Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School

Welcome to Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School!

Since 1959, Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School has been a parent-cooperative nursery school where teachers, parents and children work together to provide a rich preschool experience.

RHCNS is a fully certified, non-profit and non-sectarian community for Rocky Hill, Belle Mead, Montgomery, Princeton, Hopewell, Kendall Park, Kingston, Franklin, South Brunswick and surrounding areas.  We are located in the heart of New Jersey’s historic Rocky Hill Borough, in Rocky Hill’s Municipal Building, and have open space and a wonderful playground.

RHCNS is so much more than just a little Nursery School!

We are also a licensed provider of the  Music Together Preschool program, and a member of Parent Cooperative Preschool International.

Our Playhouse

Our Playhouse

Why Choose a Cooperative Preschool?  

Taking part in a cooperative preschool allows you to be directly involved with your child’s early education. Being able to supervise your child, and the teacher, guarantees your child is safe and with the best teachers anywhere. Interacting with a community of other parents who share your commitment to childhood and receiving modeling by the teacher as you help, gives you opportunities to learn alongside your child. Most importantly, choosing a cooperative preschool gives you extra time to bond with your child and create memories together. Your child will always know that education is important in your family because you live it everyday.

- From Parent Cooperative Preschools International

CLICK HERE for our 2014 Brochure

WE ARE NOW ENROLLING FOR THE 2014-15 SCHOOL YEAR!


Latest Blog Entries

Jul 21

 

  1. We’re a parent cooperative.  This means the school is run by a parent elected board, and all parents have input.  They know what’s happening in class, and get to see first hand how their children interact with others.  Is your child having a tough morning?  Has  Mom or Dad been away on a long  business trip?  No problem, hang out with us for awhile.  Teachers and parents work together.  Parents are welcome in class!   We also deal with separation anxiety a bit differently.  If your child is having difficulty with you leaving, you’re welcome to stay. We work WITH you and your child, easing his/her transition into the classroom.  When looking at other programs, ask:  “Am I welcome in the classroom?  How often? What if my child is upset when I leave?” (Sometimes, yes, some children are fine after a few minutes after the parent leaves.  Others aren’t.  We treat each child individually.)
  2. We’ve have ALWAYS employed fully certified teachers with at least a BA.  There are many levels of teacher certification.  My degree is in Early Childhood Education, with an additional certification for children with special needs.  I don’t take an elementary curriculum and water it down.  I take rich, creative topics and academic skills, build them up, and tailor them to the children’s abilities.    I’ve been teaching since 1980.  I’ve been a full time “working mom” taking my children to childcare, as well as a stay at home mom.  Chances, are, I’ve been where you are now.
  3. We have a low staff turnover.  I am the fourth director in 55 years. I took over for a teacher who had been at our school for 32 years.
  4. Our curriculum is hands-on and developmentally appropriate. We know HOW children learn is just as important as what they learn. Some children learn best by hearing information, others by seeing, others by touch or movement.  It’s rare that you will see every child produce the same exact craft.  Children are encouraged to be independent, creative, critical thinkers. They are encouraged to observe and hypothesize.  We respect a child’s right to be child, to learn at their own pace. The preschool years are a time of growth, discovery, and learning with their all of their senses.   We follow, meet and/or exceed the NJ Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards.  You can find them here http://www.nj.gov/education/ece/guide/standards.pdf   and here:http://www.nj.gov/education/news/2014/standards/preschool.htm
  5. We play outside everyday.  We have plenty of room to run, explore, climb and be child.  Movement stimulates the brain and increases learning!
  6. We go on field trips.  Even if you’ve taken them to the same places (apple picking, the farm, the post office, etc.) they are going on these trips as a student.  They learn how to cooperate and follow directions in a large group. They get hands on experience that is often replicated in the classroom. For example, after walking to the Post Office, buying stamps, mailing, and hand canceling their own mail, we create a Post Office in our room.  It’s much more fun and meaningful to write your friend’s name on an envelope than writing on a worksheet!
  7. We respect the fact that a child’s family is their first teacher.  We involve families in the children’s learning and school experience. Families participate in activities, they don’t just come and watch.
  8.  We’re a one room school.  That’s right, one room!  We have a homey, old fashioned feel.  Currently, our staff are all former helping parents.  We loved the school so much, we wanted to remain involved!
  9. We provide joyful childhood experiences. Playing, exploring, caring and learning are combined in one bright, happy classroom (and playground, fields, community…)  Question?  Email me at director@rhcns.org.
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Jun 10

*This is our last week for the school year, and we are in our “camp” mode.   Typically, I try to send parents summary emails but decided to post today’s here instead.* During the school year, we have “topics” rather than themes. For camp?  A week of crazy fun!

