Hit the Wall! Mud Ball!

by Eric Eyman

“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good”

-Lucia Capocchione

Recently, while out in the backyard with the children, Wesley had an idea to make wet balls of sand and throw them at the climbing wall. Giving him a chance to explore this idea, I watched as he threw the first ball. Specks of sand trailed off as it flew through the air and stuck to the wall, still in the round form as Wesley had shaped it.


Seeing this moment from Wesley’s perspective, I was fascinated by his discovery and exclaimed, “Look how it stuck to the wall!” As a teacher however, my mind immediately began swirling with thoughts about what limits needed to be set. I wanted Wesley to be able to continue playing, but I also wanted to make sure it was safe. I took into consideration that there weren’t many children around in the sand box, and that as long as he wasn’t throwing them over the wall where other children around could get hit, it was A-okay! I gave Wesley that information and trusted him to follow through.

He continued making sand ball after sand ball, hurling them at different parts of the wall, all while being mindful of the limits we had discussed. Soon, Emma and Vanessa joined in on the fun! I gave the same reminders to the two of them that I had given to Wesley. They carefully crafted their balls of sand and took fire at the wall, splattering wet sand everywhere.

I asked the group if they could think of a name for this game. Without hesitation, Wesley shouted, “Mud ball!” Vanessa exclaimed, “Hit the wall!” Then Emma chimed in, “I know. How about Hit the Wall, Mud Ball?” Wesley and Vanessa happily agreed. While throwing more balls of sand, they chanted, “Hit the wall! Mud ball! Hit the wall!Mud ball!”

Later, as I reflected on this experience, I thought about the other preschool I intern at, where rigid rules are enforced. Wesley’s idea to throw sand balls would never fly there (no pun intended). I thought about how much the children at that preschool are limited, and how they are not encouraged to question the rules. I thought about how the children at Little Owl are challenged to think deeper about their play. The teachers and children engage in thoughtful discussions about their work and the classroom environment. They create plans together about how different materials are going to be used. In my thoughts, I realized how important it is for teachers to carefully consider the individual needs of each child, value their ideas, and work with them to explore endless possibilities.

Intimately Connecting with Paint Tools

by Michelle Ramirez

“In our work with these materials, we strive to honor the ways in which children live in their bodies, growing relationships with materials through their physical encounters with them.”

~Ann Pelo

“Would you like to come to the art studio to meet our new paint brushes?”

I asked this question as I buzzed about an already living, breathing life of a classroom during our second week back to school. Some children excitedly expressed, “Yes” or “I want to!”, while others looked with an expression as to say, “What do you mean?”

In my hand I held a container of new brushes that were as white as fresh snow. I wondered how they would hold up to also meeting the children for the first time. I reminded myself of the journey children had already been on the previous year when they were introduced to paint basics on the Yellow Side. These children who have been with us might greet these brushes like an old friend, while children joining us for the first time might be weary of having a ‘relationship’ with an inanimate object.

I wondered…

“How might children engage in scaffolding their own knowledge about paint and brushes to other children?”

Knowing the richness of stepping back as a ‘teacher’, I guided the children into our newly formed, shared art studio and continued to wonder what would shape our experience as I prepared for what I hoped would be a child-led exploration.


James took a few minutes to observe the details of the flat brush. He felt the soft bristles as he gently stroked it between his fingers.

After the children were settled with their chosen brushes, I made space for children’s voices and ideas by encouraging them to share their preexisting knowledge about paintbrushes with the group.

“You can’t push hard on them”-Alanah

“You use them for painting things”-Arjun

“You need to wash them with water”-Olive

I soon realized that the connections that the children had with these art tools revolved around limits and agreements about the use of the brushes. While all these tips the children provided about the brushes are crucial for the longevity of their life at our school, I found myself wondering again…“ What about the relationship they carry within their creative abilities with the brushes?” Why was the care of the brushes at the forefront of their responses rather than what they could do with them?

Another realization surfaced about how the delivery of information we as adults share from our own agendas shapes the impressions and connections that children have about their experiences.

Olive chose the thin round brush, while Alanah chose the medium-sized flat brush. “This brush is kinda pointy” -Olive



Investigating the impact of hand strength on the bristles…

What happens when you brush gently?

What happens when you use more pressure?


In the images above, children use the brushes on delicate areas of their bodies, before exploring with paint.


