New preschool program designed for 3-year-olds

  • Starting Monday, Bernardston Elementary School will host a district-wide, language-rich program targeting three-year-old students. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • Starting Monday, Bernardston Elementary School will host a districtwide, language-rich program targeting 3-year-old students. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

Recorder Staff
Published: 9/9/2016 11:08:12 PM

BERNARDSTON — Starting Monday, 3-year-olds in the Pioneer Valley Regional School District will have the chance to go to school, too.

The district has developed a language-rich program specifically targeting 3-year-olds that will be taught Monday through Friday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Bernardston Elementary School.

Christine Maguire, the district’s special education administrator, said the idea was proposed over a year ago as the administration noticed more parents applying to enroll their 3-year-olds in preschool.

“They weren’t quite ready for preschool, but they could also benefit from preschool,” Maguire said.

Maguire said administrators wanted to address the need for a program designed for younger children that would “meet them where they’re at,” rather than force them into a full-day program they’re not yet ready for. She compared the developmental difference between a 3-, 4- and 5-year-old to that between 30-, 40- and 50-year-olds.

“The developmental challenges of a multi-age preschool are much more complicated than you’d think,” she said.

The new program will be taught by Kristin Prophet, who has spent 10 years as an instructional assistant and teacher in preschool and special education classrooms. Prophet is also an early education specialist for the district. Rachel Mallard, a speech pathologist, will act as Prophet’s aid.

Prophet said the program will consist of guided free play, small group activities, outdoor activities and a snack time.

“It’s designed to acclimate kids to preschool and how they should behave,” Maguire said of the program.

Screenings have already been conducted and seven students are currently enrolled. Prophet anticipates as many as nine students over the course of the year, as some interested parents have children about to turn 3, and expects some students will be part-time, attending two or three days per week.

Prophet said she loves the idea of being able to give children a social environment in which to learn basic preschool etiquette.

“The importance of early intervention is just crucial in helping kids be successful in school,” she said.


Prophet and Mallard will also be brushing up on their Spanish to work with their bilingual students.

“Really what that means for the classroom is the language-rich environment will be in English and Spanish,” Prophet said. Classroom labels will be bilingual, and children will occasionally sing in Spanish.

Maguire said the biggest challenge of getting the program started was determining whether to use Bernardston or Northfield elementary school as its home base.

Being a districtwide program that pulls children from Leyden, Bernardston, Northfield and Warwick, administrators wanted the class to be centrally located. As with other district preschool programs, Maguire said parents will transport the students to school themselves.

Bernardston Elementary School had a room available just down the hall from the main office, space that Prophet and Mallard are working to organize and clean in preparation for the program’s launch Monday.

“Because it is a district-wide program, we’ve been trying to collect resources from throughout the district,” Prophet said.

“It’s still a bit of a work in progress, but the big idea is in place,” Maguire added.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


Copyright © 2020 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy