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Thanks for a Great Preschool Fair!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thanks to everyone for coming out to PAMP's annual Preschool Fair this past weekend. As usual, the event was a huge success thanks to all of you -- our members, sponsors, volunteers and staff.

"It was great to see so many people getting so much information on preschools!" said Jaimi. "I'm so glad we live in an area that's vibrant with preschool options. The PAMP Preschool Fair helps to highlight those amazing options."

If you weren't able to attend and are still looking for more information on preschools for your child, check out our Preschool Fair School Directory.

Be sure to tell your friends about the fair -- and then join us again next year!

Tags:  education 

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Preschool Fair!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Updated: Monday, October 24, 2016

Why come to the Preschool Fair? PAMP’s Preschool Fair is your one-stop resource for all of your preschool questions and concerns. Get all of your questions answered while meeting face-to-face with over 50 local preschools and sponsors, listening to experts talk about how to select the best school for YOUR child and mingling with other parents who are entering the process as well.

"I really like being able to see so many schools side by side," said Sarah. "It helps make some of the differences and similarities between them really clear."


Here's a
 list of the schools you'll see at the fair.

Be sure to join us on Saturday, November 5th at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. The entire event is FREE!

Doors open at 9am for PAMP Members Only! The Parent Workshop begins at 9am, followed immediately by the Preschool Meet & Greet and Expert Advisor Sessions.

Doors open to the Public at 11am. Expert Advisor Sessions and School Meet & Greets for the public both begin at 11:00am, followed by the Preschool Meet & Greet with 50+ local schools and sponsors.

Doors close at 1pm. 

Want to do more than just attend? Why not volunteer at the fair! "Volunteering is fun because you meet other PAMP members," said Sarah. "You get to know other volunteers and you get to help out an organization that depends on member assistance."

Join the team and help make one of our biggest events successful!

 

Tags:  education 

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In Sync Rather than Sinking: How to Deal with Change

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 14, 2016

If you are like most Bay Area parents, you have researched your options when it comes to preschools and schools. You have chosen a program that fits your lifestyle values, the family schedule and seems like a great fit for your child’s personality. Friends and family have reassured your choices and you are optimistic about your child’s ability to adapt to inherent changes.


If you are caught by surprise with your child’s behavior when going back to or starting school, join the club of parents around the world are baffled by the cute and not-so-cute things that children do when they are facing unexpected change. While the change is inevitable, here are some tips for dealing with the disruptions and eruptions that may help you stay in sync with your child, your parenting values and the flow of change.


1. While setting the bar high, keep the big picture in mind.

We all want our children to have opportunities and hopefully enjoy their daily activities. Sometimes we can get carried away in having our kids “measure up “ to other kids at a young age.  Sometimes we get carried away when there are so many great activities, groups and lessons for our kids. Keep in mind that kids develop at their own rates. All kids need down time to explore, process and assimilate information and express emotions. Does your child have enough unstructured play time everyday? Try to build in some unstructured family time if you don’t already have that.


2. Let your child share their experience when they are ready -- don’t grill them.

As parents and caregivers, we are curious about what happens when we are away from our child. A habit can form of picking up the child and immediately request they tell us about the day. When I ask a child, “What happened today?” or “What did you learn?”, I mostly get “I don’t know…nothing”. Instead of asking about your child’s day in a way that an adult might be able to respond to, greet them let them know with your actions that nothing has changed since they last saw you. Perhaps even share a bit about your day. Maybe talk about ideas for the after school plan and then give them some free air space, leaving time for your child to open up at their own rate.


3. Expect some chaos to ensue: tears, tantrums, sleep schedule delays -- prepare for the worst.

When kids are thrown into a new routine with new people, new toys and a new environment,  they might feel challenged. We all communicate through our behavior, and this is even more true for kids under five. If your child unexpectedly thrashes, screams and throws their shoes when you answer your phone or pick up another child, remember they are going through a lot of changes. Whatever your disciplinary style is, take into account that it takes time for children to adjust. They are likely tired and overwhelmed even if Mary Poppins turns out to be their teacher.


4. Commiserate with your child and the difficulty of being around new people, new activities, strange places and constant stimulation.

If your child is having a hard time and is expressing it behaviorally or verbally, acknowledge that what they are going through is tough. Help them work through the changes by validating difficult feelings and fear they may be experiencing. Stay away from reassuring them. Contrary to popular belief, it often backfires and does not help your child to feel safer or understood. It rather complicates those feelings.


