We’re Moving!


We are so excited to announce that we will be moving to the West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church at 488 Essex Avenue in Gloucester. We will be opening our doors in our new location for the start of the 2016-2017 school year on Tuesday, September 6th. The new location is so convenient, located less than .5 mile off Exit 14 on Route 133!

It’s an awesome space for a preschool! The preschool will be on the 1st floor of the church’s adjoining building and has a separate entrance directly accessible from the big private parking lot off of Essex Avenue.

The preschool space is a huge L-shaped room with a divider which we will use to create our two classrooms. We will have great flexibility with the rooms as we can open up the divider as needed for large group activities and special events. We have private bathrooms just inside the front door. There is plenty of space for all of our learning centers including art, reading, manipulatives, and more.

It’s a peaceful atmosphere as the classroom walls are lined with windows that look out onto our private, woodsy play area. The rooms each have exits right into the backyard. We are excited and have lots of great ideas to update the play yard into a fun and educational outdoor classroom.

Our new location should make the school more convenient for families living in Essex and Manchester. It’s only 4 minutes from our current spot so it’s still easily accessible from all parts of Gloucester and Rockport.

So, now that it’s settled, please spread the word to friends with preschool age kids so we can fill the place up with lots of laughter, learning, and love! We will be open 8:30am -12:30am M-Th and will offer a 3-4’s class on T-Th or T-W-Th and a PreK class M-Th.

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Parent Support


Preschool is as much for parents as it is for the children. We believe it is essential for us to help you understand your child better as we see them in a different context.

We provide parent workshops, coffees, and group events throughout the year for parents to connect with the other families, learn from one another, and gain ideas and strategies for life with a preschooler.

Some past events have included:

  • Parent Orientation Night
  • Back to School Night
  • Games, toys and gift ideas to stimulate learning
  • Potty Training 101
  • Bedtime Tricks & Tips

Through our blog series, we address timely topics and ideas relating to preschoolers and parenting.

We are available for parent conferences, check-ins, and questions throughout the year via email, text, and phone.  Formal conferences are held in the fall and written progress reports are distributed in the spring. Parents are encouraged to connect with us at anytime rather than wait for a formal meeting.

We believe it is important for parents to have a sense of the children’s day as it is happening.  We take pictures of the children in group play and in individual work, audio recordings of singing and play, and videos which are made available to our current parents via a private, password protected site and are often emailed and texted directly to parents daily.

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Getting Out the Door With a Preschooler


It can be a nightmare to get kids out of the house especially if you have somewhere you really need to be!  As parents, we have had lots of practice with our own kids and as teachers, we have to get 10+ kids out the door at the same time.  We put our heads together to come up with our favorite tips and tricks for getting out the door without losing your mind.  The most important thing to remember is that it’s about you.  You need to be organized, prepared, calm, and authoritative.  Your children feed off of your energy and tone.

Give yourself extra time.  

You can’t focus on getting the kids ready if you aren’t ready yourself. If you need help getting out the door for school, get up before the kids to get yourself together; remember how much you can get done when no one is around? So, be sure you have your things gathered and ready to go by the door or even in the car before you start dealing with the kids.

Give them time.

If you give yourself time to prepare, you can focus your energy on your kids.  It’s important to make time to engage with your kids as they start their day. Snuggle in bed for a few minutes as they get up, read a book together, play for a few minutes, sing some songs, anything to connect with your child.   This is especially important if you have more than one child.

Prepare in advance.

Make it easier for you to be prepared by prepping the night before when your kids are asleep. Check the weather forecast then help kids pick out outfits and find appropriate shoes. Check your schedule for events to be sure you have what you need such as gear for swim lessons, etc.  Get lunchboxes out and ready to fill in the morning.  Don’t forget to check to see what you have on hand so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to find something they will actually eat.

Make a plan and tell your kids.

Kids want to help and aren’t great with surprises.  Be sure to tell them what is happening that day and give them an idea of how long they’ll have before you have to leave the house.  List off what you need them to do to get out the door: get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, make bed, pack backpack, etc. Be sure to remind them of the regular events such as school day, gymnastics class, etc. Some parents find it useful to use a chart to check off the chores completed.  Visual reminders are great!

