The NEGATIVE effect of too much too soon

Written by WHPS Preschool Directors on .

The article below addresses a recent longitudinal study that is getting a lot of attention. The study affirms many of our core beliefs about quality Early Childhood Education. Here are six of the top evidence-based practices families should look for in a quality preschool

Some new research was recently published that has had early childhood educators buzzing. For many of us, it reaffirmed what we already know about quality Early Childhood Education (ECE). For policy makers, it calls into question recent efforts to push more three and four-year-olds into elementary schools. Essentially, it demonstrated short term gains for overly academic ECE programs, which diminished by the end of elementary school. The research strongly points to the long-term benefits of developmental, play-based Pre-K over heavily structured worksheet-driven programs. 

"A statewide public Pre-K program, taught by licensed teachers, housed in public schools, had a measurable and statistically significant negative effect on the children in this study."

Why is PLAY so important for preschool aged children? Research has shown us that preschool aged children learn best through play and exploration.  Play with a purpose.  Play that allows children to discover concepts through hands-on activities that ignite all of their senses. Outdoor experiences that last longer than elementary school recess.  This is the type of learning that young brains are receptive to.  

As a parent, it’s difficult to know how to best prepare your child for the inevitable transition into kindergarten. Is it best to have a school day that resembles kindergarten, or should there be more time for play and overall social emotional development?  Which way better prepares young children for school-age learning? The study done in Tennessee public schools highlights why putting too much pressure on children in Pre-K programs does not always lead to higher success rates in the future.

Quality play-based preschool programs do not exclude children from learning literacy, math, and science. The way in which play-based curriculum is structured and presented embraces all developmental areas that quite literally builds the brain through its design. This is a timely reminder of the neuroscience that supports creating joyful, meaningful, enriched, and socially interactive experiences as part of a high quality ECE program.

Note: This is one of the reasons WHPS uses a comprehensive research-based developmental screening with all our applicants for TK and K. We take the decision about each child's placement quite seriously and work with each family on determining the best path and trajectory. If families have any questions about the best path for your child's success, please feel free to speak with our Preschool Directors or Elementary Principal.

Black History Month - 2022

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

February is Black History Month. February is a time to celebrate Black history; it’s also a great time to recommit ourselves to diversity and inclusion across the curriculum. 

CELEBRATION (see video below)

I’m very excited about this month's events and programming. PAWS brought in The Marshall Dance Company for a special student workshop. In addition, all Oxnard campus classrooms received customized Black History Culture Kits (from In KidZ, founded by one of our WHPS families), with teaching resources and even a set of multicultural crayons and some other cool swag for each student (thanks to the Rocklin family for this amazing donation!)

At WHPS, we believe schools can teach content in authentic, meaningful ways kids can understand and relate to, while still addressing some of the hard truths of the past and present. We are inspired by the work of Columbia University Teachers College Reading & Writing Project (TCRWP), whose research underpins much of our elementary curriculum and has come to the forefront of promoting curriculum that recognizes and fights oppression and promotes anti-racism. Our recent adoption of Stamped (for kids) stemmed from their work, and has led to some wonderful dialogue, perspective-taking, and critical thinking in class discussions. 

As explained by one of the TCRWP staff developers, literature can serve as mirrors and windows to reflect children's own experience and help them appreciate and understand the experiences of others. Last year, we held a reverse book fair seeking to broaden all kinds of representation (race, gender, ability) in the classrooms. In the past several years, Elementary students conducted an audit of classroom libraries, and Preschool has been working on implementing quality anti-bias education and leveraging learning centers and play to expand representation.

Lastly, as adults we all need to remain committed to lifelong learning. We have some great resources on our blog and our YouTube channel that we find educational, interesting, and/or inspiring. I encourage families to check them out.

Leadership Notebooks: A uniquely WHPS learning tool

Written by Jacey Dexter, Elementary Principal on .

WHPS is an individualized academic program, which means each student is on a unique learning path. One of the most powerful tools we have developed that serves as the backbone to this approach is something we call a Leadership Notebook (AKA Leadership Binder). In the Leadership Notebook, teachers work with each student to set, track, and achieve academic and personal goals.  

