Special to the Patriot-Bridge
In large, sun-lit rooms overlooking Park Street and the Boston Common, children at Park Street School’s (PSS) Preschool, located at One Park Street, have been playing with purpose for almost 25 years.
We all know that children learn through play. Play is the arena of their early development. In play, children form ideas, relationships, skills, and more. For educators, it is their job to live in their students’ world of play and provide stepping stones for learning, content for wondering and imagination, and guidance for forming relationships.
“In 1999, a small group of parents began dreaming about a Preschool to be located in Park Street Church,” recounts Laura Perkins, former Board of Trustee, former Director of Admissions and one of the “Founding Moms” who helped launch Park Street School.
“We wanted to provide a program,” Mrs. Perkins continues, “that would introduce children to the world of content around them, to develop purposeful skills and knowledge while having fun through play and interactions with others.”
“We believe a solid foundation in the early years has tremendous impact on children’s overall development and will support their experience as learners,” says Tracy Bradley, Park Street School’s original and current Head of School, “The focus of our curriculum,” she continues, “is to introduce children to amazing content, that is brought to life, all while we build vocabulary, and develop skills through hands-on and engaging activities and play. We want to grow a love for learning while developing readiness skills in reading, math, writing, as well as background knowledge in science, social studies and health. Learning goes across academic, social-emotional, physical, character, and spiritual development,” continues Bradley. “The whole child is developed.”
“Through themes in the Toddler, Preschool, and Pre-K classrooms, children enjoy rich play time and learning,” agrees Mrs. Perkins, “For example, a main focus during the month of October is `All About Me.’ The theme `God Made Me Special’ lends to learning across all areas. This week in our Toddler Transition (2.5-3-year-old) class, children will create self-portraits after learning about how wonderfully and uniquely they have been created by God. They marvel at their own uniqueness and the wonderful mix that is their classroom community,” says Perkins, “It lays a foundation for love and respect for one another.”
“In our Preschool (3-4-year-old) class,” she continues, “children are creating people with Mat Man pieces. Mat Man is a literacy tool that uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching children the strokes, shapes, sequencing, and sizes necessary for drawing a person and ultimately for drawing letters of the alphabet. At the same time,” she explains, “it promotes body awareness, socializing and sharing.”
“And then in our Pre-Kindergarten (4-5 year-old) class,” she finishes, “students have been filling `All About Me’ bags, sharing with one another their treasures, all while learning understanding, developing listening skills, and demonstrating compassion!” Perkins continues, “And it leads nicely into their `Human Body’ unit where they delight in making full-sized renderings of themselves and attaching cut-outs of important organs to their images.” Perkins laughs, “Even math is incorporated as they graph the varied sizes of shoes worn by each child in the class!”
Nurturing each child’s growth — the whole child — is and remains Park Street School’s mission, asserts Bradley.
As students at PSS grow in all areas of development and knowledge, they arrive in kindergarten with a full tool-belt and the social skills necessary to begin their elementary school journey, which for most begins at Park Street School’s 67 Brimmer Street campus. “Those children grow and thrive in the years to come as they enjoy the foundation they have received at PSS’s Preschool!” says Mrs. Perkins, whose own children attended and graduated from Park Street School’s Preschool and Elementary School.
“Park Street School’s Preschool continues to be a place of joy and wonder – now nearly 25 years old – as we set that foundation for learning,” says Mrs. Perkins.
“One thing I learned during the pandemic,” reflects Ms. Bradley, “is that Park Street School’s teachers and administration are resilient. And I am confident that whatever challenges come our way in the future, we have the ability to adapt, to continue to provide a quality education for our students, and to also continue to be a place where our students are known and loved.” To visit Park Street Schools’ Preschool (One Park Street) and Elementary School (67 Brimmer Street), register for one of PSS’ Open Houses (Oct. 23 at 6:00 PM; Nov. 15 at 9:00 AM; Dec. 5 at 9:00 AM here: https://qrco.de/bdOETU.