Early Education in Santa Monica: Palisades Preschool

March 22, 2022 5:06 PM
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 2 of a series.

Program Name: Palisades Preschool

Director: Linda Juhasz-Wood

Ages of children served: 2.9 to 6 years of age

Hours: Monday-Thursday (8:45am-1:40pm), Friday (8:45am-12:40pm); school year only

Brief History: Palisades Preschool began as part of the Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church. It was reborn in the summer of 1999 by a group of dedicated parents, a director, and a strong teaching team. Now located at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Lincoln Blvd, they are celebrating 23 years of service there.

What inspires you about the children and families you work with? The capabilities, intelligence, kindness, and empathy of the children and parents in our community inspire me each day. We are proud to be part of Santa Monica, known for its dedication to environmental consciousness, a sense of history, and the arts. Empathy is something young children have in abundance: they are caring, curious, and inquisitive. Adults can value those things and foster them at home, we can value those in the community and at school, and that’s going to make a society we all want to be part of.

What is unique about your program’s approach to early care and education? Our mission is to serve Santa Monica by offering a preschool experience celebrating diversity, creativity, and kindness. These values are embedded within a rich, child-centered curriculum that provides children with opportunities to investigate and express themselves through meaningful play and collaborative, intentional curriculum. We are a social-constructivist, Reggio-inspired, developmental, and relationship-based non-profit.

Play is the work of children, as they experience the world both independently and alongside others. Children are provided with time to explore, build relationships, and get to know different contexts. They do so through experimentation, sometimes with silliness, and sometimes with seriousness. They break things apart, put them back together, and in doing so are learning to construct their own view of the world. We view teachers as co-constructors of learning, and our teachers work with children on long-term, project-based explorations.

How does Palisades Preschool engage families as educational partners? Our school views our preschool families as partners in education. It’s a process of building trust which enables us to work together. Our partnership with parents occurs through formal meetings, conferences, events at the school when we can have them, rich documentation of children’s experiences, daily conversations–many forms. A lot of participatory enthusiasm and exchange of information comes from our understanding as a school that parents are the most important teachers their children have. Families can participate with us in a lot of ways, such as organizing books in the library, fundraising, bringing a special treat for the lunar new year, and organizing playdates with other families, all of those builds that partnership.

For more information, contact Palisades Preschool directly at palisadespreschool.org or 310-434-9917.

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, 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

ECE Blog post #1: Beth Shir Shalom Early Childhood Center

Authored By

Ivy Chang
Senior Administrative Analyst


Programs, Youth And Seniors