December 2, 2016

Happy December!

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!  This past weekend we were busy not only having our classroom floors burnished but we also decorated for the upcoming December holidays!  Watching and hearing the kids’ excitement has been the best part for us!  Thank you to Jen and Bob M-R, Josh Berry, and Lisa Janicki for their time and talent in transforming Parkside into a magical experience!

Gingerbread cooking!!  Beginning the week of December 12th, we will be starting our annual gingerbread cooking activity with the Yellowstone, Big Sur, Yosemite, and Olympic classrooms.  We will begin cooking at 9:30 and invite any parents who would like to volunteer their time to participate in our great tradition; the cooking portion of the activity will take about an hour.  The schedule for the gingerbread cooking goes as follows: Tuesday, 12/13: Olympic; Wednesday, 12/14: Yosemite; 12/15: Big Sur; 12/16: Yellowstone.  In addition to volunteering time to help with the cooking we also appreciate any donations for nut free decorations!

December 20th: Holiday Concert:  Our music teacher, Mr. Aaron, has been working hard in our preschool classrooms teaching your child the songs they will sing for the concert.   We have also attached the songs which will be sung at the concert on the blog so you can practice with your child at home!  Each classroom will have their own concert: Yellowstone will be at 9:00; Big Sur: 9:30; Yosemite at 10:00; Olympic at 10:30. We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, December 26th and January 2nd 2016: Parkside is CLOSED for the day after Christmas and New Year!  Please mark your calendars! 

                Friday, December 9th: Immunization records are due!  We have received several immunization records over the past week; thank you to those who have helped us with this!  Please remember that it is not only a State of Maine requirement to have an updated immunization record in your child’s file, but we are also required to report to the Maine CDC by December 15th.  If you have any questions please stop by the office or e-mail me at

New Tuition Rates:  This week you received the new tuition rates for 2016 in your child’s mailbox.  Please remember we need to have you complete all of the forms in this packet and return it to the office by December 16th.  If you have any questions about this, please stop by the office.

It always seems that once Thanksgiving comes the days and weeks pass even faster!  As our schedules become busier with many events, it is important to recognize how we can be mindful with our families.  As you may know we have been practicing and learning more about mindfulness this year; below is an article on activities families can do to be more mindful.  This article can be found at:

5 Mindfulness Activities You Can Do as a Family

Want to make mindfulness a family priority? Bring focus and peace with these powerful practices.

By Meryl Davids Landau

Mindfulness is the practice of detaching yourself from the craziness of the outside world and your own racing thoughts by honing in on the calm center that is always inside you. Studies have found that mindfulness reduces anxiety, even in people who haven’t done the practice for very long. Kids and adults who do mindfulness activities actually learn better. And if your child has ADHD, these techniques may help reign in impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

Mindfulness is so helpful it’s even increasingly being used in schools. But even better, it’s something you, as a parent, can do with your own family. The following family-friendly mindfulness activities are both fun and powerful. Try one (or all!) of them with your family the next time you need some calm in your lives.

  1. Take a listening walk.

Go someplace—even your backyard—and walk together in silence, listening for sounds you typically overlook: leaves rustling, a pine cone falling from a tree, your own steady breath. To enhance the quietest sounds (and make it more fun), you can turn paper cups into amplifiers by cutting a hole in the sides of two cups and hooking them over your ears, drinking side facing forward. Although nature is especially relaxing, a listening walk can occur anywhere—even a noisy shopping mall or restaurant.

  1. Really taste what you’re eating.

With the taste, textures, and temperature of foods so different, mindful eating is one of the easiest practices. Ask everyone to spend the first few minutes of certain meals silently playing with the food in their mouth, noticing the varied sensations of, say, a spoonful of hot oatmeal topped with fruit, nuts, and cinnamon, or a warm juicy burger and cold mushy bun—with that burst of sweet, liquidy ketchup. Your mind will inevitably run away at some point (to whether bath time will be late today or you forgot to call the dentist…). When you realize you’ve stopped focusing, simply bring it back.

  1. Go inside your body.

Mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts encourages people to do a “body scan.” Sit or lie with your kids and, starting with the toes, silently or out loud bring awareness to one body part for a moment, until you’ve worked your way up to the top of your head. A variation is for everyone to take turns naming one part of their body out loud and briefly describing how that part feels. You might start by saying, “I’m focused on my stomach, and it feels rumbly.” Your child then continues, “I’m focused on my left toes, and they feel tingly.” Continue for as long as there’s interest, or just do one round periodically through the day.

  1. Savor some silence.

During a period of enforced quiet, everyone goes through their regular routines—but they don’t speak. Start with 5 or 10 minutes and try to work up to an hour or more. (A family I know observes silent Saturdays from wake-up until noon.) Other types of communication—writing, signaling, sign language—should be discouraged, although you can give everyone a small note pad to jot down thoughts, to be passed around later. The first time I observed silence, I was shocked—not by the quiet, but by the noise. My mind rushed to fill the stillness with jabbering inside my head. After a while though, the mental noise lessens (but never stops entirely). You will notice that the world is more vibrant than before, because when you shut down the avenue where so much energy escapes, it is rechanneled to the other senses.

  1. Try a sitting meditation.

A formal meditation, where you sit without moving and focus on a single thing, can be difficult for kids (and adults!). But it is very effective—which is why Buddhist monks, Hindu swamis, and Christian contemplative practitioners spend so much time at it. Turn down the lights and your phones off and have everyone sit on the floor (or a chair with a back) for a few minutes. The most common form of meditation is to focus on the breath. Kids can get the hang of this by envisioning they are slowly blowing out to cool a cup of hot tea, then slowly breathing in to sip the cooler tea. (Eventually, work up to breathing in and out through the nose.) End each session with a moment that solidifies the sacredness before everyone makes their mad scramble. In our home, we stand in a circle and hold hands, “squeezing” a bit of love into the hand of the person to the right, until the love goes around a few times.

Meryl Davids Landau is the author of the new book Enlightened Parenting: A Mom Reflects on Living Spiritually With Kids.

Enjoy your weekend


Jen V.