Family Yoga Class at Nia House

Our very own Kerstin is offering a Family Yoga class right here at Nia House! 

Love and Live Yoga

Family Yoga at Nia House

Saturday March 11th

10:00am-11:00am

Nia House Yard

Suggested donation:  

$40 per family  

All proceeds go to Nia House! 

Click here to RSVP & learn more.

In case you didn't know, Kerstin Phillips is a certified Next Generation Yoga teacher and E-RYT 200. As a mother, Kerstin has cultivated her patient and nurturing presence. She brings these with her to every class that she teaches and loves to help new and continuing students experience something deeper.

To find out more about Kerstin's yoga instruction, visit her website:  loveandliveyoga.com

Gender Exploration & Expansion Resources

At Nia House we want to help support the healthy development of children in all aspects of life, including gender. We recognize that this is a formative time in children’s life, a time of exploration, curiosity, experimentation, and of making sense of the world around. As we embark in supporting children in their development of a healthy understanding of gender, we look to children’s stories that can expand, mirror, or introduce gender in diverse and affirming ways.

Book List Provided by:

BAY AREA RAINBOW DAY CAMP

About Chris Nina Benedetto. 2016. A young child knows he is a boy, despite the fact that he has a female body, has the strength and courage to be himself.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, Christine Baldacchino, Groundwood Books (2014). 4-7 Years old. Beautifully illustrated picture book about gender expression and how parents can help children combat the teasing that often accompanies gender expansive youth at school.

Not Every Princess, Jeffrey Bone and Lisa Bone, Magination Press (2014). Ages 5-7. A book that uses art and poetry to play with gender stereotypes. Silly and imaginative, it invites children to laugh along.

The Different Dragon, Jennifer Bryan, Two Lives Publishing (2006). Ages 2 and Up. The story of dragon Noah who doesn’t want to be fierce and happens to have two moms introduces young children to family diversity.

Be Who you Are, Jennifer Carr, AuthorHouse (2010). Ages 7 – 12. A book that helps frame the type of respectful explicit conversations we must have with our children and schools about gender identity, gender expression and social transitions. The book also discusses the process of working with counselors to help the social transition process if children transition after kindergarten. A wonderful and positive book that helps empower children about their gender expansiveness.

The drum dream girl, Margarita Engle, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015) Ages 4-8. Illustrations and rhyming text follow a girl in the 1920s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there has never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who inspired the story, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters.

10,000 Dresses Marcus Ewert and Rex Ray, Triangle Square, (2008). Ages 5-10. Despite family concerns, Bailey continues to dreams of dresses. With the help of a friend, Bailey’s wish comes true.

When Kayla was Kyle, Amy Fabrikant Avid Readers Publishing Group (2013). Ages 5 and up. A great book that discusses gender expansive children and specifically transgender children. This book is unique in discussing female to male gender transitions and handles the topic with sensitivity and kindness in order to building social inclusivity and identity safety in schools.

Artistic Expressions of Transgender Youh Tony Ferraiolo, Ferraiolo (2015).

Made by Raffi Craig Pomranz Frances. Lincoln Children’s Books (2014). Ages 5-9. As a shy boy, Raffi is a loner and teased at school until one day he discovers knitting and decides to make a scarf for his father and a cape for the prince in the school play.

Call Me Tree, Maya Gonzales, Lee & Low (2014) Gender Neutral book about the role of nature in the lives of young children. Bilingual English and Spanish. Beautifully illustrated.

Gender Now Coloring Book, Maya Gonzales, Reflection Press (2014). Coloring book about the history of gender expansive people and gender expansive youth. Empowering and respectful for children.

I am Jazz Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, Dial Press (2014). Wonderful book about the story of Jazz Jennings explaining in child centered and developmentally appropriate ways what being transgender or gender expansive means.

Jacob’s New Dress Ian and Sarah Hoffman, Albert Whitman & Company (2014). Ages 4-7 years. A wonderfully illustrated and rollickingly funny book that celebrates gender expansive children. Jacob is a boy who wants to wear a dress to school, much to the chagrin of a boy at school! Jacob has the support of his parents and a strong allies at school.

Roland Humphreys Wearing a What? Eileen Kiernan-Johnson, Huntley Rahara Press (2013). Ages 5-8. A book that helps expand gender stereotypes around gender expression. Another book about boys and dresses, and this book has colorful illustrations and fun verse.

My Princess Boy, Cheryl Kilodavis, Aladdin (2010). Ages 4-8 years old. One of the first books to celebrate princess boys who wear dresses and pink. The book provides a window of family and gender diversity and the loving support of parents and siblings of their princess boys. It continues to be treasured!

One of a Kind, Like Me / Único Como Yo by Laurin Mayeno (2016). Bilingual storybook about a very special young boy.

Truly Willa Willa Naylor and Bex Naylor (Illustrator) Willa Naylor (2016). The Story about Willa Nayor a 8 year old trans advocate from Malta, Europe. Her family’s journey of advocating for gender diversity led to the 2015 law in Malta “Gender Identity, Gender Expression & sexual Characteristics.”

