Posts filed under ‘early childhood’

A Student Teacher’s Journey: Follow this Blog

Follow current Bank Street grad student Karen Hawkins on her student teacher journey

http://studentteacher44.blogspot.com/

August 27, 2012 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

Faculty Respond to NY Times Block Play Story

On November 28, the New York Times published an article discussing the importance of block play in early childhood education. As long-time advocates of open-ended play, Bank Street faculty submitted a response, which was published on December 2. An expanded version of that response appears below.

As early childhood faculty at Bank Street College of Education, we are heartened that the article of November 28 on block building has brought attention to the importance of blocks as an essential educational material.

Lucy Sprague Mitchell, the founder of Bank Street College in 1916, studied children’s block building as a teacher at City and Country School, and recognized its unique value in the education of young children. Block building then became and continues to be an integral part of the teacher preparation curriculum.  Indeed, we are one of the few teacher education institutions in the country that offers a course devoted specifically to block building.

In the current educational climate, opportunities for children to engage in play are being eliminated in many schools, despite the mounting research by neuroscientists, developmental psychologists, physicians, and educators showing the critical role of play in children’s healthy development, physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally. The benefits of block play flourish only when children are allowed to engage in open-ended, imaginative play and are given the time to explore, experiment and represent their growing understanding of the world.

Signed,

Nancy Cardwell ’88
Betsy Grob M.S. ’70, Ed.M. ’99
Adrianne Kamsler
Nancy McKeever
Michele Morales
Denise Prince
Rena Rice ’77
Salvatore Vascellaro ’75

December 9, 2011 at 10:04 am Leave a comment

Bank Street in the Wall Street Journal

Bank Street’s own Virginia Casper weighs in on the subject of young children and tantrums in Sue Shellenbarger’s 10/19/11 column at the Wall Street Journal.

By SUE SHELLENBARGER

Q: My 3-year-old grandson screams in his preschool class, refuses to sit down and acts out often by saying, “No!” His teachers say he is smart. But he is also very stubborn. What can his parents and I do to help him control his behavior? —P.G., Mount Vernon, N.Y.

A: Most children at your grandson’s age are learning to regulate emotions and behavior and to distinguish between wants and needs, says Virginia Casper, developmental psychologist at Bank Street College of Education, New York. As many as 75% of 2- to 3-year-olds have tantrums and say “no” a lot, as they develop a healthy sense of self. Children often lack the skills to express their feelings in words so act out to gain a sense of control, Dr. Casper says.

“Set limits in a clear but humane and loving manner, and help [him] voice his emotions verbally,” she says. Ask his teachers what triggers the behavior and how to work with him, she says. The preschool may not be a good fit if his behavior is different at school and at home, says Rahil Briggs, a psychologist specializing in infants and toddlers at Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y.

Learn more about Virginia at bankstreet.edu/directory/virginia-casper

October 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

Report from South Africa

Last July, Laura Zellerbach ’11 and current student Emily Soong journeyed to South Africa to observe and report on the workings of early childcare centers there. Here is their report from the field.

Report from South Africa:

Data Collection for the INNOVA Project- Developing an Environmental Rating Scale for Group Care for the “Under Threes”

Laura Zellerbach (Bank Street College, M.S.Ed Infant and Family Development/Early Intervention ’11)
Emily Soong (Bank Street College, M.S. Early Childhood & Childhood General candidate)

Our arrival in the black African township of Mangaung in Free State, South Africa since July 16th has been observably marked by evident lingering divisions between the old world and new.  Early care and education, which also reflects existing race and social class tensions here, serves as an insightful lens into the disjointed, but still-evolving, amalgamation between this country’s historical strife with development and advancement work.  (more…)

September 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm 1 comment

A “Lead-Able” Moment…With Elephant

posted by Lorraine Yamin ’95, Learning Specialist at The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School & Staff Member at Bank Street’s Home and Community Program

Several years ago, when I provided special education consultation to a preschool on the outskirts of New York City, I sat in on a parent meeting rife with tensions.  The director and teachers where meeting with some parents to talk about the recommendation that their child receive additional support services for the upcoming school year.  The child was doing well in his individual therapies, but at school, in a group setting, he was missing many social opportunities because of language and motor delays.  He was not interacting with the other children and therefore, not experiencing a sense of competence in social interactions.  The teachers were having difficulty capturing all the possible moments to help him, and felt that a small amount of time with a special education, support teacher, would serve the child well.  The parents were angry because they felt this recommendation was not warranted.

