Preschool Profile: Novato Parents Nursery School

April 4, 2011

Novato Parents Nursery SchoolFor our latest preschool profile, we asked Novato Parents Nursery School (NPNS), a cooperative preschool that's been going strong in Marin since 1968, to tell us what they're all about and what kind of experience they offer for both children and parents. If you're the kind of parent who wants hands-on involvement in your child's early education, then this may very well be the school for you! Check out their open house on Saturday, May 14 from 10 am-11:30 am.

Novato Parents Nursery School is located at 1473 South Novato Boulevard in Novato. Contact the school at (415) 897-4498 or visit them online at

Please describe your school's educational philosophy.

NPNS’ philosophy is based on a complete acceptance of each child and on the practice of Positive Discipline. We aim to enhance child empowerment and self-esteem. We follow each child's cognitive, motor and emotional development through these formative years. We make sure each child has an enriching first-school experience that leaves him or her well prepared for kindergarten and eager to meet life’s further adventures.

Combating Nature Deficit Disorder

April 2, 2011

girl in natureMarin Mommies is pleased to present a guest article by Ally Kushin, Camp Director for Coastal Camp at Headlands Institute. She discusses the increasing problem of nature deficit disorder and highlights local opportunities to connect children to the natural world. Ally has worked in the field of environmental education for the past 9 years as a naturalist, park ranger, and camp director.

In 2005 the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv popularized the term “nature deficit disorder.” In it, he refers to the trend of children spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral, social, and medical problems. Louv claims that causes for the phenomenon include parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the “lure of the screen,” referring to increasing electronic media consumption.

Children who spend more time in nature are known to develop increased concentration, memory, and self discipline. The latest research has established amazing connections between the amount of time spent in nature to everything from better grades to increased immunity to germs to stronger bones.

Win a Week at Pyramid Gymnastics Summer Camp in Corte Madera

March 30, 2011

Pyramid Gymnastics CampGymnastics is not only great for coordination and balance, but it's a lot of fun, too, which may explain why it's a popular summer camp activity. Pyramid in Corte Madera, Marin's oldest gymnastics club,offers weekly morning and afternoon intensive summer camp sessions for boys and girls starting June 13. The Pyramid summer camps introduce kids to real gymnastics, where they'll receive instruction on the six Olympic events for men and the four Olympic events for women. Campers have plenty of opportunities to develop their coordination, strength, flexibility, and balance in a safe and fun environment.

Pyramid offers morning and afternoon sessions, depending on age. The morning summer camps offers five weekly sessions that run Monday–Thursday from 10 am–noon for children six year of age and older. The cost for the morning summer camps are $120 per session. The afternoon summer camps are for children in pre-k through sixth grade and are held Monday–Friday; pre-k and kindergarten camps are from 2:45–3:30 pm, kindergarten–second grade from 3:30–4:15 pm, first–fourth grade from 4:15–5:15 pm, and third–sixth grade from 5:15-6:15 pm. The cost is $65–$75 per session.

Moving to Marin: Can You Get It All for Less than a Million Dollars?

March 30, 2011

Calumet Park neighborhood San AnselmoThinking of moving to Marin? The Marin County real estate experts at SF North, a team of Alain Pinel agents suggest some great neighborhoods to consider in this guest article.

Many of the prospective home buyers we meet these days are couples from San Francisco who are moving to Marin because they have young children or will be having kids soon. They’re attracted to the area because of the schools, sun, access to nature, and community, but they’re often concerned about commute distance to the city and many are working with a budget that limits their choices somewhat, because let’s face it—even after the price correction of the last few years homes in Marin County are not cheap.

When we begin working with new clients it’s useful to ask them to create a top ten list of the features and characteristics they want in a home. Here’s a pretty typical example of what we see from buyers lately looking for a three bedroom, in no particular order:

Book of the Week: Astro the Steller Sea Lion

March 29, 2011

Astro: The Steller Sea LionLocal Marin author Jeanne Walker Harvey chronicles the adventures of a wayward sea lion pup in her book Astro: The Steller Sea Lion (32 pages, SylvanDell, 2010). Astro is the true story of a lost sea lion pup who was rescued and cared for by Marin's own Marine Mammal Center, located in the Marin Headlands near Sausalito. Astro is nursed back to health and then released back into the wild—twice. It soon becomes apparent that Astro is more used to humans than other pinnipeds, and can't be released to the ocean. Don't worry, there's a happy ending for everyone!

