Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Open House

The Burlington Early Childhood Center will be hosting an Open House on Friday, January 20, 2012 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Burlington High School - where the programs are located. This Open House provides families with an opportunity to view the programs, meet the teachers and pickup registration packets to enroll their children for next year. Students must be 3 years old by August 31, 2011. For more information call Sandy at 781-270-1808.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Break

The Burlington Early Childhood Center will be closed until Tuesday January 3, 2012. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday break.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



Dear Preschool Families,

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some changes that will be taking place at the Burlington Early Childhood Center in January of 2012. Dr. Cath Estep, Director of Pupil Services, will retire from the Burlington Public Schools in February of 2012. I have been asked to be the Interim Director of Special Education from January to June. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to learn some new skills, and gain a broader view of the district from pre-k to 22.

In my absence Deborah Clark, Speech-Language Pathologist at the Francis Wyman School, will take over as Interim Director of the Integrated Preschool. Ms. Clark is a well respected speech pathologist who has a strong working knowledge of language based disabilities as well as augmentative communication devices. During the summer time, Ms. Clark serves as one of the directors of the Burlington Public Schools Summer Elementary Literacy Program. In this role she oversees the daily operations of the program, supervises staff and coordinates curriculum. She does this flawlessly every summer.

The transition will take place over the month of January with the full transition in place by the end of the month. Please know that even though I will not be in the preschool on a daily basis, I will only be moving a couple of feet away to central office. If you need to get in touch with me for any reason please send me an email to d’ After January any questions about the daily operations of the program you can email Deborah at

Best wishes for a very happy and healthy holiday season.

Louise D’Amato
Director B.E.C.C

Monday, December 19, 2011

What Does the "Special" in Special Education Mean?

Next month the Burlington Early Childhood Center will hold an open house for families that are interested in attending for the 2012/2013 school year. One of the questions that is asked over and over again is how do you meet the needs of all students, and will my child be challenged? The following article does a nice job explaining what differentiated instruction is and how teachers are able to meet the needs of all learners.

Quiz of the Day: What does the "Special" in Special Education mean?

A. That every child learns in a special way?
B. That every teacher teaches in a special way?
C. That a teacher specializes in educating all kinds of learners?

Actually it's
D. All of the above

What kind of chef are you? How are you in the kitchen?

If I posed this question to all of my friends, I would receive a wide range of responses. Perhaps I would have one group of people who could barely follow the instructions to make a box of macaroni and cheese. Others could probably make eggs and spaghetti but that is the extent of their culinary expertise. Then I would have this top tier of friends who are so amazing in the kitchen that they make their own sauce from scratch! That's how I judge top notch: sauce from scratch.

What does this have to do with learning?

Well, I would never ask my "macaroni friends" to make their own sauce, nor would I toss a box of macaroni to my top tier friends, when I know they could be creating a divine meal from scratch! Let's apply this idea to the classroom.

Four Paths to Differentiation: Content, Delivery of Instruction, Resources, Product and Assessment

These four ideas are interconnected, but to truly understand how to differentiate instruction, it is more manageable to look at them separately.

1. Content: Content is what we teach. It is what we want students to learn, understand and be able to apply as a result of instruction.

2. Delivery of Instruction: Delivery of Instruction is the how of teaching. This can mean how activities are designed to help students make sense of content. Delivery of Instruction also includes the process of teaching and even integrating different co-teaching models if you have multiple adults in the classroom.

3. Resources and Materials: Resources act as the medium through which you teach students. Resources can include texts, supplies, videos, materials, field trips, etc.

4. Product/Assessment: A product is the evidence of learning. It is how the student demonstrates his or her understanding of an idea. A product is a method of assessment, and in a differentiated classroom there are multiple product/assessment styles offered to students.

One Lesson, Four Differentiations

Here's an example. Let's say that in a differentiated classroom, students are learning about communities.

1. Differentiated Content: Some students may be working on developing an understanding of the term "community" by exploring different books, photos and videos about communities. Others might be working on understanding the difference between rural, urban and suburban communities. Here, the content for each group of students is different.

2. Differentiated Delivery of Instruction: A teacher might teach a lesson about the different types of communities by watching a video and taking shared notes. He or she might then pull a group of students and do a read-aloud activity using a book with vivid photographs that show the different types of communities. Here, the students are learning the same content through different learning activities. The instruction is being delivered differently.

