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Mandala Children's House

5038 Hyland Avenue
San Jose, CA 95127

(408) 251-8633


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Mandala Children's House is a Montessori Preschool located in the East Foothills of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California).

For over 35 years, we've been dedicated to providing each child with an enriching early learning environment that encourages social and emotional growth with a strong educational foundation. We offer Early Preschool, Preschool, and Pre-K programs (ages 2-5) as well as on-staff therapists and family services programs.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Montessori

From the Director:

At Mandala Children’s House, our curriculum follows a developmental model enhanced by the learning practice of Maria Montessori. We value these ideals: Providing an education for the whole child: mind, body, spirit; Nurturing the child and supporting the family; Supporting cultural, religious, ethnic, and social-economic diversity that is representation of our community; Modeling communication and creative problem-solving for children and adults alike; Creating an environment where teachers, staff, and child care providers can learn and thrive through support of their personal, as well as professional, growth; Sustaining a harmony between the needs of the individual and the needs of the whole program.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
Other subjects taught "Our staff has an expertise in child development and we frequently identify behavioral or developmental needs in young children that parents may or may not recognize. Every effort will be made to involve the parents/guardians in the process of identifying the need and working towards possible solutions. In these instances, the preschool staff may recommend additional professional help or services for the child or family. Our Family Services Director is available to assist with intervention and referrals in these cases." Extracted from www.mandalachildrenshouse.comAt Mandala, our top priority is supporting families. It is part of our mission. We believe that parenting is the most important job in the world! It is also one of the most challenging. We created our Family Services Program to help parents be the best they can be. By offering on-site consultation to families, we help parents understand their children better so that they can truly meet their needs. We help parents learn parenting skills and coping strategies. Parents feel less isolated and alone at Mandala because we work in partnership to nurture their child. Licensed Clinical Social Worker On Staff Anne Kangas, L.C.S.W. (#LCS 14384) works on site as our Family Services Director. Her job is to support families and assist children in healthy emotional development. With over 25 years of experience as a child and adult therapist, her specialty is early intervention, child trauma, developmental difficulties, and family issues. What Services Do We Offer? Our Clinical Social Worker is available as a resource for parents, teachers and staff to provide: Information about parenting and child development Counseling for children and parents Classroom Observation and Teacher Consultation Suggestions for dealing with behavior problems Crisis Support for adults and help for children Resources for Special Needs (physical, emotional, educational) Parent Workshops and Support Groups Parent Resource Library (books, tapes, videos on loan) Newsletters and Did You Know? bulletins (parenting topics and advice)." Extracted from

From the Director:

"Early Preschool The Early Preschool is an orientation class for children who turn two years of age by September 1st. There are three teachers in the classroom and one Teacher's Aide with 18 children. The purpose of this class is to offer young children an experience away from home that allows them to grow at their own pace. The teachers are highly nurturing and they are particularly sensitive to the needs of two year-olds and young three-year olds. They help the children with separation, socialization, cooperation, and independence-all important developmental tasks of this age group. Children in the Early Preschool do not need to be toilet-trained. However, the teachers work closely with parents to help a child begin this next developmental step. Morning Preschool Children need to be three years old by September 1st to attend this class. The Teacher to Child ratio is 1:8. The purpose of this class is to give children the opportunity to grow socially, emotionally, and physically in a supportive and enriched learning environment. Children are expected to be toilet-trained or nearly toilet-trained. If your child is not toilet-trained, we encourage you to talk with Marilyn, our Administrative Director, to see if this class is appropriate. (Note: The Morning Class is not appropriate for children of kindergarten age who are remaining in preschool for an extra year. These children belong in the Afternoon Preschool.) Afternoon Preschool (Pre-K Focus) The afternoon classes are particularly suited to four and five-year olds. The purpose of this class is the same as the Morning Preschool class, but the focus is on the needs of the pre-kindergarten child. The Teacher to Child ratio continues to be 1:8. We prefer that all children of pre-kindergarten age attend the Afternoon Class. If your child has been at Mandala for two years, we highly recommend that you send him or her to this older class for the third year. Children who move on to the Afternoon Preschool Class seem much happier in the school. Kindergarten-age children must enroll in the Afternoon Class. Morning preschool is not appropriate for five-year olds. It's A Stressful, Scary World Mandala's teachers and staff have become increasingly concerned about the difficult hurdles facing young children today. They must deal with more change, more stress, more exposure to violence. Families, too, face greater pressures with far fewer supports from family and community. As a child and family therapist, Anne Kangas, LCSW, Mandala's Licensed Clinical Social Worker, knows well the challenges facing 'little people' and those who love them. She believes that the preschool years provide a unique opportunity to teach young children to respond to today's pressures with resiliency rather than vulnerability. The Brain Is Wiring The Emotional Building Blocks For A Child's Future Why start so young? For the first time, new brain research is revealing the unequivocal fact that 'the future literally rests on the laps of those who nurture its youngest members.' We have learned that during the first years of a child's life, the brain is actually 'hard-wiring' the emotional building blocks for his or her future. This is the time that empathy, trust, and conscience are being built into the child's inner 'roadmap.' This is a real call to action to those of us who work daily with young children! Our Unique Prevention Program Teaches Resiliency Anne's response was to create an innovative new prevention program called 'The Coping Curriculum.' Our Coping Curriculum happens daily during our 20-minute Small Group time, when each teacher meets with her eight children in a safe and protected environment. Every year has a different cycle of monthly themes, such as Kindness, Facing Fears, Solving Problems, or Feelings, and the children participate in planned activities structured around these themes. Each activity teaches a life-skill or provides an experience related to the theme. Children use a combination of relaxation exercises, puppets, symbolic play, story-telling, and creative art to discharge their emotions and develop a feeling of personal mastery. In this safe setting, they have many opportunities for problem-solving and skill-building. Children Learn Tools for Life Children at Mandala not learn only to count and recognize their numbers. They also learn to manage their feelings, appreciate differences, make amends when they have hurt someone, talk about feelings, and sit down together to resolve conflicts. They learn to 'bounce back' resiliently from life's pressures. When children leave Mandala, they take with them 'tools for life.' This is part of what makes our school such a unique and special place." Extracted from

