Children & Company Cooperative Preschool believes that Black lives matter. As a school and as a community, we join the call for action to end systemic racism and violence against Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
We believe that preschool is not too early to start learning about race, equity, and fairness. Our school commits to teaching our children to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate our differences and to speak up for what is right. We welcome all of our members to be part of the conversation so we can help each other and our school to continue to improve and grow. Our teachers are actively working on greater diversification in our classroom.
We believe that by raising our children to be anti-racist today, they will grow into adults who will contribute to a more equitable tomorrow.
The Jannati Family
We are a family of 5, dad grew up here in Columbia and attended Oakland Mills HS, mom grew up in NJ but came down to MD to attend Towson for undergrad. We have Georgie (7), Lola (5), and Frankie (2). We wanted to share a little about how our family practices mindful breathing. To summarize the importance in our lives we feel it leads us to 3 distinct reasons:
We had diverse upbringings and found a commonality in yoga and mindfulness and felt strongly about teaching this to our children.
We are extremely energetic and so are our children. Practicing mindful breathing and yoga allows there to be time in our day designated to finding a calm as well as assisting in the process of restoring peace in times we may have feelings of chaos.
Our oldest son was four when he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder among some other things. At times he has really big reactions to something that may seem small and we have found that because of our daily practice of mindful breathing and/or yoga, he has found ways to lessen some of these anxieties.
We begin our day with breathing exercises and setting intentions. The breathing exercises we use most often with the children are referred to as “shape breathing” as well as “animal breathing.” For example, the children would trace a square and breathe in for one side, hold for another, out, and hold again. Each shape varies slightly with the breathing techniques. Our current favorite is the “lazy eight!” They can also take breaths like an animal. For a snake you would take a deep breath in and let out the breath making a low hissing sound like a snake. At the end of our day we discuss positive things that have happened as well as anything negative. When speaking of our positives we take a deep breath in while thinking about it and then blow it out, hoping this brings a sense of peace. Then we take anything negative, take a breath in and blow it out using our happy thoughts to push out that negative thought. We found this idea from one of our favorite mindful breathing books, My Magic Breath. In addition to breathing and yoga being a part of our daily and/or weekly routine to find a sense of calm, our children transfer these strategies to utilize when having large emotions and feeling overwhelmed. There are favorite shapes that each child has that we will trace on their back as they are breathing as well as yoga poses that help restore calm in each child. We have also noticed that there are times the children will use these strategies independently when they self recognize that they are overwhelmed.
Books on mindful breathing:
-My Magic Breath
There are some great resources on YouTube such as:
-Cosmic kids yoga
-The Mindfulness Teacher, Mindfulness for Children
The Eargle Family
Bobby has always lived here in Columbia. We actually live in the same house where his dad Ryan grew up. Bobby’s big brother Jeremy is 8 years old and was born in Connecticut. Ryan works for the State Department in Washington DC, where he finds new American embassies and consulates around the world. Bobby’s mom Meagan is an infectious disease epidemiologist (she studies diseases like COVID-19!), and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. We also have a wonderful Au Pair named Lohaine who is from Brazil and lives with us to help take care of Bobby and Jeremy. Lohaine takes classes at the University of Baltimore Our family is Roman Catholic, so spring is very important for us. The Church’s most important holiday is Easter, where we celebrate how Jesus Christ came alive again after being killed. This year, Easter is on April 18th. For the 40 days before Easter, Catholics observe a time called Lent where we prepare ourselves for Easter. Before he died, Jesus went out to the desert for 40 days to pray and fast, so it’s common for Catholics to give up one kind of food (or sometimes a bad habit) for the 40 day period. In our family, we have all given up sweets this year. Every time we would normally have dessert but don’t, it helps us remember that it’s Lent. When Easter comes, our treats will taste all the sweeter!
