Monday, November 29, 2010

Staffing Changes


Dear Preschool Families,

Today there were some staffing changes made to your child’s preschool classroom. Due to increase enrollment we have had some staffing movement. The following are the changes in your child’s preschool classroom:

Shannon Conroy, who was a teaching assistant in the Lucky Duck room, is now a full time teacher in the Puppy Pal classroom. Shannon just recently finished her Master’s Degree in Special Education from Northeastern University. As many of you may already know Shannon has been with us for two years. Last year she was our permanent substitute where she had the pleasure of working in every classroom and got to know all of the children. When she returned in September she became the instructional assistant in the Lucky Duck classroom. Shannon is an extremely knowledgeable development specialist and will be an asset to the Puppy Pal room. Shannon and Tiffany will co-teach the Puppy Pal room. If your child was already a Puppy Pal Tiffany will continue to be your contact person for all educational needs. If your child is new to the Puppy Pal classroom then Shannon will be your contact person. The Puppy Pal classroom will continue to run in the same manner and there will be no disruption to the high quality of instruction students were and will continue to receive. We have just put another very talented set of hands in that room to support the needs of the students. Lori and Liz will continue to be in that room on a daily basis as well. The only change to the Puppy Pal room is that we have added a second teacher.

I would like to welcome Amanda Nasta to the Lucky Duck Classroom. Amanda will take over Shannon’s spot in the room and will work with Katie and Moira. Amanda has her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Needs and has several years experience working with Thom Mystic Valley Early Intervention. Julie Elios who is a teaching assistant in the Cub Cadet classroom in the morning will now work full time and she will become the teaching assistant in the afternoon session of the Lucky Ducks. Just to recap in the morning session of the Lucky Ducks will be Katie, Amanda and Moira. In the afternoon the staffing will be Katie, Amanda and Julie. Meghan, permanent substitute, will also be in the classroom from time to time but will also help to support other rooms.

I feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful and highly qualified team of developmental specialist that will continue to provide the highest quality of education to all students. .

If you have any concerns or questions about the staffing changes please don’t hesitate to give me a call.
I can be reached at 781-273-7632 or d’

Louise D’Amato

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Importance of Social Skills

I get asked a lot of questions about what children will learn while they are at the Burlington Integrated Preschool. Even though we have a heavy emphasis on literacy development one of the biggest things we do is develop Social skills. I found this article and thought it was worth sharing. Source:

Children Need Social and Emotional Skills for School Success

Last Updated: March 18, 2010

Image:5 children jumping outside winter 300 pixels.<span class=jpg" width="300" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">Being ready for kindergarten is more than just learning letters and numbers. Children also need social and emotional skills to succeed in school. Kindergarten teachers tell us that it is hard to teach children who are not interested in learning, lack confidence in their own abilities and have trouble cooperating and controlling themselves.

When you ask almost anyone what children need to be able to do to be successful in school, they will say ABCs, colors and numbers. Surprisingly, you’ll hear a very different answer if you ask a preschool or kindergarten teacher.

Kindergarten teachers say it is the social and emotional skills that children need to be a success in school. More and more children are entering school without these critical skills. States across the nation report that between 20 and 49 percent of children entering school are not ready to learn.

Kindergarten teachers tell us that it is hard to teach children who are not interested in learning, lack confidence in their own abilities and have trouble cooperating and controlling themselves. Intellectual skills are less of a problem, they say, because they are more easily solved. To succeed in school, children need a sense of personal well-being that is created from stable, caring relationships at home and in child care in the early years. Quality child care can make a difference. Studies of school achievement have consistently shown that high quality child care can get children off to the right start.

Child care providers can help preschool children need to develop these social and emotional skills in order to be ready for school:

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  • Ability to follow directions
  • Ability to focus attention
  • Ability to take turns
  • Ability to control themselves
  • Ability to solve problems with words rather than through aggression
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to work in a group
  • Age-appropriate social skills and ability to make friends
  • Skills communicating with other children
  • Skills communicating with adults

The best way to help children develop these skills is to offer them a balance of “child choice time,” such as free play, and time to be in small groups when they’re asked to work together. Children learn important social and emotional skills when they have to solve problems that arise in play with others. With the guidance and support of their caregivers, children can face these problems and learn the skills needed to be successful in school and in life. While you should give some time to large group activities that you lead, keep this time active and short.

Monday, November 22, 2010

5 Little Turkeys

School will close on Wednesday November 24th at 11:30. There will be no afternoon session of preschool on Wednesday. School will remain closed on Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving.

The staff of the Burlington Integrated Preschool wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. Take time to enjoy your family and friends.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


After much debate and discussion we have decided to revise our birthday celebration procedure. The following guidelines are to be followed for all food celebrations:

All children should be able to participate.

No food items can be sent in without prior approval from the classroom teacher.

The classroom teacher will review all ingredients and make sure that every students can eat the item being sent in and participate in the celebration.

Some suggestions for treats are, apple sauce, Popsicle's, jello, fruits and vegetables. Small juice boxes or waters to drink.

Individual classroom's have suggestions of appropriate snacks items to share.

Bottom line is that all students should be able to safely participate in the celebration. Please check with your child's classroom teacher for a list of acceptable items that can be sent in.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

November 19th

Parent conferences will be held on Friday, November 19. There will be no school for students on this day. This is a day that you can schedule a time to meet with your child's classroom teacher to discuss progress. Please see your child's teacher to schedule a time to meet. Please remember this is a time to discuss your child's progress, and children should not be present during this time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sign Language is for Children with Special Needs! How can sign language help

I found this article today and thought it was worth sharing. It does a nice job explaining the importance of giving young children a tool to communicate. For some students that tool can be sign language. At the end of the article it has resources for families and educators to learn basic signs.

