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Still looking for an amazing preschool for your child?  

Hawthorne Family Playschool has a spot for a child who turned 3 by September 1st but is not yet 4. 


Hawthorne Family Playschool or “HFP” is a small, mixed-age cooperative preschool, just south of the Hawthorne Safeway in southeast Portland. Being a cooperative, HFP is a great place for families that want to be active participants in their child's early development. 

Aside from our fabulous teacher, our strength comes from families that are eager to fully participate in the HFP community. This is particularly true of HFP, given that we keep our class size smaller than most (14 students).  Smaller classes allow for greater focus on each child and create a more intimate feel to our classroom environment.


Our teacher, Susan Eisman, has been working with children for more than twenty years and, in addition to holding a degree in art and women's studies, has completed master's level work in human development with a focus on the stages of childhood.  She draws her philosophy from many quality programs like Reggio Emilia and Waldorf without being overly dogmatic.  She is a deep thinker and a sweet soul, and she encourages us to think and talk about why our kids do what they do and how we can be supportive in their discovery of themselves as individuals and part of a group.


We are a diverse community of parents who place a high value on creating an environment that supports a preschooler's natural curiosity.  I was initially drawn to the school because I loved the emphasis on natural materials and getting fresh air and exercise without pre-scripting play with traditional play structures.  Our kids climb hay bales, balance on boards, scale our branch wall and have pretend tea parties in tee pees.   The Oregon Environmental Council designated HFP as an eco-healthy preschool and our kids enjoy healthy, vegetarian snacks each day.


Our program is heavily play-based, which I wasn't sure about at first, but I have come to appreciate the fact that 3, 4 and 5 year olds learn much of what they need to know from play and personal discovery.  I wondered if a play-based preschool would adequately prepare my children for kindergarten, but I now firmly believe that being part of a community like ours lays the foundation for lifelong curiosity and learning.  I also see how much better high energy kids like my son thrive in an environment that supports their need to move their busy bodies.


A co-op is a unique school model in that so much of it is parent-driven. Over the years, it’s become apparent that the co-op experience isn’t right for everyone. For the families who love our program, however, (and there are many!) they see what we do as deeply rewarding. They see the contributions they make to our program as worth the effort, and often the effort is part of the enjoyment as well.  We’re not just bringing our children to school, we’re building a tight-knit community with them, and it’s a labor of love.

At HFP, we look for families who are really excited by our vision and who can help us create a strong community for the school and for the children. I encourage all of you to contact me with any questions you may have about our school or the co-op experience and to request an application.  


Shannon Rhoads

Membership Chair, Hawthorne Family Playschool

Email me at:  membership at hawthornefamilyplayschool.org

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