Wonders Early Learning Center embraces children from 6 weeks up to 6 years. We have 5 classrooms and 12 teachers total. In the midst of so much learning and fun, it is easy for our staff, children, and parents to lose site of the larger community. We have a couple of ways to foster that community feel across the classrooms.
A Welcome at the Door!
As our families arrive each morning, they ring a doorbell and a teacher comes to welcome them in. It is a good way to “read” the child upon arrival, but it also allows a chance to check in with each parent briefly. Our Littles, Preschool and Pre-K children begin the day in one mixed-age group and break off into smaller groups as more teachers and children arrive. The younger children get to see the olders and the older children get to help the youngers.
The Reading Tree!
We want to foster a love of reading at school and at home, so the past couple years we have sent home reading logs with space to write 20 books. When the family fills up their log, they can return it and the child can choose a prize from the Treasure Box. We set a goal for how many books we can read- last year it was “2016 Books by the End of 2016”, and then they read another couple thousand more by the end of the school year. We kept a large graph, but by the end of the year it took up the entire wall! This year, we decided to make a Reading Tree and each time a reading log is returned, we hang up a leaf with the child’s name and how many books they read. We are already up to 140 books read at home in just 2 weeks! The reading logs are for all families, no matter the child’s age or classroom, and the goal is collective.
The Community Board
We have a large board in the main hallway that we call the Community Board. We try to do something new each month (possibly theme related) that involves all of the children in our care. For the month of September, we incorporated the Shape of the Month (Circle), and the theme of making new friends at the beginning of the new school year. Not only did we add some new children this year, but some new teachers as well. We took our pictures on the first day of school (or close to it) and hung them all in a circle. We used the materials from the September “Open House” packet to tie it all together- leftover colored circles to highlight our teachers and the sign, etc. We still have to get pictures for a couple of our new teachers, but there is time. 🙂
Fostering a community feel prevents division and conflict and it sets the example for our children that we can accomplish great things when we all work together!