Little Fawn Playschool
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- (July 2014) CCLD lists this daycare as "Closed"
I am interested in hearing about any experiences with Little Fawn Playschool in Montclair. I believe it is a fairly new school, perhaps in its first year currently. Has anyone had children attend or visited the school? Micheline
Heather Gray taught both my children at the pre-school at Mills College. She was first, my son's student teacher and later, my daughter's head teacher. She is without a doubt one of the finest teachers around and I would jump at the opportunity to send another child to her new pre-school. She has a vast knowledge of childhood education practices which underlies her incredibly gentle manner with both young people and adults. anon
Yes, Little Fawn is relatively new - founded last summer (2010), home-based, in the Montclair hills. My son attends 3-days-a-week. Our experience with the school has been really wonderful. Both Heather and Sarah are amazing warm-hearted kid-magnets and my son adores them. We chose Little Fawn for a variety of reasons - the program is based on a combination of Montessori, Reggio, and Waldorf philosophies. The day is relatively unstructured: the kids choose their own activities from the (mostly wooden) toys, various art materials, and outside play areas, and the mostly-organic food is available at any time on request, not just at snack and lunch periods. There is a circle time every day and the children do come together as a whole group for that, which usually includes books, singing, and dancing. They explore themes, especially those relating to nature and science, and to the holidays of various cultures. For example, around Christmas the kids read The Velveteen Rabbit, made their own rabbit dolls, and we attended the show at ODC as a field trip.
The vegetarian meals are prepared by the teachers during the day. The kids often help cook, which is one of my son's favorite activities. It is a multi-age classroom. The kids sometimes play in age-related cohorts; for example, the 2-to-3-year-olds may be playing outside while the 4-year-olds are inside learning letters. Each child's academic needs are addressed individually, with activities and tasks being offered appropriate to the direction they are growing. My son especially loves all of his friends there. The community is one of our favorite aspects of the program - we have monthly potlucks and occasional field trips as well as outside-school playdates. The parent-teacher communication is great. Heather, the head teacher, is very open and willing to answer any questions. She is always available via phone, email, and in person. Overall, the feeling of the school is like one big warm family.
Both of our children attend Little Fawn right now, and we are really thrilled with the school. Our eldest will turn 5 in April, and will be going into Kindergarten next year. Our youngest just turned three and will return to Little Fawn in the fall. You are right, the school is in its first year, but Heather, the main teacher, has many years of experience in early childhood education. Heather was trained as a Montessori teacher, and also has a masters in education. However, she brings together many teaching philosophies at the school, and is not strict in any one method. Sara, the assistant teacher, has also been a preschool teacher for years and teaches dance classes to kids at a studio outside of Little Fawn.
We love the school because we truly feel like our kids are safe and well-loved. Heather has a very calming presence with the kids, and both of my children love school and want to attend even on the weekends! The diverse community at the school is wonderful C1 there are potlucks once a month where parents are able to meet each other and create relationships. The school has structure, but the children are really allowed to choose the activities that most interest them. There is a lot of outside play (even in the rain), art, cooking, music, and imaginative play. My eldest is learning to read and write, as Heather pulls aside the older kids to work with them on these skills. If you are looking for a nurturing, small, home-based environment where your child will be able to grow at his/her own pace, this is a great place to check out! ~Nadia
I have not been to the Little Fawn site, but when my son (now almost 10) was in preschool the (now) Little Fawn teacher Heather was the head of his afternoon program for 2 years. I know Heather very well as a teacher. I don't sing people's praises unless I really mean it- Heather is a truly gifted teacher. She has something special in her heart and her approach towards children that you won't find easily anywhere else. Heather is extremely experienced, deeply learned in child development and theory, playful, passionate, respectful of each child, community-minded, and she happens to have an angelic singing voice. Children in her classroom grew in every way and loved school. If you have the chance, don't miss the opportunity to check out the site and meet the Little Fawn teachers. Anyone Heather would hire to work with her would probably be terrific, too. psychologist momma who knows Heather
My 3 year old son is currently enrolled in Little Fawn. It is a small (currently 12 kids) home based playschool in its first year. It is a wonderful little place run by Heather Gray who is amazing with the kids with her warmth and patience. Sara who works with her is a dance teacher, and works really well with the kids too. What I really like is that the school has a diversity of ages, gender, ethnicity and culture, offering opportunities of 'cross-learning'. Also, Heather seems to have taken from her experiences with Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf streams to create a space of hearty learning that is fun, play based and child-oriented. I also appreciate the effort that she puts into creating community among the parents since I don't have too many friends with kids. The only concern I had was that she does not have too expansive an outdoor space. It nevertheless seems to keep the kids adequately engaged. Her rates are reasonable, and includes snacks and lunch!
We love Little Fawn! Yes, the school has been open only since August/September 2010, but everything is going incredibly smoothly. The school is small and has children ranging in ages from 3 to 5. What's wonderful are the impressive ways that the teachers support social learning and development at all these stages. For instance, the older children are assisted in incorporating the younger ones into their play, perhaps by building block structures that the young ones can knock down. In fact, the school places much energy in creating a harmonious community among the children through inclusive play, and also among the families through field trips and potlucks. The school itself is in a home with indoor and outdoor spaces where the kids can play freely, art stations, pretend play toys, a rope swing, garden space, and more. The kids are served healthy, vegetarian, mostly organic snacks and lunch, and they sometimes help with the cooking. The kids also participate in dance, singing, and mindfulness. The kids heading to K next year (including mine) have recently begun writing books, which they're enjoying. I can't recommend the school enough! happy parent
Hello Micheline, My son (almost 4) is currently attending Little Fawn. You're right that it is fairly new (first school year was Sept '10). We love the school and the teachers, but also important is the community of students and parents that make up Little Fawn. The teachers (Heather and Sara) make sure the parents are (or can be) as involved as we want to. We all get together once a month for a Full Moon potluck that gives us a chance to talk about the children and also to each other as this band of parents that are trying to get through preschool age together! My son loves going to school (only a 4-yr-old can complain about the existence of week-ends and thus depriving him of school!), completely in love with his teachers and friends and have generally came out of his shell. Little Fawn is his first experience in any types of schools (since he was 6 months old), so we had worries on how he would adapt and get along with his teachers and new friend. Heather and Sara definitely handle the situation with ''new'' students well in that they don't push, but they let them know they're there when needed. The students are free to some extent to decide when they are ready to join in activities, but there are also rules and boundaries that let them know that this *is* a school after all and there are other students to consider. My husband and I believe in the learning-through-play approach (especially in this young learning age) and we love the creative environment that Heather and Sara are providing through planning/creating the students' themed birthday parties and learning about the different holidays. We love Little Fawn and we would definitely encourage if not a visit, definitely a talk with Heather and/or Sara. Mona