A Message from Abby Aloni, Head of Early Childhood: April 27
Abby Aloni, Head of Early Childhood
Dear Early Childhood Parents, 
On Monday, our entire BZ teaching faculty gathered for a professional development day focused on the guiding principles of the Responsive Classroom approach. The Responsive Classroom approach is informed by the work of educational theorists and the experiences of exemplary classroom teachers. Six principles guide this approach:
  1. Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.
  2. How we teach is as important as what we teach.
  3. Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  4. How we work together as adults to create a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.
  5. What we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expectations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.
  6. Partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach.
In one of our Early Childhood sessions, we grounded our work using the resource, Beyond Behavior Management. We focused on the life skill of self-regulation, building children's capacity to manage their emotions and empathize with others.
At BZ, one of our goals is for our youngest students to learn about and control their emotions and to understand and be thoughtful of the emotions of others. We guide the children in learning how to be angry or disappointed without hurting themselves, other people, or property. We expect them to learn how to do things that they sometimes don't want to do, such as cleaning up or coming inside when outdoor time is over. We help children be aware when another feels left out and needs to be included or feels sad and needs comforting.
These lessons can be practiced at home through your interactions with your child and the activities you engage in together. Some ideas include:
  • Children learn a lot about behavior by observing you! Let your child watch you safely manage your own strong emotions. For example, you might calmly say, "I am so angry right now that I am going outside by myself for a few minutes until I'm not so angry anymore. Please give me space for a few minutes."
  • Children are able to practice skills such as staying still or remaining quiet for longer periods of time when these skills are part of a game. Playing games such as hide-and-seek or pretending to be a hibernating animal are good practice for children to develop skills to control themselves.
  • Helping to care for pets and plants are good ways for children to begin to develop empathy for others. Ask your child to notice how your pet shows you he is hungry or wants to play. Ask your child to water the plant when it looks like it needs a drink.
Additionally, you might want to think about the messages you received as a child about your feelings. How did your parents/family model how to handle anger? What did you learn about responding to the feelings of other people? How did these lessons serve you or hinder you later on in school, in the workplace, and in your adult relationships? Reflecting on your own experiences, what kinds of lessons would you like to teach your own children about understanding and managing their own emotions?
If this topic is of interest to you, please do let me know so we can discuss and/or offer learning opportunities in the future!
With warm regards and great appreciation for your partnership,
Abby Aloni
Head of Early Childhood

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