The HP Difference

Hanna Perkins Toddler ProgramsDuring preschool years, children move from the family nest to a new world of learning, friends and teachers. This is an exciting time, but it can also stir anxieties and questions for children and families.

A positive first-time experience with school will set the stage for future learning and the ability to make friends. With a team-based approach involving the parent, teacher and a Family Helper, Hanna Perkins gently guides the child through this transition.

Our approach – unique in the way it views the parent as partner in the learning experience – integrates best practices in early childhood education with an internationally-recognized relationship-based model that has been researched, developed, practiced and fine-tuned over 60 years.

The Hanna Perkins Difference is manifest in two areas:

  1. Our educational model
  2. The parent partnership
Our educational model

We provide an individualized curriculum that meets the needs of the specific children in the group. There is a strong emphasis on self care, increasingly independent functioning, and the internalization of controls.

  • Language and writing skills are built into all aspects of the curriculum, frequently using teacher- and children-made books.
  • Numbers and math are taught using concrete materials, allowing the children to discover math concepts as they explore the wide variety of manipulatives provided.
  • Social studies, science and art are taught using an emergent-curriculum approach.
  • We help children put their feelings into words, use their own good thinking, and make choices based on what will make them feel good about themselves.

 Highlights of the Hanna Perkins model:

  • Small classes with a 6:1 student-teacher ratio, providing ample time for teachers to work with and understand children individually.
  • Teachers with extensive training based on emergent practices, ongoing research and a 60-year record of success.
  • Use of childhood development specialists as part of the educational team – providing more resources dedicated to each child.
  • Respect for each child as an individual with unique strengths and weaknesses, and a curriculum tailored to his or her specific needs.
  • Academic focus on language, reading, math and science skills through hands-on exploration of creative material.
  • Recognition of parents as the cornerstone of a child’s well-being.
  • Regular meetings with parent(s) to provide consistency from home to school.
  • Encouragement for each child to explore and master a variety of skill sets, while making limits and boundaries explicit so children develop their own inner controls.
  • Practices that empower children to resolve differences with others in cooperative and constructive ways.


In their early years, children form a sense of who they are and what they can do. A child who has developed secure, trusting relationships during these formative years is more likely to have the confidence to be inquisitive, explore and learn. Relationship-based interactions are also opportunities to support the ability of children to perceive, understand and use their emotions and emotional knowledge to enhance thinking.

Preschool children who have positive relationships with teachers tend to know more letters, have higher math scores, and demonstrate advanced language and literacy skills.

–Center for Social and Emotional Education; Hower and Tirchie, 2002; Gallagher and Mayer, 2008

The parent partnership

Parents know more than anyone else about their own child, and are respected at Hanna Perkins as the child’s first and most influential teachers, advocates and supporters. Parents are integrated into their child’s school life through regular meetings with a child development specialist. That means more resources and expertise are focused on each child’s success.

Our Family Helpers are child development specialists with advanced degrees, extensive training, and many years of experience – placing them in a separate category from parent-coaching practices that have begun to sprout at other schools and pediatric clinics. Our specialists meet with parents on a regular basis as part of the Hanna Perkins curriculum, and make routine visits to the classroom to observe progress and facilitate communication.

Family Helpers serve to connect parents with the child’s school life and – for those who request it – provide a learned ear and helping hand on day-to-day parenting issues. They can help parents to understand a child’s behavior by placing it in the appropriate developmental context. In this way, parents are able to gain a deeper understanding of a child’s motivations and behavior, and are empowered to help the child in effectively dealing with their daily challenges. Regular meetings with the Family Helper also allow parents with busy working schedules to find time to focus and reflect on their child’s progress.

All of this can help parents be more confident in the decisions they make – about school and every other aspect of their child’s life. In today’s world, many parents find that having someone to talk with about their child’s triumphs and struggles is a valuable resource. This holistic, family-based approach is one of the important factors that distinguishes us from other preschool programs, and allows classroom learning to have a true, long-lasting impact.

The best way to experience our programs is by visiting. To schedule a tour, please click here to contact our Educational Director.

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