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November Director Notes

October 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The weather definitely feels like fall, early winter outside! We are heading into November looking forward to watching for signs of winter with the children and enjoying memory making moments with the holidays approaching. Here are a few quick updates and reminders to keep in mind.

Label, Label, Label

Please be sure to bring in weather appropriate gear that is labeled. Snowpants, mittens, hats and boots allow children to comfortably experience all that our Michigan fall/winter season has to offer. Unfortunately, more gear means more opportunities for things to get dropped, misplaced or lost. If you label your child’s belongings it helps teachers get items back to where they belong. Imagine having 42 mittens to track! Labeling can save the day.

Signing In and Out

Please remember to take the time to sign in and out each day. This is a licensing requirement and it is important for safety purposes. Teachers need to know who is coming and going from the classroom, playground, or cubby areas (school-age) at all times. When you pick up or drop off, be sure to document it on the appropriate clip board and communicate with the teacher. Thank you!

No Public School Days

We have two days in November when the Ann Arbor Public Schools will be closed; November 5th and 27th. We are able to care for your school-aged child(ren) during those days. Just stop up at the front desk, call or e-mail us your care needs. We have lots of fun activities planned!

Cell Phones

Respectfully we ask that you please end your cell phone calls before you enter the classroom or playground. Often your child is excited for your attention so they can share with you their experiences that day. Teachers also want to feel like they can approach you to talk about your child. Feel free to finish your conversations in the lobby area.

Contracts for 2014

Contracts will be in mailboxes early next week and are due back Monday, December 2nd. If we haven’t heard otherwise, we will assume that you will be keeping your current schedule and continuing on with us through the next year. Please communicate any changes you may have for your child’s care needs as soon as possible. Thank you.

Closed for Thanksgiving

Just a reminder that we will be closed November 28 and 29 for the Thanksgiving holiday. Safe travels and many memory making moments to you all!

All the best,



October Director Reminders and Updates

September 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Happy 10th Anniversary Gretchen’s House – Dhu Varren!

We are excited to celebrate our 1oth Anniversary on October 1st. We have happily served 944 families and cared for over 1300 children during this ten-year stretch. I, Jinell Warson and Karen Clark have been at the Dhu Varren center since it opened in 2003. Many staff have made their mark at our Dhu Varren center and then transferred and/or were promoted through the years to other GH centers.

Please join us in our celebration.  We will share delicious apples from Gretchen Preston’s home as well as donuts and cider at pick up time on Tuesday, October 1st. We are excited to start our journey into the next decade of caring for children and families here at Dhu Varren.

Curriculum Night

We have had our Pond Wing Curriculum Night and our Railroad/Farm Wing Curriculum Night will be October 3rd. I was able to share a video clip that has been very well received called Get Ready for School. Many parents and teachers found it to be very interesting as it focuses on the foundational skills children need to be ready for formal learning in a typical school setting. Here is the link to the video as well as the notes:

Get Ready For School video notes

Teachers have been so excited to have you visit their classrooms and to have the opportunity to walk you through our HighScope Curriculum approach. It is important for you to know their intentional teaching strategies and practices as they care for your child each day.

Fall and Halloween

We are looking ahead to plans for Halloween, and we wanted to clarify our Fall activities with all of you. As with other times of the year, we will focus on children’s interests and age-appropriate activities that promote healthy social interactions. We know some children may be hearing about Halloween from older siblings. We anticipate that they may be interested in more storytelling and books about the fall season as well as the many foods that they have helped in harvesting from their field trips and gardens at home.  We will make sure our book areas are enriched with various types of stories and incorporate more imagination storytelling and posting of those stories.

We will not organize a parade or have a “Halloween party” or celebrate Halloween in the way that you may remember from elementary school. In the past, we have incorporated costumes and parties into our plans, and we have found the activities to be inconsistent with our philosophy. The abstract concepts of Halloween are lost on many children. After they experience the event at home, then they have a more concrete idea of what Halloween is all about.

We invite your child to bring in their costume after Halloween to enhance the dramatic play that naturally happens in our room, if they would like to do so. We will not have a formal “dress-up time,” but children may show their friends their costume and play with it during our work time. Keep in mind that other children may hope to try your child’s costume with him or her, so you should only send the costume if it can be shared during dramatic play. If you are at all concerned about not ripping the costume or getting paint on it or if the costume is too elaborate to play in, or if the costume is particularly scary, please do not send it in with your child. The children are encouraged to run, jump, climb, explore and paint while at Gretchen’s House and it can be difficult to undertake these tasks while worrying about not getting dirty or ruining a special costume. Thanks in advance for considering all of this!

Finally, because we serve many children with food allergies, we want to remind everyone not to send in candy and other treats. Thank you for your understanding and please let us know if you have any questions.


