Preschool Reviews 2011/2012

**Disclaimer:
 These reviews have been submitted by individual parents who are
representing their experience with a school.  PWC Moms does not
necessarily endorse any or all of these schools and encourages parents
to visit a school before enrolling their child.  After much
consideration, it is our policy when asking parents to share their
experiences with schools or play areas, or businesses, to share those
opinions to aid other parents, even if our personal experience contradicts the views of another parent.
 Please always conduct your own research and site visits in addition to
looking at the experience of other parents at any particular school.**

The Schools we received feedback on, in alphabetical order by name of school are:

ALPHA-BET COOPERATIVE PRESCHOOL
Myself along with 3 other mommy friends cooperatively taught our
children for their first year of preschool. After looking at some other
preschools in the Manassas area, I decided that a cooperative preschool
was the perfect fit for us. It allowed me to be in the classroom but
gave her the formal classroom that she needed to get accustomed to. And
we both love it.
As the children arrive the day starts manipulative time,
circle time, center time, and the rest of the
day flies by with bathroom break, snack and recess. The last 15 minutes
are circle time again where the themes of the day are reinforced,
calendar and weather are talked about. Class ends at 12:15.
My daughter has really taken to her teacher and the friends she’s
made in the class. She’s eagerly awaiting the return to class tomorrow.
The ideas presented in class really stick with her and she’s constantly
telling me what Ms Jo said. Even if it’s something that I know was
introduced to her last year by me. Don’t know if that is because someone
else is explaining it, she’s a year older, or Ms. Jo is really that
good. 🙂 Also, my daughter is always excited when she knows that I will
be in the classroom. I love that I get to see exactly what’s going on in the
classroom. I don’t have to pull teeth to know how her day went (as I’ve
heard other Mommies mention). Plus I feel like I’m holding onto her just
a little bit longer. Now the logistics. This is the part that parents always worry about.
How much commitment there is. Before school starts every parent that
will volunteer in the classroom is subjected to a background test and
must obtain a TB test. Only one parent is required, however both parents
are given the opportunity to volunteer. A parent will typically have to
volunteer 2, possibly 1, times a month. One of those times you will
provide snack for your class.  You must sign up for one parent “job”. It
can be as simple or
involved as you wish. For example, organizing a family night, classroom
parent, fundraiser coordinator, board president, etc.  In addition, a
parent must attend 6 pre-determined dates for setup/cleanup or training. For
those of you with younger siblings, the school will assist you in
pairing up with another parent to trade babysitting services while the
other volunteers. And ensures that you will not volunteer on the same
day. I have a 3 year old (not old enough for school) and have found it
very easy to trade with another mother and he loves going with her.  (Click Here for Website)

CHESTERBROOK ACADEMY
I recommend Chesterbrook Academy
in Woodbridge.  My daughter began at summer camp when she was 3.  She
had been home with me and it was a hard transition.  They encouraged me
to call and check on her the first week and even called me with updates. She
attended two years of preschool.  We have been very pleased with the
progress she has made.  They teach Spanish, sign language, computer
skills and more. I feel that Chesterbrook has prepared her well for Kindergarten.  I would recommend the school to everyone! (Click Here for Website)

CLOVERDALE PRESCHOOL (2 Reviews)

I love, love, love the 2 1/2 year old and 3 year old program offered by
Cloverdale.  The teachers are superb.  They have a very real, effective
way of interacting with the children, and to say they are gifted in
teaching is an understatement.  These ladies are the kind you want your
children to have teaching them EVERY year because of their true interest
in the kids.  I can’t say enough good things about these teachers. 
Besides their basic preschool classroom learning (language skills, art,
counting, etc.), the kids also had music and P.E.  My kids LOVED music
day in the “Big Room”.  The staff I interacted with were pretty
phenomenal as well.  They always got me information I requested and were
nice people to have around.  Cloverdale has a great program going on,
and it’s quite affordable.  I highly recommend it.


