Early Education in Santa Monica: Sunny Days Preschool

May 19, 2022 11:27 AM
by Ivy Chang

The first years of life are the best time to ensure a strong future for all Santa Monica children. Early education advances equity and is essential for thriving families and communities. Whether children begin care as infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, Santa Monica is home to a wide range of early learning programs, with varying curriculums, hours, and costs.

Enriching and safe care should be available to all children, regardless of their family’s income, needs, race or ethnicity, or the languages they speak. Connections for Children, our local Child Care Resource and Referral agency, can help you find a program that meets your needs and determine if you qualify for funding to help pay for it (connectionsforchildren.org or (310) 452-3325).

Our communities are stronger when every child is healthy, safe, and engaged in early learning. Read on to learn about the passionate and diverse professionals doing this important work in Santa Monica. This is Part 4 of a series.

Program Name: Sunny Days Preschool

Program Director: Rebecca Kessler

Ages of children served: 2 to 5 years

Operating Hours: 8:30 am - 3:30 pm, school year (modified summer program offered)

Brief History: After being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rebecca decided to use her 15 years of early-learning expertise to open a family child care home.

What are you most excited about as a new preschool?

I’m really proud of the physical space that I’ve created here. It’s bright, airy, fresh and inviting with lots of natural materials and cheery colors. I wanted a learning environment that was cozy and engaging. I was able to cherry pick from all the best things I’ve seen in the field and cater it to my own vision.

One of the main things that excites me as an educator are the breakthrough moments. The moments where, suddenly, a child is doing something they couldn’t do the day before. It’s exciting to see their eyes get big and see how proud they are of themselves. Those are the moments that have kept me in the field for so long.

How did you decide to open a preschool in Santa Monica?

I’ve been teaching preschool-age children in Santa Monica for years. I held a leadership position at a local preschool for over 15 years but was laid off due to pandemic budget cuts. I needed a new path forward for my family and I’d always had dreams of opening a preschool of my own, so, I did! I felt prepared to step out and do my own thing but didn’t know where to start.

Serendipitously, a single-family home that I was familiar with became available in my neighborhood. I knew the layout of the house—what rooms could be a classroom, or an office, and all my lightbulbs went on. I started to research the differences between a center-based program and a family child care home and realized it would be more realistic to create a family child care home. Once I secured the home, I hit the ground running and converted our new home to a boutique preschool in under 2 months!  I’m licensed for 12-14 children, and I opened my doors in January 2022.

Can you share more about how your program provides an individualized approach?

Because my program is operated out of a home, it has the quaint, familial feel of a FCCH (family child care home) but the thoughtful quality of a larger center. I want the parents to feel like Sunny Days is an extension of their family, and I believe that is possible here. Our small community at Sunny Days allows me to get to know every family and provide each child with what they need. Each child has different skills and opportunities for growth. For me, it’s ultimately about meeting each child and family where they are and making magic.

Please contact Sunny Days Preschool directly for more information at sunnydaysschoolhouse.com or (424) 229-5166.

For a list of licensed early childhood programs in Santa Monica, go to: santamonicacradletocareer.org/childcare

If you are a licensed ECE provider in Santa Monica who would like to share your story, please email humanservices@santamonica.gov.

Past blog posts:

How Early Childhood is an Investment in the Future

3 Reasons Why Early Childhood Matters in Santa Monica

Homepage for ECE Blog Post Series

Authored By

Ivy Chang
Senior Administrative Analyst


Programs, Youth And Seniors