Sunshine Nursery School, Inc. was founded by a small group of interested parents of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington. This group felt a need for a cooperative preschool in Arlington, one in which parents and children could be involved together. In June of 1957 the school was licensed by The Office for Child Care Services and opened in September that year.
The Minister, Religious Education Director, and members of the church served as the Board of Directors. The enrollment in 1957 was thirty six children. A member of the church was the treasurer.
The building was shared by the Arlington Children’s Center and when they moved out in 1984, the school expanded with morning and afternoon sessions, plus extended day; totaling 130 children and became incorporated as a non-profit corporation; so the Unitarian Church no longer was the governing Board.
The Board of Directors is made up of the Director of the school, Directors of other child care centers in Arlington, an accountant, a lawyer and parents who have children attending the school or attended the school. The president, clerk and treasurer were elected from that group.
The Board of Directors meets several times a year; once in the fall and in late January and or early February. The annual corporation meeting is at the Pot Luck Supper, in late September or early October. All parents who have children attending the preschool are members of the corporation. Meetings of the Board of Directors are announced in advance so that any member of the corporation is welcome to attend.
The School celebrated its 50th year with a “Gala” at the Whittemore Robbins House on June 3, 2007. Approximately 250 attended, including past and present parents and friends to celebrate our 50th year. A new playground was solicited for and constructed with new equipment and surface with the proceeds from the “Gala”.
In 2014 Sunshine Nursery School purchased Unit 2 in The Sons of Italy on Prentiss Road.
PHILOSOPHY – CURRICULUM
Sunshine Nursery School is based on philosophy common to many traditional nursery schools: The education of the whole child with emphasis on nurturing each child’s self esteem and promoting social development. Our primary goal is to help children learn the dynamics of group living in a peer group situation; have many successes while feeling good about themselves as individuals, but at the same time are guided into learning the art of becoming successful group members. This requires a great deal of learning about feelings and how to handle emotions. The trained teacher is able to guide the child through the intricate steps to successful interpersonal relations.
A child’s emotional well-being is the starting point for all learning. A child must feel safe and trusting. We believe that reasonable limits should be set for children to ensure their physical safety and personal rights, as well as to develop a respect for others and for the materials they use. Children must feel a sense of autonomy, so we give them choices and opportunities to practice the skills which lead to mastery and enhanced self-esteem. (Erikson)
Knowing that a preschooler’s mental abilities are closely tied to and dominated by the emotional and social climate of the classroom, we attend to those elements first. Knowing that the best social-emotional and intellectual growth takes place during PLAY we allot a significant portion of each morning to free spontaneous play.
An understanding of a child’s thinking gives us insight into what is appropriate to include in a preschool curriculum. A child’s ability to conceptualize certain facts develops in stages, and because a child is a biological organism, children need time and maturation to pass from one intellectual stage to the next. (Piaget) We believe that this slow process of growth cannot be meaningfully accelerated by teaching, that there are limits to the engineering one can do with a child’s understanding.
An appropriate curriculum, therefore, takes the children’s developmental stages into account and is planned accordingly. We build on the children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder about their world to enhance their understanding by providing a variety of materials and experiences. A curriculum with a broad scope regarding subject matter allows teachers, parents, and children to share their special interests while adapting the chosen activities to the children’s developmental levels.
Our school uses structured routines to afford the children security of a time relationship within their school day. A wide variety of activities is encompassed within this basic structure. There is time devoted to dramatic play, creative activities, construction projects, large and small muscle activities, music and dance, science exploration, stories, and language arts.
As parents and teachers working together, we are constantly striving to provide the best possible preschool experience. This means being in tune with the preschooler’s development and abilities to create a learning environment which is exciting and interesting. A place where children find that school is FUN!!