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First Steps

Parenting Pathways


A bimonthly publication of the Ann Arbor Public Schools • Nov–Dec 2013, Vol. 12, No. 2

Marj’s Corner

Winter Class Sign-Up

First Steps-Ann Arbor PTO!

Registration is Dec. 2 through Jan. 6.

On August 11 some wonderful parents and staff met with me and my supervisor Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director of Community Education & Recreation, to learn more details about First Steps’ financial situation for the coming school year. These people, plus a few more, have met monthly to consider how best to support the financial and marketing needs of our program. We’ve decided to form the First Steps-Ann Arbor PTO. It is a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit and here is our purpose.

• Detailed directions are on our website here.

• Assist with the development and marketing efforts necessary to ensure the future of First Steps-Ann Arbor.

Winter Session is Jan. 6 through Mar. 22, 2014.

• Class schedule is on our website here. Note about Jump Into Speech: This is a special 7-week class for one-year-olds and their adult. It begins on January 27 and ends on March 17, and the fee is only $86. You may sign up directly with us; there is no online registration available for this class. ing out and listening to our amazing published authors Shanda and Yvette and having fun with all of us!

• Foster greater involvement with the Ann Arbor community.

4. Thank you to a number of individual families who have made personal, tax-deductible donations to First Steps. From clothing for the exchange to generous checks, each thoughtful donation is appreciated very much!

• Encourage First Steps parents to assist with various fundraising activities.

Rent our playroom!

• Provide opportunities for First Steps families and our community to influence the work of First Steps-Ann Arbor.

We have monthly meetings run by a Board of Directors, will be forming committees to work on specific projects and all of you are considered members. There are no additional dues. We are currently finalizing the paperwork to become an LLC and then applying for our non-profit status as a 501(c)(3). This process will be completed in 2014. If any of you are interested in more involvement, please contact Marj.

Good News! 1. Karma Yoga held a fundraiser for First Steps back in September and this raised $225.00! We are tremendously appreciative of Victoria Cendrowski and her daughter Chelsea for their work on our behalf. Thank you!! 2. We are delighted to announce we received a Great Idea grant from AAPS Educational Foundation to support our Jump Into Speech class with some new equipment. A huge thank you to them for choosing to support us! If you plan to take this class in the future, you’ll be seeing some new materials in January. 3. First Steps Day at Barnes & Noble: While it’s too early to know the fundraising aspect of this event, we were delighted to see so many of you there. Thanks for com-

Looking for something social to do? Gather some friends with children and hold your own playgroup! Rental of our classroom for 1 hour costs $5/child, babies under 7 months coming with siblings are free. Families who are NOT currently active are also welcome although they’ll pay $10/child instead. Do it once or several weeks in a row. Space is limited to 12 children attending with their parent or caregiver. Our room is available Mon–Thurs afternoons, 3:30–5:30 p.m. Please call or email Marj for more details.

News to Use Make-up Policy Possible classes for make-ups are posted on our website and in your classroom by the second week of each session. Make-ups must be arranged 24 hours or more ahead. Look here on the website under Classes. Then call or email Sherri and let her know your plans and we’ll let the teacher know you’re coming. Please do not just come to a class. You may do two make-up classes during the Winter session for each class you take. Make-ups are also given any time we cancel a class. If there are extenuating circumstances, please call and discuss them with either Sherri or Marj. Thank you!

Birthday Parties! Interested in renting a wonderful space for your child’s birthday party? Try our classroom at the Family Center as it’s a great place to have a relaxed celebration with your family and friends. We supply a staff person to make sure things go smoothly and to provide a short circletime for some entertainment.The cost is only $115 for a 1½ hour party. Our room is available on Saturdays after 11:00 a.m. or late afternoons or evenings during the week when we do not have classes. This is available to First Steps families, not the general community, and all proceeds are used to purchase new equipment for our rooms. Please call Sherri at 9942300 x53186 to find out more.

Upcoming dates: November 19: Music Together Lottery November 25: No classes until 12/2 December 2: Winter Sign-up begins December 14: Fall session ends January 6: Winter session begins January 20: No Classes January 29: Parent Talk series begins January Parent Meeting: Choosing a Preschool

Please LIKE us on Facebook! Marj often sends out quick notices about upcoming events. To find us, just go to the home page of our website and click on the link at the top. We’re at just over 100 likes — let’s see if we can get it to 200!