Additionally, the teaching team, director and myself, knew the details of a defining and painful narrative for this family.  The child is question was a twin, and his sister had a rare and severe medical disability.  Parenthood for this family began in the Neonatal Infant Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital.  Preschool for their little girl was an intense, center-based, medical experience.  Their son was doing well in his individual services, and was in a mainstream preschool — he was “the healthy and good one.”

We met in the director’s office; sitting in chairs placed in a circle.  In an empathic, intuitive, moment that set an inviting and gentle tone, the director said, “You know, last night I was thinking about our meeting and I thought of that metaphor with the elephant.”  She recounted the famous parable of the blind men and the elephant; the one in which each man touches and perceives a part of an elephant and, incorrectly, concludes the overall truth based on only their individual experience.  The director continued by saying, “I think this metaphor could be of use to us…we each have an experience and a perception of [your son], but we need to put our perceptions together in order to try and understand the whole picture.”

This opening was more than an ice-breaker.  It created an emotional space in which each person who cared about the boy could share their experiences and observations.  It was at once welcoming, and containing.  The parents talked about the progress in his individual therapies and we all heard and shared that joy.  The teachers talked about the child’s strengths and then described the struggle with socialization, one they truly felt he could and would grow beyond.  However, mention of the boy’s current struggle, triggered memories of the parents’ experience in the NICU with his twin.  With effort and emotion, mom managed to say, “This is not suppose to happen, he is the good one.  He is the healthy one.  It is his sister that has been so hard…”

The team took a moment and allowed the pain to have its time.  Someone said, “We cannot imagine how hard the experience has been with your daughter and we are so sorry.”  After a moment, with tissues and deep breaths, we were able to shift back to their son, and were able to provide an opportunity for differentiation.  We spoke of our recommendation for additional classroom support; a recommendation that, in our opinion, would bolster the strengths emerging in their son’s individual therapies.  We assured the parents that we would not force this recommendation and were comfortable if they decided to decline it.  With some time, they decided they were comfortable with the plan, and it proved to be a wonderful source of support that following preschool year; a year in which he flourished.

We often speak of “teachable moments,” but this piece of parent work, in my mind, was able to occur because the director embraced the complexity of the scenario and captured a “lead-able moment,” with metaphor.

For the past 20 years Lorraine has been working with young children who have a range of special needs. She has worked in group homes, hospital- and center-based therapeutic nursery schools, mainstream preschools and Head Start. She is the Learning Specialist at The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at The JCC in Manhattan and is on staff at The Bank Street Home and Community Program. Lorraine graduated from Bank Street College of Education in 1995 with a Masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education and recently completed her MSW at Hunter College School of Social Work.

May 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm 1 comment

Connections and Curriculum in the Stars

posted by Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school

“Somebody has to go polish the stars,
They’re looking a little bit dull.
Somebody has to go polish the stars,
For the eagles and starlings and gulls
Have all been complaining they’re tarnished and worn,
They say they want new ones we cannot afford.
So please get your rags
And your polishing jars,
Somebody has to go polish the stars.”
~Shel Silverstein (A Light in the Attic)

On Friday morning I took off my shoes along with the Downstairs kids (our 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds) and their teachers and crawled through a dark tunnel into an inflated dome that filled the library in the Carriage House at my school.  Everyone found a comfy spot and then Brad, starman and teacher extraordinaire, turned off the lights as he turned on the stars.  This was the fifth time this week our kids visited StarLab.  But it was only my first time.  And what an experience it was.

