February 2015 SFF Newsletter


THANKS – to all the parents who have been putting our notice in their listservs. We have seen a surge of interest in January that must be due to your posting. Also, see below that we have finally filled the two spaces in the Green Room!


  • On January 15 Staci Bauer attended a professional development visiting and Observation Day at S. John’s Episcopal Preschool – a Reggio Emilia inspired program.
  • Both Cyana Chamberlain & Elizabeth Lambert attained the Child Development Associate Credential this winter.       For both of them, this meant nearly two years of classes and a portfolio as well as parent surveys and a classroom observation. Congratulations and thanks for the hard work!


Our Fund for Friends Campaign is off to a great start this year! We’ve had a great response from our holiday mailing, raising over $12,000 already, including several leadership level gifts of $1,000 or more! A big thank you to all of you who have already pledged or given! Our goal this year is to raise $40,000, with 100% parent participation, and we know we can do it with your help. As you may know, tuition only covers 90% of our child-focused program. The gap between full tuition and the actual cost of educating a child is approximately $1,500. Help us reach our goal and fill the gap by giving as generously as you can.

We hope you have enjoyed the opportunity to review our Fund for Friends Campaign mailing which includes our brochure describing the campaign and a donation envelope. Your donation to the Fund for Friends supports career development opportunities for your children’s teachers, maintains affordable tuition, supplements our operating fund, and provides financial aid (SFF devotes 10% of our annual budget to this). Every gift is equally important and greatly appreciated. Please join with us as we support and strengthen our school community. Your gift to the Fund for Friends is a way of saying that you believe in what School for Friends is doing for your child. You can donate by check or online at https://schoolforfriends.org/support/support.html (just click on the DONATE button)!

Should you have any questions regarding donations, please feel free to contact Celina Gerbic at (202) 986-8767 or cgerbic@hotmail.com.

FACEBOOK – We are happy to announce the relaunching of our School For Friends Facebook page and we need the parental support to help keep it growing and active. We’ll be posting more consistently with classroom newsletters, articles, school information and special events to keep you up to date with the SFF community. Provided below is the link to the page. We appreciate your support and don’t forget to like us on Facebook!


 WELCOME to three new families. In January George Molander started in the Blue Room. You may be familiar with his family – his older sister Hannah went to School for Friends. In February we welcome into the Green Room Kai Moreau & his parents Yasmin Bin-Humam & Jean Moreau as well as Henry Rowe and his parents Tiffany & Jeffrey Rowe.


Quaker House

Last year I was invited to an annual gathering for teachers new to Quaker Schools (hosted in 2014 by Sidwell Friends). I was part of a panel of four lower schoolteachers, and Sidwell’s new lower school principle, Shereen Beydoun (?)


When preparing for this event I reflected on my very personal experience working for over 10 years at a Friends School. I thought back to the very day that I was a new teacher, at the very same event, curious to hear more about what it means to be working at a Friends School.

When I first started working at School for Friends I was struck by the cooperative, supportive, and caring spirit amongst the teachers and administration that seemed to come in part from the “friends” process of coming to decisions as a group.
Everyone works consciously towards creating a safe and nurturing community.
Collaboration is key between the adults and furthermore is emphasized highly amongst the children, – especially at the “egocentric” age (2-5 years old). Children have the opportunity to learn about their own and other peoples’ experiences and perspectives, while they are guided to consider and respect the opinion of others and go from a “it’s all mine” to co-creating an experience of “this is ours”.
Quaker education is a very positive pedagogy, which speaks to the value of others. Students are led by example not only to respect the perspective and talents of others but also to include them in a cooperative, rather than a competitive, search for knowledge.

“Teachers always work to minimize competition and put-downs. Helping children to discover their own particular strengths and to appreciate the strengths of others is an undergirding goal of Quaker education. Students work to achieve their personal best in a curriculum that is designed to build skills, develop independence, and foster critical thinking skills.”

Unique to Quaker pedagogy is the use of inquiry as a way to give students the opportunity to ask reflective and elaborative question. “Children are encouraged to take responsibility for the answer. It doesn’t rest solemnly with someone else: they are the inquirers. This inquiry process informs the next steps for information gathering, experimentation, and new learning to take place. “

Quaker pedagogy is built on Quaker values, or testimonies, often also referred to as
S-P-I-C-E-S: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship.

