For all you parents looking for a preschool that suits your kids, we’re hoping to add a little something to aid in your search. Parents of children who attend various preschools on island have filled out a series of questions about the schools for the benefit of the rest of us. We welcome more than one voice on each school since everyone has a different experience, so please feel free to add in your two cents in the comments.
CONTRIBUTED BY MEGAN PARKER
My son has been attending All Souls’ Children’s Program for just over a year, and I can’t say enough positive things about it! My son started out last January in the two-year old program. Yes, that’s right folks: there is a part-time pres-school program for two-year olds!
While some may scoff at this (“Pff…what can they learn when they are two?”), let me assure you that my son learned plenty while he was there. One night at the dinner table he belted out The Pledge of Allegiance with his hand over his heart, straight-faced and solemn as could be! He learned the days of the week (why had I not thought to teach him that?!) and had time dedicated to music, arts & crafts, Japanese culture, and chapel.
When I say “chapel,” you should know that All Souls’ is an Episcopalian (Anglican) church, and it incorporates Christianity into its curriculum with the children. While this isn’t the reason we initially chose the program, this has been a bonus for our family!
My son is now in the three-year old program and loves going to school here. His only complaint at the ripe old age of three is that there is no bus to ride to school!
Name of School: All Souls’ Episcopal Church Children’s Program
Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School: 2-4 years old
-What is the maximum number of students that your school has? There are two classrooms for each age group: 2-year olds, 3-year olds, and 4-year olds. Last year my son’s 2-year old class had 12 kids, one teacher and two teacher’s aides. This year his 3-year old class has 14 kids, one teacher and a teacher’s aide. It is the same for the 4-year old class.
-What is the current number of students? around 100 students
-Is enrollment open/year-round enrollment or per semester? Enrollment is first come first serve September to May. . However, they do practice open enrollment in that if a spot opens up during the semester they will allow the next person on the wait list to enroll.
-Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend? No, and the staff was excellent in terms of assisting us with potty training last year. Also, I love that my son’s classroom in the 3-year old room has its own small child-size potty! (Please note that this is not the case for all classrooms, however.)
-Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? The director was happy to give us a tour of the facility and talk with us about All Souls’ Children’s Program and its teachers and curriculum to help us decide if this would be a good fit for our family. A child may accompany, but with the parent only.
Days and hours:
-What are the school’s hours? Monday- Friday from 9:30 AM -1:30 PM
-Is the school on a Japanese or American schedule? American schedule
-How flexible is the school with pickup and drop-off times? Pick-up and drop-off times are set according to age: two-year old drop-off/pick up at 9:15 a.m./1:15 p.m., three-year olds at 9:20 a.m./1:20 p.m., and four-year olds at 9:30 a.m./1:30 p.m. This is due to the limited availability of parking.
-What are the registration fees? $65 for 2 or 3 day and $100 for 5 day
-What are the tuition fees? 2 day is $150, 3 day is $240 and 5 day is $390 a month.
-If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees? There are no fees for this but prior to the start of preschool each family is asked to bring in a list of supplies such as crayons, markers, scissors, glue, and Kleenex. In my opinion, this is wonderful because many preschools have supply and other fees in excess of $100!
-Are any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? Staff receives 1/2 tuition and siblings get 10% off.
-Is there a late-pickup fee? $15 if your child is picked up after 1:45 PM.
-How and when does the school require payment (in yen, dollars, etc.)? American dollars or check only
Parent Involvement and Interaction:
-Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents? The school has an open door policy
-How do you communicate with parents? Is there a regular newsletter, or a notice board? Weekly newsletters from teachers and emails from the Director as needed.
-Is there a daily report or other process for informing parents of what children did during the day (naps, BMs, snacks, etc.)? Teachers communicate daily with parents as needed
-Are there parent/teacher conferences? Nothing formal, but you can request one with the teacher if you’d like one. My son’s teacher does a great job of letting me know how he is doing behavior-wise and it is easy for me to tell since she typically gives them rewards at the end of the day (stickers or a special prize or treat).
Classroom Structure and Size:
-How are the kids grouped? Grouped by age
-What's the teacher-child ratio in each group? 7:1 for the 3 year-olds and the 4 year-olds and 5:1 for 2 year olds.
-How many full-time teachers do you have? How many assistants? Each class has one teacher and one assistant or 2 assistants.
-What is the school's educational philosophy? Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus? Academic focus. They do activities every day and focus on learning one letter, shape, number, and color every week or so.
-Is there a playground for the children to play on? Yes, and my son loves it!
-What do the children do on any given day? What’s the general schedule/routine? The daily routine includes circle time, worksheets, arts & crafts, outdoor play if the weather permits, and lunchtime. They rotate Music, Chapel, or Japanese Culture depending on which day it is. My son’s teacher also incorporates science, a weekly them and bible verse, and other fun activities!
-Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? No, but the teachers do bring in special guests such as the fire department and they have fun programs such as Fall Festival, Christmas Program, Easter Program and Graduation for the older kids. They also offer individual and class pictures as well as the opportunity to dress in traditional Japanese attire and have your picture taken in the spring!
-How does the school discipline children? Timeout.
Final Comments or Observations about the School:
As I said, we are very happy with the program. Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, I also love the hours. There aren’t many preschools that offer part-time programs on this island, and I love that it is four hours. It’s long enough to get something out of it, but short enough that I still have plenty of time with him in the morning before school without feeling rushed, as well as lots of time in the afternoon to just play and let him be a kid.
My son has had three teachers (one PCS’d at the end of last year) and we have both loved all three of them.
Another thing to note is that this is an academic-year program only. It does not currently offer a summer program. The program has recently (this year) begun after-school care, which functions more like a daycare program. For $75, parents can buy a 5-day afternoon punch card (1:30 – 4:30 p.m.) and their child can go to the after-school care. They have play time, nap time, and a snack. There is no advance reservation needed; simply note on the form in the child’s communication folder the day you need after-school care.
The location of the school is also very nice. It is only five minutes from Camps Lester and Foster and not much further from Kadena. After I drop off my son I can conveniently get to Lester, Kadena, or Foster.
If interested in sending your child to All Souls I would recommend registering early. Registration typically occurs in March (watch the website for details).