April 2015 SFF Newsletter


Query Re: Personal Life
Friends (Quakers) use queries to deepen their practice.
Here is a query for April
Do you make time for a “moment of silence” in your own life?
Do you read inspirational works, seeking new light?
Are you open to guidance and support?
And do you give thanks for them?

KICK-OFF OF SMALL SCHOOL, BIG FUTURE CAMPAIGN – it was good to see a nice group of current parents at this beautiful event. Thanks to our development committee, chaired by Julia Elliott. You should be hearing from your classroom representative about how you can make a donation to the project.


  • To JR & Amy Rice for a delicious breakfast for the teachers on the 13th.
  • To Katya Semyonova for a great Simple Meal at the Friends Meeting of Washington. Not only was the food great, but there was a huge presence from SfF – teachers and families. I hope there was some co-mingling with Meeting members!
  • To JR Rice for being our self guy – he has put together and installed more than one set of shelves at the school – both for office supplies and children’s.


  • LaJuan Celey visited and observed at Temple Sinai Nursery on March 30th.
  • Jackie Whiting attended professional training on March 13th: “Patterns Here, There, and Everywhere @ the National Building Museum.”
  • Makai Kellogg was very busy with professional development in March. March 12-14 she attended the Annual White Privilege Conference in Louisville. She attended the New York Collective of Radical Educators Annual Conference on March 21. On March 28 she attended training to obtain her Food Handling certification.
  • Margaret Edwards attended training on March 23 – “Infection Control and Illness Prevention in Early Childcare Settings: A Public Health Approach.”


Quaker House Newsletter

Kindergarten readiness: Lots of experts agree, “Children learn best through meaningful interactions with real materials and caring adults and their peers, not through the drilling of isolated skills.” That said, the previously stronger focus on the social-emotional development has given way to the increasingly academic instruction and expectations starting in Pre K and carrying over into Kindergarten and elementary school. Using the Teaching Strategies curriculum and (common core) for Kindergarten Readiness by the District of Columbia Public schools, as a framework and following the interest of the children, the QH-teachers are always striving to keep the balance between being a play-based program but at the same time providing age appropriate academic challenges, to help children grow in all areas and finally make a smooth transition from the Pre-K classroom to Kindergarten.            

But what exactly is expected of children when they finally enter Kindergarten? With that in mind Jim Clay and the Directors Exchange invited two year in a row Kindergarten teachers from public, charter, and private schools to join a panel to help shed more light onto this question. Participating schools were Sheridan, Sidwell, Beauvoir, Janney, Murch and E.L Haynes. An educational consultant joined the panel as well. Although all four schools have different philosophies and approaches to learning, interestingly enough all the Kindergarten teachers seemed to agree on the core expectations for children entering a Kindergarten class.            

They found that children with solid social-emotional skills, who are able to function well in a group and cooperate, take turns/share, as well as resolve simple conflicts independently because they are able to express and advocate for themselves, had an easier time to perform well academically. Being able to solve conflicts seemed to make a huge difference for the children especially on the playground, as there is far less adult presence and involvement.            

 All of the teaches agreed that Independence, meaning that children are able to take responsibility for their materials, the upkeep of the classroom, personal needs and belongings, is a very important skill to practice in order to function well in a Kindergarten classroom. Being able to zip their coats and tie shoes (this is a bonus), and be comfortable changing clothes if necessary were mentioned as well.          

 This kind of independence also helps children know how to, for example, wait their turn in a classroom with more children than they are mostly used to, sit for longer periods of time and participate in the many transitions during the school day.          

According to the teachers, children who are generally curious, ready to learn, willing to take chances, flexible thinkers and willing to be actively part of teacher directed activities and follow directions will be able to transition and do well in their new environment.          

Children entering Kindergarten are not expected to read and write already, except their name and all the capital letters (public school). On the contrary the teachers stressed that the different approaches they use in teaching reading and writing, when children are ready for it in Kindergarten, are essential in creating good and flexible readers as opposed to inflexible ones that use only one approach to decode a text. Lots of exposure to a large variety of books, including non-fiction, identifying the capital and lower case letters in the alphabet, matching most sounds to their letters, and simple word/rhyme play are a good foundation to be able to follow the instructions in Kindergarten more easily.          

In math the teachers recommended that children most of all have a solid basic number sense, can rote count up to 20, recognize numerals up to 10 and connect them to a quantity, know the basic shapes and colors.    

Last but not least they recommended for pre schools teachers and parents alike to foster good fine motor skills and a sufficient pencil grip.

On the rather practical level they suggested that parents and Kindergarteners-to-be start getting on the new schools schedule a week or two ahead of the beginning of the new school year. This will ensure that your child is well rested. Always keep in mind that children may need more sleep than they normally do in the first weeks of school.        

Play dates with old and new friends on the weekends and as much time as possible for free unstructured play may also create a good counter balance to the new experience of a very structured and mostly instructional day as a Kindergartener.

Rainbow Room Newsletter

The playground and classroom can start out as areas of calm and play and turn quickly into a boisterous physical space. At times it can be alarming and we want to stop it since it is our job as caring adults to keep children safe. First, though, we have to distinguish whether the physical interactions are just rough play or fighting. The biggest difference between fighting and rough play are the feelings, intentions, and facial expressions of the children. When children are engaged in rough play their faces are laughing and smiling, there is open hand touch, they are wrestling, chasing and running, and the child returns for more. Fighting involves a fixation on the other child, frowning, hitting, pushing, take and grab, and the child flees and cries. The main difference is doing something together versus doing something to someone. When wrestling, you take turns leading and following but when fighting, there isonly domination. 

