Nia House Prepares for the Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21st, North America will experience a solar eclipse. Here at Nia House, we are ready to experience an 80% eclipsed sun. Darlene, from The Center for Science Education at UC Berkeley, presented to the Nia House preschoolers today. She demonstrated, with the help of the children, how an eclipse is possible. According to her, during the time of the eclipse it will feel like the sun is setting, the sky will darken and it will get chilly between 9am-noon. Ask your children to share more, they learned all about it!  

We will be all set to see the 80% eclipsed sun with glasses designed for safe solar viewing. We encourage you to learn more and talk about this exciting event as a family. 

Visit NASA for more information.

Donation Matching- Ask your employer!

Hi Nia House Community. You can possibly double Nia House donations!

Did you know that the company you work for might match donations that you make to Nia House? It is true! Matching gifts are corporate giving programs that reward employees’ charitable donations. Please check with your HR department or employee handbook to find out if your company participates. 

Parents' Night Out, our largest annual fundraiser, is coming up soon- Saturday, September 23rd.

Silent Auction items are rolling in and they are amazing! Items that you bid on and win count as a donation to Nia House and can be matched by your employer. You may be able to multiply the effect your generosity has on Nia House simply with awareness of your employer’s policies.

Here is a link to some common corporations that match. Many many are unlisted so ask to be sure. 

Look into it and let us know! Thank you so much for your support.

Thank you & Good luck, Raul

Nia House thanks Raul for his year of teaching at Nia House. We are so grateful for the humor, calm, and guidance that he has offered the children and his teaching team. Raul will be missed and we wish him only good things.

Raul will be leaving Nia House on Friday, July 21st. We will let the children know on Monday, July 17th. Please join in thanking Raul and wishing him well. 

Here is a note from Raul:

Dear school community, next Friday, July 21st will be my last day working as a full-time Nia House teacher. Thank you for including me in the school community. From my daughter Sofia’s time as a NH student, through my work as a staff person, I have enjoyed working with all of you and especially your children. I am so proud of my personal development here at NH and thank you for the opportunity to grow along side of your children. I am sadly leaving NH for personal reasons, but as alumni family and alumni staff member, I will always keep in touch.

Old Friends

Below are all the children that will be moving on from Nia House in fall (some sooner). These beautiful faces and beings are cherished members of the Nia House community. 

We look forward to sending them off with love and celebration at the Goodbye Party on Friday, August 25th.  

Election Results

I'd like to begin by honoring the amazing candidates in this year's elections. Not only does each and every candidate bring a unique and impressive skill set, they bring forth a sincere dedication to Nia House. On behalf of the entire community, thank you for your commitment to service and to upholding the mission of Nia House. 

Meet your Nia House Board of Directors for 2017-2018!

Parent Representatives

  • Jeff Vincent
  • Katy Love
  • Loris Mattox
  • Monica Parran  

Staff Representative

  • Nicole Dixon

Community Representatives

  • Alex Savidge

  • Aleishall Girard Maxon

Time to Vote

The children at Nia House recently took the time to nominate names and cast votes for our chick. The name Fluff won!

It is now your turn, parent community, to cast your votes for the Nia House Board of Directors. 

Vote on Wednesday (tomorrow), June 14th from 7:30am-5pm. 

For information on your candidates and to cast your vote, click on the voting guide below. 

Thank you for supporting Nia House!

Berkeley Bowl Scrip Raises Money for Nia House

There's an easy way to raise money for Nia House without any cost to yourself. It's the Berkeley Bowl gift card program - or scrip, as they call it. The Bowl gives $4 to Nia House for every $100 you spend there using their gift cards. It's pretty awesome. 

It's easy:

The way it works is that you tell me how many cards you want. Just email me (Carol Ness, Djuna's mom) at or and tell me how many you want. Each card is $100, so you can buy one, two, three etc. Then when you shop, they work just like any gift card at checkout.  You can just buy then when you need them, or set up a regular amount per month.

You can pay by check to Nia House and note "Berkeley Bowl" on the check. Or you can do bill pay from your bank. Then email me and I'll get the cards to you within a few days.

GETTING YOUR CARDS: I’ll leave them in the office. They're setting up a dedicated box for pickups.     


Parents who have been doing this for the past couple of years have bought around $2,000 a month worth of cards. That’s $80 a month for Nia House — or almost $1,000 a year. The more the merrier!