Arjun selected a flat brush. James became curious about the name of this brush. As I held it up, I showed him that the ferrule of the brush is flat, so the bristles held within are arranged in a flat line.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-13-at-2.54.26-PM   UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_31b5



Camden and I did a side-by-side comparison of different sized angled brushes. As we all looked at these brushes, we talked about how they are like a mountain; they have a high point and a low point much like the angles that can be seen on a mountainside.


Max felt the bristles of the flat brush on his chin and neck . 


Before using actual paint, we held imaginary jars of paint to practice “kissing” the bristles to the top of the paint. The purpose of this was to learn how they can have more control of where their paint goes by not having it drip down off of the ferrule or handle.

Children are encouraged to take ownership of the entire process of the painting experience. The process of setting up and cleaning up is modeled in a way that allows children to become comfortable and competent with setting up their own palettes and washing stations. Children are also encouraged to prepare the work space for the children that may enter the studio after them. 


Molly looks on as Aiko studies the creation she has made using a variety of thin and thick brushes.

Dry bristles on the fan brush versus wet bristles on the fan brush 

Farrah explores with the fan brush…

“It’s like a fan and it’s kind of spiky when I put water on it.”

When do you need to wash your brush?
When you are finished painting or want to change paint colors.

How to wash a paint brush

  • Set-up a jar filled halfway with water. Place a dry towel next to the jar.
  • Gently swish your brush around in the water without pushing the bristles down on the bottom of the jar. Swish at least three times.
  • Wipe the bristles on the lip of the jar.
  • Wipe the bristles on the towel. If the bristles are still dirty, you will probably see paint on the towel. You can do Steps 2, 3, and 4 again until your bristles wipe only water onto the towel.

I’m A Wrestler, Not A Fighter

Guest Post by Dawn Velez

“Facing risk helps children assess the world around them and their place in it. Over time, they see their abilities grow, and they become ever more confident about stretching their boundaries and taking appropriate chances. They also learn about their limits and the consequences of going too far beyond their limits.”

~Joan Almon

In this week’s post, one of our amazing teachers, Dawn, addresses the importance of trusting kids to handle risky play, finding a way to balance the needs of everyone involved and how beneficial this practice ultimately is.


Wrestling on the tumbling mats

There have been many requests by children to take out the tumbling mats to wrestle on. This is one of those activities that is not viewed as very valuable in the world of ‘getting ready for kindergarten’.

I beg to differ.

I understand the reluctance to facilitate such rough play because of the high chances of children getting hurt…where limbs are flying and bodies are rolling around. I also understand that, when it’s not facilitated, play fighting will happen inevitably, and the need for self control in a simple game of tag will come in handy. With guidance and agreements, it can be a lesson in boundaries.

What am I ok with? What am I not ok with? How do I tell that person to stop & explain what I didn’t like? What is my partner ok with and not ok with? Can I stop my body when they say stop, and hear their point of view?


What is Wrestling?

The way I view wrestling is as a form of rough housing that involves two children at a time on a tumbling mat with a teacher’s guidance. They either start standing or on their knees and try to get the other person down on the mat. Most of the time they have no goal, it’s just simply rolling around or it can turn into dancing or gymnastics. My goal as a facilitator becomes that no one gets hurt. Sometimes, when it seems they need a goal, I give them more information about traditional wrestling & they can try to pin their partner’s shoulders to the mat. I use my personal knowledge of Jiu Jitsu to give tips to those children who frequently get pinned down about ways to get out.

How do you facilitate wrestling?

In line with my goal of no one getting hurt, I start off asking what is not ok with each person. This begins the process of children making a list of agreements that come from them, rather than an adult’s predetermined list of rules. The one guideline I give them is that if their partner does something that they don’t like they can say “stop” and then tell that person what it was they didn’t like. The other person’s job is to stop and listen.

Why Wrestle?

The reaction I get the most from on-looking parents is, “You let them wrestle?” Or just amusement, as if it’s some kind of baby fight club. The obvious answer to why I ‘let’ children rough house at all seems to be to test their physical strength. What I found out in my own martial arts training is that most people think karate is too aggressive and the assumption is made that I must do it because I want to beat somebody up. The truth is I hate hurting others, although I do love the physicality of punching and kicking a heavy bag.

I guess what I’m saying is I can relate with these children who have a need to be physical. The greatest benefit I gained from receiving my black belt was learning about myself, my tendencies, my emotions, my fears and how to practice control in so many ways. In order to wrestle, children have to practice restraint and ultimately learn to control aggression. The benefits of wrestling also involve social awareness. When one child doesn’t want to wrestle their partner anymore (because that partner is too rough), the person who is too rough builds empathy when they learn to adjust their roughness in order to meet the other child’s need for safety. The benefits of this kind of play can be building emotional intelligence when expressing not only how they feel when something is too physically rough, but those times when it’s mentally rough…and they are frustrated that they cannot get a person down, but are constantly being the one who is brought down.

