I admit that I was just listening to NPR about Mexican families who teach their kids to help around the house from the time they are able to hold something in their hands (age one-three).  I wrote about this subject briefly in 2010.

The attitude is, really, of letting their children help with chores because they want to.  I believe this too.  Not that I was great at it when I was raising my daughter (she is 36 now and the mother of three-year-old Audrey), but I did have that in mind – like having her make her bed.  Of course, it didn’t look like it was actually made.  But that’s not the point.  Not to expect them to do the chore like we would or even an older child is capable of, but that they are included in what the adults around them are doing.  

This desire to be part of what’s going on around them is a powerful force in us humans.  Some parents feel, rightly, that they would have to clean up the mess that was left by the toddler who “helped” make dinner, or wash dishes, put their shoes away, etc.  But it’s about including their small children in what the older children and adults are doing and not making fun of the job they’ve done.  

As all of us experience as time goes on, our children grow up so fast!  We experience them, hopefully, one day at a time, and “all of a sudden” they are teenagers, or parents themselves.

So, if we start right out of the gate, we will be raising kids who are part of their family in a very deep sense.  What a gift to give them!



There is no better introduction to the social world than Judy Stevens’ playgroup.  Our two sons graduated years ago but the values they learned and the experiences they were introduced to in such a small egalitarian group of three boys and three girls easily counts in their long journey through childhood to adulthood.  Where else can you find a teacher who makes everyone a cape then encourages them all to decide whether it’s a skirt or a magic carpet or an accessory for space travel! As an artist Judy’s creative ideas are endless and open but that doesn’t mean life at the loft is willy-nilly. In fact just when you need help in potty training, guess what, Judy facilitates that too and if you’re little one hasn’t quite grasped the concept of sharing yet, well this is where they will learn it because at Judy’s there is always a teaching moment going on. In the landscape of early childhood schools and playgroups, Judy’s Playgroup is the cherry on top. Its specialness is evident the minute you take your shoes off and enter the soft matted floor of her bright loft. In this safe and homey place your children will dance, plant seeds, conquer puzzles, role play, build sculptures from magnets, learn to be a friend, share lunch, navigate differences and above all have fun. What could be better.

– Leah Singer and Lee Ranaldo


This year marks my third child that has been lucky enough to attend Judy’s Playgroup.  I can’t imagine a more nurturing, loving, fun and creative introduction to school for a 2/3 year old.  The child to teacher ratio is unbelievable and Judy truly is gifted when it comes to understanding and navigating all the emotions of a toddler.  We have made wonderful friends with the other parents as well.  All three of my children are slightly different in interests, confidence and personality and every one of them has loved their experience.  We are so grateful to have discovered this warm community.

– Jocelyn & Charlie Gailliot


We noticed the minute we walked into Judy’s loft that it is a remarkable living and breathing space designed for and fine-tuned by two year olds.  It is a space where the imaginations and wild spirits of toddlers have reigned supreme for 34 years.  When we watched our daughter explore the space the first time, her eyes lit up at discovering this new world that seemed as though it was made just for her.

This special environment is just the backdrop for something even more remarkable that happens at Judy’s.  In our daughter’s case, we noticed her picking up beautiful, generous, and confident habits from her playgroup – an empathetic gesture toward another child or adult, an out-of-the-blue emotional observation, an “I can do that on my own” reaction to things we had always helped her with.  Often when my husband and I see our daughter doing something particularly kind toward another child – an unexpected willingness to share a favorite toy, for example – we turn to each other and say, “that’s all Judy.”

Our affection for Judy’s playgroup is matched only by our daughter’s.  On playgroup mornings, our daughter always voices her excitement about a “Judy day.”  When we arrive at Judy’s door, she stands up tall, knocks, and then races in with confidence, so eager to begin that she barely turns around to say goodbye.  When we pick her up, she jumps into our arms excited to tell us all of the new things she did.

We will always to grateful to Judy for her guiding spirit and the discoveries she has helped our daughter make that we know will find a permanent place in her personality.

– Maggie Lynaugh and Brian Shaw