Easter itself is a big celebration of all things having to do with new life. Eggs, flowers, even baby bunnies – all these spring things also remind us of how life started again after death for Jesus. Our family loves to decorate eggs in bright colors and patterns. We usually hard boil the eggs, then use food-safe dyes and waxes from the grocery store. In some Eastern European countries like Poland, where part of Meagan’s family is from, people will make a small hole in the egg and blow out the egg contents, then very elaborately decorate just the shell. Ryan’s dad was in the military, and his family lived in Germany for a long time. His mom (Bobby’s grandma) has a set of decorated wooden Easter eggs. Every year she hangs them from willow branches in her house, making an Easter tree. In Germany, sometimes people will hang these eggs on live trees outside.
We are excited to share our Easter traditions with our friends at Children & Company. If you celebrate Easter or another spring holiday, have a joyous day! If not, enjoy the beautiful spring weather and flowers that are starting to grow all around us!
The Williams Family
Our youngest son, Logan, is currently in the 3s class, and his big brother Charlie is a 5th grader and a Children & Company alumnus. Mom and Dad are Tory and Theron -high school sweethearts who met back in 2000 at Long Reach High School. One of the reasons we chose Children & Company for our sons was because Mom also attended a nearby cooperative nursery school, growing up in Columbia. We’ve lived in Marriottsville (Carroll County) for the past 5.5 years, on a partially wooded lot, where we enjoy frequent sightings of deer (including fawns and bucks), foxes, snakes of all sizes, tortoises, toads, rabbits, hawks, and some of the most conspicuous bugs we’ve ever seen! Tory and Charlie were especially excited to spend the early COVID days raising chickens for the first time. Logan also enjoys helping out in the chicken coop and carefully bringing eggs into our house. One of our favorite things to do is gift our extra eggs to our grandparents and teachers!
Another topic important to the Williams family is disability and mental health advocacy. In addition to normalizing these conversations within our household, we also try to impact the community where we can. For the last two years, our family team has raised money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through annual Carroll County Out of the Darkness walk events; last summer, Tory led a disability awareness acceptance station at the boys’ cub scout day camp. Both boys have had IEPs at some point during schooling, and both Charlie and Tory are proudly autistic/ADHD. Our family believes in, and advocates for, the social model of disability; the idea that all humans inherently vary, and that it is the constructs of society, or the environment, that disable some of us. In other words, some of us are disabled, not because we were born disabled, but rather because the world is built/maintained in inaccessible, unwelcoming ways.
One of our favorite parts of Children & Company Preschool is the obvious value placed in teaching respect for diversity. In an uncertain world where many school districts are resisting conversations of equity, the fact that our school families’ cultures permeate the Newsletters, Fundraisers, Curricula, Board duties, and Budget is precious. I especially want to thank Ms. Wendy, Ms. Tricia, & Ms. Traci for their flexibility in embracing these changes over the many years they’ve committed to our school; and a shout-out to my friend Val Logan for trailblazing the work of the Diversity Chair position and the richness it brings to our little community.
The Holbert Family
Christopher is in the 4’s class at Children & Company and his older sister, Madison, is in 2nd grade at Phelps Luck Elementary School. Christopher and Madison both love building and playing with Legos, playing outside, riding scooters, making and listening to music, and dancing. Christopher especially enjoys building with magnetic tiles, playing restaurant, race car tracks, and Hot Wheels. Madison likes Roblox, basketball, swimming, and playing with dolls. In addition to Mom (Ali) and Dad (Chris), Christopher and Madison also live together in a home with their Gammy.
Over the past few years our family has really come to enjoy gardening. We started with container gardening on our deck, volunteering at Freetown Farm, and helping a friend in their community garden plot. We’ve now started gardening in our yard and even started making our own compost and growing from seeds. Over the years we’ve grown a variety of edible plants; some things we’ve grown are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, herbs, carrots, lettuces, garlic, and strawberries.