During the 45 minutes we spent together inside that indoor planetarium, our 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds asked questions and shared the depth of their knowledge.  And they completely blew me away.  “Brad, this is Caleb.  I saw Betelguese yesterday night.”  “Brad, it’s Sadie.  Where is the sea serpent?”  Brad asked the name of the constellation known as the hunter.  “Orion!” they all called out.  “It’s Joshi, you see Betelguese, it’s red, and find Orion the hunter.”  “Brad, this is Asa.  From Draco the Dragon, I saw another dragon.”

Why do we do StarLab?  It is one of those spiral curricula in which kids experience the same structure (and even much of the same content and skills) year after year, but are asked to delve deeper and deeper as they get older.  They get the opportunity to do this every day for an entire week – it’s about gaining confidence and skills through daily practice and routine.  It’s about gaining a comfort and even mastery with the vocabulary and the language and also with the concepts of where we are in the universe (in developmentally-appropriate ways, of course).  Our kids can actually identify constellations.  I learned to do that at the age of 18 and it’s a powerful experience.

While in some ways this may seem like we’re taking a week out of the “regularly scheduled program,” in reality, this is a core component of our kids’ experience at our school.  It is yet another way for our children to think about who we are in the world.  What do teachers do in order to help our students get the most out of this experience?  We support their learning outside of StarLab by making connections to space, stars, planets, myths, and anything else we can think of.  Are there books to read?  Art projects to engage in?  Writing to do?  Stories to tell?  Constellation maps to study?  Of course.

Our Downstairs kids learned and read poems about stars (including the one about polishing the stars that they read to Brad!).  Some of our Emperor Penguins (8-, 9-, and 10- year-olds) learned Native American tales about the planets and the stars and then became storytellers as they told them to all the groups inside StarLab.  The Authors (5-, 6-, and 7-year-olds) learned that our Sun is a star, planets orbit the Sun, there are different kinds of stars, stars are huge, huge, huge, and different stars are different distances from Earth.  All of our kids heard myths and thought about what makes a story a story and about how people name the stars in cultures all around the world.  Equally as important, everyone in our school shared an experience this week that brought us together.  Kids from age 3 to age 18 now have a common language and understanding about stars and constellations and stories.  The stars are powerful and we are connected to each other in powerful ways.

Alisa Algava graduated from Bank Street’s Leadership for Educational Change program in 2008. For the past 15 years, she has taught and learned in public, private, and charter schools in NY, NJ, and RI. She has posted on the Alumni Blog about her experiences leading and learning in a small progressive school. Alisa loves learning. She loves moderating The Alumni Blog. And she really loves her nephew.

March 20, 2011 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

Childhood Fears and Worries: Opening the Doors to Conversation

posted by Jean Schreiber ’76, early childhood education consultant

Although we may try to shield our children from information that may be upsetting to them, inevitably, they will be exposed to life’s challenges and painful realities. We live in the “information age” and children are often bombarded with news from the media that can be upsetting and overwhelming. Children are very aware of the emotions of the adults who care for them and they can quickly tune into the anxiety of their parents and teachers.  When dangerous events occur in the world, adults also worry.  Often we have not had enough time to deal with our own reactions by the time we are faced with pointed questions from our children.  How can we respond to them in a way that is honest, age appropriate, and as reassuring as is possible?

In attempting to protect our children from frightening knowledge, we sometimes avoid sharing age-appropriate information with them. It is uncomfortable for parents to see their children upset and at times we are afraid to hear what is on their minds.  If we don’t talk to them about their concerns they “fill in the blanks” with their own theories and fantasies and these can be much more frightening than the reality.

