"It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." ~ Frederick Douglass
(See our daily schedule below our philosophies of care... )
Potty-training policy: we are happy to help with your child's potty-training once they are doing well at home with it. Let us know when you believe your child is ready and we'll come up with a plan to work on it together!
A quick note that we do seasonal assessments in which we email all custodial parents/guardians every few months with updates and input on how your child is doing, goals we're working on (or struggles the child is having and what we're doing to support them), progress we're seeing, the child's particular interests, friends, favorite parts of the school day, etc., so your family has a log of how your child is thriving and growing at Happy Steps.
Our philosophies of care...
SUPPORTING YOUR CHILD The foundation of care provided at Happy Steps Preschool is based on love and empathy. Children thrive in environments that are full of love, patience, joy, creativity, fun, attention, warmth, and consistency. Children also need routines, experiences that expand their understanding of the world and encourage the exploration of their (safe) environments, and people in their lives who show them regularly that they are valued, competent, trustworthy, respected, and loved. This is how children come to believe these things about themselves! And this is how children get their best first start. Therefore, we spend a lot of time playing and laughing, exploring arts and crafts, sensory play, STEM activities, enjoying nature and outside play, exploring our curriculum activities and lessons (phonics, writing, math, Spanish, etc.), reading new books along the interest lines of the children in care and our monthly themes, and learning to be kind, reliable, and friendly with each other. There's a strong emphasis here on developing positive self-esteem, healthy self-soothing techniques, and respectful relationships with others.
OUR CURRICULUM Our play-based curriculum is a blended and fluid one, as the ages in our group fluctuate, and so do the interests of the children. It's based on the philosophy that children learn best through experimenting, imagining, practicing, repeating, and playing! We base our curriculum on the understanding that children need to feel trusted and adequate in completing age-appropriate tasks, as well, and that they learn best when they're curious and joyful in their experience. Children learn and grow through hands-on play and exploration, through being encouraged to try new things, through observing and interacting with their peers, learning healthy forms of communication, developing conflict resolution skills, discovering art, and exploring their own naturally creative instincts, building, and so much more. Happy Steps aims to facilitate these experiences regularly as part of an enriching day at school.
We also provide a developmentally-appropriate curriculum to encourage the learning of the alphabet, phonics, writing, math skills, Spanish, vocabulary, puzzles, and so much more. Read more about our activities, lessons, and schedule down below!
WHY SMALL GROUP, IN-HOME CHILD CARE IS BEST Small group care in school is an extremely important facet of young children having their needs met. After having been a Head Start teacher and an infant room teacher, I have seen beyond a shadow of a doubt that children do not thrive as well in child care centers and preschools that max out the teacher-student ratio. Most centers and schools in Eugene have 18-20+ kids in a small room, with two teachers (or 2 teachers to 8 crying infants/ 1 teacher with 10 toddlers). This leaves a lot of babies and children fighting for attention, and struggling to receive the time, affection, and nurturing they need and deserve.
At Happy Steps, this is minimized by our smaller ratio of children to care providers.
It's also much healthier and more consistent for your child to have the option of being in my home-based school (with friends their age who also stick around until kindergarten) for years, rather than moving from one classroom and teacher/care provider to the next, every few months, as is done in big centers.
NO BULLYING POLICY For the well-being of all the children in our program, and the emotional stability we provide throughout the day, if a child is found to have bullying behaviors, and are intentionally trying to hurt/harm/upset other children or staff, we will notify the family and discuss a plan to work on their actions, possible root cause(s), and needs of the child, to overcome the bullying and help them adjust to our program.
We typically allow a month to work on this together. Some behaviors may not be able to be addressed in that amount of time. If the behaviors are too severe, the family may be asked to immediately place their child elsewhere. If you suspect this will apply to your child, Happy Steps may not be the right program for your family.
If our plan is unsuccessful within the estimated time frame, the family will be notified that their child will need to be moved to a different program. If we see enough progress in the right direction, we may continue to work on the plan to end the bullying and integrate the child into our program. We want all children to feel safe and loved!
This helps us ensure that families know their child is in a safe and supportive environment, here at Happy Steps. Thank you for understanding!
FOOD Nutrition is a critical component in having our healthiest, happiest days! I have a two year diploma in medicinal herbs and holistic health, have aced every nutrition course at Lane Community College, and have been reading about nutrition for the last 25 years. Meals here at Happy Steps -breakfast, lunch, and snack- are mostly organic, with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of processed, and vegetarian protein choices: eggs, cheese, yogurt, beans, split peas, lentils, and quinoa. Children are welcome to bring meat from home, in a labeled fridge bag. I am also very happy to accommodate for vegans and gluten-free families. A typical breakfast here: Oatmeal/scrambled eggs, blueberries, milk. A typical lunch here: Grilled cheese sandwich, black beans, green salad, steamed carrots, milk. A typical snack here: Yogurt with apple slices, water.
We currently have children with severe food allergies and do not allow outside food on the premises, thank you!
