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Posted by on Mar 5, 2019 in Blog, Curriculum, Teaching Strategies |

Researcher finds “Magic 8” preschool practices

Researcher finds “Magic 8” preschool practices

Researcer finds “Magic 8” preschool practices

This is the story of how a researcher finds “Magic 8” preschool classroom practices. In October 2017, Lillian Mongeau of the Hechinger Report told the story of a  scientist who took their research to the next level.

Negative Effects And Outcomes

It began in 2015 Vanderbilt researcher Dale Farran published the findings from her first study of the Tennessee state preschool program. That study resulted in disappointing findings. The preschool program had no effect or negative effects on children by third grade.

Rather than doing reasearch and just leaving it there, with children in mediocre settings she decided to get involved and do something about it! “Do you just say ‘we found these outcomes’ or do you roll up your sleeves and try to do something about it?” said Farran. She wanted better for the children in her care.

Increasing Positive Outcomes

Farran initiated a second study. Farran’s team collected data on teacher actions and student achievement in 26 preschool classrooms. The study of 840 children ran for two years from 2014 to 2016. From the data Farran developed eight critical actions teachers can take that can increase positive experiences. These “magic 8” actions, taken across curriculua, can improve outcomes and transform mediocre programs into high quality programs.

Reduce time spent in transition
Improve level of instruction
Create a positive climate
Increase time teachers listen to children.
Plan sequential activities
Promote cooperative interactions between children
Foster high levels of child involvement
Provide math opportunities

Learn more about the “Magic 8” here. 

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Posted by on Jun 28, 2017 in Blog, Developmentally Appropriate Practice, My Child Won't, Need To Know Info For Parents, Teaching Strategies |

How Preschool Teachers Get Kids To Nap

How Preschool Teachers Get Kids To Nap

I hear it every year. “How do you get kids to nap? He doesn’t do that for us at home.” Children in group care are expected help at clean up time, clear their own lunch and snack, set up their own cot with blanket and bear, even perform classroom jobs. I always complement parents with my reply…”It shows he’s been listening to you. He knows what you expect from him when he’s away from home.”

Make Your Expectations Clear

It’s all about our expectations. A seasoned teacher and mentor of mine (even if she didn’t know it) used to say that “Children will rise to meet our expectations.” I’ve come to see its true.

This is as true at nap time as it is throughout the day. Parents often don’t think their child will nap at school. With the different surroundings, different routines, parents often are apprehensive about nap time. The best teachers aprroach nap time with high expectations for each child. Our expectations will evolve throughout the year with the children’s growth and development.

Will all children nap? Not every day, but all of the children will rest their bodies and have some down time. Teachers want their children to be successful all throughout their day. A can-do attitude is as important at nap time as any other time of day. This is what parents need to know.

Nap time is planned for just as circle time or morning meeting is. We put as much thought into nap time as other parts of the children’s day. We put their cots out with thought as to who will likely talk and play together, who can tolerate the door opening when teachers come and go covering each other’s break, which children need to be in the darkest spot, etc.

Teachers implement their nap time plan, give the plan time for children to assimilate, asses what works and what’s not working, make changes as needed.

First Things First

First, we expect children to be active. Active playground/gym time is so important for developing body’s and minds. Even in the middle of winter bundle them (and you) up and get outside! When it’s too cold to go outside kids will still need active play. Teachers know how to integrate active play into each day’s plan. So now that the kids (and you) are worn out it’s time to think about the next step.

Routine, Routine, Routine.

Children do best when they know what to expect next. Just as with the other parts of their day a set routine that rarely changes will help every child succeed. Just as we advise parents to make bed time very routine we do the same with nap time. Read a story, put on quiet music, and EVERYONE GOES POTTY! lol

One of the best blog posts I’ve seen on the topic of preschool nap time is Vanessa Levin does an interview with the blogger from that is great.

We begin with a clam, relaxed transition. “Put your blankets on your cots then meet me in the book area.” Read a quick, calming story, or some deep breathing exercises, release children in small groups.

