Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below a list of our most frequently asked questions regarding the school.  For answers to admissions and enrollment related questions, please see our Admissions FAQ.

Q: Which accreditations does the school maintain?

Turtle Rock Preschool was the first school in Irvine to attain accreditation in 1986 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  We have maintained continuous accreditation since then, most recently being reaccredited in 2012.

Q: How can I find out how my child is doing?

Parents may phone or e-mail at any time. Parents may also request a parent/teacher meeting. We have an open door policy so parents may drop in at any time, but please stop by the office so that we can make sure the visit is not disruptive to the child or the classroom. Sometimes a peak through the window might be a better option.

Q: How is parent-teacher communication conducted?

Teachers and Administrators are always available to speak with parents about any concern, and a parent may request a meeting with their child’s teachers at any time. Dropping off or picking up can be a busy time for staff. We encourage you to make an appointment so that undivided attention may be given to you. Teachers will communicate regularly with parents about their child’s progress and milestones being reached. Additionally, each child is sent home with a form daily that communicates how the child enjoyed school, as well as the activities of the child’s day. Each year in the spring and fall, teachers evaluate their students’ progress through assessments which accompany parent-teacher conferences.

Q: How can I be involved in my child's school experience?

We gladly welcome parents to join us for special celebrations, birthdays and presentations. Additionally, parents may volunteer in their child’s classroom or simply stop by to visit! A teacher may also ask for parent volunteers to help with a particular activity. If you would like to participate you may always ask the teachers for opportunities.

Q: Do you offer part-time schedules?

Yes, for children in our Early Childhood programs (Preschool, Junior Pre-K, and Pre-Kindergarten). Part-time options include 3 day programs (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) or 2 day programs (Tuesday/Thursday). We do not offer a half-day option.

Q: My child does not speak English, how do you work with children who are not native English speakers?

It is not unusual for us to have children start with us who do not speak English.  Our caring teachers are adept at making each child feel welcome and included in all activities, and parents will notice a burst of language early on.  Children learn languages quickly, and our teachers are proficient in encouraging children to gradually begin to express themselves confidently. 

Q: Do the children nap regularly?

Children in our Nursery and Early Childhood programs nap every day.

Nap time is from 1:00 to 2:30 PM for Pre-K, and until 3:00 PM for Preschool and Junior Pre-K.  If your child has outgrown the need for a daily nap, he or she will be required to rest quietly on their mat while the rest of the children sleep.

There is no nap period in Kindergarten.

Q: When and how are children’s skills evaluated?

Formal Assessments are conducted twice per year. These assessments not only help parents to understand where their child is in his or her development, but also what areas can be strengthened. We incorporate both informal and standardized assessments during the year, as well as noting the individuality of each child relative to his or her own progress. These assessments guide us, as educators, in developing our curriculum so that it matches the needs of the children in the class. Teachers’ observations of a child reflect the child’s growth and needs, both as an individual and as part of a group. This plays an important role in the day-to-day plans of the class.

Parent/Teacher Conferences are held twice per year, immediately following the completion of assessments. These conferences are mandatory for the Kindergarten program, and highly encouraged for all other age groups. If we have a concern about your child’s development, a conference is required regardless of age. Conferences may also be requested at other times by either parents or teachers as the need arises.

Q: Is a hot lunch option available?

Yes, parents may purchase a freshly prepared hot lunch for their child on any day for $4.

Q: Are you affiliated with any religion?

No. Turtle Rock is a secular school and does not incorporate religion into our curriculum.

Certain religious events and holidays which are culturally significant may be celebrated during the year with a non-religious focus. For example, in December we celebrate the holiday seasons with Santa, trees, snowmen and non-religious music such as “Frosty the Snowman”. We have a diverse community that encompasses many religions and cultures and we endeavor to be sensitive to every family’s beliefs.

Q: Will my child be prepared for primary school after attending Turtle Rock?

Graduates of Turtle Rock Preschool move on to a variety of public and private schools.  We receive very positive feedback from both parents and teachers that Turtle Rock graduates excel when starting primary school, and are at a significant advantage academically, socially and developmentally.

Many of our students go on to pass rigorous entrance assessments into prestigious private schools in the area.

Q: What is the educational background of Turtle Rock teachers?

Our teachers far surpass the basic licensing and accreditation requirements.  Many of our teachers hold a bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education. There are some who hold their Masters Degree or other advanced degrees and certificates.

Q: What is the turnover rate of your staff?

Our turnover is very low.  We have many teachers who have been with us for over 20 years.  But we also are pleased to have a good mix of both mature and younger staff.  

We believe a school is only as good as its teachers, and we are fortunate to attract many exceptional applicants each year who are eager to become a part of Turtle Rock.

Q: What is the teacher to child ratio in each program?

Our overall school-wide child to staff ratio is less than 6:1, with individuals classroom ratios varying throughout the day. Our average classroom ratios vary for each program:
Infant & Toddler: 4:1;
Preschool: 7:1;
Junior Pre-Kindergarten: 8:1;
Pre-Kindergarten: 8:1;
Kindergarten & After-School Academy: 14:1.

Q: What is the educational philosophy of the preschool?

We embrace a philosophy of education that combines a nurturing, inclusive learning environment with an increasingly challenging academic program that addresses the developmental needs of each child.