5. Inform your child of some of the changes, and prepare them as much as possible.

As changes occur, continue to remind your child of what to expect. Acknowledge it is difficult and remind them of the people they can go to for help. Tell them who is going to drop them off or pick them up and answer their questions as they emerge.


Adjusting to preschool or school is one of those times when our imagination can get ahead of us and set both parents and kids up for disappointment. While it may certainly take some time for parents and kids to adjust, it is possible to go with the flow by expecting difficulty, keeping the big picture in mind and building in down-time.


Remember this whole playgroup and school thing is about raising healthy children. Part of creating health is coping with challenge and change from an honest, realistic and supportive place.


I hope these tips will help you ease the pressure as parents. Always remember that parents set the pace. This is a great opportunity to be more in sync with your child and support their growth in a way that will support them far beyond their younger years.



Find out more about 
Esther Krohner here.





Tags:  education  parenting 

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Don't Miss PAMP's Preschool Fair!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Updated: Monday, October 3, 2016

Be sure to save the date for PAMP's Preschool Fair! It's coming up on Saturday, November 5th in Mountain View. Don’t miss out!

"I really like being able to see so many schools side by side. It helps make some of the differences and similarities really clear," said Sarah.

 

The event will take place in the Grand Hall of the Computer History Museum. PAMP members are allowed an early entry at 9:00am. There will be a Parent's Workshop and Preschool Meet & Greets. Doors open to the public at 11:00am.

The entire event goes until 1:00pm and is FREE! The Fair is a great place to get all of your questions answered. Meet face to face with 40+ local preschools and sponsors, listen to experts talk about how to select the best school for YOUR child and mingle with other parents who are entering the process as well. 

Remember that we're always looking for volunteers. Join the team and not only help make one of our biggest events successful, but also make new friends in the meantime! Contact us for more information.

Tags:  education 

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Preschool Fair!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 5, 2016

Be sure to save the date for PAMP's Preschool Fair! It's coming up on Saturday, November 5th in Mountain View. Don’t miss out!

The event will take place in the Grand Hall of the Computer History Museum. PAMP members are allowed an early entry at 9:00am. There will be a Parent's Workshop and Preschool Meet & Greets. Doors open to the public at11:00am.

The entire event goes until 1:00pm and is FREE! The Fair is a great place to get all of your questions answered. Meet face to face with 40+ local preschools and sponsors, listen to experts talk about how to select the best school for YOUR child and mingle with other parents who are entering the process as well. 

Remember that we're always looking for volunteers. Join the team and help make one of our biggest events successful! Contact us for more information.


Tags:  activities  education 

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Finding Our Way to Homeschooling

Posted By Administration, Sunday, April 17, 2016

When my children were younger, I invested a considerable amount of energy into finding the best elementary school I could for them. At times this endeavor felt like a full-time job.

In addition to the usual concerns over private vs. public school, educational philosophies and tuition costs, I had a persistent, nagging sense that our day-to-day routine – the way we were already living – could continue to work well for my kids. They delighted in visiting libraries, museums and gardens. They soaked up information like sponges and shared what they learned freely and frequently with peers and adults alike. They had a natural learning pattern that fit their needs; at times deeply focusing on topics of interest at the expense of all other activities, and at other times wanting exposure to such an array of resources that it was as if they were six kids instead of two. I knew this dynamic would not be feasible even in the most flexible, child-directed school environment. Also, even though they both enjoyed structured environments in small doses, I knew neither their stamina nor their blood sugar levels were conducive to the typical modern-day kindergarten schedule. It felt a bit discouraging.

One morning at the playground, I struck up a conversation with another mom. She was reading a stack of books about homeschooling. I was surprised; she was neither religious, a hippie nor a libertarian, and therefore fit exactly none of the stereotypes I had rattling in my brain about what homeschooling, and therefore homeschoolers, looked like. In fact, she was quite a bit like me.

Intrigued, I hit the library. I found extensive titles on the topic and discovered that there are a wide variety of homeschooling methods, rather than homeschooling conforming to a one-size-fits-all model. Methods range from a structured, school-like model on one end to an exploratory, child-led model at the other, with numerous permutations in between. But, I wondered, what about socialization? Homeschoolers of all stripes cite this as their most asked question. Fortunately, in the Bay Area there is no lack of remarkable opportunities. There are many groups, classes, gatherings and special events available every day. The hardest part is choosing which event to go to and actually finding time to be at home! The numerous local homeschool groups center around educational philosophy, age group or geographical area. There are several dozen of these in San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco and Alameda counties alone. Generally, these gatherings consist of at least one regular “park day” meet-up per week and an online message board. There are usually other scheduled or spontaneous activities as well.

