From the Co-Directors: Thanks 2013 Claire Bainer & Liisa Hale W hile we don’t celebrate holidays at school, we do honor the earth’s rotation in its orbit. So as the earth turns and enters the darkest season and the shortest days we think of the light we all bring to the earth. In this darkest season as we wait for the solstice we sing out our love and gratitude for all the good people and their kindness that keeps this little school going through their service and support. We all serve and are served by the children and families at BlueSkies now and by those who came before us. In so many ways over the last 30 years BlueSkies has let its little light shine, helping children, families, and the greater community, all the while modeling for the field of childcare how to reinvent itself to better meet the needs of all children. As winter solstice approaches the children color with white chalk on dark blue paper, and talk about the bright shiny moon and the twinkling stars that greet them as they leave the school each night. Handyman Neal has gone over the outdoor lights so they are shining on the walk ways, gutters are clean and heaters cranked up as we settle in for winter. We thank our lucky stars for our wonderful Board who guides and advises and helps us with the tough challenges we discover running the school. These good people show up on evenings and all day meetings always offering their best, thinking with us as we move forward with the labor of love that this school has become. December 2013 Upcoming Events Tue Dec. 3 Parent Services Committee Meeting 6:15 - 7:30 p.m. Sat Dec. 7 Umami Mart Fundraiser 2 - 5pm 815 Broadway in Oakland Tue Dec. 10 December Coffee 7:30 - 9:30 am Thur Dec. 12 Parent Fund Development Committee Meeting 6:15 - 7:30 p.m So Salud! and Three Cheers for Board Chair Tanya Veverka, Vice Chair Avis Kowalewski, Treasurer John Kinnaman, Secretary Khadija Fredericks, and for Dec. 24 (12 noon) the Board members at large who head up committees and oversee board projects: Jan. 1 Isavane Samanna Scovill, Darren Whitfield, Kristi Schutjer-Mance, Dawn RiorClosed for Winter break dan, Peter Landreth, Gerry Fabella, Zoë Wood, and Linda Copenhagen. Down in the Baby House teachers snuggle little ones who watch with wonder as the first rain splashes on the garden outside the windows, and we are thankful for Christa and her team of teachers who bring peace and joy to the children’s lives at school. Shalom to Sandra, Helen, Christina, Anabel and Kiki—and to Paulina, whose wise leadership continues even in her temporary absence. The Wobblies are busy with holiday cheer, dumping and carrying mail and delivering discarded holiday cards and all sorts of surprises in a mail box or two as they move through their day. Hooray! to our lovely Wobblies guided and held by Kristina and her team Rosalia, Kea, Maria R. and Hong. In the Todds group things are stepping up and twos celebrate winter time both cozy and chilly. With stories and naps, and jackets zipped tight and toasty, these young twos make gluings so sparkly, and feel the crunch of leaves underfoot and the crisp winter air as they proudly show their art to their parents. We see joy, and with gratitude we thank the Todds teachers right straight from our hearts. L’Chaim! to Sandy and her team—Allison, Choeurt and Hong. Our Happiness and Joy shine out on the Hedco Infant Toddler Nursery as we say Namaste to program Director Ameena for her own special kind of loving kindness and wisdom that keeps things going throughout her group, and the school, with ease and grace. - In This Issue P2 From the P3 Co-Directors Snapshots Birthday Books Annoucements Snapshot in the P4 Playroom Board of P5 Directors P6 Staff Gift Holiday Gift Giving Page 1 Co-Directors Report Cont... Playroom kids are blossoming, putting all they have learned to good use! Dressing up in the fanciest outfits, painting pictures covered with color, singing Bonnie songs… they can even strum her guitar if they like! Their potties are flushing and their teeth are brushed, hands are washed as the Playroom children burst with pride at all they can do, beaming with joy at their many big kid successes. So we say Cheers! to Sarah and her team—Antenette, Mimi, and Latisha. In the Homeroom something is cooking; is it apple crumble from the little trees in the yard? The blocks are piled high as buildings take form, and roads and tunnels and bridges come into being. The dollhouse is hopping as dollies are loved and sung to and holiday fare is prepared by