May 2017 Newsletter

Director’s Report

CHILDREN’S FAIR – Please plan to attend our Children’s Fair on Saturday, May 13 (raindate 5/20) 11:00-2:00.  There will be lots of fun things for 2-7 year olds to do.  And if we are lucky the new Director for School for Friends, Berna Artis, will be present to meet you.  See this link for more information:


  • To all the room parents (or their designees) for delicious and enjoyable Cultural Heritage Dinners – I got to participate in all of them all – Jemmie Joseph, Tiffany Rowe, Jess Adasi, Sesyle Moorhead, Anna Kirkorian, & Marissa Yeakey.
  • To Natalia Sorgente & Gaye Williams for a wonderful Dedication of our new space on April 8. It was really a celebratory event with lots of current and former families present.

ACCREDITATION – We are pleased to report that School for Friends was reaccredited for another five year period – until August of 2022!  The teachers, under the leadership of Makai Kellogg, did a phenomenal amount of work to prepare and document the program.  In five of the nine standards we received a 100+% rating!  That means we even met criteria that are “emerging.”  In the other categories we made 92-100%!


  • We met together as a staff for staff development on April 17.  Our curriculum coordinator, Jacky Howell, facilitated about half of the day, focusing on classroom use of puppets and music, and planning for the summer.  The Quaker Life Committee also presented – on Communicating Quaker Values through SPICES – a path forward, Teaching Quaker values from a core belief, beginning with Peace.  Teachers worked in teams to develop lesson plans. You should be hearing more about this from your classroom teams.  At the end of the day, a representative from admissions at Trinity University DC came to begin to enroll our teachers in a cohort to begin to pursue more advanced early childhood degrees than they presently have.
  • April 20-21, Jackie Whiting, Yasmine Brooks, & Magy Youssef attended an Early Childhood Peer Network sponsored by Friends Council – at Wilmington Friends School in Delaware.
  • April 27-30 Makai Kellogg attended the White Privilege Conference in Kansas City, MO.


Tiger Classroom 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.


Eagles Room May 2017 Newsletter

Hello Eagle families,

In April, we spent the month learning about birds. We heard about the National Arboretum’s eagle cam for the new baby eagles and the Eagles became fascinated with it. We followed their interest and decided to study birds. We learned about birds that are common in the DC area (pigeons, cardinals, bluejays, sparrows, etc) and we also learned about birds you may not easily find in DC (flamingos, condors, cedar waxwings). Early on, the Eagles told us which birds they wanted to learn about. The Eagles enjoyed eating lunch outdoors and watching birds in the trees; they also enjoyed using their binoculars and going on a “Bird Walk,” even if we did not spot that many birds. It’s amazing to see their interest extend beyond the classroom as they talk about different birds they have seen on their walk or ride home.

 We want to thank everyone for joining us during the Cultural Heritage dinner. Being able to join in fellowship and to share food that is special to us was truly a memorable experience. We could tell that the Eagles really enjoyed being able to spend time with one another; we saw a lot of smiling, laughing, and comradery. These moments where we are able to get together is a great way to develop a sense of community in our classroom. Establishing a sense of connectedness is key to children feeling safe. Additionally, it creates “strong foundations for building meaningful, enjoyable relationships with others.” It is not only beneficial to the Eagles, but it is also beneficial to Eagle families and the staff here at School for Friends. We value and honor any opportunity we are able to connect with one another.

 If you would like to read more about the importance of community building, please check out the link here: There is really valuable information in just a single page. It will help you better understand why we have a daily blog, why we create displays around the room, etc.


          Please clear the top of your child’s cubby each day

          Please ensure that your child has two sets of seasonal clothing (underwear, pants, shirt, socks)

 Thank you for your continued support,

Eagles Team


Monarch Butterfly Room

Explore the Great Outdoors with Your Child

Over the last month the Butterfly Classroom has been exploring the outdoor world around us. We started by walking through our neighborhood. Next we watched five caterpillars transform into monarch butterflies right in front of their little eyes. This week the children watched the butterflies fly away into the air. To see their faces was incredible. The children planted some flowers on our playground. Also the children went outside to look for bugs and worms. Early this week we took a trip to the National History Museum to see the butterfly exhibit. Seeing the butterflies flying all around us and landing all around Jemmie was amazing and funny. 

