is to prepare your child for a lifetime of education and learning. This means honing curiosity, creativity, and discovery skills so our students have the tools they need to ask questions, think critically, and soar academically as they move deeper into their educational journeys.

How do we achieve this?

PCN follows a play-based curriculum. Research shows that young children display more advanced cognitive skills when adults use less instruction. (1) In a play-based environment, children have limitless opportunities to learn about reading, writing, and math through real, meaningful, hands-on situations. For instance, building block towers is an introduction to counting, geometry, and even some fundamental physics. Make-believe in the dress-up corner lays the story-telling foundation necessary for writing skills later on. We follow Best Practice standards for early childhood education, which are research-based standards approved by the state of Michigan. This means meeting children where they are in order to help them attain challenging but achievable goals to promote development and learning.  Children learn through relationships with responsive adults, active, hands-on involvement, meaningful experiences, and constructing their understanding of the world. Play is the most significant tool in achieving learning at this age. In order to promote as much discovery and learning as possible, our classroom is a rich, ever-changing environment full of invitations to engage in play of all types. Additionally, we try hard to listen to the children as they express their interests; if we hear them asking questions, we’ll provide opportunities to help them discover answers.

Will my child practice the alphabet and counting?

We can do better than that. Research shows that abstract symbols (such as letters and numbers) typically mean very little to preschool-aged children. (2) It’s much more effective to lay the foundation for grasping these concepts by giving children opportunities to abstractly represent the world—something that happens when they play.  When they experience real objects through their senses, they are developing the ability to think abstractly. Children require practice using concrete objects as symbols as a prerequisite to the use and comprehension of print. (3)

What is important to us at PCN?

We want to blend satisfaction into learning so kids enjoy school. We stress creativity and a friendly environment where a few simple rules based on respect keep chaos at bay. Our children practice social skills and build community. We keep things small and supportive so we can excite the children about learning by following their interests and encouraging self-confidence.

1 National Association for the Education of Young Children, naeyc.org.

2 Bodrova and Leong: Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian approach to early childhood education. 1996.

3 Stone, S.J.: Wanted: Advocates for play in the primary grades. Young Children. Sept. 1995.

A Hybrid Co-op Model

PCN is a family-centered play-based preschool which focuses on creating a nurturing community comprised of teachers, parents, and their children. In 1963 the school was founded as a co-op, where parents worked in the classroom as volunteer assistants and helped in the running and maintenance of the school. This model survived until 2014 when the work demands of many parents made required volunteering too burdensome. The school now operates in the spirit of the co-op, where parents are encouraged to grow the community as they are able. An Executive Board comprised of parent volunteers helps to oversee the school, plan events, and ensure that the goals and objectives of the school are relevant to its families. Parents are encouraged to volunteer in the classroom as assistants if possible, but there are many other opportunities for involvement, and parents are invited to share their talents to help teach all our children how to be connected citizens cognizant of the ideas of others.


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