GUIDANCE & DISCIPLINE Children at Happy Steps are guided using redirection, reflective listening, I messages, and brainstorming solutions to conflicts. Time out is typically not used, but a safety break or calm down break might be given. If a child is becoming a threat to other children or otherwise clearly needs to take a minute to calm down and feel better, they may sit off to the side of the group, snuggle on the couch with a blanket, or go to the table for a project they can enjoy alone. Being able to attend to the individual needs of each child is why Happy Steps is a small group preschool; we do that with love and emotional support, not shame. Furthermore, physical punishment is not an option and Happy Steps is a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect.
This is how we shape happy hearts and great minds!
Happy Steps is a home-based preschool program for toddlers through pre-k children. Our program is designed to give your child their best start, before entering the public school system.
Young children learn best through play, hands-on activities, exploring their inherent interests, developing healthy emotional responses to their peers and caregivers, and experiencing open and respectful conversations. Our program is play-based, therefore, and geared toward helping each child develop healthy self-esteem, positive conflict resolution skills, strong communication skills, healthy boundaries, and altruistic empathy for others. We enjoy a variety of activities that are meant for learning via play, exploration, imagination, and newfound confidence, and that aim to mutually strengthen all areas of a child's development: physical (gross and fine motor skills), cognitive, language, social, and emotional/behavorial.
Academic pursuits such as completing worksheets and memorizing information are not developmentally-appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. However, because kindergarten has become academically oriented, we do spend time teaching academic subjects - in a fun way, geared toward the learning styles of each child. We have circle time each day that demonstrates the alphabet and phonics, reading and writing, numbers and counting, colors, shapes, days of the week, weather, holidays, topics supporting our monthly themes, and more! And we teach these in Spanish, as well. Children who are ready, practice writing and reading to the group.
When children show an interest in these topics, they are encouraged -never forced- to learn more. So, most of our children learn to write and read, to count and conduct basic math, to understand the calendar, and more, before entering kindergarten. The younger children naturally and quickly pick these things up from their older peers! And they thrive, having learned these things in a fun and supportive environment. (Our older students tend to learn patience, empathy, respectful communication styles, and kindness in their interactions with younger children.)
Outside of this academic support, we provide a multitude of activities for learning through play and sensory experiences: painting, puzzles, playdough and clay, music and dance, sensory bins, beading and threading, cut and paste, gross motor activities in our garage gym area (balance beam, velcro "dart" board, bean bag toss, crawling tunnel, big blocks, and child-size trampoline), building with connecting toys and magnet tiles, block play, story time, outside play in our large fenced yard with covered patio, gardening, and more. We use each activity to also be a resource for teaching moments, so your child gets the most out of their time, here.
Happy Steps Preschool has been supporting families since 2002 and is designed to be FOR the children. Because happier and healthier children is how we create a happier and healthier future for all of us. Here's to them!
Our curriculum, while based around the current and changing interests of the children, also provides them with the following:
Immersion into basic Spanish
Learning to recognize the ABCs
Learning the phonics of ABCs and how to connect their sounds to spell and read
Learning to write
Learning number recognition and how to count; then add and subtract
Learning to recognize and create patterns
Learning the days of the week, months of the year, holidays, and how to read the calendar
Learning shapes and colors
Learning all of the above in Spanish as well as English
Learning about animals, Earth, nature, food and nutrition, members of our community, and a multitude of other monthly theme topics
Helping in the garden, watching it garden grow, learning how it works (and eating from it)
Helping compost our table scraps
Learning about how and why to be eco-friendly
Running & racing in our large fenced yard
Jumping on the trampoline and hopscotch
Doing an assortment of puzzles, connector toys, and STEM-style engineering toys
Playing with homemade playdough; sensory play
Creative free-play time at our varying play centers, like dramatic play, block play, train table and cars, dollhouse and farm animals, library, etc
Reading a LOT of books
Creating a LOT of art
Building fantastic friendships, manners, self-esteem, empathy, boundaries, and kindness while working through socio-emotional experiences with guidance!
Some of the ways in which we teach eco-friendliness: cutting back on consumerism of plastics, being careful about how much trash we make, teaching the kids about composting, gardening, reusing, and recycling, using recycled papers and cardboard, using plastic-free and tree-free bamboo toilet paper and paper towels, often using washcloths instead of disposable materials, teaching where our food comes from and why to eat organically, encouraging a fascination and love of wildlife, insects, and nature, and so much more. Appliances in my home have been upgraded to be as eco-friendly as possible, as well.
Empathy and healthy boundaries are also very important here: I consider this one of the strongest and most crucial aspects of a healthy foundation for the child's future, their healthy self-esteem, and healthy relationships throughout life. We teach the children to care compassionately for each other, and for themselves, to communicate openly, and to also recognize and respect each other's boundaries and needs. This comes up in most of our social interactions, emotional experiences, and even just day-to-day playing, talking, and bonding. We aim to foster healthy and secure attachment styles by teaching respect, self-love, and kindness!
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