Yes! It’s the store’s way of giving back to non-profits in the community - schools, churches, etc.


Just email me or flag me down at school.


Race, Gender and Spiritual Preparation of the Teacher

Components of children’s development of identity includes gender and race. Nia House teachers and staff spent a Tuesday evening meeting unpacking the interplay of gender and race as a social construct and delving into the role we as educators play in children’s identity development.

We began by generating a list of stereotypes associated with gender, notions of what it means to be a “boy” or “girl”. The list looked as you might suspect- boys were classified as physical, math-minded, and tough while girls were emotional, meek, and care-takers. Together we reflected on what opportunities a child might miss out on if we subscribed solely to these social constructs. Next, we considered the roles implicit biases, or our automatic and unconscious motivators of how we treat people, play in the way we interact with and structure the school experiences of Nia House children.

Often, the opportunities, commentary, or praise offered to young children reinforces gender stereotypes. Girls are noticed for their clothing and boys are encouraged with sayings like “big boy” for doing physical tasks. When a child gets hurt, girls might be gently nurtured and boys supported for brushing it off. The list goes on and on. So, the Nia House staff asked the important question- What can we do (or do we do already) in our school community to ensure that each child has access to the full range of human characteristics?

Here is some of what the Nia House staff came up with:

·       Clothing for all. Children at Nia House can choose from clothing bins that are open for all children and whatever choice they make is accepted.

·       We refer to children as “friend” or “children” instead of as “boy” or “girl.”

·       Children sit with mixed ages and genders at lunch.

·       Bathrooms for all.

·       Works are open for all children: dolls, purse, baby washing, care of environment- folding, cleaning, gardening, building etc.

·       There are opportunities for leadership and care-taking for all children.

·       Objective observations are made for all the children.

o   Instead of saying, “What pretty red shoes.” We might say,“I see your red shoes, they look ready for running.”

o   Rather than say “What a big boy you are,” We will offer, “I see you are being very helpful by carrying that lunchbox.”

The truth is, offering children access to the full range of human characteristics seems to come very naturally to the Nia House teaching team. Yet, implicit bias is unavoidable. We are guided by the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori who tells us,

“The real preparation for education is a study of one’s self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character, it is a preparation of the spirit.” (The Absorbent Mind)

Montessori implored us to be spiritually prepared as educators. In the current contemporary educational climate we understand this preparation to include self-study on our implicit biases related to gender, class, race, and other identity markers.

At Nia House, we take Montessori to heart and find her teachings poignant in an educational climate where implicit bias is apparent and school success resolutely linked to gender and race. Yale University Child Study Center conducted a study in September of 2016 titled, Do Early Educators’ Implicit Biases Regarding Sex and Race Relate to Behavior Expectations and Recommendations of Preschool Expulsions and Suspensions? The answer to this question- yes.

“…boys in general, were endorsed as requiring the most attention by 76% of early education staff (52% more than expected by chance alone), consistent with research showing that boys (regardless of race) are at greater risk for classroom removal. Regardless of the nature of the underlying biases, the tendency to observe more closely classroom behaviors based on the sex and race of the child may contribute to greater levels of identification of challenging behaviors with Black preschoolers and especially Black boys, which perhaps contributes to the documented sex and race disparities in preschool expulsions and suspensions.”

Berkeley is not immune to this trend. In 2014-2015, Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) looked squarely at the disproportionate rate of suspension, expulsion and special education placement of students based on race and gender. In that year, 477 students were suspended in Berkeley grades K-12. Of these 477 students, 323 were African American. Yet, African American students make up only 17% of the student population in BUSD. The Daily Californian reports that “Berkeley Unified School District and other organizations are working on programs that explore alternatives to suspending students, such as behavioral support and counseling.” Thankfully, the efforts of Berkeley Unified are working with suspensions on a rapid decline. Efforts including Restorative Justice, family engagement, self-esteem and healthy relationship development were all cited as efforts impacting the decline in suspensions. While Nia House supports these efforts whole-heartedly, we also take very seriously the work of self-study, acknowledging implicit bias of the teacher and educational institution.

Gender and race identity are forming in the lives of Nia House children. Also included in this staff meeting was a quick look at a fascinating CNN study which attempted to understand race relations from a child’s vantage. Though complex in analysis, this video highlights the grave nature of race identity and relations from children’s perspectives.

