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Preschool

Young children
learn through
play.

At our preschool, exploration and learning go hand-in-hand.

We honor the curiosity of our students. Through our focus on community, play, research, and faith, we encourage holistic development. Provide the tools for your child to discover more about the world. And lay the foundation for academic readiness.

Play is the work of the young child at school.

Play is not only a source of delight for the young child, it’s the basis for academic readiness. Preschool is the time for sharing stories, rhyming, and playing with language. For building with blocks and for counting games. For running and singing. For asking questions — lots and lots of questions. Often working collaboratively in partners and small groups, children use hundreds of artistic languages to explore the answers and respond to what they are learning. Our program is inspired by the Reggio-Emilia approach.

An environment of safety and peace.

At our preschool, your child will learn how to be part of a community in a place that is both safe and welcoming. They’ll be introduced to life skills, like making friends. Communicating. Apologizing. Forgiving. And working with others.

Our teachers create an intentional atmosphere of care and warmth where every child can explore their world and gain the academic and social-emotional skills to succeed in kindergarten. Finally, we integrate a life of faith into everything that we do. We want children to know God loves them and is with them at all times and in all places.

At the heart of our academics is teaching for understanding.

At our preschool, we honor the questions of our students. We teach them to be researchers and to develop intellectual curiosity. Often working collaboratively in partners and small groups, children use hundreds of languages to explore the answers to their questions and respond to what they are learning. Drawing. Movement. Painting. Sculpture. Collage. Blocks. Drama. These are some of the many languages our students use to express their learning.

And we don’t just give our students access to the art materials. Our expert, dedicated teachers provide them with the skills they need to use them as effective learning tools. The work they produce is beautiful and meaningful.

Our curriculum is deeply influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach from the schools of the Reggio Emilia region of Italy. Below are the fundamentals of the approach. You’ll see these in action throughout the preschool.

01

The Child as a
Protagonist

Children are rich, strong, and capable. All children have preparedness, potential, curiosity, and interest in constructing their learning. They can negotiate everything their environment brings to them. Children, teachers, and parents are considered the three central protagonists in the educational process.

02

The Child as a Collaborator

Education occurs in relationship with other children, family, teachers, and community. That is why we emphasize group work. This practice is based on the social constructivist model that supports the idea that we form ourselves through our interaction with peers, adults, the world, and symbols.

03

The Child as a Communicator

Children require hundreds of languages with which to explore and convey learning. Languages like words. Movement. Drawing. Painting. Building. Sculpture. Shadow play. Collage. Dramatic play. Music. We give students access to materials and the knowledge of how to use them. We want them to discover, wonder, question, feel, and imagine.

04

The Environment as a Third Teacher

The design and use of space matters. Well designed space encourages encounters, communication, and relationships. Every corner of every space has an identity and purpose. It is valued and cared for by children and adults.

05

The Teacher as a Partner, Nurturer, and Guide

Teachers facilitate children’s exploration of themes, and work on short-term and long-term projects. They guide experiences of collaborative, open-ended discovery and problem solving. They listen and observe children closely. Ask questions. Discover children’s ideas, hypotheses, and theories.

06

The Teacher as a Researcher

Teachers work in pairs and maintain strong, collegial relationships. They engage in continuous discussion and interpretation of their work and the work of the children. These exchanges provide ongoing training and theoretical enrichment. Teachers see themselves as researchers who document their work with children, whom they also consider researchers.

07

The Documentation as a Communication

Documentation serves many purposes. It makes parents aware of their children’s experience. It allows teachers to better understand children, to evaluate their own work, and to exchange ideas with other educators. Documentation also shows the children that their work is valued. Finally, it creates an archive that traces the history of the school and the pleasure in the process of learning for many children and their teachers.

08

The Parent as Partner

Parent participation is considered essential. Parents play an active part in their children’s learning experiences and help ensure the welfare of all the children in the school. The ideas and skills that families bring to the school and, even more important, the exchange of ideas between parents and teachers, favor the development of a new way of educating.

Program Offerings

• PK3: Morning classes: three (M/W/F) or five mornings a week

• PK4: Morning classes: three (M/W/F) or five mornings a week.
Full-day class, five days a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my family have to be Christian to attend MSS?

No, you do not have to be a Christian to attend MSS. We welcome students of other faith backgrounds. At the same time, Mustard Seed is very clearly a Christian school. We are interdenominational; we welcome families from all denominations. We also welcome families of no faith background. All students attend worship every day. Families are welcome to attend.

Does my child need to be toilet trained to attend preschool?

Yes, your child will need to be able to use the bathroom independently to attend preschool.

What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy which values the child as strong, capable, and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. Every child brings with them deep curiosity and potential and this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it. The approach incorporates the arts, giving children hundred of languages with which to explore and express learning. Read more about the approach here.

Will the teacher be able to get to know my child before school starts?

We want to make your child’s transition to school as smooth as possible. We have a couple of opportunities for teachers, students, and families to get to know one another before school starts: a park playdate, an opportunity to visit the classroom and meet the teacher, and a listening conference. The listening conference is a time to meet with your child’s teacher to share your hopes, dreams, concerns, and anything else you would like the teacher to know.

How will I know how my child is doing?

A parent teacher conference is scheduled for each family mid-year. In this conference, teachers will share observations about a child’s development and life at school. Teachers share a few goals they are working on with the child and ways the family can support these at home. Additional conferences are scheduled as needed.

There are also numerous informal ways to stay informed about what is happening at school. Drop-off each day is a great time to take a peek at the work your child has been creating in the classroom and see the materials the class has been using. Each week families receive a newsletter from the teachers that contains links to a blog where families can see pictures, student quotes, and descriptions of classroom activities. A weekly school-wide newsletter provides important information about dates and process for school events.

Teachers keep in touch over email as well. Please don’t ever hesitate to share any questions or concerns you may have with your child’s teacher.

Is there a naptime?

Full-day students participate in a rest time after lunch. Some children sleep and others enjoy a few quiet moments with a book or stuffed animal.

How often do children play outside?

Outdoor play is an integral part of our program. Students in the morning programs have a park time every day and students in the full-day program have park time twice a day. We go outdoors in all kinds of weather. Each student will need rain gear and winter gear.

How firm are you about age cutoff dates?

We’re flexible about many things. We’re firm about our cutoff dates. Years of experience and research back up our policy. A child must be three before September 1 to begin preschool. A child must be five before September 1 to begin kindergarten. A child must be six before September 1 to begin first grade. Read more on this topic.

Will we need to apply to kindergarten at Mustard Seed School when my child finishes preschool?

No, you will not need to apply to kindergarten. Your preschool student is guaranteed a space in kindergarten. You will just need to re-enroll in February.

May I visit my child’s classroom?

Absolutely! One of the tenets of the Reggio Emilia approach is that parents are partners in their child’s education. You’re welcome to come to your child’s classroom every morning to spend time with your child before school. You’re also welcome to attend worship. You can sign up to volunteer in your child’s classroom. Or chaperone a field trip. We look forward to partnering with you.

Do you have volunteer requirements?

Other than the rotating snack schedule, there are no formal requirements for volunteering. However, we welcome your involvement as an important part of our community. At some point during the year we hope each family will be able to have a parent come in to volunteer.

We also have summer work days where parent involvement is greatly appreciated.

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Mustard Seed School.

Find out what makes us unlike any other school.

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