November 2017

News from the Head of School

In the month of October…

Treasure, Patti, Wesley, Yasmine and I attended the Educators New to Quakerism Workshop proved by Friends Council on Education. We explored the Quaker identity of our school and we were engaged in deep conversations and thought provoking dialogues about the Quaker history, testimonies (SPICES) and values that we bring into our classrooms.

Thank You…
Yared Taye set up two new laptops for our teachers.

Merate Kibriye, Alsa Benjamen, Christhy Vidal and Mark Lawrence volunteered in our classrooms and made it possible for our teachers to attend a workshop.

Francesco Valentini, Ann-Marie Mason and Jennifer Adams facilitated After School for Friends information session.

After School for Friends:
We had representation from Sidwell Friends, Sheridan School and Ross Elementary. Families who attended the event found it incredibly helpful as they are navigating their way to the next step of their children’s educational journey.

Important Dates:
November 10th – Veteran’s Day – no school

November 23rd and 24th – Thanksgiving Holiday – no school

December 6th – Open House 10:00am

December 8th – School Closes at 5pm for Staff Holiday Dinner!

Global Citizens:
Each year, our teachers select an area of community service that they can do with the children. Learning about the neighborhood, homelessness in the city and community clean-up days are some of the project that we will work on this year. These projects provide our children with hands-on experiences and allow them the opportunity to be aware of the outside community. Our goal is also for them to build skills and grow as productive citizens of this world.


Monarch Butterfly Newsletter
November 2017

October was such a beautiful month with just a hint of Fall wealth. The first two weeks of October we talked about Fall. We spend a lot of time outside went on a fall/nature walk, picked apple from a tree (paper apples), and played on the playground. Our art activities were watercolor leaves, leaf rubbing, and nature walk collages. We also had three cooking activities with the children: apple pie, pumpkin pie, and applesauce. During circle, we ask the open-ended question as the children make shells observation about pumpkins and inside as we carve them. We made apple pie, applesauce, apple crisp, pumpkin pie. The children enjoyed the theme, so much several children came in asking “what are we fixing today!” Below is an article I read from Child Care Resources.

Stages of Play

Children learn about themselves and the world through play. As caregivers and educators, we know the importance of providing many play opportunities for children. But it is also important to remember that not all children play in the same way. According to the categories of play developed by M.B. Parten in the 1930’s, children go through distinct stages of play as they grow and develop. At each stage, how a child interacts with toys and other children directly corresponds to his developmental skills and needs. When planning experiences and activities for children, and when observing groups of children play, consider how their development affects the way they play. While all children develop at their own pace, most will progress through the following four stages of play.

Solitary Play occurs when a child is around other children but is playing alone, not paying attention to others. At this stage, infants and young toddlers learn about the world around them through their senses and explore toys, objects and people by looking, touching, grasping and tasting. They discover relationships between their bodies and the environment (“I can make this rattle move!”) and begin to learn about cause and effect (“Look what happens when I drop the rattle!”). They also begin to participate in and control interactions with caregivers, and enjoy games such as peek-a-boo.

As young children become more aware of others in their world, they begin to engage in Parallel Play. Toddlers explore their environment with newly discovered physical skills and enjoy playing independently with toys. They begin to see themselves as part of a social group but are still egocentric, or self-centred in their thinking. At this stage, children play next to each other with the same game or activity but do not necessarily interact or play together. For example, you may see two young children playing with blocks, but you will notice that they are not building together or talking to each other about what they are doing.

As children develop more interest in their peers and more skills to interact with others, they enter the Associative Play stage. At this stage, children may play the same game with one another but are not necessarily working together. They enjoy watching their peers and imitating others but have limited interaction while playing together. For example, two children playing dress up may each be using the same materials and talking to each other about what they are doing, but they are not playing together to create one game or narrative. You may hear each child talking about what he is doing(“I have the blue one”; “I am wearing the big hat”), but the words tend to be a monologue in nature, rather than conversational.

As children develop more advanced social skills and begin to learn to navigate friendships, they enter the stage of Cooperative Play. At this stage, two or more children talk to each other and work together to play a game. For example, you may see older preschool age children working together to build a large block tower or acting out a dramatic play story. Children at this stage are learning how to compromise, seek adult help in resolving conflicts, practical alternatives to aggression, and better manage their emotions. These newly developed social and emotional skills enable and encourage children to play in groups for longer periods of time. As children enter the school-age years, they can play more elaborate games with formal rules, such as sports and board games. The following sites have more information about the stages of child development and ways to support play:

Dates to Remember…..

