WHPS Blog

Coffee & Conversation

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

Join us for Coffee & Conversation!
The school you choose for your child is a significant decision that should not be taken lightly.  Most of us spend hours, days, and weeks...months researching the right preschool, elementary, middle school, or high school; the best pediatrician or orthodontist. We take the time to care about significant elements in our children's life. After all that research, you have chosen to be part of a truly special community at WHPS, one that is known for unique and strong parent partnerships, deep understanding of child development, and a school where we pride ourselves on responsiveness to our families.

Raising our children is an awesome task, and to do so alone would be overwhelming. With this in mind, we are opening up a new atmosphere for discussion and sharing. Throughout the year, we will be hosting Coffee & Conversation sessions with our admin team. We will gather in the Oxnard campus library to chat about hot topics in the news, tricky parenting issues, and to help build connections among families.

Coffee & Conversation is a chance to come together with other caring, well-intentioned adults and think together about parenting issues that don't always have a simple solution. Coffee & Conversation is open to all families from both of our campuses; even friends, neighbors and family members who don’t currently attend one of our schools.

Some Coffee & Conversation topics will appeal to families with very young children, and others will be more applicable to elementary-age children, though everyone is welcome! Our first Coffee & Conversation (October 12) will be about Online Gaming: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly!

We have some other great topics in store, but we also want to be sure we are addressing the hottest most relevant topics of interest to our community. If you have a suggestion for topic(s) you’d like us to discuss, please let us know! You can fill out this form or simply This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We may not be able to get to everything right away, but we would love to know what’s on your mind.

Recess Revolution

Written by Robin Gee, Collins Preschool Director on .

What a wonderful start we have had this school year! September has been a month for children to adjust to all the new rhythms, rituals, and routines. One important way to help your child start off the day on the right foot is to ensure your child comes to school on time. This allows for some well-needed playtime with their friends before officially making the home-school transition. Also, keep in mind that one of the most important parts of the day is Circle Time. During this time the children are not only exposed to new concepts and discussions, but it helps set the tone for the day. A smooth Circle Time virtually guarantees a smooth day and eases separation anxiety.

As we move into the second full month of school, we are excited to jump into the serious business of play and learning. In preschool, learning is happening constantly! Some of the most significant learning that is hard to replicate outside of a preschool classroom occurs in: Circle Time, Learning Centers and through play.

RECESS REVOLUTION - PARENT SPEAKER
At our September Parent Speaker event, Recess Revolution, we were reminded just how much children actually learn through play. Robots are taking over menial tasks and jobs, but there are some things robots simply can’t do. These non-robot skills and abilities are precisely what our children need to be good at in order to eventually be successful in the modern workforce: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking. If we could add one more “C” to that list it would be Conflict Resolution. And, all of these skills are perhaps best learned through play.

Creativity is a skill or ability, the importance of which is often underestimated. If we want our children to think like entrepreneurs, we can’t always prescribe the rules of play or schedule them to the hilt with organized activities. Children’s brains go through a process of synaptic pruning from infancy until about age 20. Kristin Shepherd from Recess Revolution conjectured that perhaps we cause this process of pruning to go too far, as illustrated by the image of the stick. Think about the stick from the perspective of a child who hasn't yet had the creativity pruned away. Do we want robot thinkers or Steve Jobs thinkers? Without a doubt, organized activities like soccer and tee-ball have their own benefits. But, it is unstructured play that activates and develops creativity.

Another concern raised by Shepherd is that we may be overly insulating children from conflict. For many of us, conflict feels uncomfortable. We may be tempted to step in to resolve an issue between children because we want to avoid unfairness or hurt feelings. But, the subtle message this can convey is that children aren’t capable of resolving conflict without the help of an authority figure. Our children will eventually need to function in a society that is pretty polarized, and what a gift is would be if we could send them out into the world with the ability and confidence to creatively and amicably resolve conflict. 

(some photos from the Recess Revolution parent speaker and playdate)

-One parent exclaimed, “This is great, they are conflicting!

WHPS Professional Development & Brain Rules

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

WHPS is committed to ensuring that our teachers, directors and support staff receive the highest level of training available in early childhood education. You may have noticed a couple weeks ago that a number of preschool teachers - and even the campus directors - were off site for professional development at the California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAAEYC) Conference. We spent three days immersed in a wide variety of workshops, ranging from teaching science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) to social-emotional learning (SEL) to Kindergarten readiness, and much more. Our school administration also attended the CAAEYC Leadership Summit at which we studied emerging trends and issues in early childhood education and participated in site visits to other leading preschools, including: Pacific Oaks Children’s School, Glendale Community College Lab School, and the Outdoor Classroom Project at the Child Education Center.

One of the keynote speakers at CAAEYC was John Medina, a molecular biologist and bestselling author, who has applied “a robust scientific filter” to parenting research. Medina is the director of The Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University.

Medina discussed his seminal research while working on Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five in which he addresses common parenting questions and debunks some myths:

  • Does telling your child they are smart actually help boost their confidence?
  • What’s the best way to get your kid into Harvard?
  • Will playing Mozart to the womb make your baby smarter?
  • Will listening to language DVDs boost your toddler’s vocabulary?
  • Do toys that promise to exercise your baby’s brain actually work?
  • And, more importantly, how do you raise a happy child?

