Summer Fun at the HFP Community Potluck

Each summer our community comes together for a potluck and evening of fun in Sewallcrest Park. The event is open to all HFP families; alumni, continuing and newly enrolling. Thanks to all who ventured out to share in the festivities, and thanks to Rachael & Hailey for setting us up with sprinkler play!

Katie Messelt, mama to Z and C and HFP President sums it up perfectly:

“What a fun evening full of delicious food, playground fun and water play! It was wonderful to see everyone that made it out and we missed those of you who couldn’t. As I reflect on last year, I am in awe of Z and C’s first year of preschool: their growth and all the experiences but most importantly, the connections they made with their teacher, their classmates and families. The most amazing part is the community – not only for them, but for me! Parenting young children can feel lonely and isolating and I have felt so supported here at HFP. I hope you all will, too! Please don’t hesitate to reach out!” 










JOIN US for any or all of our remaining summer park dates. Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. All welcome!

Aug. 14th Woodstock Park,

Aug. 21st –Mt. Tabor Park (SE Side/Nearest cross street is SE Lincoln & SE 72nd).

Aug. 28th- Sewallcrest Park


Preschool Park Dates: Community Building in SE PDX

One of the great things about being part of a co-op preschool is getting to know the other families and becoming part of a community. We have the opportunity to strengthen this bond over the summer through our structured Park Dates. Each week, two families host at a different park in Southeast Portland. We gather to socialize, play and break through the isolation that parents of young children often experience. Many families strengthen the friendships we have formed throughout the school year. New families have an opportunity to connect and learn about HFP life. Bubbles, chalk and good times are abundant!









JOIN US for Wednesday morning Summer Park Dates!


“We’re Going to Be Friends” – Helping Children Navigate Social Situations

Written by Katie Messelt, HFP parent

Photo : Katie and her two children on an HFP field trip. 

One of the most wonderful things of Hawthorne Family Playschool is the wealth of knowledge we have at our fingertips! Between Susan and the other parents, I feel so supported navigating this stage of parenthood. Recently I contacted Susan looking for advice. On multiple occasions, my child said to me while looking at another child, “He (or she) is not my friend.” It seemed without reason or provocation. Two times, it was someone new at the playground and another time, it was someone at school. I didn’t want to overreact because I knew at this age it’s developmentally appropriate to be testing out language and seeing how their adults respond. 

Susan responded:

I typically try to help the child articulate their underlying concern. When a young child says “you’re not my friend” or “he’s mean” or some kind of blanket statement that sounds unkind or dismissive, they’re likely reacting to a hurtful behavior– an experience in which they’ve been wronged and they could use support understanding that. 

A child may say something about not liking another child to me. I try to unearth what specific behavior they don’t like that the child has done in the past.

For example, “Oh, you don’t like when people push you. Nobody likes to be pushed.” 

“You don’t like when someone is loud near you. Sometimes ___ is loud. You can walk away to get space from loud noises when they bother you.”

When a child makes an overarching statement about another child given their upset about a prior incident (the child was rough with them, or the child knocked over something they were building), I validate the concern and then try help focus their attention on the broader reality.

For example, “Nobody likes when someone is rough with them.” Or, “It’s frustrating to have your building knocked over.”  

Then I draw attention to the child of concern’s current behavior: “It’s looks like ___ is using gentle hands right now.” Or, “It looks like ____ is building right along side of you and all the structures are safe.” The attention is on what is actually happening rather than a hurt from the past. 

Looking back on the individual situations with my son, this all made so much sense! In one instance, the child who he said was not his friend had yelled at him and it scared him. I was able to separate the past from what was happening now. I have since seen my child and the other child make a connection and play together at school. Thinking back to the situations when my son didn’t know the other children, he was really communicating that he was uncomfortable and not sure what to do. On several occasions, we role played meeting someone new. After processing this for weeks, my child saw some kids that he didn’t know start to walk near us. He said confidently, “They are going to be my friends. I am going to tell them my name.” 


Tryon Creek Adventures

Families gather at Tryon Creek State Natural Area for our recent spring field trip. We access the natural areas within our city where we can extend the classroom and nourish children’s connections with nature. Children enjoy being together in the woods – exploring, hiking and climbing. Adults take in the lush beauty and visit as we weave through the forest. 










As we hike, we split into two groups so we can notice the details of the forest around us. Some get a close look at the beaver-gnawed stump. Others find fallen moss and squish it up into their hands. Some stop to check out a dead mouse observing it’s big ears and long whiskers. Others notice the dried mud & root clump beneath an overturned tree and wonder how many worms must have been crawling beneath.

Forest Bingo cards provide images of treasures that can be found along the way. Children look for each corresponding leaf, plant or animal. 


A beautiful fallen tree provides the perfect climbing structure and balance beam.    







After visiting the forest, we return to our own nature playscape adjacent to our classroom. Children balance on tree stumps in the ever-changing obstacle course, turn over garden stones to uncover squirming worms, and investigate the barely-visible, newly hatched spiders. Our natural world exploration continues–this time even closer to home.





Open House/Hop To It!

We held our annual Open House in conjunction with our annual rabbit-themed event this year, Hop to It!  A special thank you to HFP alumni parent, Karin McTeague of Sinfullysoft for bringing her beautiful Angora rabbits for us to hold and pet! Thanks also to HFP alumni parent, Liz Eisman, who took time away from Embodiment, her yoga and massage practice, to assist those meeting the newborn rabbits. Just as she does in her professional work, Liz brought attentiveness, tenderness and joy to the visiting young people and furry critters.

We were pleased to offer rabbit-themed activities for the community to share. 


HFP student alum, Georgia, shared her facepainting talents along with our friend, Tess Scholl. Both volunteered their time to make this event special and memorable. If you are in need of post-partum assistance, Tess provides family support in Portland and the surrounding areas. Please visit her website for more information. 


Children created artwork and munched on rabbit-themed snacks of carrot muffins, carrots, and bunny crackers. 



Bunny tails and ears were seen hopping around every corner of our play yard..



Thanks to all who came out and braved the cold! Great fun was had by all. We’re already looking forward to next year!