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

"Our staff has an expertise in child development and we frequently identify behavioral or developmental needs in young children that parents may or may not recognize. Every effort will be made to involve the parents/guardians in the process of identifying the need and working towards possible solutions. In these instances, the preschool staff may recommend additional professional help or services for the child or family. Our Family Services Director is available to assist with intervention and referrals in these cases." Extracted from

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Our mission statement is: Nurture the child. Support the family. Nourish the staff.

It describes our original vision in 1975, and it is still the cornerstone of our program at Mandala today.

Underlying Maria Montessori's method was a philosophy based on the dignity and spiritual worth of the child. The basis of the Montessori philosophy of education is that all children carry unseen within them the person they will become. In order to develop their unique potential, they must have freedom-freedom to explore, freedom to be creative, freedom to choose. This freedom is achieved through order and self-discipline."

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A Typical Day

"If your child comes to Mandala, his or her day will look something like this. All young children do best when they have predictable routines, so we follow this schedule consistently every day. The times are slightly flexible, so we can accommodate the activities of the day. For instance, if Snack takes less time, the children may have a slightly longer time on the playground. Or, we may shorten Playground Time if we want to do a longer Small Group project. But the order of the day never changes.

Story Time
When the children first arrive, they go into right into the story room where a teacher greets them and reads a short story to the group. This is a quiet time that helps children transition from their parents to school. By the time the story is finished, all the children have arrived for the day, and the children move to their small groups for Table Time.

Table Time
Table Time is a focused learning time where each teacher meets with her own small group for about 15 minutes. This period sets the tone for the day and serves as a bonding time for the group. The teacher begins by greeting each child and the children say 'good morning' to each other. From there, the teacher demonstrates one of the Montessori jobs or activities that are available in the classroom. Each child has an opportunity to try the job or a part of it. After this, each child is asked what they want to work on that day. It helps the children focus their energy and find an activity to start their day. They are then dismissed to individual Work Time.