November 10th Closed

Jackie at NAEYC 14-18

November 23rd & 24th Closed

Birthdays: Kate 11/7,  Marcon 11/12,  Lily 11/18,  Laura 11/27

Seasonal Clothing… Fall is here, please remember it is cooler on the playground and can get very windy. Please update the extra clothes in their cubby bins, so they do not have a pair of shorts on for a cooler day.


Red Panda Newsletter November 2017

Hello Red Panda families!

It is already November, and the children are feeling more confident and ready to play! The children have been more trusting of their environment, teachers, and friends. They have shown interest in all the areas, as we have been taking time to explore each area more in depth. The children have been delighted to initiate their favorite activities such as: building with blocks/magintilies, playing with cars/trucks, various manipulative toys, visiting the art studio, and indoor obstacle courses!

While it seems that children are just playing, they are, in fact, embracing teachable moments for their gross motor, fine motor, social-emotional, language, and cognitive development. In the article “Learning by Playing”, Mary L. Gavin places emphasis on the importance of these valuable moments of play. She articulates on how repetitiveness is significant for children while “mastering a new skill”.  We have been continuously practicing our daily routines, as well as appreciating our free constructive choice time. The children not only get better at the task they are doing, but also feel more confident to try new teacher-directed activities.

Since playing is a natural action, we have been taking these opportunities to scaffold the children with different teacher directed activities. For example, we have been taking them to the art studio to practice their fine motor skills, creativity, and self-expression! Another activity the children enjoy weekly is the indoor obstacle course. At this age the children want to build their gross motor skills by climbing, crawling, jumping, balancing, and carrying various objects to a specific target. According to Gavin, the following is to be expected physically within the Red Panda age group:

Early Toddler Skills (12-24 months)
• walks independently
• pulls/carries toys while walking
• stoops and gets back up
• begins to run
• kicks a ball
• holds railing going up/down stairs
• walks backward

We will continue to practice all of these skills with our wonderful Red Pandas. Also, thanks to Berna, we have the quad strollers to take the children for a walk around the neighborhood, or a to close park to enjoy the outdoors/nature before it gets too cold! We hope you enjoy the fall weather and make sure to go out and play! Thank you for all our support and input!

• Make sure the children have labeled weather appropriate clothing in their cubbies.
• Sign up for our Fall conferences (November 29, and 30)

Red Panda Team

Works cited:
Gavin, M. L. (Ed.). (2014, October). Toddlers: Learning by Playing. Retrieved November 02, 2017, from


Leatherback Turtle Newsletter

Hello Turtle families,

The turtles spent most of the month of October learning about and exploring the concept of transportation. We have been talking to the Turtles about how they get to and from school. The Turtles described getting to and from school on their parent’s bikes, in cars, on the metro bus or train, in their strollers or walking. The children have been very interested in the transportation theme and we have talked a lot about things that go. We chose a theme based on the children’s interest and prior knowledge of transportation.

For the month of November, the turtles will continue with their transportation theme. Each week we will talk about a different form of transportation such as boats, trains, and airplanes. We spent most of our time last month talking about cars. The turtles will also develop a job chart during the month of November. Classroom jobs will help children experience responsibility, inclusion and feel like their input matters throughout each day. The Turtles have had informal jobs such as the chime and timer helpers for Moment of Silence, but we plan to make it formal. We will have jobs such as pet helper, weather reporter, clean up inspector, snack/ lunch helpers and door holder.

– Please ensure that you have two sets of seasonal clothes in your child’s cubby
– Please utilize thermoses for food you would like to keep warm for your child. All lunchboxes that    do not need to be refrigerated can remain on their hooks to save cabinet space.
– Please label all items (clothes, lovies/stuffed animals, lunch, water bottles).
– Please provide water bottles that have a straw.
– Please be sure to pick up your child by 6pm; if you are going to be late, please give us a call at          202-328-2208.
–Parents and children are required to wash hands upon entering School for Friends under                  accreditation requirements.

Thank you,
Yasmine, Marisa, and Treasure



Eagles Newsletter: November 2017

As the school year progresses, the Eagles are investigating various subjects from community helpers, life cycle, construction and so forth. Presently, the Eagles are investigating ways to increase their ability to manage their bodies and calming strategies through Yoga and deep breathing exercises which helps the Eagles with mindfulness.  They have been able to remember and display their new techniques for calming and self-regulating their body. There are discussions amongst the Eagles about ways to also increase healthy relationships with one another by keeping hands to themselves unless helping a friend, using kind words, and advocating for those who are subjected to teasing.

It is beneficial to encourage children at school as well as at home to engage in activities that heighten their sense of self as well as others. Taking time out as a parent and practicing deep breathing, Yoga, and role modeling how to create healthy friendships assists with the socio-emotional and cognitive development of the children. Below are two links about Yoga for toddlers and deep breathing exercises for toddlers.

