Huckleberry News Archive
From Virginia – New Email & Circulating Email
You may have already noticed but I have a new email! I can now be reached at email@example.com. Email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will still be forwarded to me though.
I also wanted to say thank you to everyone who joined us for our Thanksgiving celebration last month. It was such a delight to share our pie with you, and to celebrate our families!
We will be preparing a seasonal cookie to share with you at pickup next Friday before the winter break. The children have really been enjoying preparing seasonal snacks such as pumpkin seeds recently as well.
Please be diligent with your handwashing, we do have a number of illnesses circulating our community right now.
From Room Parents – Thank Our Guides
Dear Huckleberry Parents,
As the holidays approach, the Huckleberry classroom would like to gather together as a community to thank our guides for the amazing support and enrichment they offer our children every day. Their dedication stretches far beyond the classroom, and the quality of education our children are receiving is of the highest caliber.
The Huckleberry Room Parents are currently collecting donations to purchase a group thank you gift from all of us. Donations are voluntary and there is no recommended amount. Even if you choose not to participate in the group gift, we encourage you to sign the thank you cards for the Huckleberry Cottage guides to wish them happy holidays. We also encourage you to sign the cards for the other support staff as well. You will find all of the cards and donation envelope in the black box in the Commons.
The deadline for cards and donations is Monday, December 16th. Cash or checks made out to Jeny Merrill or Venmo @Jeny-Merrill. If you have any questions, please contact either of the Room Parents.
Thank you for your generosity!
Your room parents,
Jeny & Fanny
From Virginia – October News
All the leaves are falling down,
Orange, yellow, red and brown
Falling softly as they do,
Over me and over you
All the leaves are falling down
Orange, yellow, red and brown
-To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle
I wanted to thank those of you who are collecting your children early for Halloween festivities. It is so helpful for your child to get a chance to rest before trick or treating! Please also keep in mind that tomorrow is a school day, so try to get some sleep and avoid candy for breakfast! Little bodies have a very low threshold for sugar, and can not well articulate the feeling of a sugar rush/crash. Of course, I love to see photos of children in their costumes if you want to email me a snap!
Fall weather has quickly turned into winter temperatures, so it is time to break out the hats and mittens. We do go outside rain or shine cold or not, so please dress your child appropriately for cold playtime. I recommend loose-fitting mittens, but we also use socks as mittens if needed.
We seem to be running low on loaner pants and underwear. Please check your closets and dressers for items with that iconic black Sharpie SMS!
Cooking in the Classroom
Last week the children made applesauce after reading a wonderful book called Applesauce Day. They helped me chop the apples, add the spices, stir it all up and then carefully watched it cook! We enjoyed it the next day. Cooking with your child is a great way to get into the holiday season. Stay tuned for more cooking projects.
I wanted to say thank you to Anja, Mara and Archer’s families for attending our parent event on Independence at home, I think it was a success! I also wanted to thank Everett, Jonah, Will, Mara, Archer, Anja, Michael, and Orson’s families for attending parent-child sharing, always a delight for your student to show you their work!
Next week is parent/teacher conferences, so no school for your child on Friday. I look forward to speaking with each of you.
A few back to school reminders:
- As you may have noticed, we are now into fall! Most of the children have a rain suit and boots at school, but if you do not please send us these items right away. We do go outside every day.
- I will be out of the classroom on my honeymoon from 9/20-9/27. The children will be greeted at the door by Zoe, and spend their days with her, Rachel, Pei-Yu and our wonderful sub Andrea. If you have any urgent classroom business you can reach Rachel at email@example.com, or you can email me and I’ll get back to you when I can!
- Our consumables sign up is looking very slim! Please sign up here, and Rachel will email you a list on Friday for the following week, usually just a few items.
- For those of you who attended Back to School Night, thank you! For those of you who couldn’t make it, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. We did introduce a new program we are using this year, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, or ASQ. This is a monitoring tool that we will use with you to track your child’s developmental progress over the course of the year. Please find below some additional information, and please let me know if you have any questions.
- Our first Huckleberry parent ed is coming up on October 3rd at 4pm. The topic is Independence, both at home and school. If you plan to attend please let me know.
The ASQ is a wonderful screening tool that we are going to begin using in all of our Toddler/Primary classrooms to help identify social-emotional and developmental strengths, as well as concerns. Here is a recap of all we discussed at Back to School Night for your reference and for any parents who were unable to attend.
There are two questionnaire formats, both of which we’ll be using. The ASQ-3 tracks developmental milestones from birth through 5½ years, while the ASQ-SE: tracks social-emotional development from birth to 6 years. Using these tools will give us a quick check of your child’s development, and will be a great opportunity for deepening our partnership in the service of your child! The ASQ is complete by parents as you are the experts on your child, but will be analyzed by me and discussed at our parent/teacher conference in November, or sooner if necessary.
Screening tools like the ASQ are used in early childcare settings all over the country in order to:
• Help teachers and parents see and celebrate areas in which the child is developing on schedule
• Identify children who would benefit from practice and/or support in specific areas
• And identify children at risk for developmental delays who should be referred for further evaluation.
