We like to think of First Congregational Church Nursery School as a "home away from home" ...a warm & welcoming community where teachers, children, and parents all play important roles in the educational process.
Research has shown that preschoolers learn best through play and that hands-on experience is necessary before children are ready for symbols (letters, numbers). At First Congregational, each classroom is organized into centers – science, woodworking, an easel, small manipulatives, dramatic play, block building and a story corner. The teacher(s) plans the curriculum knowing what she needs and wants to accomplish while keeping the teaching plan and environment flexible in order to account for and incorporate the children’s interests. We use the Connecticut Preschool Curriculum Framework as a guide in designing an adaptable and enriching program.
Our teaching philosophy is guided by four key elements of the classroom:
The sensory area includes hands-on materials that give preschoolers the opportunity to explore and discover using their senses. The dramatic play and art areas are spaces where preschoolers can creatively practice language and build confidence as they create and express ideas.
Teachers guide preschoolers with activities that spark curiosity and discovery. Preschoolers explore with fiction and nonfiction books and they begin to recognize letters and manipulate letter sounds. Investigations also incorporate scientific inquiry and exploration of mathematical concepts such as patterning, sorting, and grouping where preschoolers use materials such as building blocks, beads, and magnatiles.
Preschoolers broaden their horizons while participating in weekly enrichment activities. Our students learn new art techniques in our Messy Art space, sing & dance with Mrs. Picache and stretch and move in our Movement room! We also have visits from Mad Science and Darien Nature Center and take field trips to local points of interest.
Preschoolers build and strengthen both their gross motor and social skills as they play on our outdoor playground with features that include: a playhouse, multiple swings, a sand pit, bikes & scooters and a basketball hoop. On rainy days, children play in our indoor "movement" room.
We offer two and three day drop-off class options for 2-year-olds.
3-DAY: Mon/Tues/Wed: 9:00am - 11:45am
3-DAY: Wed/Thurs/Fri: 9:00am - 11:45am
2-DAY: Mon/Tues: 9:00am - 11:45am
2-DAY: Thurs/Fri: 9:00am - 11:45am
We offer four and five day weekly class options for 3-year-olds
4-DAY: Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs: 9:00am-11:45am
5-DAY: Mon-Fri: 9:00am - 11:45am
We offer a five day weekly class option for 4- year olds
Mon - Fri: 9:00am-11:45am.
We offer a 5-day weekly class option for Pre-K students.
Mondays & Fridays: 9:00am-11:45am
Tues /Wed/Thurs: 9:00am-2:30pm
We offer after-school Lunch Bunch programs for our 3’s, 4’s, and Pre-K children as follows:
MONDAY: For 3’s, 4’s, Pre-K until 1:30pm
Spaghetti!: Don’t pack a lunch! We’re turning the classroom into an Italian restaurant and your child will be the chef. Besides pasta, there’s garlic bread and Italian ice. Add the music and red checked tablecloths and ‘manga’!
TUESDAY: For 3’s and 4’s until 2:30pm
Craft Happy: For the child who loves doing crafts, this Lunch Bunch is right up their alley. We host a variety of projects and each week the kids make something to bring home, including potholders, mobiles, wooden planes and boats, beading, rain-sticks, stained glass, sand art, molding clay, wind chimes, pinwheels, picture frames, sewing, masks and more.
For 3’s until 1:30pm
Lunch and Learn: A low key lunch bunch for 3 year olds. There will be fingerplays, puppets, games, songs, puzzles….
For 4’s until 2:30pm
Letters & Literature: Children learn about symbols when they do and when they are involved. Each week silly puppets will introduce a different letter through games, songs, activities and stories. Children will practice writing the letter of the week in the air, in sand, on paper – they may even try to form the letter with their body.
For 3’s until 2:30pm
Kitchen Capers: It’s all about the measuring, sifting, mixing, pouring, stirring in this class. The results (quesadillas, fruit smoothies, twice-baked potatoes, colored rice) are often delicious, but not always – what’s important is the process the children go through to create.
For 4’s until 2:30pm
Numbers & Science: Each week children will investigate numbers and life sciences through hands-on activities and experiments. They will count, measure, mix, balance objects, and test different combinations. They will discover many things to start understanding the world around them such as: Why does hair stand up in the winter? How can an ice cube stick to a string? What is hibernation? And what do worms eat?
For 3’s, 4’s and Pre-K until 1:30pm
Pizza Friday: We celebrate the end of the week with pizza, fruit and cookies and then enjoy free play and a story. If you’re child doesn’t eat pizza, they are free to bring their own lunch.
2 YEAR OLDS
Our 2’s program is focused on providing a fun, safe, and positive initial learning experience. It is a year of immense growth socially, with enhanced language development so the children can verbalize their thoughts, and advocate for their wants and needs. The curriculum is based on the school’s philosophy of ‘learning through play.’ Our goal is to create a friendly, social atmosphere where children’s feelings of self-understanding and self-confidence are developed, as well as respect and consideration for others. In addition, the students will learn all about nature, seasons, weather, and animals as they discover colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. As active learners they dance, sing, and paint the days away.
3 YEAR OLDS
Our 3’s program builds on our school philosophy of ‘play based learning.’ The children continue to develop their language skills, increasing vocabulary as they read stories, and learn new songs and poems. Their social development is strengthened as they now are beginning to play ‘with’ one another and not just alongside one another. They must listen, follow simple directions and learn how socialize and be part of a ‘group’. Their sense of play has expanded... imaginary play grows as they gain confidence. Independence and conflict solving follow. Letter and number recognition begins. They are able to complete simple projects. It is a wonderful year of social and emotional growth!
4 YEAR OLDS
Our 4’s program promotes self-confidence and self-awareness in the children as they navigate through social situations and daily exposure to fun-filled, pre-academic activities. In our multi-sensory lessons the children are exposed to letter recognition and phonemic awareness, basic math concepts and scientific explorations, as they develop their fine and gross motor skills. We strive to engage the children playfully as they make meaningful connections incorporating hands-on discovery, movement, song, dramatic play, sensory exploration and literature. We foster a creative, happy and productive environment in which the children hopefully develop a love of school and of learning.
At FCCNS we try to ensure that the Pre-K children are happy and engaged learners. We want them to come into their classroom knowing that it is a comfortable and safe environment for them to have fun and learn through play. Our goal is for the children to form a friendly relationship with their teachers and their classmates so they feel free to explore a multitude of activities, and know that their ideas are respected. We strive to help the children develop their social and emotional skills. We promote confidence and encourage independence so that the children will be more comfortable engaging in challenging tasks.
In the Pre-K we support the children as they build upon and fine tune their writing skills, gross and fine motor skills, recognize words in print and phonemic applications. Math and Science are an important part of the curriculum and are incorporated into our daily activities, as are sensory opportunities, imaginary play and multicultural awareness. This framework provides our Pre-K children with an abundance of learning opportunities.