Prekindergarten Program - McDonogh School

Prekindergarten Program


Our prekindergarten program offers a developmentally-appropriate, play-based curriculum designed to stimulate and challenge our youngest students as they begin their journey as lifelong learners. 

In a warm and nurturing atmosphere, children experience creative, purposeful, and collaborative opportunities that inspire curiosity and instill a love of learning. In addition to an emphasis on social and emotional development, our prekindergarten program offers students instruction in language, literacy, and math. The curriculum also includes special subjects such as Spanish, art, science, engineering, library, and music/creative movement.

The PK day aligns with the larger McDonogh School schedule. Students may begin arriving at 8:00 a.m. Our school day ends Monday through Thursday at 3:45 p.m. and Friday at 3:15 p.m. Prekindergarten students may ride the bus. (Please note: AfterCare options begin in kindergarten).  

Teaching the Whole Child

Our Responsive Classroom approach to teaching creates a safe, joyful, and engaging community where children feel seen, heard, loved and respected. Throughout their prekindergarten year, children develop academic, social, and emotional skills that become the foundation for their future. As they learn to be part of a class, how to share and take turns, and how to be a friend, they become independent, self-advocates engaged in their education.


typical number of students in each PK class


teachers per PK classroom


special area classes

Embracing Curiosity

Children are naturally curious about themselves, each other, and the world around them, and our teachers embrace that curiosity and encourage students to collaborate, share ideas, and extend their thinking. Learning happens through hands-on experiences, allowing abstract concepts to become more concrete. Throughout the school day, children participate in various multisensory activities that strengthen their school readiness skills. Sensory play helps them develop motor skills, language, and number sense.

"The joy children feel when they are encouraged to discover, experiment, and create through play ignites a lifelong love of learning."

Kara Zimmerman, Associate Head of Lower School

Outdoor Learning

Children have the opportunity to dig, build, catch, climb, run, and investigate daily. Spending time outside allows our students to interact with nature as well as understand the powerful connections between classroom learning and our environment. These activities are child-led through curiosity and exploration while carefully supported by our staff. From Roots Farm to the trails through the woods and everywhere in between, our 800-acre campus provides countless opportunities for children to connect with their ideas, learn collaborative skills, and continue to develop fine and gross motor skills.

The Power of Play

At the heart of our prekindergarten program is play—one of the most effective ways for children to form friendships and gain problem-solving skills, learn strategies that support self-management and executive functioning, build confidence, and expand their imagination. 

Through our play-based curriculum and dynamic learning environment, our youngest students are prepared for the next steps on their learning journey.

Our Teachers Answer your questions

How do prekindergarten teachers ensure that they are meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of all of their students?

My classroom is grounded in a developmentally appropriate, play-based curriculum designed to challenge and motivate young children. I want them to feel safe and loved, and I take every opportunity I can to get to know them as the unique, amazing humans they are! I want to know what my students love, what they're worried about, what is really hard, and what comes easily for them. I am constantly gathering this information through authentic interactions and observations and use it to shape whole group and small group instruction, make choices about the materials and spaces in my classroom, and the individual supports I can offer for each child.

Jen Mollet - PK 1 Lead Teacher

How does your curriculum help students develop mathematical thinking skills?

Math is all around—in our classrooms, among nature, and even in the books we read. We want our Littles to relish in the world of math! In every environment we visit, we are constantly met with mathematical concepts like noticing shapes, patterns, and numbers, making predictions and comparisons, and using rich mathematical language. Through investigations and hands-on experiences, we encourage our Littles to ask thoughtful questions, such as: How many friends are in school today? What’s the temperature outside, and is it cooler or warmer than yesterday? Can we graph that data? Hey, look! What kind of pattern does the caterpillar’s stripes make? 

We encourage our Littles to be mindful and constructive in their thought process, to check and double-check their work, and to think about various strategies to get to an answer. We introduce, connect, and revisit concepts throughout the year, always working on problem-solving skills and strengthening our mathematical thinking!

Tricia Crnilovic - PK 3 Lead Teacher

How will McDonogh’s prekindergarten support my child’s success in the Lower School?

Our youngest Eagles enter prekindergarten full of life, energy, and curiosity. Every day, we channel this as they learn to be part of a classroom and school community! Learning is joyful—especially alongside friends. I want them to feel good about themselves, their classmates, and our school. "What does it mean to be a kind and caring classmate? How can we solve a problem together?"

Academic foundations are so important and can often come easily for many children. The hardest work is developing independence and stamina, handling frustration or disappointment, learning to advocate for themselves and others, and connecting learning and joy. With these strong foundations, students are able to access all of the incredible opportunities that are part of the Lower School at McDonogh. 

Julie McClernan - PK Lead Teacher

When a child leaves McDonogh's prekindergarten, what do you hope they remember?

I hope they remember all the fun we had while learning! Learning can be fun, exciting, and in every part of your life. Learning through play enriches the mind and sparks interest and love for learning in any child.

Shanita Scott - PK Associate Teacher

McDonogh Prekindergarten Program