"It has been a valuable resource for the whole family. My two children, Miranda 6, and Fernando 4, received scholarships to attend the St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School. On the surface, it looks like education for children, but it's not like that, it's much more than that, over time I realized that it's a collaboration with teachers and parents committed to fulfilling and guiding the child to become who they want to be. I learned together with my children and husband that being a better parentis being able to learn from all the child's experiences, and as Co-op parents we were given the tools on how to be better parents in a pleasant and supportive way, which has given us confidence. We were really interested in the education of our children and being able to support them emotionally and socially. We are grateful that the preschool experience has helped our kids become who they are and helped us become the parents we are today. SHPFA has provided us this opportunity and it is something we are tremendously thankful for."
V-I-C-T-O-R-I-A, how my daughter will confidently offer to spell her name anytime we introduce her to someone new. She’s kind, smart, and one curious toddler. St. Helena Preschool For All has provided Victoria with the opportunity participate in a structured setting with teachers and other children. Had it not been for St. Helena Preschool For All, Victoria would not have been introduced to a school setting until she entered kindergarten. Since becoming a student at St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School (Co-Op) we have had the pleasure to witness her social and emotional growth. Victoria is eager to learn and play with others. She takes great pride in being a student at Co-Op and having “teachers and friends”. Prior to Victoria attending Co-Op I had great concern with Victoria starting school. She was shy, did not have much interest in playing with others, and when she did play it mainly consisted with taking toys out without much purpose. After having attended our first parent-teacher meeting, we learned Victoria’s fine and gross motor skills have significantly improved. Naming all her classmates, drawing people figures, naming her colors and shapes are just some of the academic skills she learned. Victoria understands the importance of sharing with her little sister and friends and is willing to “take turns” whenever instructed to do so. In addition to her normal year at Co-Op, St. Helena Preschool For All offered Victoria the opportunity to attend summer camp at Suns and Stars Montessori. She attended camp daily and loved every day she went.
In addition to all of Victoria’s developmental growth St. Helena Preschool For All has also provided both my husband and I with a parent education program that provided us with tools we can utilize to better support both our girls at home. I can honestly say that the tools and information afforded to my family has given us strategies to build strong and healthy relationships with Victoria and our one-year-old. Although everyday comes with different challenges, we parent confidently together. Thank you to the program and all the supporters who have made this possible for Victoria and our family
The St Helena Cooperative Nursery school has proudly been in partnership with St. Helena Preschool for All since its inception in 2010.
Over our 11 years working together, the Co-op and PSFA have made it possible for many children to walk into our schoolhouse each fall and emerge each spring with broadened minds and expanded social-emotional skills that support their success in Kindergarten and beyond. PSFA children and their families have diversified and enriched the Co-op community, bringing our core values of equity, empathy, and full inclusion to life as children discover and learn together through play.
The collaboration of PSFA with the Co-op and other inclusive up valley preschools, and the St Helena, Howell Mountain and Calistoga School Districts is an inspiring model. It is our belief that a community united in practicing values like compassion and integrity promotes development of those same values in its children. Our sincere gratitude and respect goes to the donors whose generosity makes PSFA possible: this investment into our community’s children is an investment into our community’s future. As we say at the Co-op, “Kindness counts!”
PSFA has truly been life-changing for so many local families, and is a wonderful living example of unity and progress. It really does take a village to raise a child, and we are honored to be joined with PSFA as members of this village. To each and every donor, no matter the amount, the Co-op sends a great big thank you for joining the PSFA team in building a better future for all.
St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School, Director
Why is Preschool Important?
Over the years I have had many people ask me my opinion about the need for preschool before kindergarten for their children. My answer always emphasizes the importance of their child’s social and emotional development before beginning kindergarten. In my experience, children that have gone to preschool at least one year prior to kindergarten have more developed social skills and they can articulate their emotional state and feelings more clearly to adults and their kindergarten peers. I believe preschool provides young children the opportunity to strengthen their social skills such as learning how to listen, follow directions and routines, talk nicely, be kind, take turns, show compassion and empathy. Preschools encourage children to explore their independence, listen to others, and try new things. Preschool also provides children with the opportunity to develop their language skills and build their vocabulary through songs, books, and interacting with new friends. In some cases, they learn another language. All of these skills build a preschool child’s confidence as they make the transition smoothly to kindergarten.
What difference has the St. Helena Preschool for All program made in your experience with children?
As a kindergarten teacher in St. Helena Unified School District for the past 23 years, I have seen the benefits preschool provides for young children firsthand. With the development of the St. Helena Preschool For All community outreach program I have seen the increase of students coming with preschool experience to kindergarten at St. Helena Primary each year over the past 10 years. I have been impressed with the social, emotional, and academic skills these students have when they begin kindergarten. These students arrive with a sense of confidence, excitement, adventure, and eagerness to learn. I have also noticed the sense of community many of the families display when they see preschool friends in their child’s kindergarten classroom. There seems to be a sense of relief and happiness on their faces when the parents realize their child has a friend or two to share their new experiences with and that their child will see a familiar face on that first day. I feel the St. Helena Preschool For All program, the local preschools, and their teachers have been a big reason for the success of the students that attend St. Helena Primary School. Working together as a team has helped each one of the students feel comfortable, enthusiastic, and ready to continue to learn. It gives young children a head start to their learning journey. It provides opportunities for students to have a solid learning foundation in which to build upon in their primary years. Finally, it encourages more young children within our community to attend preschool, who otherwise may not have had this opportunity.
Transitional Kindergarten Teacher at St. Helena Primary School