3. Differentiated Resources: A teacher might have three groups of students researching communities. One group might be using a series of easy readers and picture books to compile their information, while another group uses higher-level non-fiction text with chapters and features such as glossary and index. Perhaps there is a third group doing independent Internet research. In this case, three groups of students are using appropriate texts in the classroom.

4. Differentiated Products To assess learning, perhaps some students do an oral presentation of their findings, while others create a poster based on their research. Others design a test and answer key on the subject! In this case, student learning is beingdemonstrated in different ways.

The Takeaway

  1. In education, one size does not fit all.
  2. All students deserve and are entitled to appropriate instruction.
  3. We can accommodate in small, simple ways that will support growth in all of our students.
  4. If you have any tips for differentiation -- especially small, simple things we can do -- please share them!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Parent Teacher Conferences

There is no school on Friday December 9, 2011 for parent teacher conferences. If you have not scheduled and appointment for tomorrow please email your classroom teacher to set up an appointment.

Friendly Frogs, Andrea Hayes


Puppy Pals, Tiffany D'Abbracio

Lucky Ducks, Naomi Abelson ***

Busy Bees, Courtney Stratton

Barnyard Buddies, Shannon Conroy

Cub Cadets, Lisa Bottiglio

Spunky Monkeys, Amanda Nasta ******

The Lucky Ducks conferences will be held on Monday December 12, 2011

The Spunky Monkeys will not have conferences tomorrow. This classroom is new and just opened a few weeks ago. Students are still transitioning into the program and learning the routine. Amanda will hold conferences in late January early February. However, she is available at any time to discuss your child.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Learning Through Predictable Books

Learning Through Predictable Books

by Rynette R. Kjesbo, M.S., CCC-SLP

What Are Predictable Books?

Predictable books are books that are written in a way that makes it easy to guess what will happen on the next page. Many predictable books repeat words, phrases, or sentences throughout the text. For example, in the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., the question “What do you see?” and the answer “I see a ___ looking at me.” repeat throughout the entire story. Deborah Guarino’s book Is Your Mama a Llama? is another kind of predictable book that uses rhyme and rhythm to help children solve riddles about animal mothers. Other predictable books build on storylines or sequences that are familiar to children. For example, Cookie’s Week, a story by Cindy Ward, follows the misadventures of a cat through the familiar sequence of the days of the week.

Why Are Predictable Books Important?

There are many benefits that come from reading predictable books with your children. Here are just a few:

• Children learn pre-reading skills. As you begin to read books with your children, they learn pre-reading skills, such as reading from top to bottom, reading from left to right, and turning pages. They also learn that a story has a beginning, middle, and end.

• Children participate in reading. Predictable books are easy to understand and remember. Because of this, children become familiar with predictable books quickly, which allows them to fill in words and phrases when they read the books again.

• Children learn about rhyme and rhythm. Many predictable books use rhyme and rhythm to make them predictable. As a result, children learn these skills as they read and re-read predictable books.

• Children learn inflection in a natural way. We don’t usually speak in just one tone of voice. Inflection is the change between the high tones and low tones in our voices when we speak. Predictable books often have a rhythm that is read with a singsong inflection which is easier for children to imitate.

• Children get additional speech practice. Because words and phrases are repeated in many predictable books, finding a book that repeats your children’s targeted speech sounds can give them additional speech practice as they read.

• Children experience success with reading. Reading predictable books can make children feel successful with the skill of reading. Children who feel successful with reading will want to continue reading.

List of Predictable Books

There are many wonderful predictable books that you can read with your children. Here is just a small sample list. Your local library can assist you in finding more.

An Egg Is an Egg by Nicki Weiss Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

Don’t Climb Out of the Window Tonight by Richard McGilvray

I Went Walking by Sue Williams

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw

My Very Own Octopus by Bernard Most

This Is The Bear by Sarah Hayes

Where Does the Brown Bear Go? by Nicki Weiss

Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen

Who Says That? by Arnold L. Shapiro

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Traditions

Our theme this month in the preschool is family traditions. I came across this article and thought I would share.

