As I sit to write to you about all that your children have learned since this new school year started, the sounds of their play, their music, their laughter are drifting through the air here, clear evidence of my intended words. The tears of September have given way to smiles and chatter, as newly confident preschool children begin to talk about their world, and to explore new parts of it.

As I have shared personally with so many of you, Sesame Sprout is as committed to furthering teacher education as we are to your child’s education, for it is only through this parallel learning culture that we can truly ‘open young minds to a world of learning’.
So it is no surprise that Sesame Sprout has grown even richer this year by the introduction of the Second Step Program: Social-Emotional Skills for Early Learning. Through our interactions with our children, both parents and teachers share the understanding that children need to learn the skills needed in order to be ready to learn: how to listen, how to pay attention, how to help yourself remember directions, and about the very wonderful feelings we all have. I know that many children have come home singing the “Eyes are watching, ears are listening, voices quiet, bodies calm” song. I have talked to many parents who love receiving the Home Link newsletter, which shares the lesson of the week with families, and gives discussion and activity suggestions for families to use together at home.
This week and next our children are talking together about the feeling of ‘anger’ – a very strong emotion that it is important to talk about and discuss in healthy ways, to develop strategies to express ourselves in a clear and healthy way. We are praising our students for saying “I feel angry” if they are, and for looking at their friend’s faces and their own faces in the mirror, to identify what they are feeling. Soon we will begin to understand that people can have different feelings about the same thing, which is the building block to developing empathy, which is feeling connected to someone else’s feelings or situation.
Extending this social-emotional development to the third part of our learning culture – our families, Sesame Sprout’s Parent Group will begin to participate in a family program sponsored by the New York State Education Department and the Center on the Social-Emotional Foundation for Early Learning. Together we will explore topics including how to help our children express their emotions, how to encourage cooperation, how to handle when a child says ‘no’, and many other issues that we parents face every day with our treasured little ones. Together we learn and grow!