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From the Director

March 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As we settle into March after this difficult winter, signs of spring are on the horizon! I have a few reminders and thanks yous to share with everyone!

Many Thanks

– To our parents who have been so patient with our delays and closings during this challenging winter– thank you, thank you. I have been with Gretchen’s House for 21 years and have not experienced so many weather-related concerns! Our primary goal is to care for your children so you can get to work and that is still foremost in our minds as we have had to make these hard decisions. As a licensed center we cannot operate unless we have enough staff to care for children. Thank you for your support to help us be the best we can be as we experience together the adventure that is Michigan!

– To our staff who day after day of ‘white knuckle’ driving have come in to work bringing a positive attitude to the children and families we care for at Gretchen’s House.

– To everyone who is supporting our teacher with a serious health concern. Teachers have provided their personal time and resources to plan the Spaghetti dinner, donated days off and reached out to the community for support for the silent auction. Parents have purchased tickets to the dinner and offered to help in many, many different ways. How amazing people are when they come together out of care and support.

Spring Thaw Reminder

We know how important it is to get children outside experiencing the outdoors and breathing fresh air everyday. As the snow melts, we will have a very wet and eventually very muddy playground. The reality is that we will all be dealing with wet outdoor clothes for the next few months. Taller rain boots might be more appropriate than snow boots as we make this transition. Waterproof gloves and snow pants will help delay the inevitable.

Please, please, please send in extra clothes for your child. Remember to label their articles of clothing. As teachers juggle the wardrobe changes, we can get return your items and minimize confusion if they are labeled. We will have some Gretchen’s House back up clothes available too. If your child borrows GH clothes, please be sure to return them promptly so that other children have access to these items as well.

After Hours Child Care/Babysitting

Gretchen’s House policy has always been that teachers are welcome to provide care for Gretchen’s House families after hours, off site as long as it does not interfere with their responsibilities in the classroom. If you need to contact a staff person for child care, please do not call them at the center. This interrupts the care for the children in our programs. There is a Babysitting List available in the lobby that provides contact information for teachers for after hour arrangements.

Sign In and Out

Please be sure to take the time to sign your child in and sign them out. Every classroom has a sign in and out clipboard. It is a requirement from licensing that parents sign their children in and out of the center. Clocks have been conveniently placed to make it easier for you to document the time.

This is a place where we might post important messages. At the February Parent Advisory meeting, it was requested that we post the possibility of inclement weather on the sign in and out sheet as another means of communication. In the summer, if insect repellant is used, we notify you on the sign in and out clip board as well.

Have a great week,



Exploring Snow Indoors

February 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Pond infants and toddlers have been exploring snow indoors while it has been too cold to get outside. We used our hands and some children even chose to put on gloves. Other children even chose to use theirs mouths to discover more about this cold and icy object!

— Melissa

December Updates and Reminders from the Director

December 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

As we wrap up the end of the year and move into the holiday season, I wanted to share with you some community outreach opportunities and other thoughts and reminders.

Community Outreach

We will be collecting items for both Food Gatherers and Mott Children’s Hospital. Both organizations are in need this time of year of supplies. Attached are lists of items they have requested. I will be delivering these items during the week of December 16th. Food Gatherers Donation List Motts Wishlist Holiday2013

Comfort Items

Many children have a special blanket, pacifier, stuffed animal, or other type of ‘lovey’ to help comfort them during the day. At Gretchen’s House we welcome these items because we know how important it is for children to feel comforted. Often these items help children self regulate their bodies when they are tired, anxious, sad, etc. If you bring these items in with your child, we will allow your child to have them as needed. Typically these items will serve their purpose in calming, comforting, soothing and then they are put aside as children move through their day. Research shows that a very low percentage of children go to college with a pacifier! So please don’t worry too much if your child is relying on comfort objects to get through parts of their early childhood experiences. As they grow and learn more coping strategies, these items will eventually fall to the wayside.

Parent Conferences

Teachers are excited to talk with you about your child’s experiences and interests at Gretchen’s House. This is a great time for you to share some of the goals you have for your child and let us know what you are seeing in your home setting. We really want to partner with you and make sure we are on the same page as we support your child through this key developmental time. Look for the sign up sheets in your child’s classroom.

