How and why we use certain language at C5 Children’s School

Why Careful Language Use is Important

  • Creates a climate of positive support for children
  • Provides a sanctuary for stress free learning
  • Allows for, encourages, and embraces differences
  • Is respectful and egalitarian
  • Opens up and nurtures highly productive and creative possibilities
  • Models positive alternatives
  • Increases vocabulary

Language is powerful

Commonly accepted language has the potential for great influence

We want to promote language that contributes to developing attitudes, skills, knowledge, and continued experiences in line with our philosophy and preferred practices. Our approach also references building on the traits desired for children at C5 Children’s School that include –

Independent thinkers
High self-esteem
Powerful learners
Analytical and critical
Multiply intelligent
Competent in 100 languages
Socially skilled
Respectful of others
Community minded

Words and Terms that We Avoid

All staff members are asked to be consistent in avoiding the following uses of language at all times in speaking and writing and to adopt the proposed alternatives or something very similar.

Good ─ It is a generic praising term. We avoid praising, in addition to rewarding, disapproving, and punishing. The term “good” is often used with the best intentions. However, it misses opportunities to provide information that the child can use later to replicate the behavior, in addition to being recognized and supported for something at the moment.

Consider this example, “Good job.”

Instead, Give the Other Objective Details.

─ It is minimizing, diminishing, and sometimes too limiting.

Consider this example, “I just wanted to help out.”

Use more affirmative, assertive, or informative language.

Should ─ It is pejorative and negatively imposing. It expresses duty or necessity that we want to avoid imposing on children.

Consider this example, “You should be doing better than you are doing.”

Use some other non-judgmental, non-condescending, non-demanding term or phrase and one that is more supportive or guiding.

─ It is too tentative.

Consider this example, “I could come if I have the time on that day.”

Be more definite and affirmative. Use “can” “will” or “must.”

Need ─ This is often projected onto others or expressed as a confusing condition. It is easy for the language in our field in social services to become permeated with needy expressions and to be thinking of people as needy.

Consider this example, “You need to have your jacket on to go outside.”

Instead, express yourself as wanting or requiring something or qualifying your comment when it is referencing the internal state of another person. Consider an alternative, such as, “You have to have your jacket on to go out in the cold.” Or, state the benefit of doing what is desired, such as, “You can put on your jacket and be warm to go outside.”

No (and all of its derivatives: not, don’t, can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t, didn’t, hadn’t, etc.) ─ These can easily contribute greatly to creating a toxic climate of negativity and arbitrary adult power.

Consider this example, “She said that she is not going to share it with you.” Or, “She is not coming back until after lunch.” Or, “I don’t like it when you …”

Provide, instead, what is desired, possible, or likely in order to create a climate of positives, possibilities, encouragement, and a sanctuary for supporting optimal learning and developing.

─ It sets up a harsh contrast. Sometimes a strong or negative contrast is unnecessarily made.

Consider these examples, “She wanted the toy, but you wanted it too.” Or, “You want to go outside, but the other children want to stay inside.”

Use “and yet,” “however,” instead,” or “versus,” or simply state the different notions and process them as choices to be carefully considered. Use a positive or neutral conjunction when there is not an opposition or a contrast to be made.

I ─ Using “I” messages is too self-referential when asking children to do something, giving an opinion, making a declaration, or expressing a feeling.

Consider this example, “I am not going to let you bite other people.”

Instead, keep yourself out of the exchange and help the children to focus on their feelings, opinions, actions, etc. and to understand the intrinsic and other benefits for them, from their point of view, for doing something. Our objective is to help them to know and feel that they are respected by us and to become more competent in independently resolving issues themselves.

We, Us, or Our ─ These terms are misrepresentative when you are not directly involved as the others are in the action, situation, or concept.

Consider these examples, “We have to try to rest now.” Or, “It’s time for all of us to line up.” Or, “This is the way we write our name.”

Use terms that relate specifically to whom you are referring. For instance, Use, “You have to try to rest now.” Or, “It’s time for all children to line up.” Or, “This is the way you might write your name.”

Repeated Use of Generic References
─ Repeating the use of generic terms like “Parents” or “staff” is impersonal and distancing.

Instead, set the premise by mentioning to whom you are referring. Then, use the more specific, personable term thereafter; for example, “you” or “each of you.” If you are referring to one individual or a small group, use their names.

Cute ─ This term is often meant as appreciation for a child or children or for what they have done. However, it is not very respectful of the children or of the value of what they are actually learning or the way they are developing.

Instead, point out or describe the specific and important things that are happening.

Weakness ─ We avoid the term and concept of weakness. Instead, we believe that we all have strengths in varying degrees. Some are less than others. If a certain capacity is required and a person does not have enough, it can be under-productive, and we call it an “under-strength.” It can be increased. If a strength is being applied more than is necessary, it is excessive, and we consider it to be counterproductive.

