How many spots are there in preschool? How competitive is it?
The number of spots varies from year to year depending on the number of siblings we have applying. CAIS offers priority to CAIS families. As a general rule, it is more competitive at the 3 year old level. We do recommend families that are not offered placement for preschool 3 to reapply the following year to preschool 4 where it is likely to be much less competitive. There is an additional opportunity at Kindergarten. We now have an additional K class making that 4 classes with a maximum of 18 per class. This year there are 15 students per class with 2 teachers in each English and Chinese class.
What are you looking for?
This is an extremely difficult question to answer. The Admissions Committee—comprising the Head of School, Division Director and the Admissions team—has to make some very difficult decisions on who to invite to join CAIS. This decision is multi-faceted. In general terms we are looking to build a diverse class in all of its meanings; we are looking for a range of learners; we are looking to balance boy/girl ratio; we are looking to balance numbers for preschool 4 and preschool 3; we are looking at the child’s readiness for our program and we are looking at family fit. What does “fit” mean? It means a family fully understands and is committed to our vision and will partner with us on their child’s journey.
Does my child need to be potty trained?
Yes. Childcare centers have strict licensing standards for changing and disposing of soiled diapers, and our preschool classrooms are not equipped for diaper changing.
How do you deal with behavioral incidents?
In the ECD we use the principles of Positive Discipline to inform our approach to behavior guidance. Positive Discipline focuses on long-term solutions by helping children become responsible, respectful, and contributing members of their communities. When a behavior incident arises, teachers have a wide repertoire of strategies they use depending on the child and the situation. Instead of punishment, teachers seek to understand the need or belief behind the behavior and then choose the most appropriate intervention.
What are volunteer opportunities?
There are many volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Parents can volunteer to help out with events such as woodworking, Thanksgiving pie making, Water Play Day, the Halloween pumpkin hunt, Messy Art Day, and many more!
My child already speaks Chinese at home; will they be challenged?
All children come into our program with different strengths and areas of growth. Our teachers are skilled at getting to know each child and determining where their learning edge is. For children who already speak Chinese, they may find more challenge in the English class or using Chinese in social interactions with their peers. All children, regardless of their language background, have opportunities to grow and develop in our preschool program.
Why do you have mixed age classes?
Mixed age classrooms are an important component of our preschool program. The older students help the younger students acclimate to the classroom, and, in the Chinese classroom, serve as language role models. The older students benefit from this relationship by developing leadership skills, confidence, and maturity.
If my child spends 2 years in preschool will they be bored if the material is the same?
Not at all! Our curriculum follows students’ interests and questions and changes every year. When there is content that is repeated, such as social and emotional learning concepts, students are able to go deeper in the second year because they are developmentally in a very different place.
My child speaks a third language at home. Will this be a problem?
Twenty-two percent of CAIS students speak a third language at home. These students do as well, if not better, than their monolingual or bilingual peers.
My child is 3 on September 1st? Will they still spend 2 years in preschool?
There is a strict adherence to the cut-off date. However whether your child spends two years or one year in preschool will depend on their growth in their first year. Close attention is paid as to who is ready for Kindergarten and a recommendation may be made for your child to move up to K without spending a 2nd year. However this is based completely on the teachers’ assessment of your child’s readiness for K.
I have twins. Does that mean I have less of a chance of getting in?
No, we have a number of twins who have been enrolled each year and the same factors apply whether you have one child or two.
What is the admission process?
Tour, apply, provide supporting documents for your application, meet with Admission Director Linda Vann-Adibe, and enjoy a school visit with your child. See more on our Admission Process page.
What Parents Say
“While we are only through our first couple of months at CAIS, we are already seeing the benefits of immersion education. The incredible ECD staff has helped our daughter settle in to her new environment with ease. Ellie looks forward to school each day and comes home excited to share what she has learned. We as parents have also had the opportunity to participate in school activities and meet the other families. It’s been a welcoming community that we are happy to be a part of.”
—Billy and Charlie, Parents, Preschool 3
“I have felt an open arms experience to the CAIS community, school, and staff - I’m fortunate to be part of this school! Pre-K has some of the most loving, caring, and creative teachers & leaders and the curriculum has given my child all the tools to be ready for K and beyond.”
—Cathy and Brian, parents, Kindergarten
“We have been extremely happy with our experience at CAIS ECD. The teachers and staff are caring, dedicated, and professional. They work very well as a team and coordinate closely with one another and with parents on each child’s social and academic development. When one of our sons experienced some challenges, the entire team immediately came together to work with our family to help him, and then regularly met with us over a period of months to ensure his continued progress. The school itself is very well run, and it is clear that a lot of thought has gone into how to best create an effective bilingual learning environment. We couldn’t be more pleased with the school, and we are thrilled that our children will continue at CAIS over the next decade.”
—Ellen and Joe, parents, Kindergarten and Preschool 3
“To put it lightly, choosing and applying for schools for my son was an emotional rollercoaster. There are so many great options available in the city and we toured many of them which honestly was an overwhelming experience. However, of all the tours we attended, I felt the admissions events at CAIS were by far the most purposeful and informative. It provided me with best insight into the mission statement, the curriculum, the culture, and the community. After having multiple opportunities to speak with current staff, faculty and parents we were confident that the CAIS community was the best fit for our family. For us, with two young children, we knew the school we chose would be intertwined with our family for the long term . So, of course, when we were waitlisted twice at CAIS it was utterly heartbreaking for us. However, we stayed positive, maintained persistence, and kept the faith that we made the best decision choosing CAIS for our family. A few days later, when we received word that an opening became available, we were overjoyed and immediately accepted. Our son has been in Pre-k now since August and absolutely loves it. He even told me during his first week at school to “come back later” to pick him up as he wasn’t done playing yet. As parents, we love the many opportunities for parent involvement in the classroom and in the CAIS community. We have no doubts that joining CAIS has enriched our family and has been the best decision for us.”
—Denelle and Aaron, parents, Preschool 4
“As we went through the application process, we got closer to joining the community that we always wanted. The process was thorough and seamless and we got to know the teachers, faculty, and parents. We were excited about not only the curriculum, but also the culture and diversity that we wanted for our son. The school’s core values matched very closely to our own. This was unique to CAIS and therefore the only school we applied to. This is why we are so honored and happy to be part of the CAIS family for life!! “
—Jason and Yardley, parents, Preschool 3
“The CAIS team is very thorough in helping prospective parents to experience a typical day through the eyes of a toddler entering Pre-K, a second grader learning in small groups or a teenager experiencing an international camp in China. They incorporate perspectives from the entire community -students, teachers, administrators and parents—all of whom are vital elements of the CAIS community that supports and nurtures each child.”
—Andrew and Chanda, parents, Pre-K 3
We weren’t sure how our just barely 3 year-old would transition to CAIS, but so far she seems to be thriving in her new environment. She is always excited to go to school and in high spirits when we pick her up. We can tell she is really enjoying her days at school. At home she is constantly singing the new songs she’s learned in her Chinese class and talking about the children and teachers. CAIS makes it so easy for new families to assimilate and feel welcome and supported. With frequent play dates, parent meet-ups, FSA meetings, school events to attend, and a buddy family to reach out to, you quickly begin to feel a part of a community. The opportunity to join a community like this was one of the reasons we wanted to come to CAIS.
—Rachel, parent, Preschool 3