Mommy, Mama and Me Leslea Newman, Carol Thompson (illustrator), Tricycle Press (2009) A board book about a typical, fun family day. (Preschool – K)

Daddy, Pappa, and Me Leslea Newman, Carol Thompson (illustrator), Tricycle Press (2009) A board book about a typical, fun family day. (Preschool – K)

All I want to be is Me, Phyllis Rothblatt MFT, CreateSpace (2011). Ages 5-7. A beautifully illustrated book that celebrates gender fluid and gender expansive youth.

The Family Book Todd Parr, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, (2003). Ages 3-8. A lighthearted book that celebrates different families. Comical illustrations make this book entertaining for a wide range of ages.

It’s Okay to Be Different Todd Parr, Little Brown Books for Young Readers (2001). Ages 3-8. A colorful, silly book that honors how we are all a little different.

In Celebration of Harvey Milk, Angela F. Luna, AuthorHouse (2011). In Celebration of Harvey Milk offers educators materials to teach about Harvey Milk in a way that honors his memory and his important contributions to our society while providing support and instructional materials that cultivate compassion and understanding for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in our communities.

What Makes a Baby Cory Silverberg, Fiona Smyth (illustrator) Triangle Square Press (2013) This modern, gender-neutral story explains how babies are made. (Preschool – 2nd grade)

King and King Linda De Haan, Stern Nijland (illustrator), Tricycle Press (2001). Ages 3-8. The traditional fairy tale is turned upside down when a young prince falls in love with another prince.

Red: A Crayon’s Story Michael Hall, Greenwillow (Harper Collins, 2015). Ages 4-8. he star of the show is Red, a blue crayon who mistakenly has a red label.

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding Sarah S. Brannan, Putnam (2008). Ages 5-8. A young girl is anxious to maintain her special relationship with in her favorite uncle who is getting married to another man.

And Tango Makes Three Jusin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Henry Cole (illustrator), Simon & Shuster (2005). Ages 5-10. The true story of two male penguins who were given an egg to care for, raise and love.

The Harvey Milk Story Kaarie Krakow & David Gardner, Two Lives Publishing (2002). Ages 7-10. This book tells the true story of the first openly gay elected official in the U.S. who was assassinate in 1978.

Parts & Hearts: A kids (& grown-ups) guide to transgender transition. Jenson J. Hillenbrand and Quinlan Omahne (Illustrator). Lulu Publishing (2016). Ages 4-8. Kid appropriate book helps readers understand transgender transition, both male to female and female to male.

Introducing Teddy: A gentle story about gender and friendship Jessica Walton and Dougal MacPherson (illustrator).  Bloomsbury (2016). Ages 3-6. A sweet and gentle story about being true to yourself and being a good friend, Introducing Teddy can also help children understand gender identity.

When Kathy Is Keith Wallace Wong, Xlibris Books (2011). Ages 4-8. An illustrated book written by a psychologist about a female to male transgender youth. Although it discusses the ftm social transition, some have criticized the often negative terms (which parents and guardians can edit out for the very young). It is a powerful book for some to see their reality reflected in pictures and text!

William’s Doll Charlotte Zolotow, Harper & Row (1985). Ages 4-8. A classic book from the classic children’s book author that challenges gender stereotypes and gender expression. Why is it so difficult for a boy to want a doll and why is it so hard to buy a doll for a boy are the central questions of the book.

More book lists and resource:

The Child's Need to Belong

We all want to belong. We want our children to belong and form long lasting friendships. And they will! On this road to belonging, there are important considerations to take into account from the vantage of the child and their needs. The way in which children navigate and meet their need for belonging looks entirely different than an adult’s. As you observe your child(ren), we invite you to suspend your adult judgements on what belonging should look like and instead contextualize your child’s behavior based on Maren Schmidt’s outline on the four basic goals of belonging.  

Maren Schmidt offers valuable insights into the unconscious motivations that direct our children’s behavior as they aspire to belong. The unconscious goals she describes are:

  • Contact
  • Power
  • Protection
  • Withdrawal

When we do harbor adverse reactions to our children’s behavior, when we feel angry, irritated, or hurt by the actions of our children, these feelings are an invitation to better understand what unconscious goal of belonging in our child is being unmet. For the reality is, our children want to cooperate, they want to opportunities to be responsible, they want to forgive and share. At times, children’s behavior will be the antithesis of behavior that we think might encourage belonging. This unruly or off-putting behavior is our window into understanding. Is our child seeking more power, protection, withdrawal, or contact?

Listen to and read up on Maren Schmidt’s insights into how we can engage our children in these four important components to a child’s sense of belonging.

Car Seat Safety - Read up.

Car seat safety is the real deal. There are so many nuances that can have serious impacts on your child’s safety in the seat that we want you to be informed about.

Did you know that as of January 1, 2017, children under 2 years of age are required to ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds OR is 40 or more inches tall.

Safe Ride 4 Kids states that three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly. Please check out this link for some of the most common mistakes when it comes to car seat safety.