Leadership Notebooks help each student develop an understanding of their strengths, while also planning meaningful ways they can strengthen those areas that don't come as easily. In the years since we launched this program, I have seen wonderful growth in student engagement, enthusiasm, and pride in their learning. 

SLCs are right around the corner, February 22-23. This is your next opportunity to take an in depth look at your child's goals and progress, together with the teachers and the most important stakeholder, your child! For families already in our elementary program, sign up links will be coming out next week. 

In the meantime...
I am excited to share a glimpse inside a Leadership Notebook with one of our 5th graders, Ava Grace. Enjoy!


Anti-Bias Education in Action (Early Childhood Education)

Written by WHPS Preschool Directors on .

Anti-Bias education is an important component for the WHPS curriculum. Our staff have been engaged in ongoing professional development on this topic. At last month’s preschool professional development session (both campuses), we screened a new film, Reflecting on Anti-bias Education in Action: The Early Years. We looked at vignettes demonstrating effective anti-bias teaching strategies and reflected on our own teaching practices. While the film is geared toward Early Childhood Education teachers, we encourage parents to check out some of the interesting ideas and language discussed.  

There are four areas of anti-bias education that we believe are part of a high-quality program. The more parents and teachers can embrace these goals, it will help make an even better future for our children and society. 

Goals of Anti-Bias Education

  1. Identity - Nurture children in feeling strong in their identity, without feeling superior to others.  Helping children to be comfortable in their home, as well as their school culture. This goal aims to develop each child’s confidence, self awareness, family pride and social identities.  
  2. Diversity - Promote each child’s comfortable, empathetic interaction with others from diverse backgrounds. Help children learn to express comfort and joy with human diversity, use accurate language for human differences, and form deep, caring connections across all dimensions of human diversity.
  3. Justice - Foster each child’s capacity to critically identify bias and nurture each child’s empathy for the hurt bias causes. Help children increasingly recognize unfairness (injustice), have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
  4. Activism - Cultivate each child’s ability and confidence to stand up for oneself and for others in the face of bias. Help children develop a sense of empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.

You can read more about these goals from The National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is important to continually revisit and refine these habits in our lives at school and at home. One concept from the film that we will be exploring further is persona dolls. We are excited to share more information in the coming months.

The Pitfalls of a Forced Apology (and what to try instead)

Written by WHPS Preschool Directors on .

As parents, it isn’t easy at times to navigate an incident involving our child hitting, pushing, or otherwise acting impulsively toward another child (or adult), purposely or accidentally. A common response when we witness something like this is to immediately ask our child to "Say you're sorry." 

We may feel embarrassed and quickly react, asking our child to say, “I’m sorry.”

In our roles as Preschool Directors, we have heard this play out many times. But, there are some issues with this approach:

  1. Young children are still learning to control impulses and may not know why they did what they did. Children also take longer than adults to digest an experience and process it.
  2. The pressure to apologize right then and there takes away their chance to learn from the situation. 
  3. What they do learn might be the wrong message. Forcing a child to say “I’m sorry,” can send the message that apologizing fixes everything and is a quick way to automatically right every wrong.  
  4. A true apology requires empathy, which develops gradually throughout the early years. Young children may not be developmentally ready to understand, much less own the words they are saying.

So what should you do if your child hurts another child?

  • Prevention - If you know your child is more apt to hit or act out when tired, frustrated, or overstimulated, try your best to remain close by so you can intervene before an incident occurs. Use a firm but even tone: “I won’t let you hit,” creating a physical boundary between the children with our hands. In a recent parent/teacher workshop, the presenter referred to these as "ninja hands."
  • Model Appropriate Response - If we are too late and a child is hurt (for example), you can apologize to the injured child and their parent/caregiver. Something as simple as, “Ouch, I’m sorry that Sammy pushed you. Let's help you up and see if you need an ice pack or a bandaid. Is there anything we can do to make you feel better? We are so sorry.” By taking such action, you are modeling to your child an appropriate reaction to take when accidentally or purposely hurting someone. This allows the child to also help care for the injured child, continue to develop empathy, and repair the situation. NOTE: This is similar to the "apology of action" approach we use in elementary school.

There is a reciprocal connection between learning an empathetic response and learning about forgiveness. When we model an appropriate social response, our child is also learning about forgiveness. This is one important way we help our children develop into empathetic human beings.

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