Closed last school year due to the pandemic, the city of Los Altos’ Tiny Tots preschool is welcoming back students ages 3-5 at both of its locations.
The Terrific 3’s (for ages 3-4) program returned in September and Kinder Prep 4’s (ages 4-5) is slated to resume Jan 3.
“It’s something I really missed – being able to inspire the students and teach them,” teacher Sara Callahan said. “And I just can’t wait until we (do not have to wear a) mask, because I think that’s been problematic with young kids who speak very softly, and it’s hard to hear. When you’re teaching things like phonics, you know, they really need to see your face.”
Callahan added that the children are overjoyed to be with other kids, so much so that outside of preschool hours, many of the parents organize play groups to allow the youngsters even more interaction.
“For 3-year-olds, mom and dad were probably home, whereas normally maybe dad or mom, or both, would have gone off to work,” Callahan said. “So, they really have been kind of nesting together, and it’s doubly bad now because kids have been in their homes and not even seeing other children.”
Setting new rules
To make sure the children are able to interact safely, Callahan said she really wanted to hear what the community had to say, so she talked with several parents and teachers and read up on Santa Clara County COVID guidelines.
“(It was important) setting those roles at the beginning, making sure that not only the participants but the families understand all of those processes that they need to follow up,” recreation manager Jamie Chew said. “Usually we have sanitizers, things are wiped down in between and during program time, and we make sure that if a child is not feeling well or exhibiting symptoms (they are) recommended to stay home. So, all of those things are definitely in place and the kids are pretty good about following rules, especially when they do it in a kind of a fun manner, which our teachers are wonderful at doing.”
Chew enrolled her daughter in the program before the shutdown, noting that the preschool’s play-based learning approach was a big part of the appeal.
The preschool has two sites: Terrific 3’s is at the newly renovated San Antonio Club; Kinder Prep 4’s will be at the new Los Altos Community Center.
“I think that the exciting part is that there is a modern space that has the different areas that the teachers can create,” Chew said. “Just outside there’s an easily accessible playground area for the students as well. I think a lot of thought went into making sure that the space supported what the program needed.”
The Kinder Prep program at the center is scheduled to open Monday, and Chew said she is excited to see the space continue to be used in myriad ways.
“It’s really nice to see the community being able to come in and utilize the space,” she said. “We’re slowly but surely bringing programs (back and) it’s been wonderful to see the activity really expand and open the community center.”
For more information on the Tiny Tots program and enrollment, visit losaltosca.gov/recreation/page/los-altos-tiny-tots.