Though no one is immune to implicit bias, the Nia House teachers and staff are committed to an education of equity and this includes access to empowerment and expression within the full range of human characteristics. Children’s greatest obstacles towards the aim of empowerment and positive identity development just might come in the form of the teacher! Montessori writes, “The teacher’s happy task is…removing the obstacles, beginning first with those which she herself is likely to present (for the teacher can be the greatest obstacle of all).” (Discovery of the Child) The teachers and staff at Nia House exercise great humility, self-awareness, and commitment to Dr. Maria Montessori and to social justice for all the children in our care- indeed, we recognize this as our ongoing work of self-study and spiritual preparation.  

Our team hard at work:

Baby Moss leads our staff meeting:

Celebrate Bike to School Day with Nia House!

Thursday, May 11th is Bike to School Day

Here are two fun ways you can participate:

Nia House is an Energizer Station.

Bike to school!

We'll have goodie bags from Bike East Bay, Acme bread/toppings. and Highwire Coffee, plus, special for Nia student cyclists, frozen melon balls! 

Join the evening Kidical Mass bike ride from Nia House to San Pablo Park. 


We'll leave at 5:15 pm and bike as a group to the playground at the south end of the park, where we'll have a picnic dinner. 

Please RSVP to me ( for the ride (or just the picnic). The more merrier!

We'll be joined by the owner of the Spokes Family Bike Collective. He will bring along several kid bikes for children to try at the park!

Show your Nia House pride by wearing a new Nia House shirt for the event. On sale in the office. 

Looking forward to a great Bike to School Day!

Yard Sale Success!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone that came out to the Nia House Yard Sale on Saturday! 

Parent community- You are amazing! Thank you to all that pitched in. Your help made the event a success.

Alum and friends of Nia House- it really warms our hearts to have you return and to see your children grow.

Community at larger- thank you for buying our stuff!

This year the Yard Sale raised $7,000.  

If you missed the chance to purchase our new Nia House t-shirts, swing by the office to get yours. Each shirt is $20.

Let's continue to show our Nia House love!

Raffle Extraordinaire!

If you haven't already gotten your 5 books of raffle tickets to sell to friends and family, please come by the office. You don't want anyone you know missing out on the chance to win these amazing prizes! Further, if each family sells 5 books, it will raise over $7,000 for Nia House

Here is a list of the winnings to be had on Saturday, May 6th at our Yard Sale! Thank you so much to all of our local donors. 

11:30 Drawing

GRAND PRIZE - "SUPER SCIENCE" Bay Area Discovery Museum - 2 x family pass Lawrence Hall of Science - family pass Lindsay Wildlife Experience - four tickets CuriOdyssey - Three Month Season Pass ($298 value)

Berkeley Symphony - Two Tickets ($96.00 value)

East Bay Nursery - Gift Certificate ($30.00 value)

Rain or Shine - Gift Certificate ($25.00 value)

Pet Food Express - Gift Certficate ($25.00 value)

Shotgun Players - Two Tickets ($70.00 value)

Pegasus Books - Gift Certificate ($15.00 value)

Habitot - Family Guest Pass ($45.00 value)


12:30 Drawing

GRAND PRIZE -"DATE NIGHT" California Jazz Conservatory -two summer season passesBeach Blanket Babylon - two tickets ($1000 value)

Alma Acupuncture - Gift Certificate ($135.00 value)

Gaumenkitzel - Gift Certificate ($30.00 value)

Oakland Ballet - Two Tickets ($100 value)

La Mediterranee - Gift Certificate ($25.00 value)

Arbonne Gift Bag ($105 value)

San Francisco Symphony - Two Tickets ($230 value)

Books Inc. - Gift Certificate ($20.00 value)


1:30 Drawing

GRAND PRIZE - "FAMILY FUN" Albany Bowl - bowling party for 10 people Oakland Ice Center - family fun pack Brushstrokes Studio - five passesHappy Hollow Park & Zoo - four passes ($350 value)

The Golden Skate - Gift certificate for five people ($65.00 value)

Takara Sake USA - Tasting for two ($20.00 value)

Takara Sake USA - Tasting for two ($20.00 value)

Builders Bookstore - Gift certificate ($20.00 value)

San Francisco Zoo - Two Tickets ($38.00 value)

Ruby's Garden - Gift certificate ($25.00 value)

Pier 39 - Family Fun Pack ($313 value)

Berkeley YMCA - One Month Membership ($64.00 value)




Thank you, Serah!

