I am so excited for this next year of San Mateo Parents Club. The Board is in transition as board members who have served many, many terms step away and a new group of parents are taking on these exciting roles. This Club has been lucky to have such dedicated board members, many of whom have been on the Board for 5+ years! This includes outgoing President Rachel Kammeyer, Vice President Kathleen Lam, Membership Coordinator Christelle Hurstel, and Webmaster Stella Hwang. We are indebted to them and many others.
My name is Adara Citron and I’m stepping in as the next President. I have two children, Evan (age 4) and Mara (age 2), live in San Mateo, and work full time as a health policy analyst. I have been a member of SMPC since 2019, took on the role of Playgroups Leader for the Kuddly Koalas playgroup (now merged with Baby Sharks) in 2020, and joined the Board in 2021 as Playgroups Coordinator. In this role, I also started the Parent Pairings program and am happy to be passing those roles on to Erin Livingston. I’m looking forward to this new challenge as President!
Caption: From left, Mara, Josh, Evan, and Adara (taken during the fall photo fundraiser!)
One of the best parts of being in SMPC and on the Board is getting to know so many families in our community. My husband often teases me because one of my missions in my adult life has been to find my community, wherever I am living. When we moved back home to the Bay Area in 2016, one of my first activities was to find adult friends. Sadly, that really didn’t happen for me until I had my older son and met many other amazing parents through prenatal care and SMPC. But now, I go to as many SMPC events as possible, attend the book clubs, and run into people wherever I go in San Mateo. I love that another parent will walk up to my family at Barnes and Nobles to say “hi”, even when I’m not there!
If you’re interested in getting more involved in the Club, please reach out to me! We have a great group of 15 board members so far, but the more people who join, the more we are able to spread around the tasks. If you have one hour per month to share with us, we would be ever so grateful for the assistance. A list of open positions is on our website, including roles of Vice President (aka my right hand person – gotta love the team work!), blog co-editor, membership, fundraising (2-3 events per year), community service coordinator, and preschool fair committee member. There is also never a bad time to join the Board. If you’re too busy now but have more time in a few months, let me know.
Caption: From left, Michelle Carothers, Adara Citron, and Jamie Caplan Giloni (two returning events board members)
Lastly, I want to extend a heartfelt welcome to those of you joining from Foster City Parents Club. While we’re sad FCPC is dissolving, we are ecstatic to have more community members in our ranks. I would especially love for parents from Foster City to join our Board, helping to ensure this is a welcoming and accessible community for all.
I am looking forward to getting to know so many of you over the next year! Don’t be a stranger if you see me around!
First Friday Nights at Curiodyssey – San Mateo, February 3
Free First Friday at San Mateo County History Museum – Redwood City, February 3
First Friday at Chabot Space and Science Center – Oakland, February 3
888 Family Ping Pong Night - Burlingame, February 3
Bagels and Babies - Foster City, February 3
Lunar New Year Celebration - Belmont, February 3
Free Telescope Viewing at Chabot Space & Science Center – Oakland, February 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25
Napa Lighted Art Festival - Napa, Jan 21 – Feb 19
Bluey’s Big Play – San Jose, February 3-5
Entwined - San Francisco, February through March 12
Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails Exhibit - San Jose, February - May 23
de Young Museum & Legion of Honor - San Francisco, February 3,10, 17,24
https://www.famsf.org/events/free-saturdays-de-young Free Day for Bay Area Residents
Chinese New Year Parade – San Francisco, February 4
Lunar New Year Celebration at Children’s Discovery Museum – San Jose, February 4
Teen Tennis Stars Clinics! - Stanford, February 4
Volunteer at Redwood Grove Nature Preserve - Los Altos, February 4
Family Nature Walks - Palo Alto, February 4
Fire Ecology - EcoCenter Family Event - Palo Alto, February 4
Year of the Rabbit Concert – San Francisco, February 4
Kid Makers: Celebrating Black History Month – Redwood City, February 4
Art Making for Families – Berkeley, February 4
Lunar New Year Celebration – Redwood City, February 4
Saturday Science at Randall Museum – San Francisco, February 4, 11, 18, 25
Planetarium Shows for Kids – Cupertino, February 4, 11, 25
