Parenthood never properly prepares an individual for what’s to come. As if pregnancy weren’t overwhelming enough, once that tiny human enters the world, there’s a myriad of decisions we as caregivers must make to ensure that our little one is on the path to success. Are they getting adequate nutrition? Are they getting decent sleep? What about meeting their milestones? It seems as if questions and criticisms can put us in a tailspin of confusion quite quickly, doesn’t it? I needed a place like Stepping Stones Preschool.
Even though there is no master protocol for child-rearing, through trial and error, billions have succeeded before us. Despite the overwhelm, I am choosing not to buy into the hype or hysteria that there is a “one size fits all” type of raising kids. My children, who are my most valuable assets, deserve the best. However, before they are bombarded by the world’s expectations, I want them to enjoy being kids. I don’t want them to lose their innocence or curiosity for life. I want them to learn essential character qualities and learn how to have empathy for others. The support systems I have put in place have been a positive reinforcement for that goal. When my daughter reached preschool age, I knew that finding the right fit for her was just as important. I researched and talked with other parents about their experiences. I called various schools, and visited a few as well. Friends from my mom’s group raved about this particular preschool.
Stepping Stones Preschool: A Step Ahead in Character, Success, & Fun
Stepping Stones Preschool in Glendale, Arizona won my family over pretty fast. When Co-Director Julie Ruebsamen provided us with a personal tour, I watched my daughter’s body language to see how she would react to her surroundings. As I spoke with Julie in the office, Joy Joy took advantage of the Lego play table in the waiting area. She immediately relaxed and happily played while we chatted. I learned that the school has been around for many decades (since 1976) and offers an exceptional early childhood track record. Joanne Black and Julie Ruebsamen have been Co-Directors since 2002. Teachers and staff have been with SSP for an average of 15 years with nearly 200 years of collective experience.
Stepping Stones is one of the only existing Arizona preschools to have obtained a NAEYC Accredited, 4 Star Quality First Preschool rating. (They have maintained their accreditation since 1989). The school also prides themselves on their outstanding educational approach—play-based learning that offers kiddos a pressure-free environment and academics that challenge them in an age-appropriate way.
One of the most attractive things about the preschool is the level of parent involvement. Parent Participation began in the 1980s and continues to thrive. Caregivers have the opportunity to participate on the SSP Parent Board and receive tuition discounts in exchange for volunteering in the classroom. (This can be especially helpful to families with multiple children). Involvement keeps class sizes small and offers a more favorable adult/child ratio (1:5). Not only has this been a great way for my family to build community, but it has been very helpful in my daughter’s love of learning.
Other wonderful learning attributes Stepping Stones offer is:
- “hands-on” Science Exploration, Investigation, Analysis & Conclusions.
- Math – logical thinking in the areas of number classification, serration, space & time.
- Daily exposure to verbal & written language.
- Problem-solving & decision-making skills.
- Enrichment programs with programs such as S.T.E.M., Literacy Development, Match Comprehension, etc.
- Learning through school gardening activities & “in house” field trips.
- Motor skill development in a learn through play environment.
- Special events outside of school hours including family nights, date nights, and our annual Ice Cream Social.
- Outstanding teacher/parent communication including emails, letters, photos, Facebook, etc.
Even as we have found our school year abruptly altered by the Coronavirus pandemic, everyone at SSP has rallied together to make sure students still have access to their education. As a parent trying to navigate this time with my kids, I have been very grateful for the connection my daughter’s teacher has continued to keep with her class. Many days her simplified video lessons are a lifeline to quality learning in our home.
Unfortunately, it took COVID-19 for many of us to realize the wonderful privilege of receiving a quality education. As an educator myself, I am grateful for the unwavering commitment of our teachers and their devotion to their schools. I am even more grateful to SSP and their commitment to honoring those educators who do it willingly and oftentimes, without recognition.
If you are looking for a place for your child to call home, have fun, learn how to be kind, considerate, and helpful contributors to society, I recommend checking out Stepping Stones Preschool: A Step Ahead in Character, Success, & Fun and setting up a tour! You won’t be disappointed!
(Please note: Though the school is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 regulations, please call and leave a message with the school to arrange a private, personal tour for your family).
Stepping Stones Preschool
3951 W. Happy Valley Rd.
Glendale, AZ 85310
Wendie, I’m so glad you found a great place! They sound absolutely wonderful.
Nice article Wendie! I’m so glad you love stepping stones as much as we do.
Thank you Wendy for a wonderful article. My children are alumni, i was a participanting parent and became a teacher at SSP . We are a special family. It does take a village. Thank you for being part of our family.
Thank you so much, everyone, for your kind words. Such a testament to a wonderful school!