Friday, June 27, 2014



1.             1.
used to express good wishes when parting or at the end of a conversation.
2.             Synonyms: farewell, adieu, au revoir, ciao, adios

To the graduating TLS class of 2014-

We are in awe of you. Though we (ok, I) cry at goodbye each and every year, there is so much to celebrate in our time together! All those developmental surges, the relationships we forged, all the brain connections made. We remember when you finally crossed that log, when we cheered like crazy when you used the potty, and when we held our breath as you placed that last block on the tower. And man oh man, how you've charmed us with your facts about black mamba snakes, your capacity to flawlessly recite every line of "Let It Go", and of course your amazingly styled ensembles. And even when you were sad, there was so much tenderness and love. We remember on your first day of school when you and your full baby cheeks waited by the door for Mom to come… we waited with you. We held you close on that time you forgot your beloved stuffed sea otter, and we sighed deeply along with you as you drifted to sleep after your patented "creepy mousey" arm tickle. In some cases we meet when you were wee little babies, others we just got lucky enough to meet this year. But regardless of when we met, you have moved us all. 

Our job is not only to delight in your childhood, but to encourage the growth of competent, self assured, free thinking adults.  We often marvel that much of the work we do as early childhood educators we will never see. Like it or not, the years will march on, and you will have only the faintest memory of that giddy teacher with the gnomes, twirling the day away with your friends dressed as ninjas and brides, or that mythical magic tree. A magic tree you will think? Did I make that up? But we will be there, faintly but proudly woven into your story. We love you all so much. We have faith that you will conquer the world, and our deepest wish is that you will always hear the echo of us cheering you on. You did it!

I asked our future world leaders what they will be when they grow up?

Aiden: A mower driver and a truck driver. I am going to help people with their lawns. Grandma and me are going to mow, and Momma's going to trim
Anika: A cowgirl
Niko: A firefighter. Actually a doctor
Chloe: A ballerina teacher 
Parker:  A Jedi
Nicholas: A kid and a fireman
Lillian: Maybe a scientist
Gabe: A firefighter
Evan: A policeman. I am going to take people to jail that go off the speed limit
Lucas: A doctor. A nursing doctor
Brady: My Dad's job. He's a boss and engineer
Oscar: A doctor
Mia: I'm going to help animals
Porter: A firefighter
Lexi: I'm going to kindergarten 
Cassie: I want to be a teacher who goes to school

Mack: A ninja that does spinjitzu 
Lillian: A veterinarian
Megan: I don't know
Maria C: A fashionista and a farmer.... no, just a fashionista
Sophia: An artist
Henry: A race car driver with a green and red car and conducting 9 year olds to get race cars out of control 
Elisa: A cowgirl, a Mommy, a doctor and a teacher
Eli: I don't know
Sarah Grace: A teacher here. Leah is going to be my boss
Graham: A soldier
Callum: A paleontologist 
Addison: A princess of the castle
Wylie: A queen of princesses
Alex: Oooh, oooh! I'm going to be a singer
Andy: A diabetes doctor
Maryn: A princess like Rapunzel 
Finley: An artist, painting, drawing, making necklaces and picture frames
Antonia: A horse rider
Beckett: A policeman that arrests bad guys
Will: A football player on the red team
Rebecca: A ballet teacher
William: A ninja

Lila: Aurora
Cannon:  A super-hero
Soren: A firefighter
Isla: A ballerina
Jacob: I want to be a ninja, but there are no such things as ninjas, so I will be a artist. Or a millionaire
Hailey: I want to be a vet… a cat vet!
Ethan: Police
Avett: A ninja or a lego maker
Addison Hardy: I'm gonna work with my papa and be a rescue call person and with my g-ma and be the boss of all county schools
Charlotte: A doctor
Rebekah: A animal farmer with cows, horses, pigs, chicken and donkeys
Camille: A Mom and a teacher
Ayla: An artist and a Mom
Jack: Grrrrrr
Molly: A dentist
Eon: A painter like my Mom
Mason: Taking care of babies with my Mom
Izzy: A biologist 
Cecilia: Queen Elsa
Marisol: I love arts and crafts so... an artist? 
Lily: A Mom and a teacher
Ben: A cook and an engineer. It's going to be a desert place with Jack and Sam 
Oliver: Professional baseball player

Halina: A pet salon. Or maybe an artist. Or maybe a swimming teacher 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

From seeds and baby plants to... food for us to eat!

A Passion flower grows on our Bamboo Trellis
Gently twisting the tendrils
of the Passionflower
around the Bamboo
Jordan carefully water the

Our gardens are GROWING!!  

