The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

This Week in Our Room: June 19-23, 2017

It’s been a Royal Week in the Kindergarten. It really has just been so much fun watching the growing independence of our amazing children.

We had a wonderful time at the Vancouver Aquarium on Monday! The natural curiosity and wonder of 5- and 6- year old children as they asked hundreds of questions, shared their knowledge and tried to make connections with their understanding of the Ocean World is truly astounding. It was so clear to us how many discussions the children have had with their parents, read books and watched movies together and taken in so much information. We’re proud that our students have such a keen interest and awareness of the natural environment and as are all stewards of the Earth, we’re motivated to help conserve as much as we can for their learning and enjoyment in the future.

We had a serious chat with our children about the importance of representing our school while we were away on our field trip. Attendance on a field trip is a privilege; as the teachers, we need to be able to trust our children while they are being supervised in a non-school setting by us, parent volunteers and interacting with the Aquarium staff. As we moved through the exhibits, we watched our children walking between the crowds, staying within sight of their adult leaders and taking turns with students from other schools at the shared activities. For Christy and myself, observing the transfer of self-regulation strategies to multiple social environments is key for us in confirming our teaching practises.

Our next major event of the week was a day of great excitement: Division 16’s William was Ridgeview’s Principal for a Day. William’s family had the highest bid for this special privilege during the live auction at our school’s Library Modernization Fundraiser Gala back in May. William was able to spend half a day with our principal, Mrs. Valerie Brady, to learn all about the different responsibilities and decision-making the principal of a large school has to take on.

For his first principal decision, William extended the morning recess by five minutes, much to the delight of the student body. A tour of the custodial offices, a visit to the school kitchen to check on the leftover Sports Day Freezies and a ride on the school elevator down to the Primary wing to deliver the Grade One school supplies “suitcases” made for a busy and productive morning.

It just so happened that Principal of the Day coincided with the Kindergarten Prince and Princess dress-up day. We welcomed our handsome princes in their suits, jacket and ties and our lovely ladies who wore their beautiful fairytale gowns. We made beautiful Fairy Tale castle covers for our Fairy Tale activities and decorated them with glitter. After recess, the Kindergarten children walked through all of the Primary classes on a Royal Parade. And at lunch, we ate some of the yummiest cookies we’ve ever tasted (Circus Circus cookies from Fresh Street Market) courtesy of the “Principal’s Office.”

We finished off the school week with the annual Primary Variety Show featuring children from Kindergarten to Grade 3. Students performed on the piano, sang, played guitar and we even had an amazing hoola hoop dance! Division 16’s Maaike played the piano for an appreciative audience and we were very pleased and proud that one of our own was up on stage.

All in all, it was a very satisfying week.

This is the last Kindergarten newsletter! We can’t believe how quickly the time has gone and how our little ones have grown to now be entering Grade One.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

This week we are collecting all Home Reading books. Last Friday was the last day to take home books. Please return all books you might have a home.

Tuesday, June 27: It’s our “Beach Day” for Kindergarten. We’re not actually going to the beach; rather, we’re going to do some beachy activities in our undercover playground. The table we use in the House Corner for a baby change table was just recently discovered by some students to actually be a water table, so we will bring it out and put it to its proper use. We’ll have sand trays, bubble blowing, hoola hoops, and lots of outdoor games such as chalk, skipping ropes and hopscotch going on. Thanks to our parent volunteers for bringing in snacks!

Wednesday, June 28: It’s the Grade 7 Graduation Ceremony and our children are playing a very important role. We will be presenting flowers to our Big Buddies. We would like our children to dress-up for this formal occasion. Children can bring clothes to change into for the afternoon. We will open the staff washroom for them and the children can change one at a time in private if they wish.

Girls: dresses, skirt and top; dress shoes
Boys: dress shirts, pants; dress shoes or cleaned up running shoes

We should be “on” around 11:40 am, if the schedule is the same as last year’s. Parents are welcome to come and watch but please leave room for us to enter the gym and walk up along the East wall.

Thursday, June 29: It’s the last day of Kindergarten and we will just be enjoying some time with our students. Please remember that dismissal is at 12 noon for Kindergarten only.

 

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This Week in Our Room: June 12-16, 2017

We’ve had a lot going on this week. Our music for calming the past number of weeks has been “Deep in An Ancient Hawaiian Forest” from the soundtrack The Descendants. We can just feel the sun on our faces, the sand beneath our feet and the ocean breeze ruffling our hair. We continue to be amazed at how easily the children have slipped into the routine of taking their places on the meeting area carpet, cross legged, eyes closed and breathing blissfully.

