Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Halloween Parties - Can we still have them in After School Programs?

In this modern era of political correctness and being sensitive to everyone for
everything, it's a fair question.  Some schools and districts still celebrate Halloween whole-heartedly, while others have no mention of the holiday, no jack o lanterns on the wall, no witches hanging from strings, no classroom parties or costume parades.  These were some of my favorite memories as a child, so it is hard to see the lack of this in schools I work in.  It is typically a district or school decision.

In the past, I have discussed, with my school principal, the possibility of having a celebration even if they don't have it during the school day.  We came to an agreement that if parents and supported it, and we waited until the day of the party to decorate, it would be fine. I spoke with all of my parents individually and assured that they were okay with the party, and then we were able to go ahead with it, with the blessing of our administration.

The vast majority of Americans still celebrate Halloween, and while some of the images can be quite offensive it is possible to have less scary fun at school.  If you allow students to wear costumes, make it abundantly clear that there is no blood or weapons allowed. (Sorry little Zombies!)

Your fun and activities can include, Jack-o-lanterns, spiders, bats, friendly ghosts and witches.  Just leave out the scary images and menacing faces.

Here's a link to a fantastic Pinterest Board with lots of Classroom Halloween ideas.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Best Tip - Connect with Kids

Me and my friends goofing around.
As I was planning something new to add to the blog, I started thinking about my best advice. 
What could I share, from my 20 years of child care experience, that would really impact someone's after school program.

My best advice is for you to CONNECT with your kids.  If you truly connect, truly show that you are there FOR THEM you will have an easier and more enjoyable time.  Kids respond better to you, they are more open with you, discipline issues are less (They never go away.) and the kids feel more comfortable.  Those things are a big deal for most kids.  They need to know that they can trust you and that you won't lie to or dismiss their feelings.

My friends making monsters. Sewing felt and
 YES, I let the kids use a glue gun and needles.
     Connecting isn't always easy.  If we try too hard it's obvious.  For me, the best way has always been to just play.  Board games, card games, puzzles, dress up, Frisbee, or whatever.  Having fun with them.  Sometimes it's so hard to make the time to play.  We all know that there is just so much to do, and I sometimes realize I haven't played a game or done a craft with the kids in days or even weeks.  I have to remind myself that making those connections is a part of my job, and it helps my job to go more smoothly.  And I have more fun as well, so it's a win-win for everyone.

You never know when your attention is exactly what that child needs, at that time.  And isn't that why we are here doing what we're doing?