Do children have to be potty trained? No. Teachers will work with you and your child at your child's comfort level. We ask parents to please include in their child's backpack a diaper or pullup to be used if the child is not potty trained. If your child is 'working' on potty training and sometimes has accidents, we simply ask that you include an extra pair of underpants and change of clothes. We will be glad to give your child frequent reminders about the potty, if necessary. Remember, all children will eventually be potty trained!
What ages do you accept? Is there a cutoff age? Children may start as young as 19 months in our once-a-week Parent/Toddler classes. In order for a child to participate in our 2-day Older 2s traditional class (without parent or caregiver present) the child MUST be at least 2 years/7 months by the first day of class. Three-year-olds can choose between 2- or 3-day-per week classes and 4-year-olds can choose between 3- or 4-day-per week classes. Five-year-olds who desire an additional year of preschool before entering kindergarten may attend our 4-day pre-K classes. We also accept Kindegarten-attending children in our 2-day Kindergarten Explorations class.
My child will be almost 4 in September. Will he/she be placed with young 3-year-olds? No. We divide the children by young 3s, older 3s and young 4s, as well as older 4s and 5s.
What if my child has trouble separating from me? Each child is unique and we respect the needs of individual children. We start with a home visit by the teacher in late summer because this is where the child is the most comfortable. The first day is then a visiting day for you and your child together, so that the child can visit his/her classroom and meet his/her classmates for the first time with the security of a parent close by. We then work with children and parents on an individual basis so that each child's need for safety and security can be met. We are happy for the parent to stay with the child, if necessary, in order to work toward a gradual separation. We also have shortened hours during their first few days of school in order to help your child make a successful entry into nursery school.
What if my child has allergies? Food allergies can be life threatening. St. Paul's is a nut-free school, and we do not serve or allow any nut products into the nursery school area. The risk of accidental exposure to foods can be reduced in the school setting if students, parents, and school administration work together to minimize risks and provide a safe, educational environment for food-allergic students. All food allergies are posted in three places: the child's classroom, the director's office, and the kitchen. All staff members are trained in the use of Epi-pens. We ultimately strive to educate the individual child, with a safe environment at St. Paul's, to learn to be aware of his/her own food allergies and to understand and be responsible for his/her own safety when moving into the larger world.
Can my special needs child be successful at St. Paul's? As part of our mission to the community, we provide a quality early-childhood program that is inclusive of children of all abilities. St. Paul's Episcopal Nursery School believes children of all ability levels are entitled to the same opportunities for participation, acceptance and belonging in school. We make every reasonable accommodation to encourage full and active participation of all children in our program based on their individual capabilities and needs.
How large are the classes and what are the student/teacher ratios? This varies with the age of the child. Historically, the class sizes and ratios are as follows:
2-day older 2s - 10 students/3 teachers
2-day young 3s - 12 students/2 teachers or 13 students/3 teachers
3-day 3s - 13 students/2 teachers
3-day older 3s/young 4s - 11 students/2 teachers
4-day young 4s - 16 students/2 teachers
4-day older 4s/5s - 16 students/3 teachers
5-day 5s - 15 students/2 teachers
What does a typical day look like? Each class spends the majority of its day in an individual classroom participating in a wide variety of age-appropriate activities, such as art, free play, group time/job chart, story time and snack. Each individual class spends 30 minutes daily in the Big Room (gym area) or outside on our fenced playground for gross motor activities. We are also fortunate to have direct access to Bird Park from our playground, so we often hike in the park during the fall and spring.
How will a play-based nursery school prepare my child to meet the necessary standards for success in kindergarten? Play versus academics is essentially a false dichotomy. During the preschool years, all learning should be interesting and fun, and all children should be able to enjoy success during their first school experience so they will come to understand learning from a positive perspective. At St. Paul's our educators are quite intentional about what the children are doing through the use of interesting and worthwhile materials and activities. Learning in the early years is the most productive when it is embedded in every day, hands-on life. Current early childhood research findings clearly show that children who are subjected to isolated skill development in overly academic environments early on have more behavior problems later and are less likely to be enthusiastic, creative learners and thinkers. A developmental approach also best allows our teachers to set individual goals for children who, during the preschool years, typically have a wide and diverse range of skills and abilities.
What is the registration process? We encourage you to first contact the school by phone or e-mail in order to schedule a tour of the school with the director, who can give you information and answer any questions you may have about your child attending preschool. Enrollment takes place online in mid-January. After completing the enrollment form indicating your first and second choice of classes, submit the form and include the registration fee. This will hold your child's place in the school for the following year. If your child is wait-listed due to classes already being filled to capacity, your registration fee will be held and your child will remain on the wait list until a space becomes available. If your child is placed in your second choice, he/she will continue to be wait-listed for your first choice until the beginning of the school year.
What are the chances of my child getting into St. Paul's? We have a priority system based on:
Currently enrolled students
Children and Grandchildren of nursery school staff
Siblings of currently enrolled students
Members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Siblings of children who have previously attended
Legacies - Children of parents who attended the nursery school
Community at large
Do the children go on field trips? Yes. The older classes go on both local and citywide field trips. Examples would be: Mt. Lebanon Library, Giant Eagle, local farms, Carnegie Museum or the Pittsburgh Zoo. Typically field trips are planned in connection with a topic or theme of study in the classroom. Parents are required to attend field trips with their child for safety purposes. If a child's parent is unable to attend, this child may be accompanied by another parent from the class.
How do I connect with other parents at St. Paul's? There are a number of ways to make connections with other parents at St. Paul's such as: beginning of the year welcome coffees, being a homeroom parent, helping with the Fall Fundraiser or becoming a member of the school's Board of Trustees. Typically, each class has two class meetings where all the parents from the individual classes gather to get to know one another and to receive information from the homeroom parent and from the teacher. Finally, for safely reasons and to encourage communication between home and school, parents and caregivers are asked to deliver and pick up children at the classroom door. As a result, there is ample time and opportunity to meet other parents during drop off and pickup.