Jack and Jill Preschool News
Over-scheduling: Children and Families
It is no accident that the topic of this newsletter article is in the month of December. The truth is that I have not always practiced what I preached. For many years I would watch this month come closer on my calendar, and it was an ominous specter that I often faced with dread.
Aside from being busy enough with holiday festivities, we were blessed with two children born in December, and for anyone who has a child with a birthday near a holiday comes the determination not to let the child’s own day be overshadowed by another event. Enough pressure yet? Nope! We added two little ballerinas to the mix and all of the rehearsals and performances that entailed (think Nutcracker). Next, add a revolving door of out of town guests. You get the picture.
This may not be your story or the month that you face overscheduling and time conflicts, but it does happen to most families, typically through extra-curricular activities such as sports, music lessons, etc. My encouragement to you – take control of it so it doesn’t take control of you. Don’t miss the moments because you are too exhausted or distracted to enjoy them.
Stop and decide as a family. What is important? Can something be moved to a less busy time? Is it even something that you want to do, or are you feeling outside pressure? There is no right answer for every family as to how much is too much. That requires an individual assessment for how it works for your family. But it certainly allows for us all to question, “Do we have time to just be together with nothing else interfering?”
“The antidote to that problem… is to make sure children have enough time with no activities, parents have enough time with no work, and the two sides come together to create activities of their own.” – Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, in a New York Times article by Bruce Feiler, October 11, 2013.
The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, by Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld
The Pressured Child, by Michael Thompson
You gotta struggle in order to have it. . .
Courage, that is. And these early years are the years to nurturecourage in your children. To be courageous does not mean you are without fear; it means that you persist in spite of the fear.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
Parents of preschoolers have many opportunities throughout the day to witness fear and struggle in young children. These are opportunities to support and encourage, then celebrate the progress and name it courage. Courage is developed through believing you are capable, valued, and responsible for yourself. How do we help young children feel more confident, courageous and resilient?
• When they struggle to put shoes and socks on: we say, “I know it’s hard, but stick with it.” “I knew you could do it.”
• When they don’t want you to leave them at preschool: “It’s hard to separate sometimes. You’ve done it before, and I know you can do it today.” “How about one more hug for strength?”
• When they don’t want to share with a friend: “Sometimes when we don’t want to share we just need to slow down. . .” Then help them slow down and work through it.
• When they dig their heels in with anger: “I know this is very hard for you; I’ll help you through it.” (This is becoming one of my all-time favorite encouraging messages – who wouldn’t want to be recognized how hard the struggle is, and then be encouraged?)
• When they get frustrated with a project: “Since you’re not satisfied with it, what do you think you could do to get it how you want it? How can I help you?”
• When they have trouble making a decision: “I have confidence in your judgment” Or
“That’s a tough one, but I think you can work it out.”
• When they do something that contributes positively: “Thanks. That helped a lot” “I appreciate your thoughtfulness.” “You feel really good about that, don’t you?”
• Sometimes children need help with restraining themselves: “I know this is hard for you to wait/be patient/stop your body from moving, etc. and I trust you can do it.”
This list of encouraging phrases and behaviors can go on and on. For more thoughts on this you can read Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelsen or Punished by Rewards, by Alphie Kohn. Awesome principles.
Keep in mind that children are genuinely pretty well wired for courage and confidence. By nature, they push ahead and show resilience when it’s necessary. They do not carry the baggage of negative experiences we bring to the situation. So, the lesson? Work to increase your self-awareness about your own fears and anxieties. Be cautious about imposing your anxieties and lack of courage onto your children’s experiences. They want to go for it; this means they will make many, many mistakes. Embrace the mistakes and hesitations and support them while they push ahead. Call it courage. And remember it is their experience.
Amy Mackey firstname.lastname@example.org
As you are probably already noticing, children grow quickly. The preschool years are a brief period in the life of a family. Hopefully the relationships you are forming this year in your child’s classroom and with the larger Jack & Jill community will stay with you for a lifetime.
Recently I found myself dining with one of our school’s former presidents, Jackie Stenger. During her presidency the school was located at Skyline Presbyterian Church. It was during that time, in the mid-1960s, that our name changed to Jack & Jill Cooperative Nursery School. The name change came about due to the move from Mason United Methodist. There was a desire to shift from the popular pastime of naming a school after its location to a name that identified the school’s focus on children.
Since that time Jack & Jill has moved once again, to its current location, at Grace Baptist Church. Our focus remains the same; on our children. During the last several weeks of the calendar year, sometimes referred to as the holiday season, life can feel extra busy. There can be a lot of societal pressure to decorate and buy things in abundance. I encourage you to take time to relax and be with your child. Speaking from personal experience, the preschool years really do pass in the blink of an eye. Time spent together makes lasting memories.
Jack & Jill Website Update
Do you find the school website to be user-friendly? If so, what do you like about it? If not, what would you like to see done differently? The Board has discussed overhauling our website to make it more professional and appealing, while also being easy to update and maintain. We want YOUR input.
All concise and constructive feedback is valid and desired. If you have knowledge on the topic of websites your insights are especially needed at this time. A short-term committee is being formed. All interested members are to collect their thoughts then meet once or twice in January 2016. A proposal will be submitted at the February 2016 Board meeting.
Please email email@example.com if you are interested in joining the short-term committee or have any constructive ideas regarding the website.
2016-2017 Board Nominating Committee
Last spring the elections section of our Constitution and By-Laws was updated by vote of the membership. This was done to promote a more clear and transparent process for selecting the Jack & Jill Board. As outlined on page 18 of our handbook, persons interested in serving on the 2016-2017 Board will inform the nominating committee starting in January.
The nominations committee for next year’s Board currently consists of Diana Busch as President and Katie Hannig as Committees Chair. Teacher Kim and Amy Mackey serve the committee in an advisory capacity. A representative from each group is sought. If you wish to serve on the nominating committee please email firstname.lastname@example.org before January 6, 2016. The nominating committee names will be brought to the Board at the January 6th meeting.
A list of open 2016-2017 Board positions will be included in the January 2016 newsletter. Please see your handbook for more information regarding elections, the nominating committee, and duties of the Board.