Preschool Closed Oct. 22nd & 23rd

By Renee Hennessy, Director of PreschoolPreschool_4

On Thursday, October 22nd our teachers will be participating in professional development.  Our class will be led by Lindsey Jones, an occupational therapist with The Learning Center.  Some of the topics we will cover are development of sensory integration, self-regulation and social thinking.  The Preschool will be closed and no childcare will be provided.

Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up for the Preschool on Friday, October 23rd.  We have aligned the skills sets of the developmental areas (physical, social, emotional, cognitive) on a continuum.  This will allow you to look at the long and short range goals for each area.  The Preschool will be closed and no childcare will be provided on conference day.  

You can sign up for conferences with your child’s Preschool teacher here.

I hope to see many of you at “Our Good Earth” this weekend!

Big Sing a Rockin’ Good Time

Renee Hennessy, Director of Preschool BigSing_1

Our first Big Sing was Tuesday and we had a rockin’ good time. Ms. Faith led us in a sing-a-long of songs that the children are learning in her classes.  It was great to see so many families in attendance. This is a Preschool tradition that is guaranteed to make your day, so don’t miss our next Big Sing on Wednesday, October 21st!

The Preschoolers have noticed the changes in nature and are collecting artifacts from their adventures outside.  Each classroom has its share of leaves, acorns, sticks and rocks discovered from exploring this beautiful campus.  Our walks to the gym and time spent playing outside are providing them with many learning opportunities.  Ask your child open-ended questions about their day like, “What do you think about this?” or “I wonder how the leaves change colors?”  Your children are very inquisitive and we want to encourage them to develop critical thinking skills.

Transportation Day an Adventure for All

Renee Hennessy, Director of Preschool DSC_0318

In anticipation of Transportation Day, I asked a few of the four-year-olds what they expected to see on the big day.  Their responses were diverse and imaginative:  an ice truck (Zara), unicorn (Sage), fire truck (Ryken), and ambulance (Henry).  Our gym lot was full of vehicles. A postal truck, a police car, a fire truck, a golf cart, a semi-truck, a school bus (of course), a city bus, a forklift, a recumbent bike, an ambulance and a concrete truck all made an appearance. The Preschoolers and Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes climbed on, explored, listened to the sirens of and practiced driving EVERYTHING! I want to thank a number of parents: Jessica Washer (Zeke’s mom) for organizing the event; Lillian Brents (Lauren and Lindsey’s mom) for helping with the TARC bus; and Chad Burke (Byron and Geneva’s dad) for bringing his police car!  A huge thank you to Randall Hood and Christi and Brian Hootman for helping our teachers.  I also want to thank our very own Ms. Holly for her mad golf cart driving skills and helping with the coordination of the classes to our gym lot.  

This week you may have heard your child talk about a fire drill.  We have monthly drills and the days and times will vary.  It is important that we teach everyone how to safely exit the building in case of an emergency.  I’m happy to report that everyone exited quickly and calmly, and it was the “best” drill we have had yet.

Today, we hosted our families at the Back-To-School Parent Luncheon, our first community celebration.  Each child created a gift for a loved one, whether it was a self-portrait or a close-up of your child’s hands. Thank you to all of our families for spending time with our teachers in your child’s classroom!  This celebration of the children in our Preschool has only just begun …   

Monarch Life Cycle Excites Preschoolers

Renee Hennessy, Director of Preschool

Young children have a natural sense of curiosity and wonder about their world, which makes projects involving living things even more interesting to them. Our 4s classes spent the first few
PreschoolMonarch weeks of school observing the life cycle of a butterfly. The enthusiasm for this project was contagious and exciting to watch. Ms. Kelly wanted to share her class’ experience this week!     


The Butterfly Project by Kelly Brooks

The Explorers and the Otters observed the life cycle of a monarch butterfly.  We watched the caterpillar grow and grow as he munched on milkweed.  Within days, he was in the “J” position, ready to form the chrysalis. As a class we made a prediction of how many days it would take before it would turn into a butterfly. We had guesses from two to 16 days. We kept track of the days by creating a paper chain.  After 10 days, a beautiful monarch butterfly emerged! The children loved this experience and were sad to set it free. We ventured outside together and said goodbye to our butterfly as it flew through the sky.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the Back-to-School Luncheon on Friday,
September 18th at 10:30 a.m.
 Please RSVP to your child’s classroom teacher.


