Showing posts with label Little Stars Academy Temecula. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Little Stars Academy Temecula. Show all posts

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Education Is Very Important for Your Little Star (Part 3)

This is the last installment of the three part interview Oma conducted with the founder of Little Stars Academy of Temecula. This is a must read as Jessica’s advice is both prolific and profound!
See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here


Question Three of Three:

Oma: Is there any advice you have for a first time Oma and Opa? What can a grandparent do to prepare their grandkids for school?

Jessica: The advice that I would give to any parent or grandparent to help prepare a child for school is to NEVER EVER think that it is too early to start educating your child. As soon as a baby is born they are ready to learn and I have seen so many times that if you wait until they are 5 to try to teach them it is too late!!!

Talk to your child. What? Crazy you say but I actually had kids in my class who I could tell had never really been talked to by their parents. I talked to my son all the time as a baby. Did he answer me? Nope but it filled the hours when we were alone in the house together. J And guess what? When he started talking not only did his vocabulary grow on a daily basis but he spoke in complete sentences. This is so important. When you ask your child a question like “Would you like some milk?” Please expect an answer like “Yes mommy I would like some milk”. Just yes or a nod is not acceptable. Expect them to talk and they will learn to talk. Give them everything without having to speak and they won’t learn to speak. It is so simple.

As for baby talk…just don’t do it. When your child is learning to talk and says a word wrong, politely tell them the right way and move on. Don’t harp on it but don’t ignore it because you think it is cute. Bad habitats are hard to break! We all know this. My husband and I have been asking our son the same question every night since as soon as he could talk. We ask him, “What was your favorite part of the day?” I love the answers that come out of his mouth. Sometimes it is just as I would expect, Going to Disneyland or playing at the park and then sometimes it is what I would consider the most insignificant part of the day like going to the store and then there is the all-time favorite “Spending the day with you!”. You and the people who you allow the privilege of spending time with your child become their first teachers so choose wisely.

Read to your children! Read to them a lot. Make it part of your daily/nightly routine as soon as they are born and it will become a habitat that sticks. My bookcase of children’s books was full before my son was born because it is just that important. Children have to hear stories in order to learn how to read. It is just that simple. Maybe you say okay fine but what do I read? My first recommendation would be to read rhyming books. The ability to rhyme is a strong predictor for success as a reader because kids who can rhyme truly understand the way words work and that makes them good readers. My second recommendation for books to read to your child are books that you get enjoyment out of which means you need to read it before you buy it. Did you like it? Did you enjoy reading it? The more into the story you get, the better the child will like it. When your child is old enough to talk you need to ask them about the story and just talk about what happened. Just doing that is HUGE!

Give kids exposure to new experiences. You do not need money to do this. Visit the park, grocery store, museum, or anywhere really and set out to make it a learning experience. Comment on the birds you see or the color of the clouds. It really doesn’t matter what you are doing. Maybe getting the tires changed on the car, you could talk about how a car has four tires. Lets count them, 1, 2, 3, 4 then compare…a motorcycle only has 2. Exposure to letters, print, and numbers is important. If you are going to watch TV make it educational and watch it with them to a certain extent. TV can be great to put on while you are making dinner but you better know what that TV is saying to them. If you are hoping it is teaching them something then you need to at least follow up and say “So what was the letter of the day on Sesame Street today?”

These are things that grandparents and parents can do but you know what I love most about what grandparents can give to their grandkids is a stress free environment full of love. Life can get busy for parents when they have bills to pay, kids to take care of, houses to clean, jobs to maintain, and more and kids feel all of that. What I love most about when my son is with his grandparents is that he doesn’t have to feel any of that. They put everything aside for my little boy and just make him feel loved. They say Yes I will play with you now, read to you, or go on a walk with you. Spoil them….definitely but not with toys or gifts….with love and attention. Being with grandparents should feel safe like a home away from home. Grandparents need to share their stories and experiences with their grandkids so they learn their values as well as those of their parents. Kids learn life lessons through experiences and the more they have with quality people the better off they will be!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Education Is Very Important for Your Little Star (Part 2)

Little Stars Academy

The teachers and staff of Little Stars Academy are committed to helping every child develop to their own individual potential in an atmosphere that fosters a balance between each child’s social, physical, intellectual and emotional development. We provide a well-balanced curriculum supported by a professional staff dedicated to encouraging each child to reach their maximum potential.

Oma’s interview with Jessica, the founder of “Little Stars Academy Temecula”  continues. (See Part 1 here)  

Question Two of Three:

Oma: Please give us the “The Little Star” story – the when, why, how . . . . .

Jessica: After having my own son I ended up working as a part-time job share teacher for 3 years. I loved the kids that I worked for and the parents I met but I quickly started to dislike the system. I experienced an environment where many coworkers were not there to put kids first, were not there to help shape lives, or to help them learn the things they needed to know. I experienced bad and in some cases downright scary teachers, principals who honestly cared more about bullying staff then they did about changing a school’s culture, and a district that was determined to change the system every year just because they could. I knew in my heart as much as I loved my school that I would never send my son there. I couldn’t stand the idea of not being comfortable with him being in every classroom on campus.

I started to look elsewhere for job options and school setting for my son. I became involved in the would be start-up of a charter school for our community that just never seemed to go anywhere or get enough support. My amazing partner teacher who knew of my frustrations finally encouraged me to look into starting a private school. When I did I discovered that it actually could be a possibility.