Director Updates and Reminders

September 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Fall brings a lot of exciting changes to our center. We have returning families and new families joining our classrooms. Here are a few things we need you to know or be reminded of regarding health and safety at Gretchen’s House.


Recently we noticed that many children are finishing their breakfast from home as they arrive at the center. It is important that all food from home be eaten before your child comes in the door. This matters not only because of the many children attending with food allergies, but also it shows respect to the other children who may find what your child is eating desirable.

Snacks at pick up time can also be a problem. Please be sure to offer your child their afternoon snack after you are out of the building. Finally, please do not store the snacks intended for pick up in your child’s back pack or cubby. We have found some ‘sneaky cubby munchers’ that just couldn’t wait!

Parking Lot

It is dangerous:

–          To leave your car running unattended in the parking lot

–          To leave children in the car unattended (car running or not)

–          To allow your child to ride in the car without a properly installed cars seat or booster in the back seat of the vehicle


The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has stated that if they are patrolling parking lots and see any of the above scenarios, they will ticket the driver.

Local authorities have also reported incidents of thieves targeting child care centers. They break into cars to steal purses, lap tops, etc. when parents are dropping off their children. There have been instances where children were in the car when the robbery happened. In some cases, where older children were involved, the police asked the child to describe the thief! That is scary. We want everyone to be safe.

Contracted Times

Upon enrollment, families choose their contracted times to have their child(ren) at the center. This 9 ½ hour time frame aids us in determining the teachers’ schedules. We need to maintain safe ratios that allows us to provide the quality care you should expect from Gretchen’s House. If there is an occasional situation that requires you to deviate from that schedule, please let the teacher know so we can make adjustments as necessary for that day.

Emergency Cards and Health Insurance info

Many of you have already filled out the new Emergency Cards required by the state of Michigan. Thank you. One of the things that they omitted on the new card that is still required for us to have is the Health Insurance Number. We are asking parents to bring a copy of their card to the front desk so we can make a quick copy. If you haven’t filled out the new Emergency Card or provided us the insurance card, please do so by the end of the month.

Thank you for partnering with us in our mission to keep children healthy and safe.



Director Updates and Notes

July 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Thank You!

I would like to thank all of the families for your understanding and great response during our power outage last week! It was a difficult situation without phones, AC and a timeline for restoration during our hottest week of the summer. The teachers and I really appreciated how supportive everyone was during this time and how quickly parents, grandparents and family friends responded and came to pick up the children. Because we didn’t have phones, teachers used their personal cell phones to update everyone. Moving forward, I would like to ask you to respect the teachers privacy and not contact them on their cell phones. Thank you.

Contract Reminder

As part of the contract process, parents are asked to choose a 9 1/2 hour time frame for your child(ren) to attend. We base our staffing on your schedule so we can always be within the required staff-to-child ratio. We want to avoid having families go over this time frame on a regular basis. It makes for a really long day for your child and can be a scramble for the staff to cover the classroom. We know things come up, so please let us know if there will be a time you need to exceed your contracted time. Often we can tweak things to accommodate a special circumstance. We appreciate your support in helping us provide quality care for you child.

Fire Safety DVDs

We were able to sell 50 DVDs and provide the Ann Arbor Fire Department with a check for $50. The Garden Preschool classroom took a field trip to the Fire Station and presented it to the fire fighters themselves. They were very appreciative of the support. We have more available if you are interested in purchasing one. See Jinell at the front desk.


Director Notes

April 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

I would like to share a few reminders and updates with families.


Month of the Young Child

It has been a really fun month so far. Teachers have felt very appreciated by families. The kind cards, gifts and puzzle pieces have really helped to make them feel special. Also, this past week we had a successful parent breakfast and children seemed to enjoy their popsicles and special books to take home. We have things to look forward to as well. A special visitor/author, Anita Adhikary will be coming to read “Y is for Yoga” with our Preschool and Young Fives classrooms. They will also be trying out some of the Yoga moves! If you are interested in finding out more about Anita’s book, here is a flyer she shared with us.YforYoga. Parents will receive a gift from the center and their child and a Washtenaw Dairy coupon will be given to all the children for a free kids cone.

Cell Phone Use

We are encouraging all parents to finish their cell phone calls before they enter the buidling and/or child’s classroom. Teachers want to share with you information about your child’s day and the classroom happenings. Finishing your phone calls before you enter the room will allow for better communication. Thank you.

Fire Safety DVDs

They are still available at the front desk. Get your copy today for only $5. Remember a $1 for every DVD sold with go the Ann Arbor Fire Department. We are hoping that all families have a chance to review fire safety procedures and the Ann Arbor Fire Department can benefit as well!


Director Notes…

March 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

MOYC – Month of the Young Child

April is the official Month of the Young Child (MOYC) and each year we celebrate all aspects of Early Childhood. We focus on the community, parents, our teachers, and as always the children.

