Frequently Asked Questions
We offer the attentive level of care of a nanny combined with the structured form of a preschool setting; we’re the sweet-spot between the two where children receive in-home care with the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive among a cultivated social group. We are licensed to serve up to twelve children, and running Birdsong Play Garden is both of our full-time jobs. Our student-to-teacher ratio ranges from 2:1 to 6:1, depending on attendance, planned activities, and the needs of the children in our care that day.
A parent once described our home like an over-sized dollhouse, and we love that image. The atmosphere has been carefully crafted with the young child in mind. We imbue the space with warmth, beauty, and coziness, inviting rich yet calming sensory experiences. We prioritize natural materials, including for our toys, while avoiding plastics due to their ecological burden and lack of warmth.
Our inside space is complemented by our backyard which includes a large sandbox, mud kitchen, hammock swing, raised garden beds, child-sized picnic table, and plenty of shade. Directly behind our yard is a fenced wild area with our own climbing dome. In the heat of the summer the children often cool off in the splash pad before rest.
Muir Commons is a cohousing community modeled after those found in Denmark. It has 26 individual units on 3 acres with a private playground, abundant vegetable garden, stone-fruit orchard, wild area featuring native plants, and adorable bunny named Dotty. Many of our neighbors are now empty nesters, and they treasure seeing and hearing our songbirds renew these shared spaces with play. We are so grateful for how this community supports our endeavor, and we delight in their neighborly visits when we play at Muir Commons.
We subscribe to the Scandinavian adage, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” So we plan our dress and adventures for the weather. We play outside year-round, especially when it rains! In summer we prioritize finding shady spots on our outdoor adventures, include water play, and increase water intake. As the sun reaches its peak around noon, we head inside to cool off and settle down for rest. On afternoons above 90 degrees we serve snack inside.
As we mentioned, the key to outdoor enjoyment is proper gear, which we outline in our Parent Handbook, which we send to you upon inquiry of our program.
We are open Monday-Friday year-round with the exclusion of 14 holidays, 15 vacation days, 5 sick days, and up to 5 weather-related closings. This information is further detailed in our Parent Handbook.
We recognize that young children are sensitive to poor air quality. For the most part we plan to be inside when the AQI is above 115. When making this decision we also take into account what the air quality has been for the last couple days and its forecast in order to get outside at its lowest readings. Thankfully we have found that air quality is usually better in the mornings, which aligns with the rhythm of our days.
When we are inside our home due to poor air quality, we run our HEPA filter. As we are situated in Muir Commons, we also utilize the Common House on smoky days, which has a tumbling room and play space. In 2020 Muir Commons installed a commercial ventilation system that includes HEPA particle filtration and UV purification.
8:30 – 8:45 AM arrival time and free play
8:45 – 9:00 AM morning gathering
9:00 – 10:30 AM adventure on the greenbelt
10:30 – 11:15 AM lunch time
11:15 AM – 12:00 PM return to Birdsong; nursery rhymes, storytelling, nap prep
12:00 – 2:30 PM nap and quiet time
2:30 – 3:15 PM awaken, snack time, and clean up
3:15 – 3:30 PM free play outside and pick-up
We expect enrolling songbirds to be able to feed themselves at mealtimes and fall asleep independently. Of course we offer more support with meals and naptime during a child’s initial transition into our care because we recognize that becoming accustomed to new care providers, a new social group, and a new setting can be a big adjustment. However, these skills need to be well-established at home in order for them to take root in this new setting.
Additionally children over 2.5 years old are expected to be potty trained while awake. We define “potty trained” as being able to use the potty when prompted by adults or self with no more than one accident per week while in care.
Lastly, because we take big adventures on our lovely greenbelts, children are expected to be capable walkers.
We’re happy to assess your child’s abilities when they come for a tour. If you’re seeking support in any of these areas, we’re available for in-person consultation. Additionally we have gathered resources on our Resources Page.
If you’re interested in our program:
- Send a chirp to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know the age of your child, when you are interested in starting care, for which days of the week, and how you heard of us.
- We’ll send you an application and Parent Handbook for review. The Parent Handbook includes further details about our program, philosophy, and expectations of parents.
- Then your family is invited to schedule a tour of our backyard, home, and Muir Commons outdoor spaces.
- Next you may submit an application with a $175 application fee.
We will schedule an at-home interview, which provides us an opportunity to observe the child in his/her own space as well as learn more about who you are as a family.
As young children can’t yet reliably convey the events of their days in our care, we take notes in a daily journal that is sent between home and Birdsong. Using pen and paper aligns with our efforts not to use our phones in front of the children, and we hope that when the children are grown, they may be interested in this keepsake journal that gives a peek into their treasured time at Birdsong Play Garden. In it we share details about our adventures and activities; any celebrations, observations, or struggles for your child; timing of lunch, snack, and rest; and requests for items needed (e.g. clothing, diapers).
We also have periodic parent-teacher meetings in order to maintain strong communication and discuss your child’s areas of strength and development. We schedule the first meeting for about three months after the start of care and subsequent meetings occur every six months, or earlier by parent or teacher request.