July 2016 SFF Newsletter

Director’s Report

WORD OF MOUTH – Just wanted to let you know how important it is for you to share your positive impressions of SfF within the community.


  • To Sky Sitney for a wonderful Teacher Appreciation Picnic. Teachers, and particularly Jackie Whiting & LaJuan Celey really appreciated the acknowledgement, picnic and gifts.
  • To Lauren Sun for reviewing resumes of job candidates for the new assistant teacher positions.


  • On Saturday, June 4, Sabina Zeffler attended a fullday workshop at the NAEYC Professional Development Institute in Baltimore entitled “Using Powerful Interactions Among Adults to Promote Children’s Learning and Success.”
  • New 4-6 aide in the Green Room, Regina Greene, started on June 13. She has been providing child care at Sidwell Friends in the recent past.

GOOD-BYE & WELCOME BACK – A couple of our children have left early.  We wish them well and will miss them – Isa Agostini-Quest & Zion Jones.  Returning this summer are:  Micah Newman-Pollack, Vera Ness, Jackson Griffith, Harrison Swain, Corey Brown, Ava Hill, Norman Yeakey, & Satya Chandy.

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE – I’m sure I don’t need to tell you much this month because you can see the results of progress.  The construction is now supposed to finish by the end of the second week of August, giving us enough time to complete certificates and licenses for the new space by Labor Day.   Thank you all for your patience.

ELSY BLANCO – SABBATICAL – At School for Friends we have a sabbatical policy.  After seven years, and then every seven years after, a teacher gets to take a paid sabbatical of up to a month to study.  Elsy opted to go to take a week’s Conscious Discipline Summer Institute with Early Childhood Behavior Management Guru Becky Bailey.  The workshop is in Florida near Orlando, and Elsy is able to stay with her cousin.  We look forward to having Elsy return and show us what she has learned and be able to use her new skills in the classroom.

FAMILY SURVEY – thanks to the 17 families who returned the Family Survey – we use this information to improve our program.  You may recall that one of the items asks “When program evaluations are completed, I receive information about the findings.”  Well, putting them in this newsletter is how we do it!  Here are a few of the points raised by one-three parents:

  • Confidentiality regarding children’s files. We do have a policy regarding this and it is available in the Parent Handbook on our website.  Basically, no one has access to your child’s file except the teachers relevant to his/her care and education.
  • Providing of translators. Please let us know if you need a translator.  We can provide them, particularly in Spanish.  We don’t offer them unless we determine that communication is hard, but our perception may be off.
  • Learning about community events and resources – we find that “Washington Parent” has listings of wonderful resources available to parents. There’s always a stack of them near the entrance to the school.  Also we talk about resources if we meet with you and the Child Development Consultants, if they observe your child.
  • Transition to Kindergarten – we talk with parents in the four-year-old program at their parent/teacher conference about this. Also in the fall, we have an “After School for Friends” evening to present information about schools available in DC.

OUTDOOR LEARNING ENVIRONMENT – The National Association for the Education of Young Children just completed a survey of Outdoor Learning Environments.  Our playground includes many of the manufactured features on the list:

  • Space/equipment for art activities
  • Blocks
  • Tables
  • A shade tree
  • Seats and benches
  • Enclosed storage space
  • Space and equipment for water play
  • Space and equipment for sand play
  • Gross-motor structures

Natural features:

  • A tree!
  • Natural, loose materials for children to play with
  • Planters to grow vegetables (and other edibles) and flowers
  • Shrubs, vines and other plants
  • Butterfly bush
  • A large rock!

TEACHERS’ SUMMER VACATIONS – Oops, I meant to give this to you last month.  Teachers may take up to three weeks of their well-deserved vacation time during the summer program.  Here’s the schedule:

Julie – 7/14-22; & 8/12-15

Staci – 7/18-29

Elsy – 7/1-22; sabbatical 7/25-8/5

LaJuan – 7/11-12; 8/23-26

Cyana – last day before maternity leave – 7/15

Jim – 7/22-8/8

Clare – 7/15; & 8/15-19

Jemmie – 7/11-15; 7/25-29; 8/5; & 8/12

Makai – 7/29; & 8/10-16

Elizabeth – 8/15-19

Jackie – 7/18-22; & 8/18-26

Sabina – 7/11-12; & 8/1-12



Quaker House Newsletter

Hello Quaker House Families,

As you help prepare your child for kindergarten or another year of preschool, one of the most important things you can help with is building their vocabulary.

