GUMC Preschool

September Newsletter 2022

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Welcome Back to School, GUMC Families!

Our theme for this school year comes from Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I don't think that anyone would deny that the past few years have been difficult, and at times dark and frightening, as we confronted the seemingly endless and ever-changing challenges of the pandemic. Throughout the journey, GUMC Preschool has continued to be a safe and secure place for your children - that "light on a hill" so-to-speak.

This year too, we will persist in providing the children in our care with all that they need to learn and grow. We promise to open our hearts to see the good in your children and the world around us. We will be the light to lead them through any times of darkness and disappointment, as well as times of joy. And, we will strive to make the difference in their lives, and in a world that is often quite uncertain. Thank you for trusting us enough to share your children with us!

In preparation for the children's arrival after Labor Day, our wonderful teachers have begun planning and working their classrooms. Their dedication, passion and creativity shines in the brightness of their smiles and in the results of their hard work! Your children are going to love their teachers and their classrooms!

We have a few changes and additions to our staff this year. Our new staff member, "Ms. Colleen" Ryland, will be teaching the M-F Pre-K class in Room A, and Ms. Karen will be changing rooms to assist her this year. And new staff member, "Ms. Angie" Woolverton, will be teaching the MWF Pre-K and TuTh 3's in Classroom B, where Ms. Val will be assisting her. We will miss Ms. Michelle and Ms. Mary Ann, but you just might see them around as substitutes when their schedules allow! We welcome our new GUMC staff and families and look forward to a wonderful school year ahead!


Ms. Kim

What's Happening?

September Calendar

8/29-9/1 Preschool Office hours 8:30am-2:00pm, Teacher Work Week

9/2-9/5 Labor Weekend, GUMC CLOSED

9/6 Open Houses for TuTh older 2's, TuTh3 's, M-Th Pre-K, M-F Pre-K

9/7 Open Houses for MWF 3's, MWF Pre-K, First Day of School for M-Th Pre-K and M-F Pre-K

9/7 *Parent Meeting (Option #1) in Church Sanctuary @ 6:30pm

9/8 First Day for TuTh older 2's, TuTh 3's. *Parent Meeting (Option #2) in Church Sanctuary @9:30am

9/9 First Day for MWF 3's, MWF Pre-K. *Parent Meeting (Option #3) in Church Sanctuary @9:30am

9/11 GUMC FALL KICK-OFF! Join us from 9:30am-1:00pm with worship, picnic, and games!

9/13 Parent Connection Meeting @ 9:30 in the Church Library Upstairs

9/19 Claire's Gourmet & Joe Corbi's Fundraiser begins

9/20 Parent Connection Group Meeting @ 9:30am in Rainy Day Room

9/21 Music with Ms. Amy

9/22 Music with Ms. Amy

9/26 GUMC Closed (HCPSS Closed)

9/28 Music with Ms. Amy

9/29 Music with Ms. Amy

9/29 Gaver Farm Permission Slips DUE

* The optional Parent Orientation Meetings are for Parents/Caregivers only. Please no children; only infants in arms/carriers.

Looking ahead:

10/6 ALL-SCHOOL FIELD TRIP TO GAVER FARM Permission Slips Due 9/29!

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All are invited!

All GUMC Preschool families and teachers are invited to celebrate! Come and join us for worship at 9:30am as we bless the preschool teachers and GUMC community starting a new school year. Stay afterwards as we enjoy a picnic, games and bounce-house! We hope to see you there!

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Fundraiser: Claire's GOURMET and Joe Corbi's

Be prepared for the holidays! Claire's GOURMET and Joe Corbi's have what you need for a lot less stress! Pies for Thanksgiving. Cinnamon buns for holiday breakfasts. Cookies and cakes for Christmas. Pizzas for those quick and easy dinners when you're crunched for time. ...And so much more!

Look for your packet in your child's folder and order by check or conveniently online at Log in and use Organization #7342. Give your family and friends your six digit participant code and they can also order online!