Ages & Stages Questionnaire Online! Did you know you may now complete an Ages & Stages Questionnaire online through our website? The Ages and Stages Developmental Screening (ASQ-3) can help you understand more about your child’s development from 2 months to 5 years so you can see what’s coming next. Ages & Stages is a series of questionnaires for children ages 2 months to 66 months (5½ years) that will help you monitor a child’s development by screening children in five areas: Communication, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Problem Solving and Personal-Social. It is fun and interactive! When you complete it, your parent educator will contact you, either by email or phone, to share the results. We hope you’ll give it a try if you haven’t done one recently. Click here to complete an ASQ at your child’s specific age. Interested in completing the Ages & Stages-Social Emotional Questionnaire too? ASQ:SE is a social-emotional screener consisting of 8 questionnaires for ages 3 months to 66 months. It addresses 7 important areas, including: self-regulation, compliance, communication, adaptive behaviors, autonomy, affect, and interaction with people. Click here – it’s also simple to do.

Choosing a Preschool 6:30–8:30 p.m. in January 2014 — day to be determined Join us for our annual two-part workshop explaining different types of preschools & child care options AND a road map to finding the right one for your family. We’ll answer these questions: • At what age should I send my child to preschool? • What questions should I ask when visiting a preschool? • How can I evaluate the quality of the program” • How do I choose a preschool or child care center once I have answers to my questions? We’ll post the details online here, in your classroom and we will send you an email as we get closer to January!

Scholastic Books Scholastic book orders are back! Look for flyers in your classroom and online at Scholastic’s website at www. Use the Class Activation Code GJW4K and follow the directions. Order form(s) may also be turned in to Sherri at the First Steps office with a check. Please make checks payable to Scholastic Book Club (not First Steps). Scholastic books are a great and inexpensive way to build your at-home library and help First Steps earn points for books and school supplies. —Terry Chang, Scholastic Coordinator,

Building executive function through play For most of human history, children played by roaming near or far in packs large and small. Younger children were supervised by older children and engaged in freewheeling imaginative play. They were pirates and princesses, aristocrats and heroes.

best when children stay with the play scenario for as long as possible.

The best kind of play costs nothing and really only has one main requirement—imagination. When children learn to rely on themselves for playtime—improvising props, making up games and stories—they’re actually developing that executive function. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of playtime:

games, where you hide something and the child needs to find it. You can turn those into a problem-solving task by putting a barrier in the shortest path to the hidden treat so that the child needs to detour around to retrieve what you’ve hidden.

Encourage children to talk to themselves. When you, as an adult, want to make sure that you remember to do something correctly, you may silently repeat the But, while all that play might have looked a lot like time instruction to yourself. It helps you to regulate your spent doing nothing much at all, it actually helped build behavior. The same is true for children, but even more so. a critical cognitive skill called They need more support for executive function. Executive “The best kind of play costs nothing and self-regulation, and they can’t function has a number of eleyet do that silently, so they really only has one main requirement— ments, such as working memosay it out loud. imagination. When children learn to ry and cognitive flexibility. But With a 5-year-old, you can perhaps the most important is rely on themselves for playtime—imtell him that if she repeats self-regulation — the ability for something to herself, it will provising props, making up games and kids to control their emotions help her to remember. So if stories—they’re actually developing and behavior, resist impulses, she is trying to learn to spell and exert self-control and discithat executive function.” something, for example, pline. Executive function — and tell her she will remember it its self-regulation element — is better if she spells it silently to herself. important. In fact, good executive function is a better Use open-ended props so imagination and minds predictor of success in school than a child’s IQ. can flourish. When children have specific costumes (eg Unfortunately, play has changed dramatically during the doctor or fireman) they no longer need to make a plan or past half-century, and according to many psychological use their own ideas to come researchers, the play that kids engage in today does not up with how to do something. help them build executive function skills. Kids spend The value of play comes from more time in front of televisions and video games. When children having to use their they aren’t in front of a screen, they often spend their imagination and pretend time in leagues and lessons — activities parents invest in the stick is a drill or a hose. because they believe that they will help their children to Then their brain has to hold excel and achieve. on to the idea and keep it And while it’s true that leagues and lessons are helpful going—making those brain to children in many ways, they have one unfortunate connections stronger. drawback. When kids are in leagues and lessons, they are There are lots of activities you can do to encourage usually being regulated by adults. That means they are imaginative play and develop executive function not able to practice regulating themselves. with 1- and 2-year-olds, too. You can play hiding

