Thoughts from our director…

September 1st

Wow everyone!

Our Orientation felt great last night under the canopy of our trees, sharing food, hearing the voices and laughter of our children. You all are bringing such super important questions, and sharing so much wisdom, as we are walking through the “WPNS Way”. Thank you so much to all of you who have made time in your busy lives to attend so far!

We look forward to seeing the rest of you at our make-up session; take the poll for the dates and times that work for your family, so we can make sure everyone gets a chance to participate.

Can you believe the first day of school is finally about to be here?! Mulberries start Tuesday, Sep 7 and Oaks start Wednesday, Sep 8. And tomorrow I hope you all will join us for our Meet the Teacher day from 9 to 11 at WPNS.

We wanted to send you a checklist of things you probably already know, and we have a few notes about things we want to make sure you hear, before your first day. Ready?

  • Bring a Cubby for outside use. That’s a tupperware box with a bunch of clean clothes, a second pair of shoes, extra facemasks a bathing suit, maybe a sun hat, extra diapers & any cream & wipes if needed, sun screen, and a photo of your family inside. Your child’s name should be on the ends (if your daughter is named Sadie, add a last name or initial! lol). Actually, label everything, so it can find its way back to you instead of our Lost and Found. Decorate if you choose. Here’s a link to a size that works well. Or ask Catherine for one. These will live at the school for the school year and should be refreshed as needed. This was daily by the end of summer, for some.
  • For Pines Playgroup in the afternoon, please let us know if your child naps or doesn’t. Add any items your child needs to nap or rest such as a personal mat, sheet, pillow, and especially comfort objects; we encourage you to leave toys/play things at home.
  • Bring a snack & water bottle each day.Yes, label these too. We recommend protein & fat over processed foods and carbs – long energy vs. quick high and long low. Also, crunchy things are regulating. Have you ever noticed?
  • Some protein & high fat options: whole fat plain yogurt (add honey and/or fruit), nut butters, edamame, tofu, boiled eggs, lentils, beans or bean dip, tuna, avocado, cheese, sliced olives, whole fat cottage cheese (can add honey here too), hummus.
  • Some healthy crunchy options include: apples, pears, carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers, radishes, kale or coconut or banana chips, other dehydrated fruits and veggies, baked whole wheat pita, seed crackers, popcorn, nuts & seeds (for older experienced chewers). Try frozen grapes (again older experienced chewers) and whole frozen bananas. They can be regulating too.
  • And keep an eye out for our allergy list. We’ll put that together once we receive everyone’s info.
  • For Pines Playgroup in the afternoon, pack a lunch too.
  • Turn in aaalllllll the paperwork, including your Consent to treat/emergency contacts form and sunscreen authorization. Thank you for all of you who have already done so and to those who have emailed about the mad scramble you are undertaking to get this done! It’s super important that we do right by our community, because small things being missed can add up to a big problem for a school, not to mention, nobody wants measles. So seriously, thank you.
  • Sign up for your work days hereIf your child attends 2 days a week, sign up for 2 working days and 2 sub days a month, 3 days a week 3 working days and 3 sub days a month, 5 days 5 working and 5 sub days a month.  Please try to fill up the first few weeks first.

Keep an eye out for an updated WPNS Handbook, the legendary document of our people. We think you will find that it remains useful even after you are experienced here. In the meantime, here’s a link to our current handbook. Also coming soon, look for our 2021-22 School Calendar and a Social Media list added to our contacts.

If you forgot everything you have learned so far: that’s cool, clear your mind and be present. This is going to be a wonderful year. Thank you so much for being a part of it!

Michelle Semrad Barrera, Director & Catherine Saeturn, Board President

Woodland Parent Nursery School

July 13, 2021 – with link to blog on what words to use when mediating on the playground

Dear WPNS children and grown-ups,

There was a moment today in the sandbox. Did you feel it? I did. I was sitting on the stoop of the house eating blueberry soup. Sometimes it was too sweet, so the cook added lemon. Sometimes it was too sour, so the cook added sugar. Sometimes it was just right. Delicious! I think I ate at least eight bowls.

While I was busy slurping down soup, treasure was being discovered under the sand. Have you read the stories about treasure? Dragons guard their treasure, breathing fire to keep everyone at a distance. Pirates hide their treasure so no one else can get it. People use locks, bolts, moats filled with alligators, enormous dogs with sharp teeth to keep their treasure all to themselves.

Yet, in the sandbox, there were no dragons, alligators, enormous dogs, hiding or locks. It seems you all felt there was enough treasure for everyone. I heard you discussing the best tools to use to uncover the treasure. I heard you working together to share ideas so everyone could find treasure. I felt the magic you create with each other. Did you?


Teacher Michelle

P.S. For the grownups: I hear myself stumbling over how to respond to a child who wants to show me a new accomplishment. I’ve got my phrases for responding to 4 year-old writing and pictures. As I write this, I realize even as I use these, I’m missing an opportunity for connection, for authenticity. That my stumbles are a call to slow down and listen with all my senses, to make more space for them to tell me the thing they are trying to say, to let go of my agenda and just be with them, to communicate with my attention that I see them. Here’s a blog by Teacher Tom I found when looking for help:

July 23, 2021 – with link to article on Proprioception

Dear WPNS children and grown-ups:

An alligator visited our yard today. He had a very large mouth with lots of sharp teeth and his favorite thing was to run around with his hands out crashing into people and his next favorite thing was to chomp things. The problem was nobody like being crashed into unexpectedly. That could hurt bodies and feelings. And nobody liked being chomped. I mean who would want to be chomped by an alligator. That would be scary!

Now this alligator had a friendly smile and could be great fun to play with, so a few people in the yard wanted to figure out how they could let the alligator do his favorite things without anyone getting hurt bodies or feelings. One person figured out to have a chunky wooden block to chomp on. The alligator loved it! Another figured out how to put their hands out and brace their feet so alligator could gleefully crash into them safely.

I did say these were alligator’s favorite things to do. What I didn’t say is that alligator didn’t know how not to do these things. In fact alligator’s body was telling his head he needed to do these things. I smiled when I saw the friend whip out the wooden block for chomping. My smile grew when I saw the other friend give alligator hands to crash into. The friends smiled, and alligator smiled biggest of all. (And you know alligators have very large smiles.)


Teacher Michelle

P.S. Grownups: here’s a great article on proprioception, one of our sensory systems that basically tells us where our bodies are. It discusses proprioceptive seeking behaviors like crashing into things and/or people. It gives a lot of replacement activities which all children can use to calm. If you are feeling a bit alarmed about chomping, it was pretend chomping by a tiny rubber alligator. The problem-solving was real. Your children are amazing!

July 8th on Expected behaviors in early childhood…

I also wrote a blog a few years ago that’s related because when you have a yard full of same age almost 3 and 3 year olds things like biting, pushing, hitting are omnipresent. Mixed age is lovely because older kids given the autonomy really do get to be expert on keeping the play going, navigating these waters and modeling and teaching.