community of friends…

Of course the process of building friendships and creating a sense of community is an ongoing process but to draw the children’s attention to the idea of community and to promote discussion about friendship, we read aloud the children’s book “Little Mouse and the Big Red Apple” by A.H. Benjamin and Gwyneth Williamson during circletime…

“Little Mouse and the Big Red Apple” is about a little mouse that has found an apple and is rolling it to his home for a feast. Although little mouse really isn’t into sharing his apple, other animals help little mouse out of one situation after another so that he can continue to roll his apple towards home….

The apple book was a good way to invite a brief discussion about friends and how they can help us. Then we took a minute to look at a few real apples and make a simple apple pattern followed by a quick name game where each child took a turn rolling the apple (because the mouse rolled his apple in the book) to another child in the group and as they did, we worked on calling out each other’s name…

During center time, the children found construction paper apple, stem, and leaf shapes at the sticky table.  The sticky table is simply contact paper taped to a table with the sticky side facing up …

As the children went to the table, they began to take out the pieces and form their own apples on the sticky table…

I use a heavy brand of construction paper for the sticky table so the paper can be stuck onto the table but also peeled back up without tearing.  A thin construction paper would tear if you tried to peel it back up.  Tagboard would work well too…

The children came and went through out our morning center time adding apples to the sticky table…

Some children put a more unique spin on the apple building process…

And throughout the morning, I invited each child to pick at least one apple, stem, and leaf to set aside for our friendship apple tree that I will share with you in my next post…

A super simple and fun way to explore the parts of an apple and when the children were done for the morning, I peeled the apples that were still on the sticky paper off and set them aside for another day. I then took the sticky paper off of the table and taped it up in our window for our sticky square collage (which I shared with you the other day). As you can see below, the apples came off quite nicely…

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Links to Grow on

We made apple pies in preschool by Teach Preschool

Lacing up apples in preschool by Teach Preschool

Felt Apple Activity by Kids Activities Blog

Paper Plate Apple by Little Learner’s Lounge

By | September 15th, 2012|Categories: Children's Books, Friendship|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Building community within a mixed age group of young children

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you should know that the children in my class range from age 3 to age 5. My 3/4 year olds come to preschool 2 days a week and my Pre-K students come 3 days a week. One thing I am working on in my classroom is the sense of community. I want all the children to feel like they belong and I believe part of making them feel like they belong is teaching them how to care about and serve each other….

Last week, I shared with you how my pre-k class made nature shadow boxes.  Having the Pre-k do this on pre-k day worked out great because when I decided to have my threes give this a try, my Pre-K kids were ready to help them out and already knew all the ropes of how to make a nature box…

I assigned each pre-k child a three year old partner and asked them if they would help their partners create a nature shadow box.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was with these kids – both the threes and the pre-k children.  The threes were so excited to have an older partner and the pre-k kids were clearly proud to help their partners complete their projects…

It was one of those moments that you just want to stop and hug everybody in the room! With just a few instructions from me, the pre-k kids led their partners through each of the steps. My instructions were only that the pre-k kids had to let their partners do as much of the process as they could all by themselves…

It is only natural that each child has their favorite friend or is drawn to play with one child over another -this is human nature. My goal isn’t to dictate who needs to be friends with who but to promote kindness and support for each other regardless if it is their best friend or not…

Once we got to the painting part of our process, I invited the pre-k kids to join in and paint too.  They had been so patient and willing to let the threes do most of the process but I could see they were just itching to try the painting too.  The threes loved painting with their partners…

Partnering is a way to help strengthen our community of learners. The older children looked so grown up as they were helping their younger counterparts and the joy on the three’s faces as they got all that special attention from the older children was priceless…

By | November 20th, 2011|Categories: Classroom Management|Tags: , , , |10 Comments