When you’re a parent, one of the most important decisions you can make about your child revolves around their education. Their formative years are important to their lives, and how they progress through the system of education as they grow older. However, I know all too well about the struggles of picking the perfect preschool for your children, and how hotly contested the conversation can be around the beginning of the journey that’ll lead them to their future! Thankfully, Portland is home to some of the best preschools in the Northwest, and my guest this week tells us all about her amazing classroom, and how she can help you with your preschool decision.
Susan Brown is the current owner and teacher at Happy Hearts Preschool. Originally founded in 1984, Susan bought the business in 2000 when the previous owner retired and has been running it successfully ever since! Together, Susan and I talk about what got her interested in Happy Hearts Preschool, what sort of things you can expect your child to take part in when they sign up for classes, and the outings and field trips the kids get to enjoy once a month. Let’s get started!
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- How Susan came to run Happy Hearts Preschool! A half day preschool for 3 – 5-year-old children, the original owner founded it in 1984, after struggling to find a suitable preschool for her own children. Susan started volunteering and enrolled her own children there, and once the original owner retired in 2000, Susan bought the business and took over! She’s been involved since 1993, and works with one other assistant teacher to keep the school running!
- Susan tells us about the sort of things that kids can do in the classroom. They get a lot of hands-on learning in the classroom and are tasked with jobs they can do that teach them a bit of responsibility. There’s a mix of academics learning and playing, and the kids learn how to be independent. Susan also lets the kids get used to being in front of others and being in front of crowds to help prepare them for presentations in elementary schools. 2 times a year they’ll have evening programs as well, where the kids will perform in front of the parents! They learn problem-solving, patience, empathy, self-esteem, and what it’s like to be in a community.
- Susan tells us about the field trips that the kids can take, stating that they go out once a month to explore the city and learn how to make friends in different settings! It also provides a place for the parents to get to know each other as they chaperone, while also engaging with the kids as they learn. Field trips can be a variety of things—during the holidays, the kids can go to the pumpkin patch, as well as visiting retirement homes to go caroling!
- Susan talks to us about the philosophy of her classroom, and how important it is for her that their doors are open to everyone and anyone. At Happy Hearts Preschool, Susan explains that they’re dedicated to building positive self-esteem and self-stability—they have several hands-on stations in the classroom that allow kids to get interactive, and those stations will change weekly to encourage new things for them to learn. They don’t “rescue” the kids if they’re having problems, either—instead, they’ll try to help them solve the conflict, and own what’s going on (in terms of disputes).
- Susan talks to us about the interaction that she encourages between the classes and the parents! There are 2 classes kids can enroll in—one that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and one that meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—and overall, Susan says they take 20 kids per class. There’s also a sign-up sheet outside of the classroom (as well as newsletters and calendars of their events so parents can keep track of what the kids are doing to get involved with detailed conversations) where parents are encouraged to volunteer their time in the classroom!
- Susan talks to us about what they do when the kids start misbehaving, explaining their process as calm and caring, as opposed to something like “time out”. She states that the disruptions happen the most during what’s called “circle time”, which requires the kids to be quiet and listen. That can be hard for young children, and when kids start getting riled up, they’ll move them to a chair outside of the circle and have a teacher sit with them in order to calm them down.
- To parents that are debating on sending their children to preschool, Susan highly encourages it! Both of her children when to preschool, and she’s seen so many kids come through that benefit from the enriching experience. Preschool teaches kids independence, and it’s a chance for them to get used to being without their parents and helps to ease the separation anxiety that comes with going away to school for longer periods of time as you progress in the grading system. Susan also states that she sees kids who go to preschool taking on leadership roles in kindergarten due to their experience!
- Susan explains that potty training is preferred before coming to preschool, though she does see kids in pull-ups every so often. The classroom has a bathroom that was painted by a mother of a student, and it’s encouraging to see other kids using the bathroom, and helps those in pull-ups want to do the same. In case of emergencies, however, kids do bring another pair of clothes if they need it!
- Lastly, Susan tells us why parents should choose Happy Hearts Preschool, stating that they’re very organized, very clean, and they work hard to keep the parents involved in the conversation regarding their children, what activities they’re doing, and where they’re going on field trips! There’s an orderly schedule, and it gives the kids a sense of comfort to be able to depend on that schedule when it comes to learning. There’s nothing stagnant about it!
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Did Susan not get to answer a burning question on your mind? No problem! You can get ahold of her at this email, or through their Facebook account listed above. Portland is a wonderful area to raise a family and begin that chapter of your life, and amazing places like Happy Hearts Preschool aims to make that beginning nothing less than sublime!