Wheel Days and Tour de Parklandia

Riding on Wheels Days at HFP

A couple of big days are coming up at HFP. We’ll take over the parking lot on scooters, bikes, and wagons, erecting the traffic cones to make it clear this space belongs to us! Just as the trees are bursting with flowers, confident preschoolers are bursting with energy. Offering gross motor physical challenges is one playful way to positively channel that energy. Wheel Days honor those who pedal to school or enjoy biking for weekend recreation, while giving those who are newer to the thrill of pedal power a chance to practice. We’ll exercise, provide riding challenges and learn bike safety.

The wheels theme extends throughout our morning together. During circle, we’ll sing wheel songs, and we’ll snack on wheel-shaped crackers, oranges, and bananas. We’ll provide wheel-themed craft activities and sharing books about bike riding, wheel chairs and an annual favorite, “Gretchen, the Bicycle Dog”– a true story about a dachshund who  ” loses the use of her back legs after an accident but triumphs over her disability with the help of a set of wheels.” We’ll engage all five senses as we jumpstart summer with this joyful outdoor adventure.


Riding at Tour de Parklandia

We’re excited to announce another cycling event that one special HFP alumnus and her family have started. “Tour de Parklandia , For the Love of Parks” is a day of riding to and playing at parks all around Southeast Portland. Eric Noon, Tour facilitator, told us recently how daughter Aviella came upon the idea.

From what we can recall, she’s always been inclined to be on wheels. From the Baby Jogger (many miles as we never had a stroller), Burley trailer, balance bike and then onto pedal bikes. As we were fortunate enough to ride to her preschools (EFC & HFP) she felt like biking was essential transportation & enjoyment. So we’ve become accustomed to riding everywhere in and around the neighborhood. With all the riding between parks for meet-ups, play dates, gardening, classes and the like, the idea sprouted up that we should host a ride with friends. And the natural choice to tour was parks. Aviella and her inclusive spirit wanted to invite everybody and the ride evolved from seven parks the first year, then eight parks and now nine parks this year. We like to have music, raffle, snacks, safety meeting and lots of fun with familiar faces and parks. Looking forward to touring around the parks again real soon. Hope you and yours can join.

Aviella’s “Tour de Parklandia, For the Love of Parks” will take place THIS SUNDAY, May 7th, at 12pm, starting at Sewallcrest City Park at SE 31st Ave & SE Market St, Portland, Oregon 97214. HFP and friends are invited to join. Let’s ride! 

9 Reasons You Need to Be at Hoopla! – HFP’s Costume Party Benefit

Circus Cascadia     Teacher Susan with HFP parents

On April 8th, HFP will host the party of the year at Oaks Park Dance Pavilion. Hoopla! will include a massive array of home-made dishes and desserts, versatile entertainment for the kids, a beer and wine bar, and a silent auction with outstanding gifts and services.

  1. It’s a Party

    We’ll have food, prizes, entertainment, beverage, costumes, circus-practice, music, and merriment.

  2. Your friends will be there

    Including HFP alumni and everyone’s favorite preschool teacher!

  3. It’s like Halloween in April

    Who can resist? Kids and adults alike come adorned in their favorite costumes.

  4. Support local businesses

    Donations all collected from Portland or Oregon businesses.

  5. FOOD

    So much home-made goodness and more dessert than you could hope for.

  6. The silent auction

    Check below for a sneak peak at some of the auction items.

  7. Big bang for your buck

    A $5 suggested donation per adult (kids are FREE) will get you dinner and entertainment for the entire family.

  8. Memories

    It’s one of those events your family will remember for years to come.

  9. Support HFP’s commitment to fair financing.

    Hoopla! fundraising efforts fuel our tuition assistance program, our sliding fee tuition scale (allowing families to pay according to their means) and a competitive teacher salary/benefits package.

The party of the year will be held at Oaks Park Dance Pavilion, April 8th, 4-7pm. $5 suggested donation per adult, kids are FREE.



  1. 5 rider package to Lumberyard Indoor Bike Park
  2. Two-night trip to the coast at an Airbnb!
  3. One on One parent coaching
  4. Massages
  5. Chocolate. So much.
  6. Raffle – $5/ticket to win a rafting trip with Blue Sky rafting or Timbers tickets

Hawthorne Family Playschool’s Open House is Around the Corner!


We are having an Open House! Join us Saturday February 11th, 10am-12pm to check out HFP and meet our members.

Stop in, play, tour and…

  • Meet other co-op parents and play-schoolers
  • Learn how parents are involved at HFP
  • Chat with our Membership Director
  • Collect/fill out an application
  • Visit and play in our play yard
Quiz: How do you know you should come to Hawthorne Family Playschool’s open house?

Would you like to…

  1. Strengthen your parenting skills?
  2. Connect with other like-minded families?
  3. Nourish your family’s connection to nature?
  4. Create a more just and caring society?
  5. Learn alongside your child?