We
absolutely love Cloverdale for many reasons, and have used it for both
of our older children, our youngest will begin attending, too, in the
fall.  With programs beginning at 2 and a half years (Half days Tuesday
and Thursday) ranging up to an outstanding Pre-K program, Cloverdale has
a well-established program that focuses on literacy readiness, core
competencies, and social skills.  They offer German to the students in
the 4 and 5 year old programs, which all of the kids seem to love.  The
teachers are all amazing and most of them (the exception being the
teacher for the relatively new 2 year old program) have been at the
school for many years which speaks to the happy, cohesive teaching team
at this school.  The teachers are as patient and understanding as they
are qualified, and have the skills and calm, even tempers needed to help
even the most clingy children adjust to being away from their primary
caregiver while they learn to function in a school setting.  Cloverdale
also offers “Stay and Play” for $10, which allows students to remain
until 2pm (the normal day is from 9-12) and has been a lifesaver for me
on a few occasions where I was volunteering at the elementary school or
had a doctor’s appointment.  Also, Cloverdale offers private K-3 grades
if you are looking for a school where your child can stay for the early
years of elementary school.  We love it at Cloverdale and would never
leave if we could keep our kids preschool aged forever!! (Click Here for Website) 

DAYTIME PLAYTIME:
A shout out to Daytime Playtime in Haymarket too, they are awesome!  We love their summer camp and they were a top contender when i was touring preschools.  So much so that we have sent our son to their summer camp 2 years running! (Click Here for Website)
            From the school: We are going to have open Houses on January 28 at 1pm and February 1st at 6pm. We will be opening registration for the 2012-2013 school year the first week of February.

EVERGREEN NURSERY SCHOOL (2 Reviews):
My children attended Evergreen.  Without going into too much detail, the director is overbearing to work with and frequently told me that she knew my child better than I did.  There was a great deal of drama and while she definitely seems skilled at what she does and is especially great and knowledgeable with  children who have special needs, I’m not sure it was worth the difficulty dealing with her and her never ending string of issues. 

My
3 year old son attends Evergreen Nursery. We started right when he
turned 3 and have only been going for a few months, but it is a magical,
magical place. Ms. Jody Boronkay is
the director of the 12 child max school in the basement of her home
(don’t let that be a setback, I questioned it for a moment and it is
more set up for child learning than many of the preschools we visited-
and we visited A LOT). There is a 1:4 teacher:student and the focus is
really on children getting excited about learning. When they learned
about the rain forest she put a huge pool in the main classroom, hung
vines all around, turned the thermostat up so it would be humid, and
brought in animals found in the rain forest- FOR A WEEK! so the kids
would get the full effect of the rain forest while learning. She also
has a part of the program swimming lessons and ice skating lessons. They visit a pond weekly in the spring to watch the changes that happen. I could go on and on. A
major selling point for us (as if that wasn’t enough) is my son has a
severe dairy allergy and has us worried being away from the protective
world we are in and not having a full understanding of “safe” foods yet
to protect himself. Ms Jody has taken extensive measures to guarantee his safety. She also has chilren with cerebral palsy and autism and
the children flourish (dare you to find the child!) and so the children
learn how to care and embrace and understand children of handicap. This
school is a warm, exciting place that I wish I had as a child. I am
feeling very limited in 2 paragraphs in the sharing of just how
wonderful this school is. (Click Here for Website)

FREEDOM CENTER PRESCHOOL:

The Freedom Center preschool is small, really tiny, and that’s its strength and its weakness.  There is only one small classroom, so there are only 4 classes—3 am, 3 pm, 4am, 4pm.  The same teachers teach all the children (the three year old teacher is the four year old PE teacher, the four year old teacher is the three year old PE teacher) and the aides work for all the classes.  As a result, the children know their teachers very well and the teachers and aides know the children very well.  There is a very warm, family atmosphere that makes even the shyest kids feel comfortable.  Miss Phyllis, who is the director, is warm and accessible and laid back, and her attitude really permeates the whole program. The classroom is tiny, but the children leave at least once a day for PE elsewhere in the building and often times more frequently for activities.  There is a big emphasis on physical education and the children are taken outside whenever weather permits (even on chilly days, they bundle up and go out).  There is no pick-up/drop-off and the preschool room is in the very back of the large building.  This means on rainy days, you have to hustle through a huge parking lot and then through the whole building.  Pick-up/drop-off takes a lot longer here than I imagine it does at other schools. The curriculum is play-based and there is definitely a big difference between the 3 year old program (which has little academics and is more focused on teaching children what school is and how to be a student) and the 4 year old program (where there is a heavy emphasis on pre-reading skills).  There are little to no worksheets and lots of hands-on activities.  My son came into the program a bit wild and unfocused.  He struggled a bit towards the end of the 3 year old year but has really excelled in the 4 year old program.  I think the caring, relaxed atmosphere and the ton of physical activity provided have really helped him. (Click Here for Website)

GOOD SHEPHERD PRESCHOOL (3 Reviews):
Pros: low tuition, kind teachers, private classrooms, walk-in drop-off and pick-up. Cons: very little communication/organization from teachers or director, no outside play (even though there is a playground.)