Enlist their help.

Kids are capable!  They can make their own beds (it doesn’t have to be perfect). They should dress themselves, sit at the table for breakfast without getting up, and put their lunches into their own lunch boxes.  Please supervise teeth brushing and eating.

Keep it simple.

Breakfast does not need to be elaborate when you have to get to school.  You can get dishes done, dinner planned, or lists made while the kids eat their breakfasts.  Instead of flipping pancakes and cleaning sticky syrup or scrambling eggs, serve easy foods like toast, fruit, yogurt, cereal, muffins, etc. which require less of your hands on time.

Do NOT turn on the TV!

Even if your child gets up 2 hours before you need to leave, don’t do it!  It is a hard habit to break and it’s nearly impossible to turn the tv off in the middle of a show or get a child to do anything while watching without a battle.

Keep kids busy with open ended activities.

If your child has time to play before you need to leave or you want them to be safe and independently occupied while you shower or tend to other children, set them up with an open ended activity.  Be sure to tell them that once X happens (X= you finish your shower, the timer goes off, the baby is fed, etc.) it will be time to stop and get ready.  Some easy activities include: blocks, legos, coloring, playdough, and imaginary play.  Otherwise, if your timing isn’t spot on, you’ll have to pull kids away from an almost done puzzle, the last 10 minutes of a show, or the middle of a board game.  When it is time for the kids to stop, be firm.  Don’t let them manipulate you with “But wait…” or “I just need to…”.

Listen to music.

Music can set the tone for the day.  If you need to get everyone going, play something lively.  If you want to calm things down, find a song that fits.  You can use music as a timer, too. Tell the children, “At the end of the song, it’s time to…”.

Use visual cues and photos.

Visual checklist and photos can be an invaluable tool to help kids get ready independently.  If they are ready for school, they should match a picture of themselves with their coat, backpack, lunchbox, hat, mittens, etc.  You can change up the picture so that it is seasonally appropriate.  They can see what they need to have since they can’t read a checklist.

Make it a game.

To get kids to do things they don’t think are fun, turn it into a game. They love a challenge!  Say, “See if you can (or I bet you can’t) insert desired 1 step activity before insert timeframe such as: this song is over, timer goes off, I finish doing…,  the dog barks again.”  Get creative!


When you have moments when you get out of the house smoothly, celebrate!  When everyone is buckled into the car, praise the kids for their efforts with specific comments; “You got your coat on all by yourself and that helped us to get ready on time.” Give three cheers, honk the horn, sing a silly song, or play a favorite song on the radio to celebrate this success!

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“Choosing Cape Ann Preschool was easy…”


I was fortunate to meet Meghan professionally shortly after she took over Cape Ann Preschool.  We were at a Cape Ann Community Partnership for Children and Families meeting at Pathways for Children. As the Cape Ann Museum Director of Education I was there to report to the group about the family and children programs offered by the Museum.

Meghan, who had recently returned home after spending some time on the west coast, shared her enthusiasm for the preschool and was there to learn more about educational opportunities and other community offerings that she could share with her school community.  Our paths continued to cross, whether through Cape Ann Preschool visits to the Museum or at other community events. I enjoyed learning about the school, meeting the families and teachers and seeing the Cape Ann Preschool community in action.

Through my work at Endicott College as a social studies methods professor, I found myself in preschools, both public and private, throughout the north shore to observe my students doing their practicums. Through my work at CAM I saw numerous preschools visiting the Museum and at times I would make trips into schools to do Museum programs.

Meghan and her teachers create a warm, welcoming and fun learning environment for all children.

When it came time to choose a preschool for my 3 year old, the decision was easy.  After meeting Meghan when she first took over Cape Ann Preschool, and working with her professionally for several years, the more I learned about it, the more I knew it was right for my son. Meghan and her teachers create a warm, welcoming and fun learning environment for all children. They understand each child’s strengths and challenges, and they communicate openly with parents to make sure each child is thriving.

