Part 2: Interview with Estelle at Bellevue South Nursery School: Creativity and Connection – at Waterside Plaza
Last time, we spoke to Estelle about the creative part of the Nursery.
We also learned about Monster Toast!
This time, we talk about Bellevue South’s environmental focus, class size and individual attention.
You have a great picture of your students doing a project after learning about leaves and trees.
Yes, one of my prime teachers is really into ecology, recycling, the environment. She does incredible things with nature – and a wonderful unit on the rainforest and animals and so she is our go-to person with recycling and the environment and making the world a better place and taking care of our world. That’s a big focus for us.
That’s lovely. A great thing to teach children early on.
What is the class size like, in relation to the teachers? Do they get individual attention?
The children get a tremendous amount, a tremendous amount, of individual attention, because we have small groups.
You have to have wonderful staff, which we do, because that makes the school. And if you have a low teacher-student ratio, that means that each child gets that special attention because at this age, each one is unique and each one is developing a little bit differently.
So one child will be very, very precocious when it comes to small motor-skills and writing, another will have tremendous difficulty holding a pencil or cutting with scissors. But that child may be wonderful with speech, and the other child, who’s great at small motor-skills, may have trouble with pronunciation, articulation, vocabulary.
So every single child is unique, and what we try to do is we isolate the problems and work with them. We consider ourselves very developmentally attuned to each child, because every child develops differently. Some children need a little bit more work on certain areas of development. But we make sure that eventually everybody comes out even.
It’s wonderful the effort you make to take into account all the different levels of learning.
And with all our combined experience, we can help children as well, in other ways. Like dealing with separation. That happened recently, a child was perfect first month of school, came in happy, everything was great. Then we had four days off of school, the two holidays for Rosh Hashanah and the weekend. Bam, child absolutely went through tremendous separation.
But we have a plan; we know what to do. So in this case, the child was crying, having hard time, and mother was upset. And we got her daughter to calm down and enjoy herself.
Today, of course, the mother was anxious coming in. “Will she adjust?” And it was so beautiful to watch. I told the mother what to do, just reassure her that she would stay. And I said, “Don’t worry, the activities and the materials will lure her.” And we got her very connected to one teacher, in particular, and in about five minutes she left the mother, went to play with one of my teachers – building with blocks – and as happy as can be.
And the mother’s looking and said to one of the teachers, “You know, I have an appointment…”
And we said, “You really should stay.” And then the child just spontaneously said, “Oh, Mom, you can go, bye-bye.”
That’s pretty sweet.
How can parents apply to Bellevue South Nursery School?
The application is on our website. They just fill it out and send it in. Then we set up a play visit, which is very non-threatening, five little kids. They just have fun for one hour. We talk with the parents. The teachers, my director, my co-director, Caroline, and myself – we speak with the parents, and the teachers play with the kids. Then they have snack, we have a little music, and that’s the interview process. It’s not really an interview, it’s just a play visit. Just so the parents see the school in action.
Is there a deadline?
We don’t really have a deadline. We have people coming from all over, so we have a rolling admission if we have the spaces. We have people coming from the UN, just getting to New York. Somebody’s coming, I think next week, from Japan.
And you’re having an Open House soon?
Yes: The Open House is on Tuesday, November 8th, from 4pm to 6pm. It’s an Open House for parents, not the children. This way the parents can see the space, and understand what we have available for their child.
And we give a little talk, so they get insight. Like what I’m doing now, that is what we would do at the Open House.
Contact Bellevue South Nursery school at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.