Q: How does Belvedere-Hawthorne Nursery School (BHNS) differ from other preschools?

A: BHNS offers a play-based, developmentally-appropriate curriculum. Our program fosters creativity, stimulates the imagination, creates an inner sense of trust and autonomy, and develops intellectual, physical and social skills. Our mission is to provide the child with a nurturing environment and instill a love of learning.

Q: What are the hours and vacation schedule?

A: All of our programs are held during typical school hours of operation (8:30 – 12:30). We also offer additional afternoon programs to enrich your child’s morning program experience two days per week during the second year at Belvedere Nursery School and the pre-K year at Hawthorne. Our vacation schedule typically aligns with the Reed Union School District.

Q: Do you have after school care?

A: No. We typically offer an afternoon program two days per week that ends at 3:00 p.m. for children that are in their second year at Belvedere Nursery School, or at Hawthorne Pre-K. However, these afternoon programs are currently on hold during the pandemic.

Q. How many openings do you have?

A: We enroll 36 students in each class, drawing from a waitlist. Date of application determines your place on the waitlist.  The 36 students move together through each year with occasional openings.

Q: What are the chances of getting in?

A: With the rising number of applications for siblings and children of alumni, the number of “open” spaces has reduced over the past few years.  Siblings and children of alumni have priority. After that the waitlist is developed based on the date the application is submitted.

Q: How early should I apply to get in?

A: Parents may apply any time after the birth of their child. We recommend applying as soon as possible.

Q: Does my child need to be out of diapers to attend BHNS?

A: No. We have changing supplies at the Belvedere Nursery School campus.  If you are beginning to potty train, please supply a change of clothing and let the teachers know so that they can continue to facilitate your training program at school.  However, a child is not eligible to join any afternoon program until he/she is potty-trained.

Q: How is curriculum developed?

A: Our school uses a rotating developmentally-based program.  Teachers and directors have weekly team meetings at each campus to plan the daily/weekly curriculum.  During the year, teachers and directors of both campuses meet to examine and improve the school curriculum.  We offer our teachers financial assistance for their Continuing Education, enabling them to once again become the student in the education field so that they may apply the newest educational trends in their profession.

Q: What is the average teacher tenure at BHNS?

A: Most teachers have been employed with BHNS for more than 5 years.  The average tenure is 10+ years. Our directors have been with the school over 20 years.

Q: How often can we meet with the directors?

A: Two conferences are scheduled during the school year.  However, if there is something you would like to discuss, the directors encourage you to make an appointment to discuss any concerns.

Q: What is included in tuition?

A: Tuition includes the cost of professional instruction and education supplies and materials.  A majority of tuition covers the cost of teachers’ salaries, benefits, and facilities. While current tuition does not cover all costs, the difference is reconciled through our fundraising efforts.

Q: Are there classroom aides? What is the teacher-to-student ratio?

A: We do not have aides, as we require our teachers to have their Early Childhood Education units.  Our classrooms are staffed with teachers and one director at each campus. We maintain 1 teacher for every 6 students, including the director.

Q: Can parents participate in the classroom?

A: Yes! We welcome parent volunteers. A parent may volunteer to work in the office at either campus at least twice a year, which allows parents some time to interact with and observe their child in the school environment.

Q. What involvement is expected of parents/guardians?

A: BHNS hopes that all parents/guardians will participate in various volunteer activities and will contribute to our annual fundraisers. Our fundraising efforts build a sense of community among the class and parents.  We do not require a set number of volunteer hours.

Q: What are your policies on discipline?

A: Respect of self, friends, and property is what the teachers at BHNS work to instill in each child. Generally that foundation helps work through most challenges that a child might be experiencing. Teachers find that simply redirecting a child to another positive experience is usually enough to allow a child time to re-group and end what could possibly become a stressful situation for a child.

Q: How does a teacher deal with a child’s separation anxiety?

A: In a calm, nurturing and positive manner.

Q: What do you do to make sure each individual child feels comfortable?  How do you encourage shy kids to participate?

A: We respect each child’s individuality and encourage him/her to participate when comfortable.

Q: Where do BHNS students go to kindergarten?

A: The majority of the students will attend school in the much-praised public Reed School District.  A smaller percentage will go to private K-8 schools in Marin county and San Francisco.

Q. What if my child has a birthday between August 1 – August 31?

A: At BHNS, all children start school after they turn 2.5 years old. 2.5-year-olds join the Tuesday/Thursday class at two entry points – in the fall and at the end of January, depending on their birthday. If your child has a birthday on or between August 1 – August 31, they will start BHNS as the oldest in the class in the fall.  After the MWF year, the parents of an August birthday child have a choice to either send their child to one more year of preschool at Hawthorne Pre-K, or send them to kindergarten. The directors and teachers are always happy to provide input on a child’s readiness for kindergarten.