Our Philosophy

Sunnymont-Westside Parent Coop Nursery School’s philosophy is that children are natural learners who benefit from a school environment where:

  • Learning is hands on and active, occurring through play.

  • Projects and activities are process-oriented, rather than product-oriented.

  • Individuals are accepted and nurtured, and diversity is honored and celebrated.

  • Adults are passionate advocates for children, childhood, and developmentally appropriate teaching practices.

  • All aspects of children’s development are considered equally important parts of the curriculum.

Our program is designed to give children as many experiences in as many areas as possible. We view the adults’ job as to set up an environment with both planned, and the tools for spontaneous, learning opportunities in art, sensory play, physical motor skills development, music and creative movement, science, social learning, emotional growth, language, literacy, math and number, problem solving, and more.

Curriculum may originate from the teachers, or may emerge from the children’s play or interests, to be facilitated or expanded upon by teachers and parents. We learn a lot, we don’t always stay clean, and we enjoy some “weird” and really fun projects!

At Sunnymont-Westside, discipline and guidance are considered part of the curriculum. Social learning is probably the most important aspect of nursery school. It is natural for children to make mistakes as they learn to get along with others (adults still do!). Children’s individual temperaments are valued and honored, rough edges and all, and it is understood that misbehavior is simply the result of poor strategies in trying to meet one’s needs. Children don’t “choose” to misbehave; they want nothing more than to do well and please others but they need adult help to learn to do this.

Our job as adults is to help children understand these needs, and find and practice better methods for meeting them. Time out or other punishments don’t give children an opportunity to learn, and they do leave children feeling defensive, and less ready to listen to our adult wisdom. Teachers and parents support children’s practice at socially successful behavior and mutually satisfying problem-solving.

Discipline at Sunnymont-Westside is gentle and supportive. Limits are clearly enforced by loving adults who explain why they intervened (You wanted that car! And I can't let you grab.) and help a child to learn alternatives. (Let's let him know you're waiting for a turn when he's done, and I'll help you wait.) Kids learn that an adult's most important job is to keep everyone safe, bodies and hearts' and that we will keep each of them safe while they are learning to keep others safe.

Our Community
Sunnymont-Westside families form a supportive community of like-minded and very diverse parents and their children. Families are encouraged to use and share their native languages, religious customs and spiritual perspectives. Children are encouraged to notice differences and similarities and to view all of our cultures as both “normal” and “special.”

While we are diverse, we share common core beliefs about children and community that bring us close together. Our parents go out of their way to help each other in and out of school. Families go on group camping trips, watch each other’s children, and support each other through the trials of parenthood and life together. 

What's special about Sunnymont-Westside?

Our school environment is magical in that it brings out the best in all of us.

Sunnymont-Westside is a Nursery School. We like the term “nursery school” better than “preschool” because nursery school IS school for young children, not practice for “real school” later.

Sunnymont-Westside is a developmental, child-centered program. People often ask “Is your school a developmental program, or an academic program?” The answer is that Sunnymont-Westside is a developmental program where children receive a great academic foundation.

Scientists studying brain function have confirmed what our hearts have always told us: children learn best through hands-on experience, when their curiosity is piqued, when they feel safe and loved, and when they are having fun. In other words, children learn best when they are at play. So, a developmental program honors what we know about how children develop and learn best. We believe that the best way for parents and teachers to support learning is to provide materials, opportunities, and adult guidance to children as they eagerly explore the world in search of new learning.

Sunnymont-Westside supports the growth of the “whole child. A first grader can't learn to write if she can't learn to hold the pencil or listen to the directions or share a desk with another child or quit worrying she'll fail. Each area of learning is interwoven with every other, and a child who will be successful in school and in life is skilled in many areas. Sunnymont-Westside works to strengthen all areas of children's growth.

  • Cognitive growth - foundations for math, reading, language, memory, logic, music, science

  • Physical growth - coordination, fine and large motor skills, sensory processing

  • Social growth - social skills, conflict resolution, social responsibility , kindness

  • Emotional growth - self-esteem, self-acceptance, expressing feelings appropriately

  • Creative/spiritual growth - self-expression through arts, sense of self in the big picture

Sunnymont-Westside shows children how to solve problems and attain results.
When some Sunnymont-Westside kids had a dispute over sharing old tires we sometimes play with outside, their teacher asked them to think of a solution that would work for all involved. After several ideas, a four-year-old suggested that if we had more tires, there would be enough for everyone.

Another child accompanied the teacher to make calls to tire shops to ask them to donate used tires. The children got their tires, worked together to move them from our gate to the play area, and took pride in their resourcefulness as they played together.

Sunnymont-Westside provides a nurturing environment for children and parents.
A Sunnymont-Westside mom recently wrote in a note to her teacher, “Thanks for taking the time to help. I've been struggling with this issue and not feeling like I was getting anywhere. Now I see why it wasn't working. Thanks to watching you in class the other day and your lovely e-mail, I now have wonderful ideas and great words to use. I can't wait to start working on this problem with my son.”

Sunnymont-Westside teachers are led by the children in learning new things.
After some children showed an interest in counting everything in sight, a Sunnymont-Westside teacher spent her weekend assembling materials to make a puppet story and other activities out of a favorite counting book. She shared her ideas with another teacher, whose class got even more excited, and also became curious about an animal in the counting story. A science unit to study the animal was in place by the next day.