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  • 25 Apr 2023 9:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy National Library Week! The theme for this year is “There’s More to the Story.” Our libraries don’t just have books, music, and movies for us to check out. Our libraries bring the community together through story times, classes, and lectures. In addition to free online access to newspapers and streaming films, the San Mateo Public Libraries offer the following free resources (some not available at all branches):

    • Museum passes through Discover and Go

    • 6 months of access to premium features of the Calm app

    • Bicycle check-out (Book-a-Bike, must be 18 years or older)

    • Printing time with 3D printers

    • Use of laser cutters (must be 13 years or older)

    • Use of virtual reality (VR) headsets (must be 13 years or older)

    • Sewing machines (must be 18 years or older)

    • Memory Labs, where you can digitize photos, VHS tapes, audio cassettes, etc

    Some branches have Maker Spaces with different types of equipment available for you to use.

    All of this is available for free, as long as you have a library card!

  • 3 Apr 2023 10:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 27 Feb 2023 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 20 Feb 2023 7:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • Purchasing a home for the first time can be an exciting but overwhelming experience, especially in the Bay Area where the real estate market is known to be competitive and expensive. The good news is that the local market today is a lot more buyer friendly and presents good opportunities for families who are looking to buy a new home. Home prices are down from last spring. In our San Mateo County, single family homes’ median sales price is 21% lower in January compared to a year ago. The mortgage rates also have started to improve since last November. With lower rates, your ability to buy your gem home greatly improves. And we will see more homes becoming available for sale as the Spring season starts. That means right now is a sweet spot if you’re in a good position to buy.

      Here are some tips for first-time homebuyers in the Bay Area:

    • 1.    Get your finances in order: Before you start house hunting, it’s essential to get your finances in order. You’ll need to have a good credit score, stable income, and a clear understanding of what you can afford. Work with a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage and get a clear understanding of the costs involved in buying a home, such as closing costs, property taxes, and homeowner insurance.

    • 2.    Start saving for a down payment: Start saving as early as possible to ensure you have enough money for the down payment, closing costs, and other expenses associated with homeownership. There are first-time home buyer assistance programs available, and you can purchase home with less than 20% down payment.

    • 3.    Determine your priorities: Do you want a spacious backyard, a pool, or a convenient location close to your workplace? Before you start house hunting, make a list of your must-haves, your wants, and your deal-breakers. This will help you focus your search and make it easier to find the right home for you.

    • 4.    Work with a real estate agent: A good real estate agent can help you navigate the competitive Bay Area real estate market, find the right home, and negotiate the best deal. They have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a database of homes for sale that only real estate agents can access. A good agent will also be able to help you understand the various neighborhoods in the Bay Area and find the one that’s right for you.

    • 5.    Be prepared for a competitive market: The Bay Area is a competitive market, and homes can sell quickly. Be prepared to act fast when you find the right home. Be ready with a pre-approval letter, proof of funds for the down payment, and a contingency plan if the deal falls through.

    • 6.    Don't be afraid to make an offer: In the Bay Area, many homes can be sold above the asking price, and it's not uncommon for homes to receive multiple offers. Don’t be afraid to make an offer, even if it’s above the asking price. Just be sure to work with your real estate agent to determine a fair offer that takes into account the current market conditions and the value of the home.

    In conclusion, buying a home in the Bay Area can be a challenging and complex process, but with the right resources, preparation, and support, it is possible to become a homeowner in this sought-after region. To help you take advantage of the current market, I am kicking off a workshop series on homeownership and real estate investment with a group of experts. RSVP to our next workshop in San Mateo and you will automatically receive notifications of the related expert sessions and their recordings. Can you think of anyone who may also be looking for their gem home? Do share this invitation with your friends. And let us help you reach your homeownership dreams!

  • 6 Feb 2023 9:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s emotions and imagining what they might be thinking or feeling. It is a very complex skill to develop. Having empathy means that a child can do the following things:  

    • Understand that they are their own person  
    • Understand that others can think and feel differently  
    • Recognize feelings that people can have: happiness, sadness, anger, etc  
    • Are able to imagine how someone might feel in a particular situation  
    • Can imagine what response would be comforting and appropriate  

    What You Can Do to Help Toddlers Develop Empathy  

    • Empathize with your child: For example, “Are you feeling scared of that dog? He is barking loud. That can be scary. I can hold your hand until he walks away.”  
    • Talk about others’ feelings: For example, “Joe is sad because you took his toy. Please give him back his toy and you can choose another toy to play with.”  
    • Suggest how they can show empathy: “Ashley is sad because she got a booboo. Let’s get her some ice for her booboo.”  
    • Read books about feelings: Some suggestions include:  
    • Be a role model: When you interact with others in a kind and caring way, your child learns from your example  
    • Validate your child’s difficult emotions: When our child feels sad or angry, we often rush to try and fix it right away. While this comes from an instinct to protect our children from pain, these feelings are a part of life that children need to learn to cope with. Identifying and validating these feelings helps children learn how to handle them. It can also help children learn how to empathize with others who are feeling these emotions.  
    • Use pretend play: For example, you may have your child’s toy hippo say he doesn’t want to share with his friend, the cow. Ask your child: How do you think the cow feels? What should we tell the hippo?  
    • Think through the use of “I’m sorry:”We often insist our children say “I’m sorry” as a way for them to take responsibility for their actions. But many young children don’t fully understand what “I’m sorry” means. While it may feel right to have them apologize, it doesn’t necessarily help them learn empathy. It may be more helpful to help children focus on the other person’s feelings and what actions we can take to comfort them.  
    • Be patient: Developing empathy takes time! It’s a complex skill and will continue to develop across your child’s life.  

