A Fruitful Inaugural School Year
When I decided to join Ya Ya last summer, I knew what a school year entails particularly for a brand new preschool in Manhattan. There certainly has never been a dull moment since we started our very first school year in September 2022. However, I can proudly say that this is the most fulfilling, exciting, and joyful year I have ever experienced throughout my career in education. At our end-of-year staff celebration, I took a moment to savor the bits and pieces we have all experienced during the past year over some delicious crepes our team made together. Now, I’d like to share these fond memories with all of you.
Fall 2022 marked the beginning of Ya Ya Preschool. We welcomed our first group of children and as anyone could imagine, the first week of school was filled with tears, potty accidents, adjustments to the new routine, you name it. Based on my past experience, I was ready to deal with the typical chaos of the beginning of a school year for at least a few weeks. However, to my surprise, the separation anxiety was all gone the second week and by the end of September, the children had started to follow the routines without constant reminders. Through the topics of my body, community helpers, and city, the children were given the opportunities to settle into the new school year and develop the key skills in all areas while being immersed in content that is most relevant to them. Coming December, the children had started to call Ya Ya their home and many friendships had begun to sprout.
As the winter rolled around, everyone was busy studying the significance of Lunar New Year and getting ready for our big Lunar New Year celebration with all families. The children helped their teachers decorate the whole school by creating traditional new year projects. Our teachers and staff became actors and they took time out of their busy day to film our original Rabbit Year story. Since supporting Chinese culture and heritage is one of our core missions, we also partnered with institutions such as MOCA and the New York Public Library to host offsite Lunar New Year story time. It felt amazing to have a wider impact.
Spring time has always been my favorite period of the school year because I usually witness significant growth in the children and the nicer weather allows us to do more activities beyond the classroom walls. As a part of our bugs topic, we brought in real caterpillars so the children can take care of them and see how they become butterflies. When learning about transportation, the children went to Hall des Lumières and saw the destination cosmos exhibition. During Fleet Week, our education team went to the pier and live streamed from the ship so the children could meet the sailors and see what's on a real ship. We concluded the school year with visits from a couple of families to talk about their family culture, a fun pizza picnic, a performance for our families, and a community potluck.
There were numerous challenges we had to overcome during the past school year but seeing how much the children have grown makes it all worth it. We couldn’t have asked for a better first year and we can’t wait for the next and even better one!
CLICK the right arrow to enjoy the slideshow that includes photos from the last month of school (For photos from the previous months, please read through the rest of Monna’s Scoop).
Incorporating food projects in topic learning stations is a smart way to get children excited and learn concepts in a hands-on way while training their life skills. After observing a real airplane model and discussing the components of an airplane, Ya Ya Learners created their own planes with bananas and fruit loops.
Airplane Food Project
Skills Children Learned:
Math: Counting banana pieces and fruit loops with one-to-one correspondence
Social and Emotional: Following teacher’s directions and sharing the materials with each other
Cognitive: Using bananas and fruit loops to represent their idea of an airplane
Language: Describing different parts of an airplane using Mandarin
Physical: Learning how to use a plastic knife to cut bananas into pieces. Using fine motor skills to assemble the airplanes
Each child was given a banana, a paper plate, and a plastic knife. There was also a plate of fruit loops for the table to share
Children cut their bananas into pieces. Some of them chose to cut the bananas into big chunks, others cut them into thin chips or semi-cycles
Children assembled the banana pieces and fruit loops together
The teacher went around the table and asked each child to talk about how they made their airplane
Meet Candice Laoshi, one of our head teachers. Growing up, Candice always wanted to become a teacher because watching children grow, laugh, and learn brings her most joy. Candice holds a master’s degree in curriculum and teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. And she is also preparing to start her second master’s in early childhood education. In her spare time, Candice enjoys sports, exercising, and tasting coffee from around the world.
Candice Laoshi in Action - Reading <The Ugly Vegetables>