Our Location

Garden Home Recreation Center

7475 SW Oleson Road

Portland, OR 97223

Phone: (503) 388 - 2266

Our Hours

 Preschool Younger Classes

Age 3 by September 1st

Tues - Thur

9:00  - 12:00

Preschool Older Classes

Age 4 by September 1st

M - W - F

9:00 - 12:00 

Preschool Frequently Asked Questions

What is the curriculum?

The foundation of our curriculum is based on the value of relationship, language, play and investigations. We use the guidelines established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children as the backbone of our efforts. We see children as active meaning-makers who learn best through direct interaction, exploration, investigation and play. Materials and activities are selected based on their appeal to children and their potential for open-ended exploration. Our emphasis is on process rather than product and we view our role in the classroom as careful observers and active listeners who respond to children’s natural curiosity and interests. We do not have a predetermined set of curriculum goals that we present at scheduled intervals throughout the school year. Rather, we work with individual children, responding to them as they demonstrate readiness.  

How do you make sure children are “ready” for kindergarten?

Our goals for children as they leave our program are that they see themselves as capable learners, that they know their ideas have value and that their voices are important. We want them to love learning and to approach new experiences with confidence and enthusiasm. We want them to have age-appropriate self-control and know how to manage themselves in a variety of social situations. We want them to handle transitions well and be self-directed. We want them to LOVE coming to school! These have been our goals for over 20 years and we consistently hear from families and kindergarten teachers that children transition well to elementary school and experience great success.

What are your discipline policies?

We expect toddlers to act like toddlers – and that includes everything from hugging to hitting. A significant part of preschool is learning to communicate and interact successfully with peers. We find that the most effective way to help children develop these skills is to model, model, model and practice, practice, practice! When we observe children having difficulty, we enter the situation and work with them, giving them specific language to try and supporting them in their attempts. We have rules in our classrooms and expect a certain level of age-appropriate behavior, but understand that developing self-control and learning to “use their words” is a process that takes place over time. We do not use time-outs, as we do not feel they equip children with new, more appropriate skills. However, if a child becomes so frustrated or upset that s/he cannot effectively negotiate or try a different approach, we will redirect the child, moving with him/her to an alternative activity so s/he can gain control. If appropriate, we may sit with the child on a bench in the hall until s/he is ready to reenter the classroom. We maintain frequent, open communication with families and recognize that collaboration and mutual support are essential in assisting children with their behavior.

Is Small Friends a co-op?

No. Although parent helping is a condition of enrollment, parents do not have any administrative responsibilities. The total number of hours spent in the classroom or on committee projects are significantly less than they are in most co-ops.

Why are parents required to help in the classrooms?

It really does “take a village.” Having parents in our classrooms creates a community where children can experience a variety of rich relationships. They see adults working together and learn to be comfortable with a variety of people. As the school year progresses, parents get to know each other and many form friendships that last well beyond the preschool years. Being able to come into the classroom and see your child “in action” and to experience his/her life at school is a much deeper experience than just hearing about it through newsletters or in conversations after the fact. We like to maintain class sizes of 15 – 18 because we feel it creates an ideal social situation and increases the likelihood that children will establish meaningful connections with those who share their interests. Having 2 teachers along with 2-3 parents insures that children get essential adult interaction and support as well.

Can younger siblings come on parent-help days?

No. We ask that parents find alternative care on the days they are scheduled to help so that they can be fully present in our classrooms.

What kind of fundraising do you do?

WE DO NOT DO ANY MANDATORY FUNDRAISING! Small Friends is funded entirely through registration and tuition fees.

Does my child need to be potty-trained?

We assume that children will be potty trained by the start of school.  In our experience, children who are not at all interested in potty training are typically not developmentally ready to handle many of the routines and social situations at preschool, and would benefit from an additional year before enrolling. However, we also understand that each child is different and there are always exceptions! If your child is not successfully using the toilet please but you think s/he is ready for preschool, please discuss with our teaching staff.


I’m concerned about my position on the waitlist – will I get in?

We use a waitlist because it is the fairest way to keep track of enrollment. However, its length can be misleading and we find that once we have gone through the names (some of which have been on it for years) and eliminated those who have moved or who’s circumstances have changed, we are able to place everyone who wants to enroll.

Can my child stay with the same teachers for both years of preschool?

Our teachers all teach both a younger and an older class and we assume that children will stay with them for both years. Being with the same teachers and classmates provides consistency and strengthens the sense of community in each class. However, at the end of the first year, parents may request a change and we honor those requests whenever possible.