July 2015 SFF Newsletter

Director’s Report

I attended the NAEYC National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development in New Orleans June 7-10. I attended a number of workshops:

  • Using a Powerful Interactions stance to support professional conversations that extend learning
    • A professional development menu: What we know and hear from the field in providing different evidence-based approaches to professional development using the CLASS tool
    • Creating a community of caring: Building meaningful traditions, rituals, and routines to foster connected relationships between children, staff, and families
    • Culturally relevant pedagogy: Planned professional development linked to curriculum standards for educators
    • Critical conversations about the status of anti-bias education after 25 years
    • Do you see what I see? Examining challenging behavior through your lenses, and through mine
    • Social networking and professionalism
  •  Volunteers – we have had a couple of former SfF students volunteering in the Rainbow Room – Manuel Jolliffe-Mahoney & Yasmeen Gauri. We will also get Nora Rosario later in July.


    To Sky Sitney for a wonderful Teacher Appreciation picnic. We had a great evening together and the teachers really knew they were appreciated.


Thanks to all of you who filled in the survey this year. We had a record response of 53% of the parents! Now that the program evaluations are complete, I’d like to share the findings in the survey. Though the survey was overwhelmingly positive (thanks!), there are a few things to work on:

  • About a third of the families wondered whether they’d receive information about the survey – here it is!
  • Four parents wanted to know about how the program makes sure that information about their child and his/her progress is kept confidential. See page 12 of the Parent Handbook on our new website under “Parents.”
  • Two parents commented that the following was not true: “I talk with a teacher about my child at least once a week.” This usually happens at drop off and pick up. Also if a nanny drops off and picks up, try to do one of these at least once a week to talk with the teacher or schedule a time to talk on the phone – usually naptime works best. If only one parent in the family does the regular drop off and pick up, we hope he/she is sharing
  • Another two parents commented that they didn’t know about the following: “The program gives me information to help my child make a smooth transition to kindergarten.” The Quaker House classroom spends a lot of time during the summer (now!) preparing the children to go on to kindergarten. Talk with the teachers about their plans, and there will be some information in the QH July newsletter.
  • One parents disagreed that “The teacher asks about things that are important to our family and uses this information to help my child grow and learn.” Remember the survey you filled out at Open House or around about that time? That’s when teachers collect such information. I hope they have been using it.
  • One parent disagreed that: “When I disagree with how a teacher works with my child, I feel comfortable letting the teacher know and working together to find a solution that works for both of us.” I will have the teacher reach out.
  • Finally, one parent wondered if “I receive written reports about my child at least twice a year.” That would be the progress reports you receive twice a year at the parent conference.


We welcome back former SfF students this summer – Axton Peng, Declan Flanagan, Micah Newman, Claudia DiPaolo, & Jana Abdel-Gawad.


Quaker House Newsletter

Our summer program is now in full swing, and the teachers have planned engaging activities that will allow the children to practice familiar skills and learn new ones.

The QH children are very excited and have expressed some of the things that they would like to learn about in each theme. Throughout our summer program, we will have more field trips, science discovery, outdoor explorations & so much more! We will continue to practice social/emotional skills through buddy play, but instead of two buddies we will incorporate a third child into the group with one group having a fourth. In a slightly larger group, there will be more opportunities to practice language skills, take turns, negotiate roles (flexibility), solve their own conflicts, help a buddy solve theirs and plan and implement ideas.

One of the roles that the teachers play during this time and during teacher-directed activities is continuing to ask open-ended questions which play an important role in encouraging more thought-provoking and lengthy, meaningful conversations. Open-ended questions usually begin with words such as “Why” and “How”, or phrases such as “Tell me about…”. For the most part, they are technically not a question, but a statement which indirectly asks for a response. We are looking forward to having a great summer all the while preparing the QH children for kindergarten.

Please bring in sturdy shoes (no crocs or open toe shoes) for our field trips and walks to the pool, a labeled swim suit/swimming trunk, sunscreen, and a child-sized towel. These items should remain at school throughout the week, only going home on Friday to be washed.

Thank you,
The QH Teachers


Rainbow Room Newsletter

Summer is flying by and the Rainbows are having a blast! The children enjoyed napping in sleeping bags, bonding in tents, and roasting marshmallows during our camping theme. Our friends also took on various roles in dramatic play to explore fantasy. The children are especially excited when we fill the pools on the playground for water play. There is joy on their faces as they splash the water with their hands and feet.

Throughout the year, we expose children to water play at the water tables, but having the opportunity to splash and put their whole body in water provides more chances to discover the wonders of water. Young children explore the world through all of their senses. They feel, taste, smell, hear and see the water as it splashes on their face and body. The children question the movement of water and experiment with various ways of engaging with it. They wonder why it leaves their hands pruny or makes them cold after stepping out. The pools provide opportunities for solving social problems such as use of space and whether or not someone wants to be splashed. Conversations arise about personal experiences with water at a pool, beach, or in the bath tub. Some friends may engage in dramatic play and pretend to be on the high seas or in a kitchen. Water play provides so many benefits for development of young children. Summer is great time for the children to engage with water outdoors and give them the opportunities to have this sensory experience often.

The mud pit is another popular area on the playground where children cook, experiment and dig. Playing in the mud offers unique tactile sensory experiences that are vital to brain development. Children from different aged classrooms come together to work on worm finding expeditions and cooking projects while displaying creativity, empathy, language and social skills.

