Carol Thomsen is our Founder and CEO. As a passionate and experienced educator, she has worked in diverse settings, from English classes in Indonesia, to a swim program for the profoundly disabled. Prior to founding Kelima School, she taught both parents and children at Menlo Atherton Cooperative Nursery and Parent’s Place San Mateo, and provided independent consulting services for “scaffolding” children and their educational settings. Carol began her career at Stanford University where she worked for over 20 years, at the Stanford Children’s Center, Stanford Sierra Camp, and Bing Nursery School. She holds a BA in Anthropology, Education and Health from Stanford University. She has held Board positions with Volunteers in Asia, Summit Preparatory Charter High School, and Camp Galileo.
Carol feels fortunate to be constantly furthering her education through her husband’s work at Stanford, their connection and service to the local schools where their children attended, and her own keen interest in research that is shedding so much light on early brain development and how we can best educate our children.
Why did you decide to start your own school?
Because there is so much need for high quality preschools and I want children and people from different walks of life to have a chance to meet and share over important work.
What is your favorite children’s song?
I have so many, but the one that is in my head at the moment is, “2,4,6,8. Meet me at the garden gate. If I’m late, don’t wait. 2,4,6,8.” Or: ”Just SING! Sing a song! Make it simple, to last your whole life long. Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else but me, just sing. Sing a song….”
What is your favorite children’s author?
Again, too many to name! At the moment, I’m loving Mem Fox. Especially, “Harriet, You Drive Me Wild!”
What’s your favorite school memory?
Tough one…the great teachers I had: Biology with Mr. McCarthy. Anthropology with Mrs. Kleppner (who is still teaching at the high school I attended in Massachusetts, and started a preschool at the high school so the students could do a practicum for their AP Psych class!)
What is your favorite movie?
Not sure. The one I’ve seen the most often is probably, “The Sound of Music.” Also “The Bodyguard” because we watched some of it being filmed at Fallen Leaf Lake where we lived at the time! Oh! And “The Year of Living Dangerously” about Indonesia.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Gardening, reading, cooking for friends and family, enjoying a good dinner with friends, wine, and great conversation or games. Walking and hiking. Traveling to new and off-the-beaten-track places (are there any in that category these days?). Dancing to a great band.
Which of the 5 basic play materials (sand, water, clay, paint or blocks) best describes you and why?
I will answer this with a quote from a “fortune” I received on my first visit to Asia. Our first stop was Japan, and while there we visited an important temple (the name of which I can’t remember). Each of us received a different, beautifully folded paper.
On mine was the following: “Such is the force of water that it will with gently pressure shape itself to every vessel, and yet pierce the very rock.”
Below that, the words were explained: “Water meekly follows the contours of any vessel it is poured into, yet it can also pierce stone itself. Let your heart be as patient and strong.”
I continue to try to live out this saying/fortune or advice.
You gave us suggestions on Sunday, and we listened! We’re in the process of updating our website with more information on our teaching methods, curriculum and future goals. The team bios are also forthcoming.
We’ll post a video of some of the Q&A session soon, but here are a couple of interesting points (paraphrased) in case you missed it:
Q1: How does your program compare to a daycare?
A1: Daycares address the logistical needs of working parents, but teacher quality can vary widely. At the upper end of the spectrum, there are childcare programs at Google and Genentech that are pretty amazing – but they’re not available unless you work there, and even then there may be a long wait list. It’s also missing the heterogeneous component.
Q2: How will you maintain a heterogeneous school community?
A2: We have some team members that are already working with local underserved communities that can help with outreach and support. Our location will also be easily accessible to both high- and low-income families.
Q3: Will there be a co-op component?
A3: With the understanding that many working parents have busy schedules, we can be flexible in the required hours, either by partial “buy-out” or targeted parent education classes. But I am convinced that the partnership between parents and teachers is critical. At a co-op where you have worked together and gotten to know each other, you are forming a community going forward in your childrens’ lives. It’s an amazing gift to be friends with someone you’ve known since preschool.
Q4: With so much pressure to be academic these days, how does a play-based program address parents’ concerns?
A4: Communication is key – we can show parents how their children are learning. It’s play, but kids are constantly learning, constantly being engaged. Instead of being taught at, we pick up on their interests and introduce new concepts and skills through various types of play.
Q5: How does a multi-age classroom work?
A5: It’s another aspect of the heterogeneous component. There’s so much segmenting these days – 3′s 4′s 5′s programs – and I think children are really disadvantaged as a result. Their lives are not going to made up of people in just their own age groups – they will be dealing with people of all ages. We can provide social experience during this critical age period which will help them adapt to differences. Remember when a bunch of neighborhood kids play baseball together – when 2yo Johnny comes up to bat, everyone scoots closer infield and the pitcher floats the ball to him. Kids won’t do that unless they have the experience of different ability levels to be able to include everyone.