We finished our last Fairy Tale in class, “Cinderella.” We made “glass slippers,” read three different versions of Cinderella, including the class favourite Cinderella Penguin by Janet Perlman talked about magical objects and the recurring theme of “3” that permeates most fairy tales. Next Tuesday is Prince and Princess Day so please dress-up if you wish!

We learned about what a seed needs to grow (soil, water, air, time, love) and enjoyed “The Garden” from Frog and Toad are Friends by Arthur Lobel. We also made a paper seed. Our bean plants were sent home last week, a crossover activity between “Jack in the Beanstalk” from Fairy Tales and more talk about seeds.

But the big focus for this week was Sports Day. And we can say Sports Day 2017 was a fantastic day for our Kindergarten children.

Mother Nature smiled upon us and gave us a glorious (with a touch of cloud) weather day for our Ridgeview Sports Day. Thank you so much to our Vice-Principal, Mr. Blackburn (@njblackburn) for organising a great day for our school and our Grade 6 Leaders who were outstanding in looking after our little ones so well.

We’re really fortunate at Ridgeview that our Principal, Mrs. Brady, (@vjbrady) who understands early childhood development so well, and in consultation with us, makes thoughtful and wise choices regarding our Kindergarten children.

At Ridgeview we scaffold participating in Sports Day for our students so they complete a reduced number of activity stations, enjoy a Freezie with their team, then return to their classrooms for a big, healthy snack, Centre time and Face Painting (courtesy of our Grade 7 helpers) for even more fun. We’ve been doing this for just three out of the past 11 years we’ve been teaching Kindergarten. The Kindergartens get a glimpse of a super high energy day but can return to the safety and comfort of their classmates and classroom when we’ve deemed that they’ve had enough, something they’re not able to measure quite yet because they are so young.

Over the last 11 years we’ve taught 16 Kindergarten classes (due to the half day program until 2011). Here are some of the things we’ve learned about Kindergarten, Sports Day and Self-Regulation:

The children need to eat a good snack (more than a Freezie) and close to their regular snack time to help with their self-regulation;
The children need a time to centre themselves again in their self-regulated, familiar classroom environment to calm their bodies and relax before continuing on with the rest of their day;
The children want to participate in play with their own age group for part of school their day;
The children can enjoy the fun “Fair” like atmosphere of Sports Day but in graduated amounts of time; we do not need to give every opportunity Ridgeview offers in Kindergarten. Your children will be here for 7 more years to experience the many programs and activities we provide when our school determines it is age-appropriate.

We can say that Sports Day has been “tear free” for these past three years and remembered as a happy day, filled with fun and friendship, just as it should be.

And finally, Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dads!

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Monday, June 19:
We did not send home Home Reading Books on Friday. But we will go back to our routine on Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week. Next Friday will be the last book exchange and chance to take books home; and we would like all of our home reading books returned to the classroom during the last week of school.

Monday is our Vancouver Aquarium field trip and we are all so looking forward to our special day out together. Please remember to send your child’s lunch, snacks and water bottle in their backpacks, and dress for the weather.

Tuesday, June 20:
Division 16’s William will be Principal for the Morning on Tuesday. William will complete a few Principal duties with Mrs. Brady to learn what being a Principal involves and make some “executive decisions.” We’re really excited to hear what they might be!

It’s also Prince and Princess Day so our boys and girls are welcome to dress-up. They may also dress-up as fairy tale characters if they wish. In previous years we’ve also had some of our boys dress up as heroes (Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker) who save princesses. Dress-up is optional; however, no swords may be brought to school.

Thursday, June 22:
Primary Variety Show — Division 16’s Maaike will be performing.

Friday, June 23:
Forest Friday – please bring your boots.
Parent Volunteer Tea in the Library

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This Week in Our Room: June 5-9, 2017

We can tell the end of the school year is approaching when we take a look back over the course of this week.

We had another relay practise with both classes for PE this week. Sports Day is on Friday so it’s important to us that the children have had lots of opportunity to try a variety of relays in mixed groupings. They are getting really good at listening to some quick instructions, then they’re off either running, skipping, balancing or tossing in some combination as they go down the length of the gym, around the pylon and back to their team to pass the relay item on to the next child.

A reminder for all parents that Mrs. Campbell’s class should wear RED and Mrs. Daudlin’s class is wearing BLUE. Parents, show your school spirit and dress up in the colour of your child’s team and come and cheer us on.

Kindergarten students will be dismissed at 12 pm on Sports Day from their classrooms.

We had lots of Library action this week as Tuesday was the last library book exchange for Kindergarten! The next time your child borrows a book from the school library will be when he or she is in Grade One. We also had a wonderful visit from the West Vancouver Memorial Library to talk about the Summer Reading Program.

