Co-op Community News

January 1999

Kindergarten 101
by Lauren Gaylord, Veteran Mom, Wedgwood Pre-3<

Selecting a kindergarten is the current topic in most, if not all, co-op 3-5 classes. Looking back, all the effort I put into choosing a co-op was a warm-up exercise compared to picking a kindergarten. Fortunately, there is a lot of information available and it is easy to find parents of kindergartners who, like new moms wanting to talk about their birth experiences, are happy to share the joy and frustration of their search.
Questions about the Seattle Public Schools
How do I Register?
During February 1 -- March 31 (confirm date with School District) register at a Student Assignment Services Center (more information below).
What is the Age Requirement?
A child who is five years old by 8/31/99 can attend kindergarten in the 99/00 year. Call the Early Entrance Office (298-7130) for information regarding exceptions.
What is a Cluster and Reference Area?
The district schools are grouped into nine geographic clusters. A Reference area is an individual school's attendance boundary and is the area immediately surrounding the school. It is determined by a student's home address. Students are given an assignment preference if they choose their reference school. Call the SASC (below) to determine your cluster and reference school.
What happens if schools are full or I don't get my first choice?
Tiebreakers are used if schools cannot accommodate applicants. If you don't get your first choice, your child will be placed on a waiting list and assigned to another school within your cluster.
More Information on Seattle Public Schools

Suggestions from Parents who Survived the Process

Remember, the benefit of this research goes way beyond kindergarten. And consider the whole school when you visit. It is easy to forget that they'll be in school 12 more years. You don't need to visit every class and grade, but do consider looking beyond kindergarten.

Jan Faull on Love and Limits--Finding the Balance
Horror struck Jane at a holiday gathering with family and friends when her children, ages 5 and 8, jumped on the host's sofa, grabbed toys from other children, and pushed to the front of the food line. Jane stood embarrassed, not knowing if she should leave, ignore their antics or plead for better behavior. Jane admits her confusion. More than anything she wants her children to have good self-esteem. She goes overboard complimenting them, making them feel good about themselves. But when they misbehave, she's reluctant to draw a line in the parenting sand, say '"no," and stick with it. This is especially true if her "no" evokes tears, anger or relentless pleas to change her mind.
Sound familiar? Here's the goal: When a child knows how to manage himself in a variety of environments, he feels competent and qualified to move successfully through his day without receiving raised eyebrows or daggers shooting at him from bystander's eyes. Your duty is to find the delicate balance expressing love and limits at the same time.
This perpetual task will be the topic of PAC sponsored lecture by Jan Faull. She will speak Thursday night, January 28th at 7 PM on NSCC campus, room LB-1141 in the Library Bldg. Admission is free and parking is free but there is no childcare.
Jan Faull is a popular Seattle area parent educator. She conducts regular parent education classes at Overlake and Evergreen Hospitals and at Bellevue Community College. For 23 years, she has shared her advice, wisdom and wit with parents of toddlers through teens--as a lecturer, TV commentator, author, newspaper columnist and internet parenting advisor. You may have seen her on KIRO TV, NW Cable News, or seen her work in Better Homes & Gardens, the Eastside Journal or Disney's family website. Jan has a master's degree in Early Childhood Education from UW.

Co-op Openings

These co-ops had significant openings as of January 1. There may be other co-ops not shown here that have 1 or 2 openings.

Univ-Ravenna (Wed PM)......18
524-9346 - Irene
Cedar Park.....3
285-3273 - Donna
Northgate (evening).....3
324-4075 - Amy
3 to 5's
Cedar Park.....5
525-4789 - Beatrice
Ingraham (some ext'd day).....12
364-5478 - Cathy

Parenting without Directions
by Tom Drummond, NSCC Early Childhood Education Instructor

