Our garden is in full transition from our summer bounty of sunflowers, pumpkins, and potatoes to our winter crop of carrots, winter potatoes and snap peas. We will be spending the next few weeks harvesting and planting, and encouraging the children to get their hands dirty while they work the earth. Allowing your child to experience the natural world is not just a nice thing it do. It is vital – for our children, the future of our culture, and indeed the future of all life.
Children have a basic need to establish a deep emotional connection to the natural world and October is an enchanting month to foster that bond. From a trip to the apple orchard at Gizdich Ranch to a romp over to one of Half Moon Bay’s pumpkin patches, it is essential for children to get outside to witness first-hand the signs of fall. It is only through seeing these changes — leaves turning color, pumpkins turning orange, dusk arriving earlier — that children start to understand the cycle of life.
Another sign of fall to be celebrated here in Northern California is the return of rain. Those first few rainfalls are magical events for small children who have but a distant memory of rain. Your attitude and response this new weather event will help to shape your child’s emotions toward rain for a lifetime. When my children were small I loved a rainy afternoon spent splashing in the puddles, followed by a warm bath, baking, and reading books.
Enjoy this glorious season with your little ones and share with them all of the natural wonder that is easy to find right here in our own back yards.
October Discoveries in Nature
• Fall color on trees is beginning to appear and a whole array of leaves can be collected once they begin to fall
• As leaves begin dropping from trees, children can often spy the nests of birds and squirrels tucked into branches
• Clear fall days make for perfect weekend trips to the beach – try to combine a beach and pumpkin patch trip by visiting one of the many costal pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
• Rainy days bring the possibilities of puddle jumping and boat floating in the gutters on the street
• Arrange your own visit to the animals at Hidden Villa, or sign up for “Preschoolers on the Farm” a three-part Hidden Villa program on Friday mornings in October. For more information visit: http://www.hiddenvilla.org/calendar/view/9679/date/2011-10-07
As we gear up to begin taking a serious look at play this month, author Patricia Ryan Madson offers this:
It takes so little to create the context for human play. . . . Enjoyment is a way of approaching an activity, not the activity itself . . . . Beyond all our other freedoms our greatest liberty is our ability to choose our attitude . . . . Cleaning out the attic or garage can be a playful activity, if you turn on your favorite upbeat music and dance your way into cobwebs, stopping to take pleasure in the odd treasures lurking there.
In her book, Improv Wisdom, Madson lays out the thirteen maxims of improvisational theater as strategies for dealing with real-life challenges, helping adults to recapture that playful attitude which can make every day a new adventure! Play enhances learning, and is essential to our growth and well-being, so get ready to follow the first maxim, and “Say YES” to the opportunity to learn more later this month about play and why it is so important in our lives.
Meanwhile, a second visit to our series . . .
Did you ever stop to think?
When playing in the sand, a child may be:
•Building large muscles and/or refining small motor skills.
•Gaining a sense of cause and effect while exploring the possibilities of manipulating the medium.
•Discovering the properties of the medium in different states (wet/dry)
•Developing an understanding of the principle of conservation through pouring and measuring, emptying holes, filling containers.
•Working on social relationships and furthering language development through cooperative and/or dramatic play.
Whether digging with a long-handled shovel to get to the ‘Indian clay’ at the bottom of a very deep hole, ‘baking’ treats in cooking pans, or guiding a trickle of water to the ‘lake’ at the end of a ‘stream,’ every child benefits from time spent in the sand.
At First Congo we believe that in play there is serious learning, and that play is really the work of childhood.
Welcome to all of our new families!