Taking risks like these may be physical, but it can translate into how children respond to other academic or social risks, such as answering a teacher’s question about what they just read, taking on a math problem in front of the class, or approaching a classmate to ask them to play at recess. I believe that is what gets them ready for kindergarten, far beyond recognizing sight words and writing their name.

What are children’s reactions to Wrestling?

After doing a late afternoon of wrestling with a big group of children who surrounded the mat waiting for their turn, Elliotte approached me the next day proclaiming, “Remember that day we wrestled?” as she giggled and asked, “Can we do that again?” I’ve seen both joy and apprehension in children after experiencing wrestling. I’ve seen a variety of approaches as well: from a child not knowing their own strength resulting in pushing someone who flies across the mat, all the way to two children wrestling so lightly that they end up dancing. Some get competitive and keep their own score announcing they’ve won. Those who hold back learn how to build confidence & power, those who don’t hold back learn restraint and control. Whether children fight back hard, cry, give up, or stop to rest they find out how they handle challenges and can decide if they want to handle it differently. It is part of our Little Owl mission to help build a child’s sense of self.


Ethan’s 1st Agreement: “Not to do Anything Bad”

Children were attempting to pull the tumbling mat that was placed under the tree, down the hill . I asked Ethan and Colin, “Do you want me to get other tumbling mats down here?” They both replied “yes” and said they wanted to wrestle. I set the stage by informing children it would be two children at a time and if it wasn’t their turn, to wait outside of the mat. Ethan and Colin were ready to run toward each other full blast, until I held out my arms to stop their bodies and told them I wanted to ask each of them something first.

I asked Ethan, “What do you want to make sure Colin doesn’t do?” In response Ethan simply states, “Not to do anything bad!” I ask for clarification on what something bad would be. He replies, “Like hit me.” I clarify again, “Like punching with a fist?” He nods and pats his tummy. I clarify further, “What part of your body do you want to make sure he doesn’t hit?” Ethan says, “My tummy.” More clarification on my part, “Is it ok if he punches your face?” Ethan revises his answer, “my tummy & my face.”
“How about you, Colin?” I ask. Colin replies, “Don’t kick me. Don’t hit my belly.”

We start with that. I give the signal to begin. Ethan hugs Colin around his neck with both arms and they tumble down to the mat slowly. Ethan twists down to land on his back with Colin on top of him. Colin softly says “stop” and I pull them apart and repeat to Ethan that Colin said “stop”. Ethan attentively observes Colin as I talk, and I point out that Colin is holding his back and it seems like he was hurt. I asked Colin if something hurt or if there was some move Ethan did that he didn’t like. Colin is quiet. Ethan is not moving, with his eyes glued on Colin.

Colin answers my question by saying, “I want to do tricks.”
I turn to Ethan, “Do you want to wrestle someone else, Colin wants to do tricks.”
Ethan plainly says, “Fine, I will do tricks.”

They flop around one at a time trying out some types of somersaults and attempted cartwheels. Naturally they take turns without any suggestions from me. Then they go on the boulders and start taking turns jumping off onto the mats doing their new ‘tricks’. All the children waiting to join in on the wrestling begin making a line behind Ethan & Colin to take turns jumping off the boulders.

Wrestling is not about fighting, and sometimes it can turn into a compromise to do tricks, or take turns to jump off the boulders.




Dear Sara…

“As children’s awareness of themselves grows, they become quite aware of the body parts they and others have, and those body parts are highly interesting. But grownups aren’t talking about them, and we don’t like to. So they need to create a “party atmosphere” to bring up the subject, and to keep it on the table. If we were more enthusiastic, maybe they wouldn’t have to provide so much of the enthusiasm. But it’s part of integrating yourself as a human being to pay attention to who you are, what your equipment is, and how it all works.”

~Patty Wipfler

Happy New Year! What better way to start than to hear some advice on how to handle potty talk?

photo credit: savvy mom

Dear Sara,

Help! We are stuck in a poop/potty words joke phase nightmare. I know using potty words as jokes is very age appropriate, but we are having a hard time teaching when it’s okay to use those words and not. It really encroaches into every aspect of our time at home together, and has also started to seep out into outings with other kids (which I don’t think all parents appreciate, and it is embarrassing as a parent- even if it is developmentally appropriate).