We will do this twice a year in order to answer the question, “Is your child developing on schedule over time?”
Here’s how it’s going to work. Twice a year, we’ll send home the 2 questionnaires (ASQ:3 and ASQ:SE) for you to complete. The precise questionnaires you receive each time will depend on your child’s exact age at the time you complete the questionnaires, so completing them within the window of time we designate is key!
The first round of questionnaires will be sent home in your child’s family folder on Thursday, October 3. We will give you ample reminders to return them to us no later than Thursday, October 10.
Completing the questionnaires is easy. It takes about 15 minutes per questionnaire. Look at it as an opportunity to spend some quality bonding time with your child! in mind that your child will likely be able to do some, but not all, of the items. Here is a link to a video of a parent conducting the ASQ with their (slightly older) child.
As I mentioned, please return the completed questionnaires to me by 10/10. I will score the questionnaires and send results home within two weeks.
If your child is developing on schedule, great! I’ll give you a list of activities to continue supporting your child in their development, and we’ll have the opportunity to discuss more at fall conferences (Nov 7-8).
If your child is in the “monitoring zone” for any developmental domain, I will invite you to come in to meet with me right away, if you’d like, so I can share resources for activities you can try at home to help your child practice skills in specific developmental areas. If you’d rather just wait and discuss at conferences, that’s okay too. Either way, we’ll re-screen in 1-2 months to monitor their development a little more closely.
If there are any areas that suggest that further evaluation would be helpful, I’ll share that with you ASAP, along with further resources.
No matter what, the ASQ will give us a helpful glimpse into how your child is doing and let us know what we can be doing to provide the best support possible.
We’ll repeat this process again in March, before spring conferences.
Thank you for partnering with me; you are such an important part of this process! You know your child best, and your unique knowledge of your child’s interests, behaviors, and interactions in various settings is key to giving us a full picture of their development.
Your answers help me to get to know your child better and let me know how I can better support him/her in the classroom.
Please let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to check your family folder on October 3.
From Virginia – Welcome!
Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year!
New Huckleberry Assistant
First, some exciting news, we’ve hired a new assistant to join us. Pei-Yu Shih will be starting Monday. Pei-Yu has two children who joined the Sunstone community this year in Trillium and Butterfly. You can read her full bio here, and please help me give her a warm welcome.
Welcome New Friends
Second, welcome to Isla Norman and her parents Abbie and Matt and Michael Reel and his parents Shannon and Justin! Isla and Michael are settling into our community, and we are all enjoying having some new young friends to help.
Family Photos Please
Third, our family photo wall is looking a little empty! Please email or bring in a photo of your family for our wall. The children love pointing out their parents and finding their friends.
Back to School Night
Fourth, I hope to see you all at Back to School night on September 12th. I know many of you have children in multiple classrooms but it is helpful if parents can divide and conquer to attend both events. We do have some new information to share this year, so even if you are a returning family it is a good idea to attend.
Fifth, here are a few more wedding pictures for you! Nicholas and I had such a wonderful weekend with family and friends. You may notice my name changing in various places (my new last name will be Rogers) and eventually, my email address will change as well. I’ll let you know when that all happens officially; for now, you can continue to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy (almost) fall!
From Room Parents – Welcome Letter
Dear Huckleberry Community,
Welcome to all new and returning families! We wanted to take a moment to introduce ourselves as the Room Parents in the Huckleberry Cottage – Fanny Adams (Orson) and Jeny Merrill(Everett). Our responsibilities as Room Parents are varied and we would like to take the opportunity to let you know what we do and how we might be able to help with questions, support and ideas that you might have.
1. Volunteer Opportunities – We help communicate volunteer opportunities within the classroom. If families are needed to sign up for flowers/laundry, classroom wish list items or to volunteer at Solstice, you may hear from us. Some are able to give their time, others would rather offer donations. We encourage you to volunteer in a way that is right for your family. You can check out a list of volunteer opportunities on the parents portal of the website. Please let us know if you have questions about any of the opportunities.
2. Gifts and Staff Appreciation – We coordinate gift giving efforts for the Guides and the support staff during the holiday season and at year-end. We also coordinate a staff appreciation meal once a year. For staff appreciation each classroom chooses one month during the year to provide a meal to honor the whole school staff and show our appreciation for all that they do for our children. Meal ideas include breakfast goodies, brunch, or serving homemade soups and baked goods for lunch. If you have any ideas or suggestions, we welcome your input! We will let you know when our selected month is and send out more information at that time.
3. Winter Solstice Activities and Class Auction Art Projects – We help plan and procure supplies for the Winter Solstice craft activities as well as the classroomart auction project, so if you have any special talents or can volunteer your time, please let us know. You will also see donation sign ups in the Tuesday Communications as these events near.