Social benefits of rough play: requires children to detect signals (nonverbal cues), alternate and change roles, bonding, confidence, self-control, positive interactions with peers, learn your own limits which allows one to be assertive and stand up for oneself. 

Physical benefits: supports cardiovascular health, children get vital touch needs (of all senses, touch is the only one you need to survive). 

Cognitive benefits: verbal and nonverbal language development, problem solving skills, negotiating, paying attention, estimation, spatial skills, and organization. 

How parents can support big body play

• Supervise play closely. If your child needs help telling a playmate to stop or to do something in a different way, you’ll be there to help. 

• Talk with your child and set some ground rules for big body play. For example, if your child likes to wrestle, you might set up a “Wrestling Zone” in your home. Choose an area with enough space to wrestle without bumping into furniture. Make a rule about how long each wrestling bout can last before time is called. You might also have a rule about all wrestling moves being between shoulders and waists, and not around necks or heads. 

Five things you should know about big body play

1. Big body play looks like fighting, but it isn’t fighting. 

2. Big body play is rowdy, physical, and usually loud. It rarely turns into real fighting. 

3. Big body play is a vital component of children’s growth and development. Children all over the world play this way. 

4. Big body play gives children sustained moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise. With our current obesity epidemic such a growing concern, it can help children stay fit and healthy. 

5. The quickest way to distinguish big body play from real fighting is by looking at the expressions on children’s faces. Their big smiles let us know the play is okay. 



-Please check the extra clothes cubby and make sure there are two sets of seasonal clothing 


-Rainy season is here, so please make sure there is a rain coat and rain boots at school for outdoor play 

-The sign-up sheet for fruits and veggies to supplement snack is on the classroom door 

Thanks, Rainbow Room Team


Green Room Newsletter

Spring is finally here and we are happy to see the signs of Spring everywhere. Some of the topics we will focus on in April are as follows: Spring; Celebrate the Week of the Young Child April 13-17; and Earth Day. 

The March edition of Young Children, a journal produced by NAEYC, featured several articles on Blocks and their values in the development of children from Infancy through the Primary Grades. Two of these articles are “Building Bridges to Understanding in a Preschool Classroom: A Morning in the Block Center” by Lea Ann Christenson and Jenny James and ‘Using Blocks to Develop 21st Century Skills’ by Karen Wise Lindeman and Elizabeth McKendry Anderson. In the first article the writers explained how a classroom teacher used the children’s interest in building a community; and incorporated the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) new standards (which focuses on the engineering design process) into block activities. The STEM concept was successful and the children had a renewed interest in the block center. In the second article, the writers extended the uses of blocks by introducing another set of new standards, STEAM. STEAM is an extension of STEM, the A stands for The Arts. According to the writers STEAM allow educators to present to children integrate several subjects during their learning experiences. Blocks can be used in a variety of ways and in almost every subject and encourage skills such as Creativity, Communication, Critical thinking and Collaboration. 


April Birthday(s): 

Jackie 04/30


Blue Room Newsletter

An activity in the kitchen is something that some parents avoid. The kitchen is full of items that are dangerous to children, and adults make a big enough mess in there, why add a child to the equation? As daunting as it may seem, cooking with children can be very beneficial for the child as well as the adult. With the cultural heritage dinner at the end of the month, a great opportunity is presented for parents to cook with their children. 

Cooking is a learning experience for children. The kitchen is a fascinating place where various things are observed from steam rising out of pots, different smells being created and loud noises. Incorporating your child into making something to eat will not only give them a vast sensory experience, it will also teach them math, science and literacy. With young children, they can do simple tasks like pouring pre-measured ingredients into a bowl and slicing things with a plastic knife. Both of these can help develop early math skills by talking about how much of each ingredient is being added, how many pieces they are cutting and pointing out the numbers on the measuring tools. Cooking is a science experiment; talk to your children about what they think will happen when they stir the ingredients together or what will happen when you put something in the oven. Science is about the process and inquiry and then seeing what happens as the end result. Reading the recipe with your child teaches them early literacy and that words have meaning and can be read. 

Adding a child into the task of making a meal can be stressful. It is not a good idea to do this when you have limited time. By having your child involved with you in the kitchen, it creates a bonding experience that is different than normal play. You can engage in simple conversations about the foods, where they come from and depending on the age of the child, you can also talk about the cultural aspects of the dish. Also, it is a great way to introduce your child to foods that they normally don’t eat. Children are more willing to try something that they have created on their own and had fun doing it. You can make something as simple as smoothies or a funny face pizza using various vegetables. Teaching children how to use kitchen tools properly is more beneficial to them than not allowing them to use them at all. Start with plastic knives, so they can’t cut themselves, and show them how to cut something safely. Slicing things and stirring things are great fine motor activities that require a lot of hand-eye coordination. 

Bringing your child into the kitchen is a valuable learning experience. They can learn about nutrition, math, science, literacy, different cultures and engage in a fun activity with adults. Cooking also introduces new words and terms that aren’t usually used within play, expanding the child’s language skills. A few tips for cooking with children is to give them safe utensils, always supervise them closely, teach them the rules about the kitchen and include them in the clean up as well. Everyone knows their child and what they are capable of, so give them tasks that are appropriate for their development and it will be a positive learning and bonding experience for everyone involved! 


Important Dates: 

April 29th – Cultural Heritage Dinner

April 29th-May 4th – Cyana’s on vacation 

April 30th – Ava’s birthday