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THOUSAND OAKS | VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

Fun at School Snowballs for Kids, Parents

February 14, 1996|JOANNA M. MILLER

There were snowball fights and sled runs, lots of squeals and a few tears Tuesday as 250 preschool children and their parents romped on a hill of man-made snow at Horizon Hills School in Thousand Oaks.

Some clad in snowsuits and gloves, others wearing shorts and tennis shoes, the kids took turns riding sleds or plastic garbage can tops down a short run made with 20 tons of shaved ice.

"I've never heard of any preschool doing anything like this," said parent Gretchen Hall of Moorpark, brushing artificial snow out of her hair deposited there by an impish 4-year-old Brett Hall. "It's her first time in the snow."

Nearby, 3-year-old John Rendon of Thousand Oaks stood atop the white hill wearing shorts and sneakers, holding his round sled.

"He wouldn't put these on," said his mother, Francie, holding up a pair of snow boots. "Didn't want his snow pants either."

Monday's and Tuesday's playtime in the snow, for which the school paid a discounted rate of $100 per ton, is an example of the philosophy of teaching used at Horizon Hills Parenting Center, said Eilene Green, a teacher and center coordinator.

"We passionately believe it has to be in the hand before it gets into the head," she said. "Now, when we talk about a snowman, they'll know what that means."

That philosophy holds true for both the children and the parents, who are the real students at Horizon Hills. The program is offered through the Conejo Valley Adult School to teach parenting skills. Of course, the preschool also teaches the children as well.

"We find that the parents are so committed to being involved with their children's education that they stay involved through junior and senior high school as well," said Twila Cook, a spokeswoman for the adult school.

Nearby, John Delaney, 3, was being comforted by his mother, Therese. Although he hit the hill earlier that morning, it wouldn't be his turn to get back on for another two hours.

"God bless 'em," said his mother. "They've been waiting and waiting and waiting for today."

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