Readers Recommend: Preschools 2012/2013


The
Lake Ridge Moms’ Club is sponsoring its annual Preschool Open House on
January 26, 2013 from 3-5pm at Tall Oaks Community Center; 12298 Cotton
Mill Drive in Lake Ridge. Several of the Preschools listed here will be present.  This event is FREE and open to the public, not just members of LRMC.

**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.**

Please note this list is added to every year.  The oldest reviews are from 2010, and the most recent were received this month. The Schools we received feedback on, in alphabetical order by name of school are:

ALPHA-BET COOPERATIVE PRESCHOOL (2 Reviews)
10047 Nokesville Rd, Manassas VA 20110. 
My son goes to the fabulous Alpha-Bet Cooperative Preschool in
Manassas.  It’s on Centreville Rd in between Godwin and Wellington. We have an open house February 1 from 12-2.   Being a cooperative school, the
parents are active in their children’s education. I help out 1-2 times a
month in the classroom, and I’m on the board. My son is so happy there,
and the different parents helping really adds to the dynamic of the
classroom.  🙂  I had checked out many in the area and fell in love with
Alpha-Bet.  

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)

Note from the School: Please visit Alpha-Bet Preschool on February 1, 2013 from noon – 2 pm to meet teachers, tour the school, and register your child for an excellent preschool experience.  Alpha-Bet is a unique, collaborative school with excellent, developmentally appropriate academic and social experiences for 3 and 4 year olds.  Our students leave the school well-prepared for kindergarten, and our parents have an incredible opportunity for involvement in the school. We are the only cooperative preschool in Prince William County. We are also a non-profit, parent-run school with well-educated and excellent teachers. 

CHESTERBROOK ACADEMY
Various Locations- Reviewed Location is 12960 Troupe Street  Woodbridge, VA 22192
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)
13506 Minnieville Road  Woodbridge, VA 22192

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) 
From the school: Tours and class observation welcome Appointments recommended but not
required.

DAYTIME PLAYTIME:
14680 Gap Way Gainesville, Va 20155
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: Registration for the 2013-2014 school year will be open to our
current families at 9am on Tuesday, January 22nd. Open registration will
begin on Monday, February 4th to the public. Contact the office for
more information. The registration fee is $100 and class prices will
remain the same.


FREEDOM CENTER PRESCHOOL (2 Reviews):
9100 Freedom Center Boulevard  Manassas, VA 20110

We sent both of our children to the Freedom Center for preschool. We were very happy with the teachers and curriculum.

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)

From the school: Open Registration for the general public begins February 13, 2013.

GOOD SHEPHERD PRESCHOOL (5 Reviews):
14999 Birchdale Avenue  Woodbridge, VA 22193

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.) (**Note from PwcMoms- I get an angry email EVERY year that Good Shepherd does offer outdoor play.  I don’t know anything about the program, so I can’t comment)

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.  

I sent my two sons to Good Shepherd UMC for two years. I chose GSUMC when it was recommended by one of the teachers from their preschool in Florida, which I ADORED. We were very pleased with their preschool experience in the two years they attended GSUMC. 
My sons are only a year apart and one thing I Appreciated about GS was the boys could be in separate classes. They offer more age group options than many of the other schools, including classes specially for kids who just miss the K cutoff. I liked that they offered both morning an afternoon classes. I was pleased with the level of academics. 
The teachers and director were all extremely friendly, nurturing and kind. I never had any issues with the level of communication from either. In fact, when I was experiencing behavioral issues with one of my sons, his teacher and the director kindly sat down and listened/tAlked with me while his TA looked after my 3 children, all on their lunch break. His teachers then did everything they could at school to provide the structure an continuity he needed to address the issues at home.
GSUMC does have a playground and they had outdoor time every day, weather permitting. They also had a weather plan in place so that there was indoor physical activity available for those inclement days. 
To me, the only thing I was somewhat disappointed with was the balance of secular/religious for a Christian preschool. There was one short chapel talk and chapel music per month. I felt like there could have been more and I wished there had been more of a focus on the religious, especially at Christmas and Easter. 
Overall, we were extremely pleased with GSUMC as a preschool and I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