– Teachers focus on fewer ideas/activities, which allows students to explore each of them more deeply and fully. Query: What’s timely important to me- how can I clear the way to focus.
-Value the spirit over material objects. We celebrate acts of kindness and generosity instead of bringing toys for show and tell.
– Keep popular culture in perspective at school to avoid distraction from what’s truly important.
– Cultivate a peaceful, safe space in which conflicts can be addressed with respect and kindness
– Foster communication over snatching and hitting
– Disagreements and conflicts between children get lots of attention form teachers to teach methods and strategies to problem solve in non-violent ways.
– Foster conflict negotiation skills. Assume that students have worthy ideas, can find their own voice, and learn to listen and collaborate.
– Let your life speak
– Cultivate inner values
– Treat others with respect and honesty
– Have high expectations for students, and draw out the teacher in them: Mirror students’ gifts and interests, giving them choices in projects and assignments.
– Create a safe place where trust can develop and self-confidence, which is essential for risk taking and responsibility
– Truth seeking is a process of continuing revelation from multiple perspectives within a gathered community.
– Education is not limited to life at school: Building community goes beyond children, to their families (events), and neighborhood (service projects)
– Build on what is fair: How do I speak up when I see that someone is being treated unfairly?
– Balancing community needs with the individual voice
– Notice and discover the wonderful differences and things we have in common that bind us together.
– Classroom families share diverse backgrounds in all ways they are diverse (age/culture/race/gender/learning styles). This is an opportunity to learn about other people’s experiences and perspectives and encourage sharing what we value and find true.
Stewardship and Service:
– Consider impact our life/actions have on those around us.
– Children are encouraged to be active stewards of the classroom, and each other, the school community, playground, and environment.
– Growing awareness of responsibility: “Protect and care for the earth”. Walk lightly on the Earth, recycle and reuse whenever possible.
– Promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability by teaching students to appreciate their world via scientific inquiry, artistic expression, outdoor education adventures, and a thorough exposure to natural resources.

Friends Schools also incorporate Silence into the classroom in an age-appropriate way as means to provide the foundation for young children to learn to focus and center themselves. The unstructured nature of meeting for worship with its focus on the power of the gathered group gives children of all faith a powerful tool for spiritual growth. They are asked to turn to their inner light for guidance.

“Learn to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the genuine within yourself so that you can also hear it in other people.”
Rainbow Room February 2015 Newsletter

There have been many positions on children and the effects of spending time in front of television, iPads, phones, and computers. Diane Levin has been a leading voice on discussing media’s influence since 1985. I have attended her workshop “Compassion Deficit Disorder: A Challenge to Social Development, Behavior, and Healthy Relationships” and read her books “The War Play Dilemma” and “Remote Controlled Childhood.” The main point she makes is that the more children are passively watching screens, the less they are playing and learning to meet their social and emotional needs as well as gain problem solving skills; children become connected to screens instead of each other. Children “try out the behaviors and ideas to which they are exposed to see how they work. Then they modify them based on the results of what they try.” Due to an increase of violent images and television, children’s “play” is turning into imitation of what they see. When a child is imitating, they are not in control of the content and therefore not constructing their own understanding and deciding for themselves what is real; “for play to fulfill its optimal role in development, it should be primarily assimilative and stem from the child’s needs.” She also stresses the importance of watching television with your children in order to ask questions or listen to what your child has to say about what they are viewing.

Here are some tips from Dr. Levin for parents and teachers:

-Help children look at what in the media is pretend and what is real by asking open-ended questions

-Show children that you won’t get upset or angry by what they say

-Help children take charge of what they watch by helping them plan what and when they will watch

-Talk to children about their responses to commercials and product-linked programs they see in the media

-Compare what your child saw to their personal experience

-Discuss any violence or other mean-spirited behavior

-Ask questions that focus on stereotyped images and behaviors; children’s media often reflects and promotes stereotypes that limit children’s ideas of whom they can be and how they understand and treat others


-Please check extra clothes cubbies and bring in two sets of LABELED seasonal clothing

-Family of the Week sign-up sheet is on the classroom door

-Please sign up to bring in fruits and veggies to supplement snack


The Rainbow Room Team


Blue Room

The Blue Room has had a great start to 2015! We’ve covered winter weather, family diversity, and colors just to highlight a few items. In addition we’ve made some tasty treats and enjoyed some foods introduced to us via family of the week.