The California Highway Patrol offers up to date laws and resources for proper installment. Click here for more information. 

Please check it out to ensure your child is as safe as can be! 

 

Festival of Lights 2017

On Friday, January 20th while the nation observed the changing of presidency in our country, the children of Nia House gathered to sing songs of peace, community, and to bring light to the dark night with a parade of lanterns. It was a tremendous comfort to join as community and to feel promise in the words of the children's songs:

Stand together and the people will find a way. Stand together and the people will find a way. Stand together and the people will find a way. People will find a way, I do believe.

The staff of Nia House was honored to celebrate as a community the light in each of our children and for the opportunity to put into practice Dr. Maria Montessori's vision of peace through education. 

New Year's Intentions: Children & Challenging Work

As we begin a new year, many of us have set intentions we hope to attain. Often, these intentions are aimed at making our minds grow in a new way, test the limits of our bodies, and involve some degree of discipline. Perhaps we aim to learn a new instrument or run a 10k. You know that feeling when you learn your first song or cross the finish line of your first race?! This is a feeling the children of Nia House have the opportunity to experience just about daily.  

Challenges and setting goals are a part of the daily life of the older children at Nia House.  Each day, children are emboldened to begin works that offer a challenge. I recently asked some of the older children- “What do challenges feel like?” Sophia replied, “Challenges are really tricky and sometimes it feels like I can’t finish.” Talula chimed in, “Challenges, like reading books, are hard.”

I followed up with the inquiry, “What makes a work a challenge?” Etienne said, “The pieces of the work.” Sophia added that “a challenging work sometimes will take many days.”

“Why,” I probed, “do we do challenging work?” Jun emphatically answered, “Because we like to learn about stuff.” Daphne agreed, “We need to learn.” Matiz shared, “We like them because they are hard. I like to do hard things because then I can learn them.” Etienne embellished on this idea, “They are good for your body and good for your heart.” Talula concluded, “Challenges help your brain think.”

Finally, I asked, “How do you feel when you finish a challenge?” Jun said, “I feel like I can do the whole thing.” Sophia crowed, “I feel proud.” Matiz echoed this sentiment, “It feels good. I am glad when I am done.” Etienne reflected, “You work on a challenge everyday until you finish. But you can have breaks. When you are done, you feel happy and good.” In The Discovery of the Child, Dr. Maria Montessori noticed this in children’s work, “A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline." (92)

In this reflection, children named that challenging work can be daunting, tricky, and hard. The work is relentless and requires breaks. Whether it is tracing and labeling each country of Africa or completing a book of subtraction, there is a knowing that even when it feels hard, challenges carry the benefits of learning and nurturing your being. Through work, comes a feeling of accomplishment, pride, and mastery. "The satisfaction which they find in their work has given them a grace and ease like that which comes from music." (Discovery 87)   

Though not necessarily with the same cognizance nor with the same identifiable aim, the youngest of children too are engaged in achieving goals, repeating, practicing and mastering important life skill sets- walking, climbing, cutting, or talking. The way some of the younger children go about their challenges and goals often looks a little different and can be perplexing to an adult. Montessori reflects,

The child of this age sets out to do a certain task, perhaps an absurd one to adult reasoning, but this matters not at all; he must carry out the activity to its conclusion.  There is a vital urge to completeness of action, and if the cycle of this urge is broken, it shows in deviations from normality and lack of purpose.  Much importance attaches now to this cycle of activity, which is an indirect preparation for future life.  All through life men prepare for the future indirectly, and it is remarked of those who have done something great that there has been a previous period of something worked for, not necessarily on the same line as the final work, but along some line there has been an intense effort which has given the necessary preparation of the spirit, and such effort must be fully expanded - the cycle must be completed.  Adults therefore should not interfere to stop any childish activity however absurd, so long as it is not too dangerous to life and limb! The child must carry out his cycle of activity. (Education of a New World, 45)

Montessori and the elder children of Nia House name the fruitfulness of completing their challenge. Though we may not always understand the nature of the aim, task, or challenge that the youngest of our children are undertaking, we can trust that their urge is one that will aide toward indirect preparation for life and that the sensation of completion, as Etienne poignantly described, makes one feel “happy and good”, it is a “preparation of the spirit.”  

As we support the children in realizing their challenges, aide them in setting goals, and honor their achievements, we wish everyone all the best at, in the words of Dr. Maria Montessori, finding a challenge in which “such work is fascinating, irresistible, and it raises [us] above deviations and inner conflicts… gifted with such an extraordinary power as to enable [us] to rediscover the instinct of their species in the patterns of their own individuality.” (The Secret of Childhood, 196)

 

 

 

Montessori, Maria. Discovery of the Child. Fides Publishers, 1967.

Montessori, Maria. Education of the New World. Schocken Books, 1964.

Montessori, Maria. The Secret of Childhood. Ballantine Books, 1972.

How does Nia House do the holidays?

At Nia House we recognize this time of year as a special one for many families, faiths, and customs. As the season changes, many settle into warmth, light, and celebration. At Nia House, we love to join in, honor, and investigate this season and it’s celebrations. 

