Frequently Asked Questions

Read below for answers to parents' most common questions about Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool, including questions about

  • Accreditation, licensing, and program approval

  • Discipline

  • Toilet training requirements

  • Early Pre-K 3 STEAM

  • Play-based learning

  • School schedule

  • Religious education

Maryland State Department of Education Accreditation and Licensing

Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool is approved, licensed, and accredited by the Maryland State Department of Education.

What is the difference between “MSDE Approved” and “MSDE Accredited”?

Nonpublic nursery schools are designated as MSDE Approved Educational Programs when they have met minimum requirements for curriculum and environmental standards.

Services at Maryland Accredited preschools far exceed the basic requirements for child care licensing and nonpublic nursery school approval. Maryland State Department of Education program accreditation standards reflect research-based best practices in early childhood education and ensure your child is in a program of the highest quality. 

Accredited programs undergo evaluation every three years by professional MSDE validators to assure continued implementation of best practices in early childhood education. 

Is Maryland Accreditation the same as child care licensing? Is it only important for child care centers?

Any program that cares for your children in your absence, including family child care homes and nonpublic nursery schools, is considered a child care program and is required to be licensed by or registered with the state. Maryland state law sets standards for licensed child care programs that ensure the health and safety of your children while they are in a licensed program's care. (Similar laws apply to MSDE Approved programs, such as those operating under a religious exemption to the licensing regulations; however, Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool has opted to hold itself to the stricter standards required of a licensed program.) 

Maryland Accreditation goes beyond the regulations covering licensed and religious child care and early education programs. It covers all aspects of a program's operation, from administration, staff training, and community partnerships to the classroom environment, curriculum, and instructional and assessment techniques. Accredited programs are re-evaluated every three years to ensure that they continue to hold themselves to accreditation's high standards and that they keep current with the latest research in early childhood education.

Maryland Accreditation is available for all licensed child care centers, Head Start, and nonpublic nursery schools (such as Good Shepherd Preschool), as well as public school pre-kindergarten.

What characterizes high-quality, accredited programs?

Facility: The facility is clean, sanitary, and well ventilated, with sufficient indoor and outdoor space so that children can work in large groups, small groups, and individually.

Staff: The staff who work directly with children have formal educational backgrounds and solid work experience in early childhood education. Staff participates in continuing education.

Educational Environment: The teacher-child ratio meets the state’s standards. Teachers provide a nurturing, cognitively stimulating, and safe environment. Teachers have clearly defined goals for individual children; these goals guide planning. Curriculum is research based and reflects the most recent findings in early childhood education. Source: Maryland Accreditation Project

Discipline Policy

What is Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool's discipline policy?

Discipline usually is not an issue when children are engaged in developmentally appropriate activities. If a problem occurs at school, children are redirected to another activity.

Children are taught how to use words to tell others what they do and do not like. At the beginning of the year, children role-play situations and demonstrate how they can tell another child to stop a particular activity that is bothering them. The objective is to empower children to handle situations themselves.

Students are not forced to apologize for their behavior. In cases of conflict between students, the students are guided toward an understanding of what has happened. If a student has made another student unhappy, it is the former student’s responsibility to make the other child feel better. GSLP’s goal is to help children understand the feelings and the motivations of others and to help children learn impulse control.

Does Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool use "time outs"?

Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool only employs "thinking time" in extreme situations, such as when a child might seriously hurt themselves or others, in which case the child may need a couple minutes to calm down before returning to regular activities. Teachers may occasionally ask one of the directors to speak with a child so that she may offer the child strategies for coping with whatever problem was leading to the child acting out in class in a less distracting environment. Discipline at Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool is about teaching a child to regulate their own behavior and to resolve conflicts and other social problems in a positive way, not about punishing children.

Toilet Training

Are students required to be toilet trained?

Students enrolling in the Early Pre-K 3 and Pre-K programs are required to be toilet trained. Students enrolling in the Early Pre-K 2 and Early Pre-K 3 STEAM program are NOT required to be toilet trained.

My child will be old enough for the Early Pre-K 3 program but is not yet toilet trained. What should I do?

We recommend enrolling in our Early Pre-K 3 STEAM program, which does not require toilet training. It follows the same schedule as our Two-Day Early Pre-K 3 class and uses the same curriculum (but with different, more science and math-oriented topics of study). Another option is to enroll in Early Pre-K 2, especially if your child has a summer birthday and you are considering enrolling in kindergarten a year late.

