Many of you have met my dog Sam. He is a shaggy, medium-size dog with a gentle disposition. We welcomed Sam to our family two years ago when my son was about to start middle school. Middle school can be a pretty miserable time: between puberty, the social drama and the increased academic workload, this transition from childhood to young adulthood can be really tricky. So we got a dog – a middle school therapy dog.
From the get-go, I questioned the sanity of that decision. Dogs are a lot of work. And while the kids were dependable and dedicated to his care and feeding at the beginning, they soon needed prodding to tend to his needs. But it turns out Sam was worth it. This full-time, on-call social worker has given my family a treasured gift: the gift of the family walk. But it turns out you don’t need to have a dog to enjoy the riches of this gift – the dog just makes it obligatory.
Sam gets walked around the neighborhood several times a day. I walk him early every morning through the darkness with friends, then we all take turns walking him during the course of the day. Sometimes we walk alone at our own pace, enjoying the solitude and the scenery provided by the changing seasons. But most of the time, when I ask the kids if they would like to come, one will happily join me. We walk and talk and notice the spider webs and the changing colors. We talk about school and friends and places we want to go or things that are not going well. We see friends and stop to chat. There are no phones, no screens and no distractions as we stretch our bodies and enjoy each other’s company. There are cool down walks, study break walks, burn off some craziness walks and quiet, tearful walks.
I used to walk the neighborhood with my children when they were very young, to pass the long stretches of time between lunch and dinner. Those stretches of time appear in our schedule less and less frequently, but because the dog needs to be walked, we have no choice but to walk. During this season of thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my dog, my children, my neighborhood, and for the time I spend, unhurried and present, listening, laughing, and walking with my family. This November, I encourage you and your family to explore your neighborhood and realize the treasured gift of a family walk.
We are two-thirds of the way through our Parent Ed events which celebrate the value of play. The list of Kelly’s Picks for the Book Fair at Linden Tree was designed with playfulness in mind and is posted now on the website as a permanent resource. The titles chosen for the list are either playful in their stories or subject matter, or have playful language, or both. Check them out and get ready to have some ‘serious’ fun!
Meanwhile, a third look at our series . . .
Did you ever stop to think?
When using the dress-ups, a child may be:
• Practicing self-help skills (donning and removing clothing/shoes)
• Honing skills of choice-making and evaluation
• Using language and extending social skills to further the play inspired by the costume(s)
In fact, a child is trying on more than different clothing – there is the opportunity to ‘try on’ and experiment with different facets of personality and character as well, a process which is important in developing and defining a sense of self.
At First Congo we believe that in play there is serious learning, and that play is really the work of childhood.
Parent Halloween Party
Many thanks to the Hagans, Alison and Doug, for opening their home to host a spookily fun party for the biggest ‘kids’ at First Congo — it’s clear that the charms of the dress-up closet still have a hold on the imaginations of our playful group! Thanks also to Andrea Helft, Amy Joachim, and Amy Kacher for organizing the event, a real ‘treat’ for our community.
On the Calendar
First Congo will be closed on Friday, Nov. 11, and then again Nov. 23-25.
The annual Scholarship Bake Sale will take place on Nov. 20, and we will begin collecting donations for the Holiday Layette Drive when we return to school after Thanksgiving, the week of Nov. 28. Look for more information about these two important opportunities in your mail pouch at school soon.
Welcome to the World
Several First Congo families welcomed new babies to their families in October!
- Layla Mae Li, parents Kim and Ping, big brother Miles
- Mila Saslow, parents Paula and Scott, big sister Lara
- Dylan Budelli, parents Sierra and Bobby, big sister Mia