Attached you will find a calendar that highlights planned activities involving the whole center. Your classroom teachers will continue to blog and post fun things going on in individual classrooms. We have listed ways that parents can be involved this month on the attached Parent Activity handout. We invite you to join us in the celebration of honoring our young children and their impact on us and our community.MOYC Calendar Parent Activities

The Parent Advisory Group (PAG) representatives at Dhu Varren will be providing information and ideas on how you can let your child’s teacher know you appreciate them. Watch for e-mails I will be passing on for them in the near future.

If you have any questions or suggestions I would love to hear them.

Reach Out and Read

Boxes have arrived! Please bring your new or gently used books for donation to this great program. They will use the books for reading in doctor’s offices in lower income areas. New books will be given to children during their visit.

Fire Safety DVDs

We have a wonderful 8 minute DVD available for families that reviews important fire safety instructions for the home. They are only $5 each and the Ann Arbor Fire Department will receive $1 for every one we sell. Help keep your family safe while supporting our local fire fighters! See Laura or Jinell at the front desk. We are happy to add it to your tuition bill if you don’t have cash on hand.

Rotate Your Pantry Thank you

Thank you to everyone who donated to our local food bank and neighbor, Food Gatherers. All donations were really appreciated.

Free Parenting Series

We already have a wonderful turnout for our April Parenting series located here at Dhu Varren. Child care is available for children preschool age and older. The response has been great, but there are still a couple slots left. Information is attached parenting_flyer 2013 and the link to resgister is

Thank you!


Director Notes…

March 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

We have finally had some sunny days where you can really feel the warmth of the sun! It is encouraging for all of us who are anxious for spring to arrive. I have some updates and reminders to share with you.

Rotate Your Food Event

Gretchen’s House is participating in the Food Gatherers annual food drive, Rotate Your Food. This is a great time of year to go through your pantry and rotate your food items. The box will be in  our lobby from March 12 – 23.  If you would like a list of other places that are collecting items just click on this link for a complete list of participants,

Reach Out and Read

Gretchen’s House will be participating in the Reach Out and Read program, collecting new or gently used books. Reach Out and Read is a non-profit organization that promotes literacy in young children, ages 6 mos-5 yrs. This kind of intervention has been shown to improve literacy and language skills for children upon entering kindergarten. This program serves more than 4 million children annually. Many of the recipient locations are in low-income areas and the books children are given are often their first books. Volunteers also use the donated books to read to children in waiting rooms of local doctor’s offices. The new books that are donated are used by doctors to give to children during their well-child visits. Watch for more information to come!

Courtesy Call

Just a reminder to please call if your child is going to be absent from the center. Teachers are concerned when children are not here by their typical time each day. Often they will hold off starting an activity or going on a walk until they know all of the children have arrived. We understand that sometimes parents may forget, so please don’t be surprised if someone from the center calls or sends an e-mail checking to see if everything is okay.

April is the Month of the Young Child

Next month we will be celebrating the official Month of the Young Child (MOYC). We will be highlighting how young children can make a difference by participating in the community outreach projects, celebrating parents, staff, and as always the children! Please watch for the calendar of events that will be taking place as well communication from the DhuVarren Parent Advisory Representatives regarding ideas on how you can let the teachers know they are appreciated!

Thank you!




Notes from the Director

February 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Snow Delay and Power Outage Reflections

I want to thank all of the parents and staff for their patience as we worked through a strange week last week that included a delayed opening and a power outage. I want you to know that we do not take delayed openings or closing of the center lightly. We try to make the best decision based on all the information available at the time.

The hotline is typically the best way to gather information when the Ann Arbor Public Schools have anounced a school closing. When Ann Arbor Public Schools close we default into delayed opening status. We will update the hotline by 9:00 once it is dertmined whether we will open or close based on the current forecast and conditions of the roads.

When something unusual happens like a power outage, typically you will receive a phone call from your child’s teacher letting you know the situation. We had some confusion with this process this time. Part of the issue was that some contact numbers were not up to date, so we weren’t able to contact everyone. We also discovered that because parents didn’t recognize incoming phone numbers, several didn’t answer their phones or check their voicemail and missed the information. To be sure you receive the information you need, please check to see if your contact numbers are current at the front desk.

Valentine’s Day – Just another day?

Many of us have fond memories of elementary school Valentine’s Day parties and celebrations. The majority of the Ann Arbor Public Schools still celebrate with cards and parties. For the young children in our programs, Valentine’s Day is a very abstract concept. They are just learning about feelings of love and friendships. The idea of writing their name on a card 2o or 30 times would not be a developmentally appropriate expectation and mom and dad typically end up finishing the task!

