Established in 1960, we are a play-based, nature-focused cooperative preschool and part-time kindergarten. Our grounds feature an outdoor Forest Classroom and half-acre Certified Nature Explore playground. At Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery School & Kindergarten, teachers and parents work together to create a loving and accepting environment where children can grow and thrive in all aspects of development.
Address: 7171 N. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN 46240
Q&A with Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery School & Kindergarten (MHCNS&K):
What makes MHCNS&K unique?
As a cooperative school, we offer an opportunity for caregivers to take an active role in their child’s education right alongside our amazing staff. You will never wonder how your child spent their day because you will be right there experiencing it with them on the days you are scheduled to participate in the classroom. We also emphasize a parent education component that offers an experience unlike other schools. New families attend a training provided by the Indiana Council of Preschool Cooperatives that covers topics such as child development and classroom management skills. Additionally, our parents or caregivers attend twice yearly class meetings with emphasis on child development. Much teacher-parent and parent-parent mentoring also happens on a daily basis. You will never regret the time you get to spend with your child and connecting with other families at MHCNS&K!
What is MHCNS&K’s educational philosophy?
At MHCNS&K, we believe in learning through play, and we believe that learning best happens when teachers, caregivers, and children are partners. Our school is dedicated to creating an environment where children can grow according to their individual timetables, where each child is encouraged to learn through thoughtful interaction with materials and with each other, and where children build and construct knowledge as a result of this interaction. We encourage children to explore, question and test hypotheses. We also believe that learning happens outside of four walls and take advantage of outdoor play and learning daily and in nearly all weather.
Our Kinderbird program follows the Indiana state standards and utilizes an emergent approach to curriculum. This means that the projects and topics of in-depth study are not determined ahead of time, but rather are based upon children’s interests and curiosities. Projects are child-initiated, with the teacher and participating adults acting as guides and sources of information. All projects have some kind of cumulative final presentation that is determined and created by the students.
What is your school’s age/grade range?
MHCNS&K offers programming for children beginning at age 2 through kindergarten.
What is your enrollment policy? Are there any key dates parents should be aware of?
Early enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year runs from Sunday, January 10, through Friday, January 22, and is open to anyone with a paid application on file. Open enrollment for any remaining seats begins February 1. Our classes tend to fill very quickly, so we recommend that you submit an application and non-refundable $25 application fee as early as possible. Your application will remain on file until your child has aged out of our program, so it is never too soon to apply!
We will be offering tours the week of January 11, so please contact our Membership Chairs at [email protected] to schedule a time to see our space!
What are the standard school day hours? Does your school offer flexible day/hour options? Is before/after school care available?
We follow a traditional school schedule and are closed for the summer. Our school year begins following Labor Day and ends prior to Memorial Day.
- Finches (age 2 by September 1) – Mondays and/or Fridays, 9 am to 11:30 am
- Chickadees (age 3 by September 1) – Tuesdays, 9 am to 12:30 pm and Thursdays, 9 am to 11:30 am
- Robins (age 4 by September 1) – Mondays and Fridays, 9 am to 11:30 am and Wednesdays 9 am to 1 pm
- Kinderbirds (age 5 by September 1) – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 9 am to 2 pm
How many children are in each class? How are children divided up?
- Finches (2s) – 10 children
- Chickadees (3s) – 16 children
- Robins (4s) – 18 children
- Kinderbirds (5s) – 14 children
What is the teacher/child ratio?
- Finches (2s) – 10 children per day with 2 participating adults and 1 teacher
- Chickadees (3s) – 16 children per day with 3 participating adults and 1 teacher
- Robins (4s) – 18 children per day with 3 participating adults and 1 teacher
- Kinderbirds (5s) – 14 children per day with 1-2 participating adults and 1 teacher
What are the teacher’s credentials?
Besides having extensive experience as co-op parents themselves, our teachers are highly educated in Early Childhood Education with a variety of experiences in the areas of Child Development and Special Needs. You can read more about our amazing teachers HERE.
Is parental participation required?
A parent or the designated adult participant (grandparent, nanny, etc.) will assist in the classroom 1-3 times per month on average. Each family fulfills a job that contributes to school operations, and all are invited and welcome to attend monthly Board Meetings to help with the running of the school. Additionally, each family is responsible for attending 3 indoor or outdoor workdays and 2 Parent Education events. While co-op duties extend beyond what you may find at other preschools, each brings benefit to our school community and to your family. We find that most families—those with a stay-at-home parent, parents who work part-time, or even families with two working parents–are able to make co-op work if they have a little bit of flexibility in their schedules.
How do teachers communicate with parents? How often do parents receive updates?
Caregivers and teachers have the opportunity to interact each school day at MHCNS&K, whether at drop off, pick up, or throughout the day as caregivers participate in the classroom alongside the teacher. Our teachers also offer conferences to allow caregivers an opportunity to discuss their child’s development and ask questions in a private setting. The strong community feel that develops between our teachers and caregivers lends itself to open communication on a regular basis.
Does your school offer support for students with special needs?
Children with special needs are welcome at Meridian Hills. Please begin with an e-mail to [email protected] so we can connect you with the appropriate classroom teacher to discuss how we can best meet your child’s needs.
How much time do the children spend outside?
Outdoor play is a hallmark of the co-op philosophy, and at MHCNS&K, we are very proud of our half-acre, shaded playground that is a certified Nature Explore Classroom. This means that anything that we do inside our classrooms can also be (and often is!) done in our outdoor space. Daily playground time occurs unless the temperature or wind chill drops below 0 degrees. Additionally, our Kinderbirds spend a full afternoon each week in our Forest Classroom adjacent to the playground and a full day each month learning and exploring outside at Holliday Park. Our 2s, 3s, and 4s classes end their days on the playground, making for an easier pick up, and our families often stay to play and socialize long after the school day has ended.
Are meals and/or snacks provided?
On days that children do not stay for lunch, MHCNS&K does provide a small snack. We believe that snack time is a great opportunity for our students to practice social skills such as turn taking, engaging in conversation, and the development of good manners. The teacher and participating adults sit alongside the children and model these skills. We are able to accommodate any allergies your child might have.
Does my child need to be potty-trained?
No. Our teachers are happy to work with you according to how you are approaching potty training at home.
What enrichment programs/activities are offered?
All of our classes enjoy music enrichment weekly or bi-monthly. Our Kinderbirds class receives Spanish instruction each week. Our Kinderbirds also have Forest Kindergarten once weekly, either in our on-site Forest Classroom or, once a month, at Holliday Park.
What are your school’s safety policies? What extra safety measures is your school taking during the COVID-19 pandemic?
MHCNS&K has long-established procedures and policies to ensure safety including emergency procedures, pick-up and drop-off procedures, and a variety of health-related policies. In accordance with the Indiana Council of Preschool Cooperatives, our teachers receive training in CPR, childhood first aid, and child abuse recognition and reporting. Our teachers as well as any adults who will be participating in the classroom more than three times during the school year are required to submit a background check.
For 2020-2021, we established additional protocols specific to COVID-19 that our staff and Board of Directors regularly revisit with the goal of adhering to best practices suggested by the health department. This has included shifting our class meetings to nearly 100% outdoors and requiring masks for adults at all times or for children when inside.