I am a strong believer in the importance of a good foundation in kindergarten and 1st grade. Kindergarten today is essentially what 1st grade used to be. Kids learn to read in kindergarten now and if a child enters kinder without preschool they start out at a disadvantage. I also believe in small class sizes, which with budget cuts you will not find often. I wanted a school that provided that strong foundation in a small group setting that kept learning fun and engaging. I wanted a place where I could connect with parents and help them learn to help their children.

So with the help of my husband and the dream of the school that I would want for my own child we started putting the steps into motion in November 2011 while I was still working in public school. We started looking for a location and I started researching curriculums. We worked on the website, handbooks, and our philosophy for the school. In March of 2012 we moved into the space and started painting, building, and buying. We began taking appointments for tours and started to take students for our first year.

The 2012-2013 we had 6 kindergarteners and 1 first grader. We were a tight group from the beginning and the thing I loved most about our group that every child in there was there because their parents were looking for something unique and as special as their child was. Isn’t that exactly what I wanted for my son? It totally was. One of my former parent volunteers came to work with me. She is honestly the most hardworking dedicated person that I have ever known. She homeschooled two of her own children and knew the basics of teaching but set to work that year learning everything she could about what the kids needed and how to present the information in a beneficial and meaningful way. Once again I found the most enjoyment out of teaching and guiding her to be a better teacher!

Overall the year was hard, scary, and stressful but amazing at the same time. Going into our 2nd year we have 23 students in transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, and 1st grade.

What makes Little Stars better than public school is that we cater to each child. I often compare it to homeschooling but with a real teacher and peers in the mix. Each child in getting a variation of the Common Core Standards at the level they need. In public school most of the kids are being taught at the exact same level because there are so many kids in the class that the teacher could not possibly teach at all the levels needed. 

Most of the time you teach to the majority of your class and then work your butt off to bring up the low kids leaving the high kids to fend for themselves because you know they are fine and are not going to fail. It is these kids that I always felt the most disservice to because I would wonder if I really ever challenged them, ever taught them anything that they didn’t already know. Our small class environment means that we get a lot more work done in less time, which leaves more time with the subjects like science and social studies. These are the subjects that are often getting left behind in public school. 

With our multi-age peers in the room the kids are learning how to be more responsible like the older kids and more caring to the younger kids. We teach about respect, courtesy, and kindness not just about the academics.

(The Last Installment - Part Three – Will be Published Next Week)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Education Is Very Important
for Your Little Star

One of the greatest regrets Oma has in childrearing
 is not taking her sons out of public school.

According to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), there's a number of reasons some parents are choosing the pricier option. These include high academic achievement (the National Center for Education Statistics has found that private school students in grades 4, 8 and 12 score well above the national average in reading, math, science and writing), a safe environment, high parent and teacher satisfaction levels, a focus on civics, community service and a values-based setting.

If only I knew then what I understand now . . . . . . As a new Oma (Dutch for Grandmother), I do not wish to make that same mistake twice. After interacting with a child who has attended “Little Stars Academy Temecula,” Oma hopes that Reef Indy can someday attend this excellent learning milieu. 

Little Stars Academy Temecula
Little Stars Academy Temecula

During her research, Oma interviewed Jessica, the founder of Little Stars. The best part of that interview will be presented in several installments. Please take the time to read what this innovative educator has to say. It will positively change your life and the lives of your children and/or grandchildren significantly. Much of her advice, covered in part three of this series, can be accomplished with little or no monetary cost.

Question One of Three:

Oma: How was your experience as a traditional teacher? 


Jessica: I have been teaching for eight years. Six years teaching public school kindergarten in a rural, program improvement (means the school had test scores that No Child Left Behind Act deemed as failing), low socio-economic, high English as a second language population school. I started teaching at the public school the first year that it was in its program improvement status, which meant that the school was in for a lot of changes. The school became part of a grant program called Reading First where we were given an academic coach and a lot of training. As teachers we were expected to follow the curriculum exactly as it was laid out with no deviations. The premise of the Reading First program was that if you follow the program, you would see results. So I set out to do just that.

I was fortunate to have a partner teacher who had many years’ experience teaching preschool and kindergarten and was very well known and respected in the community. In that first year together we changed everything about the way kindergarten was taught in that school. My partner was so supportive and open to every new idea that I had. We taught the program exactly as designed and definitely got results. Pretty soon our kindergarten was scoring some of the best test results in the district. In my 2nd year of teaching I became a model teacher. Other kindergarten teachers in our district would come to observe my implementation of the program. This was such a great experience for me. I enjoyed helping teachers, learning from them, and making their lives a little easier. I came to respect and understand how important it was for a teaching staff to work as a team and be on the same page. (More about this later & why I left public school 

I learned from him about our community and that the most important thing you could give to any student was love, understanding, and a safe place to be because the bottom line was that a lot of our kids didn’t get that at home. He had always done home visits as a preschool teacher because it was required and continued to do them in kindergarten. I watched the relationship that he developed with kids and parents, the way they trusted him, and let him in to their homes no matter what their home life was like. I learned that gaining the trust of your student’s parent was the best way to get results and make a difference for them. I learned early on that I loved kindergarten so much because you were laying the foundation of schooling for kids and parents in so many ways. I learned that I loved educating the parents and helping them help their kids just as much as I loved teaching.

(Part Two – Will be Published Next Week)