What children learn when they play…

People ask me, “What are the children learning? They are just playing….”

Play is a child’s work. To create an open ended environment, where children feel they can choose without limitations, takes an eye for knowing what children are interested in and allowing them to explore. Here are a few examples of what are children are learning:

When we easel paint we learn to develop eye hand coordination, imagination, relationships to size and space, symmetry, and that my ideas have value.

When I play dress up I learn to be flexible in my thinking, to express myself with words, to try on different adult roles, to sort and organize, and to improvise in a symbolic way to represent abstract thinking.

When I play in the sand I learn the concepts of color, size, volume and shape, I learn to solve problems, how to negotiate with others, and to observe changes in matter.

When I draw and scribble I learn to hold a pencil, hand eye coordination, concepts of color, shape, and to express myself with words when describing what I have drawn.

These activities go on and on, and with each one there is a skill set being acquired through play.

I have been defending play for 30 years and will continue to do so everyday at La Canada Preschool…please consider coming to play with us.

Our Staff at La Canada Preschool/ How can I get a tour?

I can never say enough about the amazing staff we have at La Canada Preschool. They are the soul of the school, who show the greatest amount of patience and kindness you will ever experience. Mr. Hugo has a way with the children that is both light and strong, as he comes to use with 35 years of working with children, both professionally and personally. Miss Ericka is our lead teacher in the Pre-K and she radiates love and warmth. As a Pre-K teacher for seventeen years she comes to us with a vast knowledge on what is best practice to get your child ready for Kindergarten. Mr. Tony has worked with me for seventeen years, and has an way with the children that is calm and reassuring. He has a great intuition about observing the small nuances’s of each child and it comes through in his interactions. Miss Melissa works with us part time as a teachers aide, and brings her daughter Lilah to school with her. Miss Lori also is a part time teachers assistant who brings her daughter Isis with her as well.

We would love to have you come visit us for a tour: Monday through Thursday by appointment : email is best:




Thank you for your consideration,


Creating a school family

One of the most important things we do here at La Canada Preschool is create a school family. When your child comes to preschool they enter the big world for the first time away from home. Here they will look to form a secure attachment with others. When you come to visit us you will notice how connected the teachers are to the children. Parents have told me that what makes our school stand out are the close connections they see between each teacher and all the children.

Our school family concept is promoted through an ongoing discussion we have with the children about being mindful with each other just like we are with our family at home. In the school family framework we teach children how to resolve conflict through respectful communication skills. We discuss how we take care of each other and work through our differences.

While there are many good preschools there are few environments where it feels like family. Consider coming to see our school family for a visit.

What do you need to know about enrolling at La Canada Preschool

We are all so busy, so by the time you read this maybe what you are looking for is what do I need to enroll at La Canada Preschool?

1. We have a choice of four programs: M-F 9 a.m till 12 noon, $620.00 per month, MWF a.m. 475.00 per month. T-TH a.m. $350.00 per month,

and Pre-Kindergarten 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. $650.00 per month. You can combine programs, and there is extended care for the morning students till 1:00 p.m.

2. There are two extra fees: $195.00 registration and a fundraising charge of $300.00, both once a year.

3. You are responsible for NO FUNDRAISING, meaning no time from you is spent to raise money for the school.

4. What sets us apart is we are a small, intimate environment, with only 30 children in the morning and 15 in the Pre-Kindergarten.

5. Our staff is highly educated, with teachers having masters degrees in education as well as children’s art.

Email us at lacanadapreschool@gmail.com or call 818-790-2764. Tours are available any day by appointment. Email is best:)


What is it you are looking for in a preschool? Is love on the list….

When you are looking for a preschool, what is it that is on the list of qualities you are looking for?

Here is a sample of what parents have shared with me:

1. A loving enviroment

2. Low teacher/student ratios

3. A place where their child is accepted for who they are

4. A place where their child will be prepared for the next level of their education

5. Open and constant communication

Here at La Canada Preschool one quality parents say they feel is present is the love we show the children. In the fearful world we live in many schools are afraid to hug, hold or show loving gestures towards a child. I believe this is a disservice, and needs to be reinstated as part of the daily curriculum. Without a hug, a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on where do children feel that loving connection with a teacher? I have been told that we need to let parents know here at La Canada Preschool the love for the children is on the forefront of our interactions. The kindness and acceptance for each child is seen in a teacher holding a child, giving hugs daily and always making time for loving interactions through out the day.

When you child grows up they may not remember when they learned their ABC’s, but their soul will remember that they felt a love for school that will stay with them forever.

What are you looking for in a preschool? Is love on your list?

Are you happy at your current preschool?

Are you happy at your current preschool?

Are you happy at your current preschool? It can be a feeling you get when your child comes home and just doesn’t seem to like school, or maybe you feel that the school is just not a right fit. Here are some signs to look for:

Your child complains about going to school

You feel uneasy about the school when you drop in unexpectedly

There seems to be a lack of communication from the director

There is not a lot of art work coming home

You aren’t hearing your child singing songs they learned in school

There are not any social connections being made by you or your child

At La Canada Preschool we are sensitive to your family and believe we can help make a transition to a new school a smooth one. It takes patience and understanding to integrate your child into a new school. What is required is an understanding of the fact that not only is this a big process for your child but for you as well. Sometimes even more so for you the parent. I have been on both ends of this, as a parent myself and an educator. What is essential is to slowly bond with a child who has moved schools, as well as acknowledge the change. We often write letters with the new children, where they talk about their feelings of being at a new school. There is also a friends book we send home, where there are pictures of all the children with a biography, providing a great visual for you to share with your child.