I had such anxiety about sending my quite shy 3 year old to preschool last year but our experience at Good Shepherd had been so wonderful.  The director is amazing and from the first moment, she made my daughter and I feel so welcome and reassured.  It’s not as “high-tech” as many parents would like, but the wonderful teachers and the caring and attention they provide the children (and the parents) cannot, in my opinion, be beat.  There is a feeling of “family” at Good Shepherd. They pay close attention to the safety of the children and as a “worry wart” mom, that has helped ease much of my anxiety.  I also like the smaller teacher to student ratio.  This is our 2nd year there and my daughter attends the 5 day a.m. 4’s program (they’re teaching the Handwriting Without Tears program which I love) — she is SO happy everyday I pick her up that it really does warm my heart!   I KNOW she’ll be ready to start kindergarten (both academically and socially) in the fall and I owe the majority of that knowledge to Good Shepherd.  I really believe that the majority of parents who choose Good Shepherd are 100% satisfied with their decision.  

The curriculum at Good Shepherd Preschool stresses all aspects of growth and development.  They work on physical, social, and emotional development, as well as academic development. They believe that children learn through their senses, activity, curiosity, imitation, conversation, imagination, and widened experiences. There is a fifteen minute chapel time monthly taught by GSUMC’s Christian Educator or her designee. (Click Here for Website)

HAYMARKET BAPTIST CHURCH PRESCHOOL & KINDERGARTEN:
Can’t say enough good things about the teachers and staff at Haymarket Baptist Church Preschool & Kindergarten.  Love them!  Great school, great programs.  (Click Here for Website)
             Note from the School: Open House on Jan 30th. If parents have a child that will be 2 1/2 and potty trained by Sept or one that will be 3 by Sept, they can attend at 9:30 for a meeting, a tour, meet teachers, find out how to do the online registration etc. I will be answering lots of questions! They can bring children to this meeting. If they have a child that turns 4 or 5 by Sept, and are thinking about the 4’s program or private Kindergarten- 10:30 is the time to show up for their meeting.Registration for new families is Feb 6 at 7 am, using our website. 

KIDS IN MOTION PRESCHOOL:
My daughter attends kids n’ motion twice a week.  It is a great preschool and accepts children starting at 2 and 1/2 and they do not have to be potty trained!  My daughter started at 2 and 1/2 and is 3 now.  They do play, craft time, snack, read books, learn letters, etc.  It is a really great program.  My daughter has learned so much already and loves making crafts. (Click Here for Website)

LAKE RIDGE CREATIVE PRESCHOOL- 3 Reviews:
Love the Lake Ridge Creative Preschool, located on the corner of Old Bridge Road and Oakwood Dr.  Explorers class for 3-4 year olds is Tuesday and Thursday, either 9:15 – 1:30 or 9:45 – 2:00.  PreK for
4-5 year olds is M, W, F, same times.  The curriculum is the perfect
mix of fun and learning.  The children do art projects, sing songs, do
puzzles, learn to use the computer, go on field trips,
learn Spanish, play outside daily, etc – it is amazing to me the
creative ways they get the children engaged in learning.  There is an
after school reading program for children that show they are ready to
begin reading independently, though learning the alphabet and writing
skills are taught to all almost from day one!  The preschool is open to
everyone – non-Lake Ridge residents pay a bit more in tuition, though it
is very reasonably priced – last year, Explorers were $120/month for
residents, $130 for nonresidents, and PreK was $170/180.  Contact the
Lake Ridge Recreation Department at 703-497-7112, or stop by the office, located in the vicinity of the preschool at the back of the big parking lot. 
I follow your posts via Facebook and
read that you were looking for preschool reviews.  I saw you had a
recommendation for Lake Ridge Creative already, but I decided to send in
another one.  The following is excerpted from a letter I wrote to the
Lake Ridge Board of Directors a few months ago in support of the
preschool program.  My daughter attended for both preschool and pre-K,
and I am very pleased with the school and highly recommend it to others.