We
are thrilled with Good Shepherd on Birchdale. The teachers are
fantastic, and they work with an exciting and fun curriculum. There’s a
perfect mix of play and learning. The kids are outside everyday, and
there are a lot of activities, such as a pumpkin patch trip, visit from
fire fighters, and an outing to a holiday concert. They engage the kids
with different crafts and activities and my daughter loves attending
school!

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 Educatoror her designee. (Click Here for Website)
 

HAYMARKET BAPTIST CHURCH PRESCHOOL & KINDERGARTEN:
14800 Washington Street  Haymarket, VA 20169

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)
           

KIDS IN MOTION PRESCHOOL (4 Reviews):
Kids N Motion offers an amazing preschool program.  My daughter
attended the preschool during the 2010 to 2011 school year and my son
currently attends the school.  The teachers are excellent and what I
like best is that they make learning fun! Before I had children, I
worked as a Prince William County school teacher, so education is very
important to me.  I was looking for a school that would prepare my kids
academically and socially for kindergarten and just as importantly be a
place that they loved and looked forward to going to! Kids N Motion does
just that, and I would highly recommend the school to other parents.

My son attends kidsnmotion preschool. The teachers are kind and
personable. I have had trouble trusting anyone other than family with my
children and I have become so confident in kidsnmotion. My son loves
the projects they complete almost daily and I always proud to show off
his work. They also offer “gym” time first which allows the kids to run
off some energy so that they are ready to learn. The price is GREAT for
the quality care and knowledge they teach. I will be sending all of my
children to kidsnmotion and you should too!

A year or so ago, I asked my friend, who is a kindergarten teacher,
what children need to know before starting school.  Expecting her to
say that they should know their alphabet, their numbers, and how to
write their name, I was surprised by her response.  She said that
academics can be taught in kindergarten and are all part of the
kindergarten curriculum.  What children really need to know is how to
share, take turns, and take responsibility for their actions.  According
to this kindergarten teacher, who has a Master’s degree in literacy
development, it is most important for preschool-aged children to have as
much imaginative and creative play as possible.  With this in mind, I
decided to pursue a preschool program that encouraged gross and fine
motor skill develop, with more emphasis on play and physical development
than on academics.  Kids N Motion has been the perfect balance for us,
offering free play time on their inflatable bouncing equipment,
structured exercising time to work on gross motor skills (i.e. jumping
on one foot, balancing on a balance beam), pretend play with traditional
preschool toys (i.e. play kitchen, trucks, and blocks), and one-on-one
instructional time on fine motor skills (i.e. writing and drawing).  My
3-year-old twins have made many new friends and practice their skills
and sing their songs every evening at home.  Also, the price is
extremely reasonable.  Sending twins to preschool means that every cost
is doubled, and yet we are able to manage the tuition within our budget.

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)

KIDS ON THE MOVE PRESCHOOL:
Kids on the move is great. Can’t say enough good things about them (Click here for Website)

LAKE RIDGE CREATIVE PRESCHOOL- 4 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.

We
left St. Matthews for Lake Ridge Creative preschool. We were looking
for something longer and more comprehensive…we have loved every year!
Ms Jean gives her heart to these kids and truly prepares them for
kindergarten. She has reading and math groups after school for children
who are ready to take that next step. She does this on her own time,
without an extra charge. It is definitely a great balance between
social/fun time and instruction.

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 HANDS PRESCHOOL (2 Reviews): 
14391 Minnieville Road, Woodbridge
We’ve
had our youngest in Little Hands Preschool for the past two years and
we love it!