The Day You Begin by Bay Area Children’s Theatre – Berkeley, February 4 – March 12
Lunar New Year at the SF Zoo - San Francisco, February 5
Year of the Rabbit Family Fun Day – San Francisco, Feb 5
Lunar New Year Craft & Celebration – San Jose, February 5
Free First Sunday at NUMU – Los Gatos, February 5
Sweetheart Dance – Redwood City, February 10
Stuart Little by PYT – Mountain View, February 10, 11
San Francisco Summer Resource Fair – San Francisco, Feb 11
Kid Makers: Pop Up Chemistry – Redwood City, February 11
Science Safari at Sanborn Park – Saratoga, February 11, 25
Storytime with Youth Science Institute – Los Gatos, Feb 11
Rumpelstiltskin – Palo Alto, February 11, 12
Come Watch the Big Game at Springline Menlo Park! - Menlo Park, February 12
Kids Carnival at Hiller Aviation – San Carlos, February 12
Marine Science Sunday – Sausalito, February 12, 26
Super Bowl Party - Santa Clara, February 12
Paint a Rainbow – Palo Alto, February 17
The Sound of Music – San Jose, February 17-26
Science Safari at Alum Rock Park – San Jose, February 18
Penguins and Pajamas Sleepover – San Francisco, February 18
Let's LEGO! - Burlingame, February 21
Disney on Ice – Road Trip Adventure, Oakland, Feb 23-26
Kids Art at Magical Bridge Playground – Redwood City, February 25
Discover Art with NUMU – Los Gatos, February 28
STEM Saturdays - Burlingame, February 28
Our annual Preschool Fair is Saturday January 22 from 2-4pm at the Foster City Recreation Center. Thanks to Parents Place for their support of our annual Preschool Fair and for this helpful list of questions for parents looking to choose the best preschool fit for their family.
Thank you to Parents Place for providing this evaluation checklist.
By Stephanie Agnew, Parents Place Assistant Director
The results are in. Children who participate in quality preschool programs do better academically, professionally, and personally. A strong preschool program focuses on learning and development, teaching academics as well as critical social and emotional skills. Even during this uncertain time of a global pandemic, young children need to interact with peers and learn to separate from family. To find the right environment for your child and family, begin with these initial questions:
Now that you’ve thought about the basic questions, let’s find out what type of preschool best meets your child and family needs. Here are some popular teaching philosophies to consider when choosing an early learning program:
Developmental: A developmentally appropriate, play-based program supports learning in all five areas of development, including gross-motor and fine-motor skills, language and cognitive development, and social and emotional learning. Classrooms are teacher-directed or child-centered, depending on the school orientation. Includes free play time, as well as more structured circle times or group activities.
Montessori (Maria Montessori, 1870-1952): Classrooms are structured, with children moving from activity to activity at their own pace. Many Montessori programs incorporate three principles: observation of the child, personal liberty, and preparation of the environment. Special materials emphasize the use of all the senses. Children are self-directed and encouraged to work independently, often in multi-age classrooms.
Parent Cooperative: Parent participation is required, either in the classroom, at home, or by serving on a parent board that operates the school. The basic philosophy is that children and parents go to school together with guidance from a qualified teacher. The focus is on child development. There is often a parent education component either during the day or in evening meetings.
Reggio Emilia (Loris Malaguzzi, 1920-1994): Evolved from the parent cooperative movement, these programs involve the community in the world of the child. Emphasis is on relationships with peers and adults, creative thinking skills, and project work. Each project lasts from a few weeks to more than a month. Children’s progress is documented through posters or portfolios that capture a child’s learning process. The curriculum emerges from the children’s interests.
Language Immersion: Children are taught in a foreign language. The classrooms and teachers may follow any of these teaching philosophies. Many language immersion programs adopt the Montessori philosophy.
Waldorf (Rudolf Steiner, 1861-1925): Develops a child’s intellectual powers in harmony with his or her nature. Waldorf schools incorporate imaginative play, a multi-sensorial approach, and stress “learning by doing.” Programs may include a lot of creative activity and natural materials in the classroom. Teachers receive specialized training, lead many group activities, and often remain with the same set of children for several years.
