Hawthorne Family Playschool, a play-based cooperative preschool in SE Portland, has an opening for Fall 2012!
Still looking for an amazing preschool for your child?
Hawthorne Family Playschool has a spot for a 3 year old girl in our Fall 2012 class.
Hawthorne Family Playschool or “HFP” is a small, mixed-age cooperative preschool, just south of the newly remodeled Hawthorne Safeway in SE Portland. Being a cooperative, HFP is a great place for families that want to be active participants in their child's early development.
We have the smallest class size of any of the eastside co-ops, with a maximum of 14 students with at least three adults (one teacher plus two scheduled parents helpers). We also enjoy additional support from interns and benefit from a culture that encourages parents to participate.
Personally, I didn’t set out to look for a co-operative preschool, but I’m so glad this is the direction we chose for our family. The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is something many of us pay lip service to, but we rarely if ever have the opportunity to test it in any real way.
At HFP, 28 families elect every year to run a school together. While we are supported by our indispensable visionary and leader, Teacher Susan Eisman, and a strong framework and culture already in place from previous years, I believe our program’s success lies in truly connecting with each other around a common goal – in this case, raising our children.
Over time, I have come to realize that a co-op like ours helps parents learn and grow, not just children. Being a part of a tight-knit community like ours is an incredible opportunity to build something bigger than just a school program. Families in a co-op tend to get very close because we really do play together. We get to know (and love!) each-other’s children through parent-helping. There is also a greater level of trust between us because we all work so closely together.
It’s a wonderful feeling watching my children deepen relationships with people that I feel connected to as well. I also have a much greater ability to help them navigate these relationships when I have some personal insight to offer. As a community, we can give each other friendship and support, both emotional and material. We encourage our families to reach out to each other for playdates, arrange childcare swaps, share ideas and resources, and generally just tap into the positive energy that comes from connecting with each other around the children we love.
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.
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.
I don’t know for sure if our school is right for your family, but I feel certain that it is one of the best early childhood programs available and one that everyone should seriously consider. In my mind, it’s a bit of a hidden gem, and I want to encourage you to contact us for more information.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about our school or the co-op experience.
Membership Chair, Hawthorne Family Playschool
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org