When
I was looking to choose a preschool for my daughter, my main focus was
on the school’s reputation and the quality of the program.  I had
narrowed it down to two schools – the LRPRA preschool and one
other local preschool.  LRPRA’s preschool appeared to be more
well-rounded in its activities and learning opportunities, and in
preparation for kindergarten.   What finally “sold” me was the fact that
I heard nothing but good things about the program.  My mother, who is a
past LRPRA board president,
told me that during her time on the board she received many positive
reports from parents about the program.  A friend who is an elementary school teacher said
that the children coming from the LRPRA preschool were generally better
prepared for entering the structured environment of elementary school
and excelled in their academics.   She said there was a notable
difference between the LRPRA pre-school graduates and those of other
preschools.  Nothing beats positive word of mouth “advertising” and
opinions from other parents, and to me this spoke volumes as to how good
the school is.My
daughter has thrived at the preschool, academically and socially.  Her
teachers are excellent, and I have no complaints.  I am already looking
forward to when my one year old son is old enough to attend the program
as well. (Click Here for Website)

LITTLE LAMBS VILLAGE PRESCHOOL:

We enrolled our child at Little Lambs after researching a variety of preschools in the area and having several educational professionals recommend it for our child.  They said its play-based, active learning approach with a staff who are supportive of children of differing backgrounds and abilities would be perfect for our child’s strengths and weaknesses.  And they were right! Our child had a poor experience at a previous preschool and was quite leery about the whole school experience.  He is a smart child who learned at a very young age how to tune out people who talk down to him.  The staff at Little Lambs has been warm and welcoming to our child, taking him in and showering him with love to bring him out of his shell.  He has changed from a sullen child who was unable to recite the alphabet to a bright and happy boy who can write his own name, finds letters in his world on a daily basis, and counts everything he can touch.  He talks about his friends constantly, and participates in classroom activities with gusto. We can’t say enough positive things about our experience at Little Lambs.  Other parents of children at the school talk about how it’s the hidden gem of preschools in Western Prince William County, and we wholeheartedly agree.  The learning experience, teaching ability, and administrative leadership are second to none. (Click Here for Website)

OLD BRIDGE PRESCHOOL (2 Reviews): 
Old
Bridge Preschool, associated with Old Bridge Methodist Church, has been
open for 4 years. Besides being a great preschool with very caring
staff, the also have a mission of accepting students with special needs.
They have special staff for students who qualify for services through
the county, and although they aim for 30% special needs, they also do
amazing things with typically developing children. Their academic
program appropriately prepares students for kindergarten and helps them
develop a love of learning. I have had a great experience with the
school, with both of my children attending during the 4 years since the
school has been open. I highly recommend Old Bridge Preschool. 

Both of my kids have gone there and I can’t say enough good things about
the school and staff. We have loved every one of our teachers and both
kids have learned so much through play that they didn’t know they were
in school. They also accept special needs children which really teaches
the children compassion for others.  (Click Here for Website)

PRINCE WILLIAM ACADEMY:
We
had a horrible experience here and pulled our child out mid-year.  The
program sounds so great on paper, but the classrooms are dirty and the
teachers over-stretched without aids.  The preschoolers have indoor gym
at the same time as older children and my child came home badly bruised
one day when a 4th grader bowled them over and I didn’t even recieve a
note from the school or the teacher.  It’s not worth the money. (Click Here for Website)

RUSSELL ELEMENTARY (MCB QUANTICO) PRE-K PROGRAM:
My eldest has really enjoyed the 1/2 day, 5 day-a-week program for 4
year-olds offered by Russell Elementary School aboard MCB Quantico. 
Each of the two classrooms fits 16, and there are three teachers
permanently assigned to each class.  That makes for a great
teacher:student ratio and provides ample attention to each student. 
There are “out of classroom” classes, including art, P.E., and
computers.  The class is run on a routine, and my eldest really gets
into it.  She especially enjoys the big and small group times, where she
can choose from a variety of activities provided by the teachers.  The
school staff is a pleasant crew, and there are ample opportunities to
volunteer in the classroom.  This is a good first look at “real” school
(e.g., all the fundraisers, PTA, expenses, etc.), and I’ve appreciated
getting my feet wet slowly.  Finally, there is a bus that picks up the
kids. Only students from the same grade ride, and there is a teacher
aboard the enter time to supervise seatbelting and that the proper adult
is picking the students up.  It’s a great program, and I’m thankful to
have it. (Click Here for Website)

