— In the News: Child’s play

Kindergarten forum provides schooling options. By Sarah Griego Guz. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on October 11th, 2017.

As pint-sized pupils progress through their final year of preschool, Mom and Dad may be starting to stress about the next educational step.

The chaotic cloud of choices swirling around includes private versus public, Spanish immersion or a more traditional curriculum. Then there’s the whole question of staying true to the neighborhood school.

In order to help parents wrap their minds around the school conundrum, the Coastside Mothers’ Club, in collaboration with the Half Moon Bay Library, will soon present the Kindergarten Forum.

“Our goal in putting on this event is to give as many parents as we can the knowledge they need to make thoughtful decisions for their children,” said Andrea Rosenthal, Coastside Mothers’ Club education co-chair, in an emailed statement. “It’s an opportunity to come together as a community with the common goal of doing what’s best for our young Coastsiders.”

After grabbing a cup of coffee and a doughnut, perspective kindergarten parents will first hear from an independent and charter school panel featuring Alma Heights, Good Shepherd School, Ocean Grove Charter School, Sea Crest School and the Wilkinson School.

Cabrillo Unified School District Superintendent Jane Yuster will then take to the podium followed by the Cabrillo Education Foundation and the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Joy Dardenelle.

Around midmorning a panel of public elementary schools, including Kings Mountain, Farallone View, Hatch and El Granada, will have their say.

“We have so many great schools on the coast, so it’s a very difficult decision when choosing a kindergarten or transitional kindergarten,” said Coastside Mothers’ Club board member Anne Green. “Putting faces with names and having time to really talk with the principals and directors of each school can help ease one’s anxiety about finding the right fit for their child.”

“The Kindergarten Forum is also a great opportunity to sit with the parents of my children’s future classmates and have all of our questions answered,” added Emily Barbour, who is a Coastside Mothers’ Club board member and mother of four.

Deciding on the right kindergarten fit for the family is only one of the hurdles. Transitioning a child from the relaxed preschool atmosphere to a more structured kindergarten class can be a challenge.

“At all schools, the kids have such a wide range of experiences prior to kindergarten,” said Heidi Gilman Bennett, creator of the Parent Ed Series at Sea Crest School. “Some have been at a full-day child care or preschool setting, some have attended a few hours, so the day is really long, and some have never been. They’ve been cared for at home and so for them this is their first experience with a big group.”

The wide range of perspectives can be challenging for young minds and bodies. The information overload of simple school may cause kids who were smiling seconds before climbing into the car to burst into tears before the parents pull away from the curb.

In response to parenting challenges such as this, Bennett has created an education series for new Sea Crest parents specifically geared toward the topic of a healthy transition to kindergarten.

Keely Sikes Rollings, a licensed clinical psychologist working with families in the Bay Area, will facilitate a session detailing how to navigate mornings, evenings and everything in between.

“It can just be little things, like I’m having a hard time getting my child out the door because they don’t want to get dressed,” said series coordinator Paulette Phlipot. “Dr. Rollings might have some neat tips, like OK try this, do this little routine. She just presents it in tactile, practical ways to help parents and families in the progression.

“She’ll also cover the topic of the playground, how to find someone to play with,” she continued. “It’s just kind of a way to get the conversation going regardless if you’re experiencing the issue or not. It brings it to the forefront and puts it in people’s minds.”

The free Kindergarten Forum starts at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 at the El Granada Elementary School multipurpose room, 400 Santiago Ave. in El Granada. For more information on the Parent Ed Series on Healthy Transitioning to Kindergarten, email Michael Thompson at mthompson@seacrestschool.org.


 

— Kindergarten turkey tango (video)

We are thankful for our wonderful community, students, teachers and families — Happy Thanksgiving!


 

— The Power of Role Models: Share Everything

Kindergarten Lunch with the Head of School Tekakwitha

Kindergarten Lunch with the Head of School Tekakwitha Gratitude Role ModelsKindergarten Lunch with the Head of School Tekakwitha Role ModelsKindergarten Lunch with the Head of School Tekakwitha Role ModelsThe first message in Robert Fulghum’s bestseller, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten is “share everything”. I experienced this lesson first-hand last Friday whilst eating lunch with our Kindergartners.

