The Sunshine School Moves to South Laguna

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The Sunshine School has a new campus. The school is now located in South Laguna in the Laguna Beach United Methodist Church on 21632 Wesley Drive and look forward to welcoming new students into their unique program.

The Sunshine School Director Elizabeth Plumb (center) with Director of Operations Sarah Galliver and Lead Teacher Lezlie Rodgers. Photo/Clara Beard

The school has a Monday, Wednesday and Friday program for 4-year-olds, and a Tuesday, Thursday program for 3-year-olds. They also have a five-day transitional kindergarten (TK) program.

“Our preschool and TK programs support students as they build self-confidence, compassion for others, and the academic tools needed for kindergarten and elementary school success,” Director and school psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Plumb said. “While our philosophy is developmental, we are intentional in the activities we offer each day. Academic concepts are strategically integrated into meaningful play experiences, to ensure that all areas of kindergarten readiness are included.”

At the Sunshine School, which has been open in its new location since Sept. 6, they create “purposeful play” centers in which students have opportunities to run their own restaurants, bakeries, and fire stations. Budding veterinarians treat sick animals, and paleontologists conduct dinosaur fossil excavations. Students often come up with their own ideas for dramatic play centers based on their specific interests.

The school provides frequent opportunities for work with play dough, clay, sand, ice, water and many other sensory materials. Students strengthen their hand muscles by transferring and pouring liquids and molding soft materials, such as sand and play dough.

“We really believe in developing their fine motor skills in terms of just increasing their hand strength through working with tools through interactive craft projects,” Plumb said. “So when they do start writing, their hands are ready for it. They’re starting and ready. So we do lots of fun things, tweezers and tongs. And we’ve been hammering golf tees into pumpkins, things like that.”

​Sensory play, and experience with a variety of tools, helps preschoolers build hand strength, dexterity, and endurance, frequently referred to as “fine motor” skills. The development of these skills supports early and future writing success.

The school currently has 15 students total since it started in South Laguna, with room for plenty more.

“They don’t all come on the same day,” Plumb said. “Because some are here Monday, Wednesday, Friday. So we have about 10 children each day. We have room for 36. Okay, so yes, we do hope to grow. But we’re happy to start smaller. I think growth this year is probably going to be pretty small. But what’s happening that’s really nice is that people are reaching out already for next year. So we just had another tour recently. So I think January is another big starting point for three-year-olds.”

Plumb said that, as well as their sensory learning program, they’re also proud of their social emotional learning program.

“We really focus at the beginning of the year on identifying our own feelings, and learning to identify the feelings of others, which is so important at this age,” Plumb said. “We do lots of things with sharing and taking turns and problem-solving. And we don’t tell the children what to say, or do we guide them in that and they’ve had so much experience, we do lots of role plays with puppets, which is really fun. And they identify their feelings that way and we discuss it as a group. And I think that’s something we’re proud of, because the children have a sense of community. They’re really good to one another. They show a lot of empathy for one another. And that just makes us feel very proud.”

For more information or to register at Sunshine School, parents can contact Elizabeth Plumb at [email protected] or Sarah Galliver at [email protected]. Interested families can also visit their website at www.sunshineschoolreadiness.com to learn more about their program and schedule a tour of their new campus.

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