What possibilities might unfold when children and adults learn together?  Opal Beginning School of the Portland Children’s Museum is dedicated to exploring conditions where creativity, curiosity, and the wonder of learning thrive.

Opal Beginning School Values

"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

We are inspired by the early childhood schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy and constructivist practices in the United States and beyond; built on inquiry-based learning strategies; and influenced by 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.

Opal Beginning School Learning Structures

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, or art studio.

Studio & Project Work allows children to work with paint and natural materials, like clay or wood, 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 children as they build their understanding of mathematical problem solving and reading.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 application 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 enrollment 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).

2015-16 School Year Enrollment

UPDATE: The classes of Opal Beginning School are fully enrolled for 2015-16. At this time, we are accepting applications for the wait pool. Thank you for your interest in our program.

Open enrollment begins on February 1, 2015. Applications will be available at the Museum’s box office or click here to download.

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 2015-16.

If your child does not meet the age requirement for the 2015-16 school year, please do not apply at this time.

The annual tuition of $8,500 (including the deposit) is divided into 10 monthly payments of $850 as a convenience to our families. Tuition is due by the fifth day of each month for the following month. The first payment is due by September 5.

In order to secure your child’s placement, a non-refundable deposit of $1,700 (first and last tuition payments) is due 10 days after placement is offered.

Opal Beginning School has two classrooms, Cedar and Alder, which operate from September to June. New for the 2015-16 school year, the school day starts at 8:30am and ends at 1:30pm, Monday through Friday, for both classrooms. The school calendar is distributed with the family handbook in early August. In general, we follow the Portland Public Schools calendar.

Opal Beginning School is for ages 3-5. Children must be 3 years old by June 1, 2015, to be eligible for enrollment.

The Cedar community has 17 children and 2 teachers, the Alder community has 20 children and 2 teachers.

Our licensed After Care program is offered every day until 5:00pm. Enrollment is limited to 10 children. Registration forms will be available in early August. Rates yet to be updated for 2015-16.

2014-15 Aftercare Rates:

*9 monthly payments
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.