21/22 School Year Plan

21/22 School Year Plan

About Our 21/22 School Year

2020 was year unlike any other. We are proud that we managed to maintain our program outdoors during the 20/21 school year, safely.  But we are excited to get back to our sunny classrooms at First Unitarian and depending on the state of Covid-19 infections in Salt Lake County– we plan to do just that.

We are happy to announce that we are working in coordination with First Unitarian to outfit our classrooms and shared spaces with improved air scrubbers in the HVAC systems that are proven to help kill ALL viruses as they circulate the air.

With vaccines rolling out and our local numbers going down, we are confident we will be opening indoors, but CCNS will plan to incorporate even more time on our playground and move circle times outside anytime the weather is nice! We will also be following guidance from the State Health Dept and CDC to form our safety measures. For more information, see our Covid-19 protocols.

We will have lots of Wasatch Wanderers outdoor exploration classes with Teacher Terry. We will have stand-alone classes on T/TH am and pm. You will also be able to add a single day of WW to your indoor preschool through single day add ons Wednesday or Friday afternoons. CCNS is excited to offer our first WW after school program for children ages 5+. We just can’t wait to see how our CCNS alum have grown.

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    Click to Enroll

    Enrollment is open to current students Jan 25th at 8am and new students February 1st 8am. 

2020-2021 ALL Outdoors

2020-2021 ALL Outdoors

CCNS has opened this FALL 2020 in a fully outdoor model following our Wasatch Wanderers curriculum. Staying outdoors as well as our COVID-19 Safety Protocols, was the best way for us to open this year. We do plan on returning to our indoor location in the Fall of 2021. Careful planning has helped us reimagine our preschooler’s days and adjust our programming to align with current public health guidelines in regards to COVID-19. More details about our Covid-19 Protocols can be found here.

CCNS is Hiring

CCNS is Hiring

CCNS (Community Cooperative Nursery School) is seeking individuals passionate about preschoolers. At CCNS we believe children learn best through exploring the world around them. Together, we are dedicated to fostering happy, socially engaged, independent thinking children through a teacher and parent supported community.

Our current openings are for a lead teacher. Part-time and full-time options are available. Applicants should be willing to work closely with parents in our co-op model, coordinate well with other teachers, and must have training or experience in a preschool or professional childcare setting. Benefits include tuition reduction and health insurance for full-time employees. Interested individuals should email a cover letter and resume to director@ccnsslc.com.

How to Get Cooperation From Your Toddler

How to Get Cooperation From Your Toddler

By Aspen Anderson

Because my son was premature (82 days early, 2 pounds, 62 days in the NICU, I know you were wondering), for over two years I had an amazing benefit, provided by the state, of bi-weekly therapy appointments with speech, physical, and developmental therapists with Master’s Degrees and Ph.D.s in early childhood development. One of my biggest takeaways from that experience was that there is real, valid, scientifically-backed advice out there that, when followed, can make life with a small human just SO much easier. 

I was constantly amazed at the specificity of the instructions these therapists gave me to help him catch up. He’s behind in crawling? Do this eye exercise. Boom, fixed. He’s not advancing to the next food texture quickly enough? Stick his Cheerios in the back side of his cheek so he has to strengthen his tongue to fish it out. Boom, fixed. It once took me (not my son – ME) four tries to properly follow their very specific instructions on how to give my son a choice – if I gave him a choice and he grabbed the item from me rather than me handing it to him, it wasn’t properly developing his social interaction skills, so I had to turn his wrist upward and put the toy in his hand so that I was actively responding to his choice. The minutia was fascinating to me, and it taught me that tiny adjustments in how we parent can lead to huge results.

 Fortunately, a lot of equally qualified therapists and doctors maintain blogs, so I have been able to continue learning in the wonderful world of the internet. As my son began entering toddlerhood, I read an article I found extremely helpful on how to get your toddler’s cooperation and participation – unfortunately, it was a while ago and I can’t find it to link. It was written by a Ph.D. in childhood development, and let me tell you – IT WORKS! Here are some of the things I took away that I have incorporated to get better cooperation from my toddler. It’s all about understanding how their brains work!

