Summer 'Homework/Funwork'

So often as the school year winds down parents will ask what they should be doing over the summer to be sure their child is ready for…..the new school year, Kindergarten, whatever their next step is.

This article sums up 90% of my advice……read, read, read….to your children!

There are two other things I also emphasize.

1.      Get outside and run, swim, play ball, and give your child as much freedom outside as possible, without your telling him/her what to do and how to do it, but send them outside!

2.      Enjoy time together!  Think of the warm memories you have of fishing, wandering in the woods, going to the swimming pool, and lying on the ground looking at the stars on a summer night with your parents. Summer schedules are usually more relaxed.  Relax with your children.


Million Word Gap
(from Exchange Everyday, May 13, 2019)
Writing on the Ohio State website, Jeff Grabmeier reports that:

“Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to, a new study found.

This ‘million word gap’ could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development, said Jessica Logan, lead author of the study and assistant professor of educational studies at The Ohio State University.

Even kids who are read only one book a day will hear about 290,000 more words by age 5 than those who don’t regularly read books with a parent or caregiver.”

And, in an Exchange article, "Supporting Parents in Guiding Early Language and Literacy Development" (which is the foundation for an Out of the Box Training Kit), author Bisa Batten Lewis provides these developmentally appropriate strategies for supporting infants’ language and literacy learning that can be shared with families:

  • Read to baby 3-5 times per day

  • Allowing baby to engage in reading with you (e.g. point, turn pages, and so on)

  • Actively talking with baby, with eye contact, about food, daily routines, outdoors, signs, pictures, books, and print in the environment

  • Singing songs, such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

  • Performing finger plays, such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”

  • Reciting nursery rhymes

  • Talking to baby about family photos

  • Listening to music with baby

  • Making sounds with baby using instruments or household objects

  • Making writing materials available for scribbling

Source: “A ‘million word gap’ for children who aren’t read to at home,” by Jeff Grabmeier, April 4, 2019,

Parent Volunteer Survey

Dear Parents: 

On behalf of the Saint Stephen’s Preschool Parents’ Council, we would like to offer a sincere thank you to current Saint Stephen's’ Preschool families for a banner year so far and extend a warm welcome to the families that are preparing to join us for the 2019-2020 school year. It has been our distinct pleasure to serve as your Parents' Council (PC) co-presidents the past two years! We would like to take this time now to introduce you to the new co-presidents for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, Kate Batten and Kari Hyman. 

Parents like you are critical to the continued success of the SSP Parents’ Council. By volunteering together, we build a stronger and more vibrant St. Stephen’s community that enhances the pre-school experience for our children. Opportunities to volunteer are plentiful and varied. By completing the volunteer survey here, you can help Kate and Kari understand how you would like to engage with the SSP Parents’ Council in the coming years. 

Warm regards, 

Julia Ayscue & Mary Douglas Rice
Co-Presidents, SSP Parents’ Council 



SPIRIT DAY IS TOMORROW!  It’s a tradition to have the school-wide parade on Spirit Day.  Wear your classroom colors or St. Stephen’s t-shirt to celebrate the day.


Should  you wish to purchase a St. Stephen’s t-shirt, they are located in the table near the playground doors.  Shirts are $12 for solid and $15 for tie-dye shirts.  Purchases support the various efforts of Parents’ Council. Checks payable to Parents’ Council.


NO SCHOOL FRIDAY APRIL 12 – CONFERENCE DAY   Contact Kay if you have not received a SignUp Genius or contact your teacher to arrange a time.


GOOD FRIDAY – APRIL 19  Early Dismissal All CLASSES. Orange and Purple pick up at 11:15 am. Carpool for all other classes 11:20-11:30 am. This is to accommodate the noon Good Friday service at the church.



Current statements are in your child’s tote in the outside pocket or have been mailed.  Those who do not have a balance will not receive a statement.  The camp fees will be invoiced next month.



It’s just around the corner. Sign up now for summer camp. The theme will be Water and more details to follow in May.