In both cases, students who turn 4 by Sept. 1 of the next year will have the option to enroll in Pre-K for the following year, or, if you choose, you may enroll your child in our toilet training-required Early Pre-K 3 class, which will focus on different topics.

It is important to remember that every child only learns to use the toilet when they are ready. Physically, a child's body matures enough to sense and control toilet needs between two and two and a half years of age. However, that does not mean a child necessarily is ready for toilet training at age 2! When a child shows signs of being ready (soiling a diaper at predictable times, stopping play when they are soiling their diaper, and noticing when they need a clean diaper, among other signs) and shows interest in using the toilet, toilet learning will often happen within a couple weeks. Children may still have accidents after they have learned to use the toilet, but they will become infrequent. Summer is often the best time to work on toilet training with your child, as fewer clothes need to be changed with each accident!

My Early Pre-K 3 student is toilet trained but still occasionally has accidents. Can I send my child to school wearing Pull-Ups?

No. Children in the Early Pre-K 3 (except for Early Pre-K 3 STEAM) and Pre-K programs may not wear Pull-Ups or any other kind of diaper to school. This policy is stated in Good Shepherd Preschool's Parent Handbook. Teachers will remind parents of this policy should children arrive in Pull-Ups, and repeated use of Pull-Ups will lead us to conclude your child does not meet the class's toilet-training requirement and may lead to removal from the class.

We strongly recommend that children wear regular underpants once they have begun toilet learning, as this will help children to learn their body's signals and to recognize when they are wet and thus need to use the toilet. Accidents are part of early childhood and the toilet-learning process, and we believe that children should not be made to feel ashamed for having a misstep. Good Shepherd Preschool keeps extra clothes for children on hand to deal with toileting accidents when they arise.

Early Pre-Kindergarten 3 STEAM

Should I enroll my child in Early Pre-Kindergarten 3 STEAM?

Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool offers parents a flexible placement option with its Early Pre-Kindergarten 3 STEAM class. Students who turn 3 by March 1 of that school year may enroll in this class, as opposed to September 1 for other Early Pre-K 3 classes. It is always a small class, with a maximum of 12 students. Also, students do not need to be toilet trained to enroll.

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, and it is a method for increasing the focus of early childhood education on STEM topics through the imaginative, creative medium of art. The STEAM class uses the same curriculum as all our other Early Pre-Kindergarten classes, Teaching Strategies’ Creative Curriculum 6th Edition, but all of the studies (or themes) used in the class focus on topics in science, technology, engineering, and math. Studies the STEAM class has used include Simple Machines, Insects, Exercise, Boxes, and Tubes and Tunnels.

Why choose Early Pre-K 3 STEAM instead of other Early Pre-K classes?

  • Your child has a summer birthday, or you are considering delaying entrance to kindergarten by a year. Kindergarten has become more academically rigorous in the past few years. It requires more sitting still, independent seatwork, and overall focus than it used to for children to succeed. If your child is on the younger side or would otherwise benefit from the gift of one more year of play and discovery before elementary school, consider signing up for Early Pre-K 3 STEAM. Enrolling in STEAM allows you the option of choosing to enroll for the next year in a different Early Pre-K 3 class that studies interesting new topics in a similarly joyful, playful environment designed for young children. (However, should you decide Pre-K is a better fit, that will still be an option for a child turning 4 by September 1!) Another year in Early Pre-K, with its strong focus on social-emotional skills, often is a better fit for a child than repeating Pre-K, and it is less expensive than a year of private kindergarten.

  • Your three-year-old is not yet ready for toilet training. Every child becomes ready for toilet learning at their own pace. If your child could benefit from more time and less pressure to be ready by the first day of school, consider enrolling in Early Pre-K 3 STEAM.

  • Your two-year-old is particularly verbal, naps later or not at all, and can easily sit still for a story. Early Pre-K 2 and Early Pre-K 3 STEAM are both good choices for your child. Early Pre-K 2 (perhaps with the Early Pre-K Plus option added) will place your child with other students who will continue through GSLP at the same pace, keeping friends together for up to three years. Early Pre-K 3 STEAM will provide more challenge and may give a child a head start over other students the next year in Early Pre-K 3.

  • You are considering early entrance to kindergarten for your two-year-old. If your child turns three by October 15, they will have then option to test for early entrance into kindergarten when they turn 4. If you believe your child may be gifted and ready early for the challenge of kindergarten, it makes sense to start them out with the older kids.

