GTMS Life > Blog August 17, 2021

Nowacky: Welcome to Our Toddler Environment!

Hello, I hope summer has been treating you well! To our new families joining us- welcome! To our current and returning families, I am so delighted to welcome you back to our community.  I want to take a moment to acknowledge that some of you may be feeling anxious and/or curious about the new school […]

Hello,

I hope summer has been treating you well! To our new families joining us- welcome! To our current and returning families, I am so delighted to welcome you back to our community. 

I want to take a moment to acknowledge that some of you may be feeling anxious and/or curious about the new school year, whether it stems from your child going to a new environment with new adults or general wonderings about their day. I would love to set up a time to chat with you to address any questions that you may have around your child in our environment (lunch, rest, circle, toileting, face masks, etc.), and of course to get to know you! If you are interested in a phone call with me next week, please take a look at the sign-up sheet I have posted. If for any reason those times do not work for you, please let me know. 


Sign up sheet for a phone call with 
Ms. Michelle

Transitioning into the new school year

I am very excited for this new school year and to welcome back our returners, and our new families. Transitions are changes, and big or small they require effort and energy. Children act and react based on the routines in their lives, and when their routines change their actions and reactions are based on emotions. Your children may show strong emotions during their transition into this new school year, and they may not, but I would like for you to be aware of some of the normal behaviors that you may see during this period.  

 
New children

At home you may notice some changes in sleeping patterns, eating patterns, toileting, and behavior/mood (tired and clingy). The children will be meeting new people, presented with new limits and boundaries, working with new materials, and learning new routines. To put this transition into a relatable context, think about how it feels to start a new job– it is exhausting! Our first priority with your children is to help them to feel safe and comfortable in their new environment, so building relationships and consistent routines are crucial. We will do a lot of singing, which children love. Also if your child has a favorite animal, color, or song we want to know all about it! Having items that are familiar or of interest will draw in your child.   

Returners

The beginning of the school year can be a time of difficulty for the returners, as they are experiencing a big change as well. These children have said goodbye to Ms. Laura as well as to their classmates and friends, and are coming back to school with a new group of children who are not accustomed to the routines of the classroom. Just as our current returners did last September, the new children may take others’ work, leave out their work, forget to get a rug, run in the classroom, sit too close, or hug without asking etc. Imagine being at work and having your mentors being replaced with new staff– it can be overwhelming for this group because their sense of order is disrupted, but it is also a great time for learning and growth. We suggest speaking to your children and empathizing with them, “It can be really hard to have new friends;” but remember to empower them also, “It is hard, but you are so brave and you can do hard things!” You may also mention their ability to show the new children how to do certain things, “Your body is so strong and you can show them how to sit at circle or to use their walking feet!” Also, remind them that they were new before: “There was a time when you were new and you would not sit for circle- isn’t that so silly to think about now?”

Email and Communication

If you have any questions/concerns, please email me at mnowacky@gtms.org and I will get back to you within 24 hours. Please note that teachers are not available for communication during child contact times, so I will be able to respond to you once the children have left for the day.

If there are ANY changes in schedule- vacation, your child is sick at home,  or your child is arriving late/leaving early etc.,  please email me as well as the Administrative Assistant at west@gtms.org

Items to bring with your child on the first day

  • 2 changes of clothes, weather-appropriate (label with initials)
  • a water bottle (label with initials or name)
  • a blanket for rest (label with initials), if your child stays for rest
  • diapers, at least 10 (label with initials)
  • a pack of diapering wipes
  • indoor shoes (label with initials)
  • a current picture of your child*
  • a photo of your family*

*Please e-mail photos so I can print them out and hopefully have them framed before Phase-in starts

Water Bottle

We are asking that each child has their own water bottle. Typically we have one water source with glasses available for the children to pour their own water for drinking. Individual water bottles will help to limit the number of surfaces being touched by multiple children. Their water bottles will travel with them from home to school, and back again at the end of their day.

Recommended water bottles: Camelbak and Thermos

Indoor Shoes 

I highly recommend Foamtreads due to their stability, nonslip component, and ease of putting onto the feet with little hands. The goal is for your child, over time, to be able to put on their shoes without any assistance, as well as comfort and safety when walking.  