  1. Make everything a story: Rather than saying, “put your toys away,” you make cleanup about something your toddler can relate to. So I say, “It’s time for your toys to go to sleep! Do you know where their beds are?” and he will joyfully help put the toys “to bed.” Recently he has started hugging and kissing them and says goodnight to them. It’s adorable! Making things silly will get their cooperation too because they are engaging in an imaginary world with you so your instructions become play. Instead of “get in your car seat,” try, “Oh no, if you get into your car seat you will sit on my purple elephant!”
  2. Create patterns: Every day I tell my son to son take off his shoes and then I ask him “where they live” and he puts them away. Then I do the same thing with his dirty socks – it took a little while for him to learn there were different homes for dirty and clean socks, but he gets it now! Having as much structure in your day as possible helps them feel like they understand what is happening, and explaining when things are going to be different will help them feel involved in the process. My son goes to a different babysitter or family member almost every day, so every morning I explain where we are going, who he is going to see, who is going to pick him up, and who is going to put him to bed. The other day he loved this so much he made me go over it eight times, piping “again!” every time I finished.
  3. Toddlers love to help! Research shows that if you let your children help you clean and cook at this young age, it establishes life-long cognitive patterns and increases their cooperation for years to come. It also establishes the expectation that they are participants in maintaining the household – which cuts down on entitlement. As soon as they are old enough to do something for themselves, they should be expected to take ownership of it (not as a rule, where if they don’t they will be punished – more as a natural evolution of their role in the family).  My son pulls out his broom to help sweep, throws things in the garbage, and if I start baking he pulls his stool around the counter and insists on helping pour and stir. If he spills something, he asks for a paper towel and cleans it up himself – I didn’t teach him that, he just learned by example. You may have to do it right when they think they are done, but there is a huge developmental benefit to letting them try. 
  4. Ease transitions: If you are getting ready to head out the door and rip your child away from his toys without warning, you are likely going to get a meltdown. Give them fair warning when a transition is happening: “We will be leaving in five minutes to go to grandma’s, so I’m going to play with you for a few minutes, then we will put on your shoes.” Giving that little bit of time and attention helps them prepare for a shift, and puts their focus on you and what you are doing, distracting them from their previous activity. Giving positive statements about what is coming or telling them who they are going to see also helps them shift to what is next. If I tell him it’s time to see Gracie (Papa’s blue macaw) or Stella (his BFF at CCNS), he gets actively excited to get out the door.  A good tip for yourself is to take a deep breath because sometimes it is hard to have the patience to work with your toddler when you are running behind. 
  5. Be careful about choices vs. directions: “Can you go find your socks” is an optional choice, “I need you to go find your socks” is a direction. If you give them a choice when you really did need them to do something, you can’t blame them if they accepted the fact it was a choice, and choose “no.” Being specific helps them understand when they need to follow directions, versus when you are giving them an option. Similarly, giving them a choice helps them feel like they have control of their lives. Just be sure to be specific. Instead of saying, “Choose a shirt,” say “Do you want to wear the red shirt with the dinosaur or the pink shirt with Elsa?” Whenever my son realizes I am giving him a choice to make his face lights up and he savors every second of it before deciding. These sorts of communications work best when you get down on their level and look them in the eye.
  6. Give them jobs: My son is responsible for getting his own hat, coat, and shoes in the morning and retrieving his bowl and spoon for cereal. It is his job to open the garage door and to hold the receipt for the checkers at the exit of Costco. He knows these things are his responsibility, and he takes them very seriously. Giving toddlers responsibilities helps them feel that sense of control, as well as a sense of participation in the adult world. It prepares them for bigger jobs in the future by teaching them they have an active role to play in their lives.
  7. Give natural consequences: When consequences need to be enforced, opt for logical, natural consequences rather than an enforcement of your power as the adult. Unless you are talking about a situation where their safety is at risk, find a way to talk to them that they can understand rather than just saying “I’m the adult so you have to do what I say” (again, deep breaths). We are developing little human brains, and unfortunately, if they live in a world where we train them to submit to us as authoritarians, they find it confusing because their instinct is to run to us when they are afraid, yet we are the source of their fear.  This inadvertently teaches them that it’s ok for someone they love to exert power over them, which sets them up for normalizing abuse in adult relationships. So try to use “if” “then” statements that are logical. “If you don’t sit still in church, you don’t get ice cream after” isn’t a natural consequence, and are you really going to follow through? Probably not. “If you don’t get into the car, we won’t be able to listen to your favorite song” is a natural consequence. “If you don’t put on your pajamas now, we won’t have time to read your favorite story.” Your job is to help them understand cause and effect, so eventually, they can recognize the relationship between actions and consequences themselves. 