My son has a lot of energy, which isn’t uncommon, but can be a challenge at times both at home and at school. Shelley recognized that immediately and spent time talking on the phone with me one evening to share ideas about activities to help him get his energy out in a positive way. Now in his second year, he has definitely slowed down a bit, and I am still enjoying the open lines of communication with Mara and Meghan.

I also love being able to get glimpses into their world. Not only are parents welcome to spend time in the classroom, Meghan also uploads images on a weekly basis and Mara sends weekly newsletters home. My son has become a confident, compassionate and caring child who is community minded. This is the outcome I was hoping for, for my only child’s preschool experience. What is even better is that he is definitely kindergarten ready. He is enjoying learning how to read, write and do simple math. And most importantly he is having fun and loves school.

– Courtney and Ben Richardson

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School Readiness


School readiness is a measure of how prepared a child is to succeed in school, cognitively, socially and emotionally. More than a measurement, school readiness is the process of providing students the opportunity to find confidence, comfort, and aptitude at the learning new things.

The transition between early childhood and formal education can often come with social and emotional hurdles. Learning to overcome these challenges in a safe, positive environment establishes a positive impression of education on young learners, setting them up for success instead of having to address them all at once in kindergarten.

Why is School Readiness Important?

Students who are unprepared to start school often fall behind in reading, leaving them unable to read well by the end of 3rd grade.  Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants soak up words, rhymes, songs and images.

Vocabulary development is particularly important, with studies showing that vocabulary differences at age 3 predicted scores on language assessments at age 9. A child’s health, and the timely recognition of developmental delays, is another critical aspect of school readiness. Doctors, care providers and preschool teachers play a key role.

How does Cape Ann Preschool foster School Readiness?

Parents are their children’s first teachers, but don’t always know the best ways to get them ready to start school. We support our students and parents, guiding them how to provide verbal interaction and build routines from which both can benefit. By the time they graduate the Blue Room (ages 4-5), our School Readiness goals are that your child can:

  • Participate in snack/lunch with minimal support (opening containers, making healthy choices, using mealtime manners)
  • Play in a group or alone without requiring constant intervention
  • Communicate fluidly with others to share, get needs met, express opinions and emotions
  • Separate from you gracefully
  • Follow basic classroom rules and an adult’s instruction
  • Learn to self-regulate in order to tolerate small levels of frustration with few or no tantrums
  • Feel confidence to take risks in the classroom and try new things

We prepare the children for school focusing on practicing social skills and developmentally appropriate individualized instruction.  In our classrooms, the children learn through free play, modelling, and guided activities. Our goal is to simply expose the children to what they will be expected to know in Kindergarten and beyond.  

“Lively Letters” is a one curriculum tool we use to introduce letters and their sounds to our students. The program was developed by a speech and language pathologist who specializes in reading disorders.  It helps the children to develop a solid foundation in reading by fostering their phonemic awareness, speech production, and phonics base.

Considering enrollment in Cape Ann Preschool means that you have begun to realize that success in formal education starts much earlier than kindergarten. Our mission is to help your most precious investments, your children, succeed both in the classroom and at home by providing an educational experience that serves both child and parent.

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Group Socialization


Interaction between preschool students is a vital component to their learning experience. ‘Group socialization’ is defined as the process whereby individuals are made aware of the behavior that others expect of them as regards the norms, values and culture of their society. For us, it’s so much more than that.

Why is Group Socialization vital in Preschool?

As they socialize, children develop the ability to see other’s perspective, develop a sense of self with respect to the people around them, and explore what can happen when people cooperate with each other. In isolation, a child’s ability to learn, empathize, and verbalize languishes; in a healthy group environment, these things can flourish.

How does Cape Ann Preschool encourage Group Socialization?