*Please make sure there are at least two full sets of clothing including underclothes in your child’s cubby, so that they can engage in both water and mud play often.

Rainbow Room Team


Green Room Newsletter

Explore the Great Outdoors with Your Child

by Donna Satterlee, Grace Cormons, and Matt Cormons

Children are natural explorers. Set some basic boundaries, and let the child discover. The learning will come. Children use all of their senses to explore. They look and listen to observe what is happening around them, touch what they can reach, smell the fresh scents of nature, and occasionally taste when given permission. They run, jump, dig, and climb as they discover new places.

For a child, everything is new—even the tiniest things are interesting and exciting. In today’s entertainment-driven world, exploring the outdoors is an opportunity for children to actively engage in learning. Here are a few steps you can take to guide children’s exploration of the great outdoors.

Explore safely. Join your children in the fun if they want you to, and keep an eye on them. Before you begin, dress appropriately and teach your child the basic safety rules of the outdoors. Simplicity is often the key to establishing safety rules, and there is usually no need to restrict children. They rarely do something that makes them uncomfortable, unless someone is urging them on or daring them.

Let children choose what to explore. Let children explore, and see what they do on their own without offering suggestions. Do they run? Build? Climb? Even an activity as simple as digging leads to exploration. Children learn how to dig, the way soil feels, the angle of the slope before loose dirt slides back down, and the difference between dry and wet soil.

Ask open-ended questions. As children explore on their own, remain involved. Ask about their discoveries. Ask open-ended questions they can understand and answer with their observations. “What did you find? Oh, a bug? What does it look like? How does it move?” You do not have to know all the answers to children’s questions. Discuss what you see—the shape of leaves, the color of the soil, the movement of the grasses. The more your child observes, the more the world around him will make sense. Discovering how to learn through observation is important. Your child doesn’t have to know the names of all the plants and animals he finds. He will learn through his observations. You can even suggest he make up descriptive names of his own.

Touch, lift, look under. Children need to touch the natural world to more fully understand it. In some cases, gently touching an object with one finger may be helpful. For example, gently nudge a frog or a grasshopper to help a child learn how animals move. When possible, though, examine an object from all sides. Looking carefully at the underside of a log and then carefully replacing it, for example, helps children understand that creatures live under the log and that not disturbing the creatures’ habitat is important.

Guide children to draw conclusions from the observations they’ve made. The best learning occurs when children come to conclusions for themselves. It would be easy to draw on your own knowledge to say, “It’s fall now. See, the leaves are red. Remember that they used to be green?” Instead, try asking questions or describing what you see, feel, hear, and smell. “Do you remember what color the leaves were last time we took this walk? What do you see now?” This modeling will help your child learn to use her own senses when exploring. Remembering and sharing helps a child learn, and shared memories bring cohesiveness as a family.

Donna J. Satterlee, EdD, teaches child development in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She has collaborated with Grace and Matt Cormons since 1999 to implement the successful nature-based family learning program Shore People Advancing Readiness for Knowledge (SPARK).

© 2013 National Association for the Education of Young Children — Promoting excellence in early childhood education.

– See more at: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/music-math-more/explore-great-outdoors-your-child



Blue Room Newsletter

The summer is off to a great start! The children have been enjoying the ample amounts of water play on the playground. Not only do we have scheduled water play days twice a week, we also do more water play on the very hot days. There is no better way to cool off the children than to get the hose out and let them run through the water!

During the summer program we have more of a relaxed atmosphere. The children have been adjusting well to the new way of doing things and the changes in our schedule. We no longer have circle time in the morning. Instead, we spend that time allowing the children to make choices and engage in free play. Pretty soon they will be off to their new classrooms where there will be new expectations. One of those expectations is for the children to be able to plan and pursue a developmentally appropriate task. In order to help the children with that, we allow them to choose something they want to do and then encourage them to stay there for an appropriate amount of time.

Another change for the summer program is that we no longer have Lilo on Tuesdays. Instead, he will be coming twice with his band to put on a show for the whole school! We also have various special days, usually on Fridays. The days include Jimmy Potter, who came at the end of June, camp out day, beach day, pirate/treasure hunt day, ice cream day, pajama/movie day, make tie-dye shirts day, Kinderman and the school fair at the end of the summer! The special days are an opportunity for all of the classrooms to do something together and for the children and teachers to engage with those in other classes.

We have a very busy summer ahead of us that is full of planned activities that relate to themes. Each theme will last 2 weeks and be full of various activities for the children to do both indoors and outdoors. At the end of July the blue room is going to have a special day that is specifically for them. All of the other classes will be away that day so we are going to have an ice day. On this day, we ask that parents bring different ice sculptures for the children to explore. There will be an email coming soon that explains more about that day and what you can do to help.

This summer is going to be very exciting and we are looking forward to all of the fun we are going to have as we spend our last 2 months together in the blue room. It is hard to believe that the year is almost over!

Important Dates
June 29-July 13 – Cyana is on vacation
July 10 – Elizabeth is on vacation
July 27 – August 10 – Staci is on vacation
July 5 – Cyana’s birthday
July 7 – Elizabeth’s birthday
July 12 – Alaina and Andrew’s birthday
July 13 – Jemmie’s birthday
July 21 – Aella’s birthday
July 26 – George’s birthday