Every family has those inside jokes or groan-inducing nicknames that set them apart from the rest of the world. Did you know that those goofy little jokes are actually family rituals? Contrary to what you may think, rituals don't need to be elaborate, fancy or religious, they just need to be meaningful. Even something as simple as a monthly dinner at your family's favorite restaurant or a weekly trip to the park can serve to help your child develop a sense of belonging.

According to Professor Barbara Fiese, PhD., Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Syracuse, simple family rituals serve an important role in creating a child's sense of identity. "For young children in particular, this is really important.. It's sort of the foundation of their sense of identity and it provides a protection from stress," she explains. "All families experience some forms of stress and the expectation for these regular, predictable routines and these meaningful rituals can sort of ease transitions."

Since in today's busy world families face lots of transitions, it's especially important to create some rituals to strengthen a potentially tenuous family bond. "The rituals that we have and that we create are all sort of shorthand for who we are as a group together," says Fiese. So, the jokes that get repeated over and over again until the punchline alone is enough to make your child spurt milk out his nose help your family develop a common sense of humor and history. But those jokes are rarely intentional. Is an artificially-created ritual as powerful as one that occurs spontaneously?

According to William Doherty, author of The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties, all traditions begin as artificially-created experiences. "The issue," he states, "is whether they fill a need and feel good over time." That's where the idea of simple, but meaningful comes in. If your trip to the park was so much fun that your family decided to make it part of a predictable routine, then you've managed to create a ritual without even trying. Though it won't always be that easy to create a family ritual that stands the test of time, both Fiese and Doherty offer some tips of how to create meaningful rituals. Here are some of their thoughts:

  • Identify a few things your family looks forward to doing together. Sometimes these things are obvious, but sometimes they're not. For example, Fiese points out that many families are "plugged in" to music at the same time, but separately. Her suggestion? Create a family playlist. Once you get over the moans and groans, you'll have a chance to learn about each other's tastes.
  • Preserve and modify the rituals you already have. If your current rituals are meeting your family's need for connection, and provide a sense of identity, keep those traditions going however you can. Continuing to have a large dinner together over Thanksgiving is a great ritual, but as time goes on, you may need to move it from Grandma's house to your own. This meets the need for connection, but also can help keep the ritual from becoming stressful.
  • Be flexible. Your family doesn't stay the same over time, so neither should your rituals. As Doherty puts it: "Rituals have their seasons for planting, cultivating, pruning, and harvesting." Evaluate your traditions periodically to see if they meet everybody's needs and have evolved as your family has aged.

Above all, keep communicating with each other. Open communication is what keeps rituals (and families) healthy. Talking to each other about what makes you happy about what you're doing and what you've done is as crucial as talking about what doesn't work. "One of the key elements in healthy rituals is being able to have open communication about how important people are for the group and to really celebrate the symbolism of each family member," emphasizes Fiese. So the next time your child complains about being called "Pooky," you can tell him it's bringing you closer together!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

5 Little Turkeys

The staff of the Burlington Early Childhood Center would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving break. Take some time the next couple of day to relax and enjoy your family and friends.
Reminder school will close at 11:30 on Wednesday and there will be no afternoon session. School will remain closed on Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving break. Relax and enjoy and we will see you on Monday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Taming Temper Tantrums

Taming Temper Tantrums

Posted: November 17th, 2011 by Michele Borba

What research says are best ways to curb a tantrum before, during and after the storm. The tips I shared on TODAY this morning

Temper tantrums—those annoying kid wails and frails and meltdowns—are common. Studies show that almost 70 percent of young kids have them.

Tantrums are equally as common in girls as in boys. Older kids sometimes resort back to the tantrum stage, especially if there’s been a recent stress or change in their lives or they’ve learned they work to get their way. So if tantrums are common, how do you stop them? New research finally gives parents important clues.

Yale University and King’s College London findings tell us we can hold those sticker charts, fancy point systems or our pleads and threats. The techniques are largely ineffective in changing kid behavior for the long haul.

Studies confirm what is more effective in curbing a tantrum is how the parent responds to the outbursts.

In fact, how parents respond will largely determine whether those kid outbursts decrease or increase.