This
will be my sixth year at Little Hands (all three of my children will
have been through here!) and I cannot say enough good things about it.
The teachers are wonderful and the curriculum is the same as most other
preschools. The other great thing is that they do have a class for
early threes (2 and a 1/2 year olds), which is where we started with our
oldest, and they also have a great Pre K class for those kids not quite
ready to go to Kindergarten or who just miss the cut off. (Click Here for Website)

From the school: Registration forms will be considered “timely” through 2/1/13. The preschool lottery will be held on February 4th.  

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)

NIKKIS CHRISTIAN LEARNING CENTER:
Nikki’s
Christian Learning Center in Dale City is great. My kids will be more
than ready for kindergarten. They know bible verses, celebrate holidays
and truly care about the students. My kids love school and have
flourished since September.

OLD BRIDGE PRESCHOOL (5 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. 

I
am thrilled with Old Bridge Preschool in Woodbridge. The staff Is so
caring and very educated. The environment is fantastic as well. The
school has so many activities for the children and families so you
always feel involved! Though my son is not special needs the school does
have a good program for those that need it. Being our first year of
school we are very pleased and my son loves it! We’ll be back next year
too!

I wanted to share a review for Old Bridge Preschool. We’ve had a great
experience so far! A few reasons why we like them: the teachers and
staff members are very kind, student teacher ratio is 4:1, potty
training is not required, they’re an inclusion school with 20-30%
special needs students, offer tuition assistance/ scholarships, and have
opportunities for parent involvement/volunteering.The only downside is
that they only offer 3hr classes, no full day program available.  

Our experience with Old Bridge Preschool this past year has been fantastic.  The staff is dedicated, friendly and truly caring.  The facility is clean, well organized, and a fun environment for learning and play.  Our son is currently enrolled in the 2 year old class.  He also has special needs, and the staff have gone out of their way to accommodate his learning and participation in both everyday learning as well as special events and activities.  He has come to love this school and his teachers, and can’t stop talking about it when he’s at home.  We will be sending our son here for the next two years and feel confident that he will be well prepared for the transition into kindergarten.  I recommend Old Bridge to all parents considering a preschool program.

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 (2 reviews):
Prince
William Academy is a wonderful school. We currently have two children
attending the school (toddler & Jr. K) & we have been more than
happy with the quality of the education they have received. The school
is NAEYC Accredited & has low student-teacher ratios, a well-rounded
curriculum, qualified & caring teachers, flexible schedules &
clean facilities. A testament to the school being so great is the joy
our children have going to school each & every morning. If you’re
looking for a comprehensive program that offers creative outlets (art,
music, play) & strong academics (language arts, math, science &
languages), this is the school for you. We have been most impressed with
the latter. Our Jr. Kindergartener is reading, writing & doing math
at the Kindergarten level & we’re considering testing her into 1st
grade next year. This is a great school & would recommend it to
anyone!
 
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)

RIVERVIEW BAPTIST DAY SCHOOL:
Riverview Baptist Day School in Woodbridge. They offered different day
options for parents which was nice, they have a dresscode of navy or
burgundy polos and khaki or navy pants/skirts I liked this too, I know
some parents may not. The staff was friendly and so was the director and
their “nurse” was accommodating (my daughter has epilepsy). However my
daughter absolutely hated the school and would wake up in the middle of
the night begging me to not make her go back, she would never tell me
why she hated it so much, but she had nightmares. It got so bad that she
was having panic attacks in the middle of the day on the weekends that
led to full blown asthma attacks, I tried asking her teacher for help
but she tried to tell me it was normal for kids and just separation
anxiety. I went along with it for maybe five weeks before I couldn’t do
it to my daughter any longer and pulled her out. She has been terrified
of the idea of school since. And to put it in perspective my daughter is
not super clingy and goes to daycare during the day so it wasn’t her
first time away from me by any means.  

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 (3 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.

St.
Matthew’s Lutheran Day School in Lake Ridge has been wonderful for our
Pre-K child. Great teachers and a wonderful environment.

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)