Frequently Asked Questions

Read below for answers to parents' most common questions about Good Shepherd Preschool, including questions about accreditation, discipline, toilet training requirements, play-based learning, school schedule, and religious education.

Maryland State Department of Education Accreditation and Licensing

Good Shepherd 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 MSDE 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 MSDE 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 Preschool has opted to hold itself to the stricter standards required of a licensed program.) 

MSDE 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.

MSDE 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 and 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: MSDE Accreditation Project

Discipline Policy

What is Good Shepherd 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 Preschool use "time outs"?

Good Shepherd 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 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 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?

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!

If you are unsure about whether your child will be toilet trained in time for school, please let us know when you register your child so that we can discuss your situation. If you have a younger three-year-old and are particularly concerned about readiness, consider enrolling your child in our Early Pre-K 2 program. Our longer Early Pre-K 2 class offers the same number of instructional hours as our Tuesday/Thursday Early Pre-K 3 class, but with a smaller class size and no toilet training requirement. Both Early Pre-K 2 and Early Pre-K 3 use Creative Curriculum, and teachers adjust their instruction to the needs of the class and each individual student through small-group instruction. Enrolling in Early Pre-K 2 does not preclude you from enrolling your child in Pre-K for their second year at our school as long as your child will be four by September 1 of that year (or October 15 for early entrance).

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 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.

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.

Schedule

When is Good Shepherd Preschool in session?

Good Shepherd 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 15-20 minutes of music class once a week.

When is the Good Shepherd Preschool office open?

Good Shepherd Preschool's office is open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 AM to 3 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 Memorial Day though Labor Day, Good Shepherd Preschool's office is open by appointment only. Contact us if you would like to schedule an appointment.

Religious Education

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

No! Good Shepherd 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. 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 also offer thematic chapels that teach children basic Christian concepts, such as that we are all part of God's family, that Jesus loves us, and that we should take good care of our world. 

We are a mission 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-K, which provide guidelines for classroom instruction in science and other academic subjects. 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 the monthly Family Movie Night and special events such as the annual Character Breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt. 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, goserve.net