By Etel Leit, MS

Web site:

Children of all abilities can reap the rewards of learning sign language, especially children with special needs. In fact, as parents and professionals who interact with children with special needs know, often the frustration that children can experience is rooted in their difficulty with communicating effectively. Signing is a great way to help your child build a working vocabulary to assist with communication and ease frustration.

Children with all types of disabilities can benefit from learning American Sign Language (ASL), including autism, Down Syndrome, apraxia, speech and language delays, Cerebral Palsy, and many others.

~From Sheila, a mom to a 5 years old boy with cerebral palsy:
“Eugene attempted to sign “help” today because he wanted juice. I asked him if he needed help and he partially began the sign. I was excited. I wanted to say that I truly believe Eugene is attempting to verbalize more spontaneously since coming to SignShine. He says hi, Mama, Ma clearly now. Sometimes it is just syllables of the word, but that is a start. He isn’t sounding like a ventriloquist like he normally does. He seems to be attempting to move his lips to talk rather than using his throat only. I think what is happening is that the signing is awakening an area of his brain that has been dormant for so long. I guess you could attribute some success as well as his muscles simply beginning to develop, but I think it is more that the area of the brain responsible for speech has been stimulated with the signing and his neurotransmitters are able to send the signals, although staggered. I am hopeful and excited about the level of success I am seeing”.

Signing empowers children with special needs by offering them a multitude of cognitive, emotional, and social benefits, including:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Increased speech and language development
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Increased social-interactions
  • Reduced negative behaviors
  • Creation of a more peaceful learning environment

How Can Signing Help?

Signing can be used anywhere and everywhere…with no equipmentneeded! Here are just some of the many areas that signing can assist with your child’s communication skills:

At home:

  • making requests: eat, drink, more, play, music, all done, sleep
  • decreasing inappropriate behaviors (communicating wants and needs, explaining to your child what is going to happen “time to go to the bathroom”)
  • during routines (getting dressed, going to bed)
  • expressing pain or sickness
  • can teach other family members and caregivers (siblings, grandma, grandpa)

In school:

  • communicating with the teacher or aides
  • expressing learned concepts, such as colors, shapes, and numbers
  • conveying desires (choosing lunch items, a preferred book, or need for a break)
  • developing peer relationships
  • decreasing frustration

In social situations:

  • building peer relationships
  • requesting items (“my turn”, “please”)
  • increasing appropriate social behaviors and interactions
  • providing a communication tool between peers with and without disabilities

Etel Leit, MS is the founder and owner of SignShine, the largest parenting and signing center for hearing children in Southern California, and the publisher of, an international signing resource for parents and caregivers. Etel is devoted to work with parents, babies, children and professionals, and has 19 years of experience in the field. Etel’s organization was voted as Best of LA Parents Magazine Summer of 2009. She has published articles in professional newsletters, and on parenting websites, including Opposing Views,, and her work has been profiled by several periodicals and online news agencies, including and Etel’s television appearances include features by NBC Brian Williams Evening News, KTLA Morning Show and Fox 11 Morning News.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ideas To Promote Literacy In The Home

This You Tube video has great ideas for things to do at home that promote early literacy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

i Pads

Over the summer the Burlington Integrated Preschool was fortunate enough to purchase four i pad's. As a team we spent lots of time researching appropriate applications and how to introduce them to young learners. At the present time, we are using the i pads for several different purposes. For some children they are exploring the i pads and working on applications that enhance early skills such as letter, number and color recognition. We have purchased applications that work on learning how to form letters and numbers and create puzzles. All of these applications are working on development of visual perception skills. However, one of the most exciting ways we are using the i pads and applications is to work on enhancement of communication skills. For some of our students the i pads have become their voice and they are using them to communicate wants and needs and to interact with their peers. We are also using i pads to work on facilitation of both receptive and expressive communication skills. The children are enjoying using the i pads and developing lots of great skills.

Down by the Bay


The children will be singing this song at school this week. Sing it with them and point out the words that rhyme. After you finish singing the song see if you can find other words that rhyme around the house. For example, pan/fan , sock/lock, bed/red etc..

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Professional Development

Today the staff of the Burlington Integrated Preschool spent the day with consultants from HILL Literacy. We have had the pleasure of having Dr. Linda Camp and Etta Rosen support us as we have implemented our new curriculum, Opening the World to Learning (OWL). Today we worked on assessment and how we meet the needs of the diverse group of learners that we work with in the integrated preschool. We spent much of the morning reviewing data that has been collected on each individual child and aligned their needs with early literacy rubrics. This work will help support the teachers when figuring out groupings for instruction. We examined how we are introducing new concepts and teaching students to ensure we are optimizing all opportunities for language and literacy development.

In the afternoon we reviewed the different types of assessment tools we use and fine tuned them so that they were also connected to the OWL curriculum. We will begin working on revamping our progress reports as well as our portfolio assessments. One of our short term goals is that we are able to complete the revamping of progress reports for the end of the year. Portfolio collection will change tomorrow and teacher's will be collecting some standardized things to show growth over a period of time. We will also use portfolios to share individual growth in all developmental domains. Portfolios may have a photograph of your child using beginning writing skills in the dramatic play area, or a picture of a fantastic structure they have spent a lot of time creating. We will also find a way to document social growth and development in order to do this we might video tape your child socially interacting with peers. As a team we concluded that these type of assessments will be more meaningful than if your child could complete a pattern several times through out the year.
The day was very successful and as a team we are working hard to ensure the needs of all learners are being met.

We would like to thank the Fox Hill School for providing us with a home for the day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

No School

School will be closed on Tuesday November 2nd for professional development. The staff of the Burlington Integrated Preschool will participate in a training for the day on Early Literacy Development.