March/April 2015 Newsletter

Everyone certainly enjoyed the warmth of the weather in the 60’s on Monday.  I know that I certainly did and I cannot wait for more.  The flowers are starting to come up in front of the PK Center’s front porch as well as the edges of my front walk.  I cannot wait for the start of the growing season and neither can Mr. Dudley.  Jeremy and Dudley started cleaning out the area for our garden last weekend.  I am really lucky to have him retired with plenty of time to help with all aspects of the daycare.  Everyone sees him doing his yardwork but not everyone gets to see him put a baby to sleep or help to feed a child who is just not taking food from us.  He has been called the “baby whisperer” in the past and he looks like he hasn’t lost his touch. You will see him around more helping with the walks across the street as well as the summer camp walks all over town.  Of course, all of you saw him quite a bit this winter as we worked very hard to keep the centers open as much as we could.

This week (April 13-April 17) we are celebrating your children.  It is “The Week of the Young Child”.  As many of you know from previous years, NAEYC celebrates internationally by encouraging all who care for the young child.  So from Monday through Friday, we will be doing the following:

Music Monday — look for new music in each room – all rooms should be playing only children’s music created for infants through preschool.  Classical music is also encouraged.

Taco Tuesday — nachos would do as well.  Just the consistency and crunchiness makes it exciting for a child to touch let alone taste

Work Together Wednesday — everyday in our classrooms children work together — ask your child how they helped each other today.

Artsy Thursday — creative art work is the big excitement and you will see this in every room.  Let’s see what the Cuddly Cubs has in store for us.

Family Friday — again this week is to celebrate your children as a part of an incredible family.  Your children need to know that they are unconditionally loved and cared for by all of us.

Ending the week with Family Friday was done on purpose so that you as a family could donate a book to be given to children who do not have books in their homes like we do.  Last year, we donated it to the Hillside Food Bank but I have learned of another charity who works to support the single mother and her child or children.  Please find a book either new or slightly used that your child and you could give to someone less fortunate.  I know that your generosity will certainly be appreciated.

Each and every day we commit to you and your family the opportunity for your children to experience the outside environment, to enjoy sensory experiences, to move freely in an uninhibited environment so that their development is encouraged in a natural and authentic fashion.  In order for us to continue our facilitation of this growth, we wish to partner with you at every opportunity to insure maximum growth both physically, emotionally, socially and neurologically.  Your responsibility is an awesome one but we are here to work with you.

A topic of increasing importance and critical for the emotional growth of your child is the concept of resiliency.  Today it is crucial to help develop skills to empower your child from within to weather the challenges of the current happenings as well as the future.  Allowing your child to experience challenges, withstand stress and adversity and follow through by finding solutions to their challenges helps your child experience their competence and capabilities as they handle each issue.

Now what should you expect from the teachers with regard to the above?  It is important for us to provide what is known as a YES environment.  What does this mean?? It means that the expectations and the routines are age appropriate so that the children do not experience frustration but rather experience success as they participate in our activities.

The article below “Creating a YES environment” is from Community Playthings and can be found at:  

When a classroom environment is set up so that teachers have to constantly say “no” to the children, it is stressful for everyone. The teacher stops being a facilitator of the children’s play and learning, and instead becomes a police officer, monitoring what the children can and cannot do. To reduce this stress, a classroom must provide an environment where the children are able to feel successful through opportunities to explore without the limitations of adult expectations.

The following is what I expect from the teachers as they work with your children:  At the end of this session you will note the author of these sentiments.  Many of you have heard us discuss these elements for years and we need to make sure that this is occurring in every room.  A philosophy which includes these factors will encourage the resiliency your children need to succeed in this ever changing world.

There are four important parts to a “yes” environment: respect for the child, process instead of product, opportunities for risk-taking, and the teacher’s role in the classroom. Being thoughtful and intentional about implementing these qualities in the classroom allows for less stress and more success, for both the children and their teachers.