Here are a few tips I shared with Matt Lauer this morning on TODAY to do before, during and after the storm to curb meltdowns. I also had an enlightening phone chat with Dr. Alan Kazdin (who you may have seen in the B-roll before the set and author of Parenting the Defiant Child) who shared the parenting management programs his team at Yale is doing. His tips for praising good behavior and the using the “Untantrum Game” to teach more appropriate behaviors are below.

Before the Tantrum

Young kids do not have internal brake systems and need you to calm them down or their frustrations can quickly escalate. In some cases you have only seconds before an exorcism begins so don’t wait until your child is in full meltdown to apply these strategies.

Your best defense is to anticipate a tantrum’s onset. Watch for your kid’s signs that a tantrum is on its way: tension, antsy, a whimper. Then try some of these techniques. Hint: You really have to experiment with what works for your child but these are worth the try.

Predict tantrums triggers. The biggest frustration triggers young kids are fatigue, hunger and boredom. You’ll reduce many of those meltdowns by taking him shopping after the nap or eating a snack, or letting him play with something while you wait.

Distract and redirect. Try to redirect your child’s attention: “Let’s go get your teddy.” “I bet you can’t jump up and touch the sky!?” Or try distracting your little one: “Look at that little boy over there.” Your best bet is to try to divert your child’s attention long enough to reroute his energy. But be quick-you may have only sections before the meltdown.

Name the upset feeling. Telling an upset kid to “Calm down” won’t cut it , but it helps to name the feeling to a nonverbal child. Get down eye-to-eye and in an exaggerated tone, put into words how the child is feeling.“Johnny is soooooo mad!!!” It’s almost as though you see your little one look up at you with a, “Well yep. That’s how I feel! Glad you caught on!”

I learned this technique from Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the Happiest Toddler on the Block, during a Parentsmagazine advisory meeting (we serve on the Parents board of advisors). Harvey is fabulous to watch when he talks to kids. I swear he’s the ultimate Toddler Tamer.

Turn DON’T to DO. Little egos are forming and their little independence streak is churning, so watch out for overusing the word NO which can cause frustrations. You’ll get far better responses if you turn your “Don’t run” into “Let’s walk.” Firmly phrase your instructions in terms of what to do, instead of what not to do.

Use calming transitions. Try rubbing his back, holding him gently, or humming a relaxing song. Try using softer voice tones or turn your hand into an instant puppet and make your hand talk. This is a magical age when you can use their imagination to your advantage-but only if you turn on your magic before the meltdown. (Another great Dr. Karp tip!)

During the Tantrum

Once an attention-getting tantrum begins there is little you can do to control it, so remain calm. (I know, I know, but doing so is essential). Your calm behavior will help your child get back in control.

Ensure safety. If there are sharp edges, glasses or objects that could hurt your child, move him to a “safe zone.” If you’re out in public, stop what you’re doing and remove your kid to secluded spot or take him home. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but he’ll learn you’re won’t tolerate inappropriate behavior. Consistency is critical. (Repeat that line, “Consistency is critical.” Again: “Consistency is critical.”)

Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Don’t give the outburst any attention. No eye contact, no words, do not react. Once your child learns that her outburst “works”—that is she gets her way—she’s likely to try it again (and again and again). In fact, research at Boston shows that the longer you give attention to a tantrum, the longer it lasts.

Once you start ignoring a certain behavior you must keep ignoring. Attention-getting behaviors may increase slightly before subsiding—because the child is testing you, so just don’t let him win! Also, if you are upset, walk away. The fastest way to increase a tantrum is for you to yell or grab your child. Walk and get yourself calm (it will also help you ignore the outburst!)

Don’t try to reason. Forget trying to rationalize with a wailing, flailing child. Doing so is like trying to reason with a goldfish. Once in tantrum-mode your child is beyond understanding. Also, don’t coax, yell, or spank. It doesn’t help, and you’re libel to escalate the outburst.

After the Tantrum

Your goal is to teach your child “replacer” behaviors to reduce those outbursts and help the child learn healthier ways to handle upset feelings.

Praise efforts. The fastest way to change behavior is to point out the moment your child uses the right behavior! So the second your kid uses the right behavior reinforce it! (“Thank you for using that nice tone! What did you want to ask?”)

Dr. Kazdin says the best praise for changing behavior has three parts:

~Uses an exaggerated or enthusiastic tone (I tell parents it’s like when you add an exclamation point to the end of your praise. Sound elated!)

