Smarty Pants Preschool in Pleasant View: Growing Successfully One Young Graduate at a Time
It takes a village to raise a child,” and in this case, it may take a great preschool too! Introducing Smarty Pants Preschool located in Pleasant View, UT. This preschool has been going strong since 2013 when Hali Larsen and Jodi LaFeber collaborated together to start this endeavor. This fall they will enter their 4th year.
When asked what has made their school successful, LaFeber tells us, “Each teacher brings her own talents and strengths to the classroom. We have come to realize it isn’t WHAT we teach at Smarty Pants Preschool that makes it successful, but HOW we teach.”
Smarty Pants Preschool provides a nurturing environment where students feel safe and supported as they try new things and work hard to become independent thinkers. Additionally, teachers reaffirms that “We have also been so lucky to receive amazing support from the parents of our students and our surrounding communities.”
Miss Hali Larsen is the directors/teachers at the preschool. Larsen is a graduate from Weber State University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree. She was the director at Dots and Doodles Preschool for 4 years in Mountain Green before she moved to North Ogden and opened “Smarty Pants.” LaFeber also earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Weber State in Elementary Education, with an emphasis in education and child development. She taught 2nd and 4th grade in the Weber District before becoming a teacher at the preschool.
One of the greatest joys in teaching preschool, according to LaFeber, is “Watching children come to preschool in the fall, timid and shy, knowing only the letters in their name. Then, seeing them graduate from preschool in the spring with self-confidence and excitement as they master their skills needed for elementary school.”
Katie Chambers, of North Ogden, has a daughter who recently graduated from Smarty Pants. Chambers enthusiastically tells us, “We love Smarty Pants! The teachers are wonderful and they make each student feel loved and involved. They always take the time to do the extra little things that really make preschool special. Breklin learned a ton while she was there but most importantly she learned how to love learning!”
The curriculum at Smarty Pants Preschool is focused on teaching a balanced spectrum of early childhood education. Much of the focus is largely honed in on interpersonal, social development skills and fine/gross motor skills. For language enrichment they focus on music, story telling, nursery rhymes, poetry, and integrated arts programs. Field trips that stimulate learning and creativity are also part of the curriculum at Smarty Pants. In addition, different professionals are invited to come visit the classrooms to enhance the thematic units. They use a variety of curriculum that covers the Utah State Core Standards and the NAEYC approved curriculum.
Some of the highlights everyone enjoys at Smarty Pants include: The annual Christmas program and Spring graduation. LaFeber shares that, “Our students put on a very impressive program every year, filled with energetic singing, poetry reciting and hilarious dance moves! We had parents laughing till they cried as our students performed the “Whip and “Nae Nae” at our graduation this year.”
Nichole Mueller of Harrisville & a mother of preschool age children tells us, “I chose Smarty Pants Preschool because a couple of my friend’s kids go there and they love it! My kids are now attending and I love it! The teachers, especially Miss Hali and Miss Jodi are very kind and sweet with my kids. I’m so grateful for the love and care they have given my children. I also love the location! It’s the cutest little house, tucked away, surrounded by trees. “
It can be a challenge when children come to Smarty Pants on so many different learning levels. LeFeber says, “We want to be able to help all our students learn, regardless of their background and prior knowledge.” In doing this the staff at Smarty Pants has come up with a strategic plan to individualize their curriculum, placing the children in one of their 3 curriculum “steps.” Now, each student feels successful in their own group amongst peers of their same level.
Although Smarty Pants is full for the 2016 fall school year, you may still sign up for the waiting list in case of last-minute openings. You may also pre-register for upcoming years. Please visit the website for any available classes, pricing and further questions.
Lipstick and Lego's
I'm not sure if you've heard or not, but I'm a teacher. If you're new here, welcome! and buckle up because I talk about my job A LOT. I feel very passionate about education, and have some strong opinions about pedagogy, testing, homework, and more. I'm also a strong advocate for teachers. My poor boys are so screwed. I'd like to think I'll always have their backs when it comes to dealing with issues at school, but if they are being bone heads to their teachers... beware the wrath of this mom-teacher. I have a feeling I'll be taking the side of the teacher. Whatever.
