Setting the Stage with Classroom Orientations

At the start of the new school year, teacher Susan conducts classroom orientations. Starting a new school year is exciting, but it can also be daunting or stressful – especially if it’s a child’s first school experience. A few new-to-HFP were unsure about the time commitment and finding care for younger siblings. Others had questions about the curriculum, the classroom, and the schedule. Experienced HFP parents share their knowledge, along with their confidence in the program and Susan’s leadership. These orientations provide an opportunity to offer reassurance, answer questions, and help first-year HFP families start the school year on more confident footing. 

The school’s community is one reason parents choose to bring their children to HFP. Over the summer, many families participated in weekly park play dates hosted by a different family each week. Social events like a popsicle social at the school and a playground potluck offer parents additional opportunities to meet and children time to play. Orientations offer yet one more way for families to get to know each other and build the groundwork to learn together.

Part of Hawthorne Family Playschool’s focus is to host an open dialogue around equity issues. For many parents, it’s important for their children to build a strong foundational understanding around issues of social justice. The orientations afford teacher Susan an opportunity to clarify what social justice-oriented education means at the preschool level, and to build shared investment in it.  Check out the handout,“Teaching Equity” emphasizing inclusive language. 

Teacher Susan invited families to share their excitements and trepidation about starting the school year together:

“We chose this school because the parent involvement is important for developmental growth.” – Mark, HFP parent

“I’m excited to come back and have parenting role models for myself. My son is a person of color, and I’m excited to help him learn about these big social justice issues in a gentle way.” 

“We were really drawn to the school for co-op aspect of it. Susan really holds the school in a special way I don’t think you see often in preschool.” 

“The sense of strong community really drew me to this school.” 

“Our son was having a hard time with acting out and after we started having the summer play dates, I noticed a big difference; he really started to control his body and seem more grounded.” 

“The connections you can make at this age are really valuable and strong!” 

“I’ve noticed a sort of awareness growing in my child around these big social justice issues, and I think it’s important, and great to have the opportunity to have those discussions when they’re little!” 

“The biggest thing we took from last year was that we can talk to our child even if it’s difficult and challenging culturally.” 

“I’m a little apprehensive about the time commitment, but I’m excited to establish a sense of community and work with you all!” 

“By the end of the year my child had grown so much! We were really able to connect so much during those summer play dates.” – Rachael, HFP parent

“I have been [generally] apprehensive, but the number of excited returning families eases me.” – Richard, HFP parent

“I’m really excited because I really love this community and I really love Susan’s style. I was amazed at how smoothly the parents navigated children’s conflicts.” 

“I’m excited to see how my child will grow and change outside of time with me.” – Natalie, HFP parent

“I’m a little apprehensive about my child transitioning! But I think my child is excited to get back into the flow of things.” – Cyan, HFP parent

“Last year at this time I was really apprehensive. When my child and I left each other, we both cried and cried and cried! Susan kept texting my pictures and that really helped and then the next week it was fine. This year I’m not apprehensive about anything!” – Nichole, HFP parent 

“We have an Asian family who grew up associating the race conversation with ‘color-blindness’ and assimilation. ‘We don’t talk about that.’ One of the reasons this school is attractive to me is because that conversation is on the table.” – Laura, HFP parent

“When we hush our children we are telling them there is something wrong with what they’re noticing.” 

Thanks to Susan for her input on this piece. Thanks to Kimberley, Teaching Assistant, for taking notes at our Classroom Orientation.


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