Nia House has been graced with Serah as a teacher at Nia House since 2011. We have been blessed to know her as a parent to Nehla, as an amazing alternative baker, a songstress, a seamstress, a linguist, and a love of a teacher. To her colleagues she is both friend and family. We will miss Serah and are grateful to have been a part of her path. Good luck and thank you. 

Emergency Preparedness

In case you missed Nia House's emergency planning parent meeting, or would like online access to some of the very useful forms/resources supplied- this blog is for you! 

City of Berkeley Emergency Services: Find all the information you need on supply kits, gas shut-off, community resources, family emergency planning and more.

Emergency Preparedness Apps for Smart Phones

Become a Disaster Healthcare Volunteer

American Red Cross Family Disaster Plan Form

Nia House's Emergency Plan

Thank you to Rachel and the City of Berkeley for helping Nia House to reflect upon and refine our emergency preparedness plan. Please use these resources to get your family prepared. 

Make Nia House an Energizer Station

Our Nia House community should be proud! We have so many committed bike commuters. Bike to Work Day or Bike to School Day has a standing history of celebration here at Nia House. Eve declares it her favorite holiday! On this celebratory day, the children count with tally-marks the bikers that pass by, play instruments and pass out baked treats (Nia House style- sugar free, gluten free, vegan and somewhat palatable) to those that pass by. 

This year, we have the exciting opportunity to be a legit, on the map, pass out bags and goodies, Energizer Station. Alas, to make this happen, we are going to need your help. Here is a great opportunity to get some parent hours and participate in a really meaningful, earth affirming, and healthy living event. 

We need help staffing the Energizer Station on Thursday, May 11th.

Any early birds out there? Can you set up at 7am? We need folks to greet bikers and hang out between 7:30-9:30. Sign up in the office.

Bike East Bay also needs someone to attend a Bag Stuffing at Sports Basement Berkeley on May 4 or 5 for two hours. Details coming soon. For more information on Bike to Work/School Day click here.  



Play Makes Perfect

julian's work.jpg

Has your child ever played Nia House at home? The parents of Julian recently shared some pictures of Julian’s Nia House work at home.

Julian has been asking his parents for trays at home. With these trays, paper, markers, and his amazing memory, Julian has replicated math works from his Nia House classroom.

Though Julian is able to replicate specific works from his classroom, he is also demonstrating the internalization of order that comes from a Montessori learning environment.

Julian started Nia House at 18 months and is now nearing his fifth birthday. For the past 40 months, Julian has encountered organization in his learning environment. Trays in our Montessori classrooms, from the toddlers through the preschool, come prepared with all the items necessary to complete the given task. Every tray encountered accompanies a presentation. The organization is replicable and predictable. Though the materials change, the systems stay the same.   

When Julian asks for a tray, his mind assembles all the required items to effectively execute his math operations. In these pictures, we see Julian arranged the materials from left to right, in the order he needs to use them. Every tray is modeled in this precise way. “These movements are arranged into precise sequences. Children learn… to engage in precise sequences of actions on classroom materials.” (Lillard 301)

Julian’s repetition with the materials has made him not only able to act with mastery on the classroom materials, but also recreate them- precisely! Maria Montessori writes, “Repetition is the secret of perfection…” 

It is a joy to see Julian practice, play, master, and perfect his work at Nia House!

Lillard, Angeline Stoll. Montessori The Science Behind the Genius. Oxford University Press, 2005

Montessori, Maria. The Montessori Method. Schocken Books Inc., 1964.

Your spring cleaning can support Nia House.

As you clean through your closets, under your bed, and into your garage this Spring, think of Nia House. 

Nia House's Spring Fun Raising Yard Sale is on Saturday, May 6th.

Nia House will happily accept your household donations from clothing, toys, furniture, and equipment.

Donations should be bagged in plastic bags (in case it should rain) and stored in area through the fence to the right of the preschool Quiet Area. More sizable and costly donations will be advertised in advance on Craiglist. We will begin accepting donations in April and will let you know weekend drop off hours too. 

Rachel Newman (Stella’s mom) will coordinate this effort. Please email with a picture and description of the items by April 28, 2017. 

Thank you for your support of this fun for the whole family event.

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


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:

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:


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.