What makes the Reggio Emilia Inspired Approach to teaching better than the other curriculums elsewhere?

Recent research and developments in early childhood education have led to curriculum innovations designed to transform the classroom into a learning environment that is more responsive to the varying learning needs and interests of young children. There is recognition of the need for memorable learning not simply memorized learning. Children are expected to work cooperatively on open-ended tasks as well as follow instructions in step-by-step learning processes. There is more emphasis in connecting home and school learning. As educators, we know that children have a much wider range of capabilities than they have usually been permitted to show in the traditional classroom. Further, as teachers of young children we know that children achieve a higher level of understanding if they have a vested interest in what they are doing.

It is this quest for innovative teaching techniques that has directed American educators to look to other nations’ policies and practices. One internationally acclaimed program is the public school early childhood program in Reggio Emilia, Italy. There is much about the Reggio Emilia approach that distinguishes it from other efforts to define best practices in early childhood education. Much of the worldwide attention has been on the program’s emphasis on children’s symbolic languages in the context of a project-oriented curriculum. Lovingly referred to as the Hundred Languages of Children, symbolic languages are defined as the many ways children may express their knowledge and desires through art work, conversation, dramatic play, music, dance and other expressive languages. The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education is achieved through a carefully planned and collaborative process. To learn more about the Reggio Emilia Philosophy - click here.

Will my child learn early literacy skills while attending Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool?

Yes! While worksheets and a generic curriculum are not used at Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool, the children are always learning the basics needed to build a strong foundation in early literacy and methodical concepts. Woven through their day are activities such as group investigative projects, name recognition activities, and classroom centers with interesting materials that encourage early literacy such as the writing center and dramatic play centers, materials drawn from our outdoor environment and state of the art puzzles and manipulative that cause the children to sort, count and categorize. During class teachers guide the children through stories, songs and fun interactive games that encourage early literacy, development of speech, social skills and problem solving.

What is the teacher/student ratio in the classes?

Our teacher/student ratios are exceptional and lower than what is dictated by the NAEYC. Three teachers in the classroom allows for a more dynamic learning environment, which allows for small group projects, documentation, and group collaborating within the classrooms. All teachers are highly experienced and hold higher education degrees.

Each classroom with the exception of the Mini three’s, have three teachers in the classroom. The Mini three's has two teachers. The Mini three's class has 12 students with a ratio of students to teachers of 6:1. The three-year-old classes have 18 students with a ratio of students to teachers of 6:1. The Pre-K classes have 20 students with a ratio of students to teachers of 7:1.

How Do I Know My Child Will Be Ready For Kindergarten?

Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool is one of a handful of schools in Arizona accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In our recent 2012 re-accreditation, Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool ranked in the 99th percentile of schoolsaccredited by the NAEYC. Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool is ranked as one of the finest preschools in the country.

The curriculum that is used at Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool is an emergent curriculum. Learning is easy and enjoyable when we have a vested interest in the subject. Parents, teachers and the children all contribute to that initial idea that sparks an investigating project. For example, the children of the one class were talking about the summer Olympics. They had seen the events on TV and had interest in learning more about China. The Coyote teachers expanded their learning from the Olympics to the Chinese New Year. Using books, photos and interviews with parents that had traveled to China, the class created Chinese lamps, learned about the Chinese alphabet, and parents helped the children create a Chinese dragon for their parade on the New Year. The project of learning about the people and customs of China drew on the AZ Standards for Early Literacy and math concepts. Children were drawing, writing, investigating, counting, and working in small groups, listening and sharing ideas, solving problems and so on using a topic that interested them. This type of teaching is called “emergent curriculum”. It is not a canned curriculum, but moves with the interests of the children. Projects may last a few days or continue for months. By carefully listening to the children and working along side them as “researchers”, the teachers gently guide the class activities to include the AZ Standards of Early Childhood Development. When teachers teach the standards using a topic that the children are interested in, the children thrive.