Recommended shoes: Foamtreads (preferred) and Acorn.

Outdoor Shoes

Our goal for outdoor shoes is similar to our goal for indoor shoes: comfort, safety, and independence (your child putting on shoes without help). Avoid shoes that will set your child up for failure like laces (unable to tie themselves) and crocs (lack of stability and support while running). When shoes with laces come into school, we will place them into a bag and allow your child to wear their indoor shoes home. 

Recommended shoes: Pediped (option 1),  Pediped (option 2), and See Kai Run

Rest Blanket (for children who dismiss at 2:45pm)

It is helpful to provide a blanket that will cover your child’s entire body. 

Please, please, please– label everything: clothes (socks too), diapers (initials), and indoor and outdoor shoess. Anything that your child wears/brings with them into the building MUST be labeled with at least your childs initials if you wish for it to return home. This is something that you will hear from us throughout the year. Again, this also includes the clothes your child is wearing to school in the morning. 

Daily Routines

Arrival

After your individual phase-in, your child will be entering the building without you- be confident! I know this can be scary for you, but please be strong for your child- they will pick up on your emotions. After your child is screened, walk up to the gate holding your child’s hand and keep your goodbyes short. Carrying your child and prolonging a goodbye can make for an uneasy separation. Usually, there are tears, but they tend to fade before the child gets to their classroom. Once your child becomes used to the routine, they may begin to walk into the building with ease and often times there may still be some hesistation to walk through the gate. Again, this hesitation often disappears before they enter their environment. 

Dismissal

During the first week of dismissal, you may see your child with some tears, but this does not mean they spent their day crying. Transitions are tricky and dismissal is another transition and a new routine. Once the routine becomes familiar, you will notice fewer tears. I ask that you, or whoever is picking up your child, are not on your cell phone as your child is being dismissed. Please be ready to receive your child as they will be expecting your full attention after a long day of working and socializing. I often suggest opening up your arms and telling them how happy you are to see them, just as a puppy greets its owner after a long day of work. 

Face Masks

Children 2 years old and over are required to wear a face mask while at school. 

My approach to toddlers wearing face masks is the same approach we use with other procedures and activities– like washing hands or sitting while eating. I have presented wearing masks as a Grace & Courtesy lesson during Circle. I discuss germs, and that wearing a mask protects people from them and from getting sick, just like when teachers put on gloves to serve food: “You don’t want my germs to touch your snack!” I will speak about children who are 2 years old and older must wear masks at school to keep their bodies safe from germs, and to keep their friends safe from getting their germs. I will draw masks on their favorite characters in books and will discuss how to wear them and when: covering nose and mouth and never wear one while eating or sleeping! “Snuggle that nose with your mask, like a nice cozy blanket!”

Reminders

Toddlers are toddlers: they are movers and doers! This means that they will know the rules and routines and will be able to repeat them to you, however when it comes to following those rules and routines, they are distracted by a goal they have in their mind. So rather than using walking feet, they might see the dinosaur matching work, and their desire to use it takes action and they will run over to it– maybe stepping on work or bumping into a friend along the way; and through lessons, reminders, and time, they will grow more capable and use their walking feet. This is the same for masks. The masks will fall down or they will take them off of their faces, and that is ok! As their adults, we will guide them and remind them throughout their day to fix their masks.   

Normalizing Masks

As a working partnership, parents and school, we can combine our efforts to normalize wearing masks. In our environment, we have embedded this idea into the curriculum in a variety of waysWays that you can help at home:

  • Take 2 minutes to wear your masks together as a family
    • Talk about your masks and describe what they look like
  • Facetime friends and/or family members while wearing masks
    • Encourage them to put on their masks before you meet  
  • Draw masks on your child’s favorite characters in their books
    • Talk about how that character is 2 years old and so they need their mask
      • Except if the character is sleeping, eating, or outside running

Calendar Events

  • Phase-in: Thursday, August 2nd-Friday, September 10th
  • First Full Day of School: Monday, September 13th 
  • Classroom Social/orientation: Tuesday, September 14th @6:30-7:30 pm

Thank you and looking forward to seeing everyone for phase-in! 🙂

Ms. Michelle

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