Nursery & Pre-Kindergarten: What You Need to Know

We hope you find this information answers your questions. If you have further questions, please contact Laura Primrose, Director of the Lower Division.

The First Day of School

Should I attend the Opening Ceremony with my child on the first day of school?

Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten students attend the Opening Ceremony, an NPS tradition that brings our community together on the first day of the school year. The service begins at 8:30 am in the National Presbyterian Church sanctuary and lasts about 30 minutes. Following the ceremony, Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten parents walk their children to their classrooms for drop-off.

What does my child need on the first day of school?

Please pack the following for your child:

 A complete change of clothes in a large zip lock plastic bag, labeled with your child’s name. This will be stored in your child’s cubby or locker and should be updated seasonally.

 A small blanket, bath towel, or nap mat and small soft toy or lovey for rest time, small enough for your child to store in a cubby or locker.

 Clothing should be appropriate for school and manageable for their young hands. Pants should be easy to pull up and down. Shoes need to be easy to put on and allow children to move in the assortment of activities throughout the day including PE and recess. Velcro sneakers are a great choice, but Crocs or open toe sandals are not. Finally, clothing will come home messy from time to time after outdoor play and hands-on projects, so please choose accordingly, and remember that this is a good thing!

A red tote bag will be distributed on the first day of school to carry items to and from school. Please use this  bag daily, rather than a bag or backpack from home.


Teacher Communication

I would like to meet my child’s teacher before school starts. May I schedule a conference?

Yes! You will receive an email approximately one week before school starts with information about accessing your child’s class placement and scheduling a brief conference around the first day of school.

How will I know how my child is doing?

Families coming from a daycare situation prior to NPS may be used to daily reports from their child’s teachers. However, now that your child is in “big school,” you should expect to learn about your child’s progress via report cards, emailed in early February and June, and Parent-Teacher conferences, which are offered before school starts and in the fall and spring. Teachers will send weekly classroom updates (be sure to sign up for your class blog when prompted!) and regularly upload photos to Vidigami, our secure photo sharing service (instructions for account set up for new families will be sent over the summer).

Teachers are always happy to answer questions and discuss concerns you may have about your child. Drop-off and carpool are difficult times for teachers to speak with parents about substantive issues, but parents are welcome and encouraged to call or email to arrange a mutually convenient time to talk.


The Basics: Food, Nap & Bathroom

What should I pack for lunch? Are there restrictions?

If your child is especially particular or has food allergies, we suggest you pack a lunch for your child. Lunches are stored in students’ cubbies or lockers, so parents should plan lunches that do not require refrigeration. We do not have a microwave in the classroom, so lunches cannot be heated. Please keep in mind that your child’s teacher may request that you try to avoid certain foods, such as nuts, if one of your child’s classmates has a severe food allergy. NPS provides 2% milk, skim milk, and water.

Who helps my child get School Lunch?

Lunches for Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten children are assembled by school staff members and brought to the classrooms, with an effort made to select healthy options that will appeal to young (and particular!) taste buds.

How will I know if my child ate lunch?

Typically, your child’s teachers will return uneaten food to the lunch box so that you can see how much was eaten at the end of the day. If you are signed up for the Lunch Program, it is more difficult to get daily feedback on what your child ate. That said, if there is a concern, your teacher will let you know.

What if my child has food allergies?

You will need to notify the school nurse of any allergies your child may have on the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Action Care Plan available via Magnus Health. Instructions and deadlines for these forms will be sent mid-summer. You may be asked to provide appropriate food substitutes for snack time if necessary. If your child brings in a food item which may cause an allergic reaction in another child, the teachers will ensure they sit at different tables and, to prevent exposure, the teacher will ensure that the table and hands are clean. Parent meetings at the beginning of the school year are a good opportunity to discuss allergy concerns with teachers and the nurse.

Do I need to provide a morning or afternoon snack?

