Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Traditions

Our theme this month in the preschool is family traditions. I came across this article and thought I would share.

Every family has those inside jokes or groan-inducing nicknames that set them apart from the rest of the world. Did you know that those goofy little jokes are actually family rituals? Contrary to what you may think, rituals don't need to be elaborate, fancy or religious, they just need to be meaningful. Even something as simple as a monthly dinner at your family's favorite restaurant or a weekly trip to the park can serve to help your child develop a sense of belonging.

According to Professor Barbara Fiese, PhD., Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Syracuse, simple family rituals serve an important role in creating a child's sense of identity. "For young children in particular, this is really important.. It's sort of the foundation of their sense of identity and it provides a protection from stress," she explains. "All families experience some forms of stress and the expectation for these regular, predictable routines and these meaningful rituals can sort of ease transitions."

Since in today's busy world families face lots of transitions, it's especially important to create some rituals to strengthen a potentially tenuous family bond. "The rituals that we have and that we create are all sort of shorthand for who we are as a group together," says Fiese. So, the jokes that get repeated over and over again until the punchline alone is enough to make your child spurt milk out his nose help your family develop a common sense of humor and history. But those jokes are rarely intentional. Is an artificially-created ritual as powerful as one that occurs spontaneously?

According to William Doherty, author of The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties, all traditions begin as artificially-created experiences. "The issue," he states, "is whether they fill a need and feel good over time." That's where the idea of simple, but meaningful comes in. If your trip to the park was so much fun that your family decided to make it part of a predictable routine, then you've managed to create a ritual without even trying. Though it won't always be that easy to create a family ritual that stands the test of time, both Fiese and Doherty offer some tips of how to create meaningful rituals. Here are some of their thoughts:

  • Identify a few things your family looks forward to doing together. Sometimes these things are obvious, but sometimes they're not. For example, Fiese points out that many families are "plugged in" to music at the same time, but separately. Her suggestion? Create a family playlist. Once you get over the moans and groans, you'll have a chance to learn about each other's tastes.
  • Preserve and modify the rituals you already have. If your current rituals are meeting your family's need for connection, and provide a sense of identity, keep those traditions going however you can. Continuing to have a large dinner together over Thanksgiving is a great ritual, but as time goes on, you may need to move it from Grandma's house to your own. This meets the need for connection, but also can help keep the ritual from becoming stressful.
  • Be flexible. Your family doesn't stay the same over time, so neither should your rituals. As Doherty puts it: "Rituals have their seasons for planting, cultivating, pruning, and harvesting." Evaluate your traditions periodically to see if they meet everybody's needs and have evolved as your family has aged.

Above all, keep communicating with each other. Open communication is what keeps rituals (and families) healthy. Talking to each other about what makes you happy about what you're doing and what you've done is as crucial as talking about what doesn't work. "One of the key elements in healthy rituals is being able to have open communication about how important people are for the group and to really celebrate the symbolism of each family member," emphasizes Fiese. So the next time your child complains about being called "Pooky," you can tell him it's bringing you closer together!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

5 Little Turkeys

The staff of the Burlington Early Childhood Center would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving break. Take some time the next couple of day to relax and enjoy your family and friends.
Reminder school will close at 11:30 on Wednesday and there will be no afternoon session. School will remain closed on Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving break. Relax and enjoy and we will see you on Monday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Taming Temper Tantrums

Taming Temper Tantrums

Posted: November 17th, 2011 by Michele Borba

What research says are best ways to curb a tantrum before, during and after the storm. The tips I shared on TODAY this morning

Temper tantrums—those annoying kid wails and frails and meltdowns—are common. Studies show that almost 70 percent of young kids have them.

Tantrums are equally as common in girls as in boys. Older kids sometimes resort back to the tantrum stage, especially if there’s been a recent stress or change in their lives or they’ve learned they work to get their way. So if tantrums are common, how do you stop them? New research finally gives parents important clues.

Yale University and King’s College London findings tell us we can hold those sticker charts, fancy point systems or our pleads and threats. The techniques are largely ineffective in changing kid behavior for the long haul.

Studies confirm what is more effective in curbing a tantrum is how the parent responds to the outbursts.

In fact, how parents respond will largely determine whether those kid outbursts decrease or increase.