These days, my children attend a variety of classes geared for homeschoolers. They take wilderness hiking, Spanish and science classes, as well as a nature class at a local garden conservancy. In the fall, they will also attend an all-day creative arts program once a week. Some of these are homeschool-specific classes offered by organizations that also offer educational programs to many audiences, such as the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy and Rock-it Science. Others, like the amazing Wild Child Freeschool, were created specifically for homeschooled kids. Additionally, we belong to a few close-knit and stimulating homeschool groups. At all of these activities, we are surrounded by others in a highly interactive and engaging way.

Just exploring the real world with me every day has instilled in my children a natural, comfortable way of communicating with adults and kids alike. They are confident and interested in engaging with people of all ages, and others frequently remark on this. If anything, my children experience more naturally occurring interactions on a daily basis than they ever would in school.

Although publicly I express that we take it year by year, I cannot foresee a time when a traditional school would seem like a more enriching, motivating environment than what we’re providing now. Maybe some day our future will include a brick and mortar school, but right now we are just so happy that it includes lots and lots of learning in the world together.

In California, it is fairly easy to homeschool. The legal ways to homeschool in this state include:

  • filing a private school affidavit form with the California Department of Education designating your own private school, or joining a private school satellite with someone who has already done this;
  • or, joining a charter school homeschooling program, which still enrolls your children in public school but you control the curriculum and learning can still be done at home;
  • or, enrolling your child in your local public school’s Independent Study Program, which makes your child an attendee of your local district, although learning is done at home, rather than at the school site;
  • or, hiring a credentialed tutor or teacher, which can include yourself if you have such credentials.

There are many excellent resources available for those who are interested in homeschooling. One I enjoyed was David Guterson’s account of homeschooling his children, Family Matters: Why Homeschool Makes Sense. Another resource I enjoyed is a TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson, an expert on education, creativity and innovation. He argues that schools based upon standardization squash creativity. He says that our world is so rapidly transforming, it makes little sense to educate kids toward the present-day workforce, and we should instead instead to allow them the freedom to learn in this ever-changing world.

In addition to the links mentioned above, here are just a few resources for people interested in exploring homeschooling:

 

Matilda Parrish is a homeschooling mom in San Jose. In addition to child-wrangling, she does freelance copyediting, volunteers at the library, keeps a book blog and writes fiction

Tags:  education 

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Oral Language and Early Literacy: A Good Beginning

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Even though it might feel strange at first to be talking and asking questions of a baby and toddler, oral language is the foundation for literacy development. Children who develop strong oral language skills during the preschool years create an important foundation for later achievement in reading, especially in reading comprehension (Storch and Whitehurst, 2002).

Babies and toddlers listen intently. Their brains are like sponges — ninety percent of brain development happens between zero to five years of age. It’s a remarkable transformation from baby to toddler in language development. First babies babble and by around six months old they master the sounds of their family’s language. Then they use first words and start stringing together several words. When they are between two and four years old, oral language grows dramatically. Older toddlers begin to put together sentences and use standard grammatical features. Of course, different children develop these skills at different rates, but talking and conversation with your baby or toddler creates the impetus for expanded language.

Here are some tips on early literacy and oral language:

1. Read to your child from birth and make reading part of your child’s bedtime routine.
2. Sing or say nursery rhymes, chants and other rhyming poems.
3. Explicitly describe what your child experiences and observes: colors, objects, etc.
4. Take your toddler with you (when possible) as you go about your daily activities and explain what you are doing and seeing: supermarket, other chores, etc.
5. When possible take your baby or toddler to language rich environments: library, zoo, nature walks, children’s museums, etc.
6. Ask your child open ended questions. Even from a young age, pose questions to your child that elicits his/her opinions. Try to draw out more than one word answers.
7. Model different language structures and use more complex sentences.
8. Act out stories and use dramatic play.
9. For three to five year old children, play matching and concentration games to foster memory and vocabulary.
10. Orally tell classic stories such as The Three Little Pigs and have your child participate whenever possible. Your child will also delight and be engaged in made up stories. As your child gets older, they can make up the end to your story.
11. When your child is ready, introduce book handling skills and directionality skills — such as point out the front and back of the book; the words go left to right; letters; etc

Be playful when you engage in literacy activities. Remember to emphasize sharing, mutual discovery and fun. Your enthusiasm will be contagious!

Dorothy Glusker is a Reading Specialist and Private Reading Tutor.