Our approach to Valentine’s Day will be in line with our philosophy for all curriculum; meet the needs and interest of the children. Teachers will be tuned in to see if children are interested in making cards, writing names and talking about friendships. We will not have a formal party or an exchange of cards, but we will have new and interesting materials available for children who want to create pictures, cards and other creations.

Like most things with young children, the interest may surface more after the big day. Often children receive cards and treats from relatives or hear about their siblings big day in school. So don’t be surprised if you find treasures in your mailbox for days to come. If you have any questions, feel free to talk with your child’s teacher or contact me.

Routines of the Day

Since time is a very abstract concept for young children, consistent routines help children feel safe and comfortable. Routines help children know what comes next;  it is their way of telling time. Teachers will often use routines of the day to help children know when something is going to occur, “Once you wake up from nap and have snack, dad will pick you up.” Bedtime and morning routines provide a framework at home for children to have a sense of boundaries and safety.

Our classrooms have predictable routines that help children have a sense of their day. Toddler, preschool and young 5s classrooms spend time as a large group and also have many opportunities for children to be in small groups with their caregivers. Each time of the day provides different opportunities for social interactions and ways to use classroom and outdoor materials.

Whatever your routine, we encourage you to keep it as consistent as possible. When children arrive at the same time each day, it helps them to have a sense of comfort and feel more in control to start their day at the center. Talk with your teacher if you have concerns about your routine and drop off time.




Director’s Notes and Updates

November 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

It is a busy time of year–so many fun events and deadlines to keep in mind as the end of the year approaches! Below are a few updates, reminders and a list of dates for our holiday parties.

Contract Time

Please be sure to turn in your contracts by November 30. If you anticipate changes that the contract does not reflect, be sure to stop by the front desk to talk to Jinell or me so we can make the necessary changes. Please also let us know if your child will not be returning at the first of the year. Thank you!

Community Outreach

Dhu Varren will be “adopting” some children who are in need of basic items this holiday season. We were approached by a staff from Guadior Academy concerned   that they have many children in need. Gaudior Academy is a diverse Public School Academy (charter school) authorized by Eastern Michigan University and located in Romulus. They serve pre-K through 8th grade. Wish list items will be posted in each wing for families to choose an item they might like to donate. Each child is in need of a jacket. Families could certainly combine efforts/resources to purchase a coat for a child.

Parent Conferences and ASQ

A special thank you to all of the parents who committed time and  effort to do the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3)! The  information was very insightful and made our fall parent-teacher  conferences meaningful as we set goals together. If you have not had a chance to fill out the questionnaire and/or haven’t scheduled your fall conference, please contact your child’s teacher.

Holiday Parties

Each wing will be hosting a holiday gathering in December. We invite you to take some time out of your busy day and join your child for some fun here at the center. We will have many hands on activities for the children to enjoy, refreshments, family photo opportunities and a guitarist who will entertain us with some familiar songs.  Mark your calendars for the following dates:

  • Farm Wing – December 12 from 4:15 – 6
  • Railroad Wing – December 17 from 4:15 – 6
  • Pond Wing - December 18 from 4:15 – 6

Thank You,


Reminders and Updates

November 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

October has been such a fun month! We have appreciated all of the great participation in our center Potlucks. So many wonderful dishes were shared and it was nice to have another opportunity for teachers and parents to talk one another.

Our cow got a make over this month. That was an interesting process to watch. She went from a chipped up Bessie, to a ‘ghost’ cow then finally to bright and shiney Bessie. The children seemed to really enjoy watching her transformation. They were definitely ready climb back on her and slide down her new pink nose!

5 Star Center

You may have heard that the the State of Michigan has started an initiative, Great Start to Quality, which will require all licensed centers and family care homes to be evaluated on required criteria and observed using a research based tool. At the end of this process each individaul center is given a star rating 1 – 5. Our center just completed the rigorous process and we are officially a 5 star center!  We are very proud of our teaching staff and thankful for our administrative support for maintaining such a great, quality program.The list of centers and their ratings is scheduled to go public at the end of Decmeber.

ASQ – 3

Parents, if you haven’t already, please be sure to fill out the Ages and Stages Questionnaire on your child. One of the criteria for our 5 star rating is that we have a screening tool in place for our children. This tool helps us to get a baseline on the children in our care. We really want the people who know children best to fill this out – you! You are our best window into your child’s development. Our goal is to have all the questionnaires completed no later than November 15. You can print off the appropriate form (based on your child’s age) on the link below, answer the questions and then go back on line enter your information and sumbmit it.

Teacher will be watching for your completed forms so they can schedule a follow up conference with you to set goals for the year. Please let your child’s teacher know if you are having any problems filling the form out. We would be happy to support you in any way we can. If you do not fill one out by November 15, then your child’s teacher will fill one out on your child.

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