The Orange Room camp is full!
The 5-day and Purple student camps still have space.

Spring Schedule Reminders

With the first week of spring comes the reminder that we are on a fast slide to summer. 

For those of you who are interested there are still some spaces in summer camp at St. Stephen’s.  Camp begins June 3 and continues on Mondays through Thursdays for all ages until June 13.

Our spring schedule is full: 

                April 1 & 2 – Spring holiday, school closed

                April 4 – Orange room Th/F - Class meets

                April 5 – Orange room M/T – Class meets

                April 9 – Parent Teacher Conference Day – Orange M/T and Purple 2 – Parents only

                April 11 – Spirit Night – 5:30 - 7:30 pm at the Westwood Club – Please make reservations!

                April 12 – Parent Teacher Conferences, Parent’s Only. Child Care Available
– Orange W, Th/F, Purple 3 and 4, Red room, 5 Day –   Parents only

NEW!!! April 19 – Good Friday – Dismissal at 11:30 am for all students

                April 22 – Easter Monday – School closed

                April 24 – Purple 2 day class meets, (No Purple 3 class)

                April 24 – Regular Purple class schedule resumes

                May 1 – Teeny, Tiny Farm visits 9:30-11:30

                May 16 – Field Games – FUNdraising Lunch Bunch – 12:00-2:00 pm

                May 17 – Last Day for Lunch Bunch and Extended Day

                May 23 – Last day of school - End of the Year Program for Red Room and 5 day classes, 11 am

                May 24 – School Closed

                June 3-6 – First week of Summer Camp

                June 10-13 - Second week of Summer Camp


Each child, in his or her own way, contributed to our kindness jar, which he and she filled to overflowing. Today we gathered on the playground to celebrate with bubbles, the full jar and the hundreds of acts of kindness.

Some children offered to help a friend if the friend didn’t know how to do something; some gave a friend a kind word, and some invited a friend to join their work. Some helped at home and were thoughtful with their siblings.

There’s an old saying that if we do something regularly for three weeks, we develop a habit.  It is our hope that the children who attend St. Stephen’s Preschool will continue keeping the habit of kindness in the forefront of their thinking.

As the book we read today at the outdoor bubble party, Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, said, “Maybe I can only do small things. But my small things might join small things other people do. And, together, they could grow into something big.  Something really big.  So big that all our kindnesses spill out of our school and spread throughout the town…travel across the country…and go all the way…around the world.  Right back to Tanisha and me.  So we can be kind.  Again. And again. And again.”

We celebrate a job well done and an indwelling kindness.  Congratulations to all of the children!


The children in the Red Room have had a wonderful time celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday during the last week before spring break. We’ve read The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and  One Fish, Two, Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish then followed up with related activities.

Using red and white unifex cubes, the children made Cat in the Hat towers, emphasizing patterning,  With red and white paint the children could choose to make Cat in the Hat like hats with alternating stripes. 

Another activity included sorting colored gold fish.  Making individual fish bowls with colored fish helped with color identification, counting, and sorting. Yet another was counting goldfish and putting them into fish bowls labeled with numbers 1-6.

The children discovered that they could make green “eggs” by mixing blue and yellow finger paint together. Perhaps the tastiest  activity of the week was eating the marshmallow, green pudding, vanilla wafer and pink frosting tower treats that the children made to resemble the Cat in the Hat’s hat.

The children used their fine motor skills at the sensory table to scoop rice from the sensory table into individual cupcake liners inside of a cupcake tin.  They could even  add candles. The happy birthday song in honor of Sr. Seuss filled our classroom for days!

With the advent of spring, with its March winds and warmth, weather, spring and growing will soon become the work of the new season. 

Remember, we’ll be wearing Green on the first day back after the break to signify the luck of the Irish sure to come if we do.

Blanche and Eleanor

Marion Chenault to retire at the end of the school year

Marion Chenault, who has served as director of St. Stephen's Preschool since 2001, has announced her plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year.