Respect for the child

It’s important to know where your children are in their development. You can then set up the classroom accordingly, providing areas or activities at which they can be successful without the assistance of an adult. Doing this shows that you have respect for what the children are able to do. Of course, giving them a few challenges isn’t a problem—but it becomes a problem when the children feel like they have to ask the adult to do it for them.

If you put a child onto a tricycle, he isn’t going to learn how to get onto it himself. The next time, if you aren’t there, he’ll be frustrated about doing it on his own. Children will eventually learn to use materials and equipment once they reach the developmental stage which allows them to navigate those things. If they become dependent on us to do it for them, they won’t feel successful doing an activity that is beyond their skill level.

Process instead of product

In creating an environment of success, it is crucial to offer open-ended activities and not expect a particular end result. Children need opportunities to explore materials in their own way, at their own pace. They need to be allowed to make messes and make mistakes.

When a young child begins to paint off the paper and onto the easel or tray, it’s hard to resist saying, “Don’t paint on the easel,” or, “Paper is for painting.” When you focus on the process, though, you see that the child is learning about how the paint and the brush work and where they make marks. Ask yourself: does it matter if the easel gets messy?

Opportunities for risk-taking

Children need opportunities to climb and run, to get messy and get wet. Fortunately, they’re still small, and if they fall down, they’re close to the ground. Falling probably scares them more than it does injury to their bodies. While you can do your best to prevent hazards, you can’t ensure that children will never get hurt. You can be there to help if they do get hurt, but you shouldn’t hover.

If a toddler wants to climb up the ramp onto the climbing structure, and you’re not sure how she’ll manage, be nearby in case she needs help. Don’t place her onto the ramp or pull her down if she seems stuck. Don’t tell her, “No, that isn’t safe.” Doing so sends the message that you will always be there to move her onto and off of the ramp and that she isn’t capable of climbing the structure. If she never falls, she never learns how to hold on tightly, how to balance her body, or how to catch herself if she slips.

The teacher’s role

The most important role of teacher in a “yes” classroom is as facilitator. In this role, teachers give guidance and partner with children in their learning processes. This takes the emphasis off the teacher’s agenda and puts in on what children are doing and how the teacher can assist them.

If you’re feeling that the children are “out of control,” reflect on what is happening in that moment. Often, a teacher’s expectations of what should be happening don’t match where the children are developmentally and temperamentally. Rather than expect children to sit still for a story at circle time, you might have to change your own thinking in order to meet the children’s needs in that moment. If some children want to run, give them the option to run before the story—or excuse them from the circle altogether, which gives them an opportunity to run while the remaining children hear the story. What if no children want to sit still for a story? Perhaps it isn’t the right time, and you can try again later.

Teachers set up the classroom, create the schedule of the day, and plan the curriculum. We also have to be flexible because the classroom is for the children. The focus should be on what the children want to do. If we try to control too many elements, it becomes easy to feel “out of control” and stressed out. In those moments, it might be best to take a breath, maybe laugh a little, and understand that it’s time to try something different.

Creating a “yes” environment in the classroom doesn’t mean that teachers allow the children to do whatever they want. It means that we have patience for the children and meet their needs in a developmentally appropriate way. In doing this, we get back to what children actually want to do with their bodies. It may also mean that we push the limits of our comfort zones to get there. If it means less stress for every person in the classroom, the journey is worth it.

About the Author

Teresa Gonsoski  has  been teaching in the field of early childhood education for eleven years and has worked with all age groups, from infants to preschoolers. She has a Master of Arts in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College. She currently teaches in the two-year-old program at the Children’s Center for the Stanford Community, a parent cooperative.


Taking the above and creating this environment in your own home will lead to a much less frustrating daily routine.  Encouraging your children to do as much for themselves is to your benefit as well as theirs.  Yes, it will take some time to do this properly but it is well worth the competent, confident child that you will see emerge!!






