Q. Are you a co-op?
A. Saint Luke partners with parents in whole-family ministry but is not a cooperative preschool in that we do not require parents to volunteer or spend time in the classroom. We do welcome parental support and participation in many school programs; however, we recognize and respect the idea that preschool for many families is a time for children to learn to separate from parents in a loving environment, and that parents and caregivers may enjoy the time a child is at preschool, using that time to attend to personal errands and needs. We strive to support parents and the choices they make for their families in this regard.
Q. How Christian are you?
A. We are unabashedly Christian in emphasis while being unabashedly inter-faith in welcome. At our school you will find us talking about Jesus and God in generalized terms, celebrating Christmas and Easter enthusiastically and in the Lutheran tradition, but welcoming all in our approach. Our object is to help children understand that they are in a loving, safe environment and that God loves them as well. It’s that simple. Our weekly chapel service for the older children is 15 minutes long, age-appropriate in design, and includes a prayer, song and Bible story. In our school population you will find Christians of many denominations, those who do not affiliate with any church, and those from other faiths. We believe an environment of love is a bridge that crosses many boundaries.
Q. What do you mean by play-based?
A. Our educational philosophy is play-based and time-tested. We believe children learn from their environment and provide structured opportunities for play that enhance their learning. So while every day will start with free play from the child’s perspective, our centers-based play approach is specifically designed by each teacher to support curricular goals of the day. We strive for print-rich classrooms, and supply our teachers with the very best in educational resources, toys and materials to support kindergarten readiness. Our play-based approach is supported by a national curriculum we adopted in 2010-2011 called “Opening the World of Learning” by Pearson Scott Foresman publishers and our efforts in this area were supported and funded by the Maryland State Department of Education. We are proud be one of only a handful of church-based programs with a state-approved educational program, since 1994, which distinguishes us as not only a loving and fun place to care for children, but as an exceptional pre-school.
Q. Do you accept children with allergies?
A. We pride ourselves on our ability to serve children with food allergies from the most simple, to complex. We will communicate with parents in advance to determine a child’s needs and whether or not we are the best environment. We are a great match for many families in which allergies are a concern, but realize that not every fit is perfect. We are not a peanut-free school; however, classrooms each year are designated nut-free on an as-needed basis. We partner with parents to provide safe menus and snacks. We are willing and able to make other accommodations such as altering play-dough recipes and art materials; however, we are aware that there may be some children whom we cannot safely serve. We will communicate honestly and openly with parents at all times with the primary goal of a safe, loving and inclusive environment for the child.
Q. Do you accept children with special needs?
A. Saint Luke Christian Day School does not employ any special educators on staff, nor do we employ a full-time nurse or medical aide. With that said, we serve many special needs at our school on a case-by-case basis. In particular, we partner with private and public resources to support the children we serve, as necessary. While we cannot serve every child, we have recently, successfully and joyfully served children with autism, Down’s Syndrome, speech and language delays, birth defects, hearing loss, and a host of other needs. We expect parents to be clear about their expectations and needs prior to enrollment and will work closely with parents to determine if our school is the best educational environment for a particular child. We cannot guarantee the ability to serve every child and we will be honest if we feel we cannot adequately serve a child’s needs. We are happy to work with third-party service providers of the parents’ choosing and welcome observations, consultations and advice from qualified professionals.
Q. Does my child have to be toilet trained?
A. Children enrolled in our age two programs do not need to be toilet trained and staff responsibilities include changing diapers at that age level. We do require that children enrolled in our three and four-year-old programs be toilet trained. This requirement is not based on developmental norms and we want to reassure parents that many typically developing children are not toilet-trained until age three or later. We believe that children will decide when to toilet train, but that adults can certainly encourage and support. It is our facility and sanitation requirements at the school that demand this age cut off. If your child is making progress on toilet training and is entering a three-year-old program, our staff will work closely with you to support your efforts. Only after staff and parents have worked together toward a solution and failed would we ever consider dis-enrolling a student for lack of toilet training.
Q. My child is advanced/delayed, can we enroll him/her in a differently-aged class?
A. We believe that our play-based program addresses such a broad spectrum of early childhood needs that there is seldom call for either delaying a child’s entry or advancing his or her placement. Children advanced in many areas usually benefit from more age-appropriate emphasis in other areas. We are happy to perform informal assessments in cases where parents feel strongly about this issue in order to help the school determine placement. Also, in rare cases where exceptions to age cut-offs would not harm the child’s placement in future classes or kindergarten, and might benefit all involved, we consider alternate placement. Again, this is exceedingly rare and not encouraged by the school.