Why Do Children Need Nursery School?

Jane Nolan, Director of Park West Cooperative Nursery School is a respected expert in the field of early childhood education whose lectures are highly sought after.

At the foundation of a nursery school’s ability to help children is the training and experience of its staff and the quality of the child’s relationship with teachers.

Teachers support children as they learn to become successful members of a group. Nursery school is fun but it also requires beginning to understand procedures such as: how to clear your spot at snack, how to gain some self regulation, raising your hand to get a turn, and how to delay gratification. Young children can be successful at these tasks and see that groups need some order when they have the support, encouragement, and modeling of teachers. These skills show children how to be successful members of a group and will be greatly needed as students move into an elementary classroom.

Having supported experiences in nursery school helps children have conversations in the present and in the future. Having prior experiences saying, “No, I’m still using this. I’ll let you know when I am finished,” or “I was standing in line for the water fountain. You need to stand behind me,” can give children the confidence and the language to be clear and successful in standing up for one’s self and for others.

Nursery school can help children begin to think about who they are: what they like to do, what do they think of a particular class issue, what is difficult for them. This self reflection helps children as they make choices, evaluate circumstances, setting the course for who they are and who they want to be.

Nursery school can give one a sense of community and belonging. Children enjoy being members of a group and take seriously their responsibilities as a member of a community. This is part of moral development, beginning to realize that one’s actions can affect others and how that impacts one’s decisions.

At nursery school children can explore their interests and ideas in a way that makes sense to them. There are a wide variety of materials to spark one’s interest. It is through play that children access information and acquire skills, including those around numeracy and literacy. When these skills and concepts are presented in a way that is authentically of interest to children, they are learning in a context of meaning, with the child bringing all of her cognitive abilities to the situation. Play is the vehicle through which children access the skills that often adults are worried about.

Quotes from Our Park West Family

"I knew I would see my children make friends, but I had no idea how close and long-lasting the friendships would be."

—Audrey W., former parent