frequently asked questions

Are you truly an American school? A lot of international schools in the Philippines say they are international but they're not.

We are. Our main brand, Greatstart Early Learning, has several locations in the USA. As some international schools just adapted another country's education methods of teaching, we are an American school that is bringing K-12 preparatory standards and guidelines that have been used in our US locations for more than 10 years.

When was Greatstart Early Learning established?

Greatstart Early Learning started in New Jersey, USA in 2003, under our original name - Stepping Stones Preschool and Daycare, primarily focusing on child care for ages 2 to 6. That first center was in South Plainfield, NJ. In 2008, current owners Johanna and Peter Badenhop took over the school after the original founders retired. As the school was already recognized in the area as an exceptional daycare facility, the new owners focused on building a world-class early childhood academic program. Together with our awesome team of educators, we worked tirelessly to update and evolve our best in class proprietary curriculum - GR.A.C.E.TM. As we've realized that "Stepping Stones" is a very common name for preschools, and trust us there are a lot of them, we've decided to call ourselves Greatstart Early Learning to distinguish our own brand of world-class early education program.

Today we are experiencing tremendous growth. We are opening new locations in New Jersey, Ohio, California, and our first international location is under construction here in the Philippines. We have built a reputation as a leading provider of early childhood education and have been recognized as the Best Reviewed preschool in New Jersey.

Does my child need to go to preschool? I have a stay-at-home yaya ("nanny") who provides him full-day care.

Studies have shown that preschool education help children develop vital cognitive and social skills that allow them to excel when they enter elementary education. In the USA, it's been proven that children who skip preschool are not achieving their potential prior to school entry, and as they start behind, they tend to stay behind.

So any preschool will be good for my child then. Why should I pick you? How is Greatstart International School different than other schools?

Somehow in Asian culture, including the Philippines, there is still the predominant stereotyping that Asian children are supposed to be reserved and that being social is mistaken as improper behavior. Kids are so compelled to excel at academics and keep a low profile that they don't feel comfortable, let alone permitted, to explore their creative sides - whether it's starting a garage band or playing cards with the bad kids. As a result, their social skills are lagging by the time they get out in the real world.

This is somewhat opposite to Western culture, particularly in the American education system where social skills development is very important. Kids are encouraged to get passionate to what they love, whether that's art or music, building important social skills that develop confidence together with academic excellence.

The Greatstart program develops a well-rounded individual. Academically, our world-class curriculum exceeds US education standards so you know your child is receiving the best academic education. Socially, our "Western" style of social development provides positive strategies that develop skills that enable your child to be confident in themselves, removing the stigma that being socially superior is a bad thing, and growing up to be strong confident leaders.

We're also the only preschool that has a International Student Eperience Program.

What is the Greatstart International Student Experience Program?

Selected students are invited to a 2 to 3 week social immersion experience at one of our US schools. Children inherently mimic others' behaviors as part of their learning tools. We at Greatstart recognize the power of orchestrated imitation to purposefully accelerate the learning process, and this program effectively helps in the social development of your child as they will experience a different culture. Learn more about the Greatstart International Student Experience Program

What is GR.A.C.E.?

Our unique proprietary curriculum - GR.A.C.E.TM combines the best of both worlds - the Creative Curriculum's strengths in placing high importance on creative thinking, realibity, validity and social development. As well as the Montessori curriculum's strengths in literacy, numeracy, observation, individual liberty and preparation of the environment. Students learn in a personalized, interactive environment that allows them to participate fully in their own education, acquiring skills they will need for a future that is vastly different than the world today. The flexibility of our curriculum allows teachers to take greater advantage of the environment around them, using cultural diversity as a classroom and drawing on the experiences of our diverse student and parent community.

How diverse is the student body?

Our US schools have students enrolled from all over the world. Currently there are over 15 countries represented across all our schools with an exciting mix of linguistic and cultural backgrounds to give our students a truly international mix.

Do you have a track record of Elementary placement?

Yes. Whether they are entering US public school Kindergarten or elementary first grade, our student graduates have a 100% passing record in First Grade Entrance Assessment and Kindergarten Readiness Exams. Year after year, exam results and feedback from elementary school teachers across all our schools demonstrate a commitment to exceptional standards of learning and student outcomes. Several elementary schools in the Central New Jersey area have had to modify their programs to provide allowances for advanced teachings as our graduates have "complained" about how they get bored with their school because they already know what is being taught.

