Even though I have been lucky enough to be part of this community for thirteen years now, I am still always surprised and awed by the power of collaboration and hard work.  It is amazing to me how much can done and how efficiently when we bond together with common purpose and plan. This morning a group of us met at CNS in the drizzle and moved 30 yards of playground mulch around the swings, the jiggly bus, the gnome house, and the back climber.  Check out the before, during, and after pictures.  Great day. Grateful.


The crew:  Karen’s dad, Lucy’s dad, Avery’s dad, Allie’s dad, Cal’s dad, Elliot’s dad, Ginger’s mom, Sophie’s mom, Nina’s mom, Lydia’s mom, Zack’s mom, me, Vicente’s parents, and Sriya’s mom.  Thank you to all!

Sharing something special

Most often, I use this space for my own writing and reflection.  Every once in awhile, I find something to share that I feel is important and relevant and worth putting in this space.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did –  read and reflect.  As a parent of older children now, it is so very very true.

Written by a Pre-School Teacher – It says it all!

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our pre-schoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvellous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.
But more important, here’s what parents need to know.
That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like lego and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.



To begin again every September is an opportunity.  New energy infusing the space.  New ideas born of reflection and time away.  New faces to learn.  New families to welcome. New voices to hear. New friendships to find.  New challenges to overcome.


Last Sunday, a group of parents joined on the first work day of the year to spruce up the gardens, clean up the sand and mulch;  to paint and patch, and drill holes for new coat hangers.  It always humbles me to see the great love and commitment that parents bring to CNS.  For some of them, this was their first touch with our community.  And just like their children that will meet together this week on the playground or in a classroom, here they were, meeting new faces, introducing themselves and making connection. It is a vital part of our community with each other as caretakers of our school.  And also very rewarding for anyone who was able to see the transformation of the garden beds and yard (and they were so quick at weeding the beds, that I didn’t even get a good picture!).

This year, I look forward to a few new programs and new ideas that we are planning for this “just about to start” year.

–Book group.   I would like us to choose a book to read together and with those interested, meet throughout the year to think a little more deeply about children and their development.  I will share more about this during Parent Orientation on Tuesday night.

– Childrens Rights Project. I am also going to suggest a community project that asks us to define the rights of children.  When I was in Italy last March, I saw that at a few schools they had articulated and then posted a list of “Childrens’ Rights”.  Reading through them (and posted months ago here), I was struck by this idea and have often thought that we as a community should articulate our own set of “Childrens’ Rights”.  What do we believe in as the adults (parents, teachers) in their lives?  What do we want to protect?

— CNS monarch will provide new classes and opportunities for children to expand in many different ways. (

— Hawkins Center for Learning.  Starting this fall, on some Saturdays throughout the year, our Studio will be a gathering place for local teachers, directors, and parents to have a chance to interact “hands-on” with materials. Check out: for more information on the Hawkins and why this is a special new part of what happens at CNS.


On this day, final touches are being made in the classrooms. Orientation materials for teachers and parents are being assembled.  Name tags are being created and paint cups filled. Tomorrow morning, the teachers and I will meet and spend the day in meetings and prep for the start of the school year.

I look forward to this new beginning with butterflies in my stomach, warmth in my heart and a gentle knowing of all the adventure that awaits us.  I look forward to connecting with your children and supporting you throughout our time together in the coming months and year.  I continue to be humbled by your trust and will work tirelessly toward creating and sharing a space at CNS that nurtures all of us as we walk this path together.