Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question not answered below? Please contact us by sending an email or completing this form.

[Expand All] [Collapse All]

Program Quality

Q: What is special about the Ann Arbor Preschools?

A: These are the only preschools in Ann Arbor housed within public elementary school buildings. Built in 2005/2006, the preschool classrooms, playgrounds, and other facilities are custom-designed for young children. In addition, preschoolers have special classes in the school gyms, music rooms, art rooms, and library media centers (take a photo tour here). These programs are also unique in requiring all Lead Teachers to have a State of Michigan Teaching Certificate plus the State Endorsement for Early Childhood Education. These preschools have all of the features recommended by the NAEYC for “good” preschools. The result: an exceptional, enriching, fun learning experience for preschoolers.

Q: What are the credentials of the teaching staff?

A: The credentials of the preschool teachers are outstanding. Without exception, all Lead Preschool Teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree, with a State of Michigan Teaching Certificate plus the State Endorsement for Early Childhood Education. All Assistant Preschool Teachers have at least an associates degree in Early Childhood Education. In addition, the preschoolers take classes from a variety of specialists, focusing on visual art, vocal and instrumental music, library, and physical education.

Q: How many staff members are in each classroom? What is the teacher-to-student ratio?

A: Every preschool classroom has a certified Lead Teacher and an Assistant Teacher, who are supported by various specialists. Even when the classroom is full, there is always at least one staff-member for every eight students (1:8 ratio). The classroom never exceeds 16 students at any given time.

Program Structure

Q: What are the hours of operation of the Ann Arbor Preschools?

A: These preschools follow the same calendar as the public elementary schools in Ann Arbor, which open the day after Labor Day and close in mid-June.  The program at the Westerman Preschool & Family Center runs 8:32am – 3:38pm Mon-Thur. At Allen & Thurston, the hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7:15am – 6:00pm. This includes before-school childcare (7:15 – 8:30am), the preschool program (8:30am – 3:30pm), and after-school childcare (3:30-6:00pm).

Q: What are the scheduling options at these Ann Arbor Preschools?

A: The Preschools @ Allen and Thurston both keep “school day” hours (8:30am – 3:30pm, with optional before- and after-school childcare onsite). The program at the Westerman Preschool & Family Center runs 8:32am – 3:38pm. All are 4-day (Monday through Thursday) programs. There is also an optional Friday program @ Allen & Thurston, featuring hands-on learning activities revolving around science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts (“STEAM Fridays“).

Q: Is there a part-week program?

A: The Ann Arbor Preschools offer a 4-day (Monday through Thursday) program. Students @ Allen and Thurston can also sign up for an optional enrichment day on Fridays, featuring hands-on learning activities revolving around science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts (“STEAM Fridays“). There are no scheduling options with fewer than 4 days.

Q: Is there a summer program?

A: Yes and no. The Ann Arbor Preschools follow the same calendar as the public elementary schools in Ann Arbor, which open the day after Labor Day and close in mid-June. Like K-5 students, preschoolers can participate in summer day camps offered by AAPS through the Community Education and Recreation Department, a.k.a. “Rec & Ed”. For more information, please visit the Rec & Ed website

Q: When Ann Arbor Public Schools are not in session, is the preschool closed?

A: Yes. The preschools follow the AAPS K-12 calendar and a “no school” day for elementary students includes the preschools.  In addition, when Ann Arbor Public Schools are closed for inclement weather, the preschools are also closed.  Parents are notified in those instances via telephone messaging and local news channels. The Allen calendar is available here, and the Thurston calendar is here

Program Components

Q: What is the curriculum?

A:  The Ann Arbor Preschool curriculum is play-based with an emphasis on kindergarten readiness. The classroom activities, “specials” (music, gym, art, library media center), and outdoor recreation areas are designed to inspire, challenge, and strengthen young minds and bodies. Using the Creative Curriculum for Preschool as a foundation, the program is organized around themes that enrich and enhance cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical, and creative development. The teachers also use the Everyday Mathematics for Pre-K program, and the Literasci curriculum supports science, math, and language education. For more details, please visit the Curriculum tab of this website.

Q: Are there “specials”? Who teaches them?

A: Yes!  Each week Ann Arbor Preschool students at Allen and Thurston have special classes in the school gyms, music rooms, art rooms, and media centers (libraries). They are taught by fully credentialed teachers who specialize in those areas. The aim is to expose preschoolers to all aspects of elementary school life, following developmentally appropriate curricula, so that the later transition to kindergarten is seamless. 

Q: What is 'STEAM Friday'?

A: For an additional fee, students can register for an optional Friday enrichment program, which mirrors the M-TH program hours.  STEAM Fridays involve project-based learning and other activities focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics (“STEAM”). Using hands-on science and technology materials, students engage in developmentally appropriate problem-solving activities designed to encourage exploration and creativity.  To see examples of STEAM Friday activities, visit the Preschool Teachers’ Blog.

Q: How much time do children spend outdoors?

A: Because they benefit tremendously from fresh air, exercise, and gross motor play, the preschoolers play outdoors every morning and afternoon, during all seasons, except in the case of extreme temperatures. Both Allen and Thurston Preschool playgrounds are custom-built for young children and used exclusively by the preschoolers and kindergarteners. In addition, the preschool classrooms take “walking field-trips” at different times of the year, weather permitting.

Q: How does childcare work?

A: At both Allen and Thurston, childcare is available onsite both before school (7:15am – 8:30am) and after school (3:30pm – 6:00pm). This childcare program is high-quality and well-supervised, providing preschoolers a healthy, safe, engaging, supportive, and fun environment.