It’s helpful at the start of the new year that each of the children get a little one on one at nap time. This lets them know you care about their nap, if it’s important to you it will become important to them. Maybe tuck each child in with a quick “Snug as a bug in a rug.” or “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” This might be more than some of your children get before bedtime at home. Toddlers obviously will need more (and earlier) nap than 3’s or 4’s.

Some teachers introduce chapter books at nap so children use their imaginations rather than illustrations. Still other teachers use books on tape or cd but again no book, just listen. Whatever routine you decide on keep it simple and keep it the same. Some states regulate how long of a nap time must be offered but generally 2 hours is the maximum.

Tips and Advice

  • Just as kids who help grow and cook their own meals are more likely to eat the meal, kids who set up their own cots will be more likely to rest.
  • Teachers give each child a moment to tuck in and say sleep well.
  • Dim the lights put on quiet (classical) music. Choose music that is exclusive to naptime, it’ll be an audio cue to sleep.
  • Teach naptime skills. Roll play if it’s difficult.
  • Follow children’s developmental abilities. Start at the beginning of the year with shorter books, longer one on one, backs rubbed. Later in the year longer chapter books, quicker tucking in.
  • Plan for non-resters. Quiet bins, small flannel boards, books will come in handy. Oxy-moron: naptime activities.  😉
  • Check state regulations for nap time requirements. Some require 2 hours of nap time daily, others only require 15 minutes of rest to be offered.
  • Stay present while busying yourself. Children know you you are still observing them while you get work done.
  • When nap is over wake the children calmly and individually. Turn the lights on last!
  • Check out my other posts on the topic of sleep herehere, and here.

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Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in Blog, Pre-School Teachers, Teaching Strategies |

How Teachers Prepare For First Day Of Preschool


Teacher Prep

This article will show how teachers prepare for first day of preschool. Many preschools and kindergartens begin classes a week or two after the “official” start of school. Even if yours has begun there are many helpful hints here to help you in the early part of the year.

All teachers preparing for the first day of preschool know how tough it can be. You know I certainly can’t take all the pain away but I can offer some ideas and maybe some advice to lessen (not lesson 😉 the pain of prepping for the first day of preschool. After all the meetings, in-service trainings, parent/teacher conferences…there’s still a classroom to prepare! Teachers who have had the summer off will usually have two or three days (children free) to open their classrooms and prepare for the new year. There are many preschool teachers who run year round programs. These teachers will have very little time to remove all the vestiges of this year’s class before welcoming new children and families. These are the teachers I’ll be focused on here.

Getting Organized

Most preschool teachers won’t have assigned seating arrangements, text books, or guided readers to set up. Preschool teachers do, often times, have complicated daily schedules (yes for the children!), room rearrangement, materials and equipment to rotate, and individual medication/allergy lists and procedures to compile. In an effort to help you get organized I’ll share some of the things I use year after year to stay on top of the chaos.

Sending home all the children’s art work while they’re still making new masterpieces is futile. We close our art center for a day about a week before the close of our program. We put away all the more complicated tools and supplies like hole punches and water colors and bring out the simpler items. The children are generally enthusiastic to use some of the old standards. With glue and paint off the shelf every piece of art made during that last week goes home the same day. New rule: No saving work, no drying rack…put it in your cubby!

One of the things you can do with this year’s children in the room is hang boarders and bulletin boards. These are quality boarders for $1.

Bulletin Board Boarders Teacher first Day

Your older more mature, end of the year students will enjoy helping prepare for the new little ones. They might make tape circles, measure border strips, or hold the tape measure. I’m sure you can find many ways for your current class to help you prepare your displays.

Preparing files that will be sent to the next teacher is a critical step in getting organized for the coming year. My advice is to get this squared away ASAP to save from doing paperwork when you have a classroom of new kiddos to tend to. Color coded file folders can be helpful. Getting any other paperwork like, class lists, schedules, and job charts done ahead of time will save you a lot of stress later.

Color Coded File Folders Teacher First Day

These folders are great for making file folder games too! has many file folder game ideas.

