FAQ from parents of students in my class:
1. What can I do at home to support the work that you do at school?
Here is a good example of what you can do. We are working on a Gift of Light project. In order to experience what it might be like to live in a world without lights we propose to make our classroom world dark. This is big for us at school during the day, since we live in a room with lots of natural light. Presently, we are experimenting with different ways to darken our room.
At home, you might try having dinner in the dark. Your family could decide how best to do that. You could have the whole meal without lights using candles, kerosene lamps, flashlights, or other items. If you choose the lighting sources that I mentioned, please be careful – they can be fire hazards. Whatever you choose, let it be a collaborative choice – everyone involved should be part of the process of choosing.
As you have dinner record the conversations and transcribe them in your child’s noticing book. Send the transcription to school so we can use it as documentation for our project.
2. What can I do to get my child to eat healthy snacks and meals?
Getting your children to eat healthy starts with modeling healthy eating at home. If you haven’t practiced this, it’s not wise to try to start big. Take small steps, and school is a good place to begin. Send a healthy snack instead of a processed sugary sweet snack. Veggies and fruit are always winners in the healthy snack arena. Baby carrots are a big hit with children. Start with 5 in a ziplock bag. More than that can be overwhelming. An apple cut up in smaller pieces is a good start for a natural sweet snack. Homemade applesauce with cinnamon is another great snack. We made our own at school last week. The children cut up green apples that we got at the pumpkin patch and put them in our class crockpot. No sugar was added. It was a pure natural snack. They even left the peels on the apples. It was all eaten and they asked for more.
3. When will my child read or write?
Your child will read or write when he or she is ready, and we should give them all the time that they need. For some it happens early and for others it happens later. Children develop their own time line for learning, and it should never be forced. Children will signal you when they are ready. They’ll be excited about noticing signs and familiar words. They’ll begin to sound out beginning sounds. Next they’ll add ending sounds. And finally they’ll transition to vowel sounds within three letter words.
In Mem Fox’s book, “Reading Magic” she says that the best thing that parents can do for their children concerning literacy is to read to them. I agree. Begin reading very early and continue to do so even after they are reading themselves. Who doesn’t like to be read to? Even adults love to listen to readings by authors and poets.
4. Are boys usually this rough at this age?
Yes. Boys like to run, climb hills, play ball, and move a lot. Though boys are rough, hitting or bullying should never be allowed. They need us to help them monitor rough play. Role-play and modeling are useful in helping boys to understand appropriate play. Long hikes are excellent at channeling energy into a more positive activity. Digging in the soil is another way to help boys use up energy in an appropriate way. Another activitiy that brings boys in touch with nature and uses up lots of energy in a positive manner is outside construction using tree cookies or tree logs.
5. Why is my child coming home so dirty?
Dress your child comfortably and know that he/she will come home much dirtier than when he/she left in the morning. We play hard. We love being in touch with nature and feeling nature. Today for example we spent our morning out on a hike in a park very near school. The ground was still damp and somewhat muddy from the morning dew and rain earlier during the week. Four year-old students naturally gravitate to dirt and mud. They love puddles and they can’t help but splash in them. Has it been too long for us since we splashed a puddle? The sound of splashing water is delightful! There’s no feeling like getting wet from a good splash!
6. How can I find out what my child does during the day?
Sometimes this question is overwhelming for a 4 year-old child. You might want to start with small moments. Small moments are fun to put together like pieces of a puzzle. A noticing book is a great way for you and your child to share about what happens during the day through pictures and writing. Children at this age love to journal as much as adults love to journal. Make it fun, and you’ll be surprised at how much information you’ll get. You might get more than you asked for.