What an honor is has been for me to serve as director of School for Friends.
You folks mean a lot to me – our lives have touched each other in so many different ways.
36 years ago, I was working at Capital East Children’s Center as an assistant teacher. Amy Lear had left to direct a fledgling school Friendly Child Care Center. Amy asked me to join her and teach at this new school. Teaching with Amy interested me and we did it for three years. But what was this thing called Quaker Education? I was curious. And here we are today 36 years later. Thank you, Amy.
I’d like to lift up another Mentor – also at Capital East was a parent/board member who made an impression on me – Barbara Kamara. She went on to lead the Early Childhood Division of the DC government for many years and under several mayors. Her vision – among others – was to have all community based child development centers serve the under-resourced neighborhoods and families in the city. That was a challenge given our location, but dovetailed nicely with our goal of creating economic diversity at the school. She also envisioned high quality care for all children and launched an effort to have centers on the other side of the Anacostia accredited by NAEYC. With others, I worked for years to help realize this goal. Barbara really connected me and School for Friends with our beloved city. Thanks to her for that opportunity.
My colleague Elaine Wickens, at Bank Street College, worked with me for many years to advocate for the rights of LGBT teachers and children and the parents of those children through NAEYC.
Sff supported my education through a masters degree and two sabbaticals at Bank Street College of Education – a graduate school with a philosophy. My teachers there are forever in my heart.
So many people are part of the leadership team that has made the school what it is. School for Friends is not something I have done alone. I’d like to lift up –
• Long term teachers whom I have worked beside for years – particularly Jackie Whiting, LaJuan Celey, Sabina Zeffler, Kathy Geier, Monica Sorenson, & Elsy Blanco. Working with you on a daily basis – how could I be so lucky?
• Generous partners with the school who have given not only of their time but their gifts, particularly to make our expansion and renovation possible.
• A lean administrative team with consultant partners – Beverly Orr; Celina Gerbic; Amy Freedman, Amy Eagan, & Judi Goldberg of Child Development Consultants; & Jackie Howell.
• Quakers at FMW who have been our partners all of these 36 years. Michael Cronin is certainly at the top of that list – always taking me out to lunch to nourish my spirit. Generations of folks from FMW have supported me
• Finally, the board of trustees – so many former and current ones present. And have been so supportive of my work and the school. That has been an inspiration to me. Jeremy Smith – worked with me for the longest as president.
You are all part of the leadership team and committed to the vision of School for Friends. Collaboration with you is part of what has made this such a rewarding job/career. Thanks to all of you.
How lucky I have been to stumble into Friends education. And to help create a sacred space for children – where I could go to work every day myself too and be nurtured. I have gotten to know so many inspiring Friends educators – across the country – and look forward to continuing to work with them on the board of the Friends Council on Education. I’ve just begun a term on the board. As you can tell, this aspect of the school is what gives it meaning.
Many of our children are adults now and out in the world – incorporating in their lives the values we aimed to instill.
Thank you for the opportunity to create a program we can all be proud of and offer the best of education and care – based on Friends testimonies and the principles of John Dewey (as taught to me at Bank Street) and more recently Reggio Emilia.
I will miss all this – you and this community
I’m going to close by paraphrasing words offered this past fall by Cecilia Traugh, Dean of the Graduate School at Bank Street (and I might mention, a former Quaker educator at Friends Select School in Philadelphia).
“I hope that these values continue to stoke the flames of your inspiration to work with and for children, families, and communities as we walk together to realize a better world for us all.
More than anything, I want you to remember that you are a part of a thriving and vibrant learning and socially-engaged community that continues to hold and enact these values in our classrooms, in our community, and with each other.”
Summer activities have begun. We started off with Messy Play & a Picnic. The children loved making and delivering invitations to their friends to join them at our summer picnic outside. We have been exploring all kinds of way to use water outside – water balloons, water table, sprinkler, foam water squirt, beach ball sprinkler and bowling with frozen water. You can see friends lying around on the playground drying off. Can’t wait to walk the plank!!
Water Play: Wet and Wonderful
Puddles, spray bottles, garden sprinklers, and backyard wading pools bring back gleeful memories of my childhood. This summer the children will experience how fun it is to play in water outside.
