My 4-yo daughter attended VPP three days a week last year, in preparation for Kindergarten, and she absolutely loved it. She is a sensitive child who hadn’t been to preschool before, and I had worried that she might not be ready for all the chaos of being surrounded by so many 3- and 4-year-olds three mornings a week. Boy, was I wrong! It took her a few weeks to adjust, but with the focused care and attention of the loving teachers, who helped her find appropriate ways to express herself, and the working parents (who were so kind and empathetic to every single child) she was soon thriving and looking forward to going to preschool. I was delighted to watch her grow, week by week, over the course of the school year. She became more adept at expressing her needs, better at collaborating with peers and engaging in playtime that wasn’t directed solely by her, and always came home with the coolest projects that she loved telling me about. (“I drove a toy car through paint to make these lines!…I made a snowflake out of a tortilla!… my teacher taped my paper underneath the table, and I laid on my back and painted upside-down!”) Every day my daughter had multiple opportunities to engage the world at her level, through art, songs, physical activity, reading, and a well-exercised imagination. After this last year at VPP, she is more than ready for Kindergarten.
As a parent, I was happy to have the chance to participate in the classroom, watching my daughter have fun, make new friends, and learn all kinds of new things. I will always cherish the time I spent working at VPP because it gave me such a clear window into my daughter’s growth: the challenges she learned to overcome as well as the special interests and favorite playmates that motivated her daily creative endeavors. I loved getting to know the other parents, too, and being able to share and receive stories about what we’d witnessed with each other’s children. My husband even managed to take time off from his job to work a couple shifts, and he had a blast watching all the kids playing and learning together. (Our daughter was so proud to have her dad at school, too.) Valley Parent is a special community of people — teachers and parents — who care about ALL the children in the school, in their unique and vibrant individuality.
The teachers at VPP — the heart and soul of the preschool — are unparalleled. Every single day I was impressed by the creativity and professionalism of the teachers, in the activities they concocted for the children and the way they varied the curriculum to adapt to the ever-changing interests of their young pupils, whether it be composting, butterfly life-cycles, dinosaurs, or filmmaking. I was also touched by their compassion and genuine care for the children — celebrating each child’s accomplishments and charm, but also being clear with children about behavioral expectations, and conveying those expectations in an age-appropriate way. And the teachers consistently gave excellent guidance to working parents about their assignments for the day, helping teach the parents how to create an environment that was stimulating and secure and inspiring for all the children. I wouldn’t generally call myself a kid-person, but I took so much pleasure from my involvement with the children at VPP on the days I worked there. I felt like I was making a difference in my daughter’s life and in the lives of all of her classmates, and that meant a lot to me.
Our experience at VPP played a critical role in my daughter’s readiness for Kindergarten. If I’d known how incredible VPP was, I’d have started my daughter as a 3-yo. I can’t wait for next year, when my toddler will be old enough to join the 3-yo class. He’s going to love it (and so will I).