Nursery students are Gordon’s youngest student-citizens. Their classrooms and playground spaces are learning laboratories filled with their first experiments as members of a kind, inclusive, and curious school community.
Gordon is a big world, and Nursery is very much in the center of that world. Every visitor to Gordon passes by the Nursery windows, and the classroom is a regular stop on school tours. Nursery students are fully vested members of the school community, and they are seen in the halls, in the library, and the Nelson Field House, serving as a living reminder of the school’s child-centric mission. Their presence brings out the best in older students, who will welcome a hug from their former teachers and are ready to high-five the three-year-olds.
This sense of a nurturing community is present within the Nursery classroom as well. Simple responsibilities like keeping a cubby organized, managing a backpack and lunch, and connecting with friends on the playground are approached with thoughtful intentionality. They’re each crucial lessons, and the larger aim is to connect each child’s daily decisions with the larger project of taking care of themselves, each other, and the world around them.
The play-based approach in Nursery and Preschool includes the foundations of many principles used at every grade level. In open-ended play spaces, in their gardens and their playgrounds, and during teacher-initiated lessons on transportation, picture book authors, ropes and pulleys, and more, classroom life is continually connected with the world beyond Gordon. Students learn through direct, hands-on, experiential work. Teachers listen carefully, and make sure the conversation is led by the students' own curiosity and questions. And students are continually discovering that they can be active participants in their own learning, and that their individual choices impact their communities and help shape their world.
Nursery students form a close relationship with their two classroom teachers. They also have an opportunity to connect with other faculty members as part of their music, science, visual art, library and PE curriculum.
Over the course of the day, Nursery students interact in a variety of groups: sitting as a class in morning circle, collaborating in pairs or working alone during choice time, venturing to music, art and PE as half a classroom group, or coming together with their peers from Preschool on the playground twice a day. Students are also paired with third grade students who serve as “buddies’ for thoughtfully designed adventures over the course of the school year.
Gordon's multicultural curriculum begins in Nursery with the All About Me week. Every student is assigned a week to bring in photos and mementos to share with the class, and family members are invited to stop in and share a favorite readaloud book, a family recipe, or group activity. It is a low-key way to showcase and celebrate every student’s background and family structure, and to give each student the experience of being in the spotlight.