Preschool Younger Classes

Age 3 by November 15th

Tues - Thur

8:45 - 11:30 am


Preschool Older Classes

Age 4 by November 15th

M - W - F

8:45 - 11:30 am


Kindergarten Classes

Age 5 by November 15th

M - T - W - Th - F

12:00 - 3:30pm



Garden Home Recreation Center

7475 SW Oleson Road

Portland, OR 97223

Phone: (503) 388 - 2266

Small Friends Kindergarten - Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about our Kindergarten Program and see it in action at our blog .. please click here

Why did Small Friends add Kindergarten?

For years we heard parents say, “If only Small Friends had a kindergarten program!” We know that many preschools offer a third year and it is something the staff had discussed off and on for a long time. We had space to put it, staff excited to teach it and we welcomed the opportunity to provide a kindergarten that is consistent with our philosophies about best practices in early childhood education.

How did you decide what you wanted this Kindergarten to look like?

We knew we wanted a program that was a natural extension of our preschool, consistent with the philosophies that have guided that program. We went and observed at schools we felt were both high-quality and similar in philosophy to what we want to provide. We observed children in these programs, visited with the kindergarten staff at these schools and discussed them together as a staff. Schools we visited included Catlin Gable, OES, and The Arbor School. We consulted Sue Diers, who founded Small Friends over 20 years ago and has been teaching kindergarten in Beaverton for nearly as many years. We also looked to the NAEYC Position Statements on early childhood/kindergarten programs. Taking all of this into consideration, we wrote our Mission Statement (please see our brochure).

Is this “real” Kindergarten or “pre-“ Kindergarten?

We believe that kindergarten programs should be ready for children and not the other way around. We expect that our program will appeal to parents for a variety of different reasons which may include wanting to provide a “first” year of kindergarten for their child. However, our motivation for adding kindergarten at Small Friends is not to help get children ready for “real” kindergarten. Our program is “real” and is geared to meet each child at his/her current level and move them forward. Our small class size and student/teacher ratio enables us to provide the type of kindergarten we would wish for every child. Instruction is implemented based on our observations and interactions with each child and what we know about how children learn. Because every child is different, they do not all end our year together at the same academic, social or physical level of development. Some will continue on to first grade and others may opt to do one more year of kindergarten. That will really depend on what type of program they are entering.

How are curriculum decisions made?

Our two primary references are the Oregon Department of Education’s Kindergarten Common Curriculum Goals and the Kindergarten Curriculum Goals as outlined in NAEYC Position Statements. Curriculum concepts are presented to all children in developmentally appropriate contexts with the understanding that each child will apply those concepts to the best of his/her current developmental ability.

What will the schedule be?(Please "Daily Schedule" on this website or our brochure).

What happens during Literacy Exploration?

Literacy time activities include:

  • Teachers reading aloud to children.
  • Children reading with teachers – individually and in small groups.
  • Children reading independently from materials in their book bags.
  • Children reading with a buddy or reading “around the room.”
  • Children receiving instruction/practice with specific skills as they relate to reading/writing/listening/speaking.
  • Children drawing stories.
  • Children writing and/or dictating stories.
  • Children drawing, dictating/writing, or doing other projects in response to stories.
  • Children acting out stories.
  • Children doing age-appropriate research – independently and in small groups with teacher support.

Literacy materials are selected based on the skills they require of the reader, quality of vocabulary and story development, quality of illustrations, relevance to our project work and because they are enjoyable to read/listen to.

Children have ample opportunities to practice these activities with support from their teachers before being expected to do them independently.

What happens during Math Exploration?

Our math curriculum is very hands-on, exploration based. While children learn a variety of ways to record information, they do not spend a lot of time completing worksheets. Math concepts are presented through a wide variety of hands-on activities that bring them to life. As often as possible, concepts are integrated with other things we are doing in the classroom so that children experience “math” as a very natural and prevalent part of their world. For example, as we near Halloween we use pumpkins for sorting/classification, weighing, measuring and simple computation.

How does it work to share a room with preschoolers?

Many of the items we make available to our preschoolers are very engaging and appropriate for our kindergartners. Of course, they use them in increasingly sophisticated ways. Nonetheless, a kindergarten room looks different from a preschool room. It is a priority for us to achieve a rich “kindergarten” environment without creating a noticeable discrepancy in the way our two preschool classrooms look. We have bulletin boards on tracks that we can pull out for kindergarten and put away for preschool. We have portable cubbies we can keep in the hallway for our kindergarteners to store their book tubs and projects they are working on. Some of our projects stay on display in the classroom because it is appropriate for the preschoolers to see “what the kindergartners are doing.” We changed the schedule in the morning preschool classes to allow time between sessions to adequately “transition” the room for our kindergarteners.

What about PE, Art, Library and Music?

We use the gym once a week and have a weekly library time. PE activities focus on large motor skills (jumping, skipping, kicking, throwing, etc.) and on successfully participating in a variety of organized group games. Emphasis is on enjoying physical activity and personal skill development.

I don’t understand the term “Emergent Curriculum.” Just what does that mean?

Our interpretation of this term is that while it is obviously important for teachers to have a set of appropriate concepts/activities/curriculum goals in mind as they plan, it also makes a great deal of sense for them to be careful observers of the children in their classrooms so that they can, whenever possible, follow the children’s interests. For example a teacher may have some ideas in mind for a science unit, but if she has a group of students who are really into a different science topic, she will adjust her plans so that she can still present pre-determined science concepts while at the same time capitalizing on the students’ interest and energy. It is very consistent with the approach we use in preschool, recognizing that the depth of a child’s learning is directly proportional to his/her interest in the topic or activity.

How are tuition decisions made?

Monthly tuition for kindergarten is based on monthly preschool tuition and is very consistent with our preschool rate.


2013-14 monthly tuition rates are as follows:

$215 non-refundable registration fee

$435/month for 10 months with June’s tuition paid one year in advance.


Kindergarten classes meet approximately 168 days out of the year for 3.5 hours/day.

What about parent helping?

Parent helping in the classroom is welcome but not required or expected. Kindergarten families do not currently serve on any Small Friends parent committees.

What about assessment?

We collect anecdotal information (observation notes), work samples and formal assessments to share with parents. We schedule conferences* with families in October during which we discuss each child’s school experience up to that point and together set the goals we will work toward during the year. We also schedule conferences* in late April/early May to look back over our year together and assess progress toward those goals. Of course, parents are always welcome to schedule additional conferences at any time.

*Conferences will be scheduled outside the regular school day.

How will I know what/how my child is doing between conferences?

You are always welcome to visit our classroom. We send home weekly class newsletters as well as the monthly SF newsletter (which includes information about the kindergarten class). We also host several “Open Houses” during the year when our classroom is open in the evenings and children share their learning with their families. We are often available in person, and always by email or by phone.

How do you support children in transitioning from preschool to kindergarten?

We ask you to fill out a brief survey at the beginning of the school year which will give you an opportunity to share with us anything you think will insure that your child enjoys a very smooth and successful transition to kindergarten. And of course we are very intentional about our schedule in September so that we do not ask more of the children than they can easily give. Our fall together will be a time of getting to know one another and of learning the processes and procedures of our classroom so that it does not feel like an abrupt transition but rather a smooth continuation from preschool to kindergarten.


If you are interested in looking up more information about our curriculum, the following websites may be helpful:


www.ode.state.or.us(search each standards category for kindergarten standards specifically)