Frequently Asked Questions about curriculum, structure and program

What is the educational philosophy of the preschool? We are a cooperative, play-based preschool with two lead teachers— one for the 3-5 year old mixed age group (with up to 16 students), and one for the 2-3 year old group (with up to 9 students). Our teachers are familiar with many early childhood approaches, and together with the Curriculum Committee, we have created a customized approach aligned most closely with Reggio Emilia, Emergent Curriculum, and Montessori styles.

What is the educational background and experience of the teachers and staff? Our highly experienced and Masters-level teachers have been in the field for more than 10 years in preschool and elementary settings. They are excellent teachers, and more importantly, parents of children in the program.

How does the cooperative work?  Fishtown Playschool is cooperatively staffed and governed. Parents participate as "classroom helpers" (from 9 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.) several times per month. On helper days, parents are additionally responsible for recording and posting the day’s activities on the private Fishtown Playschool photo albums, and/or for bringing and preparing a healthy snack for the whole class. At least one parent from each family is also expected to participate on a school committee (Curriculum, Development, Finance, Membership, and Space & Facilities), which may include monthly or ad hoc meetings. Families meet every other month to discuss committee updates, program updates, participate in voting and decision making at least 6 times per year during "All Hands" meetings. All families must participate in four cleanings in the classroom, which are held each month.

Are there active play opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills? Gross motor time takes place in our large on-site basketball gymnasium. Our gross motor space includes scooters, balls, dress up and a set of Imagination Playground blocks used for imaginative and gross motor play. Other activities are geared towards developing fine motor and other developmental skills as appropriate for each child. Our high adult-to-child ratios allow for many small group and one-on-one learning opportunities customized to each child’s learning style and needs.

Do the kids play outside? Located on Girard Avenue, between Columbia and Earl, we do not have a safe outdoor option. Students and teachers go for regular walks around the neighborhood when the weather allows.

Are meals or snacks provided? If so, what are they? Snack is provided by  parent helpers, usually consisting of a fruit or vegetable, a protein, and a cracker or carbohydrate. The only rule of thumb is that it should be healthy and abide by any allergy restrictions within the classroom. Each child brings his/her own lunch, which is stored in a refrigerator until lunchtime, usually around 11:45 a.m. We encourage parents to use packaging and containers that children can open and manage themselves.

Is my child required to be potty trained before enrolling? No.

How is discipline handled? Most disciplining happens in the form of redirection. If that doesn’t work, a child may be separated and spoken to about their behavior, particularly if it is harmful to themselves or others. We try to abstain from “timeouts,” although sometimes children benefit from an opportunity to regroup.

What are the operating hours of the program? The program runs from 9 a.m. -12:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. At an additional cost, an extended-day enrichment program is offered to children in their pre-K year. Families often organize independent informal and optional local playdates or field trips during other days of the week.

What is the cost of the program? As a cooperative, we are able to keep costs as low as possible. Our tuition is determined by enrollment, and covers materials, insurances, rent, and teachers’ salaries. Currently, tuition is $255/month, but this is subject to change (up or down) each year. New families are also required to pay a $250 membership fee before enrolling their child.

How do I enroll? Enrollment is on a rolling basis determined by the date in which applications are received. Similarly, our wait list is generated by application order. It is highly recommended that you complete an application and submit a $30 application fee in order to ensure an early spot on the waitlist. With a program as small as FPS, serving only 24 children and approximately 20 families, the waitlist fills up quickly, and spots are taken as soon as they become available.

You can experience Fishtown Playschool in action through monthly tours, and you and your child will have the opportunity to spend a morning in the classroom in the months prior to enrollment. September is the primary entry point to begin school. However, if a spot is vacant for any reason, we actively update and monitor our waitlist.