October Newsletter

We had a GREAT turnout for the parent staff committee meeting.  Thanks to everyone for your ideas, thoughts and suggestions.  Parent teacher partnerships are paramount in encouraging the optimal growth and development of your child/children.

In “SMART MOVES — Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head”, I have found a few suggestions to help your child develop the limbic system.  Now what is the limbic system?  The Limbic system consists of 5 major structures in the brain – the thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, amygdala and hippocampus.  These structures support a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory and the sense of smell.  You can contribute to the healthy development of the limbic system by following these suggestions:

  • Bond with your child, take time and be present.  Encourage spontaneous imaginative play, wither alone of with parents/caregivers and other children.  Spend time playing, climbing splashing, crawling and spinning with children in nature, allowing them to the lead the play process.  Rough and tumble play is good for both child and parent. Allow children to create their own toys. Steer clear of non-creative, fully constructed commercial toys.
  • Read and participate with full attention when with a child.  Encourage creative, imaginative story making and play-acting.
  • Encourage and allow full emotional expression moving to rational dialogue between the ages of 3-5 year.
  • Expose children to good, consonant music.  Sing and dance with children. Encourage them to explore musical instruments and musical styles.
  • Encourage lots of movement and interaction with other children to develop playground rules, sharing and the beginnings of altruistic behavior.
  • Honor care of other people, pets and objects.
  • Encourage a sense of time and delayed gratification.
  • Discourage any TV, video games or computer until at least age 8.
  • Provide a loving, low stress environment and model rich emotional expression and stability. Model JOY.
  • Control caretaker’s stress…..

Please remember that immunizations need to be up to date so please make sure that you have given your latest ones to the office.  If you have any questions, let me know.

Again, if you have questions about our programs please just let me know.  We did meet with the Professional Development Coordinator for the Quality Rating & Improvement Project.  At our initial meeting we went through the education of our staff, the acceptance of High Scope as our research based curriculum and what further steps we should start with as we continue our professional growth.



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Movement is a Must for Infants and Children of All Ages

by Jane Coleman Cabildo, Director – Santa Fe Centers

Current research and a search of the literature have given Santa Fe Childcare a new way to look at the activity level of our infants and toddlers. We were pleased to welcome Eleanor Campbell, PT, to our Infant Toddler Center, on April 16th where she spoke to parents and staff about the importance of movement in the lives of our youngest children. The title of her presentation was “Babies Need to Move” and she had everyone fascinated with the information shared. She reviewed typical sensory/motor development, which is similar for all children – progress on a continuum which contributes to the many vital connections that are formed between lower and higher centers in the brain.

Infants must be allowed to move in order to gain muscle strength against gravity, to get up on hands and knees, to crawl and to eventually walk. The efficient and healthy development of the neurological and motor system is dependent on freedom of movement of infants as well as the continued encouragement of active play for the older children. In this age of car seats, infant seats, exersaucers, infant swings, and jolly jumpers, we need to critically look at whether we are providing enough opportunity to allow our children to be on the floor, to be in an environment where they can freely move and help to develop all their senses. We can prevent some of the developmental, learning and emotional challenges our children face,  as well as plagiocephaly (abnormal head shape) in infants or torticollis (asymmetrical neck position) by allowing our infants to spend most of their awake time on the floor or in an environment that allows free movement. Less time in infant seats/carriers, swings or other restrictive devices which inhibit free movement is the key.

We are all well aware of our five senses and through growth and exposure these are well stimulated — but how many are aware of the proprioceptive sense and the vestibular sense?  The proprioceptive sense helps us to know where our body is in space, how much force is needed for postural control against gravity and for movement. The vestibular system helps us to know where our head is positioned in space and to comprehend movement. These systems work together to develop motor control, balance and equilibrium. A baby’s first playground is the floor and here is where learning about the body and the environment is gained. Full development of movement, body awareness, and balance is a gradual process that is not complete until at least 7 years of age and beyond. Allowing our older children more free outside time and less regimented classes will help to not only develop the motor and neurologic system but will help with social and emotional growth and stress release.

