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Saint Mark's School

1050 East Altadena Drive
Altadena, CA 91001

(626) 798-8858


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

All aspects of the child's development, social, emotional, creative, physical and cognitive are considered to be equally important in terms of program planning as well as eventual consideration for entrance into kindergarten. Subject areas are not dealt with independently but rather are integrated into all phases of the child's day.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught We have a Preschool Chapel twice a month. It provides an opportunity for children to develop a sense of community.

From the Director:

We have resource specialists for Music, Motor Development, and Library.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Our preschool program is designed to provide a friendly, nurturing atmosphere of acceptance as well as to inspire confidence and a positive self-image. The staff interacts with the children from a developmental perspective with an emphasis on learning through play. Each child is encouraged to develop at his/her own pace, enabling the child to have a successful school experience.

A Typical Day

Children spend part of the morning engaged in self-directed play, with a teacher-directed activity as one of the choices. These projects are usually tied in with the current theme of classroom. The second part of the morning includes circle time activities, outside play, snack, and a visit to one of several resource specialists: music, motor development, or library.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

A Parent Play Day in the spring allows parents to come to school for a morning of fun interaction with their child, followed by a discussion session with the school's counselor. There are annual parent conferences in November, Kindergarten readiness conferences in January, and an Open House in May. Class-created books are sent home often to connect parents with what is occurring in the classroom, as are regular teacher letters explaining upcoming class learning goals and activities. Teachers write daily message boards about something specific that was done that morning to spark parent-child conversations at pick-up time.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

An open house is held for parents and children to play together before the start of school. Every effort is made to accommodate children having difficulty adjusting to school, including parent-director conferences and abbreviated schedules at the beginning of the year, if necessary.