Community at BNS
School has been in session for a couple of months now and as we enter into November, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of community. This time of year is rich with opportunity to connect with family, friends, and neighbors, to build and maintain community, and to nurture that very basic human need for connection as we move towards the cold of winter. This need is intrinsic in even the youngest of humans, and a big part of early childhood education is teaching our kids how to function in a community. With these thoughts in my mind, I asked the staff at BNS to share how they incorporate community into our classrooms.
Ms. Angie – Director
When families decide on Bannockburn Nursery School, they are not just picking a school; they are becoming a part of a community, the BNS family. Parents play a major role in the daily lives of our children by working in the classroom with the teachers and other parents. When the teachers, parents and children are working and playing together on a daily basis, it creates a warm and safe environment for everyone. As part of the school community, each family chooses to become involved with the BNS Board, the Social Committee, or the Fundraising Team. These groups help to foster camaraderie among parents by working together for a common goal. Families also choose to participate in our many social events, such as Screen on the Green and other movie nights, restaurant nights, field trips, parent coffees, school productions, holiday parties, the BNS Rummage Sale, and the Spring Fever Auction. As a school, we mirror the sense of community our teachers create in the individual classrooms. This strong community feeling enables the children to feel the love the minute they walk into school -if not before- by their friends, the other parents, and the BNS staff.
Ms. Squire – Sprouts Classroom
Right from the start, community plays a big role in the Sprout Classroom. As their first classroom experience, it’s important that they learn that this is their classroom with a cubby for their things, which helps foster a sense of belonging and begins the building of our community. At circle time, we sing a “welcome” song to learn the names of our new friends. It reminds us that we are equal and valued in this space. At project time, artwork is proudly displayed helping to nurture a feeling of pride and accomplishment. Everyday, we start snack time kindly thanking the friend that brought snack for the day. We take turns and pitch in helping with different responsibilities. We close out the day by singing a song that reminds us of how much fun it is to be together and that we have many friends in our class.
Ms. Caryn – Saplings Classroom
Classroom community is an integral part of the Sapling classroom. From the first day of school, we establish our community by involving the children in creating classroom agreements to keep everyone safe. We work together to complete cooperative projects and create happy experiences together. We also take the time to get to know each other. One major way we nurture our community is by interviewing our friends on their birthdays. As we learn to ask questions, listen to their responses and create thoughtful pictures for our friends based on what we have learned about them, we are also making connections to our own lives and what we have in common. By building a strong classroom community, we create a sense of belonging and safety. In addition, we are beginning to build our empathetic abilities. When we are connected to others and care about our friends, we are better able to put ourselves in another’s shoes and have the desire to help them rather than hurt them. We will continue to build our empathy and kindness skills throughout the year and begin to hand out hearts for kind deeds and kindness cubes to earn whole class incentives such as extra outdoor recess time. We also use this as a way to bridge the home-school connection. Parents are encouraged at home to fill out the paper hearts for the kind acts children do at home as well and send them in for us to share in class. We all work together to help the children be the best they can be.
Ms. Suzy – Mighty Oaks Classroom
As the year progresses, so too does the Mighty Oaks’ ability to function as a community. In early September, we started the year by discussing communities, how they function, and the need for rules to help things run smoothly and safely. Ideally, our BNS classroom community should function in much the same way—with students looking out for each other and the group as a whole. Just today, I observed during cleanup a group of students, who, after diligently working to put away marble structures they had constructed, quickly moved on to the block area, working together to ensure that everything was put in its rightful place. They looked like a colony of bees, moving from area to area, working synergistically to get the job done. Not once did I hear a student say ‘But I didn’t play in the block area, so why do I have to clean it?’ As I reflect back on the past several weeks, I see a gradual shift in the class towards the functioning as a community, whether it’s simply to complete a task during cleanup, or it’s looking out for the welfare of other students, such as comforting a friend in need by grabbing an ice pack or tissue. They may seem like small steps, but they are steps in the right direction, and they will grow in depth as the year progresses