School Days

The Childrens Garden Pearl Portland

From language classes to artistic inspiration, educational opportunities abound at these terrific places to learn and engage.

At the Portland Child Art Studio, you won’t find a material-specific class, like water coloring. Instead, a child explores a theme, like a self-portrait, with myriad mediums and techniques—from painting, printmaking, and drawing to recycled sculpture, papier-mâché, and clay. And don’t forget the glitter and rhinestones. 

“We’ve created a great space for kids to discover what mediums inspire joy, and that leads to confidence,” says Executive Director Devon Mitchell. “All the materials are out, and the kids develop a relationship with the studio that’s all their own, separate from adult direction.”

The studio is a legacy of the Berkeley Child Art Studio, which Mitchell attended as a child, and it embraces learning approaches based on the work of Rhoda Kellogg, a psychologist, scholar, and child educator who collected several million drawings made by children, ages 2 to 6, over 33 years. As a result, Portland Child Art Studio is child-centered and avoids directing kids to make art the “right way.” Rather, teachers act as resources and facilitators.

Scuola Italiana di Portland

Whether you seek an immersion program for your preschooler, after-school classes for a teenager, or adult brush-up lessons before a trip to Tuscany, check out Scuola Italiana di Portland. The school’s diverse programs, which include an annual Carnavale celebration, help people of all ages deepen their connection to this beloved nation.

The summer camps for kids might make you a tad jealous. In “The Joy of Cooking,” 4- to 12-year-olds learn about different regions of Italy as they make traditional dishes, such as Milanese risotto and Napoletana pizza.

Scuola Italiana has even partnered with Planet Granite rock-climbing gym to offer a camp that focuses on Italian cooking in the morning and climbing the afternoon. Yes, please.

Mindfulness practices are at the heart of the Children’s Garden Field Office, which we featured in our winter 2018–2019 issue ( This innovative school in the fast-expanding northern reaches of the Pearl serves infants through junior kindergarten, offering small classes and emphasizing hands-on learning.

Depending on the age group, kids might participate through free-form artwork, yoga, working together to achieve goals and a variety of Montessori-style practices. There’s also a 2,500-square-foot outdoor playscape that provides students with opportunities for both enrichment and fun.

Ellee Thalheimer | Featured Photo of The Children’s Garden by Jennifer Gillette, Scuola Italiana di Portland by Jennifer Gillette