Classroom Web Site

At Square Roots Preschool, we’re all about having a personal connection and partnership with our families, and communication is key. Each school year, we create a secure classroom web site to communicate with our parents and so that parents can communicate with each other. Only parents who have children enrolled at Square Roots will have access to the web site (as well as people parents designate). Here are some of the features of our classroom web site:

• weekly lesson plans

• pictures and videos of classroom activities (printed photos can be ordered from shutterfly.com)

• classroom calendar

• announcements and tuition reminders

• optional supplemental activities

• sound bytes (funny things the kids say)

• contact information for parents with children in the class

We update the web site at least weekly. Comments can be left, and though the web site is designed for parents, grandparents and other family members our parents designate may also have access. It’s a great way for loved ones to see what’s going on at school!

We still have openings for fall, so if you are interested in more information, please call 480.447. ROOT.

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Our Roll-call Tree: Pre-reading and Name Recognition

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Our Roll-Call Tree: Pre-reading and Name Recognition–Square Roots Preschool

Every morning at the beginning of circle time, we sing our welcome song and do roll call, which is also in the form of a song. We sing for each child present while that child plays the tambourine.

Ms. Taryn holds up a name and asks the class who’s name it is. With a little bit of practice, not only can the students recognize their own name, but also the names of other children in the class. And we know they’re not cheating by recognizing only the first letter because multiple students’ names begin with the same letter. They’re reading!

Once the students determine whose name is on the card, they get to carry their own name to our roll-call tree. All the names on the tree represent the students present in class that day.

This activity helps with letter recognition, name recognition, and builds reading skills. Plus, each of the students feel confident and welcomed by being the superstar with all of the attention for a brief period as everyone else sings to them and they hang their name on the tree.

And we all know who’s present!

Related reading:

Taking Charge of Chores Helps Develop Reading Skills

Our Small Class Size Might be Just the Thing for Your Child

The teacher/student ratio for Arizona is 1:13, but Square Roots Preschool has a ratio of 1:4. We believe that smaller class sizes benefit preschool aged children for a variety of reasons.

• Our teacher truly gets to know each student well–their strengths and weaknesses–and has the time to spend one-on-one time with each student, helping to foster strengths and personal interests and provide help in areas that may need improvement.

• The students get to know one another well and develop deeper, more supportive relationships than they would in a larger class.

• Our projects and lessons are more detailed and in-depth, as we have time to help each student through the process.

• We get to know our families well and have time for more communication regarding individual students.

• Each student gets more “turns,” or opportunities to speak, practice, share, and actively participate rather than sit back and watch others. We believe in hands-on learning.

• Students have greater involvement, and no one is in the background. This is especially beneficial for shy children.

• Each year, we can tailor the classroom activities to the individual students in the classroom. If everyone loves trains, we’ll incorporate that into the class, for example. Everyone becomes more engaged.

• Students new to preschool feel comfortable and secure coming in and older children setting off for kindergarten feel confident and well-prepared.

Could your child benefit from a small, home-based preschool? Please check us out, and please spread the word. We’re currently enrolling for fall 2014 and would love to meet you and your child!

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Help Me Read the Mail

Children will begin the process of learning to read long before they are actually reading. Asking your preschooler to help you sort the mail is a fun, interactive way to boost those pre-reading skills.

Ask your child to sort the mail into different categories. These categories might include magazines, letters, envelope color, type of stamp, size, or person whom the mail is for. This process of sorting helps with sorting, classification, and letter recognition. Experiment with different ways to sort the mail, and your child can even play “postal worker” by delivering the mail to the appropriate person in the family.

Let your preschooler open the junk mail and pretend to read it to you. See where her imagination takes her. You can also have her fill out forms (often junk mail comes with order forms) or circle all of the “red” items in a catalog. All of these tasks help boost reading skills and help boost confidence and enthusiasm for reading.

We recently set up a “post office” in our dramatic play area. The students wrote letters, read mail, delivered packages to each other, sorted mail, made and pasted stamps, and categorized mail by type. They had a fantastic time and didn’t even realize they were boosting their pre-reading skills in the process!

Crawling is Not Just for Babies

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Crawling is typically the first means of locomotion that babies learn and master. By the time a child begins preschool, however, walking is probably his main mode of getting from point A to point B. Still, crawling plays an important role in a preschooler’s development.

