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January 2, 2015

Monday starts a new calendar year, hopefully free of flu virus, and with it the return of the old teacher, Ms. Jane.   My deepest thanks go to Ms. Terri and Ms. Green for keeping the classroom going this last year. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We will be starting the year by thinking about how we get to know each other. As I learn each child’s name, I will be finding ways to know who they are, what they like and don’t like, what their favorite activities are, what they like to do at home, etc. I would also like to get to know all the parents in our classroom so I hope you’ll all stop for a few minutes when picking up your child or dropping them off to say hi.


This is my 15th year teaching preschool at Ray.  Both of my children went through Ray School so I know what it’s like to be a parent and I know a lot about Ray School. I also live in the neighborhood so I know Hyde Park very well. I received my MEd from the Erikson Institute which has a very child/family-centered slant. My philosophy of teaching preschool is that we need to start with a strong sense of child development so that we are challenging your children but not frustrating or discouraging them by going faster than they are able. I believe that every child learns by doing (as do most adults) rather than by being told, and doing with real things is far more valuable than plastic substitutes or pictures of things. You won’t find work sheets in my classroom. I do not give “homework.” I do expect you as parents to work with your child, talk to your child, listen to them talk, and read to them EVERY NIGHT. YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST TEACHER!!! I also believe that I am a good teacher, but I don’t know everything. I hope you will find ways to share your skills and interests with our class, whether it be cooking, sewing, carpentry, music, art, reading, gardening, dancing, etc. etc. etc. I also value parent volunteers helping with library, journals, cleaning (especially if there is illness in the room), and at the end of the year, packing up the classroom.  I encourage you all to be involved with the Ray School PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and LSC (Local School Council), as well as school activities such as Ray Festival, Art Fair, International Night, etc.

I am certified to teach English as a second language to non-English speakers, though to be perfectly honest, the best way to teach ESL students is also the best way to teach preschoolers. We do a lot with books, songs, dance, music and art, and these activities help all the children to be connected to each other. I have also taken several years of classes and workshops on teaching math and literacy to young children. We do a lot with literacy in our classroom, including reading and exploring books, writing, creating stories, learning about different uses of literacy, and understanding the alphabet. I love doing science with young children, including understanding season change, observing changes outside, physics activities, playing with water, exploring rocks and shells, etc. I know your child has been doing great activities last fall with Ms. Terri and Ms. Green and we’ll be building on these.


We have 2 ipads for the classroom which we haven’t yet introduced but will soon. The ipads are not toys but tools, and we’ll be careful to use them as tools. Young children do not learn well by playing with apps – they learn by touching, manipulating, exploring real three dimensional objects. The ipads will be helpful to us for looking up information on the internet, practicing certain skills like writing letters, creating stories, and some math activities. As we come across really good apps, I’ll be sure to share them with you.  While I’ll be working to get 2 more ipads and possibly a projector, I want you to know that I have mixed feelings about electronics and young children. I have seen, as I’m sure you have, children “zone out” with a tablet or cellphone game. This is not deep learning. It is entertainment. I feel strongly that with such little time in preschool that the vast majority of play time should be spent with play activities that children actually learn from, such as dramatic play, blocks, art, etc. I also encourage you as parents to be mindful of how your child plays on electronic media. There are tons of studies coming out now about the problems we all face when we read on kindles or tablets before bed or the damage done to babies and toddlers who have too much “screen time.” So with this in mind, we’ll be introducing the ipads as tools for learning and limit ipad use. I’ll keep you posted on how this all works out.


I know our classroom has just been through the ringer with colds and flu! Wow! For some of you, it must have been pretty scary. I want you to know we will do what we can to keep our classroom as free of germs as we can, including making sure the children wash their hands correctly (water first, then soap – lather for 20 seconds and then rinse), that our classroom is wiped down with non-poisonous cleaner, and that children learn to cough into their elbows. Unfortunately, many illnesses are airborne and children are most contagious right before symptoms appear. I will tell you from what I have read that most childhood illnesses are better gotten during early childhood years rather than later. Please help us out by keeping your sick child at home until they are 24 hours fever-free and reasonably free of coughing/sneezing/runny nose. Also, please make sure we know if your child has an allergy or asthma so we can make sure we have emergency medication in the classroom if needed. Some asthma is virus-induced, some is cold air-induced. If your child cannot go outside while it’s cold because they have cold-induced asthma or is just coming off an episode, we’ll need a note from your child’s doctor and they can either stay in another classroom or in the school office. If your child shouldn’t go outside because they’ve got a lingering cold, they are still sick and should stay home. We are not outside for very long each day and the fresh air and gross motor play is very important for each child’s development.


Yes, we will try and go outside each day unless it is very cold. If it snows (oh please, let it snow!) we will go outside and play in it, explore it, do science experiments with it, etc. Please make sure your child has clothing to help them be in the snow! This means: snowpants and warm coat, hat, boots, waterproof and warm mittens or gloves (not the cotton ones – they are useless) with your child’s name on the tags. We have some extra snow pants from past years, but I don’t think we have extra mittens/gloves or boots.

Inside the classroom Mr. Chris does what he can to keep our heat right, but sometimes it gets a little cool or a little over-heated. You are welcome to bring a sweater and slippers to leave in the cubby for the season. Again, please put your child’s name on them, especially since they share cubbies between 4 students. We will be using paints and water at the water table so make sure your child has an extra set of clothing. We’ll keep extra clothes in ziplock bags with your child’s name.


I am going to set up a parent meeting sometime in the next few weeks so you can get to know me and each other. Details will follow.


There is so much more to share and I look forward to doing that with you over the next six months. Enjoy the end of the holiday weekend and know I so look forward to seeing you all on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015! Happy New Year!!!

Ms. Jane



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