So much of parenting success is in the minutia. The little things really count, and establishing routines and working on making your own responses consistent will go miles in getting cooperation. I know it isn’t always easy, and we aren’t going to be perfect. But if there ever was a good motivation to try, it is the galaxy that looks back at you through your child’s eyes. 

Creating Holiday Traditions

Creating Holiday Traditions

by Amy Twede

The magic of the holiday season is upon us. If you were like me as a child, this was the reason for being alive! My most cherished seasonal activities were exchanging presents, decorating our home, spending time with loved ones, and celebrating traditions.. Usually, we’d travel to St. George where my grandfather would bake a plethora of cookies and hand a tin full to each family. I specifically remember this tradition of my grandfather’s cookies because without fail, we’d receive a tin filled to the top, even if we were unable to travel to visit with family in Utah. The assortment was delicious, I remember only passing on one or two cookies that I didn’t like.

Now that I have kids of my own, traditions are something I think about every year. Which ones will I continue with my boys? Will we start new ones? Since becoming a mother, I’ve learned that nothing is set in stone. If you want to start a new tradition, start now! It’s never too late to try something new with your family. I’ve never had an advent calendar, but it’s something I desire to do with my kids. I do not have the energy this year to create one from scratch, so a store bought Lego Advent calendar seems to be in the cards for us this time around. And that’s ok, it will still be fun!

Some traditions which take less time and energy are watching holiday movies, looking at seasonal light displays (have you ever been to The Grand America to see their window displays?) and baking a yummy treat together.

Do you have some favorite holiday traditions? How do you create new ones? My top two suggestions for creating new traditions are to ask family and friends how they enjoy celebrating the season and ask your children what they like to do once the holidays come around. Our family celebrates Christmas. When I asked my four year old what he likes to do for the holiday he told me he likes decorating our tree and decorating gingerbread houses. Now, we’ve never decorated gingerbread houses at our house, but right there I received a suggestion which I can implement this year!

I hope you are able to celebrate this holiday season how you want to with your family. May you find ways to make new memories and carry on old traditions. 

*Photo by Riccardo Greg on Unsplash

My kid did WHAT?!? Sharing the Toddler Experience

My kid did WHAT?!? Sharing the Toddler Experience

By Brooke Blanchard

You never forget the moment your child is born. No matter how it comes about, you’re suddenly handed this beautiful tiny human with dazed blinking eyes and the softest skin you have ever touched in your entire life. Watching this new person as they drift off into a deep sleep or grab your finger and gently scratch you with inexplicably long fingernails, it is impossible to imagine them ever not being this innocent and perfect for all of time…

Then they turn three.

While they continue to enchant us and bring us immeasurable joy, toddlers are frequently straddling the line between feral and dictatorial. As their conscripted guardians, we parents find ourselves wearing numerous hats throughout the day to maintain order: a healer hat, a mind-reader hat, a personal injury attorney hat, a janitorial hat, and a chauffeur hat… to name just a few. More often than not, we find a way to wear two or more hats at the same time. It’s a dizzying juggling act that can leave us mentally and physically exhausted by the time our toddlers fall asleep and once again return to that state of peaceful innocence and quiet stillness.

Despite the daily reminders that our lovely toddlers are fallible humans, it can come as an unwanted surprise when another parent points out unpleasant behavior to us. On my two-year-old daughter’s first day at CCNS last year, a seasoned CCNS mom came up to me to tell me that my daughter “had a great day, but has trouble sharing.” My initial reaction was to feel defensive and hurt by what felt like a criticism of my precious first-born child. But what was I so upset about? I knew better than anyone that she hadn’t learned to share yet. I live with her for Pete’s sake! Was my feeling one of embarrassment? Was it shame? Why was I so sensitive to hearing about my child’s completely expected behavior? This same thoughtful and kind-hearted CCNS mom later explained things in a way that enlightened me to one of the joys of parenting. Her comment that day was not a judgment about my daughter. It was an observation about where she was in her development on that day.

Co-oping provides the opportunity for observation every day; either you or another parent is in the classroom or on the playground observing your child’s growth and exploration. Co-op parents can tell you in September that your two-year-old isn’t sharing, but they can also be the one to tell you in January that your child happily handed over the coveted Elsa costume to another kid when asked. Moreover, when you enter the classroom yourself, you experience a spectacular sense of relief and near nirvana-level calm when you realize that every single other kid struggles and has bad days like yours. When parents (and teachers!) come together to traverse toddlerhood together, it removes the feelings of doubt and embarrassment and replaces them with judgment-free camaraderie.

