Opal Beginning School

Preschool (Ages 3-5) and Early Kindergarten (Ages 4–6)



Opal Beginning School is no longer accepting applications for the 2014-15 school year.



How can I find out more about the school?

Our mission and values are on this website and we’ve added a slideshow of images from our classrooms.  Unfortunately, due to the amount of interest in our school, we are not able to offer individual tours to families.

How do you make enrollment decisions?
Priority is given to returning children and their siblings.  We base our enrollment decisions on balancing classrooms for gender, age and diversity.  It is not determined by the order in which we receive the applications.

When will I find out if my child’s application is accepted?
Families receive notification via email of their child’s placement or wait list status within 30 days of the School Office receiving the application and fee.

What happens after my child is offered a spot?
If your child is offered placement, you will receive an enrollment packet via email.  Your child’s enrollment is not finalized until we receive the forms and the non-refundable security deposit within 10 days.

Are the fees refundable?
There are no refunds and no exceptions.

Do you offer scholarships?
Unfortunately, there is no scholarship funding available at this time.

Will my child be included in any form of research or documentation?
Inherent in Opal School’s pedagogy is a deep commitment to research and dissemination.  This may include photographing, videotaping or using other tools to document your child’s learning.  From time to time, a family may not feel comfortable with this practice. If this is the case for you, we respect your decision, and Opal School is not the right learning environment for your child.

Will I be expected to contribute additional funds or volunteer at the school?
Like all other schools, tuition covers a portion of the operating costs and there will be invitations to contribute to fundraising events or volunteer in the classroom.

Will my child automatically move from the preschool program to the elementary program?
Enrollment in Opal Beginning School (private early childhood program) does not lead to enrollment in Opal Charter School (public charter elementary program).


The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking … and a hundred, hundred more…

– Loris Malaguzzi,Early Childhood Schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy



Portland Children’s Museum is home to Opal Beginning School and Opal Charter School.  Opal Beginning School, a learning community for children ages 3-5, is a tuition-based program.  Opal Charter School, serving children in grades K-5, is a Portland Public School.

We are inspired by the early childhood schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy; built on inquiry-based learning strategies; and influenced by a strong image of children as intelligent, creative and resourceful.


  • We hold a powerful image of all children as intelligent, creative and resourceful with gifts and abilities that the world needs
  • We value differences and respect all families as collaborators who contribute distinctive experiences and wisdom
  • We create learning communities of children, families and staff who organize their work by listening to each other
  • We present the arts as languages to inspire creativity, imagination and communication
  • We pay attention to the learning strategies children use to make sense of the world
  • We are inspired by the Early Childhood Schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy and constructivist practices in the United States and beyond


  • Explore Time is for children to playfully investigate environments that are carefully prepared to engage them in thinking about a particular question, problem or medium. Examples include the use of the light table, construction area, art studio and more
  • Studio & Project Work is designed for children to work with materials such as clay, paint and natural materials to study a topic of interest and participate in long-term projects with classmates
  • Story Workshop is an opportunity for children to strengthen their language and literacy development by playing with a variety of objects and materials to tell stories from their real or imaginary lives. They develop competence with the story form and communicate their stories using a wide variety of media
  • Outdoor Time happens every day! Children spend time on the playground or nearby arboretum. They make connections with the natural world, including weather, the seasons and the plants or animals living in Washington Park
  • Math & Reading Workshop supports the emerging skills of our Early Kindergarteners as they build their understanding of mathematical problem solving and reading
There’s lots of ways to tell a story.  You can sing it and you can dance it and you can read it.  And the oldest way of telling a story is when someone tells a story to another.Eliza, age 5
*Tuition and fees are non-refundable; no financial support available


Dismissal time until 5pm


Early Kindergarten and Opal 1-Opal 4


Annual: $5,355

Monthly: $595*

Annual: $4,252.50Monthly: $472.50*

M, W, F

Annual: $3,213Monthly: $357* Annual: $2,677.50Monthly: $297.50*

Tu, Th

Annual: $2,142Monthly: $238* Annual: $1,575Monthly: $175*


Annual: $1,071Monthly: $119* Annual: $1,071Monthly: $119*
*9 monthly payments

Please be advised, After Care enrollment spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis; however, priority is given to families enrolling their children in the program for Monday-Friday attendance. Our enrollment capacity is limited to 10 children.Registration paperwork for the After Care program will be included in the enrollment packet that is distributed once your child is offered placement in the Opal Beginning School.

After Care Contact Information:

One of the qualities that distinguishes human beings from other living things is our ability to imagine possibilities that are not yet visible to the world. It is our imagination that allows us to hold on to a vision, see through the eyes of another, give meaning to moments of our lives, feel compassion and bring new ideas to life.
Karen Gallas


Open enrollment begins on February 1, 2014.  Applications will be available at the Museum’s box office or website. Priority is given to returning students and their siblings; it is not based on the order in which we receive the applications.

After your application is processed, you will be notified about your child’s placement within 30 days.  Once the program is full, your child will be placed on the waitlist for 2014-15.

If your child does not meet the age requirement for the 2014-15 school year, please do not apply at this time.

Please Note: Opal Beginning School and Opal Charter School share the same educational philosophy, however enrollment in Opal Beginning School does not lead to enrollment in Opal Charter School.

Children in Opal Beginning School are required to enter the lottery for enrollment in Opal Charter School.  Children must be 5 years old by September 1 to enter the lottery for Kindergarten.  Lottery applications are available each year from March 1-31.