Holiday Parties

Please join us in an afternoon of fun activities, sing a longs and refreshments as we celebrate the holidays as a GH community. The dates are as follows:

Pond Wing = Monday, December 16 from 4:30 – 5:45

*Farm Wing = Wednesday, December 18 from 4:30 – 5:45

Railroad Wing and *School-age = Thursday, December 19 from 4:30 – 5:45

Gretchen’s House Holiday Closing

Just a reminder that we will be closed from December 23 – January 1. We will re-open on Thursday, January 2nd. If you could please confirm with your child’s teacher if you plan to bring your child on January 2nd and 3rd, that would be extremely helpful. Since these are popular days for teachers to request the days off, we want to be sure to have enough regular staff coverage and not too many substitutes working those days. Thank you.

A message from you GH Dhu Varren PAG

The holiday season is upon us, and we would like to show our appreciation to the staff for the love, care and joy they have given to our children over the year. The Parent Advisory Group is organizing an opportunity for parents to contribute to a group gift for the teachers. With your contributions, we will purchase Target gift cards for presentation to each staff member at their holiday party.

Please note, this is voluntary and some parents may choose to recognize the teachers in another way. However, there are several staff who work “behind the scenes.” and by coordinating our efforts in this way, we can make sure all of the staff receive acknowledgement at the holidays. In addition, we know that we’re getting staff something they can really use, and it’s convenient for us. The more of us who participate, the better!

Please put your cash or check (payable to Gretchen’s House) into the marked envelopes located at the front desk.

We need to collect all contributions by Wednesday, December 18th.

If you have any questions, please email Stacey, Michelle or Christina using the addresses below. Thank you in advance for your generosity – the staff will certainly appreciate it!

Happy Holidays,

Parent Advisory Group Representatives

Stacey Noel (Farm Wing):

Christina Cort (Railroad Wing):

Michelle Precourt Debbink (Pond Wing)

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.


Pond I/T Reminders for the week of September 23rd.

September 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Hello Families,

Below you will find the reminders for the week of September 23-27th.

Monday, September 23rd:  Tammy Holley will be here at Gretchen’s House for some large muscle activities with the toddlers.  She will be here at 9:00am and 9:30am.

Tuesday, September 24th:  We will be having our annual Curriculum Night for parents.  Please come and join us!  Also, Gretchen’s House will be holding a Flu Shot Clinic.

Wednesday, September 25th:  We will be having a tornado drill in the afternoon.

Friday, September 27th:  Katie will be off today.

Have a great week!

Pond I/T staff

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.



Pond I/T Reminders for the week of September 9th.

September 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Hello Families,

Below are the reminders for the week of September 9-13:

Monday, September 9th: Katy will be attending an orientation for the morning portion of the day.  She will return to the center around 1:30pm.

Tuesday, September 10th:  Katy will be attending the second half of orientation in the morning.  She will return to the center around 1:30pm.

Thursday, September 12th: Tammy Holley will be here for some large muscle activities with the toddlers.  She will be here at 9:00am and 9:30am.

Friday, September 13th:  We will be having a fire drill in the morning.

Have a great week!

Pond I/T Staff

Pond Infant and Toddlers: Curriculum Night

September 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Hello families,

Curriculum night focuses on providing families with information regarding the High Scope curriculum. This year, it will be held on Tuesday, September 24 in your child’s classroom.

If you plan to attend, please sign up on the sheet in your child’s classroom! We will keep you posted as we have more information!

Thank you and have a great weekend!


Pond I/T Head Teacher

Pond Wing: Summer Fun!

August 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Hello families,

As the summers end is nearing, the transitioning children have all been getting settled into their new classrooms! In the meantime, the children have spent time outside soaking up all the summer sun they can. The have spent time caring for gardens, exploring mud kitchens, engaging in water play, and done a little relaxing outside as well.

We hope you enjoy the photos below. As always, feel free to visit Snapfish to check out each classrooms recent photos!

Thank you!

Key Developmental Indicators include but are not limited to: participating in group routines, children fill and empty – put in and take out, experiencing one-one correspondence, building relationships with children and adults, children understand the importance of taking care of their environment

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