There is a common saying. “Me before kids: I am going to run such a tight ship! Me after kids: Annnnnnnd the ship is on fire.”  A lot of our time is spent trying to put out these frequent blazes, usually by counting to three, bribery, or the old pick em’ up and go move. However, sometimes it might be OK to take a moment to stop throwing buckets of water on the burning ship and just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the light with your fellow shipmates.

Working and Co-Oping: Finding the Balance

Working and Co-Oping: Finding the Balance

by Brooke Blanchard

My grandmother – a lifelong New Yorker – was as tough as she was warm. She lived through the depression, lost her brother in the South Pacific, married and raised 3 daughters, and worked for decades as a school teacher. When I was in college, I regularly visited her apartment for dinner and would often be on the receiving end of lectures that, much like her personality, could seem at odds with each other.

Most often she lamented extensively about my single status. She advised me to sit in the lobby of the Columbia University Law School with my hair down and act like I was lost. A nice law student would surely come to my aid, and marriage (and children) would soon follow. She said this with complete sincerity and unfeigned urgency. One evening however, she sat down next to me and told me that no matter what, I must always vigorously pursue interests and work outside of my marriage and children.  To a 19-year-old, these sounded like conflicting priorities that couldn’t co-exist together. Today, I know they are conflicting priorities. But they can coincide via a complicated juggling act.

Millions of men and women struggle everyday to balance hands-on dedicated parenting with successful professional pursuits. The decision to pursue both can be personal, financial necessity, or both. In doing so however, life can become a one-person game of Twister; contorting your body into absurd and uncomfortable positions with a hand and a foot in different spheres of life, all while trying not to topple over. It’s a constant push and pull that more often than not makes you feel like neither side is getting a fair shake. A deadline is missed and a toddler is yelled at for no reason other than stress.

Enrolling your child in a co-op preschool is just one way parents can be more hands-on and involved in their kid’s life. And while it is incredibly fun, it can also put a lot of time management pressure on those who also have to work. It’s another circle in the game of Twister. Whether you work full time in an office, part time at home, or some combination of both, fulfilling your co-oping responsibilities and keeping it as a priority in your life can be difficult. Not to mention the feelings of guilt it creates when another parent needs someone to step in and you consistently decline due to a prior professional commitment.

This is not to say that only working parents struggle with conflicting priorities. I’ve met incredible people at CCNS. Men and women who have jobs, who manage their household and other kids, who take care of ailing family members around the clock, and who are still figuring all this stuff out. Everyone has a story that is compelling and filled to the brim with hard decisions, anxiety, and fulfillment. As a mother of two with no childcare, a part-time job, and an evening gig as an adjunct professor, I felt inclined to focus on the issue of working and co-oping because I live it.

Working and co-oping can be a challenge. Sometimes it works out just fine. Sometimes it does not. Both are perfectly acceptable, and families will endeavor to do what they believe is best for them. Perhaps, in between complaining about not wearing my hair down enough and inspiring me to professional and financial independence, my grandmother could have warned me about how challenging it would be to balance the priorities of family and work. However, knowing her, if I had asked how to do it, she would have looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Figure it out hon.”

Celebrating Love

Celebrating Love

By Sharon Bates

As parents, life can become so hectic we easily forget what ignited the very relationship which created today’s reality of having children together. Good thing we have Valentines Day to remind us!

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Valentines Day. Although I’m a huge fan of Love, I didn’t appreciate the pressure women in particular would put on men to “do it right,” and “make it amazing.” That being said, if I happened to be in a relationship at the time, I would usually make it known that I wasn’t a fan of the holiday, saying, “please don’t bother.” And of course, being the sweethearts that men are, they always would anyway. Then… there was John.

It was Valentines Day 2012 and I had a strong feeling that my fiancé, John, who knew my feelings about Valentines Day, yet still enjoyed celebrating, had also been so busy with work that month that he completely forgot to do anything about it. I knew he’d kick himself for not doing anything, so I took it upon myself to finally do something special for a change.

