I’ve never attended a Catholic school so my final preschool visit to Our Lady of the Lake Preschool was a new experience. While I’m not sure of what I was expecting, I certainly was not disappointed; in fact, I was pleasantly surprised.
I attended OLL’s final open house on February 2. I was impressed with the size of the library and for a moment fantasized about how easy a morning might be if there were no arguing over what to wear. (That would still be a few years away, though, as the 3- and 4-year-old pre-school children are not required to wear uniforms.) The classrooms looked like many others I have seen, although larger and more as though they are part of a school rather than part of a church. The teachers were warm and worked hard to create an environment of trust and independence combined with free play, music, circle time, and stories. The children’s art hangs from the ceilings in the classrooms and photos document the various activities in which the children participate.
Now for the nuts and bolts:
School Days/Hours: Children are required to be 3 by October 1. Three-year-old children can participate in either 2, 3 or 5 half or full days. Four-year-olds can participate in either 3 or 5 day programs and also have the option of a half day or full day. A half day runs from 8:30 to 11:15 a.m. and a full day is from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lunch, enrichment and after care are available and billed in addition to the regular tuition.
Payment: Tuition is billed monthly. The 3-year-old program has 2 mornings for $230 per month, 3 mornings for $310 per month, or 5 mornings for $380 per month. The 4-year-old program has 3 mornings for $310 per month, or 5 mornings for $380 per month. Full days are $400 per month for 2 full days, $500 per month for 3 full days, $600 per month for 5 full days. Additionally, there is a non-refundable $150 registration fee.
Class Size: The 3-year-old classes have up to 10 students per teacher and the 4-year-old class can have 20 students with an aide. There is always 1 teacher and, in the larger classes, 2 aides.
Special Programs: The children in the 4-year-old class participate in music once a week and gym twice a week. In addition, the children who are in a full day of school benefit from an afternoon enrichment program that is an extension of the morning class focusing on science, music and art.
Snacks/Food: The school provides healthy snacks for the children and operates a nut-free environment. For children with food allergies, parents have the choice of using the school provided snacks or they can bring their own. There are also lists in the classrooms and place mats are color-coded for children with food allergies.
My favorite things about this school are the artwork displayed by the youngest children and that there is a visible connection between the school as a whole and the outer world. The students in OLL’s regular school recently had the opportunity to not wear their uniforms for a day. But, in exchange,they were asked to bring in a minimum of $1 which would be donated to Haitian relief. The school collected over $600 directly from the students to be sent to Haiti. The children in OLL’s nursery school seem happy and comfortable in their early school environment. For the youngest ones, potty training is encouraged but the teacher in the 3-year-old class will also work to continue whatever potty training exercises are happening at home.
And so concludes my nursery school journey. Now, to get my own applications filled out and submitted.[mappress]