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  • Start Your Child's School Journey

    For Ages 3 and Up
Rabun Gap's Early Learning Program is designed to prepare young learners for kindergarten and beyond. Early Learners start with a half-day program at age 3, with full-day classes for ages 4 and up.
Our Early Learning Program is unlike any preschool or prekindergarten program in the region. Through our innovative, child-focused approach, we incorporate Reggio-inspired choice-based learning, social-emotional wellbeing, and school readiness. Our Early Learning Center is housed in its own dedicated Early Learning Center at the Evelyne Sheats Lower School.

Early Learners are a part of the Evelyne Sheats Lower School and have access to many opportunities beyond the classroom including a full slate of Encore classes with PE, art, and foreign language exposure; spiritual development through our chapel program;  access to our 1,400-acre campus; and cross-curricular and cross-divisional learning opportunities.

Early Learning FAQs

List of 9 frequently asked questions.

  • What ages are included in the Early Learning Program?

    Early Learning begins at age 3 for our half-day program. Starting at age 4, students can participate in the full-day program. Pre-Kindergarten students range from age 4-6. Students will advance to kindergarten based on an assessment of their school readiness.
  • What is a typical day like for early learners?

    Students in the Early Learning Program arrive at school between 7:30 and 8:45 AM, and have classes in a separate Early Learning space at the Lower School. 

    Most days there are two big play-based learning blocks where children are seeing, thinking, and wondering what is set before them to explore. Much of the play-based learning happens outside on our 1,400 acre campus. Using the natural world to explore, learn, and build understanding allows children to broaden their viewpoints and background knowledge. They learn to be productive, take initiative, take leadership roles, and listen to others ideas and opinions. Often, the teacher sets up experiences for children to explore and they make their thinking visible through plans, documentation, observational drawings, notes, data collection, and so much more. Some areas for them to explore are often building, engineering, art, clay, science, creation station, library, dramatic play and math/literacy experiences. This is also the time when most of our small group inquiry investigations and projects happen. 

    Intentional literacy and math station work is set up by the teacher and often guided by the teacher in a one-on-one or small group setting. Because all of the instruction is geared toward each child’s needs and goals, the literacy and math instruction is differentiated for each child. The teacher knows each child’s needs, and is able to plan lessons based on those needs to help each child grow.

    Early Learning Program students also have a dedicated time during the six-day rotation for Encore classes, which include PE, art, library, music, and exposure to world languages. There is weekly spiritual development led by our school chaplain. 

    Early learners spent lots of time outdoors and have many opportunities for play and discovery. Our students enjoy multiple recess times on our beautiful Lower School playground. Students also have a rest time at the end of the day.
  • What type of teaching and learning happens in the classroom?

    The Early Learning Program features a Reggio-inspired teaching philosophy with a focus on developing the whole child. This inquiry-based approach focuses on inviting young children to discover and explore their world by asking questions and making their own choices. There is structured learning taking place throughout the school day. We focus on preparing students for success -  academically, socially, and emotionally - as they start their academic journey.

    Most of the educational experiences within the Early Learning Program take the form of projects, where children have opportunities to actively participate, explore, and question things. There is also a very strong emphasis on the social development of children as part of the community and their relationships with other children, their families, and teachers.

    The Early Learning Program starts from the premise that children use many different ways to express their creativity, understanding, and thoughts. These different ways of thinking, exploring, and learning are often expressed through drawing, sculpting, music, dance and movement, painting, and drama.
  • What other opportunities are available as a part of the Early Learning Program? 

    Early Learners will participate in all aspects of the Lower School community. Students will have weekly Encore classes in PE, art, and foreign language exposure. They will build spiritual development in our chapel program and have access to our 1,400-acre campus for outdoor exploration and discovery. Early Learners also have the option to participate in our separate The Studio at Rabun Gap program, which offers dance classes, music lessons and classes, and many other opportunities in the arts. 
  • How do I apply for the Early Learning Program?

    You may apply for the Early Learning Program through The Gap, our online portal. Once you have submitted the online application and it is processed by the Admission Office, you will find a checklist to complete in The Gap. Basic steps include:
    • Complete online application
    • Submit any daycare/PreK program progress reports, if applicable
    • Submit one teacher/coach recommendation, if applicable
    • Schedule a campus visit and parent interview
    • Schedule an on-campus student evaluation
  • What can I do to get my child ready for the Early Learning Program?

    • Potty train to have child completely independent in toileting
    • Expose your child to a variety of social experiences where they interact with children and adults outside of your family without you present. 
    • Help establish a nap routine for your child.
    • Have your child follow a schedule, transition from activity to activity, and attend to the task asked of them.
    • Teach letter and number identification to your child.
    • Introduce scissors and correct grip.
    • Correct your child’s pencil grasp to a tripod grasp. 
    • Have your child recognize their own name and begin to write their name in proper title case.
    • Have your child produce rhyming words, patterns, and illustrations. 
  • What if I am not certain if I should apply for the Early Learning Program or kindergarten?

    Please feel free to reach out to the Admission Office to discuss your child’s readiness. We are happy to guide you!
    Some of the guidelines for kindergarten readiness are:
    • At least 5 years old
    • Potty trained
    • Familiar with and can follow school routines
    • Has been in a full-day program previously
    • Understands concepts of print
    • Able to recognize colors, shapes, and numbers 0-20
    • Can hold a pencil correctly
    • Transitions easily between tasks and settings without prompting
    • Sustained attention to tasks
    • Can recognize letters and letter sounds
    • Can write all lower and uppercase letters and numbers 0-20
    • Can recognize and write their own name with proper title case
    • Reading CVC words
    • Engages in imaginative play
  • Do students wear uniforms?

    Early Learning Program students will wear Rabun Gap uniforms. We have both classroom and Thursday formal uniforms. Parents can purchase uniforms from our partner Lands End.
  • Is bus transportation available?

    We run bus service mornings and afternoons to Clayton, Clarkesville, Highlands, and Franklin for ages 4 and up only.  Parents of 3-year-olds will need to drive their children to and from school.
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School is a private, coeducational day and boarding school for grades Pre-K through 12. Centrally located between Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, and Asheville, NC, we prepare young people for college, career, and a lifetime of leadership and service.