Here are a few tips I shared with Matt Lauer this morning on TODAY to do before, during and after the storm to curb meltdowns. I also had an enlightening phone chat with Dr. Alan Kazdin (who you may have seen in the B-roll before the set and author of Parenting the Defiant Child) who shared the parenting management programs his team at Yale is doing. His tips for praising good behavior and the using the “Untantrum Game” to teach more appropriate behaviors are below.

Before the Tantrum

Young kids do not have internal brake systems and need you to calm them down or their frustrations can quickly escalate. In some cases you have only seconds before an exorcism begins so don’t wait until your child is in full meltdown to apply these strategies.

Your best defense is to anticipate a tantrum’s onset. Watch for your kid’s signs that a tantrum is on its way: tension, antsy, a whimper. Then try some of these techniques. Hint: You really have to experiment with what works for your child but these are worth the try.

Predict tantrums triggers. The biggest frustration triggers young kids are fatigue, hunger and boredom. You’ll reduce many of those meltdowns by taking him shopping after the nap or eating a snack, or letting him play with something while you wait.

Distract and redirect. Try to redirect your child’s attention: “Let’s go get your teddy.” “I bet you can’t jump up and touch the sky!?” Or try distracting your little one: “Look at that little boy over there.” Your best bet is to try to divert your child’s attention long enough to reroute his energy. But be quick-you may have only sections before the meltdown.

Name the upset feeling. Telling an upset kid to “Calm down” won’t cut it , but it helps to name the feeling to a nonverbal child. Get down eye-to-eye and in an exaggerated tone, put into words how the child is feeling.“Johnny is soooooo mad!!!” It’s almost as though you see your little one look up at you with a, “Well yep. That’s how I feel! Glad you caught on!”

I learned this technique from Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the Happiest Toddler on the Block, during a Parentsmagazine advisory meeting (we serve on the Parents board of advisors). Harvey is fabulous to watch when he talks to kids. I swear he’s the ultimate Toddler Tamer.

Turn DON’T to DO. Little egos are forming and their little independence streak is churning, so watch out for overusing the word NO which can cause frustrations. You’ll get far better responses if you turn your “Don’t run” into “Let’s walk.” Firmly phrase your instructions in terms of what to do, instead of what not to do.

Use calming transitions. Try rubbing his back, holding him gently, or humming a relaxing song. Try using softer voice tones or turn your hand into an instant puppet and make your hand talk. This is a magical age when you can use their imagination to your advantage-but only if you turn on your magic before the meltdown. (Another great Dr. Karp tip!)

During the Tantrum

Once an attention-getting tantrum begins there is little you can do to control it, so remain calm. (I know, I know, but doing so is essential). Your calm behavior will help your child get back in control.

Ensure safety. If there are sharp edges, glasses or objects that could hurt your child, move him to a “safe zone.” If you’re out in public, stop what you’re doing and remove your kid to secluded spot or take him home. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but he’ll learn you’re won’t tolerate inappropriate behavior. Consistency is critical. (Repeat that line, “Consistency is critical.” Again: “Consistency is critical.”)

Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Don’t give the outburst any attention. No eye contact, no words, do not react. Once your child learns that her outburst “works”—that is she gets her way—she’s likely to try it again (and again and again). In fact, research at Boston shows that the longer you give attention to a tantrum, the longer it lasts.

Once you start ignoring a certain behavior you must keep ignoring. Attention-getting behaviors may increase slightly before subsiding—because the child is testing you, so just don’t let him win! Also, if you are upset, walk away. The fastest way to increase a tantrum is for you to yell or grab your child. Walk and get yourself calm (it will also help you ignore the outburst!)

Don’t try to reason. Forget trying to rationalize with a wailing, flailing child. Doing so is like trying to reason with a goldfish. Once in tantrum-mode your child is beyond understanding. Also, don’t coax, yell, or spank. It doesn’t help, and you’re libel to escalate the outburst.

After the Tantrum

Your goal is to teach your child “replacer” behaviors to reduce those outbursts and help the child learn healthier ways to handle upset feelings.

Praise efforts. The fastest way to change behavior is to point out the moment your child uses the right behavior! So the second your kid uses the right behavior reinforce it! (“Thank you for using that nice tone! What did you want to ask?”)