Chanukah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and Christmas are all a part of the Nia House curriculum. Nia House’s approach to each holiday is academic, inquisitive, and places the celebration into a historical and contemporary context.

What, you might wonder, do we do about Santa Claus?! Since we honor a plurality of experiences and celebrations, Santa Claus falls right in place with a history, a cultural context, and an honored space in the lives of those that incorporate Santa into their holidays. Our storytelling of the Santa Claus ritual stems from the history of Saint Nicholas, “a kind and generous man who left gifts of gold in the socks of a family in need.  He was so kind and so generous that some Christian people named him a Saint- the highest honor of all!  Christian people around the world believe that Saint Nicholas, also called Santa Claus, magically delivers presents to people on Christmas each year.”  The story continues with global traditions around Christmas trees, lights, gifts and other specific Christmas rituals.

The attached article “Santa Claus: Making The Invisible Visible” by Maren Schmidt offers a unique approach to Santa Claus. Schmidt muses on who picked her coffee beans or built an airplane, thus honoring the invisible labor that brings great luxury and comfort to her life. She shares, “I see Santa Claus being all these people in the world, who strive to serve humankind, to make life more enjoyable, more comfortable, more magical.”  Maren Schmidt brings forth an interesting social economic concept during a holiday season that can be laden with materialism. No matter what holiday a family celebrates, there are people that work, sometimes invisibly, to generate comfort, enjoyment, and magic. Some of us may incorporate Santa into this holiday season, and even if we do not, we can all gather around the value Schmidt describes in a developmental framework,

As the young child enters a developmental stage of reasoning, around age six, and begins to wonder about Santa, we need to give them opportunities to work and contribute to something bigger than themselves. We need to show them how to choose to be part of the magical power of giving, service and surprise.

Thank you to the Nia House families that modeled this spirit of giving and service with donations to Standing Rock.  As Nia House recognizes the many holidays of this season, we remain committed to instilling the value of service and of caring for one another and our environment. We always strive to honor each child and family’s truth and customs and by doing so the children at Nia House become aware of multiple truths, diversity in celebration, and a rich awareness of the winter holiday season.  

Family History Project: Values & Virtues

Family History Project

Friday December 9th, Open House 4:30-5:45pm 


Values and Virtues

Value:     noun    Principles or standards of behavior

Virtue:    noun    Behavior showing high moral standards


Please join your Nia House community for an afternoon of art, tea, and appetizers anytime between 4:30-5:45pm. All are welcome! Please extend this invitation to grandparents and family members. Toddler families are welcome to participate and Preschool families are requested to. 

 This year, the children at Nia House will identify the values and virtues that strengthen, unite, and shape the way we create community. At Nia House we acknowledge that values differ across family and culture and yet commonly guide us towards shared virtues. 

 The children will make artwork that depicts the way our common values and virtues guide us on a collective path of peaceWe will explore the layers of community and the components of our character that strengthen us collectively.  

We ask that your family also reflect and participate. Please:

1)   Have a family discussion, and together choose:

a.     one value/virtue that is a strength in your family and

b.     and one value/virtue that is a challenge in your family and a goal to practice working towards.

c.   record your reflections and drop them in the Nia House mailbox. 

Here are some examples of prompts that may aide in getting the conversation started. In all of these examples, peace is the chosen virtue and can be substituted with other values/virtues such as kindness, generosity, honesty, strength, or whatever feel important to your family right now.

·      In our family, what are important things we do to help us remember to be peaceful?

·      What does our family do together that celebrates our peacefulness?

·      When are times in our family that is challenging to be peaceful?

 2)   Have your family photo taken here at Nia House during the eventWe will use the photos in a permanent Community Values Tree collage that will be displayed on our yard as a visual touchstone for unity during turbulent times. If you wont be able to make it to the event, no worries, just send in a family photo from home, so that your child can be included in the artwork.

Thank you so much for participating in this meaningful event. We look forward to sharing and learning more about one another.

 In Community,

Your Nia House Teachers

Interview with Nia House Founder, Tia Waller-Pryde

I had the honor of sitting down with Tia Waller-Pryde, Nia House’s founder, and learned how Nia House began, her vision for the school and how she believes Montessori’s approach fits into the contemporary climate of educational equity.

