Teacher Marty’s Letter (October 2016)

Dear MPS Families,

I could not be more pleased with how the start of the school year has gone. Each of our three classes has a unique personality and rhythm but they all have one thing in common – they are settling in, learning our routines and exploring their world.

Our new 3’s class is totally awesome. They have been so brave and adventurous. Most of the kids are doing well with separation and enjoying playing with each other and the teachers. Circle time has been a pleasure as they seem to really enjoy our finger plays and songs and especially the stories we read. The couple of kids who are still working hard on finding their place in class and letting go of their grown up are getting support from their peers, their teachers, the other parents and their own special grown ups. Having patience for their process is sometimes hard but it is so worth it in the long run. I commend you all for giving your children the space they need to learn and for trusting Teacher Lisa and me in our ability to help them when they need it. You are our parenting heroes!

The 4’s class came in and it felt like they had never been away! We added two new students and they are such a good match for the class. They have found friends, connected with the teachers and thrown themselves into the fun and energetic spirit of the group. This class is full of boundless energy and a wild sense of humor (we do love to laugh) and creativity. They have invented several new games (Traffic Jam on the slide, and Rockabye Baby/The Napping School/Wake UP!!!!! You would have to be there to get it but it is full on 4 year old silly fun!) I am really looking forward to a year of adventure with this group!

The Pre-k, while a small class of 10, is really keeping Teacher Lisa and me on our toes. They are a high energy, bright and funny group of kiddos. They have a passion for big body play, Pikachu (although only a couple know what this means it doesn’t stop them from running around saying “Pika Pika Pika!”) digging rivers and bowling. They also may go down in our memory as the Board Game Class. We are ripping through them with our most recent obsession being a Max and Ruby shopping game called Bunny Money. I know my new friend Owen likes to play it with me because I have the worst luck and wound up owing the bank $17 and counting. Obviously I am not a smart shopper!

In all it is a joy getting to know your kids and seeing each group of children develop into their own community. We will keep you posted on how they are doing and on the goals we have for each group.

Follow Up to General Meeting: At last week’s general meeting I spoke with you all about Attachment Theory, The Circle of Security Project and the Gottman model of Emotion Coaching. I hope you found some nuggets of information that you can use both in the classroom and at home. Children are such complex people. While they do not have fully developed vocabularies to describe all that they feel and experience, they still feel the ‘feels’ that the rest of us do. Imagine how frustrating it is to be having some big emotions but have no way of letting the people around you know what is going on.

One point I wanted to add to our discussion on coaching kids through their emotional world is to remember to use the word ‘and’. When you are empathizing and helping them to label their feelings, it is important to also give them the hope and understanding that big feelings do not last forever. “Yes, you are very frustrated right now because you were trying to build that tower and your sister keeps knocking it down. You are angry and you do not want to play. It is ok to be upset. You might not want to play right now, you may even need a good cry. Crying can really help us feel better. And when you are ready, you will feel better and then you will get to decide what you want to do next.”

Or, “you can miss your mom AND still decide to play and have fun. You can feel two things at one time! Did you know that?”

Or my favorite, “you are so mad and you just don’t know what to do.  It is ok to be really, really angry AND I will keep you safe and your brother safe, too.  I will help you make safe choices and remember that we don’t hit people even when we are mad.”

Our reactions help them learn to accept their emotional reactions and then develop strategies to move forward in ways that are respectful, kind and compassionate: not just to others but towards themselves as well.

The other point is to avoid labeling or convicting your child of being stuck in a zone. Instead of saying that your child is ‘shy’, validate the fact that they just need a little time to feel comfortable and safe. Nothing wrong with that. Shy can carry such a negative connotation and judgement. Not labeling also means not sentencing your child. Whether it is shy, or anxious, or irritable, or whatever – who they are today, this week, this month, this year, is not the same person they will be tomorrow or next year. Every challenge we face, meet and conquer is another launchpad for growth and change. We all have a developmental task of coming to understand our own temperaments and personalities and through that understanding position ourselves to achieve our goals, hopes and dreams. Your children are full of potential. We must, must, must avoid pigeonholing them so that we do not become barriers or stumbling blocks on their path forward!

