The Nursery

Nursery Picture


Ann Guthrie is the teacher of the Nursery's inquisitive and active 3 1/2- to 5-year-olds. Ann's philosophy is that children are innately curious and that by providing a rich environment that supports self-direction and a sense of wonder, children will learn, grow and develop: They are intrinsically competent learners who want to take on challenge and to master their worlds.

Another foundational belief is that young children learn how to get along with one another, to know themselves and to learn about the world around them through play and playfulness. Their play is seen to be on a continuum from the quite silly to the quite serious. It is understood that they sense the differences and gain from it all. 

The Nursery supports the belief that children learn in different ways and develop at different rates. In all things there is a developmental timescale for children that is respected. A great deal of patience, support and repetition are provided. 

Students in the Nursery have a regularly scheduled time each week for Art & Science with Brian Brogan and Music with Dennis Farmer. They also take part in school-wide events and celebrations.




Nursery Newsletter

  • Forging a Group: Challenge, Practice, Skills, Joy....
    Written by

    Here we are finishing up October and