by KAITLYN NAPLES
Going into its 30th year, the Christian Nursery School at Grace Baptist Church has been providing 3- and 4-year-olds with the skills needed to enter into kindergarten.
Cheri Tessier, director of the Christian Nursery School, said she started out at the nursery school when she enrolled her daughter into the program. Eventually her family became parishioners of Grace Baptist, and she took on a secretary treasurer’s position with the school. After becoming an assistant teacher, she has been director of the program for about seven years.
“We have had so many people send their children to the school and end up becoming parishioners at the church,” Tessier said. “They come back and say ‘I just love your school’.”
The Christian Nursery School provides a stepping stone for children to prepare for a full day of kindergarten. The school has no residential requirements and is non-denominational and open to non-parishioners of the church.
Last year, the school had 22 students enrolled in its program, which includes two programs, one for 3-year-olds and one for 4-year-olds. Tessier said the school used to offer both morning and afternoon sessions. However because of a decline in enrollment and the poor economy the nation is facing, the school had to cut down to just one session each day. The 4-year-olds meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the 3-year-olds meet Tuesday and Thursday. She added that the school is looking into possibly increasing the “four’s” program to a five-day program, if the community is in favor.
Tessier said the day starts with the children playing in “centers” or different areas of the room devoted to a kitchen area, math, reading, dress-up, puzzles, blocks and more. The centers were added within the last few years, as opposed to just having an open space. The centers allow for some structure for the children, who then learn how many students can be in each center at once. Then, the children organize into a circle, which Tessier said teaches them how to listen to instructions and follow directions. During circle time, she said students will be given roles throughout the year, like a weather forecaster or a helper.
Each day, school sessions are two hours and 15 minutes, and are full of academic instruction, like the structure and formation of letters and numbers, writing names, upper and lower case letters; and then social learning and interaction with different students and teachers and how to play and work in small groups. The children also get time to play on the playground or run around in a gymnasium, which Tessier said is important for the youngsters.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from parents who say they felt their child was readily prepared for kindergarten,” Tessier said, adding that some of her students have even started learning how to read in the preschool program.
“Parents have a responsibility to start their children’s education in a positive way,” she said. “We give them the attention they (children) need so early in life, and the love and nurturing and structure they thrive on.”
Jim Ray of Bristol, has sent both of his daughters, who are now entering fourth grade and first grade, to Christian Nursery School.
“We really liked the program, it taught the girls all the skills they needed for kindergarten,” Ray said, adding that his daughters continue to do well in school. “The social aspect of being with the other kids is really good for them, and the program gives a nice transition into a full school day.”
The school year begins in September, and finishes in May, and parents can register now to enroll their children in the program for this year. Students must be 3-years-old or turning three by the end of the calendar year. The program for the 3-year-olds is $150 per month, and for the four’s, $160 per month.
For more information or to register call (860)584-9642 or visit its website at www.christiannurseryschool.net. The nursery school is located at Grace Baptist Church, 736 King St., Bristol.