busy children dressed up in fancy clothes, big hats, tutus and capes, wearing clumpy dress-up shoes. Over at the art table decorations are being created by busy hands as a chorus of children hum holiday songs, each song with its own unique words according to the child’s interpretation. Slainte! to Janice, Tamila and Diana, who faithfully create this joyful atmosphere of friendship and learning. Those big Schoolroom children are hard at work in their play. They are reading about the deep dark winter and people all over the world doing interesting things; they chant and sing and talk, agreeing, disagreeing, helping, and working it out. At the art table children are learning to fold their paper and cut lacy snowflakes, coloring them with every color. Writers are writing new words, each letter a different color, some frontwards, some not. In the big blocks forts and caves are constructed; those who ask for an old sheet to cover their structure will also need a flash light when they slip inside to chat and play in the dark. Hurrah! for Amy and Ben as they keep the days rolling with new, fun, interesting things to discover and learn. And a special Sante! to Anna, our flexible substitute, who knows every child and classroom routine in the school, and to Janice for her dedicated leadership in the program. We are very pleased to welcome our new Assistant Director, Erika Gilfether, to BlueSkies this month. Those of you with Wobbly Walkers may have already met her as she has been transitioning her daughter into the class over the past few weeks. brought this Renaissance woman to BlueSkies! Introducing Erika Gilfether Erika brings BlueSkies a wealth of experience with young children, families, and teachers. She has recently relocated from Chicago, where she taught preschool for nearly 20 years. She has also taught creative movement to children, a natural pairing of her love of dance with her love of teaching. She has performed with various dance companies and also performed as an aerialist with circus companies! Erika is currently completing her Master’s degree at the Erikson Institute in Chicago, a highly regarded early childhood program. We feel very lucky to have Page 2 The leaves are off the trees in the yard and rakes are out. Up in the kitchen Ma, our first employee 30 years ago, is fixing lunch, the summer menus are put away and children are eating warm filling winter meals—curry stew, and grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, yum! So here is to Ma; her light shines bright as she fills the children’s food with her love and makes everything just so for the children. Ma’s second in command is Maria S. in Hedco, who keeps everything clean and fresh for the babies. Their team of Shwe, Ling and Kwan show their good hearts as they work together and help us all. Here in the office, running this gentle world behind the gate where children are safe from the big world adults live in, we are grateful every day for Phyllis, our Bookkeeper and morning greeter, and Leisel, our Fundraiser, Monaire, our Office Manager. To these people who form the glue of the school we say Hip Hip Hurray! Shalom! and Namaste, and all the best! Before we know it the earth will orbit out of the dark and into the sunny part of the year, and we will think of shorts and summer vacation, and everyone will be older and that much wiser—and perhaps we will remember, as we put on our sunglasses, how we celebrated the light in the deep dark of winter, and that little memory will remind us of a joyful moment and the world will be a better place for our grateful thought. Erika is parent to a 4-year-old son in addition to her daughter at BlueSkies. To allow her son to complete his final year with his friends at a co-op preschool in Berkeley, Erika will begin working 4 days per week, present mostly in the morning and early afternoon hours, but you will certainly be meeting her soon in the office or at an event. You may recall that an extremely generous gift from the Witkin Foundation is funding the Assistant Director position at present, allowing BlueSkies to expand its administrative capacity so that Claire and Liisa can have the time to develop new income streams for long term sustainability. Henry in the Baby House with parents Adam & Catherine Erika the new Assistant Director Courtney the new Substitute teacher for the school Birthday s & g oin g gs in Welcome Books m Laywanne the new Substitute teacher for the school Little Gorilla and There’s a Nightmare in My Closet from Maya E. for