I worked with pre-school aged children since I was 13 and had dreamed of one day having a school of my own. In July of 1974, I was 23 years old and had just completed my M.Ed, including a specialization and certification in the Montessori method. I was on vacation in San Francisco and was encouraged by my best friend to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to find a teaching position that would allow me to stay in the Bay Area. Not only was that the beginning of my Buddhist practice, which transformed my life (and is a much longer story), but it also fulfilled my long held desire to establish a school for low-income children.
Within two weeks of my arrival in California, I met Ruth Massinga, who then headed Berkeley Children’s Services (BCS). Ruth was a social worker by profession but most importantly, she was a strong advocate for children, particularly those from underserved communities. The city of Berkeley had recently assessed the need for children’s programs and provided funding to BCS to expand existing services and create new ones. My good fortune was meeting Ruth at just the right time. She hired me to create a new pre-school in Berkeley focused on serving low and moderate-income families.
A building on Solano Avenue was already identified for the site but needed renovations to house a children’s program. With the help of the Army Corp of engineers and sound advice from Ruth, our dedicated staff and supportive parents brought Nia House into existence. The center had a sliding fee scale with many families paying $20/month for a full-day program that included a hot meal. A wonderful community of children and their families embraced our approach and began to thrive.
For me, Montessori’s approach to learning is what education in our world should be. It is an approach that builds confidence, independence, caring for self and others, and results in self-motivated learners. Children learn to respect and value every person and to understand their connectedness to others and their environment.
The opportunity for African American and Latino children from underserved communities to have early learning experiences like Nia House is critical to educational equity in our country for a number of reasons. Research on the connection between rich learning opportunities during the early years and the healthy development and future educational success of children is overwhelming. When you then consider that we live in a world where adults still make assumptions, sometimes unconsciously, about a child’s capacity to do intellectual work based on the color of their skin, it is even more important that children are strongly rooted in the knowledge of their own capacity to learn anything. And finally, I believe that if we are ever to be successful in transforming our country into a place where people from every background and experience can grow, thrive and contribute their talents to this world, we have to start by consciously creating such environments for our children.
When I created Nia House, I believed Montessori’s approach of educating the whole child applied in an environment that reflected the diversity of our country would positively impact not just the families we served but the entire community. I still do.

To see the entire Nia House News with beautiful pictures of our new preschool playground click the link below:

40+ Children's Books about Human Rights & Social Justice

by: Monisha Bajaj

An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves … the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.

— Maria Montessori, Education and Peace

Young people have an innate sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair.  Explaining the basics of human rights in age appropriate ways with stories and examples can set the foundation for a lifelong commitment to social responsibility and global citizenship. 

As a parent to a preschooler and a professor of peace and human rights education, here are my top picks for children's books that discuss important issues—and that are visually beautiful. Some of the books listed offer an overview of rights; the majority show individuals and organizations past and present who have struggled to overcome injustices. All offer different levels of child-friendly images, concepts and text. 

With my son who is 3, sometimes we will skip certain passages or pages, but introducing him to books like the ones listed below that include characters of different races, religions, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and other backgrounds at an early age will hopefully lay the foundation for deeper engagement with these texts and issues later on. Lately, he has been making tea in his play kitchen for Martin Luther King Jr. and the other day asked about Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren.

Some of these books are on our shelf at home, others we have found at the library or at friends’ houses.

What’s on your list of go-to books for talking about human rights and social justice issues with your children? Let’s keep the list growing in the comments section below!

**These books should be easily searchable, and I’ve created a book list on Amazon.com at this link with all the books mentioned in this post.

The Right to Equality & Peace

 1. We are all Born Free by Amnesty International

About the basics of human dignity as elaborated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

2. Whoever you Are by Mem Fox

About the common humanity we all share regardless of race, color, religion, nationality, gender, ability or sexual orientation

3. Can you Say Peace?  By Karen Katz

A book about how peace looks in different countries around the world and a celebration of September 21 – the date the United Nations has declared the International Day of Peace

4. A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

A colorful board book with an introduction to speaking up and acting for social change whether related to LGBTQ rights, racial justice, or sustainability.

The Right to Education

 5. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

About the landmark 1947 case fought by a Latino family to desegregate whites-only schools in California that served as a precursor to the Brown vs. Board decision in 1954.

6. Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery by Jeanette Winter

About two young advocates for educational rights who were both attacked in Pakistan—Malala Yousafzai and the lesser-known Iqbal Masih. While Iqbal didn’t survive the attack on him, Malala went on to advocate for the right to education for girls worldwide and win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

7. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles

About a young woman at the forefront of school desegregation in 1960 after the Brown vs. Board. The book shows her fortitude in enduring harassment from angry mobs to get a quality education.

8. Waiting for BiblioBurro by Monica Brown (author) and John Parra (illustrator)

Inspired by the real-life story of Luis Soriano, who started a mobile library with donkeys carrying hundreds of books over long distances for children in rural areas of Colombia.

The Right to Migrate and Seek Asylum

9. Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat (author) and Leslie Staub (illustrator)

Written by award-winning Haitian-American novelist, Edwidge Danticat, this book is about a family separated by the U.S. immigration system and how love transcends borders and orders of deportation.

10. Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

Young Pancho the Rabbit misses his father who has gone north and sets out to find him, but encounters a coyote whose help comes at a high cost. This book introduces the hardships that thousands of migrant families face.

11. Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed (authors)

About two girls who share a pair of sandals in a refugee camp for Afghans on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, offering a humanizing glimpse into life in a refugee camp.

12. Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams (author) and R. Gregory Christie (illustrator)

About the lost boys of Sudan who walked long distances for freedom, and were resettled as refugees in the U.S.

