Happy St. Patrick’s Day

By Jennifer Landrieu

201303151Rainbows, pots of gold, and leprechauns might make you think of St. Patrick’s Day, but at the North Branch Reformed Church, a visit from Brenna McGowan kicks off our celebrations!

201303152 Brenna is a former NBRC Preschool student and the daughter of Mrs. McGowan, our Five-Day teacher. She’s been visiting our school for years around St. Patrick’s Day to demonstrate Irish dancing!

Brenna arrives in her beautiful dress and has a curly wig on, too. She dances two different styles of Irish dancing, one with a hard soled shoe and one with a soft soled shoe.

Our Preschoolers are fascinated by her quick movements and the sparkle of her dress. Brenna talks to the children about the types of music she dances to, teaches the students a few steps and explains why Irish dancers keep their arms at their sides. — Once dancing was illegal in Ireland so dancers kept their arms straight at their sides so that if someone looked in a window they could not tell those inside were dancing.

We are thankful that Brenna continues to share her Irish dancing talents with our Preschoolers!

Read Across America

13030204March 2nd is the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the gifted author who provides so many children with a multitude of indelible memories. Dr. Seuss’ birthday is even more special now since it is also “Read Across America” – a day to remind us how wondrous the world of books can be.13030205

Here at the Preschool we have been celebrating the books of Dr. Seuss. The children have created “Cat in the Hat” hats, learned from Horton that a “Person is a person, no matter how small” and created a “Thing” parade. Dr. Seuss’s famous rhymes inspire our children to create word families with rhymes of their own.

13030206In gym, the children “picked” 10 apples and put them up on top, celebrated “The Foot Book” with heel/toe games, and found “Red Fish, Blue Fish” to balance on their backs as they crawled like “Yertle the Turtle”.

Our reading celebration didn’t end with Dr. Seuss. Community members with a variety of different jobs and interests visited our classrooms to discuss what they do as well as share special books with our children.

The whole world can sit in our hands when we hold a book. Why not share a book with someone special today!

– Karen Reinhart

How to Choose the Right Preschool

by Jennifer Landrieu

130218For the last month, I’ve been happily taking prospective parents on tours of our school, showing them our facilities, telling them about our program, and discussing our policies.

If you’re a new-to-Preschool parent, and beginning to schedule tours, perhaps you’d find this list helpful…

Location: How far is it from your home?

Cost: How many days/hours? What does it include? Are special interest classes offered at an additional rate? Any discounts offered? Any “need-based” scholarships available?

Religious Affiliation: Find out how the religious beliefs are incorporated into the program. If you’re a member of the church/temple, etc. you may be offered a discount!

Class Size/Teacher-Child Ratio: The lower the number the better, more personalized attention. (NJ State ratios ~ 2.5-4 years 1:10, 4 years 1:12, 5 years 1:15)

Teacher Certification: Do the teachers hold education degrees/certificates? How many teachers are certified in Pediatric CPR/First Aid?

Teacher Turn-Over Rate: How long have the teachers been with the school?

Potty-Training Requirements: Fully potty-trained, Pull-Ups, or Diapers okay?

Playground: Is the equipment new? What type of ground cover? Fenced in?

Classroom: Colorful/inviting? Centers? Windows? Carpeting? Quality/Quantity of toys, etc. available? Where do children play on a rainy day?

Program: Curriculum? Themes? Geared more toward socialization or academics?

Parent/Teacher Communication: When are teacher conferences held? Weekly/Monthly newsletters? Parent information boards? Is there a PTO (Parent Teacher Organization)?

Discipline Policy: How does the school approach discipline issues?

Closing/Delayed Schedules: Closed the same days as public school? How are parents notified?

Allergies: How does the school handle children with allergies? Nut-free facility? Are allergies posted in the classrooms?

Happy Chinese New Year!

by Karen Reinhart

1302081As many of you may know, Sunday, February 10th marks the start of a new year in the Chinese calendar. What you may not know is that this celebration is also known as the “Spring Festival.”

We were lucky to have one of our parents visit our classroom to explain this very important holiday. We learned that each year is represented by one of 12 different animals – horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox,tiger, rabbit, dragon, and snake. This year will be the year of the snake. Our class (all born in 2008) were thrilled to learn they are born in the year of the rat.

She told us how children help in the days leading up to the New Year to give the house a thorough cleaning to clear out all the old and get ready for the new. When the new year comes everyone dresses in special red clothes and the children bow to their elders who then give them a special envelope filled with money. All of the children practiced the bow and received an envelope with a coin. The children also received a special chocolate wrapped in gold foil and shaped like ancient Chinese money.

The New Year celebrations traditionally continue for 15 days when the Lantern festival begins.

Gong Xi Fa Cai
(gong she fa chai)

Father’s Saturday

by Jennifer Landrieu

1302032We opened the Preschool doors to over 125 smiling preschoolers and their dads this weekend. The children invited their dads to spend an hour with them at the Preschool playing games, showing off their artwork, playing in the indoor-playground, and sharing milk and cookies. (We even had gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, and dairy-free cookies available so everyone could have a special treat!)

1302031Each family was encouraged to bring a can of soup to celebrate “SOUP”er Bowl Sunday and used their donation to vote for the team they wanted to win. (According to our vote, the 49ers would win!) As with all our food collections throughout the year, the soup will be donated to the local food bank.

One dad commented that this was his 8th and final Father’s Saturday and that it’s been such a nice program.

The Preschool loves to include families and besides Father’s Saturday, we have Mother’s Day Tea, Mother’s Visits, and Grandparent’s Week.

You can look forward to these programs in the Spring.

5th Annual PTO B&N Bookfair

by Jennifer Landrieu

1301252The North Branch Reformed Church Preschool’s PTO sponsored our 5th Annual Barnes and Noble Bookfair last night with over 100 families in attendance!

The PTO reached their goal of $3000 in sales and will earn 15% of the total, which will help them purchase more technology for our classrooms.

1301251The theme this year was “Curious George” and our our wonderful Pastor Mark joined us dressed as “The Man with the Yellow Hat” and brought Curious George, too. Every child at the Preschool had a piece of their artwork displayed around the store for shoppers to admire and the cafe was serving “George’s Juice” – a chocolate banana smoothie.

1301253Children each received a NBRC Preschool balloon and temporary tattoo. Our teachers read stories every 15-minutes under the trees in the children’s book section to bunches of our preschoolers and their families.

Special thanks to our PTO President Jillian Leitstein who organized this fun family event, our PTO volunteers who blew-up balloons (thanks to Diana Cirianni for the beautiful helium balloon displays), ran the tattoo station, helped display the children’s artwork, the teachers who read the stories, and the families who attended.

We can’t wait to see you all again next year!

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