Splish, splash, bubble, bubble, pop! Water play outdoors is a unique activity for children because it’s always available, open-ended, and provides opportunities for extended learning.
All They’re Doing Is Splashing, Right? Wrong! Water play fosters learning in all developmental areas. It provides opportunities for children to experiment with math and science concepts, strengthen their physical skills, advance their social and emotional skills, and enhance language development (Crosser, 1994; Hendrick, 1996).
Problem-Solving Skills. As children manipulate water play materials, they begin to understand why and how things happen. For example, given sinking and floating objects, a child will soon discover that just because something is large does not mean it will sink.
Math. Children begin to understand and experiment with concepts such as more/less, same/different, many/few, empty/full, before/after, greater than/less than, and counting (Crosser, 1994). Science.Water gives children an avenue to contemplate issues such as: What makes rain? Where does water come from? What makes mud? (James & Granovetter, 1987). Children also learn physics principles such as the effects of force (increasing the water flow through increased force); effects of gravity (water runs downhill); and change in state (solid, liquid, gas).
Physical Development. Water play encourages the development of eye/hand coordination through pouring, squeezing, stirring, painting, scrubbing, and squirting. Children strengthen their gross motor skills by running, dodging water drops, and hopping through a sprinkler. They widen their sensory experiences as they put their hands in different textures (gritty, squishy, and slimy) and different temperatures (warm, cool, and cold) (Hendrick, 1998).
Social and Emotional Development. Water play is one of the most
relaxing activities children can experience. After all, many adults relax in a warm bubble bath or hot shower! Water play relieves tension by encouraging children to release their emotions with pouring, pounding, and swooshing. Also, social skills expand as children play cooperatively; negotiate; and share equipment, space, and materials.
Language Development. Children learn new vocabularies such as sieve, funnel, eggbeater, stream, bubbly, moisture, and evaporation. Water play is such a meaningful experience for young children that it can be extended to writing experiences as well. Children may draw pictures of sprinkler play, then dictate a description or story to the teacher. Another valuable writing experience involves the teacher writing down children’s predictions, such as how long it will take ice cubes to melt in the sandbox or how many babies one batch of soapy water will wash.
Creative Development. Water encourages children to use their imagination. As the children play, they may pretend that they work at a car wash or live in a castle. Water also encourages children to try out new ideas and solutions to problems in a safe environment.
Angie Dorrell, M.A., serves as an NAEYC accreditation validator and former commissioner. Website Earlychildhood NEWS!
Red Panda Classroom
Summer is off to a great start in the Red Panda room! We said our farewells to Mo as he and his family had their big move to California! We also welcomed our newest Red Panda, Damian! All the children have been so welcoming and excited to get to know our friend more over the summer. The school had their cooking week which lead to our summer picnic. We turned our art studio into a market and took our shopping list to buy items to make frozen smoothies! The children were such great helpers and helped to cut the fruits for our smoothies. We enjoyed all the different delicious foods that were at the picnic.
The children were also thrilled to have messy play week. They used different materials to make art such as their hands, feet, fly swatters, string, colorful bubbles, ice cubes and of course, mud! The special day for messy week was mud day! Most of the children at least went into the mud pit with their feet. Some of the Red Pandas tried the mud slide. We also enjoyed making mud pies in the mud kitchen and creating art with mud mixed with different colored paint.
We wrapped up Pirate Week and just had a great pirate day! The children had many choices on the playground from doing the ring toss, to finding different treasure in the sensory bin and in the sandbox, walking the plank on the balance beam, and sailing in the pirate ship! The children were so excited to find their own treasure and some of them wanted to paint mustaches and breads with face paint. We have been loving our summer together in the Red Panda room—we will continue with ocean week, sports week, camping/nature, and the arts!
We have also been discussing how some of our friends in the Red Panda room will be going on vacations, to a different school next year, or how they will be in different classrooms when summer is over. We will continue to enjoy every moment together in the summer! Thanks families for all of your support and input during our wonderful summer!
Red Panda Teachers
The Turtles are exploring new adventures in our Summer Program. The following are some of the Summer Adventures: Camping, Bear Week, Mud day, Pirate Week, and Sports week. The children are having a lot of fun doing these activities and are eagerly waiting for new ones. Our upcoming adventures are Under the Sea/Water and Theater and Music.