Help Them Help Themselves

All children want and need to feel they are capable of big things. All of us, even the grown ups, need confidence, so we can succeed. That success builds our confidence. Having a ‘can do’ attitude is the best way to start the year. Anything you can set up that gives the children opportunities to do things for themselves will help them develop this kind of ‘can do’. Meal times are a great place to offer these opportunities.

Baskets For Preschool

Children can grab their own cups, napkins, spoons, or whatever you put in this tray. Children can set tables from items you place in the tray. They feel like big kids when they can do things for themselves.
How teachers prepare for the first day of preschoolGive your children a boost and save your back with this sturdy step stool. This great stool will give your children the ability to reach sinks, and help at counters.









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Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 in Blog, Blog, Teaching Strategies |

Guiding Young Children’s Behavior

Guiding Young Children’s Behavior

Guiding young children’s behavior after the honeymoon is over can be very challenging for preschool teachers.

The Honeymoon

Many young children in daycare go through a “honeymoon period”.  The beginning the of a new school year you find children acting on their best behavior, not knowing how new teachers will react otherwise. Early October is usually when we see this period begin to end as children become familiar with their new environment and new teachers. Undesirable behavior may begin to emerge at this time when the honeymoon is over. This is when teachers need to remain calm, firm, and patient. This is when the old adage Never let them see you sweat comes in handy!

Guiding Behavior

Many times behaviors are negatively reinforced through reprimands. For example, lavishing a bitten child with tons of care and attention, with your back to the biter, will go much farther than turning our back to the injured while taking time to place the biter in time out. A calm teacher can help the children learn empathy. You can learn more from Virginia’s Cooperative Extension’s article Guiding the Behavior of Young Children

Rather than the cursory “I’m sorry” teaching children to ask “How can I help you feel better?” will serve them better in the long run. Holding a cold compress or getting the tissue for a crying ‘friend’ will truly help children learn that others have feelings too. Taking time to get children to this point can be challenging and will pay off later when conflicts arise. I’ve seen three year olds ask another if they can help them feel better without teacher prompts many many times.

NAEYC is a great go-to place when we are experiencing challenging behaviors. Their article Planning for Positive Guidance: Powerful Interactions Make a Difference is full of helpful insights.

Even after using many preventive strategies incidents can still happen.  Establishing clear guidelines for expected behavior, natural consequences, and calm classroom atmosphere will keep them short and isolated incidents. Once the honeymoon is over teachers truly begin to know the children. The skill in guiding young children’s behavior is in finding bliss even after the honeymoon is over!

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Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in Back to School, Blog, Blog, Readiness, September Themes, Teaching Strategies |

Preschool Preperations

Preschool Preperations

First day of school blues can range anywhere from butterflies in the tummy to full-blown tears and temper tantrums! To keep your first day as clam as possible there are a few steps you can take in preparation.

1. Get back into the school-night bedtime routine. If you and your child are new to the back-to-school routine, start with a solid bed time routine. About a week before school starts, (now!) begin a bedtime that allows your child at least 8 hours of shut eye.

2. Plan ahead and shop for healthy breakfasts and lunches (if needed) a week in advance. Preparing lunches and even breakfast the night before will save time and prevent stress!

3. Prepare at least one change of clothes including socks and underwear. Most preschool teachers have a system and a place for each child’s belongings.

4. Set up playdates, if possible with other children from your preschool. Your local library or community center might offer free events for young children. Time spent interacting with others will help your child prepare socially and emotionally to the preschool environment.

5. No long goodbyes! Don’t be shocked if your child cries!  Maintaining a calm, positive demeanor will do you all a favor. Your child will pick up on your vibe. Ask the teacher if there’s a good time to call to check your child (if you’re child is really upset).

6. Parent involvement is important, even in preschool! Children have better long term outcomes when parents are involved. Talk to your child’s teacher (or child care provider) regularly about your child’s development.

7. Take advantage of any parent/family activities offered by your child’s preschool or child care center. These activities give parents a chance to network and children a chance to form friendships that might last a lifetime.

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