her 3rd birthday I Love Trucks from Gwen for her 3rd birthday Birthday books and CD’s are displayed in the front office and can be purchased for BlueSkies in honor of a child’s birthday or any other special occasion. co Coffee, Chat, Connect Tuesday, December 10 7:30- 9:30 a.m. Please stop in for coffee, pastry and a chat with Claire, Liisa and other parents on Tuesday, December 10. No one will ask you to sign up for anything; our agenda is simply to let parents stop for a moment and say hello to us and each other. So put a note on your calendar to build a few extra minutes into your morning on the 11th, and step into the Copenhagen Room after you drop off your child. Dear dear families, Weather is bumpy these days hot, cold and windy occasionally rainy but it is still winter so in good faith and in hopes for weather to behave as it should please be sure you children have jackets with their names in them and extra warm long pants and socks in their cubbies just in case! Thanks We look forward to seeing you! Liisa & Claire Parent Participation Discussion at PSC December 3 The Parent Participation requirements were established at BlueSkies 25 years ago by a group of parents who believed that everyone benefiting from enrollment should assist in supporting the program. Now the Parent Services Committee is researching and analyzing current requirements and considering potential changes to the system. The Committee welcomes the input of all interested parents at its meeting December 3 (6:15 – 7:30 p.m., sign up in the office). Some of the questions being discussed: • What percentage of hours are earned vs. bought out? • Are there enough opportunities for parents to earn hours? Does the BlueSkies of today need the same amount of volunteer support as AOCS did in 1988? • Can opportunities be listed in one place that’s easy to find? • Is the requirement too high? Too low? Should requirements be eased for families with multiple children or infants? • What is the purpose of the Parent Participation requirement? • Do Parent Participation hours allow more efficient use of limited staff resources? If you have something to add to the discussion, please come to the meeting on December 3 to share your thoughts. Page 3 Snapshot in the Playroom by: Claire Bainer “There is a new girl in my class! Her name is Bonnie.” (a Playroom child’s report to his mom as they leave BlueSkies) Going into the Copenhagen classroom on Thursday morning I see six Playroom children, each sitting on a carpet square looking at Bonnie. She is sitting on a low chair with her guitar in its soft case on one side of her and on the other side a cloth bag full of percussion instruments. As the children sit on their little carpet squares Bonnie begins to pat a rhythm Pat, pat, pat on her knees; the children follow pat pat patting their knees. Bonnie says” let’s put the rhythm in our hands” then clap clap clap clap and the children follow; “let’s put the rhythm in our finger” then tap tap tap Bonnie taps her two index fingers together close to her ear, the children follow and listen to the soft tap of their fingers by their ears. Next Bonnie says ”zizz zizz” and, reaching down, she picks up her guitar and begins to unzip the guitar case with short strokes, saying “Zzizz, Zizz, here is the head; Zizz, zizz, zizz here is the neck… zizz, zizzz, zizzz, zizzz here comes the whole body.” The children are watching with interest. Bonnie picks up the guitar, plunks a few strings to tune the guitar up and strums a cord. The children are rapt with the sound, pleased and perhaps a little stunned. When Bonnie starts to sing it is a song the children know, today it is “Twinkle, Twinkle” and as she sings she says “sing with me.” The children watch amazed, mouths closed; slowly a few begin to sing along. As the song concludes Bonnie switches to another song, “Miss Mary Mack- Mack- Mack all dressed in black-black-black.” Some children pick up the Mack, Mack and the black, black but mostly they watch silently. Bonnie starts another song, “Rainbow Children,” beginning with the chorus “Rainbow children, Rainbow children go where you’re going to, do what you’re going to do, ‘cause love is guiding you.” Bonnie pauses and looks at the child near her. “Shall I sing your name, Sue? Shall I sing “rainbow Susie?” Susie bobs her head “yes” and Bonnie begins to sing “Rainbow Susie Rainbow Susie go where you’re going to, do what you’re going to do, ‘cause love is guiding you.” Sue looks pleased and a little Page 4 embarrassed, smiling