Ahoy Me Hearties!

What a fun day!  I’ll admit, my voice was a bit rough from all the avasting and yohoing today!    We started off the day with wooden treasure chests  to paint, newspapers to make hats, and sparkly pipe cleaners for those who prefer more sparkle to their headwear!

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On the rug I put a long box, which I’d thought would be a boat, but I was told we needed a pirate cave, so a pirate cave it became!   I put out a toboggan and some brooms.  I realized I’d forgotten a plank, so I brought out our balance board.

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Ok, in my adult mind, I though they’d use the brooms for the mast.   I  was surprised when P held up the board like a mast, and said, “We need a sail.”  Some easel paper, lots of tape and there was a sail!

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The children realized that the mast wouldn’t stay by itself.  There was a lot of brainstorming and experimenting to find items strong enough to hold it straight.   But they did it!

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A little after 10, we convened on the rug to discuss this week’s theme.  I talked about the fact the pirates are robbers, and it real life would hurt others.   We also discussed  imaginative play and still being responsible for following safety and school rules.  We sang “When I Was One,” a silly song about jumping on a pirate ship.  I told the children about the code many pirates followed.  They had strict rules about no fighting on the ship and no gambling.  The crew voted on where they would sail. When treasure was found, each member of the crew got an equal share, the Captain and Quartermaster got double that.  Pirates who had been injured or lost a limb were give a larger share.  They were amazingly democratic for the time!

We discussed our own code for the week.  Even though we are playing in a piratey manner,  school rules must be followed.

When we find treasure, everyone will get the same amount.  (We decided one each.)   When a treasure is spotted, in order to give the younger/shorter legged of the bunch an equal chance, we we point and yell, “There be treasure, Admiral!”  (Ahem, I’m the Admiral.)

We read How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long.  The book discusses the pros and cons of a young boy joining pirates.  Pro: no one tells them to go to bed, brush their teeth, or eat their spinach.  Unfortunately, no one will tuck him in good night, and all they have to read are maps! No bedtime stories!  The child leads the pirates to bury their treasure in his backyard, and he draws a map.  The children decided that it was a fiction book!

We sang “This is the Way we Swab the Deck” and talked in a very pirate-y way.

Break for snack prep.  I read half the group the new Mo Willems book,  I Like My New Friend, then read it again to the next group.

Snack was quite tropical, including clementines, banana, and goldfish snacks!  We talked about how important Vitamin C was for sailors, without it, they’d get scurvy.  When someone announced they’d finished their clementine, Mrs Stock said, “No scurvy for you!”    It became quite the game!

We ate by “candlelight” since pirates didn’t have electricity!

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After snack more ships and caves and some water play.  Since it was supposed to rain all day, I’d planned a treasure hunt in the building.  The rain stopped, so we quickly created clues for children to find a treasure outside.   The first clue: “Here’s a place where you can fly, pump you legs up to the sky.”  The children agreed it was the swings.  Again, in order to prevent the older, faster children leaving the others behind, we all held hands and became one big “ship.”  We walked together, swaying with the waves, and looking for whales and sharks.  When the children saw a small roll of brown paper, the shouted, “There be a clue, Admiral!”  We followed the clues to the picnic tables, which lead us to the front of the school.  There was a treasure box with a big tape X on it!    I wish I had a picture of the children’s faces when I opened the box and they saw the “jewels!”    We took the chest back to the picnic tables and children each chose one “gem.”

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Then the ice cream man came! Hooray for camp!

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Jun 05

Here are some examples of hands-on, developmentally appropriate activities.

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Hands-on. (Ok, Car’s on!)

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The leopard makes the numeral 3, growls included!

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When children are in charge of the calendar, they practice one to one correspondence, left to right progression, (extremely important pre-reading skills!) patterning and numeral recognition.

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Jun 05

The way these blogs are posted, you’re reading them last first.  You’ll have to scroll down to get them in sequential order.  I’ve been explaining why Family, Community, Exploration are good descriptors for our program.

Some of you are thinking by now, “WAIT! What about academics? What about reading? My child needs to read!”  We are big proponents of Developmentally Appropriate Practice. (DAP)    I’ll get more into that later.  In short however, when you bring your newborn home from the hospital, do you start thinking, “Oh no! S/he should be walking in one year! I’d better start working on her walking skills now?”  Of course not.  That would be inappropriate. You provide appropriate activities to encourage growth and development.  What many people forget is that reading is developmental skill, like crawling and walking.  Similarly, at RHCNS, we provide opportunities for developing reading skills and math skills in a developmentally appropriate way: hands-on exploration!

