Back to Seattle Preschools

Harvard Avenue School Capitol Hill

201 Harvard Avenue E
Seattle, WA 98102

(206) 329-5187


19 parents took the survey TAKE THE SURVEY

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Teacher-Led

From the Director:

The children have at least 45 minutes a day of in-class free choice time and free play at recess, but the teachers do prepare circle time lessons and art and academic projects for the children to participate in daily. It is difficult to check a box to indicate our general approach to learning because none of the options really seemed to apply to us; we view ourselves as a different type of preschool!

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

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

More Information

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

More Information

  • Puzzles
  • Counting objects, manipulatives such as pattern blocks, unifix cubes
Time & space more

More Information

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

More Information

  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
  • Shelf activites such as gravity tubes, color mixing materials, shells, microscopes, slides, magnifying glasses, etc.
Music more

More Information

  • Musical instruments
  • Instruction on notes, etc.
Visual arts more

More Information

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

More Information

  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • 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 French instruction is provided to each class for 15 to 30 minutes once a week. During class, children learn vocabulary words relating to fruits, vegetables, animals, colors, and numbers. The children also practice speaking and conversation while playing games and singing songs.

From the Director:

Harvard Avenue School program is designed to foster the creativity and natural curiosity of each child. We provide excellent instruction and guidance in fine motor, mathematics, french, science, botany, geography, language arts, practical life (everyday living skills), sensory development, and art in a relaxed, fun environment. Our activities are designed to be multi-leveled, so each child can engage in learning on his/her individual level. We meet each child where he/she is, and guide him/her forward. The classroom is divided into different areas of study. The Fine Motor and Art areas provide a wide range of daily living exercises and stimulating art projects that your child can enjoy. These materials help the children to develop control and coordination of movement. Practical Life (fine motor) activities include caring for his/her self and the environment as well as grace and courtesy skills. These activities build independence and self esteem in the children. Harvard Avenue School explores mathematics using a variety of hands-on manipulative materials. Preschoolers work with the numbers 1-10, and then on up to 100 as they progress to the Pre-K program. As the children master corresponding quantity to symbols, they move on from 1 to 10 to teen numbers, and then 20 to 100 (usually in pre-k). Children will also be introduced to addition, subtraction, multiplication and fractions when they are showing readiness to explore those topics. The whole language approach to learning encourages language expansion with daily reading, singing, vocabulary cards, etc. The children learn the phonetic sounds by tracing, writing and using matching objects. As preschoolers are ready,they may use the moveable alphabet to create simple three letter words, etc. The sensorial area of the classroom is a favorite with the children. The goal of sensorial materials is to provide a true sensory experience that builds thought construction and problem solving abilities. With the use of the sensory materials the children build visual discrimination skills. Puzzles, blocks, smelling and touching activities are examples of sensorial materials. Other materials in this area teach the child to classify and sort items by objects, colors, or textures. Geography and other social sciences are taught to and experienced by the children throughout the year. They are encouraged to be curious about the world around them, exploring a wide range of cultural differences and similarities ranging from animals around the world to shelter to clothing which are similar and different in various world communities. The children are taught to be aware that they are part of a larger community.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Harvard Avenue School staff teaches each child at his/her individual level. We do not have children who we consider to be "behind" because there is not a common standard for the students, rather we teach to each child�s abilities and strengths and ask that each student tries their best. If a child says, "I can't do it" we simply reply, "Just do your best." If a child needs an extra challenge in the classroom because he/she is excelling we will introduce special projects for him/her to do.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Harvard Avenue School curriculum is designed to enhance the whole child and recognize that each child has a unique process of development. We creates lessons appropriate to the unique development of each child to help fulfill their individual potential. Harvard Avenue School believes that each child has a gift in their love of learning and their absorbent mind. Our school works to develop each child�s confidence, coordination, concentration, and independence.

Harvard Avenue Schools strives to nurture the growth of the children by providing a safe, stimulating and accepting environment that will allow him/her to:
- Develop individually through play that encourages learning.
- Develop socially through activities that encourage participation, cooperation and leadership.
- Develop cognitively in a prepared environment using a variety of materials. Examples of this include:
- Practical life activities including cooking, stringing beads, transferring various materials such as water and sand, and other activities designed to increase fine motor skills.
- Lessons in fine motor development, geography, mathematics, science, pre-reading skills, French, music, dance, and art.
- Develop appreciation and awareness of art.
- Develop a sense of community that nurtures respect, understanding, and acceptance of all people.

A Typical Day

Sample Daily Schedule
Classes and activities may vary due to special projects or weather
School opens; drop-off begins.
Children have free time in the classrooms
Morning circle time; group lesson is given; French/music once a week
Morning snack
Morning activity period (children work alone, with a partner, in groups, or with a teacher).
Lunch and outdoor play (in half groups)
Afternoon story circle, enrichment activities as we wait for parents to arrive
Afternoon dismissal
After-school program begins, on select days

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Parents are encouraged to come and observe their child in the classroom, and we communicate regularly with parents through conversation, newsletters, e-mails, and phone calls. Parents are welcome to schedule a time to come be a "guest teacher" and share information about their hobbies, profession, family traditions, etc. Parents also chaperone field trips.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • 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
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

Separation anxiety is handled differently for each child. We work with the parent to discuss which process will be most successful for their child. We have practiced a variety of methods to help children separate from their parents with as little trauma as possible, and find that most often assigning a staff member to shadow the new student for their first few days works best to help the child feel most comfortable.