September 25, 2016

Dear Earth School Families,

As I watch our new class communities forming, I am reminded of the lesson that I learned when my first niece started Pre-K. Each day, we would excitedly ask Chloe about her day. She gave single-word answers: “Good.” “Fine.” “OK.” After a while, though, she starting telling us about a boy in her class named Timmy. Timmy was not listening to the teacher. Another day, it was Timmy who knocked over her block building. Then, Timmy went the wrong way on the slide. Later, Timmy had refused to share. When we asked if she needed our help to talk to him or to her teacher, usually, it had already been resolved. On the occasions when we got to observe Timmy in action, we saw an outgoing, brave, sometimes very boisterous, but, charming four year old. Chloe continued to report Timmy’s daily escapades. I don’t remember her sharing much else. After a time, we began to realize a few things. Her classroom accounts ran the gamut of age-appropriate themes-- nice and naughty (think: Cat in the Hat), rules and rebellion (think: Where the Wild Things Are), and other perils of being four. We noticed Chloe’s eagerness to share events that evoked her own “good” behavior in contrast to Timmy’s. Though it was obviously satisfying for Chloe to talk about Timmy, my sister and I had questions:

  • Was it healthy for Chloe to be so focused on the missteps of a classmate?
  • How could we support Chloe to keep a more open mind about this young child still finding his way in a new classroom?
  • What was she learning by watching Timmy’s mistakes and how adults patiently and firmly responded to him?
  • How could we shift our attention away from Timmy stories to Chloe’s actions and accomplishments?
  • How could we support Chloe’s interest in following rules and understanding boundaries in ways that didn’t involve “telling on” Timmy?

Predictably, we “discovered” that almost all of her (and her class’) favorite picture books involved characters that test limits and explore belonging in various ways. Furthermore, while we were busy worrying, her skillful teacher-- clearly aware of these social struggles-- had before long, crafted an environment full of supports and problem-solving strategies that helped all the kids handle the challenges and reap the rewards of their diverse community. The Timmy stories became few and far between.

Through my story, I urge you to notice the ways you react to your child’s accounts of their school day. What messages are you sending back about empathy, inclusion, diversity? Before you jump in to “fix it” for them, consider what “lessons” could be learned about solving problems peacefully, gauging when adult help is needed, standing up for oneself or others, forgiveness. (Of course, if the issue is of a serious nature, always keep staff informed.)

Fourteen years later: Chloe has continued her path of inquiry and, at 18, her great passion is working for social justice and intercultural understanding. On school vacations, she is often found “interning” in The Earth School office helping me diffuse conflicts or calming children who come to the office for a break.

All for now! 



This Week

Fridays (most), 8:40 – 9:10 a.m. Weekly Town Meeting in the Play Space. Families encouraged to attend this whole-school gathering.

Looking Ahead

Oct 3 – 4. School closed for Rosh Hashanah

Oct 6, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Annual Community Potluck: Variety is the Spice of Life

Oct 10. School closed for Columbus Day

Oct 12. School closed for Yom Kippur

Saturday, Oct 15. Annual Fall Fair. Bring friends. Fun for the whole family. Hold the date!


What is COW? C.O.W. (Community Open Work) is a unique time at the Earth School. C.O.W. occurs every Wednesday from 1:40- 2:30 p.m. It is when all Earth School classes simultaneously have Open Work periods where students choose their own work. Activities are wide-ranging, from developing projects, to building with blocks, creating a play, or working in other classrooms. The community aspect of C.O.W. is part of what makes it such an anticipated part of the school week. Students, teachers, and parents also run special “C.O.W. clubs” at this time. C.O.W. clubs are groups of students who gather together around a common interest or activity. Please consider volunteering to run a C.O.W. Club in your child's class. It is a way for you to share your own interests with the school community, to get to know students, and to contribute diverse and rich experiences for our children. If you are interested in running a C.O.W club, please contact or Past C.O.W. Clubs include Sports Club, Japanese Club, Sewing Club, Garden Club, School Newspaper.

Middle School Process Reminders

Earth School Middle School Information Meeting: DATE IS CHANGING (due to a conflict with TSMS’ Open House)

Families of 5th Graders should be making appointments to go on school tours. Appointments for tours are limited and the most popular ones fill up fast.

Shirley and Jocelyn are here to help. Please reach out if you need support.