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Lynn Wytrykusz: Building cognitive, social and emotional skills

Year: 2020 — Province: Alberta
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Westminster Elementary School
Early education program for children ages 3 to 5 years
Lethbridge, Alberta

As an educator myself, I can honestly say that Lynn Wytrykusz may be one of the most creative and devoted early educators I have ever had the pleasure of crossing paths with.

nominator

With her background as a dance instructor and studio owner, Lynn Wytrykusz celebrates creativity and self-expression among her students. At activity centres throughout the classroom, children build their sensory, motor and creative skills through hands-on play. Eager to innovate, she has partnered with a university researcher to substantially enhance behaviour-related cognitive processes among at-risk children.

Philosophy of care

Lynn's diverse classroom includes refugees, economically disadvantaged children, and children with developmental delays and behavioural issues. She listens to them closely—noting each child's strengths, needs and interests—so she can engage them all with activities they love that also help them grow.

Support of child development

  • Improves executive functions: in a pilot project with a neuroscience professor, she teaches children 10 games to enhance impulse control, flexible thinking and other abilities; creatively embeds these games into multiple school activities, such as hallway transitions; children's improvement regularly surpasses that of peers in other pilot project schools.
  • Builds social and emotional skills: for example, took a gingerbread man cut-out from her pocket, spoke loudly and then put it back in her pocket to illustrate fear; next, soothed the cut-out with a quieter voice; children understood why the gingerbread man was scared.
  • Nurtures children's confidence: built a concert centre in the classroom, with costumes, musical instruments and a stage, where children create and perform dances and music; some of the shyest children at the beginning of the year end up using the centre the most.

Involvement with parents, families and the community

  • Created the Parent Café event: surveys parents to find out which professionals, such as psychologists and dieticians, they want to meet at the café; gives families supplies so they can play the 10 executive function games at home; explains research behind the games.
  • Organizes Leader Days: children "teach" their peers during a normal class day; families come to observe; Lynn shares learning strategies that parents can use at home; parents' attendance is higher on these days than for other school events.
  • Keeps communications open with all parents: aims to send at least one personalized message per week to each child's parents using the Seesaw app; messages include photos and other updates about the child's growth and development.

Get in touch!

Westminster Elementary School
402 18th Street North
Lethbridge AB  T1H 3G4

403-327-4169
lynn.wytrykusz@lethsd.ab.ca
https://west.lethsd.ab.ca/
Twitter: @WestminsterSch1
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-a9BruTqXRl0Quqi6aEtZw

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