We are very confident this will also be the case here in the Philippines since we are bringing these proven principles and methods practiced in our US schools.

You are an all Enligh language school. Do you accept children who do not speak English or do not speak English fluently?

Yes. During the evaluation process, we assess the propective student's ability to access the curriculum, including language ability. English as an Additional Language (EAL) support is available through the school. Being in an all English language school provide for introducing English as another language to your child, not a replacement of the native Filipino language. We encourage parents to continue using and developing their native language, specially at home, since this builds a solid foundation for learning the new language.

How do you handle admissions of students from varying educational backgrounds and/or say they've never gone to any preschool before?

All students are assessed prior to entry, during the admission exam and evaluation, as well as immediately after they start. If a child is found to have gaps in his or her learning, the student's programme is tailored to give extra support. Occasionally a student will be required to obtain additional external support if there are gaps that the school cannot accommodate. Because all lessons are different by ability, we are able to easily accommodate varieties in ability and knowledge. The school's curriculum encourages exploration of student background as a starting point for many lessons so diversity is definitely an advantage.

Does the school have a bus service?

Yes we offer bus service through our accredited provider - Iskulbus, atbp. Please contact them directly at (02) 925-8885 for details and to sign-up.

Is there a dress code or uniform requirement?

Yes, we have a school uniform for all students. School uniforms eliminate distractions from the classroom so the focus can be on learning. From time to time, depending on events or activities, casual wear is allowed. Full details can be found in Parent Resources.

What year groups or grades do you offer?

Though our offerings may sometimes vary by center location, Greatstart International School Manila offers:

  • Toddler program for Ages 18 to 24 moths
  • Age 2 Program
  • Age 3-5: Nursery to Pre-K
  • Kindergarten Program
  • Before School Preparation and After-School Enrichment Program
  • Summer Camp for Ages 3 to 12

What does the academic year look like?

We follow the American academic school year period (August-May). We also offer a 2-week Summer Camp in May and a Headstart Preparatory Camp in June and July.

What is the deadline for enrollment applications

Greatstart Early Learning has an open enrollment policy and accepts applications throughout the academic year as long as space is available. Families have the option to be added to a waitlist. We will notify the family immediately once there is an availability so that they can plan on a start date. We do encourage everyone to register early even though their actual start dates maybe months away so they can guarantee a spot. Spaces run out fairly quickly.

What facilities do you have?

All our centers provide a spacious environment with an abundance of natural light. Our generously-sized classrooms are complemented with the latest in learning resources and technology, including computers, tablets, and SMART boards (where available). There are large outdoor gymnasiums, and indoor recreation areas to give our children exciting opportunities for exercise and play no matter what the weather conditions are outside.

Do you admit children with special educational needs?

Greatstart International School Manila is an inclusive school and decisions about the admission of children with special educational needs are taken by Center Directors in the light of this policy. Such decisions are based on the extent to which the school is able to meet the student’s needs. Individual assessments are required for these students and often the school will request a recent Educational Psychologist’s report to ensure that the school can cater for the student. Some students are admitted on the condition that they receive full time support from a Learning Support Assistant.

What level of involvement is expected from parents?

At Greatstart Early Learning, we consider ourselves very fortunate to have mothers, fathers and caregivers with a vast array of experiences and perspectives that enrich the school. During enrollment, we set expectations with parents that part of the success in the education of their child is a true partnership between us and them. This entails continuing both academic and social lessons we've imparted after they leave the school everyday. It not only reinforces the value of those lessons but it also provides a healthy learning habit to the child that they will carry througout life. Parents are also encouraged to contribute volunteer hours in a way that is appropriate to their time constraints and skill set. This is consistent with the belief that the children benefit most from a school community in which families are involved in the life of the school.

How can parents get involved in Greatstart Early Learning?

We value the contributions of parents in our school community. Committed to working closely with you to provide high quality education for our students, we welcome you regularly into the school to discuss progress. Talk to us about ideas you may have to further improve the quality of our programs, or provide support to new families through our Welcome New Parents Group. There may also be opportunities for you to volunteer in the classrooms. This can be arranged by consulting with your child's classroom teacher.

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