Neighborhood Schoolhouse revives “kinder” program for ages 4-1/2 to 6
Brattleboro, Vt.—When education pioneer Friedrich Fröbel invented the nurturing “garden of children” we now call kindergarten, he never dreamed that rigid literacy training, minimal recess, and a controversial “Common Core” curriculum would one day bear its name.
Kindergarten just isn’t what it used to be—many educators recommend starting at age six because the school day is so demanding—and some parents are seeking alternatives.
The Neighborhood Schoolhouse in Brattleboro has responded to that demand by re-opening its half-day kindergarten for the 2014–2015 school year; the program includes a pre-kindergarten curriculum (for ages 4-1/2 to 5) as well. Classes begin outdoors at 8:30 a.m. and end at 1 p.m., with optional after-school activities.
“I want her to have the freedom to be five years old,” says school board member Bonnie Holmes, who has enrolled her daughter in next year’s kindergarten class. “This is such an important time in her life. I want her to go to a school where she will be nurtured as a whole person—where kids are treated as the unique, special little people that they are.”
Dot MacDonald has taught at the school for 25 years, and she served more than 20 of those years in the kindergarten program. “Because we honor the child and still base our program on constructive and exploratory play—as well as an hour of recess every day—the children get to experience kindergarten with their whole selves instead of just their cognitive brains,” MacDonald says. “I’ve seen children be extremely successful using the methods we use. They are confident, they love school, and they’re able to express themselves creatively.”
Prospective families can learn more about kindergarten—as well as the school’s preschool and elementary programs—at Neighborhood’s annual open house on Thursday, Feb. 27, at the school.
The morning open house, from 9 am to noon, will feature outdoor activities, so families should dress for the weather. Families are also invited to an evening open house from 5 to 6:30 pm.
Founded in 1980, The Neighborhood Schoolhouse emphasizes environmental education, the arts, and social-emotional skills among its core subjects. The school is located at 231 Western Ave. in Brattleboro, behind Solar Hill. Learn more at neighborhoodschoolhouse.com.