By Jill Mayo, M.Ed., Director, St. Andrew's Nursery School and Kindergarten
Leaving the nest at age two or three? While it’s not a practical age to head off to college or tie the knot, experts agree that it is an ideal age to start nursery school.
Mrs. Jill Mayo, (M.Ed), director at St. Andrew’s Nursery School and Kindergarten in Cherry Hill, a winner of “Best Nursery School in South Jersey” (9 years), says that considerable research has been done to help parents and educators better understand the role of nursery school for two and three year olds. “The studies tell us that education has a stronger impact on youngsters at this age than at any other,” remarks Mayo. She adds that research also indicates that education has a more lasting effect on the children at this age as well.
“Our teachers in the two and three year old programs recognize the important part they are playing in the youngsters’ lives. “They are actually nurturing the students of the future,” comments Mayo. As a result, the school strives to provide a warm, stimulating and non-competitive atmosphere.
While environment is an important ingredient in selecting an age-appropriate program for two and three year olds, Mayo feels parents should also be aware of the developmental focus of the program. The philosophy and main emphasis for the two and three year olds at St. Andrew’s is socialization skills and early school routines.
“Even the best home environment needs to be tempered with early contacts with groups of children to encourage socialization and emotional skill development,” suggests Mayo. “Our two and three year old programs develop skills such as sharing, taking turns, and relating warmly and respectfully to others throughout the activities that make up the school routines. She explains that stories, fingerplays and songs are the primary tools for teaching language skills in the pre-school program. Cognitive skills (shapes, colors, and counting, for example) are developed by using games, toys, circle time discussions and small group art projects.
Parents are usually eager for their pre-school child to attend nursery school to be with other children, notes Mayo. But they often express concerns that “school work” may be too intimidating for their youngster. Mayo is quick to reassure them. “A child’s work is his play. It should always be fun!”
The program also enhances motor skills. Gross motor activities are developed on the spacious outdoor playground, in the indoor playroom and the full-size gymnasium, all of which are well-stocked with age-appropriate equipment.
“I encourage parents to visit St. Andrew’s when they are considering a nursery school for their two or three year old,” says Mayo. She thinks this is particularly helpful for parents who feel their youngster may be overwhelmed by a classroom setting. “When parents see the interest centers, child-size equipment, and meet the incredible educators that staff the program, their fears quickly disappear,” Mayo says.
Making an informed decision is a sound approach for all parents at every step of the educational process,” concludes Mayo. She adds, “I like to think of St. Andrew’s program for two and three year olds as the first step in the right direction.”To request a brochure or schedule a tour of the facility, parents are invited to call the school office at 856-429-4470. Visit our website for more information www.staNurserySchool.com. Only limited openings are available.