A question many parents of 3K through third grade students are faced with is whether a private school education is really necessary for their child at the earliest ages. There are many schooling options available, especially in preschool. Why should parents of 3K through third grade students choose First Presbyterian Day School?

First, starting your child at a strong school is critical to his or her overall success. It is common to consider the teenage years the most crucial years in the development of a child. While these years are key, the preschool years have just as much, if not more, impact in the student’s overall success in school. The foundation for success is laid from the very moment students enter a classroom. It is during these early years, when a child’s brain is most moldable, that the basis for future learning habits is formed.

So, why First Presbyterian Day School? How does FPD’s program compare? What sets FPD apart from other schools?

Q:  What sets FPD’s preschool and elementary grades apart from other similar programs?
A: [Wade Putnal, Lower School Principal] FPD’s preschool and elementary grade programs are designed through a planned curriculum to help students where they are and raise them to the level of where they can be.  We meet the developmental needs of children at their specific ages and stages addressing language, foundations for math and reading, emotional-social, and gross/fine motor behaviors. We also support their spiritual growth. We explore God’s blessings on a daily basis in all that we do. Students learn through daily time for devotion, sweet prayers from the hearts of little ones, and Bible scripture.  We then plant a seed for serving others in various community service activities where little hearts and little hands show big love to others in our community.

With the launch of our 1-to-1 Initiative in 2013, we introduced iPad technology in the classroom to supplement our lessons in a way that is a lot of fun for young learners. This and all of our other means of teaching are active, engaging, versatile, and hands-on to support healthy growth in all areas. Our teachers participate in continuous professional development, and are always implementing ways to best meet the needs of each individual child. We are loving and nurturing, and understand the vital importance of setting the foundation on which a lifetime of faith and learning is built.

Q: What considerations do parents of young students generally have when choosing options for their students?
A: [Cheri Frame, Director of Enrollment]: The main things  parents are looking for are a safe environment that will nurture their child and help them grow, strong academics all the way through lower, middle, and high school, and a strong Christian foundation. Our preschool and elementary school have such a program: academically strong and founded in Christ, with a dedicated faculty whose number one priority is the success of the student.  We are very fortunate that we have a curriculum director, Assistant Headmaster Dr Barry Shealy, who understands curriculum from 3K through college and who has developed our curriculum with our mission statement in mind so that our students are well prepared from the very beginning.  Our faculty is keenly aware of the development of the child, and understand the ages and stages of this development. Because our curriculum does build upon itself, we find that those students who come to FPD earlier rather than later see more in the way of academic success, and have more opportunities open to them since they are not missing things learned in previous years.

Q: How does FPD’s lower school best prepare students for middle school and high school?
A: [Molly Pearson, Middle School Principal]:   Middle School life is naturally a time filled with changes and transitions.  New teachers and routines can be unsettling.  Over the years, I have observed several transitioning benefits for students who participate in FPD’s lower school program. Basic skills such as time-management, listening, note-taking, and ability to independently complete homework seem well-developed in students who start at FPD in our lower grades.  Students benefit greatly from the knowledge and skills learned in our math and reading curriculum in particular.  In the area of technology, current students more readily use the tablets to communicate with their teachers and are able to troubleshoot issues with less anxiety.

All students starting middle school receive support from our faculty, but sometimes we notice less time playing ‘catch up’ from those who participated in FPD’s preschool and elementary program. Starting early really does make a big difference.