Instead, talk about how a person can build the strengths that they want and are required and how they can work to apply only as much capacity as is useful and productive in any given situation and no more or no less.

Art ─ We avoid the term “art” when referring to children’s work, as in “art work,” or to certain materials in the program, such as “art materials,” or apply it to any area of our curriculum. Since children learn holistically, we work with them that way, and we integrate the use of many materials, processes, and concepts that would traditionally be associated with certain disciplines or fields, such as the fields of art, science, math, and literature.

Instead, use the terms “children’s work” or simply “materials.”

Feelings ─ We will be careful when using the terms related to “feeling” We consider these to be primarily emotions, body sensations, and general unspecified dispositions. If we have a thought, belief, desire, or a conceptual notion or attitude, we label it as such and say “I think …” or “I want …” or “I believe …” Or, we state the outcome of our thinking, such as, “It’s time for you to come in now.” Rather than, “I feel it’s time for you to come in now.”

What C5 Can Do for SF Parents and Families

Parents and Extended Family Members,

You can feel safe and secure in knowing that your child will be in one of the highest quality, safest, most secure, family-interactive, and parent-supported programs anywhere. You can be confident that we will answer any questions that you might have about our program and outline the benefits that can accrue to your child and family.

You will discover at C5 Children’s School:

Your child will experience exceptionally high quality learning and development. Compare us in detail to other programs.

For example, WestEd and the California Department of Education film interactions at C5 that they say they cannot get anywhere else in order to use them in training for California teachers and programs. Talk to us in detail about why this is so and how your child will benefit. Learn about how other parents have experienced our program.

You will have extensive information in a variety of ways about your child and her or his learning and development and about what happens in the program.

For example, when you are enrolled, you have access to our world famous private, secure website, Connections, that has a wealth of information about the program and your child’s classroom activities on a daily basis. There are also available daily interpersonal discussion, notes, phone, and electronic communications.

You and your immediate and extended family will be involved in fascinating ways in supporting your child’s learning and in enjoying many aspects of the program yourselves.

For example, you can give your extended family members access to our private website, and there are at least 60 different ways that you and your family can interact with the program.

You will flow in smoothly each day with special access into our unusually secure and aesthetic facilities.

For example, there are video cameras throughout the public spaces, uniformed building entrance screening officers, and sworn, armed officers at both centers: California Highway Patrol Officers at our CA State Building Center and San Francisco County Sheriffs at our SF City Building Center. The entrances to our centers are also locked, requiring your electronic ID key card access. See our outdoor play areas with fruit, vegetable, and flower gardening that children help tend.

You can expect your child to meet and exceed the typical standards for entering kindergarten.

He or she will also have become a powerful independent learner and effective group member, with strong self-confidence, exceptional self-sufficiency, and high self-esteem.

You are welcome to contact us to discuss your child and family and details of our program. Main Office: 415-703-1277.

Winter Cultural Highlights

We are finishing our annual Winter Cultural Highlights presentations. Every family and staff member in our program makes one. The total is almost 200 families and staff members. Each presentation lasts about 15-20 minutes. They share with their child’s learning group some aspects of their family history, heritage, culture, and/or daily routines. They present in various ways. They include pictures, artifacts, songs, dances, clothing, food, and stories. We learn more about each other, and children and the rest of us enjoy the rich array of diverse people and cultures in our program. We document all of the sessions and keep them for continued reflection, enjoyment, and extended learning.

Recent examples in the Mighty Oak Classroom were:
James’ family brought in good luck oranges, red envelopes, books, and a lion head for Chinese New Year. All of the children tried on the lion head. They read all of the books and opened the envelopes with money in them. The next day, they ate all of the oranges.
James' WCH 1James' WCH 2James' WCH 3

Marcello’s family introduced the children to an Italian Snake Dance. The dance is about a snake who is missing its tail. The children made a long line and became part of a snake. Then, they went all around the classroom.
Marcello's WCH 1Marcello's WCH 2Marcello's WCH 3

C5 Family Food Experiences

Making SushiEvery family takes a turn during the school year and brings in amazing food that represents their family fare routinely and/or culturally. A wide range of foods that are prepared to taste or ingredients to process with or for the children are the norm. Each family signs up for their 15-20 minute session at the beginning of the school year and conducts the session with their child’s learning group or classroom. All 145 families take a turn. Most classrooms also cook on their own and explore various foods a number of times during the school year.

Celebrating Holidays!

We enthusiastically encourage families to fully embrace holidays that are meaningful to them outside of our program and facilities.

Within the program, it is difficult to equitably treat each holiday that families might want to acknowledge. Our initial research showed over 3,000 special days, events, and holidays.

