Early Childhood Program

Princeton Junior School’s Early Childhood Program focuses on developing social, emotional, behavioral and physical skills as well as academic readiness. Our main goal in teaching young children is to provide experiences that develop self-awareness, promote confidence and instill a joy of learning.  Mixed-age classrooms balance cooperative play with carefully thought-out learning experiences. Through play, children learn to think, reason, and develop important skills. Families may choose from several options offered throughout the day including half or full day classes as well as after school programs.

Class Options

Our Toddler Class (ages 2 - 3.5) offers enrollment options of 5 days (M-F), 3 days (M-W), or 2 days (Th, Fri) per week. Students can be dropped off anywhere between 8-9am, and picked up at noon. Families interested in full day coverage can add the Afternoon Program, which runs from 12:00pm - 2:45pm. Afternoon Program coverage is flexible and can be added anywhere from 1-5 days per week as needed.

Our Preschool Class (ages 3.5 - 5) is 5 mornings per week. Students can be dropped off anywhere between 8-9am, and picked up at noon. Families interested in full day coverage can add the Afternoon Program, which runs from 12:00pm - 2:45pm. Afternoon Program coverage is flexible and can be added anywhere from 1-5 days per week as needed.

For families interested in After School coverage, our Extended Day Program runs from 2:45pm - 6:00pm and is available to all of our Early Childhood Program students.

For a breakdown of Early Childhood Program Tuition pricing CLICK HERE


The acclaimed Reggio Emilia approach to early education focuses on the view of the child. While many preschool programs see their youngest students as an “empty vessels,” a major tenet of the Reggio Approach is that the child is capable, curious and interested in subjects worth exploring deeply.  The child communicates their enthusiasm and queries through observations, discussions and choices. The teacher serves as a partner, supporter and guide to help students follow their interest. Children develop problem-solving skills as teachers help refine their hypotheses and theories. Students spend considerable time outdoors and teachers bring the natural world into the classroom.  


Children learn best when what they are learning is meaningful, interesting and relevant to their lives.  As a result, literacy development, math exploration, science and social studies are taught to our youngest students within a unit of investigation.  These units will typically last 4-6 weeks and include collaboration with all of our specialist teachers. Through the framework of the International Baccalaureate PYP, teachers encourage our early childhood students to wonder and ask questions, supporting their development through classroom projects and explorations.  

Areas of Development


We aim to instill within each child an understanding and appreciation of individuality and diversity. An atmosphere is created to foster the importance of being part of a group- being inclusive and respectful of self and others and having empathy. Children are encouraged to solve social conflicts independently and to respect the rights of others.

Imaginative Interactive Play

The classrooms are designed with specific play areas to provide children with opportunities to develop independence and self esteem. During independent play times, children can express initiative while they develop their language and socialization skills. Activities involving building blocks, manipulatives, dramatic play, and art materials offer experiences that stretch imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills.

Language Arts

Emergent reading and writing skills are supported in all areas of the classroom. Children regularly experience group read alouds, small group storytelling and independent reading time to get acquainted with the structures of reading and the joy of books. Children write to express themselves. Dictation and storytelling is an important part of early childhood development. Young students discover the power of their words as they hear them read aloud.


Beginning math experiences are most successful when they are hands on and interesting to the children. Manipulatives, games, graphs, and measurement activities are all relevant ways to encourage children to play with numbers and understand early math concepts. At PJS, math is woven into classroom projects and daily jobs.

Social Awareness and Science

Social Studies and science are taught through our IB units of inquiry. Units on self, family, community, environment and cultural studies develop awareness. Many opportunities are provided for the integration of science through hands on experiences such as gauging rainfall, investigating nutrition and learning about the life cycle of insects and intricacies of plant life that are discovered on our campus.


Preschool students participate in PE classes twice each week. In addition, gross motor skills are developed through joyful activities such as running, jumping, climbing, swinging and dancing. Fine motor skills are honed through working with puzzles, cutting with scissors, painting, using sewing cards, dressing oneself, and exploring with eye droppers, tongs, and other tools.

The Arts/Aesthetic Education

Art experiences are provided daily in the classroom and art studio. The focus in our Art program is the process rather than the product. We allow students to linger and take their time without rushing on to the next activity. At the same time, we are sure to provide varied experiences that build upon each other in order to help children gain competency with artistic materials.

Atelieristas/Studio Teachers

The atelieristas (studio teachers) collaborate with the Toddler and Preschool students and their teachers to investigate the world using various mediums in the arts, science, and technology. This is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach where two teachers collaborate to support children’s inquiry and broaden their experience with an array of materials.

Special Subjects

Children in the Early Childhood Program participate in special subjects outside of the classroom. Children in the Toddler Class participate in Learning Through Landscapes, Windows to the World, Performing Arts, and Spanish each week. Preschoolers participate in all of the above in addition to Physical Education. 

The child is made of one hundred
The child has;
A hundred languages
A hundred hands
A hundred thoughts
A hundred ways of thinking
Of playing, of speaking

From the poem “No Way. The Hundred is There”, By Loris Malaguzzi

Philosophy and Goals
  • Establish a partnership with families to best meet their children’s needs
  • Cultivate a love of learning in each child
  • Create a classroom environment that is safe, nurturing and fun so that the children gain the confidence they need to take risks and express themselves freely
  • Foster independence and responsibility through daily jobs, routines and daily clean-up
  • Teach respect towards oneself, others, the classroom materials, and the environment
  • Create an atmosphere that emphasizes and reinforces politeness and consideration of others
  • Provide numerous opportunities for unstructured play so that children build friendships, develop social skills, critical thinking, practice language skills, develop fine and gross motor skills, and practice conflict negotiation
  • Understand child development and how each child is unique and develops at his/her own pace
  • Immerse children with authentic opportunities to engage with words and print within the classroom, in literature, and the environment
  • Listen to children so that the learning is meaningful, motivated by student interests and questions, and relevant to their lives.