Religious: Usually affiliated with a church, synagogue, or other religious organization, these programs may incorporate a lot, a little, or no religious training and may follow any of these teaching philosophies.
University (or lab) Schools: These programs are vehicles for teacher training and ongoing child development research. The staff is usually required to have a higher learning degree, and there may be several student-researchers in the classroom at any one time. Children may benefit from the latest research in the child development field and are expected to be active participants in student research studies.
Academic: Academic programs stress preparation for kindergarten and elementary school, with early reading or formal reading readiness activities, an introduction to paper-and-pencil mathematics, and a focus on achievement. The preschool day is structured, often with separate times for “work” and “play.”
Outdoor/Nature Programs: These programs are usually oriented toward spending most or all of the time outside exploring nature. Most of these programs involve daily field trips to different locations at which the children explore the nature of the location with the guidance of a teacher who plans activities that apply to the place. Some of the programs include parents; some do not.
Once you’ve found an early learning environment that supports your child and family needs, be sure to communicate your enthusiasm for your child’s first school experience. For many children, this is the beginning of a new, special relationship with another trusted adult. Be supportive, confident, and patient as your child learns to navigate the world outside the home. Become friendly with the teachers, caregivers, and parents, and always focus on your child’s strengths. Your child will benefit from the gift of an early start.
See the detailed Parents Place evaluation checklist for early childhood programs in the next post.
Stephanie Barry Agnew is the Assistant Director of Parents Place in The Center for Children and Youth. She works with parents in groups and individually to help them through a wide variety of parenting issues, including discipline and school choices. She can be reached at 650-931-1841 or StephanieA@jfcs.org. To schedule an individual consultation call 650-688-3046. Learn more about all the Parents Place programs at https://ccy.jfcs.org/
Family-friendly fun activities and events happening in January:
Today's blurb is from the Membership Coordinator. There is a large list of open positions to be filled for this coming year. Please reach out to email@example.com if you are interested in joining the board!
Description: Approves member applications to the club, and sends the welcome packages for new members. Creates a new members introduction list for the blog, and Facebook announcements, and approves members to our Facebook group. Works a quarterly new members social with the club president.
What I am proud of: Creating a system that streamlines adding new members, welcoming them, and seeing some members from the ‘social’ I hosted volunteer to serve on the Board.
Perks of the job: I decided to stop working ever since I got married, to relax for the first 3 years before kids came along. The work I do makes me feel like I am still working a job, but on my own time. And meeting new people through membership is fun.
Today's blurb is from Playgroups & Pairings. There is a large list of open positions to be filled for this coming year. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining the board!
Description: Creates playgroups based on children's ages and recruit playgroup coordinators. Facilitates the Parent Pairings program, including promotion, making matches, and sending out monthly discussion prompts.
What I am proud of: I created the Parent Pairings program in 2021 and it has been a joy to see parents connect and learn from each other. The program continues to evolve and I love hearing from participants what they liked and what can make the program better for the next cohort. Creating community is what this program is all about!
Perks of the job: I am able to connect with more parents through playgroups, Parent Pairings, and the Board than I may otherwise. I've met people from all over San Mateo and beyond and love meeting people in person at larger club events after interacting virtually.
Today's blurb is from the treasurer, a very important position for the club. There is a large list of open positions to be filled for this coming year. Please reach out to email@example.com if you are interested in joining the board!
Description: Responsible for the fiscal integrity of the Club. Process bills/expense reimbursements and deposit revenue. Produces financials and budget information for monthly board meetings. Provides a quarterly financial update for the newsletter. Files federal and state taxes each year. Maintains contracts with the insurance company and keeps governmental document filings current.
What I am proud of: Seeing how well run the San Mateo Parents Club is! We have strong membership, an active events team, and really impressive ad revenue (which helps keep all other fees down). Also, I created a Google sheet that automatically categorizes expenses to help with reconciliation.
Perks of the job: Being able to work on my own time. I work full time and have two small kids, so I need more schedule flexibility than many other positions provide.