Work Time- A Time of Individual Choice
During this time, the children are self-directed and are able to choose freely from activities in the prepared environment. They may pick from activities in a variety of areas:
 In the Practical Life area, children choose activities from every day living: polishing shoes, using tools (hammer, screw driver, socket wrench, etc.) sanding wood, wet and dry pouring, flower arranging, silver polishing, tying laces, zippering, etc. These activities teach children skills that help them to be more independent, to care for the environment and each other, and to develop small muscle coordination.
 In the Sensorial Area, children choose from activities that use their five senses, such as color sorting, matching sounds/smells/textures/weight, grading objects by size, using peg boards, etc. These sensorial exercises also provide a foundation for speech, writing, and arithmetic.
 In the Language Area, children work in areas that enhance oral language and set the foundation for reading. All of the activities are important building blocks that prepare the child to become a successful reader. Some of the activities included in this area are puzzles, metal insets, object/picture matching, picture/picture matching, lotto games, story dictation, classification of objects (i.e. put all the flying things in one pile, all the crawling things in another), 3-5 part story sequencing, rhyming words, opposites, letter recognition, and letter sound recognition.
 In the Math Area, the Montessori activities teach the child the concepts of quantity and symbol. We use the child's senses to first introduce these concepts. We introduce quantity using the number rods. There are 10 rods in graduated segments. Each segment represents a unit. We introduce number symbols (i.e. '7') with sandpaper numbers. The child traces the rough numbers with his finger. We then put quantity and symbol together in a variety of exercises. We begin introducing the first three numbers and then add a number at a time, up to 10. We then introduce such concepts as: teens, tens, hundreds, thousands, counting by two's, and the Hundred Board.
 In the Art Area, children have an opportunity to work creatively using a variety of materials to create an expressive piece of art, including gluing, painting, water colors, markers, scissors, tape, stamps, stencils, and color crayons.
 In the Patio Area, children paint on the easel, use a sand/bird seed/or water tray, play with the doll house, and play with boats in a water canal.
 In Dramatic Play, children have an opportunity to work cooperatively, to try on and practice adult roles and gain skills in socialization, as well as learning skills in independent living.
 In the Block Area, children can build with blocks and Legos. They may also set up tracks and use trains and cars.
In the Cooking Area, children are able to participate in food preparation, and they practice spreading, cutting, stirring, pouring, and learning how to follow a recipe.

Playground Time
This is an extremely important time in your child's day. This is when children work on the development of their large muscles, building coordination and strength. This is also a time when they can practice social skills. The children may choose from a variety of activities including: swinging, sliding, playing basketball, running, climbing, playing in the sandbox, crawling over and under the tubes, and participating in imaginary play.

Small Group: Coping Curriculum
Small Group is a focused time for teaching social-emotional skills. This is a quiet time of day where each teacher meets with her eight children (divided into groups by age for the year). The children form trusted relationships with the teacher and with each other. Each day, the teacher leads her group through one of many structured activities in a theme area from our Coping Curriculum. These activities are designed to teach young children communication skills, problem-solving, and stress relief. Using a combination of relaxation exercises, puppets, symbolic play, role-play, and creative art, the children are given an opportunity to express their feelings and develop personal powerfulness. They learn empathy for others and a respect for their world. They also learn coping skills as they master difficulties and work together to solve problems.

Monthly themes include topics such as: Trust and Belonging, Self-Acceptance, Feelings, Making Friends, Kindness and Care for Others, Cooperation, Respect for Differences, Conflict Resolution, and Growth and Change.

Music and Movement
This is a large circle time. We introduce songs, finger plays, and movement activities. Periodically, we bring out simple instruments (tambourines, sand blocks, triangles, drums, etc.) to accompany the songs. Music is a wonderful way for children to be exposed to and practice using language. We also use a parachute with music to teach rhythm and cooperation."

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Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

"Visiting the Classroom
You are welcome to visit your child's classroom at anytime. Please sign in at the office to get a name tag first. If you are planning to stay for the entire class, we would appreciate it if let the teachers know.

You will receive a Mandala School Newsletter about the fourth or fifth day of the month. This newsletter consists of a calendar of the current month and the following month, general school information, and classroom information. It is important that you look over the newsletter each month. It is our way to keep you informed and it is your way to know when school will be closed, when special events are occurring, and what your child is learning in the classroom. You will also receive periodic Family Services Newsletters from our Licensed Clinical Social Worker on topics related to parenting and understanding children's behavior.

Check our website for periodic updates. Our calendar, newsletters and Family Services articles are posted there, as well as lots of other good information about Mandala.

New Parent Orientation
This orientation is mandatory for all new parents. Orientation meetings for new parents are held before the Summer Session begins and before the Fall Session begins. For parents whose children begin during the school year, the director will give an orientation at the time of registration. The orientation includes information on what the school offers during the year, a review of the policies and procedures, a review of the enrollment packet, information about our philosophy and teaching method, a classroom visit, and a time for questions.

'Meet and Greet' Open House
The day before school opens, children are invited to come to the classroom with their parent(s) for a short introductory visit. This is a time for them to meet their teachers, find their cubby, and become familiar with their new surroundings. We are open for one hour for each class.

Back To School Ice Cream Social
On a Saturday afternoon in September, Mandala holds an ice cream social for children and their families to get to know each other. The classrooms are open so that the children can show their parents around. The teachers, staff, and board members are also available to answer general questions. We have a Book Fair on display where parents can browse and buy good quality children's books.

Small Group Parent Meeting In October, parents have an opportunity to meet with their child's Small Group teacher to learn what their child will be working on during the year. This is an important one-hour meeting (for parents only) that offers a chance to get to know your child's teacher better, to ask specific questions, and to meet all the other parents in your child's Small Group.