One of Medina’s key points that is widely accepted among early childhood researchers and educators is that Executive Functioning is far more predictive than IQ when it comes to a young child’s future success. “A child’s brain can be trained to enhance self-control and other aspects of executive function,” according to Medina, and building Executive Function is one way to help that baby get to Harvard. Says Medina: “Executive Function is actually a better predictor of academic success than IQ.”

If you are curious about Medina’s research and some of the parenting questions and myths he addresses or debunks, I recommend trying out his 20 question quiz: Are you a Brain Rules parent? How did you do? Consider taking it with your spouse/partner or co-parent.
Hint: a clue for question 1 can be found in the above paragraph.


Enjoy!
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Head of School

Becoming Leaders

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

Someone recently asked me, "What is so special about your school? Why should I send my child to WHPS?" You might imagine my response would be to rattle off a litany of tangible items, such as our school’s Science & Nature Center, Engineering curriculum, Responsive Classroom, or the number of hours our teachers spend on professional development each year. To be sure, these are all indispensable elements of our program. However, there is one thing we do that I believe supersedes, or perhaps grows out of, all of this. We help children find their voice and become leaders!

This first means developing self-confidence and becoming self-directed. Beginning in the preschool, leadership (of self) is explicitly taught to our youngest students. Whether creating their own classroom rules, learning to make their own choices instead of imitating their friend, or deciding how to independently work during centers, students learn that leadership means doing the right thing. Beginning in our earliest elementary grades, students take on more formal leadership opportunities. TK and Kindergarten students learn to initiate the quiet signal—getting the attention of the whole school community—and speak at Morning Assembly. They learn how to hold themselves in public, how to project their voices, and how to feel comfortable in front of a crowd. They begin learning to adlib as they pull Bucket Filler cards on Fridays and call up students who were caught doing something good.

Elementary students also practice for the classroom job of Greeter, getting up from their seat the moment they see a guest walk into the room. They begin with: “Welcome to Room ___ , I’m __________.” Next, the Greeter puts out his/her hand, offering a firm handshake, and goes on to tell the guest what they are working on at that moment. Some of the older students go a step further and explain how they use their Leadership Binder or may even conduct a mini-SLC on the spot. If you were fortunate enough to attend the elementary spring talent show, you saw the students’ resulting confidence on full display. It was evident not only in the songs, dances, comedy routines and science experiments, but also in the stage presence of the student emcees, and students backstage, managing props and the sound system.

And as our students graduate and go on to some of the city’s most elite middle schools, they demonstrate that they ARE leaders. They have a strong sense of right vs. wrong and choose to stand up for what they believe is right, they exude confidence, they demonstrate strong public speaking skills, and they positively influence others to make good choices. I could not be more proud of our students and the opportunity to work with them in a school that leverages all its unique ways of helping children find their voice and become leaders!

Talking to Children About School Safety

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

Dear WHPS families,

There were some updates in the March Newsletter that you received this morning about our School Safety Plan, improvements to our crisis response initiatives and additional safety training our staff are taking part in this month. It is important to us that you know about the ways we are ensuring safety of our community. But it’s also evident that this most recent school shooting in Florida hit a nerve, particularly in light of the repetitive nature of violent incidents in recent years.

As children returned to Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida this week, you probably heard many of the students and their parents in the news talking about anxiety, anger, fear, and their activism. We, ourselves, are feeling these emotions, and depending on the age of your child(ren) a lot of this may be palpable to them as well. Teachers are trained in how to foster cognitive, physical and social emotional growth in children. But most of us are not trained to deal with the ambient trauma of a school shooting that puts a city, state, and a country on edge.

Many of us are struggling with how to talk to our children about this. How young is too young? How much or how little information should we share? And even if we’re not talking about it with our children, how do we address fears they might have?

TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT SCHOOL SAFETY

Here are some recommendations when talking with children about this topic (adapted from Child Mind Institute and the National Association of Elementary School Principals):

  • First and foremost, a rule of thumb for parents and teachers when discussing any mature topic, whether it has to do with school safety or puberty or peer pressure, is to follow the child’s lead.

  • Don’t avoid talking to your child about what happened. If you avoid the topic, your child may find the event even more threatening or think it is simply too horrible to speak about.

  • Invite your child to tell you how s/he feels, but avoid leading questions, such as “Are you worried about being safe at school?”

  • Answer the questions they’re asking honestly but reassuringly, but don’t delve deeper into the topic than they take it. Give children the facts they need to know now, but avoid discussing your fears or anxiety about the future.

  • Correct any inaccurate information: If your child has misconceptions or inaccurate information, correct them in a simple age-appropriate way.

  • Reinforcing safety is important with very young children. Emphasize that the incident happened very far away from us and let your child know that we have wonderful people who are doing everything they can to make school a safe place for learning and having fun with friends and classmates.

  • Stay calm and use “emotional self-control” when talking about this topic. The emotions you express will influence your child’s feelings.

  • Focus on ways your child/family can take positive social action.

Once we complete the latest school safety training with our staff this month, we will have our next lockdown drill with the children in early April. Prior to that drill, teachers will review the safety procedures with their students.

Our administration team understands that this is an emotional and tricky topic to broach with children. If you have questions, concerns or other feedback, please don’t hesitate to speak with me or anyone on our administration team. It is incredibly important to us that ALL children and families feel supported as we process this most recent tragedy.

Warmly,

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Head of School

 

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