Powerful Letter to Teachers

Newtown Commemorates One Month Anniversary Of Elementary School MassacreAs educators, it’s our sworn obligation to comfort, educate, and protect young minds. As the new school year began, we never forget the awful tragedy that happened in Sandy Hook Elementary school.

This mother wrote a powerful letter addressing all teachers. Her letter, which was posted on the Education Week website is powerful, and gut-wrenching, and encouraging all in one. Read it after the jump.

As another school year begins and old routines settle back into place, I wanted to share my story in honor of the teachers everywhere who care for our children.

I lost my 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace on Dec. 14, 2012, in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My son, who was in the building and heard the shooting, survived.Newtown Commemorates One Month Anniversary Of Elementary School Massacre

While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other, and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith, and love.

As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith, and love.

It takes guts to be a teacher. Six brave women gave their lives trying to protect their students at Sandy Hook. Other teachers were forced to run from the building, stepping over the bodies of their friends and colleagues, and they came right back to work.

When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, “Because they are my kids. And my students need me now more than ever.” She sent daily updates on my son’s progress, from his behavior to what he’d eaten for lunch. And four months later, when my son finally smiled one day after school, I asked him about it. His response? “Mom. My teacher is so funny. I had an epic day.”

While I pray you will never find yourself in the position of the teachers at Sandy Hook, your courage will support students like my son, who have lived through traumas no child should have to.

Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow.

When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher, or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools.

Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow, but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts.

Have faith that your hard work is having a profound impact on your students. Of the 15,000 personal letters I received after the shooting, only one stays at my bedside. It’s from my high school English teacher, Robert Buckley.

But you can’t be courageous or step out on faith without a deep love for what you do.

Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall. Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all.

When my son returned to school in January, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Imagine the difficulty in sending your surviving child into a classroom when you lost your baby in a school shooting. We sent him because we didn’t want him to be afraid.

 We sent him because we wanted him to understand that while our lives would never be the same, our lives still needed to move forward.

According to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly half of America’s children will have suffered at least one childhood trauma before the age of 18. They need your love.

A few weeks before the shooting, Ana Grace and I shared a special morning. Lunches were packed and clothes were picked out the night before, so we had extra time to snuggle. And while I lay in bed with my beautiful caramel princess, she sensed that I was distracted and asked, “What’s the matter, Mom?” I remember saying to her, “Nothing, baby. It’s just work.” She looked at me for a very long time with a thoughtful stare, then she told me, “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom.”

As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry.


Having fun Outside – in the Dark

15-Ways--DarkWhen we were younger, we loved playing outside! In today’s society, we should still love to play outside even if the sun did go down! Here are 15 ways in which you have a thrilling time at night!
  1. Flashlights are fun! Give the kids flashlights and take a look around. Much fun can be had by simply exploring with a flashlight. What looks different at night?
  2. Flashlight tag. Tag players using the beam of light, or simply play tag with flashlights to guide the way.
  3. Flashlight limbo. How low can you go? Two people, holding flashlights, face each other and make a steady beam of light for others to limbo under.
  4. Catch the light. Shine the light around and allow your child / children to “chase” the light as it shines on an object or surface. As they’re about to “catch it” simply move it again!
  5. Catching shadows. You can have a lot of fun just by simply chasing your shadow. If you have a porch light that shines out towards your backyard, you’re set for chasing your shadow!
  6. Shadow puppets. Shine a light onto the side of your house or fence to set the stage for an evening of puppet shows.
  7. Catch lightening bugs.
  8. Put a spin on some classic games. How much fun is “Red Light, Green Light” or “Duck, Duck, Goose” in the dark? Lots, actually.
  9. Glow in the dark dancing. Put on shows for one another, or simply rock out with glow sticks.
  10. Hide and seek with glow sticks. One person hides a glow stick and then all of the others try to find it. The person that finds it first gets to hide it again.
  11. Hunt for glow sticks. Hide a bunch of glow sticks all throughout the yard and let the kids hunt for them.
  12. Flashlight hunt. One player hides an object, like a rubber duck, and the others try to find it using their flashlights.
  13. Build a campfire. Listen to music. Play cards. Cuddle. Make s’mores.
  14. Tell spooky stories. But maybe not too spooky.
  15. Tell stories with constellations. Show your children a few constellations and then ask them if they can find any pictures in the stars. Ask them to tell you more about the object they see. Can they make up a story about it? Can you?

Thanks for these awesome tips Joyce from Childhood Beckons!

iPad: Powerful Tool?


Pre-Primary or Social Pedagogy?

We were asked what suited us better as Educators… Pre-Primary or Social pedagogy?

Children Around the World

Children Around the World

With this in, The ELECT Document stresses more on Social Pedagogy rather than Pre-Primary.

Pre-primary is often understood as a foundation to organized instructions,

“Traditional Pre-primary programmes are often understood as the initial stage of organized instruction” (ELECT, page 80).Pre-primary is more of a teacher directed approach, “Group sizes are large, ratios are high, programmes are mainly teacher directed, the emphasis is on standards and the evaluation of same” (ELECT, page 81) and whereas Social Pedagogy is structured, but also is “freely”.

