Tales from Lower School
A message from Lower School Director Alison Rothschild
In the Lower School, teachers have begun to discuss disaster relief projects with students. As an institution committed to developing empathy and social consciousness in all of our students, conversations about collection efforts provide a developmentally appropriate avenue for this area of our work.
The focus of our conversations has been around loss and damage to material things, and our desire to help children replace those lost and damaged things. Age appropriate conversations begin and end with reassurance that children are safe. As kids get older (7-, 8-, 9-years-old) they are able to extrapolate that there was also loss of life, but that has not been the focus of our conversations in school.
The responses to the conversations have varied tremendously, with some children enthusiastically offering to give away their toys and books while our youngest students, who are not yet able to understand another perspective, listen to the discussions and follow up with their own experiences with rain, water, toys or electricity.
I trust our teachers implicitly to provide safe and comfortable dialogue around these topics, but wanted to provide parents with some guidelines and some helpful resources to help navigate these and (sadly) future tragic events.
First and foremost, it is best to limit exposure to these events. Graphic images on the news or in photographs can be traumatic for young children. Children should have varying degrees of information, depending on age and maturity.
It's been my experience that in times of trouble, young children seem to hold it together during the school day and then process fears, sadness and other emotions at home with their family, often at bedtime. It's important to give children the opportunity to express their fears, ask questions, and then provide them with the reassurance that they are safe.
Here are two resources that may be of interest.
As I think about all of the events transpiring around the world, I am increasingly appreciative of our Calhoun family. We are all so fortunate to be part of such a kind and compassionate community. And I'm encouraged and thankful that our children are learning, right from the start, that they have the ability to help others in need.
by Priscilla Marrero, Lower School Spanish teacher
In an effort to respond to hurricane victims, the Lower School community rallied together in an amazing showing of support for the children of Puerto Rico. Over the course of a week, we collected donations of books, pens, crayons, new pajamas and stuffed animals for the Bel Esprit Cultural Institute’s Rise and Read project, which unites with teachers on the ground to restore a sense of normalcy for children while the adults focus on rebuilding.
It was a wonderful, magical week full of so much community support at Little Calhoun: from coordinating ideas and talking with the children about the hurricanes in Puerto Rico to creating bookmarks and sorting the boxes full of donations. It was a real communal effort, and it was incredible to witness and be a part of it all!
Our bookmarks made by 3's –2nd graders, teachers and staff
We had a special donation from our local Stationary and Toy World on 72nd Street. Donna, the owner, gave us pens, crayons, and boxes of composition books – she even sent over her staff to deliver in person!
Some of our students were so eager to participate that they joined me in the theater to help sort and receive collections. Thank you Daisy and Javier!
Emerson was so eager to support that he told his mom that he wanted to make 100 more bookmarks for the children in Puerto Rico! He really enjoyed learning about the process of creating for others.
Thanks to Avy (Calhoun parent) and Elyna (Calhoun kindergarten student), the donations are headed to Brooklyn to meet Kafayat Alli-Balogun, founder of the Bel Esprit Cultural Institute, and go to Puerto Rico!
Thank you to everyone for their kindness and generosity in contributing to this project! What an awesome week!
By Alicia Klein and Christy Kong, 3's Head Teachers
Reading and storytelling are an essential part of our daily classroom activities in the 3's. During meeting time, stories are read, sung, reproduced on the flannel board and shared. Questions are posed to the children to reinforce story details and help broaden their understanding of content.
During classroom work time, paper, markers and crayons are always available for the children to select. Many children have begun to dictate their own stories and ask the teachers to help them write notes, letters and books. This inspired a project for the art table that spanned several days. One on one with a teacher, each child was given white paper and Sharpies. They were each asked to tell a story as they drew with the Sharpies. Story elements and story structure were reinforced through teacher questions as the children expanded on their ideas and gave more details.
The children were challenged to use descriptive words and express feelings. Finally, they each gave their paper a color wash with liquid watercolor. The artists were able to highlight elements of their illustrations through color placement and blending. These are as amazingly unique and creative as the children! In the few days following this project, we have noticed an increased interest in drawing and writing during work time.
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