Q6: What about the difference in ability levels?
A6: I believe in inclusiveness. You’ll see that older kids can mentor younger kids and take on more responsibility. This is especially valuable for an older child who might not be a leader yet among his own peer group, but can build leadership skills by helping younger children. And the program should be adaptive and change – preschool lessons should not be repeated every single year. One quarter it might be rocket ships, another it might be horses. We take the students’ interests, which are constantly changing, and introduce developmentally appropriate concepts. The process of exploring new concepts together can be shared by all ages.
Thanks again to the 100+ friends who attended and all your support!!
Thanks to everyone who attended today!!
We were blessed with overcast skies. Carol presented while grown-up guests enjoyed Caribbean food (hey, we had to get SOME summer in), and young guests played in the yard. Great to catch up with friends. And the sight of 50 kids, having fun, entertaining themselves (for the most part)…beautiful.
Not only did we get great feedback on our presentation and website, we also got REAL DONATIONS!! Thank you so much for your generosity!!
All in all, a wonderful way to start the summer.
Special thanks to the following individuals:
-Carol T. (set-up), Chris T. (set-up), Diana M. (set-up), Michelle H. (planning), Teresa D. (clean-up), Angelica D. (facepainting, clean-up), Steve T. (dry ice fun), Marcia L. (photos), Kealai L. (video), Alissa C. (photos), Richard A. (providing tents), Tom C. (setting up tents), Daphne T. (facepainting), Jennifer H. (ponies)
Our first Kelima event – “Kick Off the Summer, Kick Start Kelima!” – is all set for tomorrow. The theme was going to be summer – lemonade stands, watermelon, bubbles, water toys. We’ve planned for the guests, the food, the drinks, the entertainment, the activities, the presentation…
What we didn’t plan for, however, was the rain. When was the last time it rained in June?! Who could have known. The forecast for tomorrow afternoon is 51-69 degrees, with “a couple of thunderstorms”:
- Max UV Index: 6 (high)
- Thunderstorm Probability: 40%
- Amount of Precipitation: 0.13 in
- Amount of Rain: 0.13 in
- Amount of Snow: 0.0 in
- Amount of Ice: 0.00 in
- Hours of Precipitation: 3 hrs
- Hours of Rain: 3 hrs
After a few hours of denial and panic, we’ve collected ourselves. Rain is a blessing, and considered a fortuitous omen across many cultures and societies. We need rain.
What would a 3 year old do? Run outside, stomp in the largest puddle, search for worms, catch raindrops, and have FUN. Considering half our guests will be 5 and under, we grownups are just going to roll with it and have fun too. Warm hot chocolate stands, warm popcorn, and rainy day games.
Bring your rainboots, bring the rain!
At the time, “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” was NPR’s most-emailed story:
“It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.
We know that children’s capacity for self-regulation has diminished. A recent study replicated a study of self-regulation first done in the late 1940s, in which psychological researchers asked kids ages 3, 5 and 7 to do a number of exercises. One of those exercises included standing perfectly still without moving. The 3-year-olds couldn’t stand still at all, the 5-year-olds could do it for about three minutes, and the 7-year-olds could stand pretty much as long as the researchers asked. In 2001, researchers repeated this experiment. But, psychologist Elena Bodrova at Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning says, the results were very different.
“Today’s 5-year-olds were acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today’s 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago,” Bodrova explains. “So the results were very sad.”
Sad because self-regulation is incredibly important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child’s IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn. As executive function researcher Laura Berk explains, “Self-regulation predicts effective development in virtually every domain.”"
Why would we want 501(c)(3) status? Other than being tax-exempt, donations made to registered 501(c)(3) corporations are tax-deductible.
But what if our Form 1023 application hasn’t been approved yet? IRS Publication 4220 says on page 12:
“While an organization’s Form 1023 is waiting for approval from the IRS, the organization may operate as a tax-exempt organization…
…Although donors have no assurance that contributions are tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes until the application is approved, contributions made while an application is pending would qualify if the application is approved. However, if the application is disallowed, contributions would not qualify. Moreover, the organization would be liable for filing federal income tax returns unless its income is otherwise excluded from federal taxation.”
Also, because 501(c)(3) corporations can generally only give to other 501(c)(3) corporations, we’re going to need it to qualify for donations and grants from foundations and such.
Now that we’re a nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation recognized by the California Secretary of State (check out that “Endorsed – Filed” stamp a few posts back!), we’ve got to turn in a variety of tax forms. And here we all thought we were done with the IRS after April 15th!
We looked over it, thought about it…and have decided to revisit this exciting topic at a later date.
Any nonprofit, corporate, tax experts?