    Adapted from “How to Help Your Child Develop Empathy.” 

  • 2 Feb 2023 8:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hello, Parents!

    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!



  • 30 Jan 2023 1:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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 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

    Lunar New Year Celebration at Children’s Discovery Museum – San Jose, 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

  • 19 Jan 2023 12:14 AM | Anonymous member

    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.

    Physical Environment

    • Does the classroom have a variety of developmental, age-appropriate play materials?
    • Are shelves crowded, or can children clearly see and choose materials?
    • Are there tables or rug space for playing with materials?
    • Does the classroom look warm, inviting, clean, and well-cared for?
    • Are there adequate space and time for group and individual activities?
    • Are the indoor and outdoor play areas big enough for the number of children enrolled?
    • Is there a variety of outdoor play options? (including activities such as gardening, biking, sand, pets, big blocks, painting, water play?) Is there shade?

    Interpersonal Environment

    • Are you and your child warmly welcomed?
    • Do the children look happy, calm, and engaged? Does the teacher appear to be as well?
    • Is the environment calm enough that the teacher can observe or participate as needed?
    • Do teachers respect and support children’s differing learning styles and temperaments?
    • Do children feel safe with one another? How are peer conflicts handled?
    • Are teachers using positive forms of redirection and discipline?
    • Are the adults good models for behavior and healthy attitudes? Are there a lot of ‘no’s?
    • Do staff members share the children’s daily experiences with parents? How?


    • Is there a balance of indoor and outdoor play?
    • Are children free to choose their activities?
    • Is there a variety of basic visual art media and opportunities for dramatic play?
    • Is musical play encouraged? Singing, dancing, instruments?
    • Is language stimulation varied? (reading books, indoor/outdoor games)?
    • Is there a quiet, cozy spot for calm play?
    • Are age-appropriate self-help skills encouraged?
    • Are children encouraged (not forced) to participate in circle time?
    • Do teachers have time to read a story to the group and one-on-one daily?


    • Do teachers adapt the schedule to meet children’s needs (more time for art if children are engaged; more outdoor time if needed to work off excess energy)?
    • Are there long periods of time for uninterrupted play and free choice of activities?
    • How are transitions between activities handled? Do teachers allow enough time to transition, and how do they support children who need extra help?

    Staff Concerns

    • Is there a high turnover of teachers? What motivates teachers to stay in this early care environment (ongoing professional development, a supportive administration, etc.)?
    • Is the staff knowledgeable about early childhood development and the correlation between play and learning?
    • How much experience, education, and training are required to teach at the school?

    Thank you to Parents Place for providing this evaluation checklist.

  • 18 Jan 2023 11:57 PM | Anonymous member

    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:

    1. WHERE? Do I want my child in a home or school setting, full- or part-time? Home settings can be cozy, but caregiver credentials vary. The smaller group size and mixed aged can be more comforting for slow to warm or very young children. California licensing requires a child to caregiver ratio of no more than 4:1 for infants, 6:1 for 2-year-olds, and 12:1 for 3- and 4-year olds in school settings. In home settings, the maximum group size is 12, and there must be at least two caregivers for settings of more than six children. Center-based programs offer more social variety and a larger environment to explore. Cost will vary depending on the type of program and number of hours of care. You will also want to consider the distance from home or your work to the school.
    2. WHEN? Are both parents returning to work? Are there socialization concerns or separation issues? Is the at-home parent ready for time alone? Is the child ready for kindergarten? Some families need care after a few weeks or months, while others may only need the pre-K experience before beginning formal elementary school. Children should have at least one year—but preferably two years—of a quality group experience before starting kindergarten.
    3. WHO? Think about your child. Will your active child be restless in a program with limited outdoor time? Are children encouraged to sample a variety of indoor and outdoor activities? How do children learn conflict resolution skills and develop resiliency? Is your sensitive child easily overwhelmed in a large crowd? Also think about yourself. Does the school have a community that you can become part of? Will you feel supported by teachers, administrators, and other parents? Are there opportunities for you to be involved in ways that work with your time constraints and interests?

    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 To schedule an individual consultation call 650-688-3046. Learn more about all the Parents Place programs at

  • 3 Jan 2023 9:48 AM | Anonymous member

    Family-friendly fun activities and events happening in January:

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