Further information can be found on our “Curriculum” page.

Q: How do you compare to the Montessori teaching philosophy?

Our philosophy is developmentally oriented following a strong academic curriculum. Our program provides opportunities for being with other children in a setting conducive to the individual child’s development. We provide meaningful play to strengthen the child’s interests and natural abilities. This builds important foundations for gross and fine motor skills, as well as academic areas such as reading, critical thinking, and problem solving. We provide a warm environment for children where they receive the nurturing and continuous positive reinforcement they need to develop to their fullest potential.

The primary principle among developmental preschools is to promote participation in age-appropriate activities, such as hands-on play, group story-time, and self-expression. Children are encouraged to learn through play. Most developmental schools include academic content. Developmental preschools have philosophies that draw from multiple educational philosophies such as Reggio Emilia, Montessori and Waldorf.

Traditional Montessori programs are entirely child-directed within the learning environment. This method promotes a structured daily routine.

Q: How much time will my child spend outdoors?

Outdoor play is vital for young children, and we spend a significant amount of time outside at Turtle Rock.

Many of the developmental tasks that children must achieve—exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development and the absorption of vast amounts of basic knowledge—can be most effectively learned through outdoor play. Children need the opportunity to explore the unknown, the unpredictable, and the adventurous. From venturing off-campus for nature walks to taking advantage of our natural playground, opportunities for wonder and discovery are limitless.

Q: What makes up a typical day for children at Turtle Rock?

We offer a sample “Flexible Classroom Schedule” on each of our program pages.  This schedule will give you a sense of what makes up a typical day for children in that specific program.

Q: How often is the environment cleaned?

Our school employs a professional cleaning service that does a thorough cleaning of the school at the end of each school day.  

The teachers themselves are diligent about sanitizing all surfaces when necessary, including after eating.  All toys, playground items and materials are regularly cleaned and replaced as needed. 

Q: Is the school secure?

We take the safety of our campus very seriously.  Our school implements a comprehensive security system, including multiple security check points:

  • Secured front entry door with unique PIN codes for each authorized individual.
  • Only authorized admittance. Unauthorized persons must wait to be assisted by a staff member.
  • Immediate photo identification on office staff computers as parents and children enter to verify identity.
  • Instant electronic record of your child’s arrival and departure.
  • Computerized record of all individuals authorized to pick up your child.
  • Security cameras throughout to ensure safety.
  • Traditional sign-in and out in classrooms.

Q: What is the school's withdrawal policy?

You must give a minimum one month’s notice if you intend to withdraw your child from school, and partial months of attendance must be paid in full.

Q: How are children's birthdays celebrated?

All children’s birthdays are celebrated at school. We do not make food the focus of the birthday, instead choosing to plan activities such as dancing, games, crafts or singing. We want to ensure that we adhere to our healthy food guidelines. As such, parents may not bring food items, goodie bags or decorations into the classroom or plan any special events. However, we welcome parent involvement in their child’s special day.

Recognition of the child’s special day varies by classroom, but usually includes a birthday crown and the singing of “Happy Birthday”. If you wish to donate a book to the class you may put an inscription in the front of the book and the book will be read during class time on your child’s birthday. Teachers will make sure your child feels special on his or her day.

If you are having an outside party, to prevent hurt feelings, please do not send party invitations to school unless you are inviting the entire class. To invite only a few children, please mail the invitation directly to their home or send direct emails to parents. Our office staff will be happy to provide you with home or email addresses for those families that have authorized us to share this information.

Q: How does the school handle discipline?

We utilize a “positive redirection” approach, in which we re-direct children to make appropriate choices. We encourage children to work together and “use their words” to solve conflicts. We give them key words to help communicate their needs. We do not use “time out”, however, we may occasionally give children a chance to calm down by having them engage in quiet time. We encourage empathy with others.

Q: My child has difficulty separating from me. What strategies can be used to help my child transition to the classroom?

Prior to your child’s first day, we recommend a scheduled 30-minute parent and child visit to school to become familiar with the teachers and the child’s classroom and playground. Parents are encouraged to remain positive about their child’s new experience and be optimistic about the new transition. It is a good idea to have many conversations about school before the first day. On the first day, parents are encouraged to drop their child off and get the child situated and comfortable. After a few minutes it is important to say good-bye and assure the child that you will be returning later. If needed, during the child’s first few days, a modified schedule may be recommended to ensure a smooth transition. Additional separation information is available at www.chs-ca.org.

Q: Are there any other expenses during the year besides tuition?

In general, tuition covers all educational expenses throughout the year.  

There is an annual family re-registration fee in the spring to guarantee placement for the next school year.  A daily hot lunch option is available at an addition charge.  In Kindergarten, there is a one-time materials fee.

Q: Are families expected to donate or fundraise for the school?

Absolutely not.  There are very few fundraisers during the year, and participation is entirely optional.  

We do have an annual charity “Kids’ on the Move-A-Thon” which raises money for CHOC Hospital. Families are encouraged, but not required, to participate in this charity fundraiser.

Q: Do you accept school vouchers or subsidies?

While we are not able to manage or coordinate the process, we are happy to provide any required paperwork for our families to receive tuition assistance from outside sources.  Families are still responsible for ensuring that any balances are paid on time.