Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Garden of Angels - The Best Preschool Ever

Teach your Tots Values in a Loving Environment


Garden of Angels; Creating Leaders for Life

If every child could get an early start by attending the most phenomenal preschool conceivable, our world would be the most magical place. Garden of Angels in Santa Monica has been a Godsend to our family. By not only offering a nurturing place for our daughter to spend her days while we work, what she has learned already before Kindergarten has far surpassed my wildest imagination.

Most schools obviously teach the basics. Kids learn to share, clean up, tell time, their ABC's, reading and writing, etc. We raved about her previous preschool, because it was great. We had no complaints aside from the high turnover of teachers. Until the commute wore on me, I had little reason to explore other options. Then I was delighted to discover the vast gifts and magical, colorful world of the aptly named Garden of Angels.

They take early education to a whole new level. From very early on, the kiddos learn great skills with regards to communication, cooperation, kindness and respect. But at just 5 years old (before Kindergarten), my daughter is already reading at what appears to be first-grade level. But that's only the beginning.

Garden of Angels is intent on teaching our youngsters to become leaders for life. They help do that by putting on two singing and dancing performances per year (from ages 2-6 and is the cutest thing ever). They also learn public speaking and do science projects where they take turns discussing them for the entire student body and parents-Genius! At this age, they haven't learned to fear it yet.

They also learn to create amazing 3-D art projects. They learn how to garden and grow their own food at school. They learn the basics of sign language, Spanish and even learn their names in Braille. They get passports and learn geography, all sorts of things about other countries, their flags, their food, etc. They even learn how to cook. My daughter has learned how to make tortillas, sushi, pasta and quiche-all from scratch! I'm 50 years old and I have never even learned to make any of that-and I grew up working in a restaurant! But wait-it gets better... She has also learned how to sew. This, in turn, inspired me to finally learn (and has empowered me to make my own purses and yoga bags). To top that off, the school has given her music lessons, yoga, gymnastics and even Zumba-the fun never ends!

They don't hold back on the academics either. She has studied great minds like Einstein, Ben Franklin, Rosa Parks, etc. She has learned about great artists like Shakespeare, Andy Warhol, Beethoven and Picasso. One day she asked me, "Mommy, do you know about Salvador Dali? He makes melting clocks." She is learning things I never learned in college-let alone high school!

Garden takes in kids who are potty-trained and runs all the way through to first grade. By the time they are in TK, they go on weekly field trips to places like The Gentle Barn, the Planetarium, Huntington Gardens, the Science Center and even out to Underwood Farms where they got to pick their own fruits and vegetables. Parents are encouraged to chaperone, so together, we have been whale watching, to a snow day up in the mountains, a beach day, several canyon hikes . . . seriously, too many to list! When they return, they practice journaling about their adventures. They have also learned about transportation, recycling, sustainability and fund raising. One of my favorite things they learn is about giving back to the community. They helped raise nearly $1,000 and we all went to the food bank and boxed up 3 palettes of apples to help out.

If you've seen Inside Out, you understand the power of building "core memories." One of the most memorable endeavors is the annual 3-day camping trip near the beach-past county line. The entire school (all the teachers, parents and children) attend. We all receive three gourmet meals a day, we have treasure hunts, parent talent contests and naturally, we roast marshmallows.

I have bonded with the most amazing parents and community of teachers (that has had very little turnover – most have been there for several years) which has really become like The Village and truly a second family that is, in essence, raising my child.

As the time for public school rapidly approaches, my gratitude for what Garden of Angels has created and has provided our family in the course of just one year is inexplicably immense. Once it is time to move on, we will all tearfully miss this school and the incredible community it continuously cultivates.

Deja, Kalen and Miles in a scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream

The founders, Scottie and Bambi (a husband and wife team) are so deeply adored and appreciated by the children and parents alike. The administrators, Marta and Kimmi, are exceptionally wise and wonderful. The teachers are unbelievably committed and caring. I can't begin to express the level of appreciation I have for this phenomenal community. It is my deepest prayer that more schools in the world can take notes and consider adding some of these attributes to their curriculum. This magical beginning is creating a truly stellar group of caring, responsible, well-rounded little humans. If you are pregnant or live in Santa Monica, Garden of Angels is definitely a preschool worthy of notice. Do yourself a favor and take your tour soon so they can save you a spot!

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Liz Angeles, local Wellness Director and Healing Artist is an alumni writer and editor for the Observer, and has gone on to edit ABILITY Magazine and publish 45 and Pregnant - How I Conceived and Delivered Naturally -- Available now on Amazon. Friend her on


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