Building Community at FPS

As adults, it can be really tricky to make the leap to friendship, especially if you are someone who has moved to a new town or who isn’t naturally outgoing. It's not as easy as it is for our kids, who seem to make friends simply by sitting near someone in a sandbox. But a wonderful benefit of being in a cooperative preschool is finding your “tribe,” and Family Preschool offers plenty of great opportunities for parents to build a community.

In the cooperative setting, you have a chance to casually get to know your fellow parents while working in the classroom as helping parents. From there, it's easy to get more involved in the community through fun events like our Parents Night Out meetups, or even just hanging out after pickup on our playground. One of my favorite parenting tactics is lingering on the playground for as long as possible, which my kids love and has the added bonuses of avoiding battles about watching television and getting to spend the afternoon chatting with other parents - win/win! They would be perfectly happy to stay there playing until close to dinnertime (so would I), and I believe we have done just that at least a few times.    

Another way FPS encourages community building is through our annual spring camping trip. This year, we will be visiting Jordan Lake. A lot of our families will be coming out to sleep out in the woods, meet a ranger who will share some information about the wildlife we might spot at the park, and, of course, swim or paddle canoes in the lake. The memories our kids make together will last a lifetime, and activities like these are a great way to connect with other families. This will be my third campout, and I am really looking forward to spending time with our friends and getting to know some of the newer families. The roots of our FPS community go deep, and I have made many friends during my years here.

Hope to see you all at the campout!


- Family Relations Chair

A Lesson in the Laughter

I expect that almost everyone reading this will have seen the video that went viral of Professor Robert Kelly in his interview with the BBC about South Korea. Or maybe it was North Korea? 

But who cares?  

If you haven't seen the video, here it is:  

The most memorable part of that interview was the intrusion of his children, followed by his reaction and then his wife's swift -- or as my niece put it, "ninja-like" -- removal of the children, and his immediate resumption of answering the question that had been put to him. It was very, very funny, and as the parent who shared it said, we've all been there.  But I found it informative, too.  

This is what I saw:

First of all, Professor Kelly was so focused on what he was saying that he had to be told by the interviewer that one of his children had come into the room. Perhaps she had entered quietly, but judging from the little dance she started immediately after opening the door, I doubt it. This tells me that Professor Kelly was probably used to such intrusions, and on some level was comfortable with them. Then when the little girl got close behind him, he reached back, gently found her shoulder, then equally gently tried to push her back, all without taking his eyes off the camera. A smile and slight laugh were the only indications of his reaction. This, or something like it, has happened before to him (and likely to most of us).

At this point, the baby then wheeled into the room in her walker, equally joyful, adding to the commotion, followed almost immediately by a woman who must surely have been a softball player at some point, judging by the skillful way in which she skidded into the room. She in turn grabbed the children and, keeping as low a profile as possible, dragged them carefully (not roughly, not angrily) out of the room and closed the door gently but firmly. At which point Professor Kelly, still relaxed and focused, and after a very slightly bemused but sincere apology, resumed his answer to the question.

I've watched the video several times (okay, more than several) and shared it with a few friends (okay, more than a few). I would not have done so had either Professor Kelly or his wife handled the situation with anger or frustration, or even indicated that they were feeling angry or frustrated but had repressed it. Instead, their reaction to normal childhood behavior was appropriate, efficient, and -- above all -- considerate of the feelings of those involved, and it made me want to be there again, laughing with them.  

Thank you, Professor Kelly.  I learned a lot from you today.

Teacher Sue

Project 2: Exploring Boxes

The second project that our 4- and 5-day friends are exploring this year at Family Preschool is "Boxes." I love how project-based learning can take such a simple idea like boxes and inspire so much creativity in the teachers, kids and parents! We've seen the kids make such fun discoveries in the classroom through their different activities, and they have embraced the box play enthusiastically.

So far, our children have:

  • Shared their own special boxes from home. We've seen treasure boxes, jewelry boxes, and music boxes to name a few so far.
  • Played with cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes and made them into new things. This week, the children turned recycled boxes into a giant birthday cake to celebrate the 47th birthday of Family Preschool.
  • Discovered food that can be made from a box, like brownies and pudding. (And what a delicious exercise that was!)
  • Painted mailboxes and sent letters to themselves in the mail.
  • Packed eggs in boxes to see whether they would survive a fall.
  • Gone on a field trip to the FedEx store to learn about packing fragile things in boxes.
  • Gone on a field trip to I Must Garden to learn about the shipping process and to participate in a scavenger hunt for the right shipping box.

