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

Nursery: Half-Day Program
Ages 3–4


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.

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: dress-up, 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.

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