The Right to Equal Treatment based on Race, Caste or Ethnicity

13. Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

A beautifully-illustrated book about the life of South African human rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and first President of post-Apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

14.  Ambedkar: The Fight for Justice by Durgabhai Vyam

About the life of by Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a human rights activist who came from a Dalit family (formerly called “untouchable”) and became the first Law Minister of India after independence. He drafted India’s Constitution and was a leading voice against caste discrimination.

 15. Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus (Authors), andEvan Turk (Illustrator)  

A book about Mohandas Gandhi, leader of India’s freedom struggle against the British, told through the voice of his grandson. His nonviolent resistance to oppression inspired movements across the world, such as the U.S. civil rights movement.

16. If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringold

A book about Rosa Parks, an activist who led the boycott of the Montgomery bus system, in order to advance civil rights in the U.S.

17. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport (Author), Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

 & I Have a Dream (book & CD) by Bernice King (author) & Kadir Nelson (illustrator)

 & for children 12+, March, a trilogy of graphic novels by John Lewis

Books about Martin Luther King, Jr., a leader of the U.S. civil rights movement, whose vision for racial and economic justice continues to inspire social action today.

Women’s Rights & Inspiring Activists

18. Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped our History… and Our Future by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

19. Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries who Shaped History  by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

These two beautiful books offer information on a wide range of amazing women—from athletes to activists to artists to politicians—that we all should know. The U.S. book focuses on women past and present (A is for Angela Davis, Y is for Yuri Kochiyama), who have radically transformed society. The global book introduces us to many women, and also offers a long list at the end of women to explore further – great for future book reports and projects.

20. Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio (Author), LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)

After learning that a woman has never been President (written in 2012), Grace deicdes to launch her political career in a school election.

21. My Name is Gabriela/Me llamo Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral/la vida de Gabriela Mistral by Monica Brown (Author) and John Parra (Illustrator)

This book is about Gabriela Mistral, a Chilean poet and educator who was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. She worked with the League of Nations and advocated for education for all children.

LGBTQ Rights

22. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings (Authors), Shelagh McNicholas (Illustrator)

This book tells the real life story of Jazz Jennings’ experience as a transgender child. An important read about trans children and how to support them.

23. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (Authors), Henry Cole (Illustrator)

A story about two penguins, Roy and Silo, who with the help of a friendly zookeeper, welcome a baby of their own.

24. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman (Author), Kristyna Litten (Illustrator)

A colorful book celebrating LGBTQ history with a glimpse into the struggles for greater equality. The handy note to parents and caregivers offers additional ways of addressing issues of sexual orientation with young children.

The Right to Fair Working Conditions

25. Joelito’s Big Decision by Ann Berlak

This book presents the dilemma faced by 9-year old Joelito: whether to eat at his favorite restaurant when the workers are being mistreated and protesting outside.

26. ¡Si, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can!: Janitor Strike in L.A. by Diana Cohn (Author), Francisco Delgado (Illustrator)

This book tells the story of the successful janitor strike in LA through the voice of Carlitos whose mom works at night cleaning office buildings.

27. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull and Yuyi Morales

& Side by Side/Lado a Lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez by Monica Brown (author) and Joe Cepeda (illustrator)

These two books about the United Farm Workers movement led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta introduce young people to the rights of agricultural workers, and the immigrants who often toil in harsh conditions to produce the food we eat.  

Disability Rights

28. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson (Author) and Sean Qualls (Illustrator)

The real-life story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a young man from Ghana, born with a disability and, with the support of his family, attended school, became a cyclist and earned international fame for his achievements.

29. My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy by Shaila Abdullah and Aanyah Abdullah (Authors)

A book about finding friendship and unconditional love, co-written by the author’s then 10-year old daughter.

30. Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport (Author), Matt Tavares (Illustrator)

A biography about Helen Keller, a deaf and blind U.S. author and political activist who was a co-founded of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

31. Ed Roberts: Father of Disability Rights by Diana Pastora Carson (Author)

This book offers a glimpse the work and contributions of Ed Roberts, who became a quadriplegic at the age of 14 due to polio and later an effective advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

Environmental Rights

32. Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson

A book about environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner from Kenya, Wangari Maathai.

33. The Earth Book by Todd Parr

A simple board book about how we can take care of our planet and be responsible citizens of the earth.

34. Call Me Tree / Llamame Arbol & I Know the River Loves Me by Maya Christina Gonzalez (Author, Illustrator)

Two bilingual (Spanish/English) book about connecting with nature—trees and rivers—and becoming your true self.

35. One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and Elizabeth Zunon

A true story about one woman’s actions to address the waste and environmental harm caused by plastic bags.

Living Amidst Conflict/Violence: Past or Present

36. Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine (Author) and Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

A story about a young enslaved boy who doesn’t know his birthday and goes on a quest for freedom.

37. Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family's Experience in a Japanese American Internment Camp by Katie Yamasaki

About two Japanese-American boys living in an internment camp after the U.S. went to war with Japan.

38. The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco  

About the friendship of two girls that forms as one’s family is hiding in the other’s house from the Nazis during World War II in France.