The President’s Message this month included a call to volunteer on the SMPC Board. Quite a few board members are stepping down this year and there is a large list of open positions to be filled. To help you better understand the various roles, the current board members will post a little blurb on their experience. One blurb will be posted every few days. Hopefully you will be inspired to step up and serve the community as well!
Description: Determines editorial content, calendar, and themes for the year, including writing articles and/or soliciting content from local writers and contributors. Goal is to post two blog entries per month.
What I am proud of: Out of all the articles published, I am most proud of the article on the nanny market. The nanny market can be such a mystery, not just the numbers, but also how to look for one, and how to interview candidates. Nannies are crucial to many working families in the area, and I hope the article delivered great value to everyone!
Perks of the job: First, I get to scratch my own back and ask experts questions that I personally am interested in. For example, from the sleep article, I got a free refresher on what sleep training means -- very timely for the arrival of my 4th! From the music learning article, I gained a completely new understanding on what connection with music means both for my kids and myself. Second, the job is 100% remote. Do it from your own home.
The holidays are upon us! The SMPC Board would like to share a couple of words with the community on what makes the holidays fun and meaningful to their families. Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season!
“Our absolute favorite is Glowfari at the Oakland Zoo. We try to get a ticket for the earliest time window (5pm), bring dinner to eat inside and then head right up on the gondola before it gets too busy.”
“We've enjoyed going to Filoli Gardens in the evenings to see the light displays.”
“We hope to try ice skating at Central Park this year!”
“Our family tradition is to visit Christmas Tree Lane at Eucalyptus in San Carlos every year. We look for the repeat decorations and identify the new ones.”
“Hopefully [with the pandemic behind us], we will be able to attend candlelight Christmas Eve services again this year.”
“We celebrate Hannukah - we enjoy gathering with our family and the community to light the hanukiah (menorah) each night, eating latkes (potato pancakes) and teaching our boys to play dreidel (which really just means them eating all the gelt (chocolate coins).”
“Every night of Hannukah, we light the candles together as a family and the kids (now 2yrs and 4yrs) are getting old enough to help light the candles. We also have a wooden hanukiah and candle set that the kids can put together on their own. Each night is filled with Hannukah songs and stories. And several times during the 8-day celebration we'll get together with family and enjoy latkes and holiday treats like gelt (chocolate coins) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts).”
“My family in Texas always had Seven Layer Bean Dip on Christmas Eve so we wouldn't have to be too stressed trying to get to church or clean up before Santa came. We also had egg nog and peppermint cocoa (adult versions available too). My husband's family has a Christmas Eve Cookie Party every Christmas Eve after church. We would love to start making this a part of our future festivities!”
“We do an Advent countdown. In years past, we used a wooden Advent calendar, with little drawers representing each day. We wrote Bible verses on strips of paper, and put them into the drawers. Each day, we would take out one strip, forming a ring. We chained the rings together, taping the chain across the ceiling to form a decoration. This year, we are doing a Jesse tree. Each day, we put a new ornament onto the tree, each ornament symbolizing a story about how God brought love to earth.”
“Our extended family does not live close by, so during the Pandemic, we were able to start celebrating here, and one tradition my husband grew up with is cutting down a Christmas Tree. So now we all go to Skyline Ranch Christmas Tree Farm to pick one out and cut it down ourselves. Our children love helping (with a close eye on the handsaw) and tell everyone they picked the tree out!”
“I'm looking forward to participating in more local holiday events this year. So many experiences have come back in full-force this year, and we can't wait to go to many!”
“For everyone to remain happy and healthy as we travel to see our loved ones this Christmas and New Year.”
“Wishing everyone time to rest and reflect.”
“I'm not a baker (well I try hahaha), and so many of my childhood memories involve Christmas morning cinnamon rolls, decorating sugar cookies, making special New Years meals, and over the past few years (especially last year when we had a four month old), I gave myself permission to outsource all of the baked goods to Copenhagen Bakery, so my children could have the deliciousness, I wouldn't feel stressed about trying to do it all without feeling like I had failed. I hope everyone stays sane and remembers love and kindness for everyone, including giving ourselves the grace to not do it all!”
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San Mateo Parents Club is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.