Preschool Frequently Asked Questions

1. What type of programs do you offer?
We offer the following program options:

Infant and Toddler Program: This is a 5 day per week, full day program.  Parents can drop off and pick up their child any time during our operating hours.

K-Prep 2-4 Programs: There are 3 program options available to families:

Full Day
: This program allows parents the flexibility of dropping off and picking up any time during our operating hours of 7:00am-6:00pm.
Academic Day: Children that attend our Academic Day program can attend from 9:00am-3:30pm.*
Half Day: Children that attend our Half Day Program can attend from 9:00am-12:00pm.*

*There is no before/after care option for these programs. Parents choose the program that best suits their family’s needs. 

2. What are the ratios in the classroom?
Our classroom ratios change with the major ages and stages.

Infants: 1: 3 ratio with a max group size of 6 children
Toddlers: 1:3 ratio with a max group size of 9 children
K-Prep 2 Program: 1:6 ratio with a max group size of 12 children
K-Prep 3 and K-Prep 4 Program* 1:10 ratio with a max group size of 20 children 

*Our K-Prep 3 and 4 programs fall under the Maryland Non-Public Schools certificate of approval, which means that during the academic day hours of 9:00am-3:30pm, our ratio is 1:12 with a max group size of 24 children. 

3. What is your discipline policy?
Columbia Academy believes in redirection and getting to the root of what is causing the behavior or issue that the child is displaying and helping to guide them through their feelings so they learn how to handle the situation in the future.  We utilize both a Peacemaking curriculum and Responsive Classroom strategies in our K-Prep 2, 3, and 4 programs to help the children gain the tools to process their emotions, and our teachers model behaviors for them.  With our Peacemaking Curriculum, children learn about relationship building, conflict resolution, anger management, how to speak to friends in a peaceful way, and each month children learn about a different virtue and how to display those virtues in the classroom. Virtues include respect, honesty, gratitude, responsibility, fairness, and more.

4. How do you incorporate STEM into the curriculum?
Our preschool classrooms are set up in centers, including Math and Manipulatives, Art Exploration, Science, Technology (for K-Prep 3 and 4 programs), Language and Literacy, Music and Movement, Dramatic Play, a Blocks center, and a Library/Reading Center. The primary benefits of having centers in the classroom are oral language development, self-regulation, and social skills. When children can explore hands-on activities at each center, it also increases their engagement.

Each day, students choose activities from the classroom centers, including math, art, science, and (for K-Prep 3 and 4) Technology. While there is not a designated engineering center, every day in our preschool classrooms, children have opportunities to build, explore, and discover how and why the things in their world are built and how they work, and how to solve problems. In the Blocks center, children use their imaginations and may discover the best way to build a bridge or a tower, or a variety of other fun building challenges.

5. Do I need to supply a snack?
For our Toddler program through K-Prep 4 program, morning and afternoon snacks* are included. We also offer an optional hot lunch program* that parents can sign up for at an additional cost. Meals are prepared daily at our Elementary and Middle School and delivered hot to our preschools.

In our Infant program, all food must come to school prepared by the parents and labeled with the child’s name, contents, and date.
*We are a completely nut-free school and do not serve or permit any food with peanuts or tree nuts.

6. How often do the children go outside to play?
Children play outside 2 times per day (weather permitting) for 30 minutes each during the academic portion of their day.  In our Toddler program through K-Prep 4 program, each classroom has designated outside time and in our Infant program, they go outdoors based on the individual classroom schedule and routines.

7. Is this a daycare or do you have a curriculum for the infants?
All of our schools utilize The Creative Curriculum® by Teaching Strategies for our Infant through K-Prep 4 programs.  The Creative Curriculum ® allows the teachers to tailor lesson plans to the needs of the children, and meet each child where they are academically, with additional focus on their social and emotional development. 

Our Infant Program is 100% individualized to meet the needs of the children.  Not only are they on their own schedule based on the routine care they need (i.e. diapers, feedings, naps, etc.) but each child has their own individual lesson plan each week that the teachers execute and track their progress based on their age and stage to ensure they meeting their developmental milestones.

8. What safety measures does your school implement to keep my child safe?
All schools are equipped with a keyless entry system that only allows individuals with assigned door codes access to the building.  This allows the school to monitor who is coming in and out of the buildings.

All doors and playground gates are always locked from outside access.

Each child is required to have an emergency card on file.  Only the individuals listed on the emergency card will be permitted to pick up the child if the parents are not able to.  If the school has not met the individual prior to picking up, they will be asked to bring their state-issued ID, and a member of the management team will walk the individual back to the classroom.