This got me (Elizabeth) thinking about our mealtimes at school and specifically how it is, not only our time to warm up from being on the playground for an hour, but an opportunity for even more learning. I didn’t have to look far to find a TYC article titled, ‘Turning Mealtime Into Learning Time’ which lists over 50 ways preschoolers grow during this part of the day. I’d like to highlight some these ways which we practice in the Blue Room daily.

Using manners:
– saying please, thank you, and excuse me
– ask for and pass food politely
– sit in a chair while eating at the table

Gaining independence:
– serving themselves
– try foods they may not have tried before
– make good choices about food selection
– packing up area when done

Staying healthy:
– wash hands before eating
– cover a cough or sneeze
– taking small bites and chewing before completely swallowing
– wiping off hands and face with napkins

Take part in conversations:
– establish eye contact
– using an indoor voice
– listen while others are talking
– name and discuss the food and its identifying characteristics
–  follow directions and respond to requests

Practice fine and gross motor skills:
– washing hands: turning the faucet on and off, getting soap and drying with a towel
– using utensils
– wiping up and spills with paper towel

Building math skills:
– understand and use positional preposition i.e. on, off, under, below, beside, in front of
– discuss shapes, sizes and attributes of foods (“do you want the large piece or the small piece”, “how do the oranges and apples look alike? How are the different?”)
– identifying how many children are at the table, how many have sandwiches today? Pasta? Fish?

In the Blue Room we eat “family style” where teachers and students gather together around the table to enjoy the meal and company. It is lots of fun, a little messy, but still a great way to continue learning throughout our whole day! Finding teachable moments at mealtimes can go beyond the Blue Room and be exercised at home very easily!

Green Room News Letter


It is almost the middle of the school year and the Green Room children are busy learning new skills and building new friendships. In January our main focus was on two topics, Art and Art Materials and Winter. For the last week in January we started topic Fine Motor Skills. We will continue with this topic for the first week in February. Our next topic will be Shapes.

At the beginning of the school year, our parents’ desires were to have their children develop friendships and the children are involved in the process of developing friendships. In the November 2012 edition of Young Children (the Journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children); the article ‘Bring Boys and Girls Together: Supporting Preschoolers’ Positive Peer Relationships’ presents interesting research on the issue of “cross-gender friendships.” According to Hillary Manaster and Maureen Jobe authors of the cited article, “Children thrive best in inclusive settings where each child is an important part of the community. When differences are celebrated and similarities discovered, children learn to value themselves, and appreciate their peers, and develop meaningful relationships one with another.” Some of the differences children and people in general encounter are “different ethnicity, race, developmental ability, or gender”. The authors present the following that teachers (caregivers and parents) can use to foster positive cross-gender friendships:

Tips for Bringing Boys and Girls Together                                                               Create an inclusive setting.                                                                            Communicate the expectation that boys and girls can and should be friends. Explain your zero tolerance for gender-based (or other) teasing, exclusion, and bullying. Be mindful of your words and actions about cross-sex friendships around children. Be aware of the information and messages children receive from other sources. For example, eliminate books, posters, and other classroom materials that polarize boys and girls. Increase contact, cooperation, and collaboration.                                    Intentionally plan boy/girl work and play opportunities, including those with a common goal. Pair other-sex peers as partners without calling attention to gender. Guide and assist children in discovering ways to integrate each others’ ideas. Model blending of interests. For example, a group of children engaging in superhero play could be brought together with children playing restaurant to create a superhero restaurant where everyone could be challenged to invent superhero food.                                                                                                            Adjust the environment.                                                                                          Adjust activities to promote engagement between other sex peers. For example, provide opportunities for cross-gender, small-group work focusing on one goal, such as completing a puzzle. Organize the classroom to encourage children with different interests to play in closer proximity. Provide positive examples of cross-gender relationships through children’s literature and classroom materials.


Vera         2/13

Henry       2/18

Will           2/21