Even when the world is not exploding with bad news, children can have anxious feelings and need reassurance and comfort from caring adults. Among the “normal” fears of preschool age children are monsters, ghosts, “bad guys,” being alone, feeling helpless, and dying. Young children are “magical thinkers” and often confuse fantasy with reality. Their wishes are powerful and they believe that their thoughts, feelings, and words can make things happen. School age children are more concrete in their thoughts and fears. Often, they focus their worries on more realistic catastrophes: hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, illness, injury, and death.  It is sometimes hard for parents and teachers to understand the source of a child’s fear. Some children can tell us in words, but, with younger children we often must draw conclusions from observing a child at play or by his or her behavioral changes.

Healing often comes about through play as well. Play allows children to imagine, and while imagining, “try out” scary things in a safe environment. They take on new “roles” and allow their fantasies to determine what happens and how they feel as they face new and difficult scenarios.  After 9/11, block corners became areas where children re-enacted the drama of buildings crashing down over and over again.  When children who survived Hurricane Katrina were asked to draw houses, they often depicted people standing on roofs surrounded by water. A young child who is afraid of getting a shot at the doctor’s office may be seen repeatedly “injecting” a doll or stuffed animal.  Playing roles and reworking experiences allows children to gain mastery and control of their feelings.

Here are some strategies to help open the door to conversations with children about their fears:

  • Take your child’s response to frightening experiences seriously.  Simply telling them “don’t be afraid… don’t worry about that” does not reassure them and closes the door to conversation.
  • Empathically acknowledge your child’s feelings. “I see that you are frightened, I know that thunder scares you.”
  • Let your child’s questions and concerns guide the conversation. This will help to clarify their understandings and misconceptions. “What have you heard about the earthquake?” “Do you know what the word ‘dead’ means?”
  • When children ask difficult questions, don’t avoid answering. “Lots of five-year-olds wonder about that.  That’s a really good question and a lot of grownups don’t know what [that] feels like either.”
  • Share your feelings of sadness or anxiety in a calm and reassuring way while offering hope. “I was scared when I saw the pictures of the earthquake too, but we are lucky to be safe in our house… Lots of doctors are there to help the people who got hurt.”
  • Be truthful in answering questions and acknowledge honestly when there will be an impact on children. “Yes, Julie’s mommy and daddy aren’t going to live together anymore, but they both still love her very much.  I think Julie will miss having them together.”
  • Listen to what your child is saying and make a connection between the feeling and the behavior. “You don’t want to go to the doctor because you are afraid you will get a shot and, last time, it hurt you.  This time you won’t need a shot.”
  • Help children to minimize the degree of risk, but don’t discount the feeling.  “I know you are afraid the dog will bite you, but, first let’s ask if he is a friendly dog.  If you pet him on his back, not on his face, you will be safe.”
  • Help your child to find solutions to his or her fears. “I know that you don’t like to go to sleep in the dark, let’s think together of some ideas to make you feel safe.”
  • Let children know that they did not cause the problem. “It’s not your fault that the hamster died.  The vet tried her best but she couldn’t make the hamster better.”
  • Provide children with opportunities to release tension and take a break from their feelings: sand, water, clay, paint are all good physical outlets.
  • Read books about common childhood fears and talk to your child about what the characters in the book are feeling.
  • Encourage children to talk about their feelings: share stories of when you were their age and had similar fears.
  • Give reassurance and physical comfort: young children need to know that they are safe and adults are there to take care of them.
  • Provide structure and stability: children need consistency and security, especially when life is at its most unpredictable.
  • Seek professional help if your child’s fears persist and interfere with their day-to-day functioning.

Children whose feelings are expressed and validated can be helped to cope with frightening fantasies and difficult realities.  It can be hard, sometimes, for us to encourage children to speak about their worries and show their emotions.  However, closing our eyes does not make the problems go away.  Giving children permission to face their problems – and the tools with which to solve them – will help children become sturdy and resilient adults.

Jean Schreiber is an early childhood educational consultant who, for over two decades, has developed and directed early childhood programs and parenting centers. She earned her M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education where she is an instructor in the Continuing Professional Studies Program. She is the Parent Support and Educational Coordinator at the Saul and Carol Zabar Nursery School at the JCC in Manhattan, serves as a consultant to a wide variety of early childhood and elementary school programs, presents workshops and talks, and provides guidance to parents in both individual and group settings.