While it can seem hard to make a mid year change is schools, I think we must always do what is best for your child. It is too important of a time in your child’s development to not find the best fit. Change is good when it is handled correctly, and we can do that for you here at LCP:)

What to look for in a preschool ?

Parents in California now have many options when looking for a preschool. Transitionary Pre-Kindergartens are being offered across the state, with little to no research behind them, and many families choosing them because they are low-cost and guaranteeing to “prepare” your child for Kindergarten. While these are important considerations for a family, it is also important that families consider their child’s future based on the parent’s goals for the child and the child’s future in an public or private education.


La Canada Preschool is set in a warm part of Los Angeles, right under the mountains in a close-knit community. The Preschool, which began in 1949 offers a home atmosphere that is warm and inviting, supportive and flexible. Children enter school through a gate and are offered more than the just the same old curriculum that meets standards and state requirements. Music is played daily and private teachers come in to play live instruments with the children. Art is offered every day, one-on-one and sand and water are always available for children’s play.


While the morning program and afternoon program are separated by age groups (younger children can attend the morning while only pre-kindergarten aged children attend the afternoon) children are mixed in culture, language, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Owner and Director, Debbie Bacino, offers a flexible plan for children and parents. Teachers meet with parents to discuss children’s development and discuss goals children are working on mastering. All the teachers are versed in early childhood education literature and have knowledge regarding children’s development.


What may be lacking in the Pre-Kindergarten Transitionary Kindergartens is the understanding that children’s goals are not necessarily things they cannot do, but rather skills they are mastering. Since children are being pressure to read and write at an earlier age, the majority of social and emotional understandings are overlooked and eliminated from a teacher who is supervising 24 children at one time.


A family that is looking for the right preschool program needs to consider the school’s goals for the child and see if they match the parents. It may be difficult for some schools to match individual goals of each child when they are pressured to provide certain curriculum. Einstein was known for encouraging children’s imagination and in the age of technology and standardized education children and teachers may be forgetting this aspect of the mind and its purity before the box is setup and they are told what to learn.


A sociocultural perspective is definitely a theoretical foundation at La Canada Preschool. Teachers learn from children and then decide what to provide and how to teach. Each child is incredibly different, shaping the curriculum as the year unfolds. If parents are looking for individual care and supportive relationships then La Canada Preschool will surely fit their needs.


LCPS, March, 2013


10 Reasons why Art is important for Children

10 Reasons why Art is important for Children

When you visit a preschool it is essential to ask how much art the children are creating each day. At the core of learning is the desire to be creative, and children know the difference between true art and art that is directed by adult expectations. A good preschool needs to provide art through out the day, not just on certain occasions.

The best art is process art, where children are allowed to create their own vision, with the only result is that they like what they have created.

Why is art important? Here are ten reasons:

1. Art nourishes a child’s soul and true creative spirit.

2. Creating art promotes self esteem.

3. Art encourages children to give attention to the physical space that surrounds them.

4. When creating art children learn to solve problems and think for themselves, known as critical thinking.

5. Art teaches children to use their senses.

6. Children can share and reflect on their art work to help them makes sense of the world they live in.

7. When art is integrated with other curriculum, children commit to the learning process.

8. Art stimulates the right and left side of the brain.

9. Art teaches there is more than one way to solve a problem.

10. If a child learns to love art, this will stay with them forever.

If we want children to love art, it needs to be a part of their daily preschool life. This will far outlast knowing their ABC”S or how to write the alphabet.

But my child reads at a second grade level: what are you teaching at preschool?

When people come to tour my preschool I am frequently told by parents that their child is reading at a second grade level; then asked what are you teaching the children? Upon entering a yard under the shade of a Chinese elm tree you can see the children coming in, finding an activity such as digging a river in the sand or creating art with a marble, a box, paper and paint. There is play dough made fresh everyday.

A friend is being made while other children are thinking about making a friend.

Developmentally when we study children’s play we are looking for how best to teach each child individually, with objectives that are appropriate for their stage of development. While parents, and my apology in advance yet it is usually fathers, seem to want their children to learn academic principles, feeling that play is something children can do at home.

While that is true, as I raised four children and they all played at home, children need to learn to be capable and cope able away from their home environment, as someday they will need to be independent of their parents. This is a huge task when you think about it. At the same time if a child can be given the time to develop at home as well as in a school environment from a preschool age with an emphasis on social emotional development, studies show children being more secure in the world, with healthier social relationships, and even a higher income. All this through exploring the world in a school where children are playing, even while they can read at a second grade level.

How do preschools handle discipline?

How do preschools handle discipline?

Discipline is an important topic when working with children yet it can be a topic that is minimized or under spoken of by parents when looking for a preschool.

Here are the methods of discipline used in preschools:

time out or conflict resolution

There was an old school theory which still exists that time out is the best way to handle discipline in schools. Just search and you can find many schools and parents using this as a way to remove the child from the conflict, sending the message that the behavior needs to stop. While I believe it has its place in your home, in a school  setting it can make a child feel shame for being singled out in a public setting.

Conflict resolution suggests that children are educated about the value of communication that is respectful and honest, while expressing feelings of being hurt by someone’s actions.

Conflict resolution requires that teachers are trained to help children by modeling communication that is calm and well spoken, where teachers can also interact with children by teaching them how to articulate their feelings.

There are six steps we use at La Canada Preschool to teach conflict resolution:

1. Approach the children in conflict calmly and stop the conflict

2. Acknowledge everyone’s feelings

3. Gather information about what has happened

4. Restate the problem

5. As for ideas from everyone for a solution and help choose the solution

6. Be there to follow up and give support

When you are visiting a preschool ask the teachers and directors how do they handle conflict with the children. It is a question that is often overlooked yet one that becomes important as it will effect your child and set the stage for their ability to understand conflict in a social setting.