Here at Santa Fe, we work hard to provide such an environment, which helps to develop all the senses so important for proper neurological and motor growth.


More Than Just Child’s Play

By:  Toni Dolshun, Butterflies Teacher, Santa Fe Centers

Preschool children at Santa Fe Centers in New Providence marvel at their “Rain in a Bag” experiment. The photo depicts their interest as they are watching “clouds” form and “rain” fall in the miniature ecosystem which they created. It was simply put together with soil and a little water in a zip lock bag; strategically placed in a warm, sunny spot. Our young learners explored the water cycle while using words such as evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. As they observed the states of matter change from liquid to gas and back to liquid again, their wonderment lead to various questions, answers, correlations, and predictions. (All leading to promoting increased cognitive and language skills)

This was just one of the many exploratory activities the Center’s children enjoy throughout the year. “Making Rain” happened to evolve from our Summer Fairy Tales Curriculum.  After reading an African tale from Kenya entitled “Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain”, we explored geographically dry climate areas on a map and looked at pictures of deserts and other arid lands. We talked about what happened to the people and animals in the story when they experienced a lack of rain. Additionally, we used our senses to see, feel and smell dry patches of grass. We then compared the dry grass to lush, amply watered grass and decided to try to “create” rain.  Today the zip lock bag still remains on display on our porch because the children still enjoy tapping the bag as they pass it by. With each tap the cloud is disturbed and drops of rain trickle down.

As summer progresses, our teachers will be reading more fables and fairy tales as well as singing and reciting nursery rhymes with our children. The carefully chosen stories (many of which originate from culturally diverse areas) will be followed by discussions regarding the moral of the story. Those discussions and the simple repetition of nursery rhymes increase language and critical thinking skills. Additionally, the story-related, hands-on activities which the children participate in are designed to impart a sense of curiosity and an authentic interest in science and in nature. We are fortunate to be surrounded by an abundance of beauty in nature. Why not utilize it as part of the classroom environment? Our out-door experiences have been truly enriching.

Our Center recognizes that children’s development is holistic. This means that development in each domain (physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language) is closely related to and dependent on all the other domains. In turn, all of that is influenced by the quality and variety of opportunities that are made available to children. Play provides those opportunities for children to integrate their development across the various domains. What better way for our young learners to grow than through explorations and observation while at play? Whether we are parents, grandparents, or teachers of young children, let’s remember to make the time to provide the opportunities needed. It can be as simple as a walk in the woods, watering the plants, playing a game of catch, building a Lego house, or making it rain in a bag. Having doubts about the value and benefits of “just” child’s play? Come visit us.

Will those four year olds in the photo remember the big vocabulary words which we tossed out at them? Perhaps they won’t. Will they remember that they made it rain in a bag? My guess is probably yes.  Let’s get out there and PLAY. The rewards are far-reaching.




Parent/Staff Newsletter Mid-June 2014

This week many of you realize that Friday is Promotion Day at the Pre K center. This is a very special day for the children, you as families and us as teachers. The children from the Pre K room will be promoted to their next level either Pre-K 4 or Kindergarten. Some children will stay with us in September and some will go on to other schools. In September, we do have a full time Kindergarten and we are so happy that we are able to provide a certified teacher with experience – Meagan Mentor. We wish all of our promotion candidates a wonderful experience in the coming year. Your presence here at Santa Fe has only added to our enjoyment as professional teachers — may you continually be excited about learning.

On Friday, we will also be providing the children in the Pre K classroom with a barbecue lunch which they have planned. It will be held on Dudley and Jane’s deck overflowing into our back yard. This has become tradition and we do this to help them celebrate their special day. Tough time for those of us who go through this every year — we will miss your children and the many anecdotes through the year that have made us laugh and smile and make us proud to be a part of their lives.

