Kicking Off the Inaugural School Year
September 12, 2022 is meaningful to many of us. To the children and the families in our school, it is the first day they embark on their joyful early childhood learning journey here at Ya Ya. To our founders, it is the first day, after many months of hard work, that they open a portal that transports returning and new students to a place where they learn all content areas in Mandarin with loving and caring teachers. To me, after many years working in a school leadership role, it marks a new chapter of my early childhood career where I am on the ground again, rolling up my sleeves to shape a tight-knit new school community.
With so much excitement and more, we welcomed our first group of preschoolers. Just as we expected, the first few weeks presented us with the challenge of separation anxiety. What surprised us was how quickly the children adjusted! By the second week, most of them came in with a big smile and dived right into learning our first topic, My Amazing Body (奇妙的身體). There were countless proud moments during the past several weeks and I’d like to invite you to join me in looking back and celebrating some of the unforgettable highlights.
"我愛黄班!(Yellow Class) 我喜歡去有草和有樹的公園。Cindy老師我愛你！ - Yellow Class Child
English translation: “I love our Yellow Class and my favorite thing to do is to visit the park with lots of trees and grass. I love you, Cindy Laoshi!"
Connecting with the Community
Community engagement is at the heart of our school culture. One of the things I’ve missed the most since the pandemic is to connect with families and fellow educators in person. So, we were really excited when HRP Mamas and Cocoon invited us to join their Early Education Fairs. At these events, we saw many familiar faces and we were able to share our insights on Mandarin learning in an early childhood setting with new families.
This fall, we also resumed our partnership with the New York Public Library by hosting a series of Mandarin story and music time at Chatham Square Library. I have the pleasure of leading these story events and I can’t wait for Wednesday to arrive each week because I get to read Eric Carle’s story, sing Chinese songs, and laugh with the children. There are a couple more sessions taking place on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. until 11/16. Come visit us if you are available!
As a Mandarin Immersion preschool, we are actively involved in the early childhood community in the city. When reached out by Columbia Teachers College with the request to have their international graduate students visit our school, we happily agreed to welcome them so they can see for themselves what a preschool with a language immersion component looks like. Thinking back to the time when I was pursuing my graduate degrees in early childhood education and language education, I found school observations most useful because they gave me a window into a day in the life of teachers and children. We are proud that our school can be a resource for early childhood educators who are developing and refining their practices.
“Thank you for opening your doors to us! I was so impressed with how much thought and care has gone into every detail at your site. From the interactive materials to the specially designed curriculum, you have kept the needs and interests of your children fully in focus. Looking forward to working with you more in the future!” - Dr. Lara S. Mullarkey, Early Childhood Program, Teachers College, Columbia University
Celebrating the Fall Season
Fall is the season of giving. To us, it is important to give families in our community a venue to connect with each other. Therefore, we transformed our school into an imaginary farm and hosted our very first Fall in Love with Ya Ya fall festival event. Children had a blast picking apples, pumpkins, and feeding animals on the “Ya Ya Farm” (芽芽農場). What a meaningful way to usher in the fall season!
Shortly after joining the Ya Ya team, I learned that Ya Ya teachers and staff have a track record of putting together the most detailed and creative Halloween costumes. Why am I not surprised? If you remember the photos of our experience room and fall event setup from earlier, you will know the answer. Our teachers are the brains behind all the design and they work their magic to make these scenarios and props a reality for our children. This Halloween, we each picked an occupation in order to match our next topic, What Job Do You Like? (你喜歡甚麼工作?). We took the children out for our first Ya Ya Halloween Neighborhood Walk and received lots of applause along the way. At the end, children went trick or treating (不給糖就搗蛋) in our purple room and they each got a goodie bag with Mandarin oranges.