the Young child
Pedagogical Team Newsletter
[ped-uh-goj-i-kuh l] of or relating to the art or science of teaching
Dear Young School Community,
Welcome to a new school year! Coping with so many changes over the past six months, it is wonderful to feel the familiar excitement of a year full of possibilities getting underway. We thought we would use this issue to give you a peek into how we are launching our school year in all age groups with Identity. It has been our practice to begin each year in our preschool cottages with the Identity Foundation Project, and it has always provided a platform that celebrates individuals and bonds those individuals into a community. This year, we have broadened our thinking to include all ages in this exploration and building of Identity. The ongoing experience of living together through this pandemic deepened our appreciation of community and the strength and resilience we have seen in children and adults. We decided to take a closer look at the many facets of strength that make each of us unique – and make us better together.
Several themes emerged within the schools under this umbrella, and the importance of family as a foundational source of strength is at the forefront. This year, when families are not able to physically enter the buildings, we are committed to prioritizing family participation and visibility in new ways. As we embark upon this new school year together, we ask you to partner with us to strengthen our connections as a community.
Please join your strengths with ours to make this a year of exciting learning and growing with your children!
Brenda Coggins, Laura Kirchner, and Beth Snyder
Corporate Pedagogical Team
Young School at Honeygo / August 2020
Strength through Connections - to Others and to Nature
A closer look at one school’s beginning
This summer, Pedagogical Directors began the work within their schools of planning with their teams for opening the year with Identity. The webbing above is an example of how our White Marsh location approached this task. Teachers were invited first to create collages that represented what gives them strength, and then reflected upon these ideas to ground their thinking about where to begin with the children.
At the Young School, we believe children have the right to explore big ideas and are capable of sharing their insights in both concrete and intuitive ways. This work often begins with the teachers exploring these ideas themselves and seeing the possibilities that emerge. The example from White Marsh shows several themes developing across all locations – strength through connections to others and to nature. The following questions guide our thinking:
• How are we connected to each other, and how can we build new ways to connect? This could follow many paths, for example, how infants connect through body language and verbal communication, to how Pre-K children can connect with friends while physical distancing is encouraged. This fundamental question includes how we stay connected to families and include them in meaningful ways in children’s “school life.”
• How can we use nature to teach ideas about strength, resilience, and teamwork? From the physical challenges that nature provides to the many examples of perseverance and communication between living organisms, nature provides a platform to explore how people reflect these traits.
Building upon the strengths of children, teachers, and families, we look forward to seeing how the identity of each classroom, cottage, and school emerges and reflects the values of our Young School community.
Staying in Touch
We know how important communication is to maintaining healthy relationships. We will continue to work on ways to communicate effectively while working within the conditions set by COVID-19 precautions. The challenges presented by families not being able to physically enter the building are ones that we are ready to meet and will continue to approach with creativity and a true desire to connect. Below are some of the different ways we are keeping the lines of communication open– above and beyond by phone, email, and zooming by request anytime. As always, we appreciate your ongoing feedback and suggestions!
This year families of all age groups will receive a monthly newsletter that will provide an overview of the research and direction of the curriculum in each classroom of the cottage. Our preschool Cottage Directors are currently in teaching roles in addition to their other responsibilities, so we have adjusted the bi-weekly newsletter schedule in favor of a more comprehensive monthly one.
This year we are closing for 2 conference days, the first one on Monday, October 12th. Conducted via Zoom, we have created this critical space for families to build relationships with their child’s teacher(s).
Portfolios for all ages of children will continue, with a focus on collecting work samples for our Pre-K children. We are in the process of brainstorming the best way to share portfolios with families and will continue to provide updates as we work to achieve this goal.
Formal and informal documentation of children’s work, including the gallery lines in the Pre-K, has always been a way for us to communicate about the curriculum. We will use the monthly newsletter and continue to find ways to share ongoing documentation with families both digitally and in person.
All families are connected to us through Brightwheel. This app is used to send individual information about your child, as well as timely updates and reminders. Since reopening in June, Brightwheel is a new tool for our Pre-K teachers to use to provide glimpses of your child’s day a few times a week. As always, every teacher’s first priority is to be present with your children and not on an iPad, so we ask that critical communication goes through the front office to ensure that it is received in a timely manner. We will continue to find ways to use Brightwheel as effectively as possible.
Summary Reports for all Pre-K children will be issued on the same schedule as in previous years (winter and spring). These give families an overview of your child’s learning and growth. In the past, our Pre-K teachers have specialized in certain areas (such as Math and Science), but this year all Pre-K teachers have been given the tools needed to teach and address the objectives for all domains of learning.