About The Pollywog Pond In-Home Preschool
Hello! My name is Kasia, and I am the mother of Milla (7), her sister, Anja (5), and brother, Johnny (2.5). As a busy professional planning to return to work after maternity leave, I had been looking for a quality daycare for my first child ever since she was born. I had visited a lot of child care centers in the area hoping to find a place that would make Milla feel safe, loved, and help her socialize with the other children. Instead, after a long research, I decided to hire qualified teachers and put my organizational skills and a large, underutilized space in my house to use by creating a quality preschool of my own. Our home is located across the street from Carpenter’s Woods, which is famous for its beautiful oak trees and a birding season in early spring. All four floors of our old house from the 1920′s have been fully renovated. We installed energy efficient appliances, used only no-VOC paints, and repurposed everything we could to preserve the historic charm of our old home.
My experience with teaching children can be traced back to time spent during my youth in Europe. During high school and college, I was working as an au pair for families in Brussels, Belgium, and Paris, France. In addition to my college studies in Finance/Banking and International Relations, I also trained to become a French teacher in Poland for over a year. Currently, I am working toward a Waldorf teacher certification and implementing what I learn along the way at the Pollywog Pond. According to Rudolf Steiner’s Waldorf approach, children should be surrounded by beauty and
We believe in healthy living and The Pollywog Pond is the reflection of our beliefs and values. At our in-home preschool, we offer carefully-selected toys and equipment made from non-toxic materials. We cook and serve only healthy, organic foods that are nutritious and sourced from local farmers. We teach our children the benefits of recycling, reusing, and repurposing materials. We spend a lot of time outdoors, go for walks in Carpenter’s Woods, go on special local field trips, and do many other exciting and fun things every day.
I am very passionate about healthy cooking, and I do enjoy cooking with my little people. All the ingredients we use are organically grown and are non-GMO. They come from a local food co-op, Weaver’s Way. The cheese and the eggs come from a local farm CSA. My favorite cookbooks are: The New Moosewood Cookbook, Plenty, Super Natural Every Day, and Fresh From The Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Occasionally, I also cook for the children based on recipes from a Polish cookbook, Kuchnia Polska.
Our home-like indoor environment has been designed in a way that supports the values and beliefs of Waldorf education. Our space includes an open playroom with a kitchenette and a full bathroom.
Outside, we’re a few years into converting our property from what was once mainly asphalt and invasive/ornamental plants to an oasis of biodiversity in hopes of creating an extension of Carpenter’s Woods’ wildlife habitat. The driveway was ripped up and the invasive plants removed by hand without the use of pesticides, and in their place we’ve planted a dozen native trees, a meadow of native grasses and wildflowers, and a host of native shrubs and vines. We installed a rain garden to help reduce urban storm water runoff pollution and protect our rivers and streams, and added a few bird houses, two bee boxes, and a bat house (which is still waiting for tenants). We installed a green roof above our garage, which was planted in June 2014. The plants – a selection of natives with regional provenance – will be studied for 3 years to test their viability as green roof plants using different levels of soil nutrients and irrigation.
Inspired by Douglas Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home, our goal is to create a habitat, free of pesticides, where birds, butterflies, bees, toads, and other critters can find food, water, cover, and a place to raise their young, and to be able to teach the children about this by example. The National Wildlife Federation certified our yard as Backyard Wildlife Habitat #142003 in June 2011, and is recognized by Audubon Pennsylvania’s Bird Habitat Recognition program. We’re also recognized as Pennsylvania Pollinator Friendly Garden #312 by the Penn State Center for Pollinator Research.
Our gated pond area was completed in the Fall of 2013. Working again with American Native Nursery to develop the plan, our goal was to create a natural wildlife pond to attract birds, frogs, toads, salamanders, and beneficial insects (in addition to chipmunks which already have a network of burrows in the area). Since no fish will be added to the pond, no pumps, filters, or chemicals are used, which will allow actual pollywogs to thrive. A planting shelf was built up around the inside and filled with native aquatic plants to help manage the pond. In addition, we’ve planted over 30 native species of trees, shrubs, and perennials around the perimeter to complete the habitat, and a small bog area catches the overflow.
Our first baby American toads emerged from the pond in June 2014 and dragonfly/damselfly larvae can be seen swimming about. The number of mosquitoes present during summer evenings has been reduced dramatically. When the pond is established, it is our hope that the kids will have endless learning opportunities and a chance to connect with nature, as they’ll have a bird’s-eye view of an ecosystem that’s becoming more scarce due to development.