Archive - 2018

Growth Mindsets
Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM)
Communication is key
Our Separation Journeys
When are you helping too much?
We have so much fun!
Sorting out Unit two
Erik Erikson
Who We Are Unit starting!

Growth Mindsets

Recently the MY teaching team participated in a growth mindsets workshop, presented by Annelise. It was a fascinating workshop and, for me, it was an opportunity to to reflect on the language I use when speaking with little people and to assess my own mindset.

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Annelise spoke about two kinds of mindset; fixed and growth and how these can impact the ways people approach learning and life.

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What struck me as incredible was that when I thought about our class community, I see the traits of a growth mindset naturally in everyone and very few, if any fixed mindset traits. So how great would it be if we could empower them to keep this growth mindset? A growth mindset enables us to view the learning from a more positive place, from a position that understands that struggle and mess are a natural and important element of learning. That persistence and hard work are important to thrive in life. What a great message to instill in our little people.

For a little more information you may like to watch this short and interesting video about Carol Dweck’s research on Growth Mindsets.

So if we’d like to help the little people in our lives keep a strong growth mindset, what can we do?

  • Avoid praising intelligence only.
  • Teach the value of challenge.
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  • Use the word yet more, it changes disparaging sentences into positive ones e.g. “I can’t do that.” vs “I can’t do that yet.”
  • Model growth mindset language, e.g. “this is another chance to learn” or “time to try some different strategies.”
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Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM)

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is a buzz word in education at the moment. One of the reasons for the buzz is that these areas are ones which are essential to many careers these days. STEM also incorporates many concepts which are great for brain  development and in the early years of life our brains are developing rapidly.  In his article, 5 Simple Ways To Encourage Brain Development In Your Little One, researcher Ron Ferguson suggests some simple ways to assist in developing your little persons brain, you can read the full article here.  Thinking about careers for our community of learners is a way off into the future, but there are many ways that we are developing foundation skills in science, technology, engineering, maths.
In T&C science is explored through hands on play, with activities such as colour mixing with paint and investigating floating and sinking in water play. We also observe the changes of solids to liquids when playing with ice and notice changes in nature around us e.g. our baby animals growing or fruit becoming ripe and ready to eat.
With technology we have opportunities to begin to use computers, iPads and projectors with adult assistance. With support we can learn to take photos, use devices in meeting times, and have fun interacting with toys with wheels or remote controls.
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In T&C engineering involves building and creating with blocks, Lego, boxes. As well as talking about buildings see and make, in these conversations we practice language such as tall and short. Using ramps in our play gives us opportunity to find out how things move on them.
Math is incorporated everyday through counting in play and conversations e.g. how many friends are here today or how many turtles can we find. Songs are another great way to develop number awareness e.g. 5 little ducks and 1 little finger. Talking about our daily routine as we follow it, helps us learn about sequencing. With play dough we can make shapes and practice language related to size and position.
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Perhaps you’d like to consider incorporating some of these ideas into your play at home. For more ideas you might also like to read this article about STEM with infants and toddlers; Let’s talk, read and sing about STEM.

Communication is key


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Talking  with your little person is so important. It’s one way for them to get to people, to understand the world and to learn the skill of taking turns when sharing information. As well as of course, developing their  abilities for communicating.

Recently Ms. Khanum shared an article with us called, Let’s Talk How parent-child communication from birth to age 3 sets the stage for lifelong success. This article clearly shares what language looks like at varying ages and how adults can help extend their little persons communication skills. You can read the full article here. You may also like to familiarise yourself with the MYIS Language policy which you can find here.

In our classroom we develop our communication skills in several ways, some of which you may be able to use at home;

  • Talking at meal times; this can be a really successful time for developing language as there are repetitive questions being asked each time and physical props such as plates and jugs of beverages to help convey meaning.
  • Singing songs; the Trust and Caring community especially loves actions songs and these are often great for developing understanding of concepts, for example when we sing ‘open, shut them’ we complete the corresponding action for each word.
  • Reading books and visiting our school library.
  • Talking to little people about what we see them doing, feeling and looking at.
  • Allowing time for our little people to give an answer. It may be helpful to remember that it could take some time for them to understand and formulate a response and while you wait you can use eye contact to communicate the expectation of a response.
  • Acknowledge all forms of communication; actions, facial expressions and behaviour are just some of the ways important communication happens without words.
  • Speaking calmly and respectfully and praising the efforts of our little people to communicate.


It’s also worth keeping in mind the words of, natural parenting expert, Peggy O’Mara;

Peggy O'Mara quote

Our Separation Journeys

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As we begin a new year in the Trust and Caring community the big thing on our minds is separation. We are asking ourselves how can we help each little person and their family find the right ways for them to separate?

Separation can be a challenging time for everyone and navigating this process in a positive way can look very different from one person to the next. At MYIS we aim to help each little person and their family work calmly and confidently through the stages of separation process.

