Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Beginning to look a lot like...

We are pleased to introduce our new blogger, Jessica Larson, or more appropriately SuperJessica.   She just happens to also be our webmaster, one of our most beloved teachers, and a parent to two of our TLS kiddos (one of whom will most definitely be offended if it is not pointed out that he is a TLS ALUMNI).  Jessica brings with her a wealth of experience and talents - including, (but not limited to!), photography, multi-media, technology, fine arts, and graphic design.  She has an incredibly sharp wit, too.  Jessica brings these talents into her classroom, and intertwines them with her depth of knowledge of early childhood development, providing a vibrant and enriching experience for the children in her care.  

We are fortunate that Jessica shares these gifts with our school as a whole as well.  Her excitement is infectious and she makes those of us around her see the fun in what we do.  We are thrilled that she is going to be able to share her thoughts with our entire community.   She has the unique ability to offer perspective both as a parent, and as a member of The Little School teaching team.  We are so thankful you will have the opportunity to come to know her as we do!- Jen Dock

And without further ado...

What happens when you ask a room full of 3 year olds to tell you something that happens in December? 
"Snowmen!" says Olivia, (it's 68 degrees out, but we go with it). 
"and carrots" adds Lucas.
"Carrots?" I ask, "What are those for?"
"For the snowman's nose!"
"No," says Charlotte “They are for the reindeer”.
"Christmas!" they all shout. The room is getting louder and louder as the kids literally buzz with excitement. 
"Hanukkah." says Barclay
"aaaannnd" I ask, leading the witness,

I'll admit it, in the past I've been known to be a bit on the Grinchy side.  This year, my 11 month old is doing everything in her limited power to pull down my tree, and I'm not sure I can handle another round of Justin Beiber singing holiday classics. Enter the pure magic of the holidays. After spending 5 minutes touring the halls and rooms at TLS  to see what these real life "Cindy-loo Who's" have gotten into, and my heart instantly grows 3 sizes. It’s impossible not to succumb to the warm and fuzzies in this place!

From Shannon’s Peapods to Dana’s Pre-K, busy elves are hard at work making holiday cheer and sweet surprises. Ms. Val’s Zany Zoo has hung their homemade stockings with care, which the kids will fill with cards for one another. Ms. Lulu’s class is having their very own snow day, and Ms. Diana’s class is decorating an evergreen with “I Love You’s”. Ms. Arryan’s room is taking turns digging into Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and Holly’s kids are sweetening the deal with peppermint themed art. Students have been spinning dreidels and cutting down trees, building kinaras and transforming rice and goo into adorable wreaths. Looking for a good party? Grab your tutu and crown and head to the Mighty Me’s Nutcracker celebration.  
Like much of what we do, these activities and experiences have genuine purpose. These kids are practicing everything from fine motor control, following multi-step directions, shape recognition, sensory exploration, math sequencing, taking turns,  all the way to exploring diverse cultures, navigating their social interactions, and gaining a deeper understanding that their world exists beyond their immediate experience. But lets face it: some things just look really cool covered in glitter. There is nothing more healing to this Grinch than preparing for all the different holiday traditions with the kids. It's a contagious glee, and finally a bug I'm OK catching.
Each family has their own take on the holidays, just something that MAKES the season complete. We want to hear them all. Do you bake shortbread with Grandma Doris? Leave your shoes out for St. Nicholas? Do your kids put grass under their bed for the camels on 3 Kings day? Do you drink unreasonable amounts of egg-nog lattes (me)? We want to hear them! Tell us all about YOUR family's traditions? And of course, however your family spends the holidays, be it with who-hash or egg-nog lattes (again, me) we hope it is full of all the joy there is! We all look forward to seeing you in the new year.

***Staff Spotlight shines on Ms. Valerie***
Our Ms. Valerie received her B.A. in child development, and has the quirky necklaces to prove it! Around the school she is known as someone you can always count on. Co-workers describe her as a dorm mother, fun-loving and always with a smile on her face. She has been married to her husband, Chris, for a zillion and one years, and has two teen-aged kids of her own. We asked her:
What was your happiest childhood memory? What makes it so special?
The Christmas my mother worked so hard so we could have a white Christmas. I was born and raised in Southern California, so it was always warm in CA at Christmastime. This year our Mom took everything; tree, gifts, food, etc. to the mountains. We went to Big Bear and had a fabulous time. Loosing both of my parents last year makes this memory even more special.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your super powers to be?
Healing hands. If I could help people in this way it would be so wonderful. Oh, and I would have to fly so I could get there quicker. 

What was the best movie you went to see?
The Help. I had read the book (which was better, but not by much). I was very taken by the fact that this was not long ago. The acting was awesome.

What is your favorite children’s book?
One Woolly Wombat by Kerry Argent. It is an Australian counting book with very interesting animals. My husband read it to my son (now 20) when he was probably two or three years old. You can never read too much to a child.

What book has had the biggest impact on you?
Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. He is one of my favorites and I love this book because as John and his dog traveled the roads they got a real flavor for a variety of human characteristics. When I read a Steinbeck book I feel like I am present and involved in the story. I also loved Grapes of Wrath, Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row.

What words do you live by?
Enjoy each and everyday. Life is so short. Marry somebody or be married to someone you can call your best friend. Your children are a treasure.

If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be?
Queen of England or Queen of someplace! Wearing a crown and jewels would be awesome.