We believe learning at this age takes place in a child-directed playful environment. Through learner-centered discovery, the children learn to problem solve, strengthen communication skills, negotiate their environment, resolve conflicts with their peers, and develop independence.
Children are invited to participate in various projects and activities, but each child is accepted at their current developmental stage. Field trips and routine walks throughout the neighborhood foster a sense of community and awareness of surroundings. Rather than being teacher-directed, learning takes place through the children’s organic expression of interests and curiosity. Ms. Frances responds accordingly by introducing topics and projects related to that expression.
Our guiding principles define our approach to learning and teaching within a play-based curriculum. These principles are:
A parent cooperative preschool is organized by a group of families with similar philosophies who hire a trained teacher to provide their children with a quality preschool experience. The preschool is administered and maintained by the parents.
CHCNS is a teacher-led parent cooperative, owned and operated by its members. Parents manage the entire operation of the school, hire the preschool teacher, and assist in the classroom on a rotating basis. The parents administer the school and share the tasks of evaluating its aims and policies. They hire and rehire the director/teacher and assist in the classroom on a scheduled basis.
First, you have to ask yourself, am I willing to teach, play, clean, prepare food, fund raise, be around young kids, know the other parents, and take responsibility for the school? At CHCNS we expect parents to be involved in the daily life of our co-op. Additionally, each parent takes on an administrative role to help keep the school organized and running efficiently. Some roles require more involvement than others but parents work as a team to take care of everyday tasks. Additionally, parents are expected to assist with caring for the children once a month during their parent duty day.
Additional responsibilities of parents include membership meeting attendance, fundraising, & chaperoning field trips (when needed). Parents are free to contribute any special skills they may have that would benefit program operations or the classroom learning experience. They work alongside the teacher to support classroom activities and student goals as determined by the teacher.
To help keep tuition costs to a minimum, parents of students are assigned days to assist Ms. Frances in the classroom. Typically, this works out to about 1 day per month for students attending 3 or 4 days a week. Students attending 5 days a week may have 2 duty days per month. Responsibilities of the parent on duty are:
The schedule remains very fluid; however, snack and lunch occur at roughly the same time each day. Every day includes a range of sensory stimulating activities like playdoh, painting and riding scooters outside during daily walks. While there is not a set activity schedule, students are grounded by predictable behavioral expectations and consistent transition signals between activities.
Ms. Frances remains flexible to respond to the needs, interests and mood of her classes. Children learn to sit and attend just as they learn to use their words, resolve conflicts with peers, work on fine and gross motor skills, and respect their environment as well as others.
Most days, children spend at least an hour, if not more outside (rain or shine) they walk to local parks, visit the post office and go on exciting field trips to landmarks around Washington DC. In general, the program’s daily activities are centered around choice and the intuitive ability of Ms. Frances to respond to the needs of the children.
Preschool runs September through June, Monday-Friday, and generally follows Federal Holidays and includes a week long break over the winter holiday and a week long spring break. Please note the school will remain open MOST federal holidays as well as over the winter & spring breaks. Holidays that the school is closed are: MLK Day, 4th of July, Juneteenth, Thanksgiving and the Friday after, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after, as well as New Year's Day. The calendar will be set for the incoming class in August. We are often in session on days DCPS is out of school.
Simply reach out with the form at the bottom of this page and one of our board members will be in touch to schedule one with you. We offer flexible times and dates during our school week to accommodate busy families.
Teachers are trained to handle allergies with the utmost care. When applying, please fill out the allergy form as accurately as possible. Children’s hands are washed before and after eating to ensure no cross contamination happens. A teacher also sits with the child to make sure they are safely eating. If your child has a severe allergy, strict allergy codes will be enforced for the year your child is enrolled. Being a co-op parents are heavily involved and want to make the best decision surrounding each child!
In diapers, no problem! Potty training, no problem! Teachers take turns each day providing the littles with bathroom breaks and are very vigilant in ensuring children have the opportunity to go to the bathroom. Please let our teachers know what stage you’re in so they can better assist your child. If potty training, please provide additional training under ware in case of accidents.
Children are dropped off at 8:30am the double doors located on 5th street. Teachers are outside or in the lobby waiting on children. Caretakers take them to the 2nd floor and help put away coats and lunch boxes before leaving.