- Stephanie & Ryan Frick, daughter Juliet
- Robin & Russ Glass, daughter Ava
- Heidi & Greg Hart, son Miles
- Diann & Robert Lawson, son Alexander
- Esther & Dan Levy, son Wills
- Kim & Ping Li, son Miles
- Frances & John Lin, son Christopher
- Annie Lee & Tiancheng Zhu, daughter Lexi
- Sierra & Bobby Budelli, daughter Mia
- Brooke & Neil Day, son Jack
- Jessica & Ben Galbraith, daughter Abigail
- Patricia & William Lee, son Arushi
- Julia Peters & Cam Smith, daughter Tessa
- Mindy & Peter Weck, daughter Serena
- Carole Tait & Todor Ganev, sons Alex and Max
- Jessica Livingston & Paul Graham, son George
- Winnie Wu & Nathan Hsuing, son Ean
- Peggy & Clement Hu, daughter Amber
- Margaret & Peter Munzig, daughter Abigail
- Meredith Ackley & Eric Salvatierra, daughter Elena
- Jessica & Ben Galbraith, son Zachary
- Christine & Doug Kelly, son Jude
- Tasha & Scott Souter, daughter Olivia
- Suzanne & Joe Sullivan, daughter Audrey
- Mindy & Peter Weck, daughter Caroline
Welcome also to new baby, Jonathan Henry Galbraith, born September 23rd!
And a big THANK YOU to a few families, past and present!
Steve Reller and Mark Moragne were instrumental in getting our kitchen remodeled over the summer in a timely and efficient manner – we’re thrilled with the results!
Kate Cook provided invaluable guidance on getting the Qlubb site ready for our sign-ups.
October Events and Opportunities
- This month marks the eagerly anticipated return of the Books-of-the-Month program to First Congo: good quality literature, carefully selected, offered for sale at school through Linden Tree Books! Each month’s selection of books will be on display and available for purchase for the first two weeks of the month on the table inside the gate. Leave an order form with payment (checks made payable to Linden Tree) and the books you have purchased will be delivered to you at school – it’s as easy as that!
We hope you will find this program to be an inspiring way to build your home library and an opportunity to provide something of lasting value to your children!
“You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be –
I had a Mother who read to me.”
- October 25th is the opening night of our Fall Parent Ed. Series, a discussion about play – Why Do We Play and How Is It Important? Mark your calendars for this evening and the following Tuesday, Nov. 1st, when we welcome Patricia Ryan Madson to our Fall Book Fair at Linden Tree Books. The series wind-up will be a Nov. 8th book discussion. We hope you can attend all three evenings, but welcome you at any single event if that’s all your schedule permits!
- The PAC is planning a fall party for October 29th – save the date and watch for your invitation to arrive soon!
Gayle Nathe Fund Update
Last year the First Congo community suffered a great loss when our beloved director of 32 years, Gayle Nathe, passed away. Teacher Gayle was an amazing teacher, community builder, mentor, and environmentalist who touched each family that came through our gate deeply. We miss her tremendously, but also feel her presence here at nursery school every day.
As many of you know, the Gayle Nathe Fund was created to pay tribute to all that Gayle gave of herself to our school and school community. It was Gayle’s idea that we might celebrate her life by creating a fund that would finance a number of environmental upgrades to the First Congo facility and the enhancement of the nursery school garden. Over the summer, the garden was enlarged and rain-catching cisterns and a mud pit were installed. We also planted four new trees, two kiwi plants and a trumpet vine, and fixed several patches of concrete that were cracked and hazardous. This week our composting bins arrived and in the next two weeks child sized benches will be arriving to be placed under Gayle’s memorial Oak tree at the back of the yard next to the swings.
Our next step is to look into replacing all of the classroom windows that are steel construction, single-paned glass. These huge banks of windows allow heat in during the hot summer and fall months and let vast amounts of heat escape during our colder months. And, while they are covered with anti-shatter earthquake film, they are not as safe as modern tempered glass. An environmental audit of the church facility, done recently by an Environmental Task Force within the church, suggested that window replacement would be a significant environmental upgrade that would both conserve energy and create a safer environment for all of the children that use the church facility.
To date, the Gayle Nathe Fund has generated just over $130,000. We are still receiving donations and anyone who would like to participate is welcome to make a contribution. To honor Gayle is to recognize not only the way she touched each of our lives, but also the way she led our school with vision, compassion, humor and an unending dedication to our children and families. She had the amazing capacity for honoring a child’s gifts and creating an environment where those gifts could grow like seeds in a garden.
For more information about the Gayle Nathe Fund, visit the First Congo web site: www.firstcongonurseryschool.com.
The Morita family, whose daughter Hope came through the Nursery School a few years back, has 3 AKC registered Bichon Frise puppies that are looking for loving homes. Please contact Riki directly if interested (firstname.lastname@example.org).