BHN’s foundations can be traced to the late 1950’s, when a group of Brown Memorial Church families acknowledged the need for a mother’s group in the area. Eventually their group grew into a cooperative nursery school that served the needs of both working and non-working parents. Bolton Hill Nursery was officially founded in 1969.
In the mid-1980s, Bolton Hill Nursery became an independent, non-religious, non-profit school utilizing a play-based philosophy of learning. In December 2012, the BHN board made the decision to purchase our current building, the former home of Family and Children's Services. Importantly, the building boasts a big yard perfect for children’s outdoor discovery and spacious, bright, “homey” rooms ideal for indoor investigation.
WHAT IS PLAY-BASED LEARNING?
Play-based learning is exactly what it sounds like: a philosophy that children learn best through play. In a play-based classroom, children’s learning is open-ended rather than dictated by a strict pre-written curriculum. Educators are facilitators and guides instead of directors of learning. At BHN, educators build from each child’s interests and prior knowledge to create environments that encourage the development of confidence, perseverance, and problem-solving skills. Instead of relying on rote memorization for teaching kindergarten readiness skills, children at BHN gain concrete competencies like pre-literacy skills, spatial awareness, emotional competence, and number sense while experiencing the joy of discovery and learning. Through play, children flex the most important skill of all - they are active agents in their learning.
BHN classrooms have an “area”-based approach to play-based learning. “Areas” are learning stations in which children choose to work collaboratively or independently during educational time, under the supervision of an educator. Areas are linked to an overarching theme of study and inquiry – some weeks BHN classrooms may explore “Things That Go,” and the next may delve into a topic like “Light and Shadow.” The play that happens during area time is an opportunity for children to try new things, expand on familiar concepts, and solidify prior learning. It is also a chance for educators to observe where children are, and link their play to skill-building.