~Is specific so your child knows exactly what he did right. (I teach parents to add “because” to the praise so as to help the child know exactly what he did that you hope is repeated: “Great job because you told mommy you were tired. Thank you!”

~Is warm and uses touch. Give him a hug, a big pat on the back or a high five!

Point out the desired behavior in other children: See how nicely that boy is playing with others” (Do hold those judgments: “Why can’t you do that?”) Kids learn a new skill quicker by seeing, not hearing it. So don’t describe, but show the behavior you want your child to use. .

Practice “Untantrums.” New behaviors take lots of practice. Dr. Alan Kazdin suggests helping your child practice how to behavior without tantruming. Of course, you can only do this strategy when your child is calm. You’d say,

“Okay, let’s try another way of acting without the tantrum. I’m going to tell you that you can’t have a cookie (we’re just pretending remember). And you’re going to show me how to act without hitting and screaming. Ready?”

The child then practices the new way of “untantruming” and you praise the heck out of the little rehearsal.Dr. Kazdin then suggests saying, “I bet you can’t do it again!” And most kids relish in trying again (and again, and again).

The trick is to rehearse the new behavior many times so when the heat of the moment comes the meltdown doesn’t kick in, but the new pre-reheased behavior does. Try it!

Don’t give up! It can take weeks for behavior change. You should see a gradual diminishment of the tantrums. Track the frequency of those tantrums on a monthly calendar. You may be surprised (and elated) to discover those meltdowns really are slowing down!

Get help if tantrum continue or increase. If those tantrums escalate, are more frequent, last longer in duration, or your child is in danger or hurting himself or others, then it’s time to get help.

A recent APA publication advised that young children who have daily, intense temper tantrums are significantly more at risk to have later behavioral and emotional problems. Don’t wait! Early intervention is key!

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert

Follow me on twitter @micheleborba or on my blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check where I provide late-breaking parenting news and tips to raise compassionate kids with strong hearts and minds

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Circus is Coming!

The Burlington Education Foundation is hosting a Circus presented by Cirque Du Jour this Saturday, November 19, 2011.Three show times at 11, 1:30 and 4 with entertainment for all. Former Ringling Bros. performers, acrobats, daredevils, BMX bike team and more. Tickets are $10 each, or a 4-pack for only $30. Tickets are available on-line at or at the door

Saturday, November 12, 2011

All Dressed Up

I recently came across this blog post on dress up in the dramatic play area, and thought I would share it. I think the author has done a great job explaining the skills children develop when they play and interact in the dramatic play/dress up area.

All Dressed Up

Why Dress Up Is Important

by Janine

When a child plays dress up, they are doing so much more than putting on a costume. Dress up is a great way to encourage many social and emotional skills that children need to be successful in school, and even later on in life. Here are a few reasons why every preschool classroom should have a bin of dress up clothes.

Dress up encourages creativity. Children can pretend to be whatever they want. They can express their sense of style. It is a way for them to role play scenarios they find interesting. The world becomes as large as the child’s imagination.

Dress up encourages language skills. When children dress up, they often have conversations to act out their play scenarios. They may pretend to be a specific character, such as a waiter taking your food order, or a doctor caring for a sick baby doll. No matter what the set-up, you can bet the child is engaging in some form of conversation.

Dress up encourages positive relationships and cooperation with peers. Children will have to not only share the dress up materials, they will also engage one in another in their play scenarios, often working together to form a role play.

Dress up encourages self-confidence. Children may feel more confident to express their thoughts and ideas while in costume. Often a shy child becomes more expressive while dressed up, because they feel the attention is on what they are wearing and not on them. This allows the child’s personality to shine through.

Dress up encourages children to become comfortable with scary and unfamiliar situations. Role playing about a sick baby doll that needs taken to the hospital may ease the child’s fear of going to the doctor. Children may role play that they are parents leaving their baby doll with a sitter when they go to work, which can help them problem solve separation anxiety issues.

Most importantly, dress up is fun. It is a way for children to escape the real world and let their fantasies and imagination take flight. Make sure to refresh your dress up bin on a regular basis. Keep in mind that just after Halloween is a great time of year to get some amazing deals on costumes and accessories for your classroom