The Stages of the Separation Process at MY   

Stage 1: Introduction

  • The child is comfortable to stay by the caregiver’s side, on lap, hold hands etc.
  • The child is observing the environment by watching, listening, smiling etc.
  • The child and the caregiver move along to different centers/specials together.
Stage 1: Introduction

  • The caregiver stays by the child’s side and assure his/her  security
  • The caregiver and the child move along to different centers/specials together.
Stage 2: Caregiver remains in the one designated area of the room on the chairs provided

  • The child confidently explores different centers/ specials by him/herself for a certain period of time.
  • The child understands that he/she can always make their way to his/her caregiver when needed.
  • The child looks to where his/her caregiver is seated to assure his/her security and then continue his/her activity.
Stage 2: Caregiver remains in the one designated area of the room on the chairs provided

  • The caregiver  remains on the seat in designated area
  • The caregiver is not needed to shadow the child around during the program because the child is confident to explore on his/her own.
  • The caregiver helps the child feel that she/he is not fun to be around during our program.
  • The caregiver receives the child with love when he/she approach.
  • The caregiver should not talk with other families while in the classroom.
Stage 3:  Beginning

  • The child is familiar with the routines.
  • The child is able to approach the teacher for his/her needs
  • The child knows the name of some of his/her friends.
Stage 3:  Beginning

  • The caregiver agrees that the child is familiar with the routines, is able to approach the teacher for his/her needs and knows the name of some of his/her friends
  • The caregiver feels that the child is ready for the next step
Stage 4: Caregivers leaves the class for certain duration of time, returning at the agreed time

  • The child is informed when his/her caregiver is coming back
  • The child receives good bye love, hug, kiss etc.
Stage 4: Caregivers leave the class for certain duration of time, returning at the agreed time

  • The caregiver confidently say goodbye to the child before leaving the class
  • The caregiver promises the child when she will return and do return at the promised time.
  • The caregiver trusts that the team will be able to handle the situation.
Stage 5: Caregiver leaves for extended period of time, returning at the agreed time with the child.

  • The child is informed when his/her caregiver is coming back
  • The child receives good bye love, hug, kiss etc.
Stage 5: Caregiver leaves for extended period of time, returning at the agreed time with the child.

  • The caregiver feels that the child is ready for extended period of time.
  • The caregiver confidently says goodbye to the child before leaving the class
  • The caregiver promises the child when she will return and do return at the promised time.
  • The caregiver trusts that the team will be able to handle the situation.
Stage 6: Conclusion, Exiting

  • The child is given some time to settle in before the caregiver says goodbye.
  • The child understands the goodbye routine.
  • The child is confident to say goodbye to the caregiver because she trust that the caregiver returns and pick his/her up at the end of program.
Stage 6: Conclusion, Exiting

  • The caregiver makes sure that child is happily settled in; takes time before saying goodbye to the child.
  • The caregiver discusses, understands and implements the goodbye routine.
  • The caregiver is confident to say goodbye to the child.

Janet Lansbury, is a parenting advisor and teacher. In this brief article she speaks about some ways of confidently separating and the messages adults can be sending our little people. It highlights the importance of viewing little people as capable of managing situations and expressing themselves. This points out the importance of the messages, both verbal and non-verbal, we are sending our little people. Are we showing them that we are confident with our body language? Are we speaking with in them ways that build a positive image of themselves?     

As we keep these thoughts and question in mind, here are some other tips that may help make separation smoother:     

  • Make your own goodbye ritual. It could be anything, for example, you might play together with the same toy each morning, visit the animals or have a hug and a kiss before your goodbye.
  • Clearly communicate a time you will return and use our routine to help mark the time, for example, “I’m going now and I’ll be back at lunch time”.
  • Highlight the positives. Talk about who you will see at school and the fun things that will or did happen that day.

However, it works best for you and your little person do stick to a routine. As respected early childhood educator, Magda Gerber said “predictability brings about security.” Routines help us understand what’s coming next and feel more comfortable at any age. As we work through this journey together please keep in mind that just as each person is unique, so to is each separation journey.


When are you helping too much?

This weekend one of my favorite authors sent an email out about things we should worry less about.  One of the things he mentioned was creating a perfect life for our children.  He referenced quite a few studies and discussed how American states are now making new laws to allow parents to be less micromanaging of our children’s lives.  Studies are finding that children who are not allowed time to try things on their own, and to be able to make their own decisions are struggling as teenagers and adults.


I’m not linking the author I read because his writing has cuss words in it, but his name is Mark Manson.  Instead, I found a link to an article for Psychology Today-


This article, as well as others that I read this weekend talk about children experiencing difficulties in their teens.  This focus is primarily because this way of parenting is new in the US (new as in it wasn’t this way in the 1970s). But, the examples and ways to help both can refer to toddlers as well.