  • Your child loves learning about STEM topics. Early Pre-K 3 STEAM uses the curriculum goals as our other Early Pre-K 3 classes, just with different topics. If your child loves science and math and you are interested in a two-day class, consider STEAM!

Play-Based Education and Developmentally Appropriate Practice 

Why does Good Shepherd Preschool take a play-based approach to learning?

Play-based learning is a developmentally appropriate practice for educating young children. By choosing a play-based educational philosophy, we are taking into account what research tells us about child development and what styles of instruction children are ready for and benefit most from. A play-based approach allows us to focus on children's overall intellectual development rather than solely more limited academic goals. Children engaging in play are constantly learning and learning many things at once. Play encourages curiosity, communication, and problem solving skills. Learn more about the benefits of play in education at the National Association for the Education of Young Children website.


When is Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool in session?

Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool is in session from early September until the end of May. Playground gatherings, when parents and children meet teachers and classmates for the first time, are scheduled for the week of Labor Day. See the Yearly Calendar page for a more detailed schedule.

What will my child's class schedule look like?

Each teacher sets their class's schedule based on school guidelines and the number of hours in the class day. That schedule may fluctuate during the first few weeks of school as the teacher gets to know their class and its particular needs. The most current schedule is always posted in the hallway outside the classroom door, and disruptions to the routine, such as school events, are reported on the daily note posted on each class's hallway bulletin board.

Every class has 30 minutes of outdoor time (or 15 minutes of indoor active play in the case of bad weather) and 45-60 minutes of free play time at learning centers every day. Classes will spend 10-20 minutes engaged in large-group activities at circle time each day as well. Longer classes may have multiple circle or center times in a day. Shorter classes will spend 10-15 minutes having snack, while longer classes will spend around 30 minutes having lunch every day. Each class also has around 15 minutes of chapel time twice a month and 15-25 minutes of music class once a week.

When is the Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool office open?

Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool's office is open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM and Friday from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM during the school year. Our doors are located next to the lower parking lot and school playground. Doors are locked during the school day, so please ring the doorbell for admission. For more information, see our Location and Hours page.

From the end of May though Labor Day, Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool's office is open by appointment only. We open for one day at the beginning of August each summer to receive student forms and tuition payments. Contact us if you would like to schedule a tour or drop off payments or forms at other times during summer break.

Religious Education

Do I or my child have to be Christian, Lutheran, or members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church to enroll at Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool? 

No! Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool welcomes people of all faiths to its preschool program. We are part of a diverse community here in Montgomery County, and we strive to be sensitive to the needs of preschool families of different religions or denominations. We encourage families to share their culture with their child's teachers and class and believe these multicultural experiences enrich our overall program.

Our family belongs to a different Christian denomination (e.g., Catholic, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc.). Will chapel be relevant to our children?

Yes! Our chapel program is tailored toward preschoolers and only covers very basic Christian values and ideas common to Christians of almost every denomination. We teach tales from the Bible, such as the stories of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. We focus on themes such as prayer, God’s love for everyone, and the importance of helping others.

The preschool is a ministry of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, which is a mainstream Protestant Christian congregation and member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can read more specifically about what Lutherans believe at their websites. 

How does being a Christian program influence your school's teaching of science and other secular subjects?

Good Shepherd Preschool's curriculum is aligned with Maryland's College and Career Ready Standards and state curriculum for Pre-Kindergarten and Maryland’s pedagogy guide for Early Pre-Kindergarten, which provide guidelines for classroom instruction in science and other academic subjects. Science instruction in early childhood focuses exploring with the senses, simple experiments, asking questions, and making and documenting observations.

Most religious education happens as part of our chapel program. We include some Christian songs, such as "Jesus Loves Me" or "This Is the Day," in our weekly music classes, and teachers often plan some religious-themed art projects during the year, especially around holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Our program in general is focused on creative play, hands-on exploration, problem solving, and building social and emotional skills. However, you can read more about what our church believes on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America website.

I am looking for a church home or for Sunday School for my children. Can you offer recommendations?

For families looking for a church home or additional Christian education, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church offers weekly services and Sunday School for both children and adults. Each summer, our church also offers kids a fun Vacation Bible School program, to which all preschool families are invited. The church and preschool co-sponsor a lot of programming tailored to young families, such as Family Movie Night and Trunk or Treat. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a mainstream Protestant church and one of the largest Christian denominations in the country. Learn more about Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at its website,