Would you like your child to…

  1. Foster strong friendships with children and adults?
  2. Love learning and going to school?
  3. Deepen their connection to nature?
  4. Learn to notice and celebrate differences, along with similarities?
  5. Connect with the nutritious food they prepare and eat?
  6. Play outdoors in a stunning nature-scape play yard, rain or shine?
  7. Grow more confident, caring and invested in everything they do?
Quiz results: If you answered, “yes” to any of the above, our program might be the right fit for your family!

For school hours, ages, and tuition information, click here!

HFP is located at 2828 SE Stephens St. in Portland. See you there!

HFP’s practice combines philosophy with action.

In an age in which teachers are pressured to teach academics, stripping learning from any meaningful context, HFP’s practice values play at the heart of our curriculum.

In an age in which face-to-face time diminishes along with the increase of screen time, we nourish children’s social learning as we assist them in gaining skills to build valuable relationships.

In an age of extreme individualism, we believe in the value of a caring and engaged learning community.

In an age in which parents of young children are exhausted and isolated, we bring families together for meaningful work, social engagement and support.

In an age of oppression– in which some people are valued yet many are not– we seek non-sexist, multicultural and anti-bias learning experiences through conversations, activities and materials that celebrate diversity and honor a range of people, cultures and experiences.

At a time when there’s a growing awareness of the disregard for our planet, we take seriously our role as stewards of the earth, nurturing children’s connections to the natural world.

HFP safeguards childhood so children may learn joyfully.

Four Steps to Boost Your Child’s Emotional Agility

A child I led to the play yard door refused to wear or carry his jacket. I gently reminded him again to go and get it. He protested and began to cry loudly. We’ve all been there: a distraught child stands before us and we, as caretakers, need to help. What do we do?

My thoughts flashed, “How can I turn this situation around? I need to help this child get outside with his jacket as quickly as possible. Should I not acknowledge his whining and repeat the direction? Do I go get his jacket for him? Do I invest the time to try to calm him down so he’s able to get it himself?”

If it were my son and we were at home, I’d have scooped him up without a  blink, plucked his jacket from the hook myself, then carried him outside on one arm, his jacket on the other.

Before I could act on any of these thoughts, however, Teacher Susan swept in and helped the child move through his feelings with ease in just a few seconds.

Promoting our kids’ emotional agility

We all want healthy, emotionally balanced kids. But sometimes we don’t have the tools to help our kids through these tough moments. Little did I know the article Teacher Susan sent me two days before outlined  the exact tools we’re featuring on this post.  I thought, “Yes! Bingo! This is exactly what Susan did with this child.”

Here are four steps outlined by Dr. Susan David, an expert in emotional agility, to build emotional intelligence in our children.

  1. FEEL the feeling fully.

Instead of trying to reassure, “It’s okay, don’t cry,” try acknowledging the emotion and your child for having his/her own very real feelings.

Teacher Susan knelt eye-level in front of the boy and said calm and low, “You’re upset, you don’t want to get your coat.”

2. SHOW the feeling.

Often we’d prefer our child not cry in a restaurant. Instead of having “display rules” as Dr. David calls them, try as much as possible to allow your child their feelings when and where they are processing them.

Susan acknowledged the situation as she assessed it. The child was eager to join his playmates in the play yard. He didn’t want to slow down and he wasn’t thinking about needing access to a coat to warm him up.  She talked with him then and there, in the midst of the busy transition outside.

3. LABEL the feeling.

When we identify and name the feeling ourselves, it helps us to see it in other people. We begin to distinguish between anxiety, frustration, or stress.

Susan empathized, “Honey, I think you’re feeling anxious as your friends head out to play.  And it’s frustrating to stop to gather your coat.”  Then she calmly reiterated the daily agreement about jacket-wearing or carrying. Predictable, consistent practices help children feel safe and sets them up for success. “You can wear it or carry it,” she smiled.

4. WATCH the feeling leave.

Feelings are transitory. Helping kids see the passing of hard feelings often helps ground them and make them understand that these tough moments pass, and most importantly, ties our positive interaction to the passing of these feelings.

Teacher Susan not only acknowledged his feelings, she also avoided a power struggle by empathizing with his resistance and then lovingly holding firm to the expectation. The child scooped up his jacket and handed it to her to help him put it on.

Dr. David reflects,

We can also help children to remember that we don’t necessarily feel the same emotion every time we have a similar experience. The high dive is scariest the first time. We might feel a lot of anxiety at one party, or in one science class, but have a different experience the next time.”

When I asked Susan  her perspective on nurturing children’s emotional intelligence, she shared:

Feelings give us  important information. We can support emotional literacy by listening to, naming, and validating children’s feelings as they arise. When children are in conflict with one another, we can coach them to notice their own anger, disappointment or frustration. We can help children notice the tightness in their chest or their friend’s furrowed brow. When children invite each other to play or lend a hand to another, we can mirror back their  excitement, joy and satisfaction.  We can help them notice a child’s twinkly eyes or wide open smile.  The problem is not in having the feelings, it’s in stuffing, denying or belittling the feelings when they arise.