Tags:  child development  education 

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5 Activities for Fostering Creativity and Critical Thinking in Your Early Learner

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
As a parent, you are the single biggest influence and teacher in your young child’s life. So it’s no wonder parents often ask themselves, “Am I setting my child up for success?” However, the key to laying the foundation for academic success for your pre-kindergartener may be easier than you think.

Young, active minds are soaking up the world around them and it’s important to expose their natural curiosity to as many different activities and experiences as possible. We want our kids to possess a joyful love of learning, and discover different ways to harness their creativity and enhance their capacity to think critically. But those inspiring and challenging moments don’t always have to be outside the comforts of your own home.

Here are five fun activities you can do at home to foster creativity and critical thinking in your early learner:

MAKE CHECKING THE WEATHER A FAMILY RITUAL
When checking the weather becomes a regular routine with your child, you begin establishing any number of critical thinking skills: categorization, cause and effect, variable conditions – the list goes on. Keep a colorful chart to track and recognize days when the temperature gets colder and warmer and discuss why that might be happening. Is there a connection between clouds and weather? Are there clouds on sunny days? What about when it is raining? Take these observations and ask your child how they apply to specific actions. What clothes do we need today if it is really cold outside? What activities can we safely play outside in this weather?

PRACTICE WRITING IN DIFFERENT MEDIUMS
Let’s be honest – 4-year-olds like getting messy. Put out a plate sprinkled with sugar and encourage them to practice writing numbers and letters, then have them try the same with shaving cream or rice. This helps students develop fine motor skills and is, of course, a ton of fun. How does your finger feel when you move it through the sugar rather than the shaving cream or rice? What do you notice about the texture of the different materials (smooth and cool shaving cream vs bumpy rice vs grainy sugar)? Why does the shaving cream keep its shape? Remember your compare and contrast essays in college? Same thing, but much gooier.

TURN BATH TIME INTO A SINK OR FLOAT EXPERIMENT
At bath time, talk about which toys sink or float. How many objects can you put onto a floating toy before it sinks? Bonus points to the parents who use terms like buoyancy and gravity! And I know some of us remember the old Letterman skit “Will It Float?” so more adventurous parents may want to extend the game to other household items. Old veggies sitting in your crisper? Dad’s sandals? Fair warning, if you play this game frequently, keep track of your iPhone at all times.

COOK WITH YOUR CHILD
There are so many learning experiences to be had through cooking: measuring accurately with utensils of different sizes, working on numeracy and literacy, taste testing different foods for salty and sweet flavors, and hypothesizing what happens when cookies are left in the oven too long (and why!). Not only can you foster healthy food choices, but you plant images into your child’s memory that will help them quickly grasp states of matter, energy conversions, and algebra later on. If the recipe says we need three eggs, and we only have one, how many do we need to buy at the store?

TURN HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS INTO PHYSICS EXPERIMENTS
You’d be surprised at how many different physics properties can be demonstrated with a yard stick and a few different balls. Show your preschooler how tilting the yardstick creates different slopes and affects how far balls will roll. What happens when you roll a marble versus a Ping-Pong ball? What happens when you roll the ball on a rug versus a smooth surface? Speed, acceleration, friction, inertia – these concepts aren’t scary the way they might seem in most high schools, and your preschooler can prove it to you!

Kate Briscoe is Director of Early Learning for BASIS Independent Schools. This fall BASIS Independent Fremont will open to kindergarten – 5th grade featuring a highly acclaimed liberal arts, STEM-focused curriculum.

Tags:  child development  education 

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Parent’s Guide to Preschool Child-Visits

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

It may not be officially back to school season but rest assured, you’re not alone if you’re one of the many parents with anxiety over an upcoming preschool visit. For those of you who spent last fall applying to schools (likely after weeks of diligent research!), child visit, classroom visit or an observation can feel equally stressful.

Here is a quick primer to help you prepare and ease some of that stress.

So what exactly is a child visit?
A child visit – also known as a child observation, classroom visit, or play date – is a short visit (typically 30-45 minutes but can extend up to 2 hours) where parents bring their child to visit the school and/or classroom that they are considering. The child visit often includes other children (a mix of applying and current students) as well as the teacher or director. It usually includes typical preschool activities (free play, circle time, etc.) in addition to one-on-one time with the teacher. Essentially, a child visit is very much like a typical playdate – just at school!