My oldest son is in second grade and participating in a dual immersion program at school. This means that half of his day is learning language arts and reading in English, and half of his day is spent learning science and math in Spanish. I'm talking no English speaking is allowed. I have great things to say about this program, and some negative things, but overall it is working well for him. When it came time to find a preschool for him, I was a hot mess. Elementary and pre-K teachers have it so much harder than I do. If you screw up on a kid in the beginning, they are screwed for life. If you don't instill the love of learning in them early on, their entire school career is going to tank. When they get to me, they are already screwed up. Way less pressure for me. Elementary and pre-K teachers are the real heroes. I see you lovely humans.
Anyway... back to the preschool thing. We have a myriad of preschools in our area, and I was feeling slightly overwhelmed about who to pick. Which ones were going to be educational, and which ones were more like a daycare? Which ones were going to have good teacher-student ratios, and which ones accepted everyone and were going to lose my kid in the shuffle of the masses? Which ones would communicate with me and let me be involved in my child's learning, and which ones figured I was a paycheck and a chauffeur for my son? Ugh... even thinking about it makes my head spin. I researched, talked to friends about where their kids went, drove by facilities. Then, I discovered Smarty Pants Preschool. A good friend had a son there, and I knew--and loved!--one of the teachers.
Since enrolling Rhett, I have watched Smarty Pants grow and expand, and all the while maintaining the quality education they offered in the beginning. I have been so impressed by this school, and I honestly feel sad when I don't have a student there. This is an unpaid post--in fact, they don't even know it's coming--and I want to take a minute to give you my honest opinion about what makes this school so amazing.
1. The teachers. This isn't just your average stay at home mom helping the neighborhood kids learn their letters. These are certified teachers, with professional training in education. This is a nationally accredited school, which means they follow the education standards presented by the state. It also means my kid is going to be leaps and bounds ahead when kindergarten rolls around. These women are fun and genuinely love their job. They greet my son with a giant bear hug when he arrives, and when we see them in the grocery store they come right over and make a big deal about how much they love him. The sure fire thing that makes me love them, though? My sons do. My sons feel empowered, cared for, and adored when they go to school, and that means that they love these women. These are the only women my boys are allowed to love besides myself and their grandmothers.
2. The communication. If I'm going to pay for my kid to go to school, then I want to know what is going on. Smarty Pants is top of the line when it comes to relaying information to parents. They send home monthly calendars, text and make phone calls, post reminders on social media, and email. They also have a website that has anything you could ever need to know. I know when homework is due, when books need to be returned, when it's my kid's turn to be the spotlight! When Rhett went to kindergarten, I was practically pissed for like 2 straight months because I had no idea what was going on. Smarty Pants will keep you more than informed, but don't expect that kind of treatment once your kids leave.
3. Summer camps. This place doesn't have an off season. All summer long they hold weekly camps that my kids love. We have done superhero camp, water camp, cooking classes, bugs, zoo animals, magic camp, and more. The cost is ridiculously inexpensive for what the kids get to do, and it was insanely helpful to have Larsen attend these before he ever went to preschool. Rhett is never afraid of new things or new people, but Larsen is a little more timid. When it came time for preschool, he was unafraid because the place and people were familiar. These teachers are geniuses.
4. The programs. You guys... the greatest days of the year--besides my birthday, obviously--are the Christmas and graduation programs the school puts on. All year the students learn songs and at these programs they perform them for the parents. They are the greatest things you will ever witness. Until they recite a little poem about the alphabet and your kid says that N is for "nasty" instead of "nose" because he is a clown. I hold Rhett accountable for that one Miss Hali and Miss Jodi, don't you worry.
5. The options. Smarty Pants preschool has SO many options for classes. You want to do Spanish Immersion? You got it. You want a STEAM program? You got it. You want to go to school 4 days a week instead of 3? You got it. You want your two year old to start early preschool? You got it. You want to go in the morning? You got it. Prefer afternoon? They have that too. There is literally something for everyone, and they now have three freaking locations! When we started, it was one little location with a handful of teachers. Now, there are all of these options, and I have only seen the program improve. Often times programs lose control and quality decreases, but not with Smarty Pants! They seem to have the Midas touch, I swear. And we all know I'm not nice enough to just say this stuff.
My kids start kindergarten able to read, write, speak a little Spanish, and understand how to behave in a classroom setting. I feel so indebted to Smarty Pants preschool, and I will never stop bearing my testimony about their greatness. I am dreading the day when Baylor starts kindergarten, because I will never have another kid at this school, and thus be forced to live vicariously through everyone else. Please let me come watch your kid sing in the Christmas program. I'm begging you.