Transportation Day is Coming!

By Renee Hennessy, Director of Preschool

Preschool Activities

Preschool Activities

While visiting classrooms this week, I noticed several construction vehicle puzzles, toy cars in the paint, and a fire engine or two zooming around each room.  This can only mean one thing in our world: Transportation Day is coming!

On Friday, September 11th, we will host Transportation Day, one of our favorite events of the year! This tradition was started years ago by a few teachers who wanted to share a hands-on experience with their classes. Children learn best when they are engaged in their own inquiries and explorations, which is why we have continued this tradition for more than 15 years!  It is such an exciting day, so please send your child to school dressed to spend the morning outside (think shoes to climb in and comfy clothes).  

Please mark your calendars to join us at our back-to-school Preschool Parent Luncheon on Friday, September 18th at 10:30 a.m.  You will meet your child’s teachers, experience a few of his/her favorite classroom activities at school and meet other preschool families.  

Love for Garden Taking Root

Renee Hennessy, Director of PreschoolPreschoolPesto (1)

Last week, each class worked with our Garden Coordinator Christine Brinkmann in our raised plant bed on the playground.  The children added soil, seeds, and curiosity to create our community garden.  Later in the morning, they drew colorful pictures of what our garden will need to grow. We have a group of enthusiastic gardeners on our hands, and we’re hoping for a few root vegetables to begin growing soon!  Later in the morning, we mixed the ingredients together to make pesto from the school’s garden.  Ask your little one if s/he tried it. You might be surprised by the answer.

I read a great article this week that I want to pass along about supporting young children and their emotional growth. During the preschool years, you will hear a lot about social and emotional development and why it’s important to your child.  At school, we talk through everything in our classrooms and describe what emotions children are feeling in the moment.  Happiness, sadness, frustration and anger are all typical emotions children experience throughout the day.  We want all of our preschool friends to develop the essential coping skills needed for life.  Here are a few tips that you may find helpful at home.

Zeke’s mom, Jessica Washer, is busy planning and organizing the Preschool’s annual Transportation Day on September 11th.  If you would like to help with this event, please let me know.

First Full Day Was “Awesome”

By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Is it possible to have a first day of Preschool without a few tears?  Not really.  I did see a few parents wiping away tears from their eyes as they left the building.  On this side of the door, we had a fabulous “first day”!  Your children made new friends, read books, went to music class, played outside and as one four-year-old explained, “It was awesome!”  We know not all days will be “awesome”. Some days are harder than others, as it can take children up to six weeks to adjust to a new routine.  For now, we will enjoy the newness of the school year and celebrate our budding friendships.

Thank you for your patience as we transitioned to a new database over the summer.  We are still working through some of the details, so please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have a question. Remember to send in your child’s updated immunization forms.  Also, contracts for Early Morning, Lunch Bunch or Late Day need to be completed in the Parent Portal only if you are choosing one of the programs.  

We are excited about our second year at the Goshen Campus!  There are just a few remaining slots available in the 2s and 3s classes.  It’s not too late to join us! Send your friends; our parents are always our best ambassadors!  

If you stopped by the Back-to-School picnic and spent some time at the dunk tank, you may have seen Mr. David take an unwelcome swim.  Here are a few pictures in case you missed the fun!  



A Year of Joy-Filled Days

Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Hennessy, Preschool

It is hard to believe that the Preschool year is almost over.  We have experienced so many joy-filled days with your children.  They have explored, investigated, imagined, created, pretended, wondered, enjoyed books, counted, painted, and learned about this wonderful planet.  I know I speak for the entire faculty and staff when I say that our days this year were fantastic.  We’ve navigated through many firsts on this campus and look forward to many years of nurturing imaginations here.

I want to thank our wonderful Parent Association rep Kelli Schmidt for her coordination of all things Preschool and parent-related.  Along with the assistance of many room parents, they have hosted successful events such as Back-to-School Picnic activities for preschool-aged children, Transportation Day, classroom parties, Thanksgiving luncheons, auction projects for “Our Good Earth,” and our teacher appreciation lunch.  The support of our families allows us to enrich the experience of our smallest students.  Thank you for all that you have done to support our classrooms.BigSing_4

Finally, I want to recap the last few events we have had this week and for what lies ahead next week.  Wednesday was our last Big Sing and the children sang their favorites from the school year.  Faith Murphy and the 4s danced their final big dance to “Happy” by Pharell, which was incredibly adorable!  My favorite part was when the 2s spontaneously jumped up and joined in the fun.  Today our 4s classes celebrated one of their last days of being in Preschool with an ice cream treat.  As tradition has it, we give each four-year-old a boomerang and ask them to visit us often.

