AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE PA EARLY CHILDHOOD STANDARDS
St. Paul’s Preschool follows the Pennsylvania Early standards as we create and adapt our curriculum to the various age groups within our school. Each month I will examine one of the standards we are focusing on in the classes and explain how the teachers are implementing it into their curriculum.
PL3: Families have the support and information they need to encourage their children’s learning and development
High quality early childhood programs depend on a strong partnership between teachers and parents. This partnership must be based on respect, trust, and the understanding that the child’s development will be enhanced when all the adults who care for the child work together. Good working relationships with families enable teachers to be more responsive to each child’s needs. When parents and teachers work as a team, they can share information and discuss ways to provide consistent care at home and at the school.
Working with families involves communicating with family members often to exchange information about their child at home and at the center. There are many ways that St. Paul’s Preschool does this:
- Shares good news with the parents everyday…either at drop off or pick up time and when the teachers post daily updates on the Google Classroom site, explaining what the children did that day, often adding photographs of the learning activities
- Uses information about children’s interests that was provided by the parents…this is important when the teachers create individualized learning activities for the children as they write their daily and weekly lesson plans.
- Information is shared during parent/teacher conferences held twice per year.
St. Paul’s Preschool also provides a variety of ways for family members to participate in their child’s life at the school. This is done through:
- Giving parents opportunities to make decisions about their child’s activities…done during the first parent/teacher conference which is a goal setting conference
- Asking parents to help include their culture in classroom activities…we utilize the permanent record form completed by parents before the school year began, listing special ways they could contribute to the class and any pertinent information about their culture or family traditions that could be included in their child’s school environment.
- Find innovative ways for parents to help when they can’t come to the school during the day…teachers often send home projects the parents can complete with their children
Other ways of how the families and the school work together include working on annual surveys, which the families complete and send back to the administration. They can share their feedback and suggestions with the school, which in turn will address each concern. Important information is posted on parent bulletin boards, available in a detailed parent handbook, posted on the school website and is sent via email to the parents.
An outdoor mailbox is located beside the entrance door for parents who wish to write suggestions or voice concerns in an anonymous manner. The director welcomes any questions or suggestions at any time.
Working together helps support a strong relationship between the preschool and the families. This partnership is strengthened by continued communication and appreciation for each partner’s role in caring for the children. The children directly benefit from these positive and respectful relationships. Their motivation to learn and succeed in school is impacted by family support and involvement in the life of the school. We value and care for all our families and are serious in our goal of creating a wonderful place to be, not only for the children, but also for the families.
QUESTIONS FOR THE DIRECTOR
QUESTION: How do you practice fire drills with the children? My son fears loud noises.
ANSWER: This is an important question. Each class practices a fire drill once per month. We begin by introducing the children to fire safety practices with learning center activities (all classes work on a fire safety unit). Children learn how to Stop, Drop, and Roll and how to set up an evacuation plan for their homes. Often, we have a fire fighter visit the school to talk about what he/she does and to show the children his/her equipment, as well as the fire truck.
The teachers read books and fire evacuation routes from the classroom to a “safe” spot in the parking lot are plotted. The teachers discuss the sound of the bell they will ring when a practice fire drill is begun. They also show the children the light in the classroom that will flash when the church enacts a building fire drill. They explain to the children that there will be a loud bleating sound when the light flashes and that means that we need to walk outside to our “safe” spot as fast as we can. If children fear loud noises, the teachers will take their hand and walk with them as they reassure them.
A building fire drill is done four times per year so that the children are familiar with the flashing light and the bleating sound the alarm makes. Each regular classroom fire drill is practiced with the hypothetical “fire” in a different area of the building each time so that the children are familiar with the various escape routes. Each classroom door has the evacuation routes posted beside it, detailing the escape route as well as the alternate escape route.
A teacher will ring the bell. Children are taught to drop what they are doing and line up by the door. Teachers guide the children out of the building as fast as possible, taking them to the designated safe place. School administrators and church employees search the building for anyone left inside. Teachers take the emergency forms for each child, a cell phone, any medication children may need and the class attendance book so that they can make sure everyone is safely outside the building. No one stops for book bags or coats. The teachers assure the children that these things can be purchased again, but that children can never be replaced. Once all the children have been accounted for, the administration will motion to the teachers that they can re-enter the building. The children go back to the areas they were in before the fire drill and continue with their day. They are always congratulated and praised for completing the fire drill successfully.