Language acquisition can be incorporated into everyday activities and experiences and doesn’t have to be done through DVDs, workbooks or flash cards. Here are  a few ways to help strengthen and build your child’s language:
•Read with your child and allow time for book discussions and questions. Choose books based on your child’s interest as well as new but interesting topics.  Interactive songs and rhymes encourage vocabulary expansion such as singing songs that direct movement and introduce positional and directional words.
•Incorporate core vocabulary and encourage repetition; Give your child the opportunity to explore the same book multiple times and give books that have different themes/concepts. Also, allow your child to label and repeat words and retell stories in their own words.
•Explore your neighborhood/city:
When the weather permits, taking trips around the neighborhood or out into the city to museums, the zoo or places specially designed for children can help build vocabulary. These trips provide so many opportunities to have your child talk about what they saw, and they can even keep a journal to draw and write their findings. On an outing, children can point out familiar places and objects or ask about things that are unfamiliar to them.
•Provide your child with different tinker toys and interactive games. Although your child may have may set interests, it’s okay to buy different toys based on their interests such as a Star Wars puzzle. Blocks and simple puzzles offer geometric and spatial terms such as below, next to, and above. While in the car, there’s the opportunity to play I spy and this helps with the use of descriptive words.
•Before going to bed, this is an opportunity to share what happened during the day. This allows you to ask your child questions and engage in meaningful back and forth conversations.

•Please check extra clothes bin and replace with seasonally appropriate clothing.
•Tuesdays  and Thursdays are playground pool days and Wednesdays are our trips to Francis pool.

Thank you,
QH Teachers


Rainbow Room Newsletter

In the wake of recent violence and tragedy triggered by bias, homophobia, and racism, this is a reminder how important it is to talk about difference.

Dana Williams from Teaching Tolerance created a parent’s guide to preventing and responding to prejudice.  Specifically on preschoolers, Williams writes that:

“You have perhaps the greatest impact on your child’s perceptions and attitudes about difference than at any other time in her childhood.  The manner in which you treat and discuss others based on similarity and difference—and the manner in which you respond to your child’s natural curiosity about these matters—provides the blueprint for her reactions to them.  Biases that you and other adults convey, both positive and negative, tell her who is safe and dangerous, who is strong and weak, who is beautiful and who is ugly. These messages have the power to turn her “how” and “why” questions into judgement statements.  Left unchecked, such judgements can be precursors to poor self-esteem and social interactions based on prejudice or bias.”

So, what can you do?

-Be honest! Discuss differences openly. Choose books, toys, games, and media that feature diverse characters in non-stereotypical roles.  While reading, watching, or playing, ask questions

-Embrace curiosity! Ignoring or discouraging questions about differences among people sends the message that difference is negative.

-Howard Stevenson, author of “Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools: Differences that Make a Difference,” recommends that if you hear your child make an insensitive comment to ask yourself “Where did they hear it from? How is it being used in the social context they’re in? “Then, you have a better angle as to how you can speak to it.”

-Foster pride! Share your family heritage to support self-knowledge and positive self-concept.

-Lead by example! Widen your circle of friends to include people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

-Do something! Take a stand when you witness injustice and encourage your child to take action too in a developmentally appropriate way.

For more information on discussing race, gender, and difference with children, please e-mail mkellogg@schoolforfriends.org for resources.


-Please make sure there are two sets of LABELED seasonal clothing

Thanks, 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

Summer is off to a great start in the Blue Room! We kicked off the summer program with a picnic on the playground for all the teachers and friends. During the week leading up to the picnic, everyone enjoyed lots of prep for the big event – creating invitations for another classroom, making decorations for our venue, shopping at the local market to get ingredients,, and then preparing a variety of special dishes. The Blue Room made a delicious and healthy fruit salad!

Mystics 2016

We also had a big excursion when we went to the Verizon Center to watch a Washington Mystics game! With the help of parents (thank you parents!) we all made it to the game via lots of walking and exciting Metro rides. There we took it all in – the music, the players, the passing and shooting of the ball, the panda mascot and so much more. The rest of that week we made jerseys, read new books about basketball, and enjoyed shooting at the hoop on our playground.

BR ConstructionIn addition to all the fun activities and water play, we have successfully transitioned into the Fellowship Hall! Everyone has adjusted well to our new classroom space, new bathrooms (the hand dryers might still need some getting used to :)) and our new way of entering and exiting the building. The first few days we even snuck up to the second floor, when it was safe, for a quick look at the empty and slightly demolished old classrooms. Everyone was blown away with the changes in just a day! We will continue to document and discuss all the changes going on around the school in preparation for moving back into the renovated areas.