What to say instead of "Good Job"

Do you ever catch yourself responding to your child's painting/building/potty-success with "good job?" While your intention is probably to encourage your child, you may be surprised to learn that praise often has the opposite effect.

Studies have shown that encouragement tends to foster intrinsic motivation and determination whereas praise, tends to undermine a child's perseverance and motivation.

Here's a wonderful article on Encouragement vs. Praise.

Next time you find yourself about to offer praise, try asking some open-ended questions/phrases instead.

For example:

"Tell me about your (picture, building, science project." (This allows children to focus on the parts they enjoyed or felt worked well)

"It looks like you are feeling pretty proud of yourself." (This places the focus on how the children feel about what they did as opposed to what they did. This encourages enjoyment of the process of creating and removes the focus from the outcome)

"I wonder what would happen if..." (This encourages critical thinking/problem-solving)

For further exploration, please check out these wonderful articles on Encouragement vs. Praise:



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Screen Time

Most parents have read articles regarding screen-time and its affect on the development of young brains, but I suspect that few parents have read articles on how their own screen-time habits affect their family’s well-being.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen first-hand how cell phone use can cause parents to miss out on wonderful opportunities to engage with their children- in conversations about the world around us or life, in general. If not kept in check, our cell-phone use will likely create a sense of disconnection that could have a profound and lasting effect on our children, and society as a whole.

Here are some thoughtful articles on this subject. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/the-dangers-of-distracted-parenting/561752/, https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2018/12/03/experts-recommend-screen-time-limits-for-parents-too/

I would like to urge parents to take a good, hard look at how much time we are spending on our phones. What would happen if we reduced our screen-time by half, and spent that saved time interacting with our children in meaningful ways? I suspect we would see some wonderful changes in the way we relate with our families.

Let’s all work together to ensure that we are engaging with our children, and growing compassionate and connected human beings.

Important Information for Parents of Children Entering Kindergarten in 2017

Deadline to "Choice In" to Public Schools: moved up

If you have a child entering Kindergarten next year and you are planning on "choicing in" to a school that is not in your neighborhood, you will need to apply prior to November 14th. In past years, the window was open from Nov. 1st to Feb. 15th. Now it's only open from October 3rd-November 14th. This change significantly shortens that window! Here's a link to an article that discusses this in greater detail. http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/a-quick-and-easy-guide-to-school-choice-in-san-diego/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+vosd-all-stories+%28Voice+of+San+Diego%29

Kindergarten Forum

Please join us on Friday, November 18th, for a Kindergarten forum with some of the areas charter and private schools.

Thank You!


Wow- what a fantastic turn-out for our breakfast/spruce-up day! We accomplished more yesterday day than we ever could have hoped. Who knew we had such a skillful bunch of parents in our school community? 

Among the tasks we completed were:

Built four outdoor benches 

Planted herbs and plants in the front planters

Stained the flower boxes

Waterproofed the stumps and crates

Sanded the crates and little barn

Demo-ed the old planters/benches in the front

Set pavers for the new benches

Hung fabric to diffuse the fluorescent lights

Built a singing tree

Applied Acrylic to the outdoor table

Drilled hole for new hammock

Hung sail-shade over the sink (which including digging a post and burying it in quickrete, and a trip to Home Depot)

Installed latch on kitchen cupboard

Broke down cardboard to recycle

Repaired the light table

So many parents (and teachers, and even a teacher's husband) helped with so many things, I can't possibly name everyone. But I want you all to know that we truly appreciate all the hard work and love that you put into our school! The school is looking better than ever, and we are looking forward to a wonderful 2016-2017 school year!

Separation Strategies

Starting school can elicit some big feelings for both parents and children. Here are some useful strategies to help minimize separation anxiety.

Separation Strategies for Preschoolers and their Parents

A. Transition to school begins at home

1.  Talk to your child about the school day.

2.  “On Tuesday, I’ll bring you to school. You will get to play outside for a while, have     some snacks, and then play inside.”

3.  Let your child know that the teachers are there to help with anything that mom or dad would help with (skinned knee, opening a container, figuring out a puzzle)

4.  Allow plenty of time in your morning routine so that your child doesn’t feel rushed- establish a morning routine.

5.  Have your child help lay out clothes the night before.

6.  Honor the depth of your child’s emotions with regard to rituals- do not try to gloss over them. Just as you enjoy your morning routine, so does your child.


B. Preparing for the initial separation

1.  It’s important for parents to feel comfortable leaving their children with the teachers. Our teachers are attentive, nurturing, and warm, and they will do their best to help make this transition as easy as possible. If you have any questions for the teachers, please be sure to speak with them at the orientation.

2.  The teachers will set up a predictable and consistent environment for the children. Be sure to let them know if there are any special toys or activities your child would enjoy. We will do our best to have some of these activities set up for the children on the first day.

3.  Let your children know what to expect.

“I will walk you in, hang up your bag, and read one book. Then I    will say good bye.”


C. Saying Goodbye the First Day (Should Parents Stay?)

1.  Decide ahead of time how long you plan to stay on the first day of school.

2.  Let your children know how long you will stay, when you will leave, and that you will only stay the first day, or the first two days. Reassure your children that preschool is a safe place for children to play, and that the teachers will take good care of them.

3.  Please have your child walk in the gate holding your hand. This simple action lets your child know that you are comfortable with the idea of separating and that you are allowing your child to experience some independence.

4.  We encourage you to keep your drop-off routine to under 5 minutes. Even if your child seems uncertain or begins to cry, please do not stay longer than 5 minutes. When you allow the teachers to step in, it conveys to your child that you trust the teachers to care for your child in your absence. On the other hand, when you linger, your child will sense your ambivalence and become anxious.

5.  Know that we will call you if your child does not calm down within a reasonable amount of time.

6.  Remember to always say goodbye before you leave- it allows your child to establish trust in you and trust in the teachers. Once you have said goodbye, it’s important that you actually leave, and that you do not come back for one more hug or one more kiss, even if your child is crying.

7.  Remind your child that you will be back.

8.  Establish a close-ended ritual

a.  “After I read one book, I will say goodbye. Would you like to give me a kiss or a hug?” This gives your child some say over the ritual, but not about when you will say goodbye.

b.  Goodbyes matter: It doesn’t matter what you do in the morning, as long as you have a routine

c.  Make the unfamiliar familiar. Bring a transitional object (not a toy) to put in the cubbies, bring a family picture from home.

d.  Use non-clock time to mark intervals for children. “Mama will be back after the goodbye song.”


D. Reunions

1.  Always be prompt when picking up- children worry when they are the last ones to be picked up.

2.  When you pick up your children, instead of asking, “did you have fun?” ask your children to show you what they did at school.

3.  Focus on the positive. “What was your favorite activity today?

4. Check in briefly with your child’s teacher. The teacher will let you know if there was anything eventful in your child’s day.



We are constantly amazed by the generosity of the families at MHCP. This year, The Considine Family (from 8 years past) generously donated the funds to pay for our new awning. Our old one was torn off in the big wind storm in February. This was an unexpected expense for the preschool, and would have been a pretty big blow to our budget. The awning provides us with much-needed shade, and every time we're out playing, we think fondly of the Considine Family, and are warmed by their kindness and generosity.