Crawling helps with trunk strength. Preschool is likely a child’s first opportunity to learn to sit still for any length of time. Though those periods are typically much shorter than will be asked of a child in kindergarten or elementary school, sitting in preschool is vital to prepare them for longer periods of sitting during their approaching school years. It is common for preschoolers to wiggle a lot during these times of sitting, and we usually chalk it up to limited attention span. That is partially true, but another reason it is difficult for them to sit still is because their trunk strength is still developing. It may be simply uncomfortable for a child to sit up straight for more than brief periods. Crawling helps strengthen a child’s core muscles, those muscles that stabilize the shoulders, girdle, spine, and pelvis. If these core muscles are not developed well, a child may have difficulty sitting upright at a desk because the muscles will fatigue easily.

Crawling is a gross motor skill that helps develop fine motor skills. When a child has a stable trunk and is able to sit, his hands are then free to practice desktop skills, such as writing and cutting. When the foundation is strong, more can be built upon it. This trunk stability makes the shoulders and arms stronger, which is necessary to strengthen the wrists and fingers. The development of all of these components is vital to master fine motor skills that require finger strength.

Crawling gives the brain a workout. It requires that the child use alternating sides of the body at the same time (right arm/left leg and left arm/right leg), which is important to brain development. The movement of crawling helps to increase communication between the two sides of the brain. In order to have the physical coordination that crawling requires, the two sides of the brain are forced to communicate, strengthening pathways that link the brain. Building and strengthening these pathways is important for young children because as they learn to read and write, crossing between the two sides of the brain is required to move smoothly from one side of the paper to the other.

There are a variety of activities that encourage crawling in preschool. At Square Roots Preschool, we play in the following ways:

• Floor activities: We set out a variety of activities on mats on the floor. Children crawl around the mats to access different aspects of the activity, and since the activities are placed close together, the students often crawl between activities.

• Tunnels: Crawl-through tunnels are inviting and fun. They require that children crawl to get from one end to another. A cardboard box “obstacle course” or “fort” works well, too.

• Make-believe: Preschool-aged children love to pretend to be animals. This activity often demands crawling on all fours.

It’s amazing that one activity can do so much for physical and cognitive development. Crawl on, preschoolers!

Small Preschool Classes: What are the Benefits?

Preschool is often a child’s first real experience with peer socialization, a fun, yet possibly overwhelming time. Research shows that smaller class sizes with a lower student/teacher ratio are better for young children because each student gets more individual attention. We feel that a smaller class size is a more comfortable transition from home to the elementary school years for most children. What are some of the benefits of a small preschool class size, and why is individual attention so important during the preschool years?

• Teachers are better able to identify a student’s strengths and areas where improvement is needed, so they can help address the needs of each individual in the class.

•  Smaller classes are usually less stressful, as fewer conflicts arise.

• Children in smaller classes tend to work well as a group and bond closely to one another, which makes for a secure environment.

• Smaller preschool classes are of benefit to a less-confident child who may get lost in the shuffle of a larger class.

• Children in small classes don’t get sick as often because there are fewer children spreading germs.

• Smaller class sizes offer more individual teacher/student interaction.

• Teachers who instruct fewer children can better-tailor lesson plans to meet the needs of the students and may even provide some individual lesson plans for students who are excelling or need more work in a particular area.

• Having fewer children in a classroom allows the teacher to better determine each individual student’s learning style.

• Smaller class size allows for more hands-on learning, as these activities require more attention from the teacher.

• Smaller classes offer deeper language development because the teacher can more closely monitor social interactions.

The National Institute for Early Education Research states that

When groups are smaller and staff-child ratios are higher, teachers provide more stimulating, responsive, warm, and supportive interactions. They also provide more individualized attention, engage in more dialogues with children, and spend less time managing children and more time in educational activities. Studies also provide evidence of a link between class size and overall quality of the classroom.

At Square Roots Preschool, we never have more than six students in a class, well below the minimum staff child ratio of 1:13 for three-year-olds and 1:15 for four-year-olds. We feel that our small class sizes not only offer educational benefits, but also a family-like, close-knit environment for our students.

More information on the benefits of smaller class sizes for preschoolers:

NIEER Preschool Policy Matters: Class Size: What’s the Best Fit? 

13 Indicators of Quality Child Care, Staff Child Ratio and Group Size Indicator

High-Quality Preschool: Why We Need it and What it Looks Like

The Importance of Dramatic Play

Dramatic play is an important part of our school day. Preschool-aged children learn through acting-out and get to try on different roles, which is important part of development. By participating in our dramatic play areas, our students use their imaginations, participate in symbolic play, develop language, and have the opportunity to practice social interaction skills.

Each month, we rotate our dramatic play area. This year we have had a kitchen, a transportation area, and just this week, we rolled out the campground, which our students were excited about. The students had a pretend cookout, “slept” in our tent, “roasted marshmallows” over our pretend camp fire, and told ghost stories. What fun we had camping at school!

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