Last updateFri, 21 Oct 2016 5pm

Food & Wine

Savory succotash: A roasted salad for  early fall features tomato, corn and beans

Savory succotash: A roasted salad for early fall features tomato, corn and beans

Photo Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Fresh shelling beans, corn and tomatoes extend the summer’s fresh produce spree well into October.

Although the Los Altos Farmers’ Market has closed and pumpkins and winter squash are in ascendance, this month pr...



Your Health

Dose matters: Flu shot for older adults

Dose matters: Flu shot for older adults

Seniors can choose between two flu shots this season, Fluzone and Fluad.

The routine wisdom for most people, young and old, is to get flu shots early. Many people head to the nearest clinic or pharmacy and roll up their sle...



Your Home

Home Brief

Filoli has scheduled a new volunteer recruitment event 9:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 15 at Filoli’s Visitor & Education Center, 86 Cañada Road, Woodside.

Attendees can learn about the many volunteer opportunities at Filoli, including house and gar...



On The Road

Hydrogen haven

Hydrogen haven

Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Russ Ayres recently leased a Hyundai Tucson powered by hydrogen. The five-passenger SUV has a range of 265 miles. The nearest fueling station is in San Jose, but others are planned for Los ...



Senior Lifestyles

Expert offers strategies for seniors intimidated by the gym

Expert offers strategies for seniors intimidated by the gym

Courtesy of Brandpoint
To ward off “gym-timidation,” fitness expert Brian Zehetner encourages seniors to find a workout buddy and start slowly.

No one really relishes the idea of growing older and experiencing the health issues that can accompan...



Wedding To Remember

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....



Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accuratel...



Montecito: optimizing early-childhood learning

After reviewing new national and regional guidelines for best practices in early childhood learning, Montecito officials contracted with local early-childhood specialists Gayle Mayekawa of Foothill College and Dionne Clabaugh of De Anza College to optimize Montecito’s curriculum at the preschool level.

Mayekawa, an education consultant for child development programs, specializes in leadership coaching, curriculum planning and program design.

Clabaugh, Montecito’s new curriculum coordinator, focuses on early-education instructional design, teacher mentoring and program assessment.

For the tools to measure best practices, Montecito looked to the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s “Early Learning Master Plan,” developed by a team of approximately 100 education professionals, civic leaders and child-development advocates in 2010. The plan envisions a teaching model that takes a developmental approach to learning and aligns preschool curriculum with the K-3 curriculum.

“Historically, Montecito has sought to provide a quality program. We now aim to increase this quality by building a program around early education best practices,” Clabaugh said. “All classes and activities will support each child’s development in an environment of teacher-facilitated and child-initiated activities that are both developmentally and culturally appropriate.”

Traditionally, Montecito provided a preschool curriculum designed around a play-based philosophy where children learned basic academic skills through hands-on experiences. With Clabaugh and Mayekawa’s efforts toward creating a program based on early-learning best practices, the school plans to continue and strengthen the tradition of play-based curriculum as initiated 50 years ago.

Montecito’s mission isn’t limited to its school – it’s intended for the community as a whole. The preschool educators want to provide a model for the local educational community for how to best provide early-childhood learning.

“We understand that a high-quality learning environment requires strategic planning of activities, assessment of room arrangement and high-quality instructional practices that demonstrate respect for each child,” said Erin Mobley, Montecito School director. “Our commitment is to be a ‘Model of Excellence’ for the community of Los Altos.”


What to look for

in a preschool

Mayekawa shared tips on what local parents should look for in a preschool program. No. 1 is how teachers interact with the children.

For example, parents might observe a child play with blocks, dump them and walk away, line them up, stack them or use them to represent an experience.

“Given how children use the blocks, the teacher will make comments about what the child is doing so that children are exposed to concepts of math, science and language,” she said.

A teacher could support problem-solving by challenging the student to make the same type of structure with blocks of different shapes, and then discuss the changes.

At Montecito, teaching professionals now have an early-childhood education expert in their classrooms to observe and coach their interactions with students.

Continuous professional development is important to keep educators informed and up to speed with best practices, Mayekawa said.

Mayekawa and Clabaugh are collaborating with Montecito teachers this year to empower them with specific classroom strategies and to coach them on how to design activities that best support child development.


Indoor and outdoor play

“When parents look at a school, they should look for indoor and outdoor learning environments which are safe, accessible and inviting to young children while also being developmentally (age) and culturally appropriate,” Mayekawa said.

The outdoors in early-childhood learning is “one of the most valuable areas for children to develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives,” Mayekawa said.

On an ordinary day at Montecito, children could be riding bikes, pulling wagons, playing on a tree swing, walking a balance beam or looking for insects on the 2-acre campus.

But indoor education is important as well, and Montecito features six different indoor learning centers: blocks, dramatic play, science, listening/writing, music and story/quiet corner.

The learning centers are furnished with age-appropriate materials accessible to promote exploration, a skill that supports language acquisition and cognitive development.

“Children develop at different rates, so materials in each learning center reflect varying degrees of challenge and are rotated to provide new opportunities to support children’s intellectual growth,” Mayekawa said.

Mayekawa and Clabaugh said they are confident that, given the commitment of Montecito’s staff, the preschool can become a model school to serve not only its member families, but also the community. School officials hope the program becomes a training environment for early-childhood education students working to become teachers.

“Montecito has chosen the path of educational excellence, and seeks to refine the philosophy and teaching practices to model each area of quality in the Santa Clara County Master Plan,” Mayekawa said. “This level of education should be accessible to all children and to all families in our community.”

Montecito School is located at 1468 Grant Road in Los Altos. For more information, visit www.montecitopreschool.com.

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