About Us!


The early childhood years from birth to the start of kindergarten are an important time of rapid growth. Early Childhood Education services offered by Harrisonburg Public Schools provide a variety of helpful service options for parents and their children that support children’s learning and development for school readiness. 

Virginia’s Definition (PDF)of school readiness describes the capabilities of children, families, schools and communities that promote student success in kindergarten and beyond. Each component – children, families, schools and communities – plays an essential role in developing school readiness.
  • Ready Children are prepared socially, personally, physically and intellectually to meet literacy, mathematics, science, history/social science and developmental standards for four-year-olds described in Virginia's Foundation Blocks for Early Learning (PDF).
  • Ready Families include parents and other adults who take responsibility for school readiness through direct, frequent and positive involvement with their children and by maintaining stable relationships and environments that promote healthy development and learning.
  • Ready Schools provide a seamless transition to a learning environment led by skilled teachers and welcome all children with opportunities to enhance and build their skills, knowledge and abilities.
  • Ready Communities – including businesses, faith-based organizations, early childhood service providers, community groups and local governments – support schools and families through information and access to high-quality child care and other early learning opportunities and services.

Harrisonburg City Schools voluntarily participates in Virginia Quality. We are committed to high quality early childhood education for young children.

Who is Eligible?

Children must live in the Harrisonburg City School District to apply for preschool services provided by Harrisonburg City Schools. Children are accepted into the preschool classrooms based on their age, income, and/or need. Children with or without disabilities can participate in these classrooms. Additionally children can receive preschool special education services in community settings and in their homes.     

Age: Children without disabilities must be 3 or 4 years old by September 30th of the enrollment year (4 year olds are given first priority). Children with disabilites can receive services at age 2. Placement of children with disabilites will be made based on the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Income: Families who qualify for free lunch are given first priority. Families who qualify for reduced lunch are given second priority. Families who do not qualifiy for free or reduced meals can still qualify based on other needs.

Other Needs: All family factors that indicate need are considered.  Those family factors can include but are not limited to:  child or family disability, parent employment status, parent marital status, child or family health status, child custody status, public assistance status, parent education level, family housing status, lack of availability or access to private preschool within the community, child or family language barriers, homelessness, nutritional needs, family crisis, and/or other factors that indicate child need.

Service Options:

Option 1.  (For children with or without disabilites) Full day school-based preschool classrooms with or without special education support. There is no cost for these services. Funding is provided by Virginia Preschool Initiative, Head Start, and Early Childhood Special Education. Special Education Services would be provided based on the IEP if the child is determined to be eligible to receive those services. All children are considered for this option. This option is primarily for at-risk 4 year old children. Curriculum and instruction are designed to meet the Virginia Foundation Blocks for Early Learning state standards for 4 year old children.

Option 2. (For children with and without disabilities) Full day community-based preschool classrooms. Scholarships can be provided to 4 year old children who qualify for at-risk preschool services. 3 Private centers in the community currently are participating in this option. Funding is provided by Virginia Preschool Initiative. All chilren are considered for this option. Curriculum and instruction are designed to meet the Virginia Foundation Blocks for Early Learning state standards for 4 year old children.

Option 3.  (For children with disabilites) Full or partial day community based preschool classrooms with special education support. The parent may elect to enroll their child in a private child care program within the city limits at their own cost. Special Education Services will be provided by Harrisonburg City Schools based on the IEP. If the private program is located outside of the city limits, then the school division of that center would provide the special education services.  This option is for any child 2 to 5 years old.

Option 3. (For children with disabilites) School-Based or Home-Based Indiviual Service Delivery. Children may receive special education services independently in their natural environment (either at their homes or at another designated location within the community or at the school). The Special Education Services provided will be determined by the IEP.  This option is typically for children who are 2 or 3 years old who are not yet in school.

Special Education Services may include Speech, Development, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Vision, Hearing, or other services as determined by the IEP.

If you suspect that your child may have a disability or delay in their development, Harrisonburg City Schools can provide a screening or evaluation to determine if they may qualify for special education services. Please contact the Welcome Center at 540-433-3644 to complete the request for this preschool service.

How to Apply:

To apply for Early Childhood Education services for your child, please call the Harrisonburg City Schools Welcome Center at 540-433-3644 to schedule an appointment to complete an application. 

The Welcome Center is located at Keister Elementary School, 100 Maryland Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.  Interpreters will be provided, if needed, to assist you in the application process.

You will need to bring the following:

  • Medical Insurance Card
  • State Issued Birth Certificate
  • Proof of Residency (a utility bill, lease, or mortgage statement is accepted as proof of residence)
  • Proof of Gross Family Income (can be: check stubs, tax return, letter from employer, letter from Social Services, or Social Security award letter, or other)

Will my child be accepted?

Space in the preschool classrooms is limited. Not all children that apply will be accepted. When your child’s application is complete, they are placed on a waiting list. The application must be updated each school year and any time a change in residency/family status. Children will remain on the waiting list until they are accepted into a classroom or become kindergarten eligible.


You will receive a phone call and/or letter if you are accepted. Please make sure that if your address or phone number changes after you apply that you let the welcome center know.  

You will need to provide the following before your child can begin school.

Physical Examination & Up-to-date Immunizations

Dental Examination


Preschool classrooms operate from approximately 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, 5 days per week following the Harrisonburg City Schools calandar. (times may vary slightly from school to school based on busing schedules)  Preschool students do not attend school 4 additional days per year. This allows teachers to do home visits/parent conferences and other types of direct service to children/families.

Harrisonburg City Schools provides a high quality educational environment and a comprehensive research based curriculum that is aligned with the Virginia Foundation Blocks for Early Learning to ensure that children are meeting the state standards.

Harrisonburg City Public Schools has selected FROG STREET PreK as our primary curriculum. This curriculum is organized into 9 themes. Those 9 themes are:

1.) My School and Me

2.) My Family and Friends

3.) Giants

4.) Choices

5.) Stories & Rhymes

6.) I Build! I Create!

7.) Things that Move

8.) Animals

9.) Changes

Literacy, mathematics, science, history and social science, physical and motor development and personal and social development, visual arts & music are integrated within each theme ensuring comprehensive instruction in all areas of development.

In addition, we used Handwriting Without Tears and Get Set for School materials and strategies throughout each theme.

Message Time Plus, a modeled writing and shared reading instructional program, is integrated with FrogStreet to promote phonemic awareness, phonics vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension in a meaningful context. 

Strategies from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning are integrated within the classroom to support healthy social emotional development for every child.

Children are assessed 4 times per year (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer) using curriculum objectives. Four year olds are also assessed using the PALS PreK.

Children are offered transportation to and from school on a public school bus if they live in the school district where they are enrolled.

Preschool children are provided a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack while they are at school.


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