“Play As Led”
This year the Children's Program will be trying something new. Instead of the previously divided system of “Children's Program” (age separated classrooms) and “Children's Activities” (supervised unstructured free play) children will be able to chose from various supervised, mostly structured, activities open to all children from Preschool to Middle School. Our hope is that this will help create an experience for our children that more closely matches the freedom and spiritual nourishment offered to adults at Annual Session.
Whenever Children's Program gathers together, there will be multiple activities for children to chose from. Arts and crafts to make, stories being read, games to play outside, cooking projects, Children's Program Interest Groups (both child and adult lead), skits and songs to practice for Community Night, and many more. All activities will be supervised by Children's Program staff, although some projects may be led by volunteer Friends. Some activities may be better suited to younger or older children, but there won't be any age limits or requirements. Help and accommodation will be given to all Friends who need it to fully embrace each activity.
If you or your child has an idea for a Children's Program Interest Group, please contact Mim Coleman to discuss how we can incorporate it into the program.
On Friday July 27th in the afternoon we will be carpooling again to Titlow Beach Sprayground. This is a playground with sprinkler-like water features and traditional playground equipment for dryer play. Swimsuits and/or swim diapers are encouraged. If you would like to transport children, and/or join us on our field trip please let Mim Coleman know. We'd love for you to come with us!
Infants and Toddlers:
Infants and Toddlers will still be cared for by dedicated staff giving extra attention to our youngest Friends.
We are also testing a system for Infants and Toddlers this year called “Buddy Bracelets”. Parents or guardians of each child in the Infant/Toddler age group will be given a stretchy bracelet with the child's name. When the child is signed into the Children's Program the parent or guardian will give the bracelet to a Children's Program Staff member as a tangible reminder to keep an eye on that specific child. If a staff member needs to transfer care of a child to another qualified adult, they will also transfer the bracelet. When parents or guardians sign their child out of the Children's Program they will take the bracelet back as well. While all adults working in the Children's Program try to keep an eye on all the children as they play, our hope is that this system will create a safer environment for our youngest Friends.
Central Friends (children entering their first year of Middle School in the fall through those entering their last year of Middle School) will have activities tailored to their age and maturity level (while younger children will still have the option of participating). We know that sometimes Central Friends need their own space, so there will be a Central Friend's lounge in Thomas Hall for their use only. Central Friends will also continue to have the option to sign themselves into and out of the Children's Program without their parents. (If you feel that this is too much responsibility for your child, please let us know so that we can minimize conflict.)
The Children's Program is open to all children from birth through Middle School age. We do our best to accommodate any special needs your child may require. However, our staff and volunteers are not trained in medical and behavioral care. If you think your child would benefit from a trained full-time “one-on-one” caregiver, we are happy to offer that person a full fee waiver to Annual Session. We ask that families provide any needed trained caregivers because the relationship they have formed with your child can be as beneficial as any profession training.
In an effort to keep the Children's Program open and safe for all children, if Children's Program staff determines that a child's behaviors are dangerous to themselves or others, we may ask a parent or guardian to remain with their child during Children's Program hours. Please understand this is in no way an attempt to punish or embarrass anyone, it is only an effort to keep everyone safe.
Parenting at Annual Session comes with joys and significant challenges. Children's Program and the Youth Committee offer support in many ways:
• Youth Committee/Children's Program: Children's Program staff and the Youth Committee work together to help families meet children's needs at annual session. Please note any comments or concerns you may have about caring for your children during annual session on your registration.
• Orientation: Come meet the volunteers and staff. Find out the essential information about the programs for children on Wednesday from 6:00 to 6:30 pm in Thomas Hall.
• First Time Breakfast: Families who are at Annual Session for the first time are invited to sit together at breakfast on Thursday morning; Youth Committee will answer questions you may have, and we can get to know you better.
• Committee Meeting Childcare: Youth Committee will find childcare for any committee meetings, if you need it. Please contact Mim Coleman one day in advance.
We’re all looking forward to seeing your family at annual session!
Every child needs a paper Medical Release Form with a parent’s signature on file in order to participate in the Children’s Program. Unaccompanied minors need the second page of this form as well, which also requires the sponsor(s) to sign it, agreeing to accept this responsibility. Be sure to make additional copies of the whole form to give to your child's sponsor(s).
Sign and mail both pages of this form, with a copy of your child’s medical insurance information, in advance to::
Mim Lilly Coleman
5008 64th Ave W
University Place WA 98467
If you have any questions about the Children's Program please feel free to contact the coordinator Mim Lilly Coleman