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Last updateTue, 30 May 2017 5pm

Food & Wine

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists


Blanche Shaheen/Special to the Town Crier
Ghraybeh shortbread cookies use sweet-tasting ghee in lieu of butter.

 

When Americans think of the shortbread cookie, they often imagine the traditional Scottish cookies, shaped like oblong rectangles and ...

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Your Health

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food


Courtesy of Community Services Organization
CSA staff load groceries to take to Castro Elementary School as part of a new outreach program for children and families enrolled in the free and reduced lunch programs at Castro and Mistral schools.

Maureen...

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Your Home

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art restorer Rho Brown performs delicate preservation work in her Los Altos studio, above. Once fully restored, below left, it’s difficult to tell which cherub was previously missing its head. Brown’s studio conta...

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On The Road

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S


Photo by Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier; Bottom Right Photo courtesy of Chrysler
The Andersons recently drove the new Chrysler 300S to Danville’s Blackhawk Museum, where they saw “The Spirit of the Old West” exhibition.

 

When you have a p...

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Senior Lifestyles

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life


RAMYA KRISHNA/TOWN CRIER
Doreta Strotman performs the classics with her signature jazz-style improvisations at Los Altos Grill Sunday evenings. The Mountain View resident has been playing since the age of 4.

Sunday evenings, Doreta Strotman’s job is to...

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Wedding To Remember

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox


 

With nine fine-jewelry retailers concentrated along the Main Street corridor, downtown Los Altos offers a wealth of options for engagement and wedding ring shoppers. From one end of Main to the other, the choices range from the traditional to t...

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Your Kids

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards


 

Providing local students with a tangible outdoor learning experience, the Living Classroom program aims to support a new generation of students who are excited about the environment.

The Living Classroom serves 9,000 students locally in the Los ...

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Back to School

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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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