Parent/Teacher Conferences
In the fall, you will receive a one-page Fall Summary of Your Child's Developmental Progress completed by your child's Small Group teacher. This is a short, written evaluation highlighting your child's strengths and describing the areas your child is currently working on.

In the spring, your child's Small Group teacher will meet with you for a 20-30 minute Parent-Teacher Conference. We close school for two days during this period so that the teachers can dedicate the time to meet with you to share information about your child. At this conference, the teacher will review the Spring Summary of Your Child's Developmental Progress and show you the assessment form (Desired Results Developmental Profile) she has been using throughout the year to document your child's growth. It covers four main areas:

(1) Personal and Social Competence,
(2) Effective Learning,
(3) Physical and Motor Competence, and
(4) Safety and Health.

This will give you a picture of what your child is doing and the progress s/he has made. If age-appropriate, the teacher will also include a Kindergarten Readiness Screening, and she will discuss your child's developmental readiness for kindergarten.

You may also make an appointment at any time to talk with a teacher about your child.

Holiday Party
We have two parties in early December: one for the Tuesday/Thursday classes and one for the Monday/ Wednesday/Friday classes. The parties are held in the early evening and the whole family is invited. The children present a very simple program of songs they have learned. We then have a puppet show or ventriloquist. We end the evening with refreshments.

School Picnic
The Saturday before school ends in June, we have an all-school family picnic on the school grounds. Families are encouraged to bring a dish that reflects their culture for the pot luck lunch. We also have games, face painting, and crafts available for the children. It is a special time to celebrate the end of school, to visit and to play with friends.

Parent Volunteer Hours
We ask that each family donate five (5) hours a year or $50. A Parent Volunteer Form will be sent home at the beginning of the fall session offering opportunities for volunteering. You can sign up to help with specific events (classroom projects, workdays, fundraisers, family events, etc.) or you can sign up for having certain skills (sewing, carpentry, painting, electrical, plumbing, gardening, etc.) and the teachers, room parents, or Board Members will call you when we need your expertise. You may also donate supplies, food, or equipment.

Parents may fulfill their five hour obligation by 'giving' in any of the following ways:
- 5 hours of time (in the classroom or outside the classroom)
- $50.00 check
- Supplies, food, or equipment (up to $50 value)
- Fundraising support (equal to $50.00)
- Any combination of the above

You will be given a record to document your completed hours. It is the parent's responsibility to keep track of and document all volunteer hours.

Throughout the year we offer workshops for parents. Raising children can, at times, be an overwhelming task. The parents who attend our workshops find that the task becomes much more manageable and enjoyable with the skills that they have learned. These workshops are available to our parents free of charge and are usually one and a half hours long. Child care is always available on-site for a small fee.

Mandala has a number of fundraisers throughout the year. We do not expect our families to support all the fundraisers. We ask that you pick the ones that suit your needs or interests. Examples of our fundraisers are: See's candy sales, Avon, Tupperware, Book Fair, Rummage Sale, and a direct-mail campaign. We use the money from these fundraisers for specific projects such as playground and classroom equipment and facility improvements. In the past we have remodeled the bathrooms, put in new carpeting, purchased new cabinets, and replaced our playground. Along with fundraising, we apply for grants whenever possible. We need lots of parental support to make our fundraisers a success.

Triad Fundraiser
Triad includes representatives from the various organizations that use this property: St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Mandala Children's House and the other programs that share the facilities. The main purpose of Triad is to oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings and grounds and to share information and ideas. We co-sponsor two fundraisers a year, an Art Auction in March and a Luau in May. The proceeds are used for upkeep and development of the grounds. In the past, we have used the money to put in walkways, add landscaping, resurface the parking lot, put lighting in the parking lot, put up signs, remodel the kitchen, add new lighting to the classroom, and replace the boiler."

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Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Handling Separation: From the Director

"Part of the preschool experience is for parents and children to learn to separate from each other. There are resources available through the office and Family Services if you want help with this issue. Here are a few helpful hints for what can be an emotional time for both parent and child. Let your child know ahead of time what is going to happen when you take him/her to school. Be aware of how you are feeling about your child starting school? (Are you fearful about leaving him/her? Are you ambivalent? Will it be hard for you to separate from you child?) Your feelings are normal, but it's important not to let your child absorb your anxiety. If you act overly worried, your child will think there is something to be afraid of. Be positive and upbeat. Have a goodbye ritual that you do every time you leave to soothe your child. Always say goodbye before you leave. Never sneak out! Your child needs to be able to trust you. If your child is crying, give him/her to a teacher, say good-bye and then leave. Lingering often makes it worse for a child by prolonging the separation anxiety." Extracted from