June 2016 SFF Newsletter

Director’s Report

CONSTRUCTION NEWS – The dividers that will separate our classrooms in Fellowship Hall have arrived and in place.  We have been preparing the space through lead encapsulation and upgrading fire emergency systems.  Children are still excited about the move.  The asbestos abatement will occur in our current wing of the building only after we have moved and while we are located in the Fellowship Hall.  We will let you know the details.  Right now we are waiting on approval for an occupancy certificate from the city and then we will get a temporary license.



  • I attended a three-day gathering of heads of Friends Schools at Chestnut Hill Meeting in Philadelphia on May 1-3. There were about 25 heads of Elementary and Early Childhood Schools present.  Among other things, we discussed joint marketing among Friends Schools.
  • LaJuan Celey attended a day-long training session sponsored by OSSE. Her workshops included:  “Big Body Play,” “Developmental Milestones for 3-5 Year Olds,” “Addressing Challenging Behavior,” and “STEM Connections.”
  • On May 23, I attended a lecture by Claude Steele on his book Whistling Vivaldi:  How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do at Bank Street College.



  • To parents who worked during our quarterly clean-up day on May 7 – Akin & Jen Adams, Obie Diener, Sky Sitney, Beata Montes, Emilie Cassou, JR Rice, Jeffrey Rowe, Patrick Sheldon, Mark Treskon, & Francesco Valentini (chair). In addition to all the cleaning, they applied a weatherproofing coating to the wooden structures on the playground, put up the bamboo roof to the sandbox, and regraded the mudput/kitchen.
  • To Joe Thompson for installing our new router.
  • To Emilie Cassou, assisted by Cassandra Campbell for a joyous children’s fair. So many people in our community came together – former, current and soon-to-be families of the school.  It was great seeing you all together in one place.  Thanks for the composting and the gentle acoustic music.  The pony was a big success again this year too.


MOSQUITO TREATMENT – Our bi-weekly summer mosquito treatments for the playground have begun.  We do not use insecticides but instead spray with garlic!  Believe it or not, mosquitoes are repelled by garlic, and it is 60% effective.  Whereas insecticides are about 75% effective, they pose other risks since both are applied to the vegetation.  If we begin to see mosquitoes, we will apply insect repellent on your child if you have given us permission.  If the public health agency deems that the city has reached a crisis state, they may order the application.  We will keep you posted.


GOOD-BYE NAZZARENO – After only a five-month stay at SfF, Nazzareno and his parents are moving to San Francisco because his father’s work has been transferred there.  We will miss him and wish them the best of luck.


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 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 the standards 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, are 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 teacher’s 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, match most sounds to their letters, 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

Summer is here!  Thanks for making the Parent/Teacher Conferences a success. The  children have closed out the regular school year and will begin the summer program on June  20th.  Our summer program will be different this year.  Instead of each classroom planning their  own activities for the whole summer, each teacher chose a topic to plan for weekly that every  classroom will lead in a developmentally appropriate way and across content areas.  There will  also be opportunities for collaboration with the other classrooms.

The themes this summer are Picnic, Basketball, Beach, Pirates/Treasure Hunt, Messy  Play, Camping, Books, Ice, the Arts, and Carnival.  We hope to plan fun activities that are  engaging, exciting, and hands on.  We also have planned a celebration of the beginning of  summer program for the children, a trip to a Mystics game at the Verizon Center, water play in  the pools on the playground, and an end of summer fair that parents are invited to as well as  other special days.

For water play and the mud pit, it is very helpful to have at least two sets of extra  seasonal clothing including underclothes.  Also, every Monday please bring in a bathing suit and  towel for your child for water play and splashing in the pools that will be sent home on Friday.   Sunscreen is important during this time, so please bring in a labeled bottle of sunscreen.   We will be on vacation at different times throughout the summer and will keep you posted so  that the children can predict who will be substituting in the classroom on those days.


‐Please sign the sheet on the stairway doors to inform us of your vacation

‐Please sign up to bring in fruits and veggies for snack

Thanks, Rainbow Room Team


Green Room Newsletter

Summer is the perfect time to explore, and there’s nothing more fun than playing in water. No matter if it’s in the ocean, lake, creek, community pool, or tub in the backyard, playing in the water may help children grow and develop in these essential ways:

Balance and Strength

Though it might look like your child is just splashing around, water play can help improve children’s balance and strength. Playing in water is like playing in a brand new playground where even the simplest activities like clapping your hands or jumping are a whole new sensory experience.

Communication and Social Skills

Water play allows children to explore and interact with each other. Shared discovery experiences within shared spaces offer a great opportunity for social development. As children play, they’re going to be excitedly communicating their discoveries to everyone around them. This is a confidence booster for kids! Because water play typically occurs in a limited space with limited supplies, children practice sharing with each other and work together engaging in play.

Exploration and Learning

Bodies of water offer endless opportunity for physical experiments and discoveries. Children may have already investigated wood, dirt, sand, rocks, and other dry substances. But what happens when these substances are mixed, sifted or dropped with water? Children also get the opportunity to think about concepts like water displacement and volume as they explore in a body of water.



Since it’s going to be hot during the summer months, we’ll be doing a lot of water play. The water table will be open pretty much everyday and the kids may get sprinkled with the hose at random days (especially if it’s a really hot day). So remember to bring in:
~ Lots of extra summer clothes
~ Sunscreen
~ Swim trunks (2) and bath suits
~ Water shoes
~ Towels
~ Disposable swim pants (little swimmers) for those who wear diapers and pull-ups


Blue Room Newsletter

It seems like only months ago that the school year started but here we are in June and the school year is coming to an end. Our summer program will start June 20thand our schedule is a little different during this time. To help transition into these hotter months, the blue room has started going outside with the rainbow room at 10am instead of 11. This allows the children a chance to enjoy outside time before it’s too hot and it also give them an opportunity to interact with children and teachers from another classroom.

All of the Sff teachers have worked hard to prepare a fun filled summer for all of the children. During these summer months there will be lots of outdoor water play. We will have the pools out every Tuesday and Thursday so make sure your child has a swim suit and towel (water shoes are optional) that is labeled with their name on it.

Summer is often the time right before big transitions take place, whether it’s transitioning to a new classroom with new teachers or a new school. This summer as a school we will be experiencing a big transition together as we move into the fellowship hall. We are all very excited about this move and look forward to a great summer.

Below is a schedule and list of themes that we have selected to plan activities around this summer.
Week of:
June 20th-July 24th-Picnic
June 27-July 1st– Basketball
July 5th-July 8th– Beach/Vacation
July 11th-July 15th– Pirates/Treasure Hunt
July 18th-July 22nd– Messy Play
July 25th-July 29th– Camping
August 1st-August 5th– Books/Movies
August 8th-August 12th– Ice, Ice, Ice
August 15th-August 19th– The Arts
August 22nd-August 26th– The Carnival