I Hope Everyone Is OK: Nurturing Emotional Understanding by

Painted hearts

There’s a story in our family that has become a bit of a legend. It goes like this… My son, two years old at the time, and his grandmother are taking a walk through the neighborhood. They see a big fire truck leaving the fire station, lights on, with lots of commotion. Grandma says, “Wow, look at that fire truck!” My son gets a serious look of concern on his face, turns and looks at her and says, “I hope everyone is ok.”

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Can We Have Class Outside? by

Children playing outdoors

Back in high school, when warm, spring weather would finally come after a long, cold winter, my classmates and I would ask, “Can we have class outside?” What a marvelous idea! Who would want to stay inside, when learning can occur in the sun, alongside chirping birds and fresh air? Nine times out of ten, we were quickly rebuffed, and probably rightly so—as high school students, we probably couldn’t have been trusted to pay attention. Sometimes we would get lucky and have a substitute who would be easy to convince that high school French is meant to be learned under a tree. Interestingly enough, an outside learning experience in preschool is a completely different concept than in high school. The opportunities that the outdoors provide for children to explore their gross-motor abilities, investigative skills, and social-emotional behaviors make outside the perfect place to have class.

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Community Helpers: Thinking Beyond the Badge… by

Children being community helpers

Have you ever felt really good about something you were planning for the classroom, only to realize, “Boy, was I wrong about how I approached that!” I imagine it’s the kind of thing that may have happened to us all—it certainly has for me. Back when I was student teaching, I planned what I thought was an amazing lesson on community helpers for my kindergarten classroom. I created a large chart with all the important helpers: police officers, fire fighters, postal workers, and doctors. We were going to spend a day on each helper—learning what they wear, how they help us, and what tools they use. I thought it was a fantastic idea, and was putting my lovely chart together when my then-roommate, a teacher in training herself, started laughing.

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From "Me" to "We" by

Two boys sharing

There are roughly seven billion people in the world, each with their own thoughts, opinions, emotions, and agendas. So how do we all learn to get along? Unfortunately, we don’t all master this ability as is evident in national clashes, world wars, and everyday conflicts. Yet, a large number of people come to understand the importance of compromise and coexistence. We are socialized from the time of birth, receiving both unconscious and explicit messages about how to get along with others. Teachers of infants, toddlers, and twos are in an especially important position to impact how children learn to interact with one another.

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Another Way to Look at the World by

A child's drawing of turtles

As I have watched my daughter, Carly, grow up, I have often marveled at her perspective on the world around her. Young children truly see the world from a different point of view, both because they are smaller than the adults towering around them, and because they bring their own unique ideas to their experiences.

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