Dublin Preschool


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The Benefits of Butterscotch

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Two months ago, after much hesitation, I made the leap to adopt a classroom pet.  Over the course of my years at Dublin Community Preschool, we have had many pets – fish of all varieties, hermit crabs, hamsters, rats, a rabbit and a number of guinea pigs that we fostered from the Monadnock Humane Society.  The purpose of the MHS fostering program was to find permanent homes for the pets, which we mostly did with great success.  It was a win-win relationship.  And then, after a number of years, we took a break from pets – but it felt like something was missing.

It was time to try again.  So, after a visit to the Animal Rescue League of NH, I brought a two-year-old female guinea pig home to DCP.

Butterscotch was received with great joy and much curiosity.  What has followed has been heartwarming.

We set up her cage in the quiet reading area of our classroom.  Within a day, we witnessed both before- school children and preschoolers trying to read to her.  We now offer lap time every morning where children can quietly cuddle with her or choose to read her a story.

We often witness children leaving the busier areas of the classroom to share their worries and concerns through the bars of her cage and though there may only be the twitch of a furry nose or the tiniest of squeaks in response to sometimes elaborate conversations, the children leave feeling better for having shared an emotional burden with a non judgmental friend.

She has evoked so much curiosity.  The children are always observing her actions- noticing what she likes to eat or which are her favorite areas to be scratched or patted.  They wonder what she is thinking.  Many have included her in their artwork.  They are completely in tune with her and often show as much concern for her as any of their peers.  She is included in our morning circle song and recognized right along with the rest of her human friends.  As we eat snack, the children ask to save leftover veggies for her instead of throwing them away.  She goes home with children on weekends and holidays creating a deeper home-school connection for many.

When we contemplated the pros and cons of having a classroom pet again, we never expected that we would be getting a literacy advocate, a therapist and a new friend.


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Rediscovering the Magic of the Woods

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As a long time educator of young children, I have always understood the importance of outside play time – but it is so easy to get stuck in patterns without stepping back and asking yourself why.  It took an inspiring workshop this fall to open my eyes again to the possibilities of expanding our outside experiences with the children.  Though there is certainly value to traditional playground equipment, the Dublin Community Preschool has now expanded its outside play space to include time exploring the woods.

In the last month, what we have witnessed has been astounding.  Behavior issues we were seeing in the classroom that often carried over on to the playground are somehow left behind when we enter the woods.  We see spontaneous cooperation and teamwork.  The shyest of the shy come alive and display confidence in the woods.  And no matter the personality of the child, there is something special there for everyone.  The undirected play that happens in the woods has strengthened their imaginations and creativity and we have already seen this carry over into all of their play, no matter where they are, inside and out.

The feedback from parents is that our time in the woods is what they hear about even though it’s a short portion of their child’s day.

It is a magical time for the teachers too, and has helped us all remember what was most important in our early lives.  We are grateful to be able to give this important connection to nature back to the children and we hope it will carry over into home time as well.

“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this earth…these are the moments when the world is made whole.”  – Richard Louv, The Last Child in the Woods

 

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