Upcoming Events!

So it is October and now it is Pumpkin Month! I told you preschools are a great place to be in the fall. This month we will be tasting and cooking apples, making pumpkin soup, going to the pumpkin patch, attending our annual Harvest Party, having our school pictures taken and more!

Here are the dates you need to know. Please put the dates/times in your calendar and remember to refer back to the newsletter if you need a reminder of what is coming!

First off the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are this month. These holidays include services at our neighboring temple (Neveh Shalom) that are very well attended. The impact on us is that parking gets very tight! Their lot fills up, they use the upper parking lot and on street parking for overflow as well at the lot at the Portland Christian Center up the hill from us. I do my best to protect our lot with cones and tape. We get some help and support from their parking guards as well. But you should definitely plan on arriving early for pick up on temple days so that your child is not caught wondering where you are.

I think that Monday, October 3rd will be the heaviest day for Rosh Hashanah and Wednesday, October 12 will be the day we will see the most difficult parking for Yom Kippur. I will update you if I am off.

School Pictures: Anna Hoye, MPS Alumni mom and stellar photographer, will be back to take your kids school pictures again this year on October 6th and 7th during your regular class time. Order forms are in your parent folders. You may complete them and return them to me in advance of your assigned day along with a check. I will not have any messy materials out for art projects that day so if you want to try to send your child in nicer clothes we will do our best to keep them tidy! I cannot promise that we will be able to comb hair but we do our best! We can use an extra parent in each class since I will be taking kids out in small groups to get their photos taken. We try to keep the stress level down for everyone – including the teachers!

Plumper Pumpkin Patch Field Trip: Our annual trek to the pumpkin patch is coming up this month. Parent teachers should plan on bringing snack to this field trip. There is a $6 fee per person attending (except babies in carriers!). Extended family members and siblings are welcome to come along! Just give me the number of folks from your family you are planning to bring so I can pass it on to Farmer Jim in advance! Your class reps will circulate permission slips and will collect your payments turning them in to me prior to our trip. You may pay by cash or check. Checks should be made out to me (Marty Peterson). I will pay for our groups in one swoop.

  • 3’s Class – Tuesday October 11th. Meet there at 9:30am.
  • 4’s Class – Wednesday October 12th. Meet there at 9:30am.
  • Pre-K Class – Wednesday October 12th. Meet there at 1:30pm.

Make sure that you and your child and your guests are prepared for the weather. Send them with a bag to carry their pumpkin!

NO SCHOOL: There is no school on Thursday and Friday October 13th and 14th during the Statewide Inservice Days.

Harvest Party: Our annual Harvest Party is on Saturday October 22nd from 4:30 to 6:30 in the hall upstairs from the classroom. You will be getting lots more information from your Special Events Team. Costumes, food, games, crafts, entertainment! What else do you need to have a blast with your kids? Please note: If your child has sensory sensitivities especially to noise or crowds of people – please know you can take a pass and not feel guilty! This is supposed to be a fun event and not a stressor!

Field Day: This month we will go to Marshall Park for a spooky and fun Halloween Hike! Tricks, treats and treasures! Like always, come prepared for the weather. Siblings are welcome to attend with a parent. Children are to bring their own nut safe snacks and a full water bottle. Here is your schedule:

  • 3’s Class: Thursday October 27th. Meet at Marshall Park at 9:30am.
  • Pre-K Class: Thursday October 27. Meet at 1:30pm
  • 4’s Class: Friday, October 28th. Meet at 9:30am

Class Coffees: You may note that we will not be holding a General Community Meeting this month. Instead we will be planning individual class coffees either during the evening or on a weekend so that I can attend. We will check in on how things are going for your kids, how class has been going, answering any questions you may have about parent teaching, curriculum and more. Stay tuned for the announcements of dates/times.
Well that is it for October. You can see that we will be quite busy and that there are adventures to be had around every corner. Thanks for a great start to the year. I am so happy to have you as part of our MPS family!


Teacher Marty