Our family enjoys trying new recipes where we can incorporate the food we’ve grown. We have also begun to focus on adding more native plants to our yard to help our pollinators and last year planted a native garden bed and registered it as a Howard County Bee City pollinator habitat. We are looking forward to all that we’ll grow in 2022 and will soon begin planning and preparing for what we hope to be a bountiful harvest that we can share with family and friends. We’d like to share one of the first books we read about gardening, “Two Old Potatoes and Me” by John Coy – https://tinyurl.com/2oldpotatoes
The Logan Family
Easton is in the 3’s at Children & Company and his big sister, Luna, is in Kindergarten. East is a shy guy but is happy to talk about Emergency Response vehicles or pirates and Luna enjoys books and is his more extroverted counterpart. Their Dad (Dave) and Mom (Val) are so happy to help them share our winter celebrations with you! We really enjoy this time of year and hurried to put up our Christmas tree and decorations before November ended! We also celebrate Kwanzaa following Christmas. This 7-day long celebration honors Pan-African heritage, African American Culture and togetherness. We use 7 core principles, represented by 7 candles, in order to celebrate. This is not a religious holiday but is based on traditional African harvest festivals.
The Seven Principles are…
Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility
Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics
We also use 7 symbols to help us celebrate.
Mkeka: mat where the other items are placed on the table
Kikombe cha umoja: unity cup
Mishumaa saba: seven candles
For the last day of Kwanzaa , we celebrate with a feast of food that highlights the harvest and traditional African American foods. We also take a moment to exchange Zawadi, which we love to hand make for one another or purchase from small businesses. We also love to include Zawadi that encourages us to create for people we love year round!
Click here for a YouTube video of a very simple read aloud called Kevin’s Kwanzaa. We would love to hear about any books on Kwanzaa that your family enjoys! Have a wonderful winter!
The Pearson Family
I am Kelly and worked as a Mother/Baby Nurse before deciding to stay home for a few years. My husband Doug is a sound engineer in the motion picture industry. Sam, 3, was born in Los Angeles, CA and loves singing, outer space and fruit. Baby Poppy, 6 months, was born here in Howard County, and she loves to play with Sam’s toys, much to his dismay!
We were excited to be featured this month as our favorite holiday is quickly approaching. Not only is Thanksgiving a wonderful time to appreciate a beautiful life and good health, but it also serves to bring together our unique backgrounds. Doug’s grandparents immigrated from Poland while I am of Irish and Italian heritage. Alongside our turkey and stuffing, we have made it a tradition to incorporate family recipes that have been passed down through many generations. The week before Thanksgiving, we make three different kinds of Polish pierogi (dumplings filled with potatoes and cheese, sauerkraut and ground beef). To honor my heritage, we have my Great Grandmother’s recipe for Italian gnocchi soup served with a side of Irish soda bread. For the past decade, we have also encouraged wearing pajamas to Thanksgiving dinner because it is necessary to be comfortable and ready for a nap after all of this food! Happy Holidays from our family to yours.
Enjoy a similar recipe here: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/84706/grandmas-polish-perogies/
The Zillmer Family
My name is Patricia and I am from Caracas, Venezuela. My husband, Jeff, is Howard county born and raised. Our oldest, Eva, is 5 years old and is in Kindergarten. Our middle son, J.J., is in the 3’s class and our youngest, Vivian, is 5 months old.
We are lucky to embrace so many cultures and countries in our family heritage (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Great Britain, Venezuela, Guajiro Nation and Apache Nation) but the one that we enjoy celebrating the most is the Mexican American. We often listen to Mexican music, eat many different Mexican dishes and dream of going back on vacation to Cancun.
On November 1st we celebrate Dia de Muertos, an evening when we remember those family and friends that have moved on to their next stage of existence. We believe that there is more time than life, and therefore after we die, we move on to the next stage to reunite with our loved ones. At home, our family puts together an altar and decorates it with paper flowers and pictures. We even have stuffed animals that represent our pets that passed. We pick a family member to honor and cook that person’s favorite dinner, play their favorite songs and celebrate their lives. We believe that, only for that night, our honored family member comes and spends time with us.