You may think the notion absurd, but I would like to ask you to consider a radical idea. I invite you to stop telling your children what to do. Can you imagine never telling your children what to do? Ever wonder what that might make possible for you and your child?
You and I share a desire to help children be the best people they can possibly be, realizing, of course, that their growth really is their job. You and I can't make them be one way or another; the only thing we can do in attempting to help them is to evolve ourselves into being the best possible facilitators. We find no absolutes here--no "right way" to parent or teach. In reality, what you or I do to facilitate others is be open and authentic about whom we are. I believe this is the goal in being an optimal parent. We cannot continue in old habits simply because of comfort. The essential task we face in being the very best facilitator of another human's development is to improve ourselves.
You and I have inherited a way to parent from our own parents, with strengths to honor and pass on to our children, and weaknesses, unfortunately, too. We have inherited ways of being that lead us unwittingly to make mistakes and act as less than the wonderful humans we endeavor to be. If we profess to help others grow, we have to walk our talk. We have to represent in our way of being, not the habits we have easily acquired, but the way we would like our children to become.
Nothing is wrong with making mistakes. We make them, just as children do. When children spill milk, whine for treats, strike out in anger, or forget, they are only being human. Essentially, all that is required to grow beyond these ways is an immediate awareness that these acts arise as reflexes, and correct them. Growing begins with seeing a mistake at the time it happens. When we recognize it, we alter what we do. As recognition increases, we pull nearer to the ideal we strive to be.
I would like you to imagine now what is possible for your children, for we can begin to recognize a habit as a mistake only when we have clear ideals for our children. What are your goals for being a parent? What is the result you want to achieve?
I have a vision for what is possible. I want children, fully and uniquely themselves, who freely choose to act simultaneously for self-betterment and for the betterment of their communities. The ideal, it seems to me, is to raise children who act responsibly--voluntarily--for the good of their family, school, and other people, and choose to do it because they find delight in it. I want them to use their bodies, their brains, their muscles, and their intelligence. I value children who take the initiative to act beneficially, on their own, out of their own sense of personal caring and responsibility.
Although it may sound extreme, here is my challenge: STOP TELLING YOUR CHILDREN WHAT TO DO. If you believe children should take initiative, then you must offer to them the opportunity to initiate--not direct them. If you believe that children should act responsibly, then they must have responsibilities to take--and correct their mistakes. Therefore, each time you want to make them act a certain way has within it an opportunity to teach what may be the most essential lesson your children will ever learn.
Here's how. Drop the directions and flip to providing the information they need to initiate the act on their own. Instead of saying, "Come to dinner," say, "Dinner is ready." Instead of, "Get dressed," say, "Here are your clothes." The shift requires a reformulation of language from the imperative to the declarative. The No Directions approach offers you the possibility of treating your child as an individual who can make his or her own choices, instead of waiting around until told. With this self-imposed restriction, you offer your child chances to take the initiative and to assume personal responsibility. When you use a command, you offer your child only two choices: 1) obey (even they don't want to) which is acquiescence, or 2) disobey (either by doing nothing or by refusing), which is rebellion. Acquiescence and rebellion are not values I want to instill in children.
You can perform a simple study of how you act. Physically count how many times you give directions to your child in a day, then practice eliminating directions. Then after a few weeks count directives again. I believe this research project is worth your time, for I see direction-giving as the greatest mistake most adults make when guiding the growth of children. In the endeavor to stop issuing directions, adults are forced to convey what to do in a way that offers children an opportunity for initiative. Gradually, the children learn to live their lives under their own control for the good of themselves and their community. Voilá! They begin to achieve an ideal we value for their development.
I am not advocating that you give up leadership--just domination. You remain fully influential. You can give them information ("bedtime comes in one hour"). You can describe the opportunities ("we all can help clear the table"). You can advise them of what could be done ("the sponge is under the sink"). You can state the problem ("the garbage is full"). All these have influence and yet offer opportunity for initiative.
If dropping directions is beneficial, you should see two results: 1) you find yourself acting more like the parent you want to be, and 2) you find your children acting more like the children you would like them to be. These two results, to me, indicate success. I invite you to step into the possibility of testing whether this effort is worthwhile for you.

Co-op as Extended Family
by Janice Jacobson, Teacher, Crown Hill

The saying "it takes a village..." has become so commonplace we don't always stop to think about what is meant by "village." Who are the people that make up your village? Some of us are fortunate to have our extended family nearby. We also have our local churches and synagogues, community centers, PEPS, and other parenting groups in the area.
But the village is not the primary resource to raise the child. More accurately, it takes a family with the help of our village, to bring up a child. The village is there to support the family. We are lucky to have a great "village" here in Seattle but what about our extended family? As our society becomes more mobile and global, we move away from our close-knit family unit of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Instead, our co-ops help serve as the support group that the extended family used to be.
The preschool is a place to build a network of other families and people interested in children, to build an identity, to empower ourselves and our children, to try new adventures, to ask questions, to trust that we are safe to express ourselves and our ideas, to feel safe with those in our preschool family. When we join the co-op, we enter into relationship with adults and children that may last a lifetime.
Our children also have an opportunity to develop relationships with these "cousins" and "aunts" and "uncles." Here they spend time with people willing to invest their own time and commit to the building of a healthy, safe environment for these children to grow and learn. Our co-ops also give children lifelong friends, positive adult role-models, a place to develop a strong sense of self and an opportunity to explore their world with their friends. As my children entered middle school, they still greeted friends they had known from co-op preschool.
For adults, co-ops give us a place to build a safety net of support that is needed when raising children. Isn't it nice to be in a group of people who are going through the same thing that you are? "You mean your child does that, too?" or "I'm going crazy! Has anyone had this happen?" It is so encouraging to know that there are other people who understand, who will listen to you and support you with a smile and a hug (or a warm casserole). These are people you can trust with your feelings&#151;and your child.
Yes, it does take a village to help a family to raise a child. In our society, we need to build our own little village around our family. As we go through this adventure of raising a child, the co-op is one way we can encircle them with love. Just like the warm blanket grandma made us when we were children, we can knit a family of warm, caring people that will wrap our child in love and support.

just for fun
by wendy van koevering

Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride
Have your kids ever been on a sleigh ride? Here's your chance. Horse teams, complete with bells, pull large sleighs on a half-hour ride to a winter playground. There you can sled, ski or build snowmen. There are picnic tables, hot water and camp- fires for you to roast hotdogs and make hot chocolate. Heated tents are setup for anyone who needs to warm up. The sleigh drivers are happy to take you for more rides. Then it's jingle bells all the way back to the car.
You bring the snow toys and food. The sleighs leave the Turtle Town campground in Easton from 10 'til 4 everyday. Reservations with Happy Trails at 509-656-2634; $16 adults, $8 children.

Ice Sculptures
Here's a cold-weather activity that can turn nature's collectibles into a temporary work of art. You'll need:

Flat bottom bowl
Nature objects (leaves, rocks, berries, etc.)
String or yarn
On your next winter walk, collect nature objects that catch your eye. When you get home, fill the bowl with water. Then arrange your collection in the water-filled bowl. Lay a piece of string around the inside edge of the bowl. Leave some string hanging out. Put the bowl outside (or in your freezer) 'til frozen solid. If the string has risen to the top try adding more water and refreeze. Tie your sculpture on a tree branch in your yard.