Clara waters the garden
Andrew waters the Marigolds
  In our gardens, the kids have been working hard and learning a lot.  So far we have learned to water the plants carefully, pouring the water in the dirt by the stem of the plant; how to pull weeds slowly from their base in order to get the roots; how to identify several different plants and different bugs we find in the garden and whether they are helpful to our garden or harmful.

Chef  Chris holds some harvested bounty
from our gardens!
After numerous weeks of 
watering, we are starting to see the "fruits" of our labor.
Green tomatoes are growing
and Summer Squash is ready 
for harvest.  At the Duke campus this past week, the kids helped pick the squash and bring it to Chef Chris who cooked it and served it in our lunch! 

The Tomatillos look intriguing  (like little lanterns) but not yet ready to pick.  But we pick a few anyway, to explore how they are growing and how they feel, smell and taste.

Madison and Collette taste
the Swiss Chard.  Mmmm!

Tasting our plants is a huge part of the experience.  As one class, The Fireflies, tasted the Swiss Chard leaves, Avi exclaimed, "It tastes like chocolate!"  Other kids didn't like the taste and spit the leaves out.  Exploring food is a part of growing up.  Likes and dislikes are a part of who we are.  Studies have shown that the more exposure kids have to fruits and vegetables when they are young, the more likely they are to like them and thus eat more of them. 

Testing the soil.  Is it wet or dry?

Touching the soil is another part of the experience.  We did this to see if it was wet or dry.  Noticing the difference between dry and wet soil is a learning process.  But it's fun to play is the dirt, too.  Just as long as we let the plants have most of it.

Getting wet is definitely part of the experience!!!  While caring for our gardens, we keep ourselves cool in this hot, hot weather.

We will keep watering and weeding and harvesting for the rest of June and July and then in August we will be planting our Fall gardens.  We will even be using some of the seeds we saved from our summer gardens, like Cilantro and Fennel.


And if you have any gardening advice, as most people who garden do, feel free to find me in the gardens or e-mail :

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Baby Doll Circle Time

Another Gift from Becky Bailey, Creator of Conscious Discipline

Fireflies at Baby Doll Circle Time
Miss Melissa sits on the ground and begins singing “Get your baby, get your baby, get your baby, time to play” to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine”.  A group of toddlers immediately gravitate towards her and one by one pick a baby out of the basinet.  They clearly already know the routine well as they form a near-perfect circle and sit down with their babies.  Next she leads them in a chorus of “My baby’s in my lap” which leads the children through holding the baby, sitting the baby down and laying the baby down.  The children are clearly deeply engaged with their babies and each activity -- as moving and heart-warming a group love-in as I’ve ever witnessed.  Welcome to Baby Doll Circle Time.
Butterflies take their Circle Time Outside
Baby Doll Circle Time is the invention of Becky Bailey, the brain behind Conscious Discipline.  The Little School chose Conscious Discipline as our approach to classroom management because it provides a comprehensive social and emotional curriculum to help children learn how to deal with their own feelings and get along with others.  Dr. Bailey developed Baby Doll Circle Time as a way to offer young children ways to experience themselves as nurturers and connect to their baby dolls in a manner similar to how they relate to parents and other important caregivers.  The goal of Baby Doll Circle Time is to enhance the quality of the relationship between caregivers and children by strengthening attachment, attunement and social play.

Playing Peekaboo with their Babies
Miss Melissa and the toddlers work their way through the prompted activities -- they rock their babies, play peek-a boo, and do several I Love You Rituals.  Another invention of Becky Bailey, I Love You Rituals are delightful interactions and games (usually rhymes with gentle touches or tickles) that can be played with children from infancy through to eight years of age that send a message of unconditional acceptance and love.  As the toddlers coo and tickle their baby dolls, they are intently focused on their own babies with a reverence and focus that is usually reserved for those special moments with their nearest and dearest.  While this is the theory and intention behind Baby Doll Circle Time, it has truly amazed us here at TLS to see it in action. 

One Little School mother began doing I Love You Rituals with her son.  She emailed the school to share her experience:
I started doing I Love You Rituals with my son, then age two, at the recommendation of our teachers as a way address some anxiety he was experiencing at nap time.  At first I was skeptical because we were already doing lots of nursery rhymes and snuggle time, and I wasn't sure how a "ritual" was any different. However, because I was desperate to try something to help him, we chose a couple rituals from the book and started practicing them, whenever I thought about it-- before bed time, putting on shoes, waiting in line at the grocery store, etc.  Very quickly we both began to recognize the rituals as special time.  When he heard the beginning of the rhyme, he'd beam and listen intently, then beg "again, again!"  Soon his teachers were able to use the rituals at nap time to help him feel secure.  I have found them to be a great "reset button" to get my son's attention and reconnect when I need for him to cooperate or calm down.  It's amazing how just a few moments of being silly together can change both of our moods.  The ritual is familiar, comforting, and reminds us of the history we've created of giggles and hugs.