I also wanted to mention the 5 K race that was organized by the Sharing Network held on June 8th. Marilyn, Cindy and I put up a booth to represent Santa Fe as members of the New Providence Business Association. We were so impressed by the numbers of people there and the stories of those who had donated and those who received a donation either from a relative or from a deceased donor. The gift of life and hope was the theme of the day. The courage of these people is a lesson in itself. We were honored to be a part of the day and several of our families either ran or walked in honor of these families. We saw the Giunta, De Groot, Pardo, Weiss, Rancier, Greenwald, Pagdanganan families as they participated in an incredible day. In discussing this the Monday after this race, a few of our families suggested that we put together a team to represent Santa Fe. Those of you who wish to get involved in this, start training now!!

Remember tomorrow is Children’s Day so in celebration of your children they have received a box of raisins with the saying —“Thanks for a great year. You’re our “raisin” for being at Santa Fe.”

Remember summer has started and sunscreen is a part of our routine. We have an article in the office from Consumer Reports (July 2014) entitled “The truth about sunscreen”. In this article it states that spray sunscreen should not be used for children for the following reasons:

• Lung irritation
• Titanium dioxide is a possible carcinogen
• Flammability
• Not cost effective as you need to spray yourself twice
• Air quality???
• FDA is in the process of verifying the above

Please rethink the use spray sunscreen as in order to ensure adequate coverage you need to spray then rub in onto the skin anyway.

Air quality is a concern especially for those families worried about RAD or reactive airway disease or asthma. So even though you are tempted to jump out of the car with the engine running as you would like to keep that air conditioner going strong, please think twice as one of our children with lung sensitivity may be walking by your car. And of course in April, we talked to all the children about our responsibility to the earth and the air we breathe. So let us set a good example.

Remember, fund raiser is finished tomorrow. Thank you so much for all your support. Molly and I are so happy with the results and we are appreciative of the time and effort all of you put in to make this a very successful opportunity to buy more for the children.

Last but not least, Alisha has been accepted into the nursing program at Bloomfield College. I am so excited and yet sad that we will lose her expertise here at Santa Fe but I am sure that she will be able to help us out occasionally. Please congratulate her on her persistence and hard work.




Early June 2014 Family Newsletter

Well, I certainly cannot let this newsletter go by without letting you know that Memorial Day was so much fun. When Mr. Dudley and I were ending the day, we learned that the numbers at our house came close to 150. Needless to say, the picnic and the parade were so much fun and we thank all who walked, watched and came to our house to celebrate such a traditional American holiday.

At the end of this week, we will have enjoyed our farm animals and we take every class over to the PK Center as long as the weather holds out. The children love the animals and it makes for an exciting outing.

Next week, on Friday, those children from the Pre K room will be promoted.

Since the last newsletter, there is quite a garden growing at the PK center so please if you have not visited, please do. As the vegetables grow, Mr. Dudley will be handing samples out when he can. Here at the IT center, there are sunflower seeds that our growing compliments of Jess and our littlest children. Let’s see how tall they get — great place by the entrance so that you can watch with your children.

Not sure how our fund raiser will turn out but I do know that there have been many orders. The money from our last fundraiser was used to buy an axillary thermometer for the infant toddler center. For the PK center we bought a large piece for the children’s lunch bags and other equipment. Anyone who wants to see the story in pictures of how we got the piece up the staircase, just ask. It is on my phone.

During the summer you will see a few of our high school/college students who are joining us or returning to help with the summer programs. Ms. Lindsey, Ms. Kathryn, Ms. Jennifer are college students who will be helping primarily at the IT center. Ms. Rebecca, Ms. Annie, Ms. Kaitlyn, and Ms. Jes are high school students and will predominantly be working at the PK center. Ms. Amber and Ms. Dana worked with us last summer and will be back again to help with the older children. At the PK center you will also see Mr. Nick who has been with us the last couple of years as a CIT – counsellor in training. This year he is actually coming to work with us and he is great helping with the summer sport activities. You will also see three other young CITs who will be joining us — Christian, Christian and Madeline. All have been with us in our childcare program so we welcome them as they come to work with us.