For example at the dinner table the words “poop, look at my butt, poop face” often come up and the kids dissolve into laughter. We have tried to talk about not using those words at the dinner table saying “I’m eating I don’t want to think about poop etc”. I have tried to initiate different topics, and encouraged saying one nice thing to each other (which immediately became “I like your poop face!”)  How do we move past this?  How do we enforce no potty words at the table?

Also, I feel like we say the phrase “that’s not appropriate, don’t say that” until we are blue in the face. Often after bath Rhys is hyped up and will run around sticking his butt in the air and say “look at my butt” or “lick my butt”, then crack up.

It is just frustrating. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

~ Becky



Hi Becky,

Uh-oh!! HA! Welcome to one of the joyful phases of parenthood!

Okay, so this really boils down to control. As you know, you cannot actually control what your kids say, or where they say it. You can only control your response and attitude regarding this (as you acknowledged) VERY common developmental phase. I did a search for this topic in the respectful parenting group we both belong to and there are some great suggestions, but also it’s so reassuring to see that other parents (and other children) are struggling with the exact same issue. It’s one thing to say that this phase is “normal”, and it’s another to get actual glimpses of your identical situation going on in many other households. For me, this always helps ease the fear of judgement when things happen out in public. I try and remind myself in the moment that everyone struggles behind closed doors, and I’ve grown to slough off what others think about me as a parent. Not to say that parental judgement isn’t real, or doesn’t make me feel tense at particularly overwhelming times, just that I actively do the internal work of rigorously challenging WHY it’s uncomfortable…and continue to analyze and challenge the conventional aspects and expectations that revolve around the topic of social decorum (especially how it pertains to young children).

From your letter it seems evident that even though you are trying to stay unruffled and meet the behavior with firm boundaries, Rhys (5) in particular is picking up on your discomfort with these particular words. He is probably feeding off this and sensing the extreme power they seem to hold. He probably feels a bit uncomfortable too…knowing that something that he finds genuinely hilarious and silly, is being met with frustration and discomfort.

I know this advice isn’t for everyone, but have you tried engaging in his silliness? Joining him in the humor of it? So when he says something like “lick my butt!” you could say “no thanks, I’ve already had some butt today!” This is the way I usually engage with my kids when they get fired up using the poop and pee talk. This is one avenue that you can explore that takes some of the power out of the words themselves. It is usually what enables the child to feel more at ease and then the allure of using the words passes…eventually.

I think it’s worth reflecting on why these words make you so uncomfortable and unpack some of the feelings around that. Really focus on how you feel when they are doing this…ashamed? Disempowered? Embarrassed? Angry? Irritated? I think uncovering why you are reacting in the way you are will help guide you in moving forward.

So, if you’d like to set firm boundaries around using this language here is what I can recommend. You can remove yourself from the situation if it’s truly bothering you to hear those words at home. You can say something like “I’m going in the other room. I don’t want to listen to this right now,” making sure your tone is neutral, so as not to give the words themselves power. You are simply advocating for yourself (and your sanity) in that scenario. I say this only because it is physically impossible to *respectfully* stop this behavior in them, and in fact the more you try, the more likely they are to do it. As far as outings go, you can set a limit around staying somewhere, acknowledging “I know you’re excited to be here. Your friends are here too! I can’t let you say these words while we are here. If it’s too hard for you to stop, we’ll have to go.” This one’s tricky because, again, it has to be said without a trace of threatening or shaming to be effective…very matter-of-fact. And you have to follow through which is very hard to do sometimes.

The last tactic that is generally pretty effective is simply ignoring the words. Again, the words we adults tend to focus on, and feel alarmed about, become extraordinarily powerful…and children are built to test the limits of their power. Especially at 5, when power dynamics in particular are what they are drawn to explore with peers, teachers and their parents all day, every day. You will often see children seek out relationships that challenge or confirm their notions of power. They might befriend someone who they can feel powerful around, or occasionally even someone who overpowers them…and it’s all part of the increasing social-emotional awareness that is rapidly developing within them. They are learning so much about themselves and about others by doing this, even though it can make us feel worried or uneasy. We want children to get along…but they are compelled to seek out conflict and contradiction. It’s exhausting! Ha!

I hope this was at least a little helpful. Good luck in taking the power out of the poop!


P.S. Did you know that Mozart actually had a raunchy, scatological sense of humor. It is well documented that he made jokes about poop in his letters…just a fun fact!