When this boy was participating in Baby Doll Circle Time and the I Love You Ritual he and his mom do together was guided, he just lit up.  He was so thrilled to know exactly what to do and showed his baby the same love and attention that had been shown to him so many times. 
 Another wonderful benefit we've experienced with the introduction of Baby Doll Circle Time is that the children begin to treat each other with the same warmth and caring they have learned with their dolls.  They now realize they are capable of comforting another and without prompting extend their affection to one another.  It becomes a common fixture in these rooms for children to cover their friends at naptime, pat their backs, and initiate a favorite “I Love You Ritual” with a special friend.

Friends do "Round and Round the Garden" - a favorite I Love You Ritual

Friday, June 6, 2014

Staff Spotlight: Heather W

A teacher for several years at TLS, we are excited to announce that Heather will be stepping into the role of the Hillsborough infant mentor teacher in July. Similar to the reggio “pedagogista”, TLS has created the role of a mentor teacher. With our ongoing efforts to live the little in The Little School, we discovered that we could thrive just that much more with this role. Like the name suggests, they are there to work with the teachers, help them brain storm ideas, trouble shoot sticky patches, and be another set of eyes, ears and big brains in your building. We are hoping they will be a quick access point for teachers and parents alike. We are thrilled to see this dream in action. Heather was chosen for the role of mentor because she lives her belief in the competencies of infants,  and recognizes the powerful chance we get to be an advocate for our smallest students. She treats infants with respect of a fellow colleague, and expects to learn from them everyday. Most importantly, Heather is never one to take herself too seriously, and is always up for a new challenge. We are excited to see our infant program grow under her care. We asked Heather to tell us more: 

How did you find your way to TLS?
The school I had been at for 5 years was being absorbed by a large chain...I couldn't imagine myself in a corporate daycare setting, and so I began the search for a school that reflected my personal educational philosophies.  I was drawn to The Little School's website right away.  Children playing outside, getting messy, and teachers down on the child's level exploring alongside the children were the images that spoke to me.

What do you value or hold most dear at TLS?
The five big ideas are such a strong foundation and I really appreciate how much they are woven into the school's philosophy.  Our school leaders take professional development seriously, and seem to always be asking how we can improve or more fully embody the school values. This is an environment for lifelong learning, and growing for teachers and students.

What is the most interesting trip you have taken?
I took a week long trip around Ireland when I was in my 20's. My friend and I didn't have an itinerary. We just picked up a car in Shannon, and drove along the coast to Dublin.  We made new friends, drank a daily pint of Guinness, and visited historical sites.  Everything was so vividly green, and there were ancient ruins and sheep everywhere!

What movie or work of fiction has had the biggest impact on you? Why?
My favorite movie of all time is Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier.  It is so beautiful and dreamy.  The plot is full of twists and turns, and the story is full of mystery, but I think the biggest reason it sticks with me is the main character begins as a naive and foolish girl, but in the end she is much stronger and resilient than she thought.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I would want the powers of that girl from the tv show in the 90's "Out of this World"  She could freeze and unfreeze time.  I always feel like I need just a little more time, and that would seem like a great way to do it.  Totally selfish reason to have a superpower, but I am sure I would eventually do some good with it...just as soon as I can finish some books I've been meaning to read...

What is something about you that people might not know?
I trained with the Carolina Rollergirls for a while...until I was injured (torn ligaments in my knee, broken arm, frozen shoulder) I also am a certified instructor for Derby Lite, a super cool derby inspired exercise program which got put on hold when I found out I was if I only had some free time...

What is your favorite children's book?
I love reading Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise to infants and toddlers.  They love the rhyming meter, and the pictures of animals, and for some reason I can read it 50 times in one seating and not get sick of it.  For slightly older children, the Madeleine books are great.  I love that little brave, mischievous girl who believes in doing what's right, even if it means getting into trouble.  Wildwood by Colin Melloy is amazing too.  It's one of those books that you read as an adult and think...I would have LOVED this book as a child!

What would you listen to if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life?'s been covered by many different artists, including Billie Holliday and one of my favorite bands, "Friends of Dean Martinez". I don't really like winter or cold weather, so it's the perfect song to listen to when celebrating the return of warm weather.

If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be?
I would want to be a traveling food writer.  Like Anthony Bourdain, but nicer and without all of the smoking.

What words do you live by?
So it goes...Good or bad life goes on. We need to take time to appreciate the important things in life like family, good friends, good food, and the beauty in nature.