At the PK center, we will be saying goodbye to Ms. Alex who has been great working in the afternoons at the PK center. She will be working at a camp this summer and we wish to thank her and wish her the best.

Ms. Dotti has decided to retire this year and will be sorely missed. Through thick and thin, Dottie had supported Santa Fe and my family as we embarked on this new business. Her loyalty has helped to support this growing and expanding business. She has worked in every room, every age group and probably just about every staff member who has walked through these doors. It is clearly evident that she loves these children and she prides herself on doing an incredible job. We hope that she will come and visit and feed a baby or two when she can find the time as she has a large group of grandchildren that she cares for as well.

With Dottie leaving, Alisha will take her days and work full time through the summer for us. I have asked Maria to take the lead teacher position in the Cuddler’s room. I have been very impressed with Maria’s ease in working with others – staff as well as parents. She has a quite calm way about her and when all those babies are crying, she just meets their needs in a very comforting and calm fashion. She has shown a good understanding of developmental growth, good organizational skills and a willingness to continually work towards excellence in care. Her background and education are the foundation needed to work in an infant room:

• Degree in Psychology and on her way to doing her CDA as well
• Experience in developmental pediatrics working as a case manager
• Management experience having run a department of experts meeting the needs of developmentally challenged children and their families.
• Her recent contributions to the revamping of the Cuddler’s room to facilitate the motor development of all children

I would hope that everyone staff and parents offer her your congratulations but also recognize that she is a working partner in the care of your child. We are here to insure that your child is off to a good start which includes physical development but also includes social and emotional health.

You will see Ms. Selina in this room as one of the regular staff. Jess will be helping us with our transitions the next few months as so many of our children are so close in age. You will see Jess in either the Cuddler room or the Walkie- Talkie room depending on the needs of the children.

Please do not hesitate to stop in to tell me how your child/children are doing. I enjoy every story.




Santa Fe Centers Activities


Our comprehensive and thoughtfully planned daily activities provide:


* Sensory stimulation for optimal brain development

* Connection with nature

* Artistic outlets for experiences, ideas, and emotions through drawing, painting, singing, movement and dramatic play

* Communication/language development and vocabulary expansion

* Emerging muscle development through whole body use during play

* Development of curiosity, creativity and initiative

* Scaffolding of self- and teacher-initiated activities

* Active intellectual stimulation and involvement of children of all ages and stages of development

* Opportunities to develop problem solving and critical thinking

* Respect for individual and family culture, values, preferences and opportunities to share their experiences

* Development and support of trusting relationships with adults and peers

* Joyful environment to connect with the fun of learning

* Development of the foundation for lifelong learning through basic pre-academic skills

* Opportunities to learn and practice positive social interaction skills with adults and peers

* A continuum of development of self-help and self-care skills leading to self-confidence, competence, self-reliance and resilience

* Flexibility to adapt the schedule to take advantage of changes in the school day, weather, or the interests of the children and their families



Spring/Summer Parent/Staff Newsletter

Did not think I would do a newsletter so soon but a few items needed to be discussed so here I am. I was hoping to find a few tennis players in the group as we have been using used tennis balls to save our vinyl flooring and a few of the classrooms could use a few more for the bottom of our chairs.  If anybody has any you are no longer using or are not functioning as tennis balls, please send them our way.