What is the school looking for?
Child visits can seem intimidating, but the truth is that the school really just wants to get to know you – and your child – better than they can on a piece of paper. Directors like to observe how the children play together as well as to plan classrooms accordingly to best suit each child’s needs. They also need to assess their school readiness and identify anything that may need to be addressed at home prior to starting school. They also want to make sure that your family will fit into the community of the school – the goal here is to make sure everyone is excited about the transition to preschool and prepared to make that transition as smooth as possible. And don’t worry – they are NOT looking for your child to behave perfectly or for a certain type of temperament. This is less of a test and more of an assessment.

What should I look for?
In the same way that the Director will look to make sure your child feels comfortable around the other children and in the school environment, you should watch for that, too. You know your child’s cues better than anyone, so pay attention to how he/she reacts. You’ll learn a lot about which program might be right for your family by how these visits go – and you’ll be better prepared to deal with any separation anxiety that might occur when they do start school.

How should I prepare?
-Choose a time that works for you – some schools have set visit times and won’t offer you choices, but if they do, choose a time of day when your child is typically awake and alert to avoid any nap-time crankiness.
-Don’t overdress your child – remember, this is essentially a playdate so dress your child in whatever they would typically wear to preschool once they’ve started.
-Don’t prep or “coach” them – the child visit is truly meant to be an assessment for both you and the school and is meant to be casual. Trying to prep your child will only heighten the anxiety and make them more likely to react badly. Prep by doing what you normally do to socialize your child – visit the playground, schedule playdates, and keep any class appointments you might have.
-Bring both parents, if possible – as with a tour, it can be helpful to have both parents on site during a visit. One of you can address any questions from the school while the other keeps an eye on your child and you’ll both be able to assess your child’s reaction.

We know this can be a stressful time, but remember that everyone involved is looking for a good fit between your family and the school – and that there are many programs out there. If one isn’t the right fit, there is certain to be another option for you and your child.

Susan Mees loves to travel and cook and spend time with her husband. She’s helping build community through KidAdmit, a website that lets parents search for and compare preschool programs in their area for free.

Tags:  education 

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Learning Styles – Why it’s Important to Know How Your Child Learns

Posted By Communications Manager, Friday, March 25, 2016
Math has traditionally been taught through verbal and written methods. The problem is that in a typical classroom, there are more students that are visual rather than verbal learners. This misalignment in the method of teaching math can lead to low grades and frustration for students.

Everyone has a different learning style
Classrooms are composed of diverse students with many talents and passions. Student behaviors, like doodling, tell us about a child’s preferred learning styles. There is no single theory on learning styles. However, knowing one’s preference can guide the way we learn as we tend to express and remember experiences, information, and emotions.

The problem is that the American educational system is biased towards linguistic and mathematical modes of instruction and assessment. The shocking part is that in the average American classroom more than half the students are visual learners. Too often a child’s learning style is never discovered. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Jason’s story
To give you an example of how different learning styles can affect a child’s ability to understand math, let’s look at Jason’s story. Jason is 9 years old and has always struggled with math class. He procrastinates with his math homework and his teacher has voiced her concern that he doesn’t pay attention in class. Looking for answers, his parents checked his math notebook and found it full of drawings with barely any equations. His math notebook looked more like an art class notebook.

Jason’s parents scolded him for drawing by telling him to, “work on his math homework, and to stop doodling.”

Apparently this didn’t work. His grades in math didn’t improve and his parents thought, “Maybe he just doesn’t have a talent for math.”

One day, the breakthrough came. Jason’s parents sat down with him to help with math homework. They noticed that he was drawing and counting at the same time – he was using a visual way of learning mathematical concepts. Jason’s parents built on this and cut shapes out of cardboard. Fractions, decimals and percentages started making sense to Jason once he could see them right in front of him.

What Jason and his parents stumbled upon are math manipulatives. Instead of pencil and paper, math manipulatives consist of colorful cubes and shapes specifically designed to teach math to people who learn visually.

Do you know your child’s learning style?
If you find your child struggling to complete his or her math and writing homework, explore multiple ways of expression. Math and writing can be exciting if the students connect with the lesson with their learning style. Here are 3 activities to try.

Observe your child as they do their homework.
Do they procrastinate and doodle like Jason? If they do, they might be visual learners.
Use math manipulatives. These can be purchased online or made from scratch at home. Use Play-doh or cut and color cardboard shapes.
Solve math problems by grouping objects according to color, size, or shape. The objects will visualize numbers through sets. Touching objects connects kinesthetic learners to the math problem.

Gigi Carunungan is the co-Founder and Chief Learning Architect of Young Outliers, a design entrepreneur summer camp for children in Palo Alto.

Tags:  education 

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