All schools also complete monthly fire and tornado drills as well as quarterly shelter-in-place drills

9. Are you accredited?
Our preschools are in the process of becoming accredited through the National Accreditation Commission (NAC).  Two of our 4 preschools have submitted for validation visits and are waiting for their visit windows.

10. Are you a Montessori School?
We are not a Montessori school.  At Columbia Academy, we utilize The Creative Curriculum®, which is a play-based curriculum with a whole-child approach to education that teaches children to be creative, confident thinkers. Children are offered opportunities for hands-on exploration and discovery that help build lifelong critical thinking skills and foster confidence.

Children with similar birthdays are intentionally grouped together to promote and enhance their social, emotional, and academic development. This facilitates the evolution and strengthening of those peer-to-peer relationships since they will have been with the same children from the start of the program to the end. 

Our curriculum is tailored to meet the children where they are academically on an individual level.  All activities, whether done in a large group, small group, or one-on-one setting, have questions and activities tailored to the group that they are working with.

11. What type of partnership do the preschools have with the elementary and middle school?

All schools participate in the Holiday Giving campaign, Souper Bowl, and Art Show.  During the holiday we have a holiday shop which allows the preschools to come to the elementary and middle school to shop for holiday gifts.

Additionally, we structure all of our program levels based on the whole-child and our preschools work closely with the elementary and middle school each year to ensure there is a seamless transition from one stage to the next. Children that attend our K-Prep4 program are offered priority enrollment into Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten at the Elementary and Middle School. There are many benefits to continuous enrollment, and we have many children that attend our schools from 6-weeks old through 8th grade.

Elementary and Middle School Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the school hours?
• Academic Hours – 8:30am-3:30pm
• Before Care- 7:00am-8:15am
• After Care – 3:45pm-6:00pm

2. Does Columbia Academy Elementary and Middle School provide transportation?
Columbia Academy does not provide bus transportation to and from school. Our school is open
from 7 am through 6 pm with before and after care.

3. What are your safety and health measures?
• Safety – only authorized people are allowed into the building, and the door is locked with a
secure code system. Our staff entry in the back of the building is locked and secured with a
coded entry system. Each family member is supplied a unique code that they can use to enter.
• For health measures, we have installed Air Purifiers in every room in the building. These are helpful
in providing additional ventilation and reducing airborne contaminants.

4. What are your class sizes?
• The student/teacher average ratio for grades K-8 is 16:1 (for reference, the Howard County
public-school average is 25:1)
• Transitional Kindergarten is 12:1

5. Do your students wear uniforms?
Yes, grades TK-8 wear uniforms. They can be purchased from Flynn O’Hara.

6. What is the Transitional Kindergarten program?
Our transitional kindergarten program is designed for students who turn 5 between September 2
and December 31 who therefore do not meet the September 1st kindergarten cutoff.
• Our educators focus on the building blocks that will set each child up for success.
• Using centers, whole class, and small-group instruction, students are exposed to Math,
Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science.
• TK students start their day in morning meeting and have ample time for outdoor exploration
and play time while still learning foundational skills to be successful life-long learners.
• They also focus on the learned skills that students require to be successful in their school day
like walking in a line to the restroom, packing their backpack, and being active listeners in schoolwide activities.

7. Grade Placement – Early Entrance into Kindergarten
While we would recommend the TK program for children born between September 2-December
31, as it is designed specifically for children in this age range, we are able to conduct an
assessment for children born between September 2-October 13 if the parent requests it.
• The assessment is conducted at school, and we will make a recommendation for grade
placement based on what we know about our program and the grade we believe would be the
best fit for the child.
• Please reach out to Kesha King at for more information and to
schedule an appointment for an assessment.

8. Do you enroll children with IEP or 504 plans?
Yes, we do. As we are a small private school with about 200 students, we are not staffed with special
education teachers and do not have the resources to offer pull out services. The student teacher ratio is
16:1. While our teachers do differentiate instruction in the classroom, it does not equate to 1 on 1 behavioral
or academic support.

We recommend sending a copy of your child’s IEP or 504 plan to our admissions team to review prior to submitting an application to ensure that we are able to provide the necessary supports in the classroom that are needed for your child to thrive. 

Other Questions?

If you have questions, please reach out to our team. We’d be happy to learn more about your considerations as you consider options for your child.

You can reach our admissions team at 410-312-7413 or

Looking for a private preschool for your child?