For example, you can see the difference between Pre-Primary,

“A focus on learning standards, especially in areas useful for school readiness. Teacher child relationships tend to be instrumentalized through reaching for detailed curriculum goals” (ELECT, page 107)

and Social Pedagogy,

“Focus on broad developmental goals as well as learning are stressed, interactivity with educators and peers encouraged and the quality of life in the institution is given high importance” (ELECT, page 107).

Healthy Planet

Healthy Planet

“Traditionally, the Nordic countries have benefited from strong structural supports (desirable child-staffratios, adequate training, resources and materials) that have allowed them to fully engage in the SocialPedagogy approach. Those countries exemplifying the Social Pedagogic approach tend to have ratios ofapproximately 1:5-8 for the 3-6 year old age group, maximum group sizes of 20, high levels of trainedstaff, staff trained on an equal par with primary school teachers; i.e., 3-4 yr. university degrees” (ELECT, page 81).The ELECT just doesn’t focus on the education aspect, but instead also focuses on the child as a whole (Their family, community, culture, etc.).

Pre-Primary or Social Pedagogy?

Social Pedagogy

Social Pedagogy


iPads within Education

We as Early Childhood Educators and teachers are all looking at different possibilities on how we can expand a child or children’s learning through several different ways and implementations; why not start with something such as a tablet? iPads are amazing new tablets that was introduced in 2009 by Apple Inc. iPads are 241.2 mm in height and by 185.7 mm in width and weighing under less than two pounds. With such an outstanding breakthrough in technology, such a simple, light device, we can change the way education is taught to children.

As educators, we plant the seeds of knowledge and water the seeds with our scaffolding in the way we educate and practice our philosophy. 

Not only are iPads a great use for older students, but also beneficial to younger children. New applications for the iPad are being released, which are catered to educating young children. Such simple, yet enjoyable and interactive applications are: Word Magic, Clifford’s BE BIG, Toontastic, and Highlights Hidden Pictures. These applications for the iPad are developmentally appropriate, yet able to provide interactive hypermedia and hypertext.

When children are playing, they’re learning, whether we as adults don’t want to believe it or not. 

Times have changed where education was seen differently 50 years ago and the way education is seen now; especially since theres major differences in generations. For example, today, those who are over the age of 25 probably wear wristwatches while those who are under the age of 25 do not wear any wristwatches, but instead use a phone that is a multi-functional device whereas wristwatches are single function devices. Ken talks about how education is linearity meaning we just go from one point to the next. Today, we all live in a digital world whether we want to believe it or not. With so much new advancements in technology, we might as well use it to benefit ourselves by using it to evolve the way technology can be used inside the classroom. 

Screen Shot 2012-12-06 at 7.30.37 PM

FlowerPower Lite

Flower Power Lite is a simple game that is web-based. You are easily learning math, but at the same time having a fun,interactive time doing it. Nowadays, children play video games a lot when they get home, regardless. If they’re going to play games, if parents allow them, when they get home, why not allow your children to play educational, purposeful games?

Girl child with iPad

Children who are born now in the 21st century are born into the digital world where we can get information so quickly by mobile devices, especially ones at our finger tips. By providing children with such a tool, iPads allow such information to be accessed easily right at their finger tips.

Why the use of an iPad?
iPads are fitted with such a low screen, high pixel resolution, and don’t weigh a lot, they help a lot within the classroom or even at home. Since iPads aren’t any other normal tablets (that just act as e-readers), iPads are able to be formatted to actually play educational software applications or even become an e-reader. Since iPads are so light weight, it makes them extremely easy to carry around with no hassle at all, yet doubling as a portable textbook that doesn’t weigh over five pounds. A lot of older children use the internet a lot for homework, browsing, or even playing games. With the internet as a useful tool in our educational system, an iPad is a great benefit to enhancing the way children learn by providing new and engaging ways to understand and learn complex concept by gaining access to the internet.

Boy child with iPad

As educators, we can broaden the way we interact with parents throughout our childcare centres and schools. There is a lot of different views on integrating technology into our classrooms and with a lot of new breakthroughs in technology, we can easily incorporate technology in our classroom, however, that’s not always the case for certain educators since they’ve grown up in a century where internet and technology had no use, or has been expanded as to what it is today. According to a father, Avi Savar,

“I have come to enjoy the time my daughter and I spend playing together on my iPad.  We have curated a terrific library of apps that bring smiles, songs, new words, letters, shapes and colors into her world.  I am constantly amazed by how quickly she learns the nuances of a particular app and is able to fly solo within minutes of launching a new one.  She’s only two and half years old but can navigate an iPad more effectively than my mother in law” (Content to Commerce, 2010).

As an educator myself, I believe we can incorporate the way technology has evolved into are classrooms with such simple devices such as an iPad. If children under three years of age has the capability of playing around with an electronic device, what does that mean for children who are a lot older? I am a strong believer in play and how play allows children to learn; allowing an iPad to help children “play” indeed allows them to develop developmentally appropriate. With such a digital culture we are all in now, there is no way we as educators can ignore technology.


Davis, B. L (2012 March). Arguments for the iPad in Education. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://edtechpower.blogspot.ca/2012/03/arguments-for-ipad-in-education.html

Savar, A. (2010 November). Content to Commerce: 40 Educational iPad Apps for Kids. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://c2c.bigfuel.com/fuel/40-educational-ipad-apps-for-kids/