39. Chachaji's Cup by Uma Krishnaswami (Author) and Soumya Sitaraman (Illustrator)

A story about a boy’s relationship with his great uncle who has lived through the violent partition of India and Pakistan. There is also a note at the end with information about the partition.

40.  The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter (Author)

A true story about a woman’s fight to save her community’s thousands of books from violence and war.

Foodies: This Auction is for YOU!

food·ie: (noun, informal) a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.

State Bird Provisions has donated priority reservations for two to Nia House's auction coming up this Saturday, October 29th. Our own Nia House parent, Emily Thelin, freelance writer and contributor to The Chronicle’s Food+Home, wrote a review on this creative restaurant in San Francisco's Fillmore neighborhood. Check out her article here. (Thanks to Wylie for scoring this donation!)

Emily Thelin has also made a donation to the auction! You can have your very own cooking lesson with a trained professional chef!

For five years during and after college Emily worked as a professional chef: as a commis chef (kitchen lackey) in London, a private chef in France, and as a line cook in Washington, DC. In Washington she cooked at The Morrison Clark Inn, Citronelle and Obelisk, which Gourmet Magazine listed as one of the nation’s 50 best restaurants while she was there. emilythelin.com

The deliciousness keeps going... From our own community, we have homemade bread by Ben, a cooking lesson & home-cooked Indian dinner with Kabir's Grandma, wood fire pizza with the Ridolfi's, Katy's pies, and so much more!  

While the auction items are entirely savory, the dinner, cocktails, and desserts to be enjoyed at the event are not to missed. Come enjoy handmade cocktails, tamales, homemade flan, Nate's salsa and more! We are so excited to see you all on Saturday, October 29th from 5-8pm at Sam's Log Cabin. 

Nia House's Auction Items are Online!

Want a peek into this year's AMAZING auction items?! You can. 

Have you donated to RSVP for the event?! Get to it.

This year's Parents' Night Out is going to be happening- live latin jazz from Cuband, artisanal cocktails, friends new and old, and delicious food from tamales to Nate's salsa! For now, you can peruse some of the auction items to get a feel for what we've got. More items are forthcoming including some surprises provided by your fellow parents. By Friday night, October 21st, you will be able to start bidding online!

Chickens

...For the physical life it is necessary to have the child exposed to the vivifying forces of nature, it is also necessary for his physical life to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of living nature. The method for arriving at this end is to set the child at agricultural labor, guiding her to the cultivation of plants and animals, and so to the intelligent contemplation of nature.

-Maria Montessori

Thank you to the Bishas (Lucy) and Thelins (Avidel), two new toddler families, that have agreed to contribute one weekend hour each month to tend to our chickens!

We need just two more families to make a commitment in order to move forward with the chicken plan. Who is in?

Contact stacey@niahouse.org if you would like to help.

  

A Peek into Preschool South

A room in which all the children move about usefully, intelligently, and voluntarily, without committing any rough or rude act, would seem to me a classroom very well disciplined indeed.

Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method

It was a treat to spend the morning in Preschool South. Here is a tiny snippet of their morning work period. I truly value that in a Montessori classroom children have the opportunity to meet their needs. It is apparent in this video that children experience freedom, the opportunity to concentrate, to learn from one another, and make independent choices. Maria Montessori shares,

Our educational aim with very young children must be to aid the spontaneous development of the mental, spiritual, and physical personality and not to make of the child a cultured individual in the commonly accepted sense of the term. …And herein lies the art of the educator; in knowing how to measure the action by which to help the young child’s personality to develop.

Throughout my observation in Preschool South, I watched as teachers, Steph and Ayako, followed the impulses and interests of the children. The teachers prepared the classroom materials, which in their design allow the children to learn through auto-education. There were certainly moments that the teachers offered a bit of instruction, social guidance, comfort, and acknowledgement of work well done. Yet, it was beautiful and inspiring to observe a space where children move freely, confidently, and very happily! 

10 Things We Learned While Backpacking With Young Children (and You Won't Believe #3!)

We have always loved backpacking, that is hiking into a wilderness destination with gear for the night. And we didn’t want to give it up once we became parents. Although backpacking with babies or toddlers presented some real logistical challenges, we loved the remote mountain experiences enough to try to make it work.

And so, over the last few years, we have backpacked with our two kids (at various ages 4 months - 4 years) about 12 times.  But let's start right here with our first free piece of advice: if you haven't been backpacking before, we don’t advise trying it for the first time with young children.That said, it's never too late to learn!

Interested in giving backpacking with kids a shot? Here are some things we’ve learned.

10. Finding the right destination is paramount. We look for destinations, often in the Sierras, that are relatively low elevation (less than 6,000 feet), involve a mile or two hike to a water body, and offer some shade. We do short trips -- one or two nights.

9. Camplife is fun for kids. Your children will be fascinated by camp activities like setting up a tent, cooking over a camp stove, collecting water, and hanging up a bearbag. Encourage your children to participate in camp activities in safe, age-appropriate ways.  

