The Pinwheel Project: A Whole-Child Approach to Preschool

Preschool Wellness Consultation

Pinwheel Project logoThe Pinwheel Project is rooted in the power of whole-child care throughout early development to nurture healthy human beings and bring momentum for lifelong success. We are a team of transdisciplinary professionals with a shared vision to create systems-level change in early childhood education, driven by the understanding that a young child's social-emotional development is the foundation on which they learn to navigate the world. It is critical to the ability to adapt in school, form successful relationships, maintain jobs and become contributing members of society. Our mission is to establish our tiered consultation model and transdisciplinary, whole-child approach as standard classroom practice to ready all children for kindergarten.

Addressing Equity

We are innovating early childhood education processes and addressing equity gaps to ensure that all preschoolers – especially those with the highest needs and greatest obstacles – receive the support they need to thrive. Entering kindergarten with a strong foundation of physical and social-emotional health is one of the best predictors of a prosperous, healthy future. We collaborate with administration, teachers, parents and students to address issues of inequity and ensure each child receives the support they need both in and outside of the classroom, to prepare them for kindergarten.

Whole-Child Approach

We bring a whole-child approach to preschool education in an effort to nurture young beings from head to toe, inside and out. The outcome is thriving children with kindergarten readiness, emotional intelligence, foundational life skills and momentum for success. By nature of the relationship-based approach to our work, we build partnerships with the individuals in roles integral to a preschooler's full development, providing them support and guidance as they shape these young lives. Our multifaceted, holistic approach intervenes at universal, focused and individual levels and integrates multiple disciplines – mental health, occupational therapy, nutrition education and physical health – allowing us to assess and care for each child's wellness and identify how best we can support and empower them and their parents and teachers.

Tiered Model

Pinwheel Project infographic that displays the four components of care: mental health, physical health, nutrition and occupational therapy

Our tiered consultation model builds layers of support that radiates toward the child and allow school staff and our team to collectively identify and address their individual needs in the areas of mental health, physical health, nutrition, and sensory integration.

  • Universal level: All children in the classroom benefit from interventions used, such as implementation of social emotional curriculum; wellness screenings; adjusting the physical environment of the classroom; providing teacher coaching and support and addressing common classroom challenges; and providing input to program administrators in designing policies that impact teachers, children, and families.
  • Focused level: Children with similar needs benefit from focused interventions, such as nutrition and parenting groups for children at risk of obesity, small peer groups for children to grow in their social skills, and sensory activities for children with similar sensory needs.
  • Individual level: Children and families with a higher level of need benefit from more intensive interventions, such as targeted case management, individual and family therapy, individualized physical health or nutrition plans, individual behavior plans, and referrals to outside service providers in the community.

Support the Pinwheel Project

To give online:

  • Go to Saint John's Health Center Foundation
  • Choose an amount to give
  • From the middle of the page, click on drop-down menu for designation and choose CFDC - Preschool Wellness and Consultation (Pinwheel)

To give by mail, send a check to:

Saint John's Child and Family Development Center
1339 20th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Attention: Donations

Please indicate on the notation line of your check: The Pinwheel Project
Please provide us with your contact information so we can send you a thank you note and charitable donation letter.

Contact Us

Contact Lara Sando, Ph.D., program coordinator

The Pinwheel Project is a partnership between Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Child Development Services. Support for this project was provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program.