Empowerment

Posted on September 27, 2011 in category Director's Blog

We are always honored when a family chooses our preschool program for their children. It’s a big decision to allow other adults to have an influence in the life of your family and we appreciate the amount of trust this takes.

There are lots of research studies showing the benefits of attending a high quality preschool. However, these studies indicate that only high-quality programs have lasting positive effects. So what makes a program high quality? I was delighted to learn that in these studies, programs were considered high-quality if they empowered children, families and teachers!

Here at SYC we empower young children by supporting and encouraging them in all areas of development: social, emotional, physical and intellectual. We want to empower them to think for themselves, solve their own problems, and be an active participant in their own learning.

We also have a great ratio of children to teachers. This ratio empowers teachers to be available to kids while empowering kids to take risks because they have plenty of supportive teachers nearby.

When I was a teacher here, I remember a three-year-old girl named Mary. Mary used to stand at the door peeking into the running room, watching three other girls who liked to build a block house and pretend they were kittens. The play was always loud with lots of meowing and hissing. I asked Mary if she wanted to be a kitten in the house but she always said no and yet she would continue to stand at the door watching every moment of play. As a teacher, I pulled up a chair and offered her a lap so we could watch together, then I would comment on what was happening. “I see the kitties are taking a nap now—or when those cats hiss, I think they are pretend fighting.” After a few days, I asked Mary again if she wanted to be a kitty. She said yes, but she wanted her own house, so I got her a tent and she put it near the other kitty house—but NO she didn’t want to play with them. This went on for a few days. One day I asked her if she wanted to invite any other kitties into her tent. She looked in the direction of the other kitty house and quietly asked one of them if they wanted to come over. After that day, the kitties started inviting each other often and even more kitties joined. Mary just needed time to observe and a little encouragement from a teacher to feel secure enough to play with the others.

We empower parents to be partners with us in the classroom, on our committees, in conversation with us in parent coffees and parent education evenings and by constantly working on better communication. This year, we are hoping to use our new website to do more communicating.

We invite parents to spend time in the classroom, observing the children and talking with teachers.  We want to encourage you to be advocates for your children, a skill that will serve you well throughout your child’s education.

When I was a parent at this school, I used to hang around a lot—far longer than needed by my sons. I was a young mother who needed a lot of encouragement with my parenting and I certainly felt empowered as I watched and learned from the teachers.

We empower our teachers by respecting each others’ talents and personal styles while working together under a consistent school philosophy. We are able to keep the philosophy consistent because we have great continuity on the staff. For instance, I’m only the fourth director the school has had since 1969 and we also have a lot of long term teachers. Nine teachers have been here over 5 years, two over 10 years and three over 20 years.

All in all, I believe that SYC is a wonderful example of the type of high quality preschool mentioned in the research studies and our hope is that families have lasting positive effects from being part our community.