shyly at her lap as Bonnie and all the children sing to her. Now Bonnie turns to the next child “Jimmy, shall I sing your name next? Shall I sing Rainbow Jimmy?” Looking startled jimmy puts his head down and shakes his head “no”. “OK” she says “It looks like Jimmy says ‘no thank you’. How about you, Stella, are you ready for me to sing Rainbow Stella?” With a big smile Stella say “Stella and Mommy” and the little group all sing “Rainbow Stella and mommy.” As this song concludes Bonnie starts Shoe Lie Lou, then Down by the Station; with a good “toot toot” and hand pull at the end, Bonnie starts her last song for the group. Teacher quietly gets up and goes to the classroom door to be in front of the children as they are dismissed. From the circle Bonnie sings “Good-bye Susie, good-bye Susie, good-bye Susie, you can strum the guitar if you like.” Susie pops up from her carpet square, walks to Bonnie and gives the guitar a big strum and then scampers over to teacher who has opened the gate just outside the Copenhagen classroom into the Playroom yard. Sue runs out to play. The other children in the group are invited one by one to strum and out they come into the yard. Soon Sue and Stella are climbing, Jimmy and Andy are digging, pushing the big trucks and as they push they sing “Rainbow trucks” and laugh together. Diane goes to the carpet in the yard and pulls a book on her lap while nearby Richard sits to make a puzzle, humming Shoe Lie Lou. Teacher surveys her group and nods to her teaching partner in the upper yard signaling that this group is all out and she can take the next little group in to sing with Bonnie. We feel so fortunate to have Bonnie here at BlueSkies; not only is she a well-known professional children’s musician, she also holds a Master’s degree in early childhood education and has years of experience teaching music to preschool children. She is very kind and gentle with the children, holding appropriate expectations for their behavior, and singing songs— often songs she has written—that are age appropriate and about things the children are interested in. continued on pg. 5 Snapshot Cont... (She has a very good one about trucks and diggers that is sung to the tune of The Ants go Marching.) If the children get wiggly she gets them up and teaches a song in which the children can “fly away over yonder.” With the teacher’s help she guides the children and helps them listen and think and feel the music as they enjoy the fun of singing together. This little group was having their first formal experience at music (which the children call “Bonnie Day”); by the time they are in the Schoolroom, in their third year of singing with Bonnie, the children have learned about rhythm and beat and tunes, moving to the music and keeping time as they clap and dance and ask to sing songs they love. In most groups there are some children who prefer not to sing or participate; Bonnie understands, never excluding or shaming, and always honoring their choice. Teacher sits with the group and sings too, later bringing Bonnie’s songs out into the yards, singing with the children as they play throughout the week. It is here in the yard where the silent ones sing every word of the songs, laughing and talking with the other children about Bonnie Day. Bonnie is here every Thursday from 9 to 11, sharing her time with the three classrooms. The younger groups divide into half the group at a time so they can relax with fewer children in the room, and the Schoolroom group sings all together. lueSkies Perkle for B Support the BlueSkies Scholarship Fund while you shop this holiday season. Simple visit your favorite online retailers through the BlueSkies Perkle account and a percentage of your purchase will be donated - at no extra cost to you. Board of Directors: Tanya Veverka, President Avis Kowalewski, Vice President John Kinnaman, Treasurer Khadija Fredericks, Secretary Liisa Hale, BlueSkies Co-Director Claire Bainer, BlueSkies Co-Director Isavane Samanna Dawn Riordan Kristi Schutjer-Mance Molly Rosen Linda Copenhagen Peter Landreth Gerry Fabella Darren Whitfield Zoe Woods Parent Committee Chairs Michael & Kristina Paluck, Buildings & Grounds Garrett Schwartz & Julie Fallon, Parent Services Ellie Gladstone & Brooke Abola, Fundraising BlueSkies Program Directors Ameena Muhammed, Hedco Infant Toddler Center Janice Haywood, Ellen Sherwood Nursery School Ma Leong, Support Services Leisel Whitlock-Petersen, Fund Development Manager BlueSkies-isms Parents often hear their children