Kids will love the heartwarming tale of poor lost Astro, and budding marine biologists will relish the detail spent in describing what goes on behind the scenes at the Marine Mammal Center. Illustrator Shennen Bersani's vibrant illustrations feature some landscapes that will be familiar to Marin readers, and kids should have fun seeing some familiar places in the book. Speaking of familiar places, if you haven't been to the Marine Mammal Center, it's well worth a visit. (It's free, too.) Get the scoop on how and when to visit here.

Spend a Fantastic Year with Frog and Toad at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage

March 28, 2011

Bird from A Year with Frog and ToadFans of Arnold Lobel's classic series of Frog and Toad books will be charmed and entranced by Bay Area Children's Theatre's production of A Year with Frog and Toad. Even if you're not familiar with the adventures of the titular amphibian duo, you'll still enjoy this fun-filled live musical that chronicles the adventures of the best friends Frog and Toad.

A Year with Frog and Toad plays on weekends at 2 pm through April 17 at the Freight and Salvage coffeehouse on Addison Street in downtown Berkeley, and it's well worth the short drive from Marin. Our family took in a performance on opening weekend, and had one of our best children's theater experiences ever!

Charlie Cromer and William O'Neill are a delight in the roles of Frog and Toad, respectively, and the cast of supporting characters is expertly handled by Elana Cowen, Rebecca Pingree, and Reggie White, all of whom tackle the multiple roles of birds, moles, a turtle, a mouse, and more. White, in particular, just about steals the show as the enthusiastic but slow-moving snail who gives a literal read on the term "snail mail".

Marin Summer Camp Fair Coming Next Thursday

March 25, 2011

Summer camp kidsAre you still not quite sure which summer camps are right for your kids? Do you have lots of questions, but don’t have the time to contact each camp? Then don’t miss the free Marin Summer Camp Fair on Thursday, March 31, 2011 from 4:30–7:30 pm at Dominican University of California. Over 100 of the top local summer day camps for preschool, elementary, middle, and high school students will be on hand to present their offerings and answer your questions.

Some of this year’s participating camps include Camp Doodles, Camp Galileo, Studio 4 Art, Marin Theatre Company, Marin Treks, Tutu, and TGA of the North Bay. There will also be several popular residential (sleep-away) camps represented, too. The Marin Camp Fair is a community event managed by the Dominican University Athletic Department as a service to Marin County families and camps.

Congratulations to Our San Francisco Ballet Coppélia Winner!

March 24, 2011

CoppeliaCongratulations to Beth from Novato, the winner of our two tickets to the SF Ballet's Coppélia! With choreography be the legendary George Balanchine and a melodious score by 19th-century French composer Leo Délibes, Coppélia tells the enchanting and humorous story of the young couple Swanilda and Franz, whose courtship goes awry when Franz falls for a life-like dancing doll created by mysterious inventor Dr. Coppelius.

Many thanks to San Francisco Ballet for their generous sponsorship of this giveaway. To find out more about the production and order tickets, visit or call (415) 865-2000. Performances take place at the War Memorial Opera House, located at 301 Grove Street (at Van Ness Avenue), in San Francisco's Civic Center area.

Photo: San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine's Coppélia. © Erik Tomassen. (Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust)

A Year with Frog and Toad Opens Saturday at Freight & Salvage

March 23, 2011

A Year with Frog and ToadSome of our favorite children's books are those in the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. You and your children can see Lobel's beloved amphibian characters brought to life starting this Saturday, March 26, when the Bay Area Children's Theatre opens its song-filled production of A Year with Frog and Toad at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

Share in the adventures of the outgoing Frog and his more reserved friend Toad as they awake from their winter hibernation, welcome spring, plant a garden, discover that "Toad looks funny in a bathing suit", rake autumn leaves, and take a scary winter sled ride. Along the way they learn about friendship, patience, compassion, loyalty, and love. This musical is suitable for all ages.

A Year with Frog and Toad, with music by Robert Reale and book and lyrics by Willie Reale, made its debut in children's theater before moving on to Broadway, where it was nominated for three Tony awards, including best musical. The Bay Area Children's Theatre production is directed by Mina Morita and stars Charlie Cromer as Frog and William O'Neill as Toad.

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