May 2013 Parent Post
I'm still holding out hope that the weather will change and bring us some nice, warm, sunny days. With that optimism, I'm keeping the date for our Family Planting Day for Saturday, May 18th from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The raindate (or cold-weather date) will be Saturday, May 25th, from 9:00-noon. But...please be prepared to switch the dates if the weather does not improve.
Please bring seed and plant donations for the garden by Wednesday, May 15th. Thank you!
We maintain the garden during Family Gardening Time. In the past, we have gardened on Mondays and Thursdays in the late afternoon. We're going to try something different this year. Family Gardening Times will be Mondays from 4:30-5:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 9:30-10:30 a.m. We're hoping that this schedule provides opportunities for more families to be included.
We also made plans to add a few new items to the garden that will be elements of for play for the children. You'll just have to wait to see!
We scheduled two events for in the garden: The Summer Garden Kick-off on Monday, June 10th from 4:30-5:30. We will serve ice cream with strawberries (hopefully!) from the garden that evening. We will also host Water Play Day on Monday, July 15th from 4:30-5:30. For those of you who came to water play last summer, you will remember that the children are in charge of the hoses...no one goes home dry! On the evening of Monday, June 10th, we will ask for more ideas from all of you for other special garden events to add to the summer months.
We will hold our annual Block Party ...our end of the year picnic...at noon on Friday, June 7th. A sign-up sheet for attendance at the picnic and for donations for the meal are on the front counter. Your child does not need to be in "official" attendance on this day for your family to participate...everyone is welcome.
We will hold our Annual Parent Meeting on Friday, May 10th at noon at the center. During this meeting we will discuss the results of our annual program survey and use this discussion to establish goals for the 2013-14 school year. Notes from the annual program survey have been compiled and are added to the section below in this edition of the "Parent Post." We will also discuss the goals that we established for the 2012-13 school year and assess whether they have been achieved. This year's goals were:
· Start a parent group that could help plan events for families to network with other families and/or to hold appreciation events for the student staff.
· Display the vision work done by the staff and possibly offer short (one-page) explanations about what we are doing and why (“Vision in Action”) as a follow-up.
Annual Program Survey Results
For the past five years we have
used a quantitative, “yes/no” type of survey to evaluate the
program we provide for our children and families.
This year we chose to do a more qualitative type of
survey, with the goal of gathering a bit more feedback and
chose four broad categories to address.
The survey questions that were presented in each category
are listed below and are followed with a summary the responses
received. In italics you will find any questions or
concerns shared by our parents.
In italics you will find any questions or concerns shared by our parents.
Relationships: Relationships are the basis of everything that happens here at the center. Think of your child…does he like school? Does she trust the adults here? Does he find support and comfort? Do we meet the social/emotional needs of your child? Do you find the center welcoming? Do you feel supported by our staff? Etc.
There were several relationship themes that appeared often in our parents’ survey responses. These included that their child:
· loves school
· gets needed support from the staff
· trusts her caregivers
· feels safe at school
Another compelling theme was that the center is a welcoming place. The staff was described as pleasant, kind, supportive, helpful, positive, patient, and amazing.
The parents feel that they are supported when they have a question and/or a concern. They also feel as though the building of relationships is encouraged and fostered.
Of special note: parents appreciate the home visits Dawn completes before their child enters her group.
Concerns Shared: Is there emotional support for my child when bullying occurs? Sometime other children exclude my child from play. Does Cindy discuss the transition to kindergarten with her children?
Curriculum: When we hear the word “curriculum,” we often immediately think “academics.” Weaving literacy and math into our curriculum is important. So too is the integration of art, music, pretend play, large motor play, small motor control, science exploration, construction play, etc. The environment is also a part of the curriculum. Please consider the entire realm of curriculum as you ponder this. Do the toys and tools provided stimulate thought, creativity, exploration, critical thinking? Is the environment conducive to learning? Is it interesting? Challenging?
The response most often given related to the way in which the unit plans and the environment supporting the unit plan changes weekly. At the end of the week, the children and their parents look forward to seeing what is being planned for the next week and how the environment is going to change. Most of them described it in this manner: “We can’t wait to see what’s going to happen.” “We talk about it all weekend.” “We get excited about the changes.”
Our parents also viewed the variety in toys, tools, and materials as supporting a range of ability levels. They described these tools as being interesting, stimulating, and challenging. They also indicated that the toys and tools offer opportunities for exploration and creativity and that the teachers consistently use effective teaching strategies.
question or concern: Could a list of the signs that my child
knows be provided so that we can use them at home?
At conferences we are asked about brainstorming ideas of
what is of interest to our children – what about asking about
our ideas? Please
keep tv time limited…it is not used often and we appreciate
Resources: Your first thought may relate to the resources that are provided for the children as they explore and discover the world around them. These are important – please consider them. But please consider yourselves as well. Does our staff provide you the resources you need as a parent? Do we supply enough pertinent parenting information to you? Do we provide enough opportunities for you to get together with fellow parents? Do we inform you of resources in our community?
There were two over-riding themes in the resource category: the center staff is appreciated as a resource and so are fellow parents. Parents appreciate the fact that the center staff have an answer to many parenting questions or are willing to find an answer to a question. Parents also feel as though they are encouraged to ask for help when help is needed. Parents value the opportunities the center provides for them to connect with each other (parent meetings, the Parent Group, Facebook, family events, etc.). The resources that are available in written form (books, “newsletters” we have written, postings in the entry) are viewed as “abundant and useful.”
Of question or concern: More opportunities to connect with other families are always appreciated. Could the parent group meet occasionally in the evening so that those unavailable during the day could join in? Could there be more chances to ask child development questions of more than one teacher in hopes of hearing different perspectives/ideas/responses. Could we plan some summer events for families?
Communication: Good, solid two-way communication is essential for providing a high-quality service. Do we answer questions promptly and respectfully? Do you feel comfortable sharing your concerns? Do you find our website to be helpful and informative? Have you found the Facebook group to be supportive for you? Do we provide information in a timely and efficient manner?
And the question I would really like to address is: How would it affect you if we started distributing information concerning events and deadlines only electronically? This would mean no more notes on lockers – information would come only via email or placed on our website. Would you find this helpful? Or do you prefer paper? How can we best get information to you?
The dominating theme in this area is that exceptional lines of communication exist between staff and families. Parents appreciate the thoughtful, respectful, and prompt answers to questions. The website is viewed as helpful and informative and is used by many of our families. Email reminders of upcoming events and/or deadlines and verbal updates concerning one’s child are appreciated.
The electronic-only distribution of information received mixed reviews. Although many people stated it would work very well for them, an equal number perceived the need for occasional email reminders, paper reminders (a note), and/or signs in the doorway to make sure the information really “hit home.”
Of special note: the school-to-home notebooks that Dawn and Angela keep with their families are valued means of communication.
Of question or concern: What is the best way to reach each of the teachers? Some seem to use email routinely while others don’t. What is the preferred contact method for each? Sometimes the nap chart is not fully completed and this information in entirety is useful.
Other concerns: Please consider the use of cloth diapers.