BETHLEHEM — Circle of Friends is a nursery school of equality.
Located at 2 Bethlehem Court in Delmar, each of their two classrooms for ages 3-5 is capped at eight special needs children and eight typically developing children. And, with two teachers, an assistant and a physical therapist in each room, that guarantees an environment where each child receives individual attention.
“We’re one of the only integrative programs in the area,” said Julie Purcell, a teacher at the school. “We are a community and we work as a team with center-wide themes and goals.”
For 30 years Circle of Friends has operated out of Delmar and out of their second location on Route 9W in Ravena, using their same sensory-driven teaching method.
“Where other schools might learn through worksheets, we follow a curriculum where we learn through play; through music and movement, with a lot of modeling for the children,” said Purcell. The technique works to prepare children for the transition to kindergarten both academically and socially.
Each week brings new lessons from a speech therapist, who last week led a lesson on the food groups, by bringing a bag of trail mix and teaching students how to use the right language request different foods, described Purcell.
This week’s weekly lesson from their occupational therapist was called “handwriting without tears,” and served as a motivational introduction to handwriting using play-doh and chalkboards.
Circle of Friends focuses on a teaching using a lot of peer interaction and modeling. And, with their open door policy, parents are invited to stop by and watch this process any time they want to.
“We’re continuously getting new students,” said Purcell, adding that enrollment is starting for their summer program, which follows the format of their regular program only in a six-week program.
For more information on the Circle of Friends nursery school program, visit www.cofpre-k.com.