We really encourage all of our children to register for this great summer reading event. They have all been working so hard on their home reading and this is a great way to maintain those literacy skills over the next two months. Please keep in mind there is a summer reading program at ALL public libraries so you can register at your neighbourhood library. As avid readers ourselves, a weekly visit to the public library for more books to read are something we very much anticipate on the holidays. You can read here and here about our summer reading adventures.

You need to go to the library in person to register for program; this year’s theme is called “Walk on the Wild Side.” Each child is given a form to fill in after 15 minutes of reading per day. If your child is not reading yet, then he or she would sign up for the “Read to Me” program and parents would read aloud stories. There are weekly prizes for all participants as they would check in at the library every week to borrow new books.

Some really fun books were read aloud to the children, and you may wish to borrow them again for lots of giggles at home:
Explorers of the Wild (Cale Atkinson)
Bob, Not Bob (Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick)
One Day (Rebecca Kai Dotlich)
They All Saw a Cat (Brendan Wenzel)

We had a super day on Wednesday with High Touch High Tech’s science workshop, “Newton in a Nutshell.” Our children were excellent listeners and participated very well in the group discussions. We were particularly impressed with how well they remembered to raise their hands to ask a question or make a comment, and then wait to be called upon…good self-regulation!

There was a lot of movement between the tables and the carpet and our children managed their bodies, enthusiasm and curiosity well as they just focused on the task. We flung pompoms with catapults, used spinner pens, raced mini cars and watched marbles spin down a vortex! It was an amazing experience for everyone.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Home Reading Books: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays

ALL Library Books must be returned on Tuesday so Mrs. Kennedy can begin inventory.

Sports Day is on Friday, June 16. Please remember to wear your team colour. We will begin promptly after the singing of O Canada and the morning announcements; please try to arrive on time for school. Traditionally, Sports Day is a very well attended event so parking is going to be at a premium and you’ll want to give yourselves some extra time.

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Change, Routines and Self-Regulation

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a “normal” schedule. It’s probably going to be like this until the end of the schoolyear. We’ve had a lot of schedule changes this term and numerous special visits and activities which has thrown us off our regular routine. Well, it’s a very good thing for our Kindergarten cuties and their self-regulation: they’ve helped us to stay steady, grounded and in the green zone.

Now, don’t get us wrong. It’s been a very FUN time. We’ve been doing lots of interesting activities but when you are schedule, routine oriented people, as we are, it does require quite a bit of flexibility to change. When we fit in all of these extra events, we still have our regular classroom lessons to teach and projects to finish up with our students; we don’t let all of that go.

But it made us realise how much we rely on our timetable, which we know to be a good thing. A sense of structure, predictability and knowing what’s going to happen next is really important to help reduce uncertainty and anxiety. We see our children check the visual schedule in the classroom everyday, at most transitions. If we’ve made an error in the schedule, or forget to change it, they certainly notice and we are duly informed. The children want to know where we are in the schedule; it gives them a sense of comfort in counting down the activities until they can see their mom and dad at the end of the day.

When the children are aware of the expectations for themselves and others they feel calm and confident. They know what’s expected of them and what to do, so they can bring their focused attention to learning. This is a vital part of our self-regulation, being able to centre ourselves to be ready to learn. Being cognizant of what we need to do to down-regulate, whether through deep breathing, calming countdowns, or quiet activities such as walking, colouring or reading, is learned as we explore our emotions, how we’re feeling and connecting them to words and strategies. The Incredible Flexible You and the Zones of Regulation are two of the pro-social programs we use in our Kindergarten.

We practise daily strategies for self-regulation. Everyday we listen to calming music and feel our bodies relaxing. Then, we listen to the Zenergy chime and practise deep breathing to develop our mindfulness. Sometimes, we do stretches. We’re getting outside more as the weather has improved, and started our Forest Fridays, so adding some springtime walks is the next strategy to add to our repertoire.

While change is healthy and necessary for growth, we also know that too much change too quickly leaves one feeling out of control, upset and frustrated. This is why routines are such a necessary part of Kindergarten. We want the children to feel safe and secure during their day. When we do have to make changes to our daily schedule, we make sure we explain very carefully to our classes what is going to happen and why. We try to make certain that there are not too many changes in a day or week, although that can be difficult to control sometimes.

So when and where we can, we start with small changes and practise.

We might change the order of how we do things in our day.

We might change the children in the groups for Centre time.

We might change the way we print our name – in crayon or felt pen, rather than a pencil.

These seem like small things, but experience has taught us that we cannot expect five and six-year old children to accept change and adapt ”just like that,” or that “it’s good for them,” without practise. The teaching and scaffolding around changing set routines is necessary so that our children develop an understanding of why things change and the resiliency to cope with them. While we love our routines, we also want our children to learn to embrace change, without fear or hesitation. We’re looking to build strong, flexible students for a constantly changing world.

