We have some tips for how to make the summer months enjoyable for your toddler (and soon to be Casa, in some cases!) children, and how to set them up for a successful return to school in the fall:
- Take an inventory of the current toys at home to see what children have outgrown, and remove them. This helps prevent under-stimulation, which leads to the inevitable summer refrain of "I'm booooorrrrred!". Observe what children gravitate to organically and guide them to toys or tasks that reinforce their natural learning desires.
- Thankfully, the summer months are (usually) accommodating of the importance of outdoor time. Spending time outdoors, whether looking for bugs in the backyard, going on bike rides, hikes, or neighbourhood walks together, or camping in the woods, outdoor play is essential for children's development. Outdoor play helps children refine their sensorial skills — how we take in the information our world has to give us.
- Practical Life activities are also a great way to keep children engaged and on a good developmental path. Over the school year, you've seen pictures of toddler-age children performing tasks such as sweeping and mopping (with appropriate child-sized brooms and mops) and helping to prepare food. These activities are fun for children (they want to help clean up, whereas we adults have to) and support the development of coordination and motor skills, and logical sequencing
- You can also help children continue their language development by simply using clear, concise, correct language yourself. For example, say "train" instead of "choo choo" or "dog" instead of "pup pup," and use your regular voice instead of a kid voice. This helps children to learn correct vocabulary and allows them to hear the correct sounds that words and language are built from.
- Finally, and especially for toddler-aged children, consistency in toilet learning is essential. Please avoid reverting to diapers/pull-ups during the summer months. Your children are currently in a sensitive period for toilet learning. Reverting back to the old routine will cause them to regress (and children going to Casa in the fall need to be toilet trained).
Thank you. We know you will all have a fabulous summer vacation with yor children, just like we've had an amazing school year with them. If you have any questions about things to do over the summer, please bring them to your parent-teacher conferences next week! — Ms. Dee
Casa South: In the past few weeks in Casa South, there’s been a big presence of reading in French. Just like the English phonetic readers they work on with Ms. Moffatt, some of the children have started to work on the French ones as well — and if they haven’t reached reading them yet they certainly enjoy sitting to listen to their friends read with me.
Another great French activity is writing labels. The children love seeing that any work they’ve been shown in English can be done in French too! On the back of each classified card in the class are an English and a French label. I encourage them to explore further than seeing what’s on each card and see if they can write their own label for it (whichever language they choose — sometimes it’s both!).
Music is also a part of their learning experience. When I pick a song to teach them in my French group I have to make sure there are lots of gestures I can add and that it’s not too fast (it is their second language after all and it’s more fun when you know what you’re singing and are able to keep up). However, I also make time to play songs (Édith Piaf is a classic) explicitly to listen to and explore French culture.
With summer fast approaching, I welcome parents to include a little bit of French in even the most mundane activities. Listening to French audio books (or reading French books if you can) and songs is always nice for them. They hear me speak French all day at school so it’s great if they can continue to hear a little bit. Another awesome way to incorporate French is when you’re writing your grocery list; feel free to look up the French word for some of the fruits or vegetables (they’ll likely recognize those from the classroom). Lastly, I’ll leave you with a couple of links you might want to check out if you’re ever in the mood for a day trip to Toronto:
— Mlle. Paul
Casa North: It has been a great joy — “un grand plaisir” — to work with your children in French this past year. I am frequently in awe of how readily (and seemingly effortlessly) they absorb new vocabulary, and then repeat it back to me unprompted, at the most unexpected of times. (An inspired bit of bilingualism from a child helping clean up after lunch the other day: “Wow…there’s beaucoup de mess here, Mademoiselle Peat!”).
Seeing the building blocks of language-learning begin to lock into place is a sheer delight, and something that can be facilitated at home, too, over the coming summer months! A second language can become more accessible when delivered in the form of a song, and/or when accompanied by plenty of gestures — a central part of language-learning is muscle memory! Learning to associate sound and sense kinetically is both fun and constructive. Just a few of the songs that your children have learned with me: “Au clair de la lune,” “Une souris verte,” “Tête, épaule, genou, et pied” et “Coucou hibou.” Ask for a little demonstration: you may be surprised!
