On this page

What is your philosophy and goals of your program?

Visit our Program and Enrollment page for an overview of our philosophy and the goals of our program.

What is a Laboratory Nursery School?

A laboratory nursery school is one that is affiliated with a college or university, usually with the school’s Psychology or Education Department. Our laboratory nursery school is part of Wheaton College’s Psychology Department. The lab provides college students the opportunity to link theory to practice by observing children in the school’s Observation Booth. Some students conduct research in child development as guided by professors in the department. In a lab nursery school, the children benefit from expert guidance by teachers and college professors actively working in the fields of child development and early childhood education. Use of the Observation Booth is available to parents as well!

What makes Elisabeth Amen different from other schools?

Our campus offers special venues for learning such as: apple orchards, art and dance studios, nature trails and a pond, a campus greenhouse, musical performances, and gymnasiums for physical play. Additionally, we offer low teacher-child ratios in our classrooms and value a nurturing child-centered approach to growth and learning which fosters ability and confidence.

What kind of curriculum do you use?

Our curriculum is emergent in nature and based on the interests of the children. As keen observers of children’s development, our staff co-constructs the concepts and ideas explored through curriculum with the children. Interests are developed and revealed as teachers share literature, explore nature, or engage in classroom activities and conversations. Ideas for thematic investigation may come from:

  • teacher & children’s interests
  • the environment – science through the seasons
  • special events on campus
  • literature
  • family shared events or occasions
  • conflict resolution or problem solving within the classroom
  • curriculum resources
  • developmental tasks or needs

Within the context of these interests, developmentally appropriate activities are planned to extend the children’s thinking and to embed development of preschool skills in the areas of language, literacy, social-emotional development, and physical development encouraging growth in independence and confidence in learning.

How do you prepare children to read? Do you teach letters?

The teachers focus on phonological awareness; focusing on the sounds in words which is a strong predictor of later reading success. This is done daily through story, rhyme, and music. Language development and concept extension through the literature the teachers select also promotes early literary skills for young children. Concepts about print such as word recognition, direction of print, and the understanding that print carries meaning are learned in a similar manner and children begin to recognize and learn letters through the language experiences offered and guided by the teacher. Through playful song, books with rhyme and predictable text, shared writing, and a print rich classroom, children begin to recognize letters and experiment with sounds associated with letters. During small group circle meeting times, teachers embed letter recognition and sound awareness activities that carry over into table/writing activities or group writing about concepts or experiences. Teachers write words that are dictated by children about particular art or building projects highlighting that their spoken language can be written. Written words are displayed around the classroom and the teachers use these as tools for learning. All activities are planned and developed to address the developmental needs of the learners and promote their developing literacy learning.

If my child moves from the 3 or 4-Day AM Program to the 4/5-Day PM or the Full-Day Program, what will change for my child?

Each class is different because developmentally the children are ready for grasping newer ideas and concepts as they grow, which is why classes are grouped by age. For example, sometimes children in the 3-Day AM class are busy constructing and experimenting and may not share many ideas about their activities because they are engrossed in thinking. However, they develop the ability to think more critically about their experimenting and can share language to describe their thoughts and actions as they share more school experiences. There is a lot going on for children at this age, both cognitively and emotionally. They are incorporating self-regulation to work with peers, developing the language to interact socially, expanding vocabulary to describe concepts and ideas explored, and growing physically with regard to developing fine motor skills for writing and large motor for physical integration. Each year and phase builds upon the next. Our goal is to provide the children an environment to explore ideas and concepts and embed the school readiness skills within this context. The outcome is that children enjoy engaging in learning and share ideas to problem solve with confidence as their worldview expands through experience.

Will my child be ready for kindergarten?

Our approach of embedding the learning of concepts and skills within themes or ideas that are interesting and meaningful to the children prepares children for kindergarten. If there are developmental areas in which we feel any individual child may need more attention, we communicate this with parents. We are licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care and follow the Early Childhood Program Standards developed by the Early Childhood Advisory Council to the Massachusetts Board of Education. We emphasize meeting curriculum objectives in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Art and promote growth in skill and content areas to foster later school success in kindergarten.

What are your program hours?

We offer 5 programs including half-day, full-day and extended day options. Please visit our Program and Enrollment page for more details.

How can I learn more and enroll?

If you would like to enroll your child in the Elisabeth W. Amen Nursery School, please contact us at:

Elisabeth Amen Nursery School
Wheaton College
26 East Main Street
Norton, MA 02766
508-285-8220
lafrancois_christine@wheatoncollege.edu

Learn more about our Program and Enrollment