Who is PCCH and what is your mission?
We are a traditional play-based preschool. We operate on a school year schedule with a main school day from 9am to 12pm for 3 to 5-year-olds (full-day pre-K is available from 9am to 3pm) and 9am to 11:30am for 2-year-olds.
Our mission statement:
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill Preschool is an inclusive community of learners that partners with families to help children become kind, curious, creative, courteous, and kindergarten-ready.
Who are your teachers?
Our teachers are educators dedicated to early childhood learning. They are also lifelong learners committed to reading and implementing current best practice research into the classroom.
What is your curriculum?
Our curriculum is rooted in the belief that social development and learning to be in a group setting away from a parent or primary caregiver is the primary educational goal of preschool.
Essential social and emotional skills for preschoolers include: comfortably separating from a parent, taking turns, using words in conflict situations, attending to a non-preferred task, expanding attention span, following multi-step directions, dressing and toileting independence, playing imaginatively and collaboratively, and transitioning from one activity to another.
In addition to a strong social and emotional foundation, we provide an excellent early academic experience. The teachers in our three, four and five-year-old classes utilize aspects of the following curricula to create a balanced and age-appropriate learning experience for their classes: Fundations; Handwriting without Tears; and Singapore Math.
The most important thing to remember, however, is that we value play and exploratory learning. Our academic content is presented in an engaging and developmentally appropriate way. Your child is likely to tell you that they played all day and that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun all in the same breath.
Do you teach religion? What is the relationship between the Church and the School?
We are a mission, but not a ministry, of the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. At the winter holidays, our children learn about both religious and secular Christmas. They also learn about any other holiday or tradition that people in our community celebrate. Last year, we celebrated Hanukkah, Diwali, Lunar New Year, and Eid. Classrooms do a non-sectarian blessing before snack. Big picture, we are not a Christian nursery school but there is exposure to many different religious traditions, including Christianity.
What afternoon or auxiliary programming do you offer?
Our primary school day is either 9am to 11:30am or 9am to 12pm and the majority of our students are only here for that time period. We do offer full-day (9am – 3pm) pre-kindergarten.
We offer an Early Birds program from 8am to 8:50am. Some students choose to extend their school day until 1pm and stay with us for Lunch Bunch. Students pack lunches, which we refrigerate. We order pizza on Wednesdays and many students choose to “drop in” on Wednesdays for that reason. Drop-ins are welcome every day.
From 1pm to 3pm, students who are in our preschool and are fully-toilet trained can participate in our Afternoon Adventures program. Two-year-olds can attend Afternoon Adventures on a case-by-case basis and only with the Director’s permission. Students complete a brief 30-minute rest period, followed by a structured enrichment lesson and outdoor play. The afternoon lessons rotate and change at the trimester. Examples of enrichment lessons include art, soccer, space, and ballet. Families review the options and sign up for the trimester. Drop-ins are always welcome.
Attendance in our auxiliary programs is at the discretion of the faculty and the directors. We may decide that a student is not yet mature enough to handle a full-day program without a real nap time. If this is the case, we will ask a family to stay for only the main school day and then reassess the students’ readiness on a regular basis. For this reason, we encourage you to not rely on afternoons for your childcare needs, especially if your child is new to our school.
Where do PCCH Preschool families live?
Our families primarily live in 3 areas: Northwest Philadelphia (Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Roxborough, East Falls), Springfield Township (Wyndmoor, Erdenheim, Flourtown), and Whitemarsh Township (Whitemarsh, Lafayette Hill). The average families travels less than 15 minutes to get to us.
Where to PCCH graduates attend kindergarten?
Our students attend a variety of elementary schools. Over the past 5 years, 1/3 have gone to neighborhood public schools, 1/3 to Catholic and other religious schools, and 1/3 to area independent schools. We maintain a close relationship with the admissions directors and principals at our “next step” schools and invite them to our campus regularly.
The Class of 2023 will be attending the following schools:
Abington Friends School
Germantown Friends School
Immaculate Heart of Mary School
Our Mother of Consolation
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
St. Genevieve School
William Penn Charter School
In addition, we have relationships with and current older siblings attending: CW Henry Elementary, Green Woods Charter, St. Philip Neri, Ancillae Assumpta Academy, Plymouth Meeting Friends and Armenian Sisters Academy.
What special classes do you offer?
Students who are here 5 days will have 30 minutes of music, movement, and Spanish each week.
Do you accept children with disabilities or who receive early intervention services?
When a family with a child with disabilities is interested in our program, we carefully consider whether the child will be successful in our program. This includes reviewing mobility requirements for full participation, the specific nature of the disability and the services that need to be provided. Further, we also want to make sure that our program maximizes the child’s educational goals. After collaboration with the family, we will determine if the child should enroll, if the child should enroll but be accompanied by a 1:1 aide, or if we don’t meet the child’s needs. If your child has disabilities and you think we’re a good fit, please fill out the admissions inquiry and let’s have a conversation.
Are there ways for parents to volunteer in the classroom?
Yes! We love parent volunteers. Teachers may ask for help with a special project or event or a parent may want to volunteer to help prepare snack or help maintain our school. All classes have “mystery reader” on Fridays.
Do you have community events?
Our Parents’ Committee is very active in helping to build our community. They routinely organize events outside of the school day. Past events have included a parent hike in the Wissahickon, parent art night at a local painting studio, and parent night at a brewery. We have family community events too, which include playground meet ups, Valentines making parties, zoo nights, and other fun activities.
At school, we host a Halloween parade, a Thanksgiving mini-celebration, a holiday pageant, Donuts with Dad, Muffins with Mom, and graduation. We also have Back to School night for parents.