Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is “play-based learning”?
At ESNS, we feel that the lifelong process of learning is best fostered in early childhood through play. We believe that children learn best when they are allowed the freedom and opportunity to play and explore with limited, but structured, direction from adults.
We focus on the children’s social and emotional development by encouraging them to identify and discuss their feelings and ideas, and to learn how to resolve conflicts with other people. Indeed, we believe that one of the most important tasks of early childhood is learning how to get along with others. And one of the best ways children learn to develop socially is through play. As children learn to enter play and cooperate with their peers, we gently guide their interactions in order to empower them to advocate for themselves, to include their classmates in their play, and to peacefully resolve conflicts when they inevitably arise.
The school’s program also focuses on the nuts and bolts of early childhood physical and mental development; the children have opportunities to practice their gross- and small-motor skills and they are encouraged to be creative, to explore, and to try out new things. Our daily routine provides many opportunities for the children to practice self-sufficiency. When we encourage children to actively participate in the care of themselves and the world around them, we foster a sense of independence and of pride.
We feel that the most conducive environment for playing is one that gets kids to explore what they are interested in. Thus we have no screens in our classrooms (TVs or computers) to distract them from engaging with what the class has to offer. We get the kids outside, year-round, and incorporate Nature themes in our activities.
2. Can you explain the School’s name?
We are housed in the east wing of the Ethical Society of St Louis, which is a secular-humanist organization whose focus is the empowerment of the individual to live an ethical life and to work in concert with others to make the world a more just and peaceful one. For more information, please visit their website at:
Our school was created in 1968 by the Ethical Society to serve children in the area, and though it is independent in its operation, the school shares in common with the Ethical Society basic principles of ethical human development—the need to foster qualities such as respect, understanding, fairness, responsibility, communication compassion, and a sense of belonging. At ESNS, we provide a social and educational framework through which children can cultivate such qualities on their way to becoming unique individuals, ready to transition to kindergarten with confidence.
We welcome students from all cultural and religious backgrounds. Membership with the Ethical Society is not a prerequisite for registration to the school.
3. Is Potty training required at ESNS?
No. Children develop at their own rates. We are happy to support your child during this transition, which is a huge one for little people and their families.
4. Is early morning care available?
Yes. We offer early morning care Monday through Friday, by a trained staff member. Drop off for early care begins at 8:30; the cost is $5 per session or $15 per week.
5. Are there any days that go later than 12:00?
Yes! We offer an optional extended-day program Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday, from noon to 2:30. Children bring their own lunches, which are kept refrigerated. Our excellent extended day teachers, Ariel and Amy, facilitate crafts and games, supervise free play, read stories and take the kids out to the school playground. The cost is $17.00 per session.
6. How are snacks provided?
Each student’s family voluntarily takes turns signing up for class snack duty throughout the semester. This usually works out to about once a month for most families. Sign up is available many ways: by the sign-up sheet on the class door, by sending a note on your child’s backpack, by phone or by email.
The snack calendar is also posted online to assist with planning and remembering. The Green Room sends reminder notes the day before you are signed up.
All snacks are encouraged to be nutritious. Homemade snacks are welcome, but not necessary. Some examples of appropriate snacks are listed below:
dried or fresh fruits or vegetables
wheat crackers with cheese slices
quick breads/muffins (such as banana or pumpkin bread)
English muffins or bagels with cream cheese or butter
unsweetened cereal such as Cheerios
It is not necessary to provide a drink; cold water is always available. If you choose to include a drink for the class, we prefer low-fat milk or 100% juice. Provisions and accommodations are made for children with allergies.
7. Is parent and grandparent involvement possible at ESNS?
Yes! Parents and grandparents join us on field trips, at special events, and for parties. Currently many of our parents and grandparents volunteer by gardening, story-telling, or sharing their cultural and life experiences in order to enrich our program. There is an Ethical Society Nursery School Board on which currently sit ten former and current parents, and there are numerous events for which to volunteer including family and movie nights, a holiday party, and a school carnival.
8. How do parents and teachers communicate with each other?
Teachers are available to meet with parents before or after school, and they are available via email and phone. In addition, there are two scheduled parent-teacher conferences (one per semester) in which parents and teachers discuss the children’s progress and any questions or concerns. These conferences are a wonderful way to get to know what your little one is up to at school and what sorts of things he or she likes to do, is intrigued or challenged by, and how much development is going on through all the play and activities that the class is engaged in. Throughout the year, we encourage parents to share any information about their child or family that helps us provide the best possible school experience for the child.
9.) How does the carpool line work?
The ESNS carpool line is designed for children’s safety and ease of transition.
For the purposes of our carpool line, we ask families to enter through the west driveway and to exit via the east driveway. The line winds through the parking lot and moves quickly and safely.
A staff member (usually our director Jill) stands at the edge of the sidewalk to assist children getting in or out of their vehicles. At dismissal, each class is seated on their class bench with their teachers, waiting to be individually brought to their waiting vehicles. This system drastically reduces the number of people crossing the parking lot during heavy traffic, and it ensures that each child is safely handed off to the right person.
We appreciate everyone’s cooperation with this important safety issue. Accordingly, we ask all drivers to stay off their cell phones while in the parking lot during carpool line. Our busy parking lot is shared with the Ethical Society, which has many elderly members, and hosts several events during the week.
The carpool line also gives the children a concrete signal that school is either beginning or ending, therefore easing transitions.
10.) What if I want to walk my child in and out of school? Or I’d like to socialize while I wait?
Some families prefer to walk their child in and out of school. We are happy to support whatever method works for individual families. However, we ask families that choose to walk their children at pick-up to meet their child at the benches, so the teachers can keep track of who has been picked up. And if you’d like to socialize with other parents, you are welcome to do so at the benches. Simply leave your vehicle in the carpool line until school is dismissed, when you can return to your vehicle to pick up your little one in the carpool line.
However you choose to bring your child to and from school, please help us keep everyone safe!