Program Eligibility

Q: At what age can my child begin preschool at Allen or Thurston?

A: These preschool programs are specifically designed for preparation in the year prior to kindergarten. Children must be age 4 by September 1 of that school year. There is also a grace period for children turning 4 by December 1 (please contact the Lead Preschool Teacher to discuss whether this option is appropriate for your child).

Q: I see that Allen Elementary will have a Young 5s program. Which program is most appropriate for my child: Young 5s vs Preschool?

A: The Young 5s program is for children who will turn 5 between May 1 and December 1. The Preschool program is for children who will turn 4 by September 1. If you are not certain which program is most appropriate for your child, please contact the Lead Preschool Teacher to discuss options.

Q: Who can attend the Ann Arbor Preschools? Are these programs only available to families living in the Allen or Thurston neighborhoods?

A: The Ann Arbor Preschools are open to anyone, regardless of where they live.  Any child age 4 by the fall can attend; it is not necessary to live within the Allen and Thurston Elementary attendance boundaries. 

Q: If my child attends the preschool at Allen or Thurston, can she/he stay at that school for K-5 even though we do not live within the attendance boundary?

A: AAPS preschool families wanting to continue on to kindergarten at Allen or Thurston, and residing outside those Elementary attendance boundaries, can apply through the AAPS in-district transfer program.

Q: Does my child have to be toilet-trained to attend?

A: Yes. All preschoolers must be toilet-trained.

Q: Is busing provided? Can preschoolers ride the same buses as K-5 kids attending Allen and Thurston?

A: For legal reasons, the preschoolers cannot ride the same buses as the K-5 children. Unless they qualify for transportation assistance through the Great Start Readiness Program, families must transport their preschoolers to and from school

Tuition & Enrollment

Q: How much do the Ann Arbor Preschools cost?

A: Families who enroll by April 30 receive an Early Bird Discount ($50 off of monthly tuition). With that discount, tuition for the Mon-Thur Full Day program is $880 per month  (+$150 for the optional STEAM Friday Full Day program). Licensed childcare is available onsite, both before and after school, for an additional fee. For more details, please consult the Tuition & Schedules tab of this website.

Q: Are there any other fees aside from tuition?

A: There is a one-time registration fee of $75 and a deposit of one half month’s tuition due at enrollment.   Late payment and bounced check fees ($25) will be applied in those situations. Onsite childcare is available both before and after school for an additional fee. For more details, please consult the Tuition & Schedules tab of this website.  

Q: I'm not sure we can afford this preschool. Is financial assistance available?

A: If your family makes under $60,000/year and meets certain risk factor criteria, you may be eligible for free preschool  through the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP). Contact us to see if you qualify for GSRP by calling (734) 994-2303.

Q: How do I enroll? By what date?

A: To enroll, please download and print the enrollment packet here. Alternatively, you can pick up your enrollment packet in person at Allen Elementary, Thurston Elementary, or the Westerman Preschool & Family Center. You can also request one via email or phone (734-994-2252). We recommend that you enroll by April 30 to secure a spot for your child and receive the Early Bird Discount of $50/month.

Lunches & Snacks

Q: How does lunch work?

A: All preschoolers eat lunch at school. They may either bring a sack lunch from home or purchase a hot lunch at school (provided by Chartwells School Dining Services). For more information on the hot lunch option, including menus, click here

Q: How do we pay for the hot lunch?

A: For information on online payment (credit card or debit card) options, please visit www.MyPaymentsPlus.com.  You may also send cash or checks to school with your child (please make checks payable to Ann Arbor Public Schools Food Service).

Q: How do snacks work?

A: The preschool provides each child a healthy daily snack. We also offer children snacks during after-school child care.

Visiting & Volunteering

Q: Can my child and I come for a visit?

A: Yes! Email here to arrange a time to come by with your preschooler, meet the lead teacher, and explore the school facilities. You and your child are also welcome to attend one of the Preschool Open Houses at either Allen (February 11, 5-6pm and March 24, 6-7pm) or Thurston (February 11, 6-7pm and April 27, 6-7pm).

Q: Can I take a virtual tour?

A: We invite you to take a photo tour of the Ann Arbor Preschools @ Allen and Thurston. This will give you a sense of the high-quality facilities, play spaces, learning experiences, and field trips offered to preschoolers in this program. In addition, you may visit the Preschool Teachers’ Blog to see these preschoolers in action.

Q: Will there be opportunities for parents to volunteer in the classroom or school?

A: Absolutely: Parent participation is welcomed! Once school begins, please speak with your child’s teachers about opportunities to volunteer in the classroom. In addition, both Allen and Thurston Elementary Schools have thriving parent organizations, which provide many opportunities for families to get involved in support of their children’s educations. For more information, please visit the websites of the Allen Parent Council and the Thurston Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO).

Miscellaneous

Q: Are these the same preschool programs formerly called 'Tuition-Based Satellite Preschool' and 'AAPS Tuition Preschool'?

A: Yes, these are essentially the same preschool programs: same “academic play-based” model, same exceptional teacher credentials, same custom-designed facilities, etc. They still follow the latest recommendations from educational science. Even better, Fall 2014 brought new enhancements to the program – more “specials” and “STEAM Fridays.

Q: What resources are available to preschoolers with special needs?

A: By integrating early childhood education into an exceptional school system, we are able to serve preschoolers with diverse needs and abilities. For example, certified speech therapists, occupational therapists, and/or ESL teachers can work with preschoolers with identified needs.

Q: I have some more questions. How can I get in touch?

A: We welcome questions and comments from families! Feel free to email us here, or call (734) 994-2252. We look forward to hearing from you.