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University Synagogue Preschool Interview

University Synagogue Preschool Interview

“What makes a quality preschool and how do I choose a good school for my child? “

This is a question I’m asked often from anxious parents feeling overwhelmed, trying to pick a school for their child. The next question I usually get asked is “Which schools do you recommend?”

Many of you know me from the parent coaching work I do. What you may not know is I’ve spent more than 10 observing in preschool classrooms and coaching dozens of early childhood educators across Orange County on understanding children’s behavior, reducing challenging behaviors in the classroom, and teaching more social-emotional curriculum to support learning and good mental health in preschoolers.  

Since I have this first hand preschool knowledge and I’m approached so often by parents looking for quality preschool programs, I want to work to bring together parents looking for schools with the schools I know and trust that are working hard to make a difference in the program they offer the children and families they serve. I’ll be highlighting schools I’ve toured (and asked all the right questions), done classroom observations in and/ or coached with the staff.

I recently spent some time with two fully devoted and totally awesome teachers from University Synagogue Preschool in Irvine. Both of them are very enlightened when it comes to teaching and what matters most for preschoolers. I asked them questions I feel most parents want to know and some questions parents need to know the answers to.  Here’s the highlights of what Jordana Kahn and Andrea Gosselin who would be involved in teaching our youngest kiddos, the 2 year old’s at University Synagogue Preschool had to say:

Share with me your thoughts on what you’re most focused on teaching this youngest group of preschoolers

For the twos, the year centers around separation and feeling comfortable at school. Getting used to routines. It’s about building trust between kids and teachers. We have to help them with separation and build that trust before any other part. So for us the first major thing is getting the kids comfortable and getting the parents comfortable. I always try to think, if I was leaving my child would I be comfortable leaving them in this classroom. We try to put ourselves in the parent’s shoes and make sure everything feels warm and welcoming and we’re on top of everything so they feel comfortable. Kids feel so much and if they notice their parents are hesitant then they’re not going to be so comfortable.

It’s also about social skills and learning to play with peers– sharing, using language, and taking turns and all the frustration that comes with that. We provide vocabulary for talking about their feelings. They’re learning to understand their feelings and we provide a safe place where all feelings are okay.

Language is also played into every single part of our day and what the kids do. We’re always modeling appropriate language. As teachers were constantly talking in like two year old speak for sure, “Can I have a turn?”

To teach the kids we use lots of flannel stories, songs and books. We have really open ended circle time. We make sure the kids thoughts and opinions are brought in and respected.

Language leaps definitely happen by the second part of the year and the kids are more independent. Now that they good with separation and they have a good relationship with us we start working on independence and self -help skills. We give them a lot of opportunities to do things by themselves – taking things out their cubbies, opening and closing things in their lunchbox, pouring water, zipping and unzipping. We build this skill gradually in them so we can build their confidence and not overwhelm them. We want to make sure that by the end of the year when they get to the three year old room they are ready.

Many of the kids have been home with mom and haven’t been in school before. There’s a lot that comes with being in a social environment so we teach them how to play. We have lots of opportunity for them to play and we’re in the play area playing with them or naturally modeling appropriate play for them. Play with a purpose for sure.

There’s also a lot of messiness that happens at school that doesn’t always happen at home - we encourage kids to have fun and that may mean getting dirty too.

How do you feel parents can best help get their little ones ready for preschool?

I always tell parents to talk about school a lot. Bring their kids to visit often before school starts and take pictures of the school and the playground so you can talk to your child and show them pictures to remind them of the school they going to.  Read books about going to school so they’re learning about school. Also encourage them to start doing some things on their own, starting that independence which I know is hard and requires a lot of patience. And leave them in the care of others- a friend or a grandparent to help with the separation.

Why do you love about working with this age?

I can’t even imagine teaching any other age. There’s an excitement about everything. Everything is new for them. And their pride in themselves when they do new things. The nurturing also really comes easy to me and I can connect with the kids and the parents in a warm and fuzzy way and create such strong bonds with the children and the parents. I get to hold the parents’ hands and I get to hold the kids hands. You get to grow with the kids’ and you get to grow with the parents and its just such a privilege.

This interview has been shortened for the sake of time spent reading on the blog. If you would like to know more about what Jordana and Andrea had to say please feel free to email me. If you’d like to learn more about the preschool or take a tour of the school please get in touch with the director, Heidi Kahn. You can reach Heidi at 949-553-3535 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you’ve read ALL the parenting books and still struggling with power struggles, tantrums or defiance with your little one I can help. If you’re thinking, “what am I doing wrong? Why isn’t what I’m doing working?” I can help. And if you’re using time out, punishment, and yelling and want more effective and simple strategies I can help.

If you want to learn more about how I can help you, or if you want to schedule a free phone conversation to see if my coaching is right for your family, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Your child’s potential is limitless. Their success begins with you.

Your parenting counts!

 

Heart of Connecting

My work is dedicated to supporting parents and early childhood educators in understanding and reducing challenging behavior in young children at home and in the preschool classroom.

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