Being Predictable YET Flexible too
One of the biggest things we stress to families is the nature of being predictable.
Young children thrive in an environment of predictability: Knowing the daily routine, what happens next, what certain activities "look like." You don't have to be young to thrive in such an environment, do you?! I'd wager that most of us function much better in the land of the known.
Each class has a daily routine that includes:
art & free play
But THEN we throw a monkey wrench at the little kiddos and ask them to be flexible because we're doing something special or different.
I fully realize this is a prime example of talking out of "both sides of the mouth." We tout how each age level derives comfort from knowing "what happens next" at school by sticking to the routine. Yet...we regularly introduce things that deviate from the expected. If your child doesn't like change, these events can rock their world. We do everything we can ahead of time to let you know about variations to our "normal" routine so that you have the chance to speak with them too.
"What kind of things?" you might ask...
Music class with Miss Carrie - this happens once a week for everyone, so it is predictable...but it doesn't happen EVERY school day...so it requires the phrase "today's a music day", which means it's different from the day before.
Chapel with Reverend Libba - this happens once a month for the 4s. We go to the Sanctuary for a sweet and simple service. We aim for "church behavior", so we have conversations about how we sit differently in chapel than we do in the classroom. The service is always the same with regard to routine, but the message from Miss Libba and the songs from Miss Carrie are different each time.
Special Events & Guests - Fire Trucks, Dentists, experts in their field and sometimes even Aubie or Santa Claus drop by to visit everyone. Holidays are celebrated with "special snacks" (which means everyone has a chance to bring something instead of one child providing the snack) and activities, such as costumes and Treat Walk at Halloween and Egg Hunts at Easter. The 4s also go on occasional field trips, which is a WHOLE different way to go about a preschool day!
Spur of the moment - We can't always predict and plan ahead...The butterfly is coming out of its chrysalis - drop what you're doing and come watch! There's a bulldozer next door - come watch it move that pile of rocks! This bubble's shaped like Mickey Mouse - look before it pops! It's going to rain soon - let's get outside and run around while we can!
"So, why do it?" you might ask next...
Parents know how life is full of changes, surprises and monkey wrenches. And we've all learned to adapt to the best of our abilities as we go.
Have you ever loaded your kids and groceries in the car, only to hear that one of them needs to go to the potty right NOW? You face either an ice cream puddle or a different kind of puddle, so you have to decide which adventure to choose. Maybe you unbuckle them and trek them all back to the store for the bathroom, or just take your chances and head straight for home... Whichever way your adventure panned out, your children had the experience of watching you react to an "improv" situation.
We do the same thing here at Grace. Shake things up a just a little bit so that our friends can stretch those adaptability muscles that they will need in the future. So that they can face new situations, new experiences and not be "floored" with the prospect of change. So that they can have this experience before they get to "big school" where they won't always have a heads up about a new/different situation.
Some younger kids do surprisingly well when rolling with change. Others are very rigid and do not like change at all. We experience the entire spectrum at Grace - often in one short day! The older they are at preschool, the more exposure they'll have to going "off script," and the stronger their foundation will be for it.