My eldest son (now 26) didn’t read in kindergarten.  In first grade he didn’t know vowel sounds.  In second grade, he struggled with “Frog and Toad are Friends.”  During the summer between second and third grade, he picked up an adult paper back of the Star Wars Trilogy and announced that he was going to read it.  It took him all summer, but he did it. At the end of third grade, he scored on the 99th percentile on the standardized reading test.   He graduated from college Magna Cum Laude, and now in in graduate school with straight A’s for his Masters and (so far) for his PhD.

Luckily, he was growing up in a time when it was recognized that reading was developmental.  As a teacher, I knew what had been stressed in college. “It all evens out in third grade.”  Still, this was my son.  I worried. I fretted. His teachers encouraged him, saying, he’ll get it.  He got it.  (The boy who didn’t read comfortably until he was 8?  He now reads, writes, speaks and does research in Russian and Mongolian.  He can finish a book in one day. This was my child who couldn’t recognize the numeral 7 in kindergarten!)

What he also had was a rich background of knowledge. When he was 2, he loved pirates. We read him a child’s version of Treasure Island.  He astounded his pediatrician by asking her if she knew the story, and chatted away about characters, etc. We visited tall ships, examined globes and maps.   At four, he was enthralled with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  He could listen to and discuss the original versions.

Why am I prattling on about my son?  All children are different. All children learn at different rates.

As a former teacher of students with learning disabilities and language delays, I have never taught in a classroom where everyone is on the same level.  As a fourth grade teacher, I had to teach about NJ to children who varied from non-readers to the fifth grade level.  I know how to adapt.  I know how children learn.

Exploration is important, because it gives children opportunities to experiment, touch, think and learn. Three year olds learn from five year olds, and vice versa.  They become confident learners.  They believe in themselves and what they can accomplish.

I’m also constantly exploring new ways to challenge the children.   Here is an example of a fantastic activity I tried after reading Vivian Gussin Paley’s book, The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter, The Uses of Storytelling in the Classroom.

Here is a sample of one of our youngest student’s stories, and how it was performed.

“Once upon a time there was a little girl who was lonely and sad because she wanted her mom to come back.  She turned on the lights but the power runned out but the good bear didn’t have any lights ’cause all the stores were closed.  She was so mean to her and chased her then because she wanted to eat her.  She chased her around the preschool.  The little girl made a big hole and the bear fell in and she got more upsetter and she made another hole at the preschool and she was happy again and she wanted to jump on her bed again and she said yes and she put a headband on and put a headband on the bear too.”

First the children roll up our rug to reveal our “stage.”

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 This takes a LOT of cooperation and teamwork!

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As I read the child’s story, the children acted it out.  Here’s the little girl being lonely and sad, wanting her mom to come back.

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 The bear is chasing her around the preschool!

I love so many things about this activity.  The children were empowered by hearing their stories read aloud. They “directed” the other actors.  What really amazed me was how many of my “quietest” ones came to life!  I saw confidence, pride, imagination and laughter.   We explored the spoken word, the written word and discovered new ways to share our ideas.  The ones who could read read their own stories. The “authors” discussed sequencing, and how the characters felt.  Children would brainstorm how to be a castle. Or a rock.  Was the shark nice or mean?

There was so much to explore!

 

 

 

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Jun 04

For the past several years Music Together has been a wonderful part of our curriculum. Yes, after 30+ years of teaching, I’ve amassed a huge collection of songs and music for school.  I create songs as needed for our lessons.  (There aren’t many songs about metamorphosis or precipitation, so I made them up!)  What I’ve found however, is that the Music Together curriculum introduces children to concepts that wouldn’t occur to me or better yet, ones with with I’m not familiar (tonal patterns, macro/microbeats, etc.)   Children are introduced to classic songs (which our Grandfriends know!) as well as multicultural, traditional and finger plays.

Our $125 activity fee covers a child’s materials for the entire year!  Families are invited to attend Music Together Family Nights twice a year.

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Saying goodbye to Miss Alex every week became so “enthusiastic” we had to have children stand in line to wait their turn!   We LOVE our Miss Alex!

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In the fall, we have a family “campfire night.”  Children come in pajamas, and we have hot chocolate and indoor s’mores!

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Families have a blast, the staff brings their children (who are alumni!)

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One benefit I hadn’t anticipated were the pre-reading skills!  Children  are guided to follow along in their books, tap a picture to the beat, or for our readers, to read along!

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(We don’t usually sit in chairs for music, but this was Wacky Wednesday, so we did things in unusual ways!)

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RHCNS and Music Together: Perfect Together!

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