When we feel rushed or uncomfortable with a child’s feelings, we sometimes we distract children from their feelings, or plow over their feelings, telling them they’re fine. The irony is that children usually dig in deeper or get stuck if they’re not given the space to actually have their feelings. Adults can play an essential role in helping children move through charged feelings simply by staying connected to children and acknowledging the presence of those feelings. We can teach children self-awareness and compassion by slowing down to honor their feelings. As we do, the feelings will move on, paving the way for the next experience.

The full article in the New York Times by 

For more information about supporting children with a range of emotions, check out Hand in Hand Parenting.

Photo from Flickr user Jessica Lucia.

Five Ways Parents Can Challenge Gender Stereotypes



Does anyone have ideas for how to challenge gender expectations with their kids?” 

A mom asked.  Other parents were eager to give examples on the meeting’s icebreaker question.

I recorded their answers for this post and asked HFP’s director and teacher, Susan Eisman, to share her thoughts on challenging societal gender constraints. She relayed five ways we can challenge stereotypes and adds –

I would like children  to express the full range of what it is to be human, in the ways that are most satisfying to each of them. But the restrictive gender scripts that we have learned, and the social messaging that has taught us that girls should be one way and boys should be another can interfere with that goal.

In many settings, the basics of clothing and toys have been assigned to one gender or “the other.” Behaviors are often tidily divided up so half the population is supposed to get access to certain ways of being, while the other half gets access to other ways of being.  Our children are at risk of internalizing these restrictive messages.

“Behaviors are often tidily divided up so half the population is supposed to get access to certain ways of being, while the other half gets access to other ways of being.”

We’ve learned the term “opposite sex” as though males and females are completely different. We’ve been taught a gender binary that truly hinders everyone. Institutional oppression works to keep these boundaries rigid. Sexism and male domination threaten to limit both women and men, and homophobia and transphobia work to keep us pinned into rigid options of behaving and living.

At HFP, we acknowledge that gender stereotyping hurts all developing children. As adults, we can be curious about the messages we have learned in our own lives, homes, books and movies, that informs ways to be female “or” male.  We can counteract narrow gender scripting so we pass on less bias and fewer hurts to our children. Below are five ways we can counteract this script along with examples parents shared from their own experiences.

  • Reflect on what values we’ve learned and want to keep, while considering those we have learned and opt to reject.

I think it’s so important that boys get affection, including physical affection. Ideally from a lot of adults and other kids, and hopefully get to see men showing physical affection to each other. And more than the one-arm hug that can be common.

“It‘s okay to cry, to be vulnerable and to be compassionate…  it doesn’t make someone less masculine, which is what ‘s typically taught in our culture.”

  • Talk openly about stereotypes.homevisits

A**** threw his ball over the gate at me while I was working in the office. He asked, “Can you throw that back to be? Do you have that skill?…Do girls have that skill?” LOL So I surprised him when he wasn’t looking by throwing the ball at him and asked, “What do you think? Do girls have that skill?” He answered, “Yes,” while laughing.

With movies, we’ll stop and talk about what’s a realistic depiction. For example, if there’s a bunch of boy heroes with one token girl, then we’ll say that’s not the way things typically balance out – that there should be the same number of girls and boys, and of course girls can be superheroes, too.

  • Expose children to people who have pushed against gender stereotypes, claiming an activity or outfit that is deemed outside what is delegated as their proper realm.

I want to show how strong women can be…by being that badass woman …by being the one in the household who is going to grab that hammer and build a shelf – not from daddy’s toolbox, but from Mom’s toolbox.  Some book I bought was about a toolbox and at the end it said something like “I found all of these tools in my dad’s toolbox.” To which I commented ‘The toolbox we have is Mom’s toolbox.'”

  • Use inclusive language.

It’s good to talk not only about the fact that boys and girls can both (hammer, bake, hug, whatever), but also that not everyone fits the boy/ girl binary. I liked the suggestion by one of the other parents who suggested using the pronoun “they.” I try not to stress or even say that “A**** is a girl. I do say it, because it is hard to avoid, but she has said things before about being a boy and I don’t contradict her. I just say, yeah, sometimes you’re a boy.”

  • Challenge assumptions to pave the way for more expansive parenting. 

When we’re playing with legos and if he says, ‘he’ for a lego person, I’ll ask him if the lego could be he/she or non-binary. If he’s asking me if someone’s a boy or girl on the playground, instead of asking (because it can be intrusive), we say, ‘whatever they identify as’. We also say that the ways people look outside don’t always match the way they feel inside.”

 We  play powerful roles in shaping our children’s experiences of gender. As parents, caregivers and advocates, we can help our children access a broader range of human expression.