Pickup is at the same entrance and children are typically outside playing while waiting on caretakers. Backpacks and any additional items are in the lobby for parents to retrieve, although teachers also bring them out to you.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about CHCNS School, please contact us. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are happy to assist you in any way we can. Simply fill out the form located at the bottom of this page!
We are located on the second floor of Capitol Hill Methodist Church at 421 Seward Square SE.
Our entrance can be found on 5th street SE.
Our experienced and dedicated faculty and staff are committed to helping each student reach their full potential. They provide a supportive learning environment that fosters intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and a love of learning. We currently have 3 teachers; Ms. Frances, Ms. Mercy & Ms. Al'Asia.
Now that you've read all about our wonderful school and program, you're interested in signing up! Hooray!
Here are detailed steps on the enrollment process.
1. Fill out the application and pay the application fee of $65. You can do so with this link: https://www.jovial.org/chcns/hello
2. Once an application has been submitted, a Jovial welcome link will be sent to access your family dashboard and a member of the parent committee will be in touch to answer questions and help you complete next steps.
3. Once the committee member knows the class you would like to enroll in, they will add your child to the roster. Once your child is added to the roster, all of the fees and tuition will be added to your account. Payment must be made before your their first day of class to secure their spot.
4. The dashboard will also have several documents that need to be filled out before starting school. These include federal documents. All forms are to be filled out electronically though your Jovial family dashboard. Please note some forms require doctor signature.
5. Once payments are received and all paperwork is complete, your child is ready to start school.
6. Lastly, the parent committee will be in touch to assign tasks and roles for your school year. This is typically done via a zoom call, where all parents contribute and volunteer for the role that best suits their particular skills.
7. Additionally all caretakers volunteering at CHCNS must complete a background check before volunteering or participating in parent duty days. ALL forms will be uploaded into your Jovial family dashboard.
Extensive current research has shown that parent involvement is critical to children’s educational success. As the only true parent-run cooperative preschool on Capitol Hill, CHCNS believes strongly in the benefits for preschoolers of connecting school and home experiences. We are committed to bridging what happens inside the school to what happens at home.
As a way to help children transition from home to school for the first time or at the beginning of the year, Ms. Frances offers to visit the home, at your convenience, to meet your child, discuss routines and get to know your family. Home visits are casual short visits in the child's safest place, their home. Building the relationship between the teacher, child and parents before school starts makes the transition into the school year more comfortable for the children.
Although nannies or other caregivers may serve on duty days, it is preferred that parents fulfill the duty day obligation. This allows the parent to participate in the child's school life, get to know the child's world, and give the child a sense of pride and confidence. Parents are also expected to participate in fundraising efforts and serve as chaperones on field trips.
CHCNS is inspired and influenced by the work and theories from the founders and educators of the Reggio Emilia schools. Some aspects of the CHCNS curriculum also resemble the choice focused principles of Montessori programs. These programs do not provide a curriculum for the program. However, they offer a framework for educating young learners based upon the individual interests of each child.
Capitol Hill Cooperative Nursery School, Inc., is the first parent-run cooperative preschool on Capitol Hill, and was established in 1960 by 10 families. It was housed in the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church until 1972 at which time it moved to the Capitol Hill Metropolitan Baptist Church. In 1983, the school relocated to the Lenox School Building.
The school moved again in 1986 to Watkins Elementary -- part of the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools. In 1987 it moved to Peabody Elementary, the Early Childhood campus of the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools. The school moved to Watkins Elementary in 1997, where it was located for two decades.
In 2016 CNHCS moved to its current location at Capitol Hill United Methodist Church. CHCNS is licensed by the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Service Facility Regulation Administration, Child Care Branch.
Several class schedules are available to help meet our families’ needs. You can enroll for three, four or five days a week from 8:30am to 1:30pm. Parents choose the days of the week.
*If your child is not yet 2.5, they can begin whenever they turn 2.5 throughout the school year.
Parent may select any 3 days Monday-Friday
Parent may select any 4 days Monday-Friday
$150 Supply Fee & $65 Registration Fee due upon enrollment
We'd love to hear from you!
Whether it's questions about one of your programs or to schedule a site visit,
feel free to get in touch.
421 Seward Square Southeast, Washington, District of Columbia 20003, United States
08:30 am – 01:30 pm