frequently asked questionsWhen was Greatstart Early Learning established?
Greatstart Early Learning opened in 2003, under our original name - Stepping Stones Preschool and Daycare, primarily focusing on child care for ages 2 to 6. That first center was in South Plainfield, NJ. In 2008, current owners Johanna and Peter Badenhop took over the school after the original founders retired. As the school was already recognized in the area as an exceptional daycare facility, the owners focused on building a world-class early childhood academic program. Together with our awesome team of educators, we worked tirelessly to update and evolve our best in class proprietary curriculum. As we've realized that "Stepping Stones" is a very common name for preschools, and trust us there are a lot of them, we've decided to call ourselves Greatstart Early Learning to distinguish our own brand of world-class early education program.
Today we are experiencing tremendous growth. We are opening new locations in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, and our first international location is under construction in the Philippines. We have built a reputation as a leading provider of early childhood education and have been recognized as the Best Reviewed preschool in New Jersey.
How is Greatstart Early Learning different than other schools?
Our unique proprietary curriculum - GR.A.C.ETM combines the best of both worlds - the Creative Curriculum's strengths in placing high importance on creative thinking, realibity, validity and social developmentas well as the Montessori curriculum's strengths in literacy, numeracy, observation, individual liberty and preparation of the environment. Students learn in a personalized, interactive environment that allows them to participate fully in their own education, acquiring skills they will need for a future that is vastly different than the world today. The flexibility of our curriculum allows teachers to take greater advantage of the environment around them, using cultural diversity as a classroom and drawing on the experiences of our diverse student and parent community.
How diverse is the student body?
We have students enrolled from all over the world. Currently there are over 15 countries represented across all our schools with an exciting mix of linguistic and cultural backgrounds to give our students a truly international mix.
Do you have a track record of Elementary placement?
Yes. Whether they are entering public school Kindergarten or elementary first grade, our student graduates have a 100% passing record in First Grade Entrance Assessment and Kindergarten Readiness Exams. Year after year, exam results and feedback from elementary school teachers across all our schools demonstrate a commitment to exceptional standards of learning and student outcomes. Several elementary schools in the Central New Jersey area have had to modify their programs to provide allowances for advanced teachings as our graduates have "complained" about how they get bored with their school because they already know what is being taught.
Do you accept children who do not speak English or do not speak English fluently?
Yes. We assess the propective student's ability to access the curriculum, including language ability. English as an Additional Language (EAL) support is available through the school.
How do you handle admissions of students from varying educational backgrounds and/or say they've never gone to any preschool before?
All students are assessed immediately after they start. If a child is found to have gaps in his or her learning, the student's programme is tailored to give extra support. Occasionally a student will be required to obtain additional external support if there are gaps that the school cannot accommodate. Because all lessons are different by ability, Greatstart Early Learning is able to easily accommodate varieties in ability and knowledge. The school's curriculum encourages exploration of student background as a starting point for many lessons so diversity is definitely an advantage.
What year groups or grades do you offer?
Though our offerings may sometimes vary by center location, we generally offer:
- Infant care and learning through sign language for Ages 6 weeks to 18 months
- Toddler program for Ages up to 24 moths
- Age 2 Program
- Age 3-5: Nursery to Pre-K
- Kindergarten Program
- Before School Preparation and After-School Enrichment Program
- Summer Camp for Ages 3 to 12
What does the academic year look like?
Our academic year consists of two terms: School Year (September-June), and Summer (June-August). We are open year round. The main difference between our two terms is during the Summer, though we still continue academic and social education as defined in our curriculum, we have more social and physical programs to take advantage of the beautiful summer weather. These include field trips, enrichment programs such as dance, ballet, music, karate and more. Our school locations are open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
What is the deadline for enrollment applications
Greatstart Early Learning has an open enrollment policy and accepts applications throughout the academic year as long as space is available. Families have the option to be added to a waitlist. We will notify the family immediately once there is an availability so that they can plan on a start date. As we are 100% referred by our current and past families, we do encourage everyone to register early even though their actual start dates maybe months away so they can guarantee a spot. Spaces run out fairly quickly.
What facilities do you have?
All our centers provide a spacious environment with an abundance of natural light. Our generously-sized classrooms are complemented with the latest in learning resources and technology, including computers, tablets, and SMART boards (where available). There are large outdoor gymnasiums, and indoor recreation areas to give our children exciting opportunities for exercise and play no matter what the weather conditions are outside.
Do you admit children with special educational needs?
Greatstart Early Learning is an inclusive school and decisions about the admission of children with special educational needs are taken by Center Directors in the light of this policy. Such decisions are based on the extent to which the school is able to meet the student’s needs. Individual assessments are required for these students and often the school will request a recent Educational Psychologist’s report to ensure that the school can cater for the student. Some students are admitted on the condition that they receive full time support from a Learning Support Assistant.
What level of involvement is expected from parents?
At Greatstart Early Learning, we consider ourselves very fortunate to have mothers, fathers and caregivers with a vast array of experiences and perspectives that enrich the school. During enrollment, we set expectations with parents that part of the success in the education of their child is a true partnership between us and them. This entails continuing both academic and social lessons we've imparted after they leave the school everyday. It not only reinforces the value of those lessons but it also provides a healthy learning habit to the child that they will carry througout life. Parents are also encouraged to contribute volunteer hours in a way that is appropriate to their time constraints and skill set. This is consistent with the belief that the children benefit most from a school community in which families are involved in the life of the school.
How can parents get involved in Greatstart Early Learning?
We value the contributions of parents in our school community. Committed to working closely with you to provide high quality education for our students, we welcome you regularly into the school to discuss progress. Talk to us about ideas you may have to further improve the quality of our programs, or provide support to new families through our Welcome New Parents Group. There may also be opportunities for you to volunteer in the classrooms. This can be arranged by consulting with your child's classroom teacher.