Play is children’s work
Learning happens through play. The philosophy of St. Peter’s Preschool is that young children learn best through developmentally appropriate, active, child-directed play, and as a result, free play comprises more than half of each school day here. Even when it’s time to introduce more structure into our mornings, our teachers couch every lesson in playful conversation and activity. We get messy!
We have reasonable, developmental expectations for our children, and we encourage each child to meet those expectations by stating, demonstrating, and constantly modeling them, not by drilling on a lengthy list of rules or rubrics. We use positive comments, natural consequences, and an emphasis on children’s ability to do appropriate things for themselves to foster independence and self-discipline. After all, self-discipline is a skill we all need every day, throughout our lives!
A child is not a stand-alone entity, and a preschool is not a child’s most important learning environment. Home and family are primary in a child’s life, and we take seriously our responsibility to support families in their journey through their children’s preschool years. We don’t just want to know your children; we want to know you too – to give counsel when asked, congratulations when a developmental milestone happens, commiseration on the travails of parenthood, and always the knowledge that you’re members of the St. Peter’s family. Picnic on the grounds; take your holiday card pictures with the historic Church as a backdrop; or just stop in to visit and read a story – even years after your child has finished preschool. This is your place!
Every child is unique. It’s a cliché, but a true one – and our small class sizes and small overall size allow us to learn quickly just how each child is unique. A child who is having a hard time separating from Mom, Dad, or caregiver may feel most comfortable if he knows a particular toy is ready and waiting for him each day; we try as many things as necessary to find the “magic” item and ensure that it’s in plain sight before he arrives. Another child may prefer to watch the action around her for a while before she joins in; we learn this preference and give her space to enter the activity when she’s ready. We work hard to know our children and their families; loving them is the easy part.
History and nature
The Preschool, part of St. Peter’s Church in the Great Valley, is located on 16 beautiful acres bordering a nature preserve. The only traffic is the occasional passage of a groundhog across the drive, or the wheeling of hawks overhead; the sounds of birds, frogs, insects, and our resident little flock of sheep pleasantly cover the faint noise of cars on nearby Route 29, Swedesford Road, and Phoenixville Pike. We take advantage of our unique natural setting throughout the year, collecting leaves, looking for tracks in snow, watching for signs of spring; and the historic Church provides its own special quiet during Children’s Chapel.
St. Peter’s Preschool has small, nurturing programs for 2 1/2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds in an environment mindfully designed to foster their social, emotional, physical, and educational development. Our highly qualified teaching staff and low teacher-child ratio ensure that each child’s experience at St. Peter’s Preschool is both positive and productive.
For many children, St. Peter’s Preschool may be their first learning environment away from home. Our first objective for these children is to help them make a smooth transition to the school setting with a caring atmosphere appropriate to each child.Children are scientists from the start – and inventors, artists, and philosophers. From the first time an infant accidentally bops herself in the nose and begins to realize that the hand that bopped her is not only attached to her, but (mirabile dictu!) under her control, she is already exploring cause and effect. The day that a toddler finds that he can use one thing (perhaps it’s a crayon; perhaps it’s a fingerful of mashed potatoes) to make a mark on another thing (maybe it’s paper, or maybe it’s wallpaper), he’s already begun to draw and write. When two babies in their strollers first stare at one another, then mimic one another’s facial expressions and make one another laugh, they’ve already begun a lifetime of deep and vital communication. All of this learning happens without a computer, a worksheet, an educator-approved manipulative tool.