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Back in the game

I have been so busy actually playing with preschoolers, that I haven’t had time to write any blog posts lately. The great news is that in September I returned to the classroom full time – and returned to the wonderful school which I help to start back in 1997. I am the lead teacher for the three year olds at the Mission Hill School in Boston. Mission Hill is a democratic, inclusive, project-based public school for three year olds to fourteen year olds. It has been a busy time, as September brought us to a new (renovated) school building, newly added grades, and new age configurations. After spending the last few years working closely with Head Start teachers in New York, and building on my previous 11 years at Mission Hill School, I felt compelled to rejoin the staff. I wanted to help design the program for the three and four year olds and to help launch this new phase in the school’s history – even though this meant leaving the rest of my family at home in New York. I see my sons and husband only on the weekends – though in a few short months we will all be together in Boston!

If you want to learn more about Mission Hill School, there is a new web series called “A Year at Mission Hill“. So far, two episodes are available, and a new episode will be released every two weeks. Check it out!


Every week we send out an all-school newsletter and post it on our website. Each teacher writes a column and there is always a front page column – often written by our principal, Ayla Gavins. Here is what I wrote to my families recently:

When I heard that Boston Public Schools was calling snow day on Friday nice and early – Thursday around 12:30 we got the word  -  my heart jumped for joy. For me, that meant I could drive safely home to New York on Thursday after school, and be with my own sons for the snow day/weekend.

The only downside of spending three snowy days with my sons is knowing that we will be tempted to have too much screen time. In our home, we don’t have TV in the traditional sense, but we do watch shows together on the computer. If you’ve known me a long time, you’ve heard me talk about the slippery slope of screen time, and the negative effects that screen time can have on children.  Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two years of age, and only two hours a day for children older than two? It’s true. Screen time for children under three is linked to irregular sleep patterns and delayed language acquisition, and the more time preschool children spend with screens, the less time they spend engaged in creative play – which is the foundation of learning.

What can you do to fill those hours – when screen time seems like the only option? Play games, sing and dance, draw with crayons, do chores together, play with simple props (like blankets and empty boxes) and of course, read books together! If you are looking for ways to reduce your child’s screen time, I would love to talk with you about it, just let me know.

You can read Mission Hill School weekly newsletter on the MHS website. To stay in close touch with me at Empowered by Play, I invite you to follow  me on Twitter  and on Facebook.

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