When I was a kid, I loved when my favorite TV shows had special guest stars make appearances during episodes. Something about seeing famous celebrities interacting with the “regulars” on the shows made them a special treat!
At A House on Beekman Preschool, we have our own special guest stars that show up on a weekly or monthly basis. Our kids have begun to anticipate these “celebrities” and we all look forward to their visits.
Since September, we have enjoyed a partnership with the 7th and 8th graders from Geneva School of Manhattan. These incredible students have embraced our preschoolers by reading with them, leading games and crafts, playing with them on the playground, accompanying them to learning centers, and even hosting a Christmas party where each preschooler was presented with a special book! It’s such a gift to see teenagers giving of themselves as they become positive role models for our young children. We are blessed to have these guest stars each month, and we look forward to more visits this year!
We have also begun to look forward to our weekly guest stars, a set of special parent volunteers who give one morning a week to assist us during “work time.” Because much of a preschooler’s most important learning happens through exploration and hands-on play, we see work time as one of the most important parts of our day. It is ideal to have many adults available to scaffold the children’s learning as they explore throughout the room, and we are overjoyed that our parents are excited about interacting with the children in this way.
We have been blessed abundantly in our preschool program, and we’re thankful for each and every person who has invested in our kids…whether in person, through prayer or financial support. Thank you so much!
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we had many opportunities to celebrate together at the after-school program. Christmas is of course a time when the kids look forward to the gifts Santa will bring and all the yummy treats they get to enjoy at parties and holiday events. But we were so grateful that somehow in the midst of all this, the overwhelming theme of the season at after-school became joy in giving.
In the “Family Time” part of our program, we studied generosity as our character trait of the month. To practice generosity as a whole community, the kids led a food and clothing drive for those in need in their neighborhood. After several weeks of gathering donations, the older kids trekked across the park to help deliver a car-full of supplies to a local ministry. They were welcomed back to our program space by the younger kids eager to serve them hot cocoa.
We also spent about a week preparing for our big family Christmas party. The kids knew they would be receiving presents, but again, the overwhelming buzz surrounded the gifts they would have an opportunity to give. A week before the party, the kids were able to work on hand-made presents for their loved ones. We saw them put real thought into the bracelets, wallets, mugs and poems they crafted—what colors to choose, what would make their loved one feel special.
The kids also spent that week preparing to give each other “Secret Santa” gifts. They pored over the “wish-list” their person had filled out and used it to choose a just-right gift. All week long, Ibrahima wondered and hoped aloud if his Santa had chosen a Transformer toy for him. Meanwhile, Teyri kept the secret—showing no signs that he was Ibrahima’s Santa. At the party, after opening his Transformer, Ibrahima rushed Teyri, telling him he was the “best friend in the world!” When Teyri talked about the party, this was the story he gushed about—rather than the gifts he had received.
As we have returned to each other in the new year, the joy of this past season lingers. In 2015, we look forward not just to the ways God will use us to give good gifts to the kids—whether gifts of time, attention, or materials—but we also look forward to the ways he will provide them opportunities to give and serve as well.
This week has been busy and exciting as we gear up to Christmas at Babies to Three.
On Tuesday, despite the heavy rain and gales, a number of our group braved the storm and caught the train up to Bloomingdales to spend some time with Father Christmas.
He was a very jolly fellow who was delighted to see us, and told us that he lived very near to Jackson Ave (the home of our Babies to Three program) when he was growing up! I was under the impression that he had always lived at the North Pole but there you go… you learn something new every day!
After having individual and group pictures taken with him, we decided to fill up on hot chocolate and pastries before our return journey to the South Bronx. This was our second outing since we began in September and we chatted on the way home about all the other places we are eager to visit once the warm weather arrives in the spring. The aquarium at Coney Island and the Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum are at the top of the list.
We are also busy planning our Christmas party which happens next Tuesday.
The morning will start with brunch, a quiz/game based on the Parenting course we have just completed, and a chance to make some yummy body scrub resourced and organized by one of the moms in our group. Following the presentation of the parenting certificates, we will be joined by the preschool children for a time of carol singing by candlelight led by Ben and others. Finally we will hear a short talk on the meaning of Christmas by our very own resident pastor, Rich!
Watch this space for photos of the event on our next Babies to Three blog
Wishing you all a Christmas full of God’s peace and joy ……from Babies to Three!
As we’ve reflected on the preschool year so far, one of the bright highlights has to be our “family night,” which took place back in October. It was a night full of laughter, learning, and fun.
We took our families through several routine components of our typical day, and all members of the family were encouraged to participate.
We began with “Large Group Time” demonstrating our message board, which develops critical pre-literacy skills, and a few large group activities. As the group participated, parents were given insight into the purpose and reason for each component and given information about how to reinforce these concepts at home.
We then moved into “Work Time.” As is typical of our day, children were allowed to choose from a variety of materials in each center and move freely from center to center in order to engage in active participatory learning. We were thrilled and amazed to see parents, siblings, grandparents, and all members of the family playing and interacting with their preschoolers throughout the room the entire time!
The night ended with time for families to read with their children. Adults and kids alike expressed that they had a great time, and it was beautiful to see families so excited to support and encourage their children in school. AHOB families are incredible!
**This blog post was written by Sarah Formidoni, our amazing Preschool teacher!**
When we think of a child’s intellectual, emotional and social development, we rightly spend a good deal of time trying to ensure that they get places at the best available schools in the area. And yet, it may come as something of a surprise to learn that the latest evidence on brain development places a great deal of emphasis upon what happens in the very first three years of a child’s life and even while they are still in utero.
At Babies To Three, both in our pregnancy class on Mondays and our parenting group on Thursdays, we have been learning how the brain of the youngest baby can be helped along in the most positive way.
From early secure attachment, which can begin before birth, to understanding how a fetal brain develops during the third trimester we have been learning how parents can influence and optimize their Childs emotional, physical and cognitive health from the very beginning.
So, when it comes to our children, they are never too young to learn… and even though we may be tempted to think that playing with a newborn, or providing them with stimulating environments is more about entertaining them as opposed to educating them, we will in fact be playing a crucial role in brain development.