using phrases that they suspect they learned at BlueSkies. Each month’s “BlueSkies-ism” will include a phrase the teachers use all the time at BlueSkies, and some context to help you use the phrase at home too. “Don’t look at me” Don’t talk to me” This is something children say to try to control children and adults. A reminder that we can’t make people do things can help. Also a suggetion that the child could look some place else or decide to just not listen if they don’t a want to hear people. They can also choose to go someplace else. Start shopping (and supporting) now: www.perkle.org/cause/ blueskies-for-children Page 5 Holiday Gift Ideas Dear parents, some time ago I wrote about good children’s presents, and some parents have remembered and commented, asking me to repeat it. This is just a little bit of the article. An easy way to think about gifts for your child this holiday season: Babies need things that support their desire to move and explore. Think about things to dump and carry, pull and push. A small plastic trash can with last year’s holiday cards to dump, carry, deliver and look through is a wonderful gift for your toddler. So are things to put in and take out; a plastic container with a hole in the top is a wonderful thing to put things into and empty out again; these guys also love coasters and cloth napkins, there are so many things to cover up and pat and put on a coaster or a napkin. Often the boxes and bunched up wrapping paper with ribbon is the best present for baby. a plastic ice tray to sort into even better. You get the idea, you know what your child is interested in and thinking about. If you are visiting grandma and grandpa, a little car with two little cardboard boxes each with a door and window cut into them and a few hand held dolls suggests a nice visit from one house to another. Your ideas about your child will always be better than fancy toys with lights and batteries because you are thinking about who your child is and affirming that to them. Make them a book on one of those web sites “all about you and your day” – here is daddy waking up, getting dressed, shaving, eating breakfast, going to work, working, eating lunch, working more, having a cup of coffee, coming to BlueSkies to get his child and going home together! What child wouldn’t love that! And even with no words it is great for pre-literacy. Make this holiday fun and meaningful and full of love for you and your family. As children move out of the go-go age you want your gift to give the child an idea of what to do; the younger the child the simpler the idea. A plastic container with a small car, a paper towel tube, and few small wedge shaped blocks is a very interesting exercise on “in and out and through.” Think about what your child is interested in and put a little box together about that so they can play about their interest. A box with a family group of small hand held dolls and some small beds and a potty is an interesting idea, especially if someone is learning about staying dry at night. Add a few small pieces of cloth as blankets and you have offered your child a pretty interesting idea. A little set with a bunch of Barbie doll shoes to sort and match is a very interesting toy. Never mind the doll, it is the shoes that are interesting; if you have Claire and Liisa BlueSkies parents have a long tradition of thanking the school’s staff with a holiday cash gift. Rather than buy lots of little thank-you gifts, parents pool their cash and give it to BlueSkies to divide up equally among the staff. Last year each teacher and support worker received several hundred extra dollars for the holidays, thanks to the Parent Gift Fund. In light of the fact that the average wage at BlueSkies is about $16 per hour, teachers and support staff count on this check to help them buy gifts for their children and travel to visit family over the holidays. It also takes the pressure off of families to come up with gift ideas for the people who make their family life work – the staff unanimously agree that a gift of cash is their clear preference! If you would like to contribute to this year’s fund, there is a box in the office for your check. Please contribute by December 20. And remember, you can credit yourself for Parent Participation Hours at the rate of $20 per hour for cash donations to BlueSkies (be sure to write it in the Parent Participation binder!). Page 6 Staff Holida y Gift Your Contribution Is Greatly Appreciated!
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