I arrived in Mrs. Ortiz’s class as the pupils were readying themselves for lunch. I sat on the chair that was placed for me in the middle of the rug and picked up Beyond the Pond to read to the pupils as they ate. Before I could open it, one of them approached me and gave me a fortune cookie, saying, “My mum told me to give this to you for lunch.” “What a sweet gesture,” I said, to squeals from the children of “open it!” My fortune elicited an immediate grin, “You will receive wealth and jewellery.” I could buy into that fortune.

I opened the book; however, before I could begin to read, without a word, another pupil gave me a green grape, then another gave me half of a strawberry and then one by one each child gave me something for lunch. I feasted on carrots, a cucumber slice, a chocolate wafer and a slightly chewed piece of pita bread. “I have received my wealth,” I thought, “the fortune cookie’s prediction is already coming true!”

Our programmatic strategic initiative this year is Assessments and the faculty/staff are focussing on The Power of Role Models as an institutional goal. As I walked back to my office for a meeting, I recalled that when I was growing up, the role models in my life were adults; yet, what the Kindergarteners made me appreciate is that adults too can learn life lessons from children.

That evening, as I regaled my husband with the events of my day at school, I recounted that my favourite experience all week was eating lunch with Ms Travis’ Kindergarten class on Monday and Mrs. Ortiz’s class on Friday. The pupils’ kindness was gentle, pure and done without the expectation of anything in return. I wonder though, if I was too subtle in my hints to my husband that the last part of the fortune cookie’s message is still awaiting fulfilment.

With Gratitude,

Dr. Tekakwitha M. Pernambuco-Wise
Head of School

 


 

Kindergarten Publishing Party

Parents, staff, and Fourth Grade Learning Buddies were invited into the Kindergarten classrooms on Thursday, May 5th to culminate the students’ unit on Pattern Books. It was an exciting moment for the Kindergarten authors, who spent weeks planning, writing, and publishing their books.

“In a Pattern Book, each page has ‘pattern words,’ which repeat from page to page, and also a different content word,” said Kindergarten Teacher Emily Travis. “This allows students to focus on phonetic spelling of some words, without having to worry about the rest. They learn to spell a pattern consistently such as ‘I like…’ and then focus on learning new words to complete the sentence.”

Each Kindergartener wrote and illustrated more than one Pattern Book with multiple pages about a given topic. Each book ended with a twist or different take on the pattern. The Kindergarteners chose to write about topics such as baking, cheetahs, and Pokémon, and the Publishing Party gave them the opportunity to read their books aloud to friends and family.

“After the party, we reflected on how we felt reading our published works,” said Ms. Travis. “Students said they felt excited, happy, a little scared, brave, and proud. I certainly felt proud as well.”

Kindergarten Publishing Party

Kindergarten Publishing Party

Kindergarten Publishing Party

Mindfulness: Beginning the Day with K

Mindfulness practices are an important part of social and emotional learning at Sea Crest School. To share these different lessons with you, we’re publishing a series of Lower and Middle School blog posts, beginning with Kindergarten.

Sea Crest teachers believe in the importance of mindfulness to reduce anxiety, stress, and reactivity. Rather than operating on “autopilot,” we want our students to live deeply, understand how they’re feeling, and pay careful attention to the world around them.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of active, open awareness. It also involves acceptance: attention to thoughts and feelings without judging whether they are “right” or “wrong” in a given moment. Studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces negative emotions, stress, and the body’s susceptibility to illness. Studies also show that teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems amongst students, improves their happiness levels, and increases their ability to pay attention. Teachers trained in mindfulness show lower blood pressure, higher levels of happiness, and greater compassion and empathy.

What does mindfulness look like in Kindergarten?

“Mindfulness is about stopping to notice the present moment,” says Kindergarten Teacher Emily Travis. “In Kindergarten, it’s helpful for us to have something concrete to focus on: deep breaths with our hands on our bellies, or listening to hear the end of the song of the singing bowl. It’s all about going slowly and taking a moment to slow down.”

“We work on breathing techniques to calm our minds and bodies,” says Kindergarten Teacher Helen Ortiz. “Every morning, we gather all of the energy in the room and bring our fingertips to our foreheads. We bring all that energy down from our foreheads to our center and take two deep breaths together. It’s amazing how much that calms the students. They know it’s a tool they can use whenever they want, to find their best selves when they feel out of control. I tell them that it’s the hardest thing they’ll learn all year, and they practice at home, too. Some of them have said to their parents: ‘Mom, Dad, you need to center yourself: put your fingertips on your forehead and bring it all the way down to your center.'”

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