Order from Monday, September 19th until Monday, October 17th. Order pick up will be before the holidays during the week of November 14th.

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Parent Connection Group Meeting

The Parent Connection Group meets monthly during the school year and is very active in bringing the GUMC school community together, benefiting our children, their families and teachers. Come to the first meeting of the year on Tuesday, September 20th upstairs in the Rainy Day Room to see and hear what it's all about!


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Smooth Transitions Back to School

Claire Lerner, LCSW-C is a licensed clinical social worker and child development specialist. She has been a practicing clinician for over thirty years, partnering with parents to decode their children’s behavior and solve their most vexing childrearing challenges. Taken from her most recent newsletter, Claire Lerner addresses the timely issue of children's entry/re-entry to school. Below, she shares insights and strategies that may be helpful during the coming weeks.

Think of this transition as a “positive stressor.” It is stress that leads to growth. It is an opportunity for children to develop close, trusting relationships with other adults and peers. It builds confidence and helps children adapt to future separations (if this is their first time going to school), as well as the myriad, inevitable changes they will face as they grow.

Keep in mind that every child is different and approaches separations in his own way. Avoid comparing! Some kids jump right in. They "go-with-the-flow" by nature. But for many, especially the kids who are “slow-to-warm-up”, it may take weeks to feel safe and comfortable. One 3-year-old I know sat in the “cozy corner” most of the day and looked at a photo album of her family, that she had brought to school, for almost 3 straight weeks. Then, one day, she got up and stood at the edge of the circle during book-reading time; then she started to join one other child in play. By the end of the first month she was totally engaged and crazy about school, protesting when her grandma came to pick her up at the end of the day.

Validate feelings before jumping to reassurance. Labeling and acknowledging difficult feelings helps children understand, gain control over, and work through them in positive ways.

So don't fear the feelings, lean into them. Acknowledge that starting something new can feel scary. Ask your child to tell you what's on his mind. Listen and validate without judging or trying to talk your child out of his feelings. Ignoring or minimizing feelings doesn’t make them go away. The more children can get their feelings off their chests, the less likely they are to act them out, and the more likely they are to be able to work them through. Remind yourself that your child can have anxiety about starting or returning to school AND still muscle through, adapt and thrive. Those two realities can co-exist.

It can be helpful to share a story of a time when you started something new. Describe your own feelings of being nervous/scared, what you did to cope, and the ultimate benefit of the experience—what you would have missed if you hadn't forged ahead.

Recall any past experiences your child has had with mastering something new. Remind him that he has faced challenges and mastered new things that felt scary, before. Emphasize the strength and bravery that helped him adapt to the new experience and how this led to a good outcome for him; for example, having fun at a birthday party or swim class he had initially been fearful of and protested going to. This is how children build resilience. The more experience they have persevering through a challenge, the more muscle, confidence and skills they develop to master future, novel situations.

Visit the school in advance. Play on the playground. Explore inside the school if this is allowed. Get together with classmates for play dates. Meet the teacher/caregiver in advance—in-person if possible, or remotely. The unknown causes anxiety. The more a child is familiar with the new setting, the less fearful she is likely to be.

Establish a ritual for leaving home. You might have your child choose a book that you read partway during breakfast or sometime before you leave in the morning. Have your child make a special bookmark he places in the book to indicate where you left off. Then, when you pick him up at the end of the day, or, first thing when you get home, you finish the book together. This provides a connection from morning to evening that helps children cope with separations.

Create a special goodbye ritual at drop-off. Rituals can help kids cope. Establish a special kiss, hug or mantra you say every time you separate at school. One dad-child pair held each other in a tight hug for a count of 5 and then said, “See you later alligator” in unison. Doing that every morning significantly eased the separation for this child.

Be clear that going to school is not a choice to avoid protracted battles. It is very common for children to protest or show distress about going to school. Don't mistake this for evidence that there is something wrong or that going to school is detrimental for your child. I almost always find that the distress is more a reaction to the transition, not the child's actual experience at school. Parents often get reports from teachers that once their child has arrived in the classroom, he is adapting and even thriving.

