Invest Early and Often

IMG_1733We’re going through an exciting transition in our family life as our oldest child is graduating from high school this year.

In addition to all the school activities such as watching her final season in Senior Girls Field Hockey, grad photos, purchasing tickets and dresses for grad events, it’s also the last year we are able to contribute on her behalf to her Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RESP) and be eligible for the basic Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). Canada Revenue Agency guidelines states that the calendar year in which your child turns 17 is the final year to receive the grant money for your contribution.  The minimum contribution per year per child is $2500 to obtain the maximum grant money of $500, or a 20% guaranteed return on your investment.  Considering the cost of post secondary schooling these days, every little bit helps. For more information on RESPs and basic, and additional, CESG, click here.

We’ve learned that investing early, and often, can make a significant difference.  And that’s not just in our personal finances.

At school, we’ve begun to settle in to our Kindergarten routines.

Our children wait quietly for their teacher by their classroom door at the start of each day. They know where their hooks are in the cloakroom and are independently hanging up their own coats and backpacks.

At the meeting area, we notice the children are looking towards the Visual Schedule for the day’s events.

The children remember there is only four at a time at an Activity Time Centre, and let us know if they would like to be next for a turn at a favourite activity.

At the end of the recess time, when we blow our whistle the children walk quickly to line up, single file, to return quietly to our classroom.

It seems pretty remarkable that after only two weeks in school that our students can do all these things.  They’re developing independence, listening to and following the teacher’s instructions and making good choices.  So what’s our strategy?

We invest early, and often, in our students.

We’re investing in our Kindergarten students by ensuring we are taking the time particularly during these early September days and certainly for the next few months, to practise, reinforce and if necessary, re-teach our class routines and self-regulation strategies so that they are able to become independent, self-regulated learners.  We never rush in Kindergarten.  We always take the time to do things right.

We start by quickly learning the children’s names, by the end of the first day of the

Kindergarten Gradual Entry.  When we know the children’s names we can call and speak to them specifically, and this will contribute to our overall classroom management.

We stand at the door to greet the children as they walk in each morning.  They settle quickly on the carpet with a storybook, a routine we taught them on the second day of school.  We check in with them frequently as we also watch for more children entering the classroom.

We monitor the children during Activity Time, walking around the classroom to have a few words with each one, letting them know we are here for anything they might need, reassuring them we’re here to look after them.

We make our biggest investment during the eating times of snack and lunch, the least structured times of day inside the classroom.  We take the time to ensure hand washing is done correctly and before we eat. The children understand that the good hand washing we do following the Activity Time and a work period, when we’ve all been sharing materials, means reducing germs which is an investment in our good health.

We supervise the children to ensure that they are eating.  As we have said previously, eating is a calming and self-regulating activity.  When the children have eaten, and have fuel in their bodies, they will be better able to self-regulate their emotions and behaviour for the next part of the day.  We’re making an investment in their ability to have fun during their outside playtime, and for the afternoon’s activities.  The children are excited to play, but our encouragement to eat at snack and lunch can make all the difference between just nibbling or having a satisfying lunch.

We schedule in our timetables time to teach self-regulation and self-regulation strategies.  We’ve introduced the language of the Zones of Regulation these past two weeks and weave it throughout our days with reference to the children’s, and our own, emotions and actions.  

We firmly believe in the teaching and reinforcement of classroom routines in the beginning part of the year.  We know that practise is key and through the use of consistent actions and language, our students are learning to transition calmly between activities, especially walking to the carpet, lining up at the door, using the washrooms and in their general conduct in the classroom.

As parents and teachers, our investment of time and energy during the early years to build a solid foundation for our future global citizens and students of the world, is ultimately an investment in the whole of their schooling.

We’re investing for the long term.

We know that this investment in our children is going to pay off.  Big.

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