If you’re eager to foster bilingualism in your child, but high school French class feels like a distant memory, not to worry/“pas de soucis”! Simply demonstrating that you too are testing the waters — even with a simple “Bonjour” or “Au revoir” — suggests that language-learning is approachable, and worthwhile! They will absorb your curiosity, and your enjoyment. I have certainly absorbed theirs, and it has deepened my appreciation for the ways in which bilingualism cultivates connection.
Merci beaucoup, et à la prochaine! — Mlle. Peat
June is such a busy time in the classroom with students integrating new skills and knowledge gained through the year into their final projects, play production, and special events. Thank you, everyone, for joining us for the Parent Social to enjoy some time together in the classroom celebrating the Great Work accomplished by your students. The Parent Social is also an important exercise in Practical Life, with students learning how to show their gratitude to others by hosting people for an event. They work to prepare the environment (dusting and sweeping), the refreshments (juicing lemons, chopping veggies to make some guacamole, and whipping up a batch of no-bake squares — the coveted flapjacks), and practice the grace and courtesy rituals of seeing that their guests are happy, fed, and entertained.
Every year, right before the summer break, parents begin to see the articles warning of the summer slide, and the advertisements for STEM camps and curriculum workbooks and magical apps that will ensure your child doesn't forget what they have spent the school year learning. I would be concerned about the summer slide myself, if I thought for a moment that children stop learning once they leave the classroom, but I know that they don't. They are still the curious explorers they always were, but now it is your family and community that will be their guides.
Throughout the summer months, it is important to encourage children to not stop this work of Practical Life, but rather to continue to apply what they have learned. Invite your child to record the items you need from the grocery store on a list. Empower them to make healthy choices within a range of approved options on your list (e.g. "Should we buy strawberries or blueberries this week?" "Which do you think would be better for re-hydrating on a hot day: a freezie or an ice-cream sandwich?"). Keep some cash on hand so they can participate more fully in speaking to cashiers, conducting an exchange, and being responsible for getting change and a receipt. Heading off to camp? They can prep those lunch boxes with carrot or pepper sticks or slices of cheese, and make their own sandwich. Having children take on greater responsibility for themselves is not easier for the supervising adults; it is much harder to budget 40 minutes to prepare a snack rather than 10, to hold your breath as you watch them choose a gigantic knife for slicing tiny grapes... but this is the work of the parents — to make the time for learning and independence; to take the risk of standing back quietly and simply observing how wondrously able your little human has become.
So, this summer, hit the beach! And then let your kids do the sandy, wet towel and bathing suit laundry (even if it sits moulding on the floor for an extra day). Go to the amusement park and divide out some cash so they can budget for their own refreshments. Ask them to read you a story, not for reading practice, but for your entertainment. Put them in charge of taking photos and making journal entries to preserve the memories made on a family vacation. Put up your feet for an hour or two and declare them the adult for the afternoon, and have fun with the misadventures that may arise along the way!
I look forward to meeting with most of you over the next week at our parent-teacher conferences. Hopefully the summer weather is here to stay. Enjoy the weekend! — Marissa
Concert/Graduation: Please join us on Thursday, June 20, for our year-end concert and graduation ceremony. Please plan to arrive at the Primary (Aberdeen) campus between 2:15-2:25 and proceed straight to the Sanctuary (auditorium) downstairs. The show will begin promptly at 2:30 and will run until approximately 3:30.
Please Note: There is no After School or Extended Care on Thursday, June 20. This is our last (sort of) full school day for the 2018.2019 school year. The next day...
Friday, June 21, is a PD Day, but we will meet you all at the Dundas Driving Park (71 Cross St., Dundas, ON, L9H 2R5) at 3:30 for our annual year-end super fantastic picnic of fun. Be sure to pack bathing suit and towel as there is a great splash pad and water bottle. We have reserved Kitchenette 1.
The picnic will be pot luck, and this year we are asking everyone to please Bring Your Own Water Bottle to help alleviate the plastic in the land fills. Thank you. You should have received an email notification for access to an online sign-up sheet for picnic items for each classroom (and you can also click here).