We have also enjoyed a great number of parent "guest experts" in the classroom. Our experts have visited the class to do special presentations on:

  • Sewing boxes
  • Electrical boxes
  • Tool boxes
  • Produce boxes
  • Box collections
  • Guitars made form boxes
  • Putting together pieces to make wooden boxes
  • Dog crates

At Family Preschool, we believe that children learn best through experiences that are meaningful to them. As we explore our projects, the teachers work on integrating math and literacy activities in to kids' investigations as a great way to enhance and develop emergent skills in these developmental domains in a natural way.

I can't wait to see what the box project has to offer next, and I can't wait to see what our next and final project of the year will be!

Happy learning,


FPS Board President

Not boxed in!

As part of the project approach at Family Preschool, the children get to explore how concepts relate to their everyday lives. We talk together about what the children already know about a topic, and we explore new information from the connections they've already identified.

Right now, our 4- and 5-day friends are engaged in their box project. They've done everything from build wooden boxes in the classroom to create an entire box city out of recycled cardboard boxes. Yesterday, they got the chance to get out of the classroom and learn about boxes out in the world. They visited I Must Garden, a Chapel Hill business that makes all-natural and earth-friendly pest repellents.


The owner, Marilyn Cox, introduced herself to the children and told them about her company and the products it makes. The children were then taken on a tour of the facility, and they got to learn how the pest repellents are made and watch them get bottled up and put into boxes for shipping. They learned about the different sizes and types of boxes used in shipping and why they are important.

Afterward, the children participated in a scavenger hunt. They were split into five teams, and each were given five different bottles and asked to find a box for each bottle that would be the right size to send it safely.

The children had a wonderful time learning about the company and learning about some of the many ways that boxes are used. They also loved getting a chance to see the father of one of our 5-day friends at work. It was actually the friend's mother who put us up to the idea to organize this field trip. It's one of many examples of how our families come together to make our school a better place and to improve the education that our children get.

It was another great day learning and growing together at FPS!


Happy Birthday Family Preschool!

Hi Families,

We are now well into our second semester of Family Preschool. It has been fun to look back at the family pictures taken during the summer home visits and see how much our friends have grown already!

The children have become very comfortable in their gathering groups and know the routine well. Teacher Alison has done an outstanding job in the Duckling classroom, and all our little ducklings -- even ones that just started last month -- are doing great! The Duckling friends have especially enjoyed making their Eric Carle-inspired mural in the classroom. Teacher Sue’s Tree Frogs have had a fun winter season with activities like making rocket ships blasting off to the moon (using baking soda and vinegar) to taking care of baby dolls with kindness and band-aids. The 4- and 5-day gatherings have been busy with their box project, including practicing drawing squares, esearching different boxes they can find around the school, and enjoying guest expert visits from so many FPS families. They also had a field trip to the UPS Shipping Station.

In March, we are celebrating Family Preschool's birthday. We are 47 years old this year! The week ofMarch 13th-17th, we will be celebrating our birthday with the school. During the week, we will prepare for our big birthday celebration by making wrapping paper and enjoying other activities. We will have classroom-specific birthday celebrations on Friday, March 17, and parents are invited to join us for a cupcake. Check with your child’s gathering teacher to find out the plan for that day! If you would like to purchase a present for FPS, we are focusing on playground toys this year. We will post a wish list of items that need replacing on the preschool door (and in the parents' section of the website). Items can be toys that you are retiring from your home collection or new toys. You could even pitch in with some other families in your gathering for a larger gift.

I have been so fortunate to have such an amazing group of parents and families here at FPS. Thank you for all your openness, guidance, and dedication to our school. Thank you to all the helping parents and on-call families who keep our school running so smoothly. A special thank you to our board, who have worked hard to support the school so successfully!

I cannot end this post without thanking our outstanding team of teachers. We are so fortunate to have this talented group of ladies working at FPS. I feel so thankful to be working in this warm, family friendly environment.