Your Name Is A Gift

by Sara Zacuto

“Names are stories.
They are blessings.
They are dreams for your future.
They celebrate you.”


IMG_3556 copy

Every year the teachers at Little Owl create sand names for the children. We view them as tools for the children to utilize in the classroom. They create a sensory and tactile experience with letters that provides a more concrete understanding of their shape. And they’re the perfect introduction to the meaning that words can have…and what word holds more meaning than their name? It’s the word they’ve probably heard the most in their lifetime, and it’s theirs. They learn quickly that they can use their sand names for different things. They often copy the letters of their name into their journals, use them to sign-in in the morning, or write their name on their artwork. They even place them on things like block structures to let others know they plan to return and continue to work there. Soon, children start to recognize their own name, and the names of their classmates. They are tools for community-building that help shape our classroom’s distinct culture.

Creating them is time consuming, and once they’re finished the question becomes how to introduce them to the children. This year Milly, one of our wonderful teachers, had finished the task of making one for each child and once they were ready they sat in a basket on her desk…waiting to be offered. When she spoke out loud to another teacher, asking “how should we give them to the children?” I overheard and remembered something that had been buried in my memory for quite some time.

A long time ago I worked alongside a woman who quickly became one of my biggest influences, her name is Cathie. I credit her with putting me on the path to pursuing progressive education, and introducing me to the radical idea that children *gasp* should be respected and recognized as individuals with important rights, and are capable of constructing their own meaning, culture and knowledge. I learned so much from working with her, and am forever grateful for the guidance she gave me back then as my director, and to this day as my friend. She was the one who taught me about the idea of giving sand names to children, and why they are so beneficial in forming concepts of literacy. I remembered that she had wrapped the names up like gifts and given them to the children we worked with years ago.

I offered this suggestion, and Milly was excited by the prospect of presenting them in this way. She set to work, wrapping them all in bright tissue paper. So the very next day they were going to be given to the children at our afternoon gathering. We had no idea how the children would receive these gifts. I think there were even some concerns on the part of the adults that the children might feel shortchanged by opening something that is presented like a gift, but only contains a bit of foam board with glue and sand on it. Milly brought the basket to meeting and passed out the gifts.


Before they opened them, a question was posed to the children: “what do you think it could be?” It was remarkable what some of them suggested. “A scooter!” said one child. “A basketball!” said another. The excitement that they were getting presents seemed to supersede their rational ability to assess the size and shape of their package…magical thinking at it’s best. They were given the green light to open them and I was poised with my camera to capture their reactions.

The paper started being torn off…

What happened next was simply astounding. It was a moment in time that I will always remember as an educator. Their faces began lighting up. I heard someone say “MY NAME!!” another said, “I knew it!” I panned the camera around the room trying to catch everyone’s reactions and saw children smiling big, some even started laughing. I saw some children counting the letters of their name, moving their fingers across the textured lettering, comparing their names to others, noticing if they had letters that were the same saying “Mine has H too!” Some children held them up for other children to see, squealing to teachers “Look! My name!” I even heard “Mommy’s gonna be so proud.” Another child remarked “I had one of these on the Yellow Side and now I have one on the Green Side!” then she literally started jumping for joy.


In the 2 minute video I had recorded, I had captured a palpable magic…a bliss that nobody expected. I’ve watched it countless times and get goosebumps every time.

And you know why?

It was the epitome of spontaneous, unfiltered joy…the kind that happens so effortlessly around young children. It was a moment that could never be predetermined, manufactured, or recreated. The sheer delight, the endearment that the children exuded for the gift of their names, hammers home an important lesson about meaning-making and how children don’t need expensive, commercial toys to experience elation. Fulfillment doesn’t have to revolve around stuff…so much reverence can come from simply being together, or perhaps even more profoundly…just being.


Moving forward, we’ve decided to expand on this idea of a name as a gift and have invited parents to write a handwritten letter telling the story of their child’s name and why it was chosen for them. We will read them aloud to the children at meeting times and hope it will turn into a book by the end of the year, a precious keepsake for our families. We will be reflecting with the children collectively on this experience of opening their gifts, and documenting their perspectives, writing their words…telling their story…the story of their names.