However, we do celebrate each child’s birthday and key milestones and endings of projects and significant explorations. Those events usually include special planning, presentations, displays, demonstrations, decorations, food, music, singing, parents, visitors, and extended family members.

In addition, many of our other special events include celebrations and are part of our annual program, such as: Summer Book & Box; Winter Cultural Highlights; Fall Family Festival; Festival of Learning Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Exhibits, Public Demonstrations, and Gala Evening Party; Family Food Experiences, Potlucks; and, Costume Days.

We hope that your holidays are full, frequent, and rewarding!

Our Fall Family Festival is Coming Soon

The Theme is “Farm to School”
November 6th, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

Our enrolled community celebrates with displays likely featuring healthy food, farming, transportation, nutrition, catering, serving, tasting, and enjoying a wide variety of food, processes, products, and family cultures.

The Head Parents from the classrooms and the School Support Committee and staff are planning extensive decorations of pumpkins, squash, grains, balloons, and fall influenced lighting effects. There will be food demonstrations, a large potluck, and music and dancing. We expect about 300 people.

Children in our classrooms have been cooking and canning for months. Recent dishes include, canned beans, pumpkin fries, crab puffs, and carrot muffins.

C5 Hosts Music Together Teacher Training

C5 will host the internationally acclaimed Music Together three day teacher training for the Bay Region at the end of January. We will also put four of our musically competent teachers into the comprehensive training. That will result in our having nine in-house music teachers trained by Music Together.

The training lasts 27 hours over three days, January 29-31, 2016.

Participants will discover a new way of thinking about and relating to children and music. They can expect to:

  • Learn the four points of the Music Together philosophy and how early childhood research supports their curriculum
  • Observe three full-length demonstration classes, complete with parents and children, taught by experienced trainers
  • Learn a new repertoire, including songs, rhythmic rhymes, instrument and prop activities, and movement activities
  • Practice leading song and movement activities
  • Learn about children’s tonal and rhythm development and how to support the young child’s musical growth
  • Learn lesson-planning and classroom management strategies
  • Learn how to assess children’s music development, and communicate this information to parents and caregivers
  • Receive the trainer’s personal attention, coaching, and feedback
  • Meet and have fun with others who love children and music

There is more information on the Music Together website.

C5 Instructional Staff Takes World Famous Course

All of our instructional staff will take the comprehensive 18 week online course offered by world famous Program for Infant-Toddler Care (PITC). It is a collaboration of WestEd and the California Department of Education. It includes extensive online interactions and discussions, in-depth reading, embedded practice in classrooms, and video conferencing.

One half of our 32 member teaching staff is in the cohort now taking the fall session. The other half will join the cohort taking the winter session.

Course topics include an exploration of the different temperament types; stages of social-emotional development; development of self-esteem, security, and social competence; socialization and guidance; program policies that best support healthy social-emotional development; learning, culture, and families; early brain development and learning; discoveries of infancy; culture; partnerships with families; and, working with children with special needs.

Our Center Directors and Site Supervisor have taken the 18 week PITC Train the Trainer courses in Berkeley and San Diego. Two have also completed additional training at PITC Directors Academy conferences and conducted in-house PITC-related training for the entire C5 staff. Our Director of Learning has also taken the basic and advanced training on programming for and work with Special Needs children and families.

Infant-Toddler Intensive Training

We have completed the second day of training in a three-day Saturday series on best practices in comprehensive infant and toddler care, development, and learning. The last day will be November 14th. The training is based in part on the RIE Approach (Resources for Infant Educarers). It is held in the C5 Conference Center once a month for six hours each day. The leaders are C5’s Director of Learning, CA State Building Center Director, SF City Building Center Site Supervisor, and two C5 teachers who are leaders in RIE-related theories and practices.

This fall, we are training 13 teachers. Last fall, we trained 18 teachers. And, from January to April in 2014, 11 of us were trained by a RIE certified trainer.

We add about 75% of what RIE has to offer to our comprehensive approach that includes significant influences from the world famous PITC program (Program for Infant-Toddler Care) developed by the California Department of Education and Western Regional Educational Laboratories. We apply all of those those elements and more in our work with infants and toddlers and their families to produce our leading edge program.

C5 announces our study focus for the year!

C5 announces our study focus for the 2015-2016 school year. It will be “The Sublime – Facilitating Making Meaning and Fostering Optimal Development with Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Pre-Kindergarten Children.”

The C5 staff will be expertly facilitating children in making transitions through the sublime stage when one thing is about to become another… when children are discovering so much and making meaning in so many ways.

We, along with C5 children, parents, and family members, will present our findings and examples of our work on this topic through documentation, displays, postings, discussions, and presentations at various stages throughout the year and especially during our annual Festival of Learning that is held for the entire month of May, 2016.