In future, the Eagles will begin to take an interest in taking care of the Earth through recycling. We will have a recycling bin to help them actively recycle so they can take care of themselves, others, and the Earth.
Thank you parents for your support and enthusiasm.

The Eagles’ Team
Patti and Darren​​hr-gr

Sea Lion November 2017 Newsletter

What does it mean to have children speak truth to power? Before answering this question, think about what the word ‘power’ means. Webster defines power as “possession of control, authority, or influence over others.” I attended a presentation led by early childhood educators from Brooklyn Friends School who shared their definition of power as “being able to challenge or create change by coming in contact with individuals or systems that one deems as having control or influence.” Speaking truth to power was coined by Quakers in the 1950s to describe standing up against injustice, nonviolently, of course. In early childhood, teaching children to recognize injustice and be able to speak out against it starts with creating community.

In a classroom, children learn power dynamics early on. The children must listen to the teacher, who has the most power, and follow their rules. On the other hand, when creating classroom rules, I have found it helpful to ask the children what they feel is important to them in terms of safety and taking care of themselves and others. During the creation of rules, there is discussion around the role of rules and once rules are in place, to come back together and decide if they are working or not. Once the rules are in place, the children have the structure necessary to maintain a safe classroom environment.

It is important to create a space where children can ask anything without fear. Not only listening to children, but also demonstrating understanding and caring while doing so shows that you are present with them in the moment. Allow children to speak their minds! Whether it is telling an adult that they made a mistake or just comments throughout the day, provide a space for children to speak openly. Language is very important; your choice of words, body language, and tone conveys the overall message. I like to teach about people who spoke truth to power, for instance,

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Wangari Maathai, and Delores Huerta, to provide historical examples as well as examples of nonviolent resistance such as Occupy DC and the Montgomery bus Boycott. Lead by example because children learn best from modeling. By being an ally to children, admit to being wrong, avoid hierarchies, and listen actively, we can show children that they do have power and encourage them to speak up.

Sea Lion Reminders:
– Fall weather is here. Please make sure your child has a CLEARLY LABELED rain coat and rain      boots and warm clothing.
– Make sure there are two sets of seasonal clothing in cubbies

Sea Lion Team


Tiger Classroom

Children are naturally curious about all kinds of human differences from a very early age on. To make meaning of their world they learn to categorize. Pre-school children especially are developmentally beginning to sort and categorize things in their environment. This is also true about people’s visible traits.

Noticing differences is part of their normal development; our work is to help them avoid stereotypes and bias. Pre-school children quickly assume that people who look like them also enjoy the same things they do, while people who look different are different in many ways.
“Children are very sensitive to adults actions and emotions and they sense our discomfort with differences. Meanwhile, they are constantly exposed to biased messages from the media and the conversations and behaviors of the adults around them. Young children are constantly taking in our society’s powerful messages about diversity: what group holds power, and wealth- and where they fit in.

Children need us to talk to them about these differences directly, explicitly, and in language they can understand. Instead of giving abstract confusing messages like “everybody is equal” or “we are all the same”, we can teach from the perspective that everyone is important and every person experiences the world in different ways which gives each of us different ideas and viewpoints.”
There is nothing more important in the lives of children than their families.

What better way to see, understand and celebrate diversity first hand as by learning more about each family in the Tigers classroom at our Friday morning circle times. Over the next couple of weeks, we would like to invite Tigers families to be part of one of these circle times (11am).

Our Friday circle time is meant to help your child learn to value themselves, their families culture/heritage, develop an in-depth understanding of “you and me”, and very importantly to know that their own families are respected and supported, but also learn to understand and respect the families of others.

The following suggestions may help you to initiate a conversation with your child when planning your circle time.

• Who is in your family? (Siblings, grandparents, and other family members are welcome to              participate in this circle time!)
• What makes a family a family? What are things that define your family?
• Where does your family (also extended family) live (heritage)?
• Does everyone in your family like the same things?
• How has/does your family change (moving, new baby…)?
• What does you family enjoy doing together? Is there a way to enjoy that in the classroom?               (Activities, foods, books, photographs…)
• Think together; tell children briefly about celebrations or special events your family does                 together…
• Share your own childhood stories with your child, or talk to them about their experiences so far.

From the past years we know how much the children look forward to this day and take pride in having their family be part of our school day. So make sure to sign-up early on and please feel free to come to us with any questions you have.

We are looking forward to this special “Family-time” in the Tiger Classroom.

Thank you!
The Tigers’ teachers