 SEVEN OAKS ACADEMY:
My
son goes there, and he loved it from day one.  He is 4 and can already
read a little bit.  They actually teach them there, not just babysit
them.  The teachers are ‘real’ teachers, with degrees and certificates,
and each class has it’s own room with a door.  This is all great to me
because he used to go to (other school name deleted) which
is crap compared to this place.  He gets a newsletter sent home once a
month with ‘homework’ and it tells the parents what they are working on,
and helpful print outs to use at home, like sight words and
refrigerator stories.  The preschool is from 9-12:30am I believe, but
my son does go full time from 9-5:30pm.  But the actual ‘school’ part of
the day mostly takes place in the morning before lunch.  They offer
full time and part time preschool (you can choose 5 days a week or 3
days a week, but they only offer morning preschool, not afternoon). 
They are affordable compared to other places, and offer morning snack,
lunch, and afternoon snack..  Their summer camp is GREAT, lots of field trips (about 2 times a week) and other fun activities for a reasonable summer fee.  (Click Here for Website) 

ST. MATTHEWS DAY SCHOOL (2 Reviews):
We
love St. Matthews and feel like it is everything a preschool program
should be.  It is structured enough for the kids to feel secure, free
enough for them to explore, and loving so they feel safe in their first
school experience.  We love that there is a carpool line because with a
preschooler and a new baby this past year it was great not to have to
get out of the car in the rain or snow with the baby! St. Matthew’s was
the only school we looked at because on our tour, our child walked right
in and acted like they’d been in class there since day 1.  It’s been
great and we’re military so we’re not sure when we’ll have to leave, but
we’d be very happy if our youngest child was able to go here, too.

Pros:Teachers seemed awesome and school seemed well-organized.  Cons: No handwashing (just wipes), no snacktime at a table (they eat on the floor,) no walk-in drop-off or pick-up, open/mixed classrooms. (Click Here for Website)


ST. PAUL’S SCHOOL/MDO (3 Reviews):

Loved the mom’s day out program at St. Paul’s in Haymarket.  The lead teacher there is amazingly loving and great with the kids!

We came to St Paul’s based solely on its reputation in the area.  We were new to the area, and everyone told us it was “the best” academically and “guaranteed” placement in the Gifted program once the children moved to PW schools.  As parents of extremely bright students, it seemed to be a great fit.  Unfortunately, the school did not work well for our children at all.  In fact, it was extremely detrimental to our children and we’ve spent the ensuing months trying to fix the problems caused.What didn’t work for our children was St Paul’s insistence on rote teaching.  The children come in, sit down, and are instructed/lectured for most of the day.  They are given worksheets to reinforce the lessons, and are expected to quietly fill in the worksheets at their tables.  There is very little collaborative learning amongst the children – even during playtime, the children each choose a toy and play quietly by themselves.  They don’t interact, play together, pretend or share things between each other.  There is almost no gross motor play/exploration/learning, as there quite simply is no room on the campus.  The classrooms are extremely small and have no room for typical preschool things like centers or active pretend play.  The outdoor play area is extremely small and very limited in activities.  Arts & crafts, a preschool mainstay, are virtually non-existent.  So are teaching methods such as sensory play and manipulatives.  You learn to count by repeating what the teacher says and writing numbers repeatedly, not by counting physical objects.  You learn your letters by writing them over and over again with a pencil on paper, not by acting out the letters, drawing them with a variety of media, or exploring how they start different words with different sounds. If the children do not learn well by rote teaching, there is no personalization of lessons to a child.  There is no time taken to determine if a different learning/teaching style would reach the child, if something could be explained differently. The child is simply labeled as unteachable, a trouble maker, or just left behind while the rest of the class goes on.  Our children learned virtually nothing in their time at St Paul’s, and are now playing catch-up to their peers who were able to learn the basics of letters and numbers in other environments.

We’ve been extremely happy with the PreK program at St. Paul’s and highly recommend the school! (Click Here for Website)