In the July edition of Young Children, the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children; Dr. Jessica Vick Whittaker presents an interesting articled titled ‘Good Thinking! Fostering Children’s Reasoning and Problem Solving.’ According to Dr. Whittaker:
Forty-four percent of the preschool day is spent on learning activities primarily literacy and writing activities (Early et al 2005). Too often, such activities focus on skill attainment and not critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving that are fundamental to learning and development. Such skills warrant attention and it is important that teachers foster them intentionally. This article summaries research on the development of preschool children’s critical thinking skills and suggests practical research-based strategies for supporting them.
Dr. Whittaker says, “Definitions of critical thinking skills vary, although nearly all include reasoning, making judgments and conclusions and solving problems (Willingham 2008 Lai 2011)”
The following is a five-point checklist that Dr. Whittaker presents for teachers and a summary of their related Strategies:
Checklist of Teaching Strategies to Support Preschool Problem Solving and Reasoning
1. Facilitate children’s play: Provide a variety of materials that stimulate all senses and give positive interactions during play.
2. Help children understand the difference between guessing and knowing: Do simple test to prove theory and additional if necessary.
3. Foster categorization skills: Provide a variety of materials that allow children to sort, compare and describe objects
4. Encourage children to think before responding: Allow children to think about the question or problem and suggest that there may be more than one way to solve a problem.
5. Model and promote scientific reasoning, using the language of problem solving: Teachers are to encourage children to use their senses to explore their environment and ask questions. Teachers are also share their own problem solving skills with the children and encourage and conduct experiments and discuss the results.
In conclusion, Dr. Whittaker says, “Children’s ability to problem solve and reason is integral to their academic as well as social success. Each day early childhood teachers support these skills in numerous ways…”
Look for things that you are excited and interested in, that feeling can be contagious and lead to endless possibilities! www.washingtonparent.com/calendar.php is a great resource for ideas and family fun activities year round!
Eagles Room July 2017 Newsletter
Hello Eagle families,
The school year has come to an end and now we have begun our summer program! Thank you all for attending our final parent-teacher conferences. We have enjoyed our Eagle family this school year and we are excited to see where the Eagles will go next as they transition to new classrooms and schools. Transitioning to a new environment may go smoothly, but sometimes it is hard, even if it is within the school. Children may regress in their behaviors or they may develop separation anxiety. Creating a good-bye ritual is helpful in coping with separation anxiety. Having reminders of home at school is also helpful (family photo, special stuffed animal, etc). Other helpful tips are below:
• Know Your Child, and Realize that Each Child’s Response Is Different
We all want our children to take to their caregivers with eager enthusiasm, but children’s responses to transition and separation depend upon their age, temperament, and experience.
• Be Positive
Our children have incredible intuitive skills. They sense our anxiety and hesitation. As the first day for transition draws near, begin talking to your child about what to expect and about any concerns or fears they might have. Present school as a place where he’ll learn new things and make friends.
• Tune-In to Your Child’s Behavior
During times of change, our children may have behavior regressions, delayed reactions or even outbursts at pick-up time. It’s all normal. We can reassure them with positive comments, physical affection, and love.
You can read more about it here: https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2011-moving-on-up-transitioning-to-the-next-early-childhood-classroom
We have a lot of fun in store this summer and we cannot wait to experience it all! Cooking, pirates, sports, and camping are just a few of the themes we will be exploring. The Mystics game is right around the corner and our end of the year picnic will be here before we know it.
– Please clear the top of your child’s cubby each day
– Please bring swim clothes and swim shoes each week
– Please ensure that your child has two sets of seasonal clothing (underwear, pants, shirt, socks)
Thank you for your continued support,
Sea Lion Classroom July 2017 Newsletter
The social climate around the country varies as it relates to accepting others. Some may hear more about building community while other statements are prompted 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 firstname.lastname@example.org resources.
-Please make sure there are two sets of LABELED seasonal clothing
The Sea Lion Team
Tiger Classroom Newsletter
Our summer program is now in full swing, and the teachers have planned fun and engaging activities that will allow the children to practice familiar skills and learn new ones.
The Tiger 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 Tiger 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.
The Tiger Teachers