Dear Sara…

“It is so important to get really clear on what your needs are, so you can take care of them before you make requests of your child.”
~Lori Petro

This week I tackle the issue of introducing chores and allowance. A parent writes…

penniesHi Sara,

How do I begin to engage my kids in helping out around the house. I don’t want to do a reward system or have any tasks linked to money. I want to be able to lead by example (which I am trying) however I would like to start encouraging some responsibility (helping put their dish in the sink, take some responsibility of their toys and specific items. I have read a lot on different postings on the FB respectful parenting group and some people have a view that it is not their responsibility- the adults bring these items into the environment etc. I definitely understand that perspective however I am still trying to honor my feelings of helping my kids understand the value and power of being responsible and ultimately organization and efficiency as an adult. I myself am working on these tasks and verbally have expressed that to my boys. For example: “Rhys and Colin if you see that I haven’t put my books/papers/shoes in their spot they belong, let me know. We are working together to keep our home nice and comfortable”. What are your thoughts?





Hi Becky,

So…this is such a great question and I have several points I’d like to make. First, I’d like to just acknowledge your desire to keep any external and monetary incentives out of the whole approach to housework, and keep the focus on a shared, collaborative effort to make your home comfortable for everyone! This is the perfect way to frame things for young children because it is based on logical consequences (toys all over the floor=tripping hazards etc.), and gives them ample opportunities to develop a sense of belonging and ownership in your shared space. It should be that a family works together to help make the home not just habitable, but comfortable and uniquely yours. It also promotes intrinsic motivation, which creates a deeper sense of meaning for children regarding things like chores and encourages self-driven discovery and mastery as they grow. For more on that look here.

Sometimes what sparks the idea of an allowance is when children this age start to become aware of, and interested in money. It’s important to note that this concept is still very abstract for them. If they have expressed an interest in saving for a toy etc. it’s best to offer a small allowance without any strings attached.

(I can hear some people now “but HOW will they learn about the value of it if we don’t teach them?” or “I want them to learn to be responsible with money now!” or even “I don’t want to give them money for nothing.”)

This is the argument that I could understand if we were talking about teenagers, but not young children. I think at this stage in their development it’s important to follow their interest if they have brought it up, and answer their questions in age appropriate ways. And the truth is, they are still dependent on us and will be for quite some time. They don’t need any lessons on how to manage money now…it’s a skill they will grow into as they get older. I think it’s wonderful to give them small amounts of money freely, because everything in a young child’s world revolves around PLAY…even having and spending money.

I think you hit the nail on the head by saying you want to “lead by example.” Modeling being organized and efficient (or any other quality or behavior we’d like to impart) for children is crucial to their ability to internalize and embody those skills. I believe in a balanced approach to cleaning up and don’t swing too far on either the authoritarian (“clean up now or else!”) or permissive (“I’ll take care of everything”) side. I think it’s important to involve young children in the conversations and solutions that happen around what it takes to keep up a household.

Where it gets extra tricky are those times when they flat out REFUSE to clean up.

This is where trust comes in. And even more modeling. It also provides an opportunity to assess what all the factors at play are, and try to see things from their perspective.

Here is what I mean.

Sometimes children get genuinely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of toys to put away…do they maybe have too many and it’s time to put some in storage or donate them? Or perhaps they are tired, or hungry or simply don’t want to…is that okay with you? That’s an important thing to explore and get grounded in.

Do you think they need more time, or better systems in place (i.e. baskets to throw toys into etc.), or would they maybe benefit from making a plan to do the task at later time? The question arises…can you let it go in the moment and rely on faith that they will eventually grow up to be responsible? Or do you want to set a firm boundary and make this a non-negotiable in your house?

Whichever you choose, proceed with conviction and acknowledge and empathize with them if and when they grumble about it.

Mostly I would just be lighthearted about it, and offer to pitch in if they seem overwhelmed. Having it be a connected, family-centered activity where there is laughter, playfulness and cooperation (on your part) can often help alleviate any battles or tension that arise. Best of luck!

Warmly,  Sara


For a great article on introducing chores in a positive way look here.



The Child is the Curriculum

by Sara Zacuto


There is no need

For flashy things

The child is the curriculum

Don’t buy the stuff

(She shouts, she sings)

The child is the curriculum

If you follow close, listen intently

Watch and learn, ask and touch gently

They’ll tell you it’s true

Without words, without clues

That the child is the curriculum

All the world says…

They need to be taught

They simply must learn


Sit still, be quiet

Don’t touch and stop crying

Is the message we send

Without even trying

But what happens when we truly accept them, as is?

Follow their lead, without thinking to quiz?

Trust in their learning

Slow down and step back?

Give in to their lead

And cut them some slack?

They show us that they’re capable, worthy and strong

They prove our misguided theories so useless and wrong

The child is the curriculum

It’s my new heart-song