Dr. Kazdin says the best praise for changing behavior has three parts:

~Uses an exaggerated or enthusiastic tone (I tell parents it’s like when you add an exclamation point to the end of your praise. Sound elated!)

~Is specific so your child knows exactly what he did right. (I teach parents to add “because” to the praise so as to help the child know exactly what he did that you hope is repeated: “Great job because you told mommy you were tired. Thank you!”

~Is warm and uses touch. Give him a hug, a big pat on the back or a high five!

Point out the desired behavior in other children: See how nicely that boy is playing with others” (Do hold those judgments: “Why can’t you do that?”) Kids learn a new skill quicker by seeing, not hearing it. So don’t describe, but show the behavior you want your child to use. .

Practice “Untantrums.” New behaviors take lots of practice. Dr. Alan Kazdin suggests helping your child practice how to behavior without tantruming. Of course, you can only do this strategy when your child is calm. You’d say,

“Okay, let’s try another way of acting without the tantrum. I’m going to tell you that you can’t have a cookie (we’re just pretending remember). And you’re going to show me how to act without hitting and screaming. Ready?”

The child then practices the new way of “untantruming” and you praise the heck out of the little rehearsal.Dr. Kazdin then suggests saying, “I bet you can’t do it again!” And most kids relish in trying again (and again, and again).

The trick is to rehearse the new behavior many times so when the heat of the moment comes the meltdown doesn’t kick in, but the new pre-reheased behavior does. Try it!

Don’t give up! It can take weeks for behavior change. You should see a gradual diminishment of the tantrums. Track the frequency of those tantrums on a monthly calendar. You may be surprised (and elated) to discover those meltdowns really are slowing down!

Get help if tantrum continue or increase. If those tantrums escalate, are more frequent, last longer in duration, or your child is in danger or hurting himself or others, then it’s time to get help.

A recent APA publication advised that young children who have daily, intense temper tantrums are significantly more at risk to have later behavioral and emotional problems. Don’t wait! Early intervention is key!

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert

Follow me on twitter @micheleborba or on my blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check where I provide late-breaking parenting news and tips to raise compassionate kids with strong hearts and minds

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Circus is Coming!

The Burlington Education Foundation is hosting a Circus presented by Cirque Du Jour this Saturday, November 19, 2011.Three show times at 11, 1:30 and 4 with entertainment for all. Former Ringling Bros. performers, acrobats, daredevils, BMX bike team and more. Tickets are $10 each, or a 4-pack for only $30. Tickets are available on-line athttp://www.burlingtonedfoundation.org/ or at the door

Saturday, November 12, 2011

All Dressed Up

I recently came across this blog post on dress up in the dramatic play area, and thought I would share it. I think the author has done a great job explaining the skills children develop when they play and interact in the dramatic play/dress up area.

All Dressed Up

Why Dress Up Is Important

by Janine

When a child plays dress up, they are doing so much more than putting on a costume. Dress up is a great way to encourage many social and emotional skills that children need to be successful in school, and even later on in life. Here are a few reasons why every preschool classroom should have a bin of dress up clothes.

Dress up encourages creativity. Children can pretend to be whatever they want. They can express their sense of style. It is a way for them to role play scenarios they find interesting. The world becomes as large as the child’s imagination.

Dress up encourages language skills. When children dress up, they often have conversations to act out their play scenarios. They may pretend to be a specific character, such as a waiter taking your food order, or a doctor caring for a sick baby doll. No matter what the set-up, you can bet the child is engaging in some form of conversation.

Dress up encourages positive relationships and cooperation with peers. Children will have to not only share the dress up materials, they will also engage one in another in their play scenarios, often working together to form a role play.

Dress up encourages self-confidence. Children may feel more confident to express their thoughts and ideas while in costume. Often a shy child becomes more expressive while dressed up, because they feel the attention is on what they are wearing and not on them. This allows the child’s personality to shine through.

Dress up encourages children to become comfortable with scary and unfamiliar situations. Role playing about a sick baby doll that needs taken to the hospital may ease the child’s fear of going to the doctor. Children may role play that they are parents leaving their baby doll with a sitter when they go to work, which can help them problem solve separation anxiety issues.

