Nursery and Kindergarten

Play, beginning to making choices, and learning about social relationships

Nursery: Half-Day Program
Kindergarten: Full-Day Program
Ages 3–5

The excitement for learning about the world, for growing and for living in a community begins in the nursery program for 3 and 4 year olds. The nursery program at Peninsula School provides a loving, trusting, and respectful environment. It is socially and physically a friendly, stimulating community in which children are supported and encouraged to make choices, resolve conflicts productively, respect their own feelings and those of others, feel loved, and be loving.


Play is one of the most important sources of learning. Through play, children develop essentials such as body image as they use their bodies for climbing, running, swinging, digging, or other activities. Play helps children learn to understand themselves and others. It also aids in the development of social skills such as making friends, dealing with conflict, recognizing and expressing feelings, working together with peers to build and create things, and experiencing the many aspects of community life.

We provide ample time and space for play. Much of the day is structured so that children make their own choices. Children choose the activities in which they will participate, whether outside or in, active or quiet, messy or clean. They choose the clothing they wear, and when, what, and how much to eat. They learn to discover and follow their own interests.

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Teachers help children resolve their conflicts in a constructive way. Children are helped to articulate their feelings and needs, to identify what they want and to ask for it. The goal is always to help children learn to work out their own problems, first with the support and guidance of a teacher, and later independently.

"I love the mud! And I also like all of the classes and teachers because they are so nice."
—Kindergartner (age 5)

Children and teachers gather daily for juice time, where a snack is offered, a story is read, and topics of general interest are discussed. The rest of the day finds children moving freely from one activity to another: dressup, drawing, painting, sorting, matching, digging, swinging, singing, climbing, cooking, or whatever else seems appealing. A group of children might use shovels and a hose to construct a waterway, a wonderful opportunity to explore the planning, sharing, and communication needs of a group project as well as certain basic laws of physics. Another day, helping in the garden, finding worms for the compost pile, or practicing a new rope swing strategy might be the central activities for many of the children.

Essential elements of the Nursery program continue in the Kindergarten for 5 year old children — the ability to express oneself, to make personal decisions, play, and how to be part of a community. Children are more active participants in classroom responsibilities and are exposed in a natural manner to academic interests such as literacy, math and science.


While play is still central to the curriculum, the children begin to join in more formal group processes. For the first time they participate in class meetings — telling their news, expressing their opinions on how to solve class problems, and listening while others talk. There is greater emphasis on group activities, including art, science, music, clay, and physical education. Specialty teachers come to the classroom every week to lead exploration in these areas. Class projects, which often develop out of the interests of the students, are generally initiated and guided by teachers but are shaped and modified by the children. Teachers work at engaging each child's interest in the project at hand, and children may pursue tasks in highly individual ways.

Kindergarten also includes pre-reading and math skills through activities. Reading, writing and math are approached from a number of perspectives: they are woven naturally into class projects and learning activities, and they are presented through games, manipulatives, and other experiential and organic ways of learning both in the classroom and in the studios.

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Finally, the first field trips are taken with kindergarten children, offering opportunities to draw upon local resources as well as to broaden the range of activities in which children may participate. To deepen the experience for children, field trips are integrated into classroom activities.