No, NPS will provide a snack mid-morning each day. School-provided snacks include apples, bananas, clementines, string cheese, whole grain Goldfish 100 Calorie packs, Frosted Mini-Wheats, graham crackers, and other similar items. Students may choose from 2% milk, skim milk, or water to drink. Children whose allergies may not allow them to partake in the provided snack may bring a supply of their own snacks to be stored in the classroom.

Can I provide a treat for the class on my child’s birthday?

NPS continues to review and revise our birthday treat policy so that it takes into account students with food allergies and other food restrictions.  You will find the most updated Birthday Snack policy in the Parent Handbook, which is distributed at the start of school.

How long will my child rest in the afternoon?

Nursery rest time is from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, while Pre-Kindergarten rest time is from 1:30 to 2:00 pm. Some students fall asleep while others rest quietly.

For rest time, you will be asked to provide a small blanket, bath towel, or nap mat and a small soft toy or lovey, small enough to fit in your child’s cubby or locker. Teachers will send these rest time items home in your child’s red bag on Fridays so that they may be washed and returned to school on Monday.

What if my child doesn’t want to sleep during rest time?

Rest time is important for our youngest students to rest their bodies and minds. Children lie down on their blanket or towel with a lovey, and they may listen to soft music or audiobooks played for the entire class. If needed, teachers may allow children to look through books during rest.

Must my child be potty trained by the first day of school?

All NPS students must be potty trained. We are not equipped to work with diapers, pull-ups, or frequent accidents, therefore no exceptions can be made. If your child is not quite there, there’s still time!

What if my child has a bathroom accident at school?

Do not worry! Nursery teachers have built into the schedule regular bathroom breaks for all children, and while Pre-Kindergarten students do not have structured bathroom breaks, they may visit the bathroom at any time they need. Even so, every so often, children may have accidents at school. The extra change of clothes that you send on the first day is there for this very situation. If a child has repeated accidents, the teachers may ask you to keep your child at home until she/he is re-potty trained. This is for the benefit of your child as well as the class.

What if my child needs help in the bathroom?

Children must not only be potty-trained, but also independent in the bathroom. Students must be able to clean themselves on their own after using the toilet. Teachers will assist students in the event of an accident or illness.

How do I pick up my child at the end of the school day?

For Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten students who depart at noon, parents and guardians line up in their cars in front of the school with the family’s carpool number displayed in the upper right hand corner of the windshield. A teacher will bring your child/children to the car. Occasionally, all students are dismissed at noon on Fridays in which case, all students follow regular dismissal procedures. These days are noted on the school calendar. Faculty and staff loading children in the cars will offer assistance with car seats that the adult in the car needs to either affirm or decline.

For more information about drop off and pick up click here .

After 3 Club (A3C) Logistics

How does my child get to the After 3 Club at dismissal time?

At dismissal, a faculty member will personally deliver the children to A3C staff members.

How do I pick up my child from After 3 Club?

Park your car in an approved space in the NPC parking lot and walk to the main school entrance. Ring the doorbell and an A3C staff member will buzz you in. At the front desk, sign your name and pick-up time next to your child’s name, and the A3C staff member will direct you to your child’s location. 

Do I need to pack a snack for After 3 Club?

No, NPS offers a snack during After 3 Club, similar to the snack offered during the school day. For those children with allergies, parents may send a supply of safe snacks to be stored for use during After 3 Club.

Is my child able to attend After School Programs (ASP) if she/he is in After 3 Club?

Yes! After 3 Club staff members will help your child get to and from any After School Program for which you register your child. ASP classes for Nursery students begin in the winter session. Parents should look for Auxiliary Programs updates and announcements in Backpack Express, the weekly NPS e-newsletter. 

How many other children will be in After 3 Club with my child?

Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten students are assigned to their own group and space during After 3 Club hours. The number of children in this group will range anywhere between 15 to 18 children.

I have more questions about After 3 Club and After School Programs.

Caitlin Webster, our Director of Auxiliary Programs, is happy to answer any additional questions you may have. You may contact her at or 202-537-7579. 


Where to Next?