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This Week in Our Room: May 29-June 2, 2017

This week, Thursday was our most anticipated day of the week as we were looking forward to a walk in our playground forest with our Vice-Principal, Mr. Blackburn, to review safe, appropriate play.

On our beautiful school grounds, our children are particularly fortunate to have many choices: a large soft surface playground with a climbing structure, a black top area for games such as hopscotch, skipping and outdoor chalk, and as they get older, a huge grass field and gravel field for baseball, football and soccer.

 

But more so than any other area, the small forest on the edge of our playground has always held the greatest attraction.

What is it about the woods? On Thursday the air smelled spicy and delicious after the rain fell. There’s a very pretty creek that runs along two sides with a bridge, large boulders and a huge tree stump for climbing. It’s a magical place, perfect for imaginary play, daydreaming, digging and dam building. We really couldn’t ask for more for healthy, outdoor play for our Kindergarten children.

You can read more about our thoughts on outdoor play here

But today’s post is for parent information about the expectations for our students during their forest play time.

We’ve decided to call it Forest Fridays: during the school day, our children will be able to use the forest area on Fridays during their morning recess and during our afternoon playtime. Our Playground supervisors, or Christy and myself, will supervise the children.

At the start of our walk, at the entrance to the forest, Mr. Blackburn asked the children what they noticed: a creek, birds in the trees and berries. The children learned the forest is a living, breathing thing; it’s alive, it grows just like we do, there are living creatures in the trees and on the ground. They also found out they are not to eat anything from the forest, including the berries. Leaves, branches and flowers stay on the trees and shrubs; it’s ok to pick up things from the forest floor.

The children will always enter the forest via the bridge. They are expected to walk in the centre of the bridge, not the sides as the wood trim is very slippery when wet.

The best kind of footwear for forest play is rainboots. This way, the children are always prepared to play in the creek if they wish. Shoes and socks are not suitable attire for creek play because shoes can absorb water, wet socks are uncomfortable and wet feet…well, wet feet do not feel good. Children are to be respectful of others in the creek – no splashing or kicking water.

Sticks and rocks are acceptable tools for forest play when they are used for building and digging. It’s unexpected for students to use sticks for hitting and rocks for throwing; it’s expected students will use sticks and rocks respectfully in their imaginary play. Sticks should be pointed down while walking.

We want the children to be respectful of life in the forest. That means the many roots they see on the ground are to be treated carefully. There is to be no kicking or digging up of tree roots. Bugs are to be observed and allowed to carry on in their daily work.

The forest boundary for the children includes not going further than the group of large rocks at the entrance of the creek and not on the upper bridge. Glass found in the forest is not beach glass and should be left alone.

 

Here are some fun photos of our first Forest Friday!

Navigating the rocks…

 

Exploring the hole in that tree!

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Home Reading Book Exchange: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays

Library Book Exchange: Tuesdays

Wednesday, June 7: High Touch High Tech Science Workshop, “Newton in a Nutshell.” Please remember to visit SchoolCash Online to make your donation of $11 at your earliest convenience.

Thursday, June 8: West Vancouver Memorial Library Summer Reading Club Presentation

Friday, June 16: Sports Day. Sports Day is just around the corner. Please note that Kindergarten students only will be dismissed at 12 pm. We do not eat our lunch at school that day. If your child attends Camp Ridgeview on Fridays, please inform them about the early pick-up.

Mrs. Campbell’s Class is on the Red Team.
Mrs. Daudlin’s Class is on the Blue Team.
Our children should be dressed in their team colours – at least a t-shirt, please.

You’ll see that our school really dresses up, so matching hats and socks, hair paint (optional) all help to show our team spirit. Parents are welcome to watch.

Kindergarten Sports Day Schedule:
Kindergarten students should eat a good breakfast so they can sustain their energy and be self-regulated for the morning.

8:50 AM School Begins; Team Cheer on blacktop area outside our classrooms; Sports Day begins
10:30 AM (approx.) Freezie Break
10:45 AM (approx.) Kindergarten students return to their classrooms for their regular snack (they will be very hungry so please pack a big snack).
11:00 AM Centre Time and Face Painting (optional) by Grade 7 Students
12:00 PM Dismissal from our classrooms

Wednesday, June 28: Grade 7 Graduation Ceremony. Our children will be presenting flowers individually to their Grade 7 Big Buddies. This is a formal event and we ask the Kindergarten to wear their best. You are all welcome to attend. We expect to be onstage around 11:30 am but we will update you with more details to come. This is a very important moment for the Grade 7s and quite an emotional one for us, so come and shed some happy tears with the teachers as we see our Senior students off to high school and what the future looks like for our little ones.

Thursday, June 29: This is the last day of school for students. Please note that Kindergarten students only will be dismissed at 12 pm.

 

 

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