Don’t forget to stop by and watch our end-of-the-year slideshow, it will be playing on Wednesday, May 27th beginning after 9:00 a.m. carpool in the Main Amphitheater.

Dismissal on May 27th is at 1:00 p.m. for all children who typically stay for extended day; all other preschoolers will leave at noon.  Please plan accordingly, as we will not have extended care on the last day.

Have a wonderful summer. If you find that those summer days are too long and your Preschooler needs something to do, give us a call.  Our camps are packed full of wonderful activities!

BigSing_1 BigSing_2 BigSing_7


Welcome, Keystone Academy Friends!

Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Hennessy, Preschool

This week we hosted our Keystone Academy friends, who came on a field trip to visit our campus. Our relationship with Keystone began 20 years ago when it was named California Area Child Development Center. The purpose of the center is to provide safe and loving childcare to families in DSC_0400
need. Over the years, our families have provided holiday gifts for the children of Keystone, teacher breakfasts, coats, clothes, eggs for an egg hunt and friendship. Their director asked me in the fall if she could bring a class of 4s to visit our natural playground and see our classrooms and campus. They are currently in the process of creating a natural playground at their center, and they are implementing inquiry-based learning into the curriculum. We are so proud of our fabulous playground and even more thrilled to share it with the community! So today we
hosted 25 preschoolers, who got a snapshot of a day at St. Francis.
Each child spent time on the playground,DSC_0408 in our classrooms, visiting our wonderful garden with Christine Brinkmann (who gave them special time planting a take-home plant) and ending the day with a sing-a-long with Faith Murphy. Moments like this remind me of how great our school is and how fortunate our children are to experience hands-on learning every day.

A special THANK YOU to 6th grade students Sophie Johnson, Lily Johnson, and Audrey McClain for helping us plant mint, sage, and dill on the Preschool playground this week. Also, a huge thank you to Christine Brinkman, our garden coordinator, for helping us prepare our playground for our visitors.

Do you know a wood worker that can build things from a drawing? If so, please have them call me. We have plans for a mud kitchen for our playground and we need someone to help our vision come to life.

Children Need to Play

Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Hennessy, Preschool

This has been a busy week prepping for the Preschool Derby Races and Tea (Grandparents’/Special Friend or Visitor Day). Each class is busy creating a float for the parade, constructing horses from paper or socks, and, most importantly, deciding on names for their thoroughbreds. This will be an event that you don’t want to miss. It’s my personal favorite each year.

Painting Derby Float

Painting Derby Float

Spending time in our Preschool rooms, I’m reminded of why our program is a special place. On a typical day, you will see what to an untrained eye like a whirlwind has passed through our classrooms. Inevitably crayons, paper, and tape have made it to the floor. Wooden building blocks are stacked all around the room and were used to build towers, castles, or train tracks wherever the imaginations happened to be visiting for the day. Our teachers are busy working with children to extend their ideas and support them in making connections; many conversations are happening throughout the day. We talk about everything! Our program is one that promotes inquiry, discovery, creativity and active play. We value children, their ideas, and the process of learning. The joys of childhood are celebrated each day with friends, families and teachers.

What you won’t see are worksheets and workbooks with formal activities. In fact, what research suggests is that this type of early academic instruction can have an adverse effect on preschool-aged children. Dr. Lillian Katz, a highly respected researcher in early childhood and professor emerita at the University of Illinois, recently wrote an article about academic goals and intellectual goals for young children. She states that early childhood programs need to “provide a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources and contexts that will provoke, stimulate, and support children’s innate intellectual dispositions.” Children need to play, make developmentally appropriate choices and investigate the world around them by asking questions and seeking answers facilitated by their teachers. With so many articles written recently about formal academics for preschool and kindergarten, I felt that it was important for me to stress the benefits of our play-based curriculum, which focuses on the social, emotional, and intellectual goals of our children. Most likely this is why you chose St. Francis Preschool — a wise choice indeed.

For more information about this topic click on Dr. Lilian Katz’s article here.