"Marion's love of children and her expertise in their nurture and care are well known," said the Rev. Gary D. Jones, the rector of St. Stephen's Church.

"Although Marion rightly points out that the church's preschool is great because of its teachers and families, the fact is that Marion is the one who attracted such fabulous teachers and families. Caring for children and helping them to grow up thriving, with joy and wonder, are central to the mission of St. Stephen's Church, and we are all grateful for Marion's expert guidance."  

Marion is highly regarded among early childhood educators, and during her tenure, the preschool received national accreditation.

Prior to joining St. Stephen's Preschool, Marion was the director of Richmond Child Development Center's Ellwood House, which she co-founded in 1982.

The Randolph-Macon Woman's College graduate founded Educational Associates, a tutoring agency, in 1976 and taught middle school science for seven years before that. Marion and her husband Cabell, who have two adult children and two grandchildren, are active members of St. Stephen's. Marion volunteers for the church and has served on the boards of other schools in the area. 

Marion said, "It has been my privilege and my joy to spend the last eighteen and a half years as director of St. Stephen's Preschool. I have loved my roles as mentor to scores of teachers, sounding board to parents, and teacher to the children who have come to St. Stephen's Preschool. It is time, however, to change my focus and pass along this wonderful school to new leadership." 

 Acting on Marion's expert advice, the rector has called Jan Locher to serve as director beginning with the 2019-20 academic year. Jan, who is employed by Henrico County Public Schools at Maybeury Elementary School, is a former St. Stephen's Preschool teacher who was mentored by Marion. She and her family are also active members of St. Stephen's Church, where Jan has served as lead catechist in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the spiritual formation program St. Stephen's uses with young children. Jan and her husband Mike's own children attended the preschool.

"I feel so honored to follow Marion Chenault in this role," said Jan. "She is a great leader and has had such an influence in our community. I was fortunate enough to work with her for several years and am excited to re-join St. Stephen's Preschool. My passion is learning side-by-side with the children I teach. Staying curious and mindful of the present is so important in our daily learning, and children help remind us of this effortlessly."  

St. Stephen’s Church will honor and thank Marion during a celebration on the evening Wednesday, May 1 (details TBA).

The church and the school’s Parents’ Council will host a meet-and-greet to introduce Jan to current and prospective parents and students on Tuesday, March 19, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. No RSVP is needed. This event will take place in the Lounge, located on the first floor near the May Fair House.

By Popular Demand: 2.5 to 3 year old Purple Classrooms

Once again this year the applications to St. Stephen’s Preschool have exceeded the spaces our traditional classes can accommodate. We have the good fortune to have a classroom that can shift to create a space for a class where the demand is greatest. 

In 2018-2019 that classroom has been used as a Toddler classroom for children who want to come either three or four days.  For 2019-2020 we will be doing the same thing.  If your child is a Toddler, between 2.5 and 3 years old on September 1, 2019 he/she will have options.

We are now offering the choice to all children who currently have a Toddler 3 day contract, as well as those children on our Toddler 3 day wait list, the opportunity to come to St. Stephen’s either three or four days a week.  Let us know your preferences for number of days and for coming to St. Stephen’s as soon as possible. 

We’re excited to be able to accommodate those of you who want to come to St. Stephen’s and were on the wait list, as well as those of you who were prefer a four day Toddler class.  We’re grateful for the enthusiasm to attend St. Stephen’s Preschool.

Summer Camp Save the Date!

summer camp.jpg

It seems too cold and wet to be thinking of summer, but we’re already making preparations!  All of the children currently in the preschool are invited to attend one of the super fun summer camps our staff are planning.

The dates are June 3 through June 13, Monday through Thursday, from 9:00 until 12:00 noon.  Even the Orange Room (Toddler Morning Out) students will have the opportunity to join their classmates for this eight days of fun. 

Flyers and registration forms will go out before our March 11th spring break, so mark your calendars now for these two weeks of fun and exploration at St. Stephen’s Summer Camp.