On my way to see him at his event that evening, I stopped by a Whole Foods and purchased two Valentines Day cards and two different, special craft beers. (This was in California, mind you.) I picked one card for him, and one for him to give to me. I’ll never forget that night. He took a quick break to sit in the car with me and chat. I surprised him with the idea and we signed, then exchanged our cards and beers, and shared a beer together. It was such a blast. Really, what ended up being so interesting about this “save,” was that I discovered, when picking the card for him to give to me, I had a chance to playfully help him express his love, but in a way that I’d especially love to hear it. It made me vulnerable, and it was totally fun at the same time.

I know I scored major points that night, and my husband will forever bow to my feet for having his back, and being so graceful about it. And, I will say, the creativity that I used that Valentines Day opened something up for me, too. Now I approach Valentines Day as not just a “show-me-how-much-you-care Day,” but as a day to be in-Love again! And I feel like John picked up on this vibe, too.

Since then, we don’t usually celebrate on the 14th; we both feel it gets too crazy with reservations and dinner. We now pick an evening in early February, and either treat ourselves to a super fancy restaurant or go somewhere interesting and gaze into each other’s eyes, getting present to how much fun it is to be a team. And, by the way, if you’re not on a “team” right now, use this holiday to express your love to those who play a part in making your life work as well as it does.

So, here I am wishing you a fantastic Valentines Day 2019, and supporting you to give it your best shot and get creative, meanwhile having zero expectations.

Here are some fun ideas, on ways to celebrate:

• Write a love letter.

• Make a “love jam mixtape” CD of songs that express your feelings.

• Design and create your own card.

• Cook a romantic 4-course dinner.

• Take a walk around the block, holding hands.

Cheers! …And Happy Valentines Day!

Keeping the Winter Blues Away

Keeping the Winter Blues Away

By Megan Corrent

December was such a magical time. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just enjoy the extra days off and the beautiful lights, most of us can appreciate that December is full of wonder and. At our home, our children are bouncing off the walls and are full of anticipation and excitement waiting for Santa Clause. Once we take down the tree, remove the lights, and clean up the last specks of glitter left behind by the mountain of gifts, January arrives bringing its freezing temperatures, poor air quality, and the realization that Santa won’t be visiting again for another 358 days. So the question then arises, how should we spend the month of January?

We do try and spend time outside playing and running around, but there are many days not suitable for outside play, so then what to do? There are, of course, the favorite go-tos: Discovery Gateway, the library, Living Planet Aquarium, the Natural History Museum, and even sometimes the McDonald’s playground, but some days are just spent at home. Having a two-year-old and four-year-old, there is no shortage of energy and curiosity that needs to be cultivated. Here are three other ways that we have found to entertain our children on those freezing January days spent at home:

  • Good, Old-Fashioned Coloring:
    • Our kids love to color, so we have bought large rolls of white paper so they never run out. We unroll the paper, provide a bucketful of washable markers (or paint), and let them go at it. Of course, there are the occasional colored walls, windows, and floors, but the washable markers and Mr Clean Magic Erasers allow for easy clean-up for caregivers and hours of fun for the kids.
  • Building with Marshmallows:
    • Really all you need for this fun activity is a bag of marshmallows (maybe two if your kids love to sneak a few) and toothpicks. Toothpick to marshmallow to toothpick to marshmallow is the great foundation to build a tower. See who can build the widest, the tallest, or the strongest! This is such a fun and mess-free way to start introducing the amazing world of engineering to curious minds.
  • Instant Snow:
    • You may be asking, “Why do we need to make fake snow? We live in Utah with the Best Snow on Earth.” Well, of course when we have a fresh snowstorm the need to make fake snow is kind of ridiculous, but for those freezing days with month-old, crispy, and dirty snow, making fluffy homemade snow is a super fun activity.
    • What you’ll need:
      • Large mixing bowl
      • Measuring cups
      • Baking soda
      • Hair conditioner
      • Spoon
      • Glitter (Optional))
      • Baking pan or large tray
    • Next Steps:
      • Measure and pour 1 cup of baking soda
      • Measure 3 tablespoons of hair conditioner and mix with the baking soda
      • Pour the mixture onto the baking pan or large tray and add 1 tablespoon of glitter (if this is when you say “nope,” feel free to skip the glitter) and mix with hands (little hands love this step)
      • Let the kids then make different shapes and sculpt for hours!

Finding activities for little and inquisitive minds can be a challenge, but sometimes even free-play is a great way to allow for creativity to blossom and fun to be had. We hope that you and your children enjoy these activities as much as ours do, and Happy New Year!