By Lindsay Carey
In 1955, the Mother’s Club of Plantsville Congregational United Church of Christ saw a need for a nursery school and successfully opened it during a time when most mothers stayed home with their children.
Now, Plantsville Community Nursery School is going on 60 years of teaching three and four year olds, making it the oldest nursery school in the area.
Director Anne Graham said that enrollment varies each year. Plantsville Community Nursery School currently has around 32 students, between their programs.
Graham said that she believes the facility is able to stay open because it has developed a good reputation.
According to Graham, there are some third generation students that attend the school because their parents and grandparents remember their time at the facility.
“You think they won’t remember you, because they were so young, but they do,” said Graham, who has been with the nursery school for 12 years.
Over their 60 years, the nursery school has only had 29 teachers at the facility. Considering that at one point they had six teachers on staff between a morning and afternoon class schedule, retention is high. Unlike other schools, the teachers at Plantsville tend to stay on board for a long time.
“They’re here because they want to be here and not because it’s just another job,” said former Director Debbie Boychuck. “Our teachers stay so there’s continuity to the program as well.”
Today, the nursery school has a small staff of two. One has been with the school for 13 years and the other for about 20 years.
Boychuck said that the teachers work as a team and do certain activities together as a group, like singing songs, and conducting the pledge of allegiance.
“We try to keep to the basics, I know there are some schools that try to do a little more,” said Boychuck. “There are all kinds of steps that a child goes through in their growth and development. We work with the children at the age level that they are at.”
Teachers work with their students to learn basic skills that will prepare them for kindergarten. Through arts and crafts activities, which require coloring, cutting and pasting, the students develop their fine motor skills.
Boychuck said that simply playing with blocks can serve to develop a child’s early math skills, because they learn how to sort of colors and shapes.
Through practicing the alphabet and numbers, Boychuck said the children get a sense of the academic world and can go into kindergarten with familiarity and confidence.
The Plantsville Community Nursery school also tries to help students develop their speech skills, which is unique for a nursery school. The teachers do “show and tell” with the children everyday, because they believe it is a beneficial way to cultivate a child’s confidence in the classroom.
“A child takes pride in the toys they have,” said Boychuck. “We do show and tell everyday, because it’s very important that the children feel comfortable in front of their peers without it being threatening to them.”
By Lindsay Carey