Springfield Public Schools - Home

Early Start

Kimberly Siltman, PreK Programs Coordinator
Learning to Write

Did you know that writing with young children is much more than simply putting marks on a page? The process of writing for children in preschool begins with telling a story. Good writers think and talk about what they want to write about long before they ever sit down to put words on a page. Spend time each day talking with your child about his or her "story". Being able to recall and speak about recent events, while retelling with accurate sequencing of events is critical to becoming a good writer in the elementary years. Enjoy your children today!

What Did You Do At School Today?

A good way to encourage oral language development is to talk to your children every day about what happened during the day and especially what happened while they were at preschool. However; asking a three or four year old "What did you do at school today?" can sometimes lead to very little talking at all! Children who are developing language sometimes have a difficult time expressing their thoughts when asked open ended questions like the one posed. Try instead to ask questions about specific activities or learning areas in the room such as, "Did you play outside today?" or "What songs did you sing at group time?" or even "Was there playdough out today?" " What did you make with the playdough?" Asking about specific activities and materials helps your child to focus their thoughts and gives a launching pad for further conversations! Enjoy your child this week!

Children's Friendships

Children today enter social situations much earlier than in times past. With childcare and preschool, many children are being afforded the chance to be around other children their own age for a good portion of the day. With friends his or her own age, today's children are encountering many, many opportunities to negotiate, cooperate, and take turns. They are learning how to express their opinions and ideas, and to respect others. Some children are able to do so easily, while others have a bit of difficulty doing so. As adults, we can help our young ones learn how to get along in a group. Modeling positive, cooperative behaviors with family members or our grown up friends can have long term effects on how your child will interact with others in their social group. Clearly, children are not born with the knowledge of how to get along with others. They need our guidance and teaching to develop these critical, lifelong skills.
Enjoy the children in your life!

What is Developmentally Appropriate Practice?

You have probably noticed if you have visited an Early Start classroom that our classrooms are busy places, with children up doing things, talking, playing, and exploring. Such a classroom environments differ from elementary settings you may be familiar with. Research and experience tells us that to be effective in teaching preschool children, teaching practices need to be "developmentally appropriate". What this means is simply that educators of young children think first about what young children are like and then create an environment and learning experiences that fit the child's learning characteristics.
Early Childhood is a time of life that is much different than other times. Children who are 3, 4, and 5 years old learn much better by doing, than by listening to someone talk. They learn a great deal through exploring and playing with materials. We are sure that you have experienced this with your own children. When we tell, tell, tell the child may not fully understand. But when we allow them to experience and to "do" they can understand fully and are able to do "it" again, on their own in the future. Enjoy your child this week!

Reading Together

Children learn to read by being read to. Research shows that early and good readers come from homes where reading is experienced regularly. The desire to read starts with the enjoyment of being held in a lap and cuddled as a story is read together.
In addition to the feelings of warmth and security fostered by lap time reading, reading aloud expands a child's world and their vocabulary. It creates an appreciation of print, promotes knowledge of the mechanics of reading from the top to the bottom of the page and from left to right, and helps create an understanding of a sequence of events.
Setting aside time each day to read to your child demonstrates that you value reading and sets the stage for your child to develop and interest in reading.
Let your child pick a story. Then cuddle up and enjoy the magic of reading together!

-NAEYC Family Friendly Communications

It All Adds Up!

Games are a wonderful way for children to learn and to have fun at the same time. In matching and lotto games, children learn new vocabulary as they name the objects in the pictures. As they play board games, children develop an understanding of numbers as they determine how many spaces they can move by counting the dots on dice or recognizing a number on a spinner. In simple problem-solving games, children develop reasoning abilities and realize that many answers can be "right". Playing games also helps children learn to follow directions and take turns with others. Games provide many opportunities for children to develop social skills with other children and with adults. Remember that young children learn games best in small groups where they do not have to wait long for turns. It's also important to remember that it's not always important to follow all the rules all the time. If a child creates his/her own rules, play along. After all, having fun together and learning together is the most important thing to remember!
Enjoy your children today!

Helping Children Cope with Stress

Any major change in a child's life can cause stress. Common sources for stress in young children may be the birth of a new brother or sister or divorce of parents. Stress can also be caused by the death of a loved one, a family move, or separation from parents for an extended length of time. Children are also sometimes stressed by things that they may not have personally experienced, but have seen on TV, such as school shootings or severe storm damage. Feelings of confusion or of helplessness can occur in children under stress. Our children cannot easily verbalize these feelings, so the adults in their lives have to be aware of physical or behavioral changes that might signal the child is under stress. Loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, bad dreams, headaches, or reoccurring stomachaches are all signs that children may be dealing with stress. Children often deal with stress through their behavior and play. They may talk about events as they pretend play or may strike out or become withdrawn at school. Adults play an important role in helping children cope with the stress in their lives. Experts advise limiting television viewing that focuses on dramatic events. Providing a supportive atmosphere where children can talk about or play out their concerns is also very important. We need to accept and acknowledge children's feelings and give them our support both at home and school to help children get through difficult times.
Enjoy your children!

Playdough and Legos: What do they have in common?

Children are not born with fine motor control. The process begins early, when infants and toddlers begin to reach for and grasp objects and continues well into the elementary school years. Development and coordination of hand and finger muscles (fine motor control) that are necessary for handwriting come slowly and require a good deal of practice. Families can help develop this control by providing appropriate materials. Playdough and Legos are two of the best materials to develop fine motor muscles!
One of the many skills learned through work with Playdough and Legos is the development of strength and dexterity in the hands. As they pinch, roll and shape playdough, children develop strength in finger and wrist muscles. Connecting Legos together develops control, coordination and strength that is necessary for a child to grasp a writing instrument such as a crayon or pencil.
Playdough and Legos are both open ended materials. That means there is no right or wrong way to play with them. Children can experiment and use however they choose. Making Playdough at home can be a great activity to do together. Legos are an investment that is will continue to pay dividends year after year.
If you are looking for a gift for a child, consider Playdough or Legos. They are well worth consideration. Enjoy your children!

Off to a Good Start

Do you remember your first day of preschool or kindergarten? You were probably very excited and perhaps a bit nervous. We want to do everything we can to ensure your child's first experiences at school are positive ones. One way to introduce your child to the teachers and the classroom is through a personal visit. All the teachers at Early Start conduct Home Visits prior to school beginning. This is a relaxed, non-threatening way to get to know our staff before school even begins.
Another activity designed to help ease the child (and the family!) into preschool is the Open House/Parent Orientation. This activity is held just a few days before school starts and gives your child the opportunity to visit his/her actual classroom and become familiar with the school building prior to school starting. Participation in both these events will help children ease into school comfortably and get everyone "Off to a Good Start!"