Dia de Muertos is an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity proclaimed by Unesco. Families celebrate this day in different ways, and during this Hispanic Heritage Month, we invite you to discover more about this wonderful way to remember your loved ones and to explore the vibrant cultures of Latin America.
For more info, visit: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/indigenous-festivity-dedicated-to-the-dead-00054
The Iqbal Family
We immigrated to the US in 2013 when a job opportunity for Hammad arose.
We are the third generation in our family to be immigrants. Our grandparents migrated from India to East Pakistan. Then when East Pakistan separated and became Bangladesh, my parents and Hammad’s maternal family immigrated to the land we know as Pakistan today. I was born in the capital city of Islamabad but raised mostly in Karachi. Hammad was born in Karachi but raised in Lahore. He later moved to Australia for college. At home we speak Urdu and are raising our children as Muslim.
In a few days, we will begin fasting for the month of Ramadan. This is a very special time of year for a Muslim family. People who are able to, fast from sunrise to sunset and abstain from food and drink. During the day we mindfully practice kindness and generosity, give charity, pray and read the Quran, our Holy book. Before dawn we eat a pre-fast meal called suhur which is typically a big breakfast. Irrespective of which part of the world Muslims belong to, we all break our fast by eating a date at sunset followed by a grand iftar meal. For Pakistani families samosas (triangle savory filled pastries), pakoras (fritters) and chana chaat (spicy chickpea salad) accompanied by a red rosewater sherbet are special iftar treats.
After a month of fasting, we celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr when a new moon is sighted. Eid means feast or festival in Arabic. On Eid day, Muslims wear new clothes, congregate at mosques for a special prayer and greet each other ‘Eid Mubarak!’. Women and girls also paint henna tattoos on their hands. As a tradition, grownups give kids envelopes with cash inside. Back in Pakistan, we used to go house to house visiting friends and members of extended family on Eid day. Here we decorate our house and host friends for dinner on Eid day.
The picture above is from last year’s Eid-ul-Fitr.
The Prescott Family
We love spending time outside digging in the dirt, hiking, and exploring. I wanted to share a bit about Greek Easter with you all, which will be celebrated May 2nd this year. While we are not practicing Orthodox Christians, Greek Easter is something that I grew up celebrating, as my dad was born in Athens, Greece. Orthodox Easter is celebrated on a different day than Easter in the Western churches due to following a different church calendar. Every 4 years they line up and are celebrated on the same day.
Leading up to Easter there is a 40 day Lenten fast, so food features prominently in the Easter celebrations. Traditionally, lamb roasted on an open fire is the centerpiece of the dinner, along with sweet Easter bread called Tsoureki (usually braided), cookies called koulourakia (my personal favorites), and lots of delicious sides, including the red hardboiled eggs that begin the feast. Eggs are dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ, the resurrection and new life. There is a game Tsougrisma we play with the eggs, to determine who will have the luck for the year, and it might be something fun for you all to try as well.
A lesson on how to play Tsougrisma:
Each player selects a red egg and finds an opponent.
One person says, “Christos Anesti” (Christ has risen) and the other replies, “Alithos Anesti” (Indeed He has risen).
The person who said “Christos Anesti” taps the end of his or her egg lightly against the end of the opponent’s egg. (The goal is to crack the opponent’s egg.)
When one end of the egg is cracked, the winner uses the same end to try and crack the other end of the opponent’s egg.
The winner with the unbroken egg then challenges another person and so on around the Easter dinner table until one person remains with an unbroken egg.
The player who successfully cracks the eggs of the other players is declared the winner and will have good luck during the year.
Happy Spring everyone!
Jeanie, Cameron, and Connor Prescott