Of course, you want to be sure to check in with the staff to get confirmation that your child is learning to get comfortable. Once assured of this, when he says he doesn't want to go, validate his feelings. Let him know you understand that going from home to school can be hard, but that going to school is not a choice, it's a "have-to.” Just like mommies and daddies go to work, a kid's job is to go to school—to play and learn.

Avoid the pitfall of trying to convince your child to agree to go to school. This opens up a big, black hole that she will dive right into. It communicates that going to school requires her agreement and cooperation, which often leads to kids throwing up all kinds of obstacles: “But I’m too tired!” “School is boring. I know everything already.”

Instead, acknowledge your child’s feelings and keep moving forward, calmly and lovingly. “I know, I often feel tired in the morning, too. You’ll do the best you can.” “Wow- there is nothing new to learn? You can talk to your teacher about that.” (When their efforts to derail the process don’t get any traction, they often give them up.) Once your child experiences the daily routine of going to school each morning, despite her protests, the push-back stops and the adaptation begins.

Say a brief, upbeat goodbye. Children look to their parents’ for cues to help them assess a situation. If you are calm and positive in your approach, even in the face of your child's distress, you are letting her know that the school/new classroom is a safe place that you trust completely and she is more likely to make a quicker and more positive adaptation. “I know you don’t want daddy to leave. It's a new place/classroom and you are feeling afraid. I totally understand. You will feel less afraid the more time you spend here and see how great it is—that’s why we chose if for you. Your job is to play and learn here with the other kids. My job is to do my work. I can’t wait to pick you up and hear all about your day.” (It’s a good idea to find out from the teacher what the last activity will be before pick-up so you can let your child know exactly what to expect: “After you have music, Daddy will be back to pick you up.”)

Tune in to your own feelings about separating from your child, so you can manage them: It is natural to feel anxious about separating from your child, especially if this is your first born and it is his first experience going to school. But acting on this worry can increase a child's distress (and thus yours, too) and make the separation even harder. I have heard many a parent unwittingly pass on anxiety in the way they say goodbye, for example : “Oh Sweetie, I promise mommy will come back as soon as possible”, said in a tense tone of voice. This communicates that maybe the school isn’t such a good, safe place and thus your child needs to be rescued from it soon.

Further, resist looking back, hovering, or returning to the classroom (if you're allowed in the school!) after you say goodbye. This communicates that you are worried about your child—that you don’t trust he will be okay and has the capacity to cope. This erodes versus builds his confidence that he can handle this new challenge. (Research shows that the longer the goodbye routine, and the more parents hover or keep returning for one last hug, the longer it takes the child to eventually calm and adapt.) As long as you keep re-engaging when your child begs you not to leave, your child’s focus and energy remains on trying to connect with you versus adapting to the classroom. In many of the schools I consult at, the teacher will take over to help the parent leave. She will comfort the child (gently peeling him from the parent if necessary) and guide him to join the classroom activity or give him the space he needs until he is ready to participate.

Talk to your trusted people about any feelings you might be struggling with around separating from your child—which are totally understandable. Just avoid projecting them onto your child.

Have faith that with support from you and her teachers/caregivers, your child can and will adapt. Over the decades I have been working in schools, I have seen many families pull their kids out of wonderful programs because they had a hard time transitioning. The child’s natural stress caused the parents so much discomfort they couldn’t tolerate it. They worried that their child just couldn’t do it.

There are certainly some situations where there is a challenge in a child's developmental that makes participating in even a quality, loving, group care setting too stressful and inappropriate; for example, kids who have very low thresholds for sensory input may be so overwhelmed by the sound and activity-level in a classroom that they can't feel calm and adapt. They need a school with a better "fit.” But for most children, it is a gift to provide them the opportunity to experience that they can muscle through a challenge and successfully adapt to a new situation. It helps them feel less afraid and more confident about tackling other challenges they face in the future.

I hope this transition goes as smoothly as possible for all of you!