We have been told by public school teachers in the nearby vicinity that they can always spot the children from Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool. Our graduates have developed strong social, emotional, and cognitive skills that prompt them to pose questions, seek more information, listen and follow directions and to “think outside of the box”. They leave our care ready to learn because they have the skill sets that enable them to be successful in school and throughout their life.

How do you deal with discipline issues?

Learning to share, wanting to be a part of the group, making and keeping friendships, learning to negotiate what you want and being respectful of others is all a part of the growing process. At PPP, we use the "Conscious Discipline" approach which is a comprehensive self-regulation program that integrates social-emotional learning and discipline. Click here for more info. Our teachers watch over the children very closely and encourage them to try to work out their differences using their words. Teachers model how to solve problems between friends by asking the children “what they could have done differently”, “what could they have said differently”, “what can they do to make their friend feel better”, and so on. Teachers do not tell the children how to fix problems, we cause the children stop and think. We expect children to learn how to treat others with respect and how to solve their own problems through negotiation and discussion. Communication is the key to harmony within the classroom and in life. Each child and their feelings are always respected and they are encouraged to share their feelings with peers and adults, good or bad. 

Children are not allowed to put others in harms way. Although rare, children who will not respond to the direction of their teacher will be removed from the situation and will only return to the activity or classroom when they have recovered. Parents are always notified when their child is removed from an activity or classroom due to behavior concerns.

Is there any biblical teaching for my child? Do I need to be a member of the church?

While our preschool is a mission of the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, there is no formal biblical teaching in the classrooms. You do not have to be a church member – all are welcome to attend. Children often speak about God and His love for them in the context of talking about their families and life experiences. Teachers are expected to minister to Christ in their actions and words. A small blessing is normally shared during snack time when the children a joined as a group to share snack.

Does my child need to be potty trained?

Yes! All children must be reliably toilet trained to attend the preschool. Our school is not licensed for diapers or pull-ups. If there are numerous “accidents” within a short period of time, you may be asked to temporarily un-enroll your child.

When does the registration process begin for the following year?

The kick off of the registration process begins in January for both priority and community. Priority families get their information two weeks prior to our New Parent Informational Meeting always scheduled for mid-January in the Fellowship Hall. New parents interested in hearing about the preschool may attend this presentation and then tour of the school campus. Click here for tour schedule.

Registration packets are handed out at that time for families to complete and submit. Priority registration takes place first and then spots that are remaining are filled by the open registrants by a lottery. Those that apply and are not granted a spot are then placed on a waitlist according to the date the application was submitted.  Priority Registration begins the beginning of January and Open Registration begins the second week in January.  Please check the school calendar for specific dates.

What considers me as a “priority” registrant?

A priority registrant is one that is a returning student, a sibling of a previous student or a registered church member of six months or more.  Priority registration begins the first week in January. 

If I don’t get a spot during the registration process and am placed on a waitlist, how long before I know if I will be ensured a place for my child?

Children are placed on the waitlist according to when the application is received and the indicated 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice. As space opens up, we call the waitlist. It is not uncommon to make calls throughout the summer months to several families before all spaces are filled. While we do our best to accommodate everyone, due to our commitment to keeping class sizes down, this is not always possible.

Is there a fee to submit a Registration Application?

Yes. There is a non-refundable registration fee required of $250, along with a Registration form and Policies & Procedures form.  If we are unable to secure a spot for your child, you will be placed on a waitlist and receive a full refund of the registration fee paid.  It is recommended that you tour the preschool before submitting an application.

Do you offer a summer program for my child and for what ages?

Yes. The preschool runs weekly throughout the summer with the exception of the week of Vacation Bible School, and the week of the 4th of July, 9 am - 1 pm. The summer program runs weekly for 3 to 8 year old children, Monday through Thursday.

Our summer program is open to all priority families first and then available to the community. Space is limited and information is available about the summer program in March on our web site or through the school office.

You may always contact the Preschool Office with your questions or concerns at 480.585.9448 Ext 2.