February 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

Partnering with Parents: Protocols Make a Difference

posted by Lorraine Yamin ’95, Learning Specialist at The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School & Staff Member at Bank Street’s Home and Community Program

When early childhood professionals approach parents with a concern about their child’s development, having a sensitive, best-practice protocol to guide the process can make a critical difference in the outcome of that conversation. While this may seem self-evident, early childhood settings often have not outlined their process in written form. Administrative staff and teachers may be adept in their observing and recording and may be skilled communicators, but they are also managing a myriad of responsibilities that draw the focus away from this important work.

Teachers and administrators may bring their observations and concerns to parents and find the conversation they initiated ends with resentment toward the professionals and a diagnosis of “denial” for the parent. While it is true that parents respond to these conversations in variety of ways, from relief that their own concerns have been voiced to dismay and confusion, there also exists a series of steps that can guide this process and bring it to a level of best practice. This guidance is critical because early childhood professionals have a limited number of opportunities to connect with a parent when they need to share concerns. Once a parent or caregiver feels that the professional does not “get” or “know” their child, a baseline level of trust has been lost and is quite difficult to recover.

At the Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the JCC in Manhattan, the directors, a leadership team of experienced teachers, and two educational consultants met over the summer to carve out a written protocol to guide staff when teachers are concerned about a child. Collectively, we identified and unpacked our best practice values and procedures in order to create a system of shared practice.

We believe the vicissitudes of early childhood development bring shifts in both strengths and vulnerabilities. We know that documenting and communicating concerns requires us to articulate what can only be viewed as a child’s emerging profile. We have balanced and grounded that openness by committing to a process that helps us know exactly where we are in our shared construction with parents. Five months into the school year, we see clear benefits to having mapped this protocol out, in written form. The manner by which we now approach, partner, guide and support families with children who may have emerging developmental vulnerabilities, is one that emboldens all involved; directors, teachers, consultants and, most importantly, families and their children.

For the past 20 years Lorraine has been working with young children who have a range of special needs. She has worked in group homes, hospital- and center-based therapeutic nursery schools, mainstream preschools and Head Start. She is the Learning Specialist at The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at The JCC in Manhattan and is on staff at The Bank Street Home and Community Program. Lorraine graduated from Bank Street College of Education in 1995 with a Masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education and recently completed her MSW at Hunter College School of Social Work.

January 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

Attend The Family Center’s “The Tools of Language” Conference

The Bank Street Family Center and Beth Israel Medical Center are hosting a conference entitled “The Tools of Language” on Friday February 4th from 9am-4pm at Bank Street. Ellen Galinsky, an alum and former graduate school faculty member will be one of the presenters.

Tools Of Language 2011 Registration Form

In the morning presentation, participants learn about auditory development and discuss the rationale for testing young children. Participants will learn about the data and the subtests that appear to be measurable regarding auditory skills and will discuss the challenges in obtaining accurate results. Participants will acquire knowledge and strategies for developing materials and activities that they can immediately apply in their work with young children in schools, therapy sessions, or evaluations.

The afternoon presentation will describe ways to share child development research and neuroscience with practitioners and families to influence growth in children. Participants will explore the seven research-based essential skills found in the book Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs. They will also discuss how practitioners and families can best promote these skills.

This course is also offered for .5 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area).

January 12, 2011 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

“Putting Head Start to the Test”

posted by Beth Norford ’89, consultant and former School for Children teacher

A recent article in The Washington Post (October 11, 2010, p.A17)…

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/10/AR2010101003044.html?sub=AR

I wonder if anyone is interested in starting a conversation about this (or using this forum to add to conversations that are ongoing)?

Beth is a Bank Street graduate and former School for Children teacher who is currently an educational consultant. Much of her work is concentrated in South Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan).

Please join the conversation by posting your comment below.

November 4, 2010 at 12:49 pm 2 comments

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Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
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Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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