GTMS Life > Blog February 3, 2023

Ms. Michelle: January 2023

Care of Environment Outside of the work on the shelves, the children assist in maintaining the environment. Whether this includes pushing in chairs, washing dishes, washing leaves, washing towels, watering plants, washing the window, sweeping up dirt, scrubbing the bottom of shoes, or scrubbing the furniture, the children are happy to help keep the environment […]

Care of Environment

Outside of the work on the shelves, the children assist in maintaining the environment. Whether this includes pushing in chairs, washing dishes, washing leaves, washing towels, watering plants, washing the window, sweeping up dirt, scrubbing the bottom of shoes, or scrubbing the furniture, the children are happy to help keep the environment safe, clean, and beautiful. This type of environmental care requires a plethora of gross motor and fine motor movement, and is a great way for children to release energy in a positive and productive way! They take pride in their work and their environment. 

Gross motor movements include walking back and forth from the sink to the work while carrying a pitcher of water to fill up a bowl or basin, standing tall and squatting down with a squeegee, drying a table, holding a washboard in place while cleaning towels, etc. Fine motor movements include scrubbing, wiping & squeezing a sponge, holding a leaf in one hand and wiping it with another, pouring water, ringing out a wet towel, etc.

The Relationship Between Care of the Environment and Social-Emotional Development 

When children first enter the environment they engage with the materials in an exploratory way, and as they mature, they begin to choose the work with intention and a purpose. This can be observed with the materials used for caring for the environment. A child will notice there is paint on a table or work, and then retrieve the table scrubbing work to clean it. A child will see the snack dishes have residue on them and take them to the sink to clean for another friend to use. If the plant leaves start flopping down, a child will water them and then clean the leaves. When they choose this type of work they are being active participants in our community, and in addition to helping our community they experience feelings of control, self-sufficiency, independence, and pride. When a toddler feels significant, competent, independent, and in control, they are more flexible and regulated.

It brings me such joy to stand back and watch the children work. To see their hands gently holding a leaf while their other hand meticulously guides a sponge over top to clean it. To observe how calm they are and how intentional their movements are. Sometimes the children are zoned in and focused on their task, and other times they are talking to the leaf, caring for it as though it is a baby. I enjoy seeing how passionate they are about their work and how it soothes them at the same time. They scrub the window with a brush and then use the squeegee, repeatedly squatting down and standing up, and then finally taking a deep satisfying breath upon finishing. It reminds me of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of Flow.

These activities are everyday independent living activities that the children can do at home. If you have a plant, at a minimum you need a sponge, water, and a bowl for your child to clean the leaves. If furniture, shoes, or toys become dirty, at minimum a sponge/scrub brush, soapy water, and a bowl will do the trick. One tip is to provide only the amount of water and soap necessary to avoid big messes, and if a mess happens it is a great opportunity to reinforce drying a spill.

Transitioning Into A New Environment

We are beyond thrilled about our move into the new building. When I walked through our classroom, I was overwhelmed with joy. This has been our school’s dream since we split into two buildings and now we are here! While it is a wonderful time for us and our school community, this move will be a big transition for the children. No matter the reason for a transition, it is still… a transition. Any sort of change interrupts a child’s feeling of control. Luckily, Teacher Marissa, Ms. Sara, and I have established an incredibly consistent routine that will follow us into the new space, along with strong loving relationships with your children. 

Some pieces of the routine include: 

  • Daily routine/procedures will remain the same
    • Circle
    • Work Cycle
    • Toileting
  • Familiarity with the Curricular Areas and work 
    • Self-service snack
    • Washing leaves of plants
    • The sound basket and sandpaper letters
    • The Library area
  • Expectations
    • “When you eat you sit”
    • Drying a spill
    • Washing hands before snack
    • Rolling sleeves before washing hands

Be Prepared for Big Emotions or Changes in Behavior

Once we move over into our space, you might see some big emotions or changes in behavior from your child for the first week or two. They will be moving into a new space and at the same time separating from their Toddler ADM friends and teachers, with whom they have grown to love; and then, we will phase in additional children. 

While your child is ready and capable of this change, it is always best to be prepared so you are able to approach them with understanding. Maybe they miss their friends. At school, we will take some morning trips to say hello, make cards to deliver to their room, bake extra muffins to share with them, and eventually, we will reunite for Recess. If your child is missing someone from the Toddler ADM classroom, maybe they can make them a letter or artwork at home and bring it to school to deliver to them.

Photos of Our New Environment

This past week I had the opportunity to visit the new space, and have already started to set up the environment!! I feel so fortunate because this opportunity allowed me the time to sit in the space and visualize the flow of the room before moving around furniture. Here are some photos of the space, from various stages of moving things. You might want to sit and show your children some of these photos, and point out some aspects of the new space like:

  • The wall color
  • The windows
  • The sunflowers on the canvas
  • The self-service snack shelf (where they will find apple cutting, apple butter spreading, clementine peeling, etc.)

Taking care of plants is a favorite work in our room, so of course I will have some plants around the new room and plan on getting some more. Below you will see a table with three empty pots that I will fill soon along with a shelf dedicated to plants. Next to it is an empty pot and my dream is to put a tree with big leaves in it for the children to wash. I have additional plants to move over that I will place on top of the two-tiered shelves.

Snowy Day

Well, kind of…

Valentine’s Day Tradition

It has been a tradition in the Toddler Program to donate a book to your child’s classroom. Please know that I do not expect a donation, but just wanted to share how we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Each teacher makes a list of desired books, and adults may choose to purchase a book from the list. If you wish to participate, I included a link to my wishlist; and please know that you can donate a book that is not included on that list. If you donate a book, you can write an inscription on the title page with your child’s name and the year. When reading books at the circle, we always read the inscription. Click here to view our list: Valentine’s Book Wishlist.

Upcoming Dates

  • Tuesday, February 7, 2023: Auction Informational Coffee at 9:30 am
  • Monday, February 13- 17, 2023: All GTMS Closed. 
  • Monday, February 20, 2023: School is open!
  • Wednesday, March 1, 2023: Q & A Panel with Toddler Teachers
    • RSVP here
    • This is a great opportunity to review developmentally appropriate behaviors, why they happen, and how to navigate them. March 1st will also be a great opportunity to discuss with the panel of teachers any specific behaviors or challenges you might be seeing at home. Feel free to RSVP with your questions/scenarios, or ask them the night of the event.
      • This might be great to share with babysitters, nannies, and/or grandparents
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