The reason I am talking about this is that signs of anxiety and stress show up in toddlers just as they show in teens.  Toddlers crave autonomy and boundaries at the same time.  Our goal as adults is to give them both, safely.  If we can’t do that, it might affect them later in life.  How do we give them boundaries and independence?  Allow them to try things! For a while, until they ask for help.  AND, allow them to do things they can already do, even if imperfectly.

For instance, our students feed themselves, brush their own teeth, pick up messes, plan ways to play with toys, create art, open and close doors, “ride” bicycles, and climb.  Food might be everywhere, their teeth might not be cleaned to perfection, and toys might be oddly scattered about… but they did it by themselves! What a way to build confidence! They might struggle with a few doors, or not ride correctly, but they learned through the trial and error.  The brain grows through struggles. Confidence grows through struggles.  A good attitude and patience grows through struggles.  Without struggles, without feeling frustration, without feeling “negative” emotions, children can’t cope in the real world. Adulthood will be impossible for them.

The article lists a few specifics on how to let children experience life.  I’d just like to add for toddlers that adults learn waiting time.  Let them have time to try to open the lid, or feed themselves, or put on shoes.  If they fall, let them decide if they are hurt and need reassurance.  If they want something, teach them to ask for it nicely so they can learn waiting time too.  Our toddlers are strong and smart.  They can do so many things.  We just need to foster this as well as foster emotional health.




We have so much fun!


Here are some videos about our Trust and Caring day.



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March has been busy.  We have watched our children grow in independence and confidence.  Most of the class is separated for various times in our day and enjoying their time with only friends and teachers.

During this month, we have celebrated book week, had a separation workshop, and held parent teacher conferences.  It was a busy beginning of the month!

We will continue watching the students flourish.  They have managed to master feeding themselves, expressing wants and needs, transitioning to specials, and playing independently and with friends.  Just watch what we can do in the next 11 weeks!


Sorting out Unit two

Trust and Caring started a new unit recently. Our new unit is focusing on understanding ourselves. We are looking at how and why we interact with the world around us.  We are trying to see what our abilities are, how these abilities affect our choices, and how we play with others.
Much growth has happened in the T&C room.  Children are playing more constructively. They are sharing toys and waiting their turns. It is amazing how independence and confidence change how we behave towards and with others.  We have become quite a nice group of friends.
T&C students have mastered their routines now. They’re excited about specials and play. They feed themselves and express their wants. Now we go deeper; we delve into who we are and how that is the core of our decisions.


Erik Erikson

I have been reading about the stages children go through while growing.  At Trust and Caring age, they are going through “guilt -vs-autonomy”.  Here is a description of this-

The child is developing physically and becoming more mobile. Between the ages of 18 months and three, children begin to assert their independence, by walking away from their mother, picking which toy to play with, and making choices about what they like to wear, to eat, etc.


The child is discovering that he or she has many skills and abilities, such as putting on clothes and shoes, playing with toys, etc. Such skills illustrate the child’s growing sense of independence and autonomy. Erikson states it is critical that parents allow their children to explore the limits of their abilities within an encouraging environment which is tolerant of failure.


For example, rather than put on a child’s clothes a supportive parent should have the patience to allow the child to try until they succeed or ask for assistance. So, the parents need to encourage the child to become more independent while at the same time protecting the child so that constant failure is avoided.


A delicate balance is required from the parent. They must try not to do everything for the child, but if the child fails at a particular task they must not criticize the child for failures and accidents (particularly when toilet training). The aim has to be “self control without a loss of self-esteem” (Gross, 1992). Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of will.

This is why a preschool such as Magic Years is so wonderful for children.  We have the space and the teachers to create an encouraging environment that allows for failures and successes.


Who We Are Unit starting!

This week, Trust and Caring has started a new unit.  This unit is on the transdisciplinary theme “Who We Are’ with the central idea being, “We understand more about ourselves everyday”.

Students will be focusing on how they feel, what their attitudes are, and with whom they have relationships.  Through this focus, they are growing in independence, respect and cooperation.
Our main goals for this unit are to see children making choices on their own.  Children learn more when they are left to be independent to explore, test ideas, and try new things.  They feel successful when they are allowed to make the decisions they can easily make on their own: whether to eat, what to eat, feeding themselves, what to play, etc.
All of the children in Trust and Caring are of the age to be doing these things on their own.  Maybe they don’t all hold a spoon well, but they know how to feed themselves with their hands.  Maybe they don’t sit and play intimately with toys, but they are aware and thinking.
Some children in Trust and Caring would like to sit and watch others, this is part of their experience.  Some would like to test a few toys for throwing or eating.  Some are ready to build block towers and make icecreams from playdough.  All these things are fine and appropriate.  This is what we want to see, children making their own decisions and trying out autonomy and independence.
After all, it is what is in the best interest of the children.