A day in the life of a Cape Ann Preschool student consists of mostly group activities with the option of quiet time if students care to take some time for themselves. Each age group has their own classroom and dedicated teachers, though outside play is often shared with other age groups. Age-appropriate activities are generally provided as group events, at tables or play areas, and include:

  • Circle time
    • Time to share, participate in give-and-take conversation lead by the teacher, to become comfortable speaking in front of  group
  • Costumes and dress-up and role-play
  • Daily art activity focused on the individual process rather than product
  • Sensory Areas including playdough, water table, rice table
    • For creative exploration of and exposure to a variety of sensory stimuli including colors, textures, scents, and tools
  • “Have-tos” (in the older class): one required activity each week

At Cape Ann Preschool, we look to immerse our students in a fun, supportive, and educational environment to expose children to a variety of structured and open play experiences.

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Individual Development


Every child develops differently, though with the right encouragement can develop a well-rounded sense of personal accomplishment, a passion for learning, and confidence. Individual (or personal) development is a measure of a student’s cognitive and emotional development, focusing on self direction, self control, and other personal skills which contribute to their ability to learn.

Why is Individual Development important?

Every child comes with their own unique skills, personalities, and challenges; some challenges are harder than others to overcome, especially for a preschooler. Identifying need for early intervention only happens if a child’s adult support system is aware and ready to help. Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs) are measures that can fill the gap by providing helpful information about children’s growth toward outcomes.

How does Cape Ann Preschool cultivate Individual Development?

Each student is assessed on a regular basis for indicators of progress appropriate to their ages and stage of learning. Our teachers care deeply about each of their students, and look to maximize their success and encourage growth in areas that need to see growth. Our assessments happen informally throughout the school year and look for students to demonstrate:

  • Self-confidence and self direction
  • Using materials and time appropriately
  • Treating themselves and others well
  • Number and letter naming
  • Alliteration, word matching, and verbal formation
  • Rhyming, singing, and recitation
  • Picture naming of self and others
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“A great start towards a life of kindness…”


When we were choosing a preschool for our daughter, Matilda, our main focus was finding an environment in which she could fully be herself but be gently trained, encouraged, and prepared for entering kindergarten.  After meeting with Meghan and having a tour, we were certain that Cape Ann Preschool was the right choice for our family.

From the first day our whole family has been welcomed at Cape Ann Preschool. Matilda’s incessant energy during her first year was handled with incredible patience and an obvious plethora of experience.  Meghan and Shelley are so willing to check in about how things are going in the classroom and offer up tips to help reinforce at home what skills they are working at school.  At the end of the year it was obvious that she had made great progress and was ready to tackle her second year.

Mara is a model of kindness with each student but she pushes them to keep trying something even if it’s hard.

I have been blown away by what I see happening in Mara’s classroom.  Mara is an incredible educator. She is a model of kindness with each student but she pushes them to keep trying something even if it’s hard. She helps them work through conflicts with each other, giving them skills that will serve them for a lifetime. Mara has helped me see what Matilda is capable of. It is seriously exciting.

I believe that ages 3 & 4 are a magical time for children. They learn so much, so fast, and they can tell you all about it. At the same time they are precious and fragile and wild balls of energy. Cape Ann Preschool is just the right place for my most precious girl.  Cape Ann Preschool is the best start we could have given to her – in education, definitely, but also towards a life of kindness. I couldn’t be more grateful. We’re so excited to be sending our son, Liam, to Cape Ann Preschool next year!

– Lisa and Paul Bruce


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7 Tips For A Successful Preschool Playdate


1. Keep it short.

An hour to and hour and a half is ideal. It may seem like the blink of an eye to you but to a preschooler that’s lots of time. You can build up to a longer time once the children are truly at ease with one another and the other parents and are comfortable in someone else’s environment.

End on a happy note.

Keep them wanting more. Don’t wait until they have had their fill of one another to end the play. They should leave with the memory of having fun together and wanting to continue to spend time together again.

Remember it’s not about you.

Your goal is to build relationships with their peers and for the children to practice social skills of sharing, expressing themselves, cooperation, and following someone else’s rules.
You don’t need to be friends with the other parent to let your child develop a friendship. If you are friends, remember to tune in to the children and set a time to leave (see tip #1). It’s easy to feel like you haven’t had enough time together as adults.

