The many and varied lessons learned at St. Paul’s Nursery School, during these formative years, may occur outside on the playground, inside during circle time, while playing at the sand table or when greeting friends in the hallway. Whatever the activity, the challenge is to integrate the total child physically, emotionally, socially, academically and spiritually.
In young children, compassion and empathy do not always come easily. Most children are by nature self-centered and need caring adults to help draw their focus away from their own needs and consider the needs of others. We know through play and physical activity children can learn to listen, talk, negotiate, question, collaborate, and ultimately care for others. For the child, these are important attributes to develop as they learn how to live more harmoniously in their home, neighborhood and classroom community. Our teachers very intentionally (and skillfully) take time to encourage students to interact with one another. When conflict arises, and it does each day, the teacher supports the child by helping to define the problem and by giving language to feelings. Day in and day out teachers patiently encourage children to communicate with their peers, to solve problems and perhaps most importantly to find mutually agreeable solutions. This work can be exhausting at times, and somewhat repetitive, but as early childhood educators, we know this is such an important part of what we do at St. Paul’s Nursery School. As professionals, we recognize that social and emotional learning provides a foundation for positive learning and increases students’ ability to experience academic success in future years.
Providing young children with opportunities to make choices, experience consequences and solve problems is not happenstance or an occasional occurrence at the nursery school; it is an intentional and valued aspect of our program. Along the way, our goal is that the young students in our care experience living in a community and as teachers, we are continually helping children to work towards the notion that someone else’s needs are just as important as their own. The very foundation of the school is built on an unwavering love, respect and care for each individual, for their unique gifts and for this special and important time of human development; the nursery school years.
Eileen Sharbaugh, Director
St. Paul’s Episcopal Nursery School