It is the beginning of planting season and your children have been helping Mr. Dudley to start his wide variety of plants so you may hear some discussion about Mr. Dudley in the back yard.  For those of you who do not know Mr. Dudley, he is my retired husband who is now having a lot of fun saying hello to our children or having them “help” him with his work.  Your children bring a lot of joy to a lot of people not just the teachers but people like Mr. Dudley.  There will be an area by the fence for all the children to prepare and plant their seedlings.  When I asked one of the 2.5 year olds what the plants would need, I was told water, soil and sun in that order.  Would you have known that at 2.5??  I am not sure that I would have and my father farmed here in Union County.

The men from the fire monitoring company had a great time stepping around the Walkie Talkies to get to our sprinkler system and with a lot of smiles and patience were able to complete their inspection of all of our equipment which is in tip top shape.

Our state inspector came by for a follow-up to our renewal of our licensure for the Pre K and as always just commented on the incredible back yard we have and how lucky these children are to spend so much time outdoors.  Many of you know that the new regulations require much more outside time than in the past and this is great for all children as you know by hearing us talk about our philosophy and just the general need for all of us to commune with nature more.

Since many of us take this time to go through the winter clothes and check out the summer clothes for our families, any items that appear to be appropriate for dress up we would love to take off your hands.  Please know that if we do not use them and I think others can, I donate to the New Providence United Methodist Church Thrift Sale or the clothing drive run by the high school.  Do not forget us as you start your spring cleaning.  It is like Christmas when we get these exciting items.

Please take a look at the Independent Press of May 7 as we have an article discussing “Movement and activity crucial for all infants and toddlers.”  Some of you were present at our education meeting that was done by Eleanor Campbell, PT.  We really love to learn as much as we can to help your children and your family as we want to share to help you as you enjoy your role as parents.

Enjoy the upcoming warm weather.






Ask the Teachers April 2014 – Would love to put some art up at home

Dear Teachers,

My neighbor’s child goes to a preschool and is always bringing home cute art – craft items and coloring pages.  I think I know the answer to this but am asking anyway:  Why doesn’t my child bring home lots of art?

Would love to put some art up at home


Dear Art at Home,

First it will help to define some terms.  Art is freeform, full of interpretations and flows from a child’s creativity using the materials they choose with results linked to the child’s satisfaction.  Crafts are activities using prepared pieces with prescribed steps and a single desired outcome.  Which do you want your child to do at school?

I once worked in a preschool where there was parental pressure for the children to come home each day with a product (craft or worksheet) to show that learning had taken place.  At the outset I, too, was asked to cut out a myriad of pieces that the children put together within 3 minutes in a prescribed way resulting in 15 identical “works of art.”  There was nothing artful about them; merely a challenging time for my 4 year-old class to comply before returning to their play.  Within a year, the frustrated staff had evolved to provide developmentally appropriate hands-on activities that did not focus on an end product.   The children were happier enjoying the process of creating and became more able to talk about their work and what it meant to them rather than repeating the assembly steps.  The parents soon understood that learning was taking place despite the lack of identical daily products.

Early childhood programs following current research offer self-initiated and open-ended activities with an array of interesting materials for the children to use in their creative process.  The columns below show what we do – and do not do.


         Santa Fe Teachers Will:


      Santa Fe Teachers Will Not:

Demonstrate use of Materials

“Try going back and forth with the brush.

Make a sample to follow

“Make it look like this, please.”

Ask open-ended questions ideas

“What can you do with that paper?”

Give step by step instructions

“This part goes first then that one.”

Offer a choice

“Would you like to try painting now, Mabry?”

Require participation

“Mabry, it’s your turn now.  Come on.”

Stay nearby to encourage/extend their vision

What color do you need for that?”

Choose materials for a child

“All the pieces you need are in that pile.”

Reward effort

“You’ve worked a long time on that.

I can see how proud you are of your work.”

Ask them continue or alter their work

“Keep working.  You’re not done.  You still

Have pieces left.  I’ll help you finish it.”


Acknowledgment of their unique perspective

“That’s interesting.  Please tell me about it.”