8. Keep everyone warm or you won’t sleep, because they won’t. For the first year of their life, bundle ‘em up with layers and in a sleep sack and warm hat. Once they outgrow a sleep sack, though, it’s time to bring them a sleeping bag. We procrastinated taking this step, and have some painful memories of sleepless nights with one baby.  

7. Lakes or rivers mean children have fun AND you survive! You’ll need water to drink (purify first, please!) and cook with, but water also means kids can splash and swim.

6. The real secret to success is NO EXPECTATIONS! Forget about schedules and naps, forget about bedtimes and routines, this is the Great Outdoors! Once you release those expectations, you’ll breathe in that piney air much easier and learn to go with the flow.

5. Well, there are some things you can expect and should prepare for. Expect owies, meltdowns, and filthy, excited kids. Pack carefully and make sure you have the right gear. We’re happy to consult on backpacks, kid carrying packs, first aid kits, food, shoes, tents, etc etc etc.

4. Channel your inner sherpa, or get a friend to help out. Ben generally carries about 80% of the family’s gear in a massive pack while Katy carries the youngest child and whatever we can stuff in that bag. Katy carried one child up until they turned 3 in a framed child carrying backpack. However, it is definitely easier if there other hearty adults to join you and carry some gear.  

3. You may even get a moment of adult time (and sleep better than you do at home). It’s true: we've had some great experiences where the kids run around in the tent for 10 minutes, pass out and sleep until the sun is fully blasting in the morning. On those nights we get to sit out, sip some whiskey, and watch the stars. But, yeah. We've also had more than a few nights where they take forever to settle down, only to wake up every 20 minutes. Back to those expectations...

2. Your kid can probably hike more than you think. Our kids started hiking short distances around age 2. We have found that telling stories, setting short term goals (Rock throwing at the next lake! Snack at the top of the hill!) is key to keeping our 4 year old moving along. A backpack with water bottle inside--Camelback or Platypus, for example--empower your child by giving them control. Promises of campfire s’mores certainly don’t hurt, either.  

1. It is absolutely worth it!! It’s a joy to see children interacting with their natural environment in such a different way, to see them run free in the woods, scramble up a rock, and touch snow in the summer. If you value being in the wilderness, you'll enjoy getting out there with your kids, too.

Trust us. It’s worth it.  

-Katy Love and Ben Gerhardstein 

Get Child Size Tools & Toys

Looking for holiday gifts or birthday presents for children?!

Check out for small hands

Buying with for small hands benefits Nia House. 

Inspired by Maria Montessori, for small hands, creates tools and toys designed for children- their size and to meet their needs. They have many beautiful and affordable gifts, ranging from cooking tools, art supplies, games, books, toys and more.  Browse the catalogue to see if there are gifts for your little loved ones. Place your order with Nia House and the school can earn between 10-15% of your order. Here's how:

Order with Nia House before Tuesday, October 18th: Your merchandise will be shipped to Nia House. A Group Order over $500 will yield 15% for Nia House and will get free shipping! Stop by the office for an order form and catalogue. 

Please email Kerstin with any questions: kerstin@niahouse.org

Thank you for supporting Nia House! 

Music in Community

Dear Nia House Community,

sara on guitar

For those of you who value music making and are looking for more ways to integrate music in your life and your family, I wanted to let you know about a great resource.

East Bay Community Music Project offers FREE gatherings bi monthly on 2nd and 4th Sunday mornings. Facilitated by Music Together teachers and others, parents and kids and teachers and everyone come together to sing, play, dance and create music together in community.

Sadie and I often attend, and its really fun and a great way to connect.

Check website for location and details: (no need to pre-register- just show up! its a potluck) 

East Bay Community Music Project

If you have any more questions about this or any other ways to connect your family and your child to music, I am happy to be a resource. I'm a K-5 music teacher in Oakland Unified, and have been teaching general  music and also drum circles and drumming classes for 18 years.

Musically yours,

Yari Mander

Father of Sadie  (pre-school North)

K-5 music teacher 

Visit Yari's Website: Heart of Rhythm

Thank you, Yari, for bringing your music to the teachers and children of Nia House!

If you missed Yari singing with the teachers of Nia House, here is a clip.

Parent Meeting Tonight

We look forward to gathering as a community tonight for our first Parent Meeting of the year. Tonight we will introduce the Ground Rules for Creating Community at Nia House. Topics of grace and courtesy and introducing Montessori in the home will be covered. Tonight will also be a wonderful chance to meet the parents of your children's dear friends.

As a reminder, the meeting begins at 7pm. Childcare is full. If you need childcare at future Parent Meetings, please contact the office a day or two before the meeting. 

See you soon! 

 

New School Year on a Brand New Yard!

A heartfelt thank you to the Lemire family for donating their time, expertise, and love to Nia House's yard transformation. The community is overjoyed, especially the children! The yard changes include new picnic tables in the quiet area, poured rubber around the climbing structures, a bigger sand box, boulders for climbing and jumping, grass, and more! Enjoy this sneak peek in the preschool's first day of school. 

We look forward to a wonderful year!