Put controversial toys away & keep it simple.

If you are spending time at your home, do yourself a favor and put away your child’s new, awesome, most favorite toy that will be hard to share. Have a conversation with your child about this. Explain that because it’s so special, you wouldn’t want it to break or have the children argue about taking turns. They can build up to sharing those special things.
Being at someone else’s house is exciting and cool (and sometimes overwhelming). Have a plan for simple activities such as a game, making playdough, or playing outside in your yard. This helps guide the kids rather than causing them to feel like they don’t know where to begin.

Neutral territory is good for everyone (especially first time playdates).

Don’t stress yourself out thinking your house has to be big enough or clean and perfect to host a playdate. Meet at a neutral spot like a playground, gym, library, or even coffee shop. This allows the kids to be on equal ground and one does not have ownership over the where, how, and what to play. Most often, we hear about how the kids saw each other at the grocery store, library, or swim class rather than the super awesome playdate at someone’s house.

Wait until the last minute to tell your child about the playdate.

There’s nothing worse than planning a playdate and having your child look forward to it for days, then to have something come up causing it to be cancelled or rescheduled. Waiting also eliminates the conversation at school which can cause others to feel left out and your children to be consumed by the idea of spending time together outside of school. If the other parent is picking your child up from school, explain it that morning and tell your child you will meet them later, don’t go into it too much which could cause worry or overexcitement.
If you are planning to meet at a neutral location (see tip #5), you can “bump into” the other family. Kids think that’s so cool! That way, you can prep your child that you are going to the park, store, etc, and then if something comes up you don’t have to alter your plans and no one is disappointed.

Keep kids safe.

Make sure you have communicated important information including cell phone numbers, allergies, and fears (dogs, the dark, etc). It’s important that the other parent knows bathrooming habits (might need help wiping, unbuttoning, etc) so your child will be comfortable. Before they begin to play, go over house rules such as when and where it’s ok to go etc. Remember this is a new environment for the other child. Be sure the kids are in sightlines and/or earshot. Sometimes kids get crazy ideas when they put their heads together.
When my son was 4, we invited a new school friend over. While his mom and I had coffee in the kitchen, the boys figured out how to open his bedroom window and came up with the idea to throw the contents of his bookshelf out into our yard. We thought they were just having a great time as we heard laughter every time a book went flying! (I should note, there was a safety rail so they couldn’t get out themselves.)

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Adventures in Open Play: Fun for Kids that costs $1


Looking for a fun inside activity to do this long weekend? Got $1.00? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then welcome to our world!

Shaving cream = $1.00 and an hour of fun!


  • Raid your bathroom cabinet or stop by the Dollar Tree to pick up a can of shaving cream.
  • Clear table or kitchen counter.
  • Gather the kids and roll up their sleeves.
  • Squirt a fist sized mound of shaving cream directly onto the table.
  • Sit back and enjoy as the kids explore, squish, draw, and write.
  • When the shaving cream evaporates, give them another squirt and let the fun continue!

To jazz things up if the fun is fading, find kitchen utensils for them to use to write, give them prompts for drawing or writing, you can be the drawer and ask the kids to guess what you are creating, and/or add a drop or two of food coloring on to the shaving cream.  If you are worried about food coloring staining the counter, etc., protect clothes and surfaces by using the shaving cream on a cookie sheet or tray.

Why we love it as teachers:

  • Develops skills through sensory integration
  • Read this article for more information on the importance of sensory play
  • Fosters communication
  • Open ended play (no rules, definite beginning or end)
  • Easy clean up

Every moment of the day is an opportunity to learn something new, have an adventure, and find some fun along the way. Helping children learn how to explore creativity in themselves and others, though it may require a little cleanup afterwards, is a valuable life skill that we incorporate into our academic approach at Cape Ann Preschool each day.

What are your ideas? We would love to hear them! Leave a comment and let’s start that conversation.

Further Reading:

The benefits of shaving cream play from an occupational therapist perspective:


Other fun activities to do with shaving cream:


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