Free time for play is a good beginning. Planning the pretend play and sticking with your role is even better. Social pretend play is an excellent way to exercise and build up the executive functions of working memory (children must hold their own role and those of others in their mind), inhibitory control (children must keep themselves “in character”), and cognitive flexibility (children must make changes while playing in order to continue the developing plot). Social pretend play works

Or try multiple-step imitation games, such as putting a tiny animal on one end of a stick from an ice cream pop (using the stick as a lever), and then showing the child that if you press down on the other end of the stick, the tiny animal goes flying. Such imitation games tax working memory and could be great fun for your child for long extended periods at a time. —This article is excerpted from a story that aired on NPR in April 2008. To read the full article go to php?storyId=76838288

Scholarships Do you have a scholarship with Rec&Ed? Please check and make sure it’s up-to-date. If you applied more than a year ago, you will need to apply again now because they are only good for 1 year. If you think you’ll qualify, please apply now so you’re all set for our next session. It takes about 2 weeks and is how we determine your income and place you on the sliding-fee scale. Our scale does NOT match Rec&Ed’s. If Rec&Ed says you don’t qualify, you may still get a 25% discount from us. Please talk with us directly when you get your letter to confirm what you’ll pay to participate. You’ll have an idea by looking at our scale yourself too. This scholarship is good for a year and works for your whole family for any class or sport through Rec & Ed. Questions? Call Marj.

Visitors Want to bring a friend and their child to your class for a one-time visit? First, call Sherri and see if there is space (just like for a make-up). Then you must pay $10 to the teacher on the day of the visit. Thanks!

First Steps in Ann Arbor 2775 Boardwalk Ann Arbor, MI 48104 website: First Steps phone extensions: 994-2300 x

Email addresses:

Marj Hyde, Director ...........................994-4949 Sherri Polovick, Registration & Billing.... 53186 Ann Stalhandske.................................... 53182 Shanda Trent.......................................... 53187 Yvette Daniels ........................................ 53181

hyde firststeps stalhans trents danielsy

WISD consultants: Su-Fen Lin Asian populations Mayra Prince............................(734) 883-9452 Spanish speakers Karma Basha ...........................(734) 320-6263 Arabic speakers Newsletter editing & design services donated in part by Pilcrow Text & Design Parenting Pathways is published bimonthly by the Ann Arbor Public Schools

Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share . . . As winter sets in and the kids don’t play outside as much, houses tend to get messier! However, there’s no reason why even very young children can’t help out with household chores. Two things are important to keep in mind when roping kids in to help: clarification and feedback. Clarification means letting children know exactly what you expect them to do. Demonstrate how to collect the trash or wash the sink or put the dishes away. Feedback means saying “you’ve been a big help!” And be specific: “Wow, you wiped off the whole refrigerator! Thanks!” Another thing to keep in mind is what are reasonable expectations for your child’s age and stage of development. Here are some ideas and tips.

18 months – 3 years Toddlers are great fetchers. They have good memories for where pans, diapers, and hand lotion are kept. They can save you many steps!

Toddlers also love to put things into other things. You can use this by having them pick up toys and put them into a basket or toy box, or have them collect trash and clutter from the yard. Make sure you stay nearby, though; they will lose interest very quickly if left alone!

3 – 4 years Now we’re talking! These guys can do real housework. They can set and clear the table, vacuum, and clean up spills. They can put away their own laundry, especially if you mark their dresser drawers with pictures of what each should contain.

4 – 5 years Watch out, because this is the age where carelessness starts to take over. Chores that your child loved a few months ago are now boring. Older preschoolers can pick up junk, fold clothes, sort laundry and even wash low windows. The trick is getting them to do it! Try taking advantage of the fact that kids this age love to do things with you. Make these chores seem like friendly activities (“would you like to help me make the salad?”) rather than drudgery, and you may get a better response.

Pp 11 2013  

First Steps parenting newsletter