Most importantly, dress up is fun. It is a way for children to escape the real world and let their fantasies and imagination take flight. Make sure to refresh your dress up bin on a regular basis. Keep in mind that just after Halloween is a great time of year to get some amazing deals on costumes and accessories for your classroom

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Notice from the PAC

Dear Parents,
The Burlington PAC will hold an open meeting next Tuesday November 15 in the Burlington High School lower library at 7:00 P.M. We were considering Wednesday night, but the middle school has parent teacher conferences that night and I want to keep in touch with families before the holidays roll around. Please pass the word. This meeting can be whatever you as members want it to be. The topic for the night is up to you, the parents. Possibilities include the following. 1. The challenges you and your kids are facing.
2. Your feelings about RTI and how services are being provided.
3. The intervention process and the part you play as a parent.
4. What you want from your PAC.
Dennis McCarron PAC Chairman

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Important Dates

Please make note of the following dates:

This week we will not have school on Thursday and Friday. Thursday is a Professional Development Day for Staff. School is closed Friday in observation of Veteran's Day.

On November 23, 2011 there will be no afternoon session. All schools will be dismissed early for Thanksgiving Recess. School will be Closed November 24th and 25th for Thanksgiving break.

NOVEMBER 10TH – No School for Students - Professional Development Day for Staff

NOVEMBER 11TH – No School – Veteran’s Day

NOVEMBER 23RD – Early Dismissal

NOVEMBER 24-25TH – Thanksgiving Recess

If you have any questions please feel free to call the office at 781-270-1808.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Classroom/Staffing Changes

Dear Preschool Families,

Here we grow again! On Monday November 7th 2011, the Burlington Early Childhood Center will open a new classroom. The new room will be called the Spunky Monkeys, and will run 5 mornings a week from 8:30 to 11:30. When this new room opens we will have some staffing changes that will impact some of the other classrooms. The changes are as follows:

Amanda Nasta who is currently the teaching assistant in the Friendly Frogs room will become the new classroom teacher of the Spunky Monkeys. Amanda has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education and is certified by the State of Massachusetts.
Alissa Leto will be the instructional assistant in the Spunky Monkey classroom. Alissa has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is also certified by the State of Massachusetts. Alissa has spent the past year working as a lead teacher for the Goddard School.

Ashley Toltz will become the new Instructional Assistant in the Friendly Frogs room. Ashley has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Development and has worked as a developmental educator for Thom Mystic Valley Early Intervention. Ashley will be with the Friendly Frogs in the morning and the Barnyard Buddies in the afternoon.

We have also added 3 additional teaching assistants and a permanent substitute teacher that will support the classrooms daily.
The teacher’s aides are Liz Bishop, Elaine Cornell and Mary Giradi. Liz is a recent graduate of Dean College with a degree in Dance. Liz will be working with the Puppy Pals and the Barnyard Buddies. Elaine Cornell ran her own home day care for a while and she will be working with the Cub Cadets and the Spunky Monkeys. Mary Giradi will also join us on November 7th and she will float between the classrooms. We are very fortunate to have Rhonda Casper as our permanent substitute. Rhonda has worked for years as a special education teacher at the Fox Hill Elementary School. She retired in June and has decided that she would like to continue working with children. We are very fortunate to have her expertise at the Burlington Early Childhood Center.

On a side note, we still have AM openings in the Spunky Monkey classroom. We are looking for 3 more neighborhood students that are looking for an am program (T,W,Th from 8:30 to 11:30).

We are very excited about the addition of the Spunky Monkeys and are looking forward to an exciting year of fun and learning.

Thank You,

Louise D’Amato

Delayed Opening

Dear Preschool Families,

Please use the following guidelines when the Burlington Public Schools has a delayed opening:

Whenever there is a two hour delay all AM sessions are cancelled.

If your child is in the Cub Cadets with Lisa and Pat your child will have school from 10:30 to 12:30.

If your child participates in the full day programs the Puppy Pals and Barnyard Buddies they will have school. Only the children that attend full day will come in on delayed openings. If your child is dismissed at 11:30 they don’t attend school on delayed openings.

The afternoon sessions will run as scheduled from 12:30 to 2:30

Please keep this letter as a reference for the winter months.

Thank You,

Louise D’Amato