4. Huckleberry Community Events – We organize special events for the Huckleberry community. In addition to the whole school Fall Mixer on October 10, we will be planning additional opportunities to get together so watch for those details. There will also be an end of year picnic. The date is yet to be determined for that but we’ll keep you informed.
5. Parent Education Events – please watch for additional details about the following parent education:
- October 3rd Huckleberry specific parent ed, independence.
- January 14th Parent Ed-importance of the Kindergarten year. Always good to be thinking
- February 20th Huckleberry Parent Ed Toileting
- May 12th Huckleberry Parent Ed-Parents Choice topic
Throughout the year we will use this listserv, huckleberrycommunity
We highly encourage you to read the Tuesday Communications each week and check out the classroom page link while you are there.
School Directories can be found on the parents portal of the website under Directories – Password: Sunstone. The classroom rosters will be published there shortly.
Be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming Back to School Night on September 12 @ 5:30pm. We look forward to sharing a new school year with all of you!
Your Room Parents
Fanny Adams – email@example.com
Jeny Merrill – firstname.lastname@example.org
From Virginia – Welcome Letter
I hope you are all enjoying the summer time! The children have loved the ‘summer drop off’ outside start to our morning. We start our day so refreshed. We’ve been harvesting lots of cucumbers and a few tomatoes from our garden, preparing countless jars of sun tea and played in the sprinkler some too!
As you may already know I am taking some time off at the end of the summer (I’ll be out August 5th-August 16th) to marry my sweetheart Nicholas! I’ll be sure to bring in some photos to share with the children and I’ll send you some too. The children will be in the excellent care of Rachel, Zoe and Jessie while I’m out, and I look forward to returning for the last few days of our school year. During these last few weeks of summer we will say ‘See you on the playground’ to Isla B, Tony and David as they transition to the Children’s House classrooms. We welcomed Archer and Elise at the beginning of the summer and will welcome Isla N and Michael in September!
As a reminder, Sunstone is closed for students August 22nd-September 2nd. This gives the staff a chance to prepare for the year ahead and refresh the classroom! Also, mark your calendars for Back to School Night/State of the School on September 12th. This is a great chance to get all your questions about the new school year answered.
Refresh and Drop-off
A new school year is a great time to refresh your child’s inside shoes, nap supplies and clothing options. We will be sending home some extra things in the last week of August. When we return in September we will return to the regular drop-off schedule and routine, so please plan to bring your child to the classroom door before 8:10 or use the drive-through from 8:10-8:25. I’m creating some new routines inside the classroom to preserve the calm of our summer mornings!
I am looking forward to September and another delightful year of young child smiles, delicious snacks and firsts!
Dear Huckleberry families,
As your children grow and move into our Children’s House program, we want to keep you apprised of how this program model will be transitioning in the future. We have offered the Children’s House AYM (All Year Montessori) program for seven years now. Over these years we have observed a distinct and consistent shift occur during the summer months. This shift has evolved naturally and directly reflects the changing summer rhythms: longer days, less sleep, stronger desire for open-ended play, less desire for rigorous academic concentration, more time spent outside and in the gardens, more relaxed family schedules including vacations and swim lessons, and less consistent attendance.
After several summers of observing this relaxed summertime shift, combined with ongoing discussions with the Guides and staff, it was finally decided that the Children’s House Guides will consolidate their time off and take it all at once during the summer, instead of dispersing it throughout the year. We will continue to offer year-round care for the children in the Children’s House classrooms, but during the summer, the program will reflect the natural changes that we’ve observed. Your children will be in the same classroom with their friends and familiar classroom staff, and they will be practicing the same social skills of community and stewardship of the earth that we all hold dear. We will continue some of the summer traditions we’ve started over the past few years such as having a school-wide car wash, enjoying popsicles together on the lawn, and frolicking through the sprinklers. We will also be introducing some new traditions. The children will get to start their day off outside, playing before the weather gets too hot. They will have the opportunity to work in the garden, go on nature walks, keep nature journals, and engage in a variety of activities to develop their gross motor skills. Inside, during the day, they’ll get the chance to dive into complex and exciting undertakings such as baking, meal preparation, dancing, art projects, and a great deal of practical life.
We will begin this transition next summer, with both Anna, Sunflower Guide, and Melissa, Maple Guide, taking a longer stretch of time off (though not yet the whole summer). Then, starting in summer of 2021, all of our Children’s House Guides will be on the same schedule, departing for their summer vacation in June, shortly after graduation. This will allow them to come back to work in the fall refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to burst into the academic year with strength and vitality, and will offer the children the more consistent presence of the Guide throughout the academic year (September-June). This will also allow us to honor more fully the natural summer shift that we are observing in the children and very purposefully create a beautiful summer program that embraces and aligns with that shift.
Whenever we make changes we strive always to be as thoughtful and considerate as we can of everyone’s needs involved while keeping always in the forefront of our minds our mission to provide the highest level of AMI Montessori education. In our Children’s House summer program, your child will reap the benefits of more exploration, adventure, and the ability to follow their natural rhythms.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions,
Cathy, Francesca, and Virginia