Judge against the sample

“That looks perfect.  They match.  Good.”



I understand your feelings: it is nice to have something to hang on your refrigerator as your child paints, cuts or draws.   Their work is meaningful to them and it needs to be shared with their families.   For winter holidays and Mother’s and Father’s Day we try to provide a keepsake picture or item to take home for gift giving.  We also keep some of their work as documentation of their progress in an individual portfolio.  You may ask to see it at any time and some teachers share it with families during scheduled conference times.  We also understand that sometimes children prefer to take something home rather than display it.

Oddly enough, we have had the opposite problem, too: parents throwing out “free” art in the classroom, in front of their child.  This deflates and devalues a child’s budding skills and artistic abilities when they see it go unappreciated by their families.  Each sliver of paper and stroke of the paintbrush has a story – and it is our job to encourage them to tell it.




SFC Spring Newsletter 2014

Parent/Staff Newsletter-Spring 2014 


Spring is finally upon us and I can just feel the excitement. My house is always bustling in the mornings and afternoons with the children going up and down the driveway and up and down the hill. The activity sheets that go home with you monthly, and weekly for the Pre-K room, are intended to give you a sense of what we do all day. Asking your children about the various activities will give you the opportunity to open up conservation about their day. Please ask your children what is happening. Yes, even the Cuddlers room as it is so important for you and the teachers to constantly talk to the children.

Since we are so lucky to have an acre of land across the street, we decided we needed to share this land with the children from the IT center. Periodically we will be taking the children on field trips to visit the PK center where they can run and run and run. With the infants they will have the opportunity to sit on a quilt on the grass so that they can watch the other children if they are not moving that much themselves. Several of our Pre K children have been digging up the earth in preparation for the planting season, which is just around the corner. When they find an earthworm, everyone gets a chance to look and see.

Celebrating our children is what we get to do everyday but not everyone in the world is so blessed. I really want to thank all of you for your generous contributions of books to the Hillside Food Bank. This is a great opportunity to help your children recognize the joy of giving. I will be gathering the donated books for delivery Easter week. These books were gathered to acknowledge the Week of the Young Child, which was last week. The National Association for the Education of Young Children has been making this an annual celebration for several years. The purpose is to educate the community about the need and the importance of early childhood education.

This week on Wednesday, we will have an education session with Eleanor Campbell, PT, who will discuss the need for babies to move. Her presentation starts at 6 pm and she will encourage questions.

At the annual Advisory Committee of the Junior League, a monumental need for the City of Summit and our surrounding area is the need for Latino children to be part of a Pre school/ Pre K. Because of the cost, transportation difficulties, language barriers many are not able to participate. Being a part of the Junior League has shown me how powerful and influential a group of woman can be. They ask for a report from me with respect to the Catch activities that they helped to bring to our school at Santa Fe.

Please remember that we as a school march in the New Providence Memorial Day Parade and we then enjoy a barbecue in my backyard. We ask those who are participating to come in a red or blue shirt to celebrate the holiday. Each family brings brings either an appetizer, salad or dessert and you just relax and enjoy the day. Tickles the clown will be there and she has been the center of our entertainment for years with her animals and various tricks. It is a great opportunity for parents to meet others who have been with us for years and to meet parents from the other center. The parents of the Cuddlers do not get a chance to talk to parents of children who are in the older classes. Dudley, my husband, will man the barbecue and frequently makes one of his Philippine dishes which he is known for here in New Providence and elsewhere.

You will also see us on Sunday, June 8th, at the 5 K walk run in support of the Sharing Network here in New Providence. More details to follow.



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“We cannot thank you enough for all you’ve done for us over the last 3 years. Because of you and your loving care our children have grown immensely into wonderful little people. We truly consider you all a part of our extended family and know we and the kids will really miss you. Thanks for sharing in our joys, tears and frustrations of parenting and beyond. You all are amazing. -Family of three children enrolled from Infancy through PreK

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