Children's House Newsletter, November 2012

November has been an eventful month at school. Since most of you have just had a conference, I will just briefly mention some of what the children have done. We learned about the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims, Native Americans and the about the Mayflower. Turkeys were also very present in the classroom. The children have all been busy following their natural interests and exploring the environment all while developing social skills, grace and courtesy, independence, patience, and concentration. Your children are learning every day, and we hope that they develop a lifelong love of learning. December will be a busy month and one of my favorite times in the classroom. There will be lots of singing, art, crafts, crafts and more crafts! If you would like to volunteer to help with a craft please give me a written list of when you are available.

As part of our study on nutrition we have introduced the current plate model of balanced eating created by the USDA. The children have been sorting play food into the food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, proteins and dairy) on an oversized model of choose my plate. The plate is divided into quarters, ¼ is grains, ¼ is protein and the other ½ is fruit and vegetables with dairy on the side. As we continue to talk to your children about healthy food we would also like to once again request that snacks and lunches be as healthful as possible.

The handbook is now available on our website, but I have included here the snack and lunch policies that are in the parent handbook.

WE ARE A NUT FREE SCHOOL, so no peanuts or tree nuts are allowed. When choosing a snack, please choose healthy, whole foods and avoid processed foods with artificial flavors and colors, additives, preservatives, and trans fats. Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, natural breads, and homemade goods are encouraged. If you need wholesome snack ideas, please consult the “50 Healthy Snacks” ideas.

Monday through Thursday are regular snack days. Guidelines for each day are:

  • Monday: Cheese and crackers
  • Tuesday: Fruit and crackers
  • Wednesday: Veggies and cheese
  • Thursday: Muffins, bagels, or breads with fruits or veggies
  • Friday: International snack (prepare a snack of international origin and send information about it so we can incorporate a mini geography lesson)

Regarding lunches:

We do not allow Lunchables, squeezeable or drinkable yogurts, desserts, juice, or milk. We are not able to heat food nor keep it cold. Please use a thermos or cold pack, if necessary.

We truly appreciate your cooperation with our policy. I encourage you to do a little research on what is actually in the processed foods that are available in our country. While I certainly understand how hard it is to pack a healthy lunch every day and that pre-packaged foods are easy, they are not going to feed your child’s brain as well as wholesome, healthful food. I encourage you to read the labels on the foods that you serve. Read labels and know what you are serving; try to keep sugar and sodium low with higher amounts of fiber and protein. Avoid brightly colored foods and foods containing artificial preservatives and trans fat. I was recently shocked at the grocery store to find that one of the Greek yogurts had 24 grams of sugar. While all children love sweets and certainly should get them in moderation, we do not allow them at school. Please bear in mind that chocolate covered cereal bars and chocolate yogurts are sending confusing messages to your child about what is healthy and what is a sweet, and they should be enjoyed at home.

I also recently stumbled on what I thought was the most common sense way to think about portion sizes for children. This article was in Parenting magazine, by Shaun Dreisbach.

The answer is right in your child's hand: A child-size portion of meat is about what would fit in your guy's palm. For whole-grain carbs, such as brown rice or pasta, a serving is roughly the size of his fist -- a measurement that also applies to fruits, veggies, and dairy products such as yogurt. A serving of cheese is about thumb-size, and for munching on snack foods, think a handful. "The great thing about this system is that it works no matter what your child's age -- because his hand grows as he, and his appetite, does. So you don't have to memorize portions," said [childhood obesity expert and pediatrician] Dr. Sarah Hampl.

We will be celebrating the holiday season with an emphasis on giving and kindness. However, we will be touching on the stories of Christmas and Hanukkah just as we talked about Diwali this past month. If there is anything you would like to share with the class or have your child excluded from, please speak to Carla.

Friday, December 21 will not be a regular day for Children’ s House. There will be no school, before care or after care on that day. We will have a celebration in the classroom for parents and children to come in together for a brief gathering. More information will follow.

Welcome back, Parna, you were missed. Thank you to Cherie, Irene and Monika for their additional efforts while Parna was away.

Carla, Parna, Cherie and Irene