1. Q: Is Open Arms accredited? And why is that important?
A: Yes, Open Arms has been accredited since 1998 by NAEYC (National Association of Educators of Young Children) and/or NAC (National Association of Child Care Professionals). Accreditation by these organizations demonstrates a level of excellence in teaching children that we feel is important for your child. Both of these national organizations set standards that help parents know that their children will receive an optimum learning experience.
2. Q: What’s the difference between private preschool and the day care centers that I always hear advertised?
A: Open Arms is a developmentally-appropriate early childhood education center that focuses not only on the whole child (cognitively, socially/emotionally, physically, and spiritually) but on each child, your child.
As well, each teacher at Open Arms, a nationally accredited program, obtains over 16 hours annually of continuing education and training in the latest teaching methods in the early childhood field. This training includes (but is not limited to) math, science, reading readiness, pre-writing and writing, social sciences, fine and gross motor skills, and sensory issues as well as other special needs.
3. Q: Even so, what does OPEN ARMS CHRISTIAN PRESCHOOL offer that other private preschools do not?
A: We partner with you to discover the optimum path for your child to learn and succeed. We feel that because of our small class sizes, excellent child-teacher ratios, and experienced teachers, we have the expertise and time to learn to know your child.
4. Q: I understand that staff turnover is a significant issue for many preschools. What is Open Arms’ experience with teacher retention or staff turnover?
A: While preschool staff turnover rates nationally are said to be almost 30% annually, this is not the case at Open Arms. Our preschool is fortunate to have many dedicated teachers who are very committed to our educational program, our progressive curriculum, our Christian foundation, and our philosophies about child development and providing opportunities for each individual child to learn in the way they learn best. All of our teachers have extensive experience in early childhood education, most have been with our program for quite a few years and three have been at Open Arms for 13 years! With such a dedicated staff, we can assure quality program continuity.
5. Q: I’ve heard a lot about Al’s Pals and Handwriting Without Tears. What are those programs exactly, and at what age would my child participate in those?
A: Al’s Pals is a kid-friendly, non-threatening social development, self-help and problem-solving skills program. Through puppets and social stories, the children put into practice appropriate methods to work through problems and to interact with others more easily. The children learn how to handle various emotions, by using words, deep breathing, counting and having a safe, special place (Al’s Place) in the classroom to deal with conflicts. While we formally start this program in the 3-4 year old class, we use many of the techniques and terminology with the younger children.
Handwriting Without Tears is a multisensory program for handwriting skills. Children use materials such as wood pieces, mats, playdough, magnet pieces, letter cards, sponges, and chalk with small chalkboards to learn to write letters. We teach letters in the order of the ease of formation, not alphabetical order. We also teach children the upper case letters first, then the lower case. (Imagine trying to write a lower case ‘e’ before learning the upper case ‘E.’) We use engaging materials and songs to make letter-writing fun! While the formal instruction for this program is at the Pre-Kindergarten level, we offer many pre-writing skills in the younger classes. Children will only be successful with handwriting if they first develop the necessary fine motor skills starting in the younger classes.
6. Q: I’m concerned about sending my child to preschool too early. How will I know the time is right?
A: We recognize the significance of learning and the “windows of opportunity” that occur in the first five years of a child’s life. We provide a stimulating environment that encourages the development of a positive approach to learning for a lifetime. Children should be not only cognitively ready for kindergarten and beyond, but also socially, emotionally, and physically ready. Prospective Open Arms families are always welcome to come see the school, in fact we encourage it! Visiting parents and families will observe children learning at different rates and teachers working with each child at that child’s developmental level. Parents also will be able to see their child in the classroom setting. The director will meet with you individually to discuss your child’s readiness for preschool or a particular class level.
7. Q: How does the afternoon enrichment/ extended day differ from the morning program?
A: Our afternoon program includes lunch, outside time, a special enrichment class, rest time, and time to create, to explore and to play with friends. Our enrichment classes include, but are not limited to, yoga, puppetry, story-telling, folk dancing, science, aerobics, Bible stories, flower arranging, tot chefs, “just dough it,” creative art, Spanish, sign language and gem art. Afternoon Enrichment/ Extended Day is a bit less structured than our morning program, but it allows us to explore new areas with the children that we don’t have time to include in the morning curriculum.
8. Q: How will I be able to communicate with my child’s teacher? What if there’s a problem?
A: Your teacher values you as a partner in your child’s education. All parents are welcome in the preschool. The teachers have daily contact with the parents. You may also feel free to call or e-mail your teacher. Teachers will notify parents if a situation arises that needs to be addressed. We hold parent-teacher conferences twice a year, more if needed. We also welcome input from the parents. You are your child’s first teacher; we are here to work with you to provide your child with the best learning experience. Teachers send home daily or weekly information on classroom activities as well as monthly calendars and newsletters.
9. Q: Can you help me with what I think are my child’s challenges?
A: Of course! No one knows your child better than you. If you feel that your child might need some additional help, we will provide resources to you. We will also seek to adapt each classroom to accommodate your child’s learning needs.