Article 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


Leatherback Turtle Room May 2017 Newsletter

Happy spring, Turtle room families! April flew by here at School for Friends. We explored the five senses and different aspects of the spring season. Now that we’re into warmer months and summer is quickly approaching, the children will be spending more and more time outside (both at school and at home!) April’s edition of NAEYC’s Teaching Young Children includes an article titled “Math Learning—and a Touch of Science—in the Outdoor World.” Here are the highlights:

Rethink your surroundings: Make sure the children have access to a variety of sensory materials and encourage play in which they are engaging in big body movement; for example, rolling tree stumps and arranging stones for an obstacle course. Additionally, we have tables available that could be filled with water, sand, gravel, etc. Based on their imaginative play, try to engage them in math conversations about the materials they’re using, such as ingredients for recipes or buying groceries at the “store.”

Use math tools outdoors: Rather than sticking with the usual outdoor toys, bicycles, trucks, etc., offer different tools that encourage the development of math skills! For example, you can use chalk to draw graphs and grids on the sidewalk, sort flowers by color/size and count sticks on a number line.

Be responsive to children’s observations and wonderings: When playing outside, take notice of the questions and comments the kids have, perhaps even writing them down so they can be shared with others at a later time. Additionally, paying attention to what children notice outside can inspire you to use other resources on the subject, such as books and websites.

Explore and sort collections: A simple way to apply math and science skills outdoors is to encourage the collection of materials (leaves, sticks, flowers, etc.). This allows children to examine and then group the different items by certain characteristics, such as size, color and shape.

Notice patterns: Nature is full of patterns. Consider taking magnifying glasses outside so children can observe patterns closely!

For more information on this article, visit


Red Panda Newsletter

Happy Spring!

This past month we finished our Family of the Week theme. Thank you so much to all of the families for coming in and sharing your family with us! These past couple of weeks we have been talking about the beach and what senses we use there. The children have loved exploring the beach and we will continue to explore the idea of “Going to the Beach.”

In the article, “Meeting the Sensory Needs of Young Children”, the author refers to a quote by Lynch & Simpson, “A child’s ability to use this information to respond appropriately to the environment- including sounds, light, textures, motion, and gravity- is known as sensory integration.” The children have explored sensory through lots of different experiences such as making the beach out of sand and paper, painting, dancing to ocean music, and playing at the water table with ocean items. Children learn through play and sensory activities so it is important that we give the children ample opportunity for them to do so.

 The article also talks about how encouraging self-regulation plays an important part of maintaining ones impulses and it should be learned at an early age. The author quotes Bodrova and Leong; “self-regulation, which includes controlling one’s impulses and delaying gratification, is a foundation for learning.” A suggestion that they give to encourage self-regulation is to speak out loud your thoughts and actions so children can model their own thinking and processes.

This is the link for more information on “Meeting the Sensory Needs of Young Children.”


-Check your child’s cubby for two sets of seasonal clothing (underwear, pants, shirt, socks)

 -Clearly label all items!

 -Sign up to bring in fruits and veggies for snack

 -Sign up to bring in play-dough for our class


Sea Lion May 2017 Newsletter

As the months quickly pass the Sea Lions will soon all be four year olds. Although the teachers have witnessed the development of four year olds in previous years the children become four so quickly. I [LaJuan] frequently revisit various articles about the development and behaviors of preschoolers. I ran across this article written by Beth Stewart which is short and to the point. I have surely observed the topics mentioned in this article and I thought it would give some parents a head start and expectations of some of the behaviors and growth to come with this wonderful year. A summary of the article is below.

 “What you’ve Wanted to Know about your 4 year old but have been too Afraid to ask” by Beth Stewart:

Your 4 year old is full of energy, talkative and curious. She’s eager to show you what she can do. You and she will both be excited by his accomplishments. She constantly tests her environment and will waffle between feelings of security and insecurity. She may also be a bossy little tyke who makes up stories. You will experience emotional highs and lows with this age and each day will be a new challenge for both of you. Each child is different and what one child does at four might be quite different from another. However there are some benchmarks that you will find your four year old reaching this year.

4-year-old developmental milestones

Social skills for 4-year-olds

  • shows more independence — able to brush his teeth and get dressed by himself • demanding but also eagerly cooperative • may be rude, or even tell you to shut up — the more you emotionally react, the more she will misbehave • she wants to be liked and to please his friends and perhaps has a best friend which could be of either sex • knows about everyday things like food, money and appliances and the concept of time • as she has little sense of ownership, possession means she views all things as his • has learned sympathy and sadness when someone or something is in pain — that is what she wants when she is in the same situation • has become aware of sexuality and has a natural curiosity about it • shows a high degree of interest in singing, dancing and acting • brims over with imaginative ideas • tries to distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality • she may like telling “tall tales”

Motor skills for 4-year-olds

  • has the coordination and balance of an adult — also the muscular strength to perform more challenging activities • loves movement– climbing, swinging, somersaulting and skipping • enjoys writing, painting, modeling, cutting, pasting and building structures • hand drawn pictures will contain all of the essential elements like eyes, nose and mouth — although they won’t look like people to you

Language skills for 4-year-olds

  • can count to ten or more • can name at least four colors • enjoys using the four letter words she has heard and particularly enjoys the look on your face when she says them — don’t overreact!


Your 4-year old is at an important learning stage. Let him set his own pace as you provide opportunities to encourage his enthusiasm and creativity. Take him to the zoo, museums, and don’t forget the art gallery. There are many good books which illustrate the spatial concepts she needs to learn like over and under, and opposites like big and small.

Encourage your child’s relationships with his friends. However, you will find that with this exposure, she will realize there are other values and opinions besides yours.

Physical safety is still a big issue as motor skills have increased substantially but judgment is lacking. She will need to be reminded to wait and hold hands before crossing the street and although she will probably loves water and wants to swim never leave him unattended.

As she expresses his normal curiosity about sexuality, don’t scold or punish. Answer his questions with short age-appropriate answers.

Link here:

Sea Lion Reminders:

-Please make sure your child has two or more sets of LABELLED seasonal clothing in their cubbies. Water and mud play will be occurring more often.

-The sign-up sheet for fruits and veggies are on the classroom door

Sea Lion Classroom April 2017 Newsletter

One of the most exciting aspects of curriculum planning and experiences for the children are field trips.  Field trips are essential to learning. Firsthand experience provides children with information that adds to their play, enriches vocabulary and enhances their overall learning.  Facilitating field trips involves considering safety, interests of the children, parental involvement and access to the community at large.  Salvatore Vascellaro, author of Out of the Classroom and into the World, states “we must continually ask ourselves not what is the shortest route to knowing, but what is the richest route.”  When children engage all of their senses, they are better equipped to remember information, make connections, and reflect.  Field trips offer children a chance to communicate with experts, touch objects, listen to their environment, and observe the world around them.

Before venturing out, the children review safety rules that they have decided on as a group.  We practice taking walks in the neighborhood before taking longer and more strenuous trips that require public transportation.  When walking, a teacher leads the group and is also in the rear while the chaperones walk in the middle.  The experience during the walk or bus ride tends to be the most stimulating since it is the time the children are making great observations, asking questions, and enjoying nature.  To assist the children in maintaining focus during a walk, sometimes we provide a picture to each child of a place or thing in the area for them to look for like a scavenger hunt.  After the trip, the children are able to reflect on their experience by looking at photos and drawing what they saw or did.  Vascellaro says that “through the externalizing of one’s experience, it is made public, shared with others, and enlarges everyone’s concept of the experience conveyed.”

The Sea Lion children show great enthusiasm for learning new things and engaging in teacher directed activities.  They also continually ask questions to further their understanding of topics they have already been exposed to.  We are very excited to plan many outings both in our school community and throughout D.C. LaJuan and I hope to see you on these trips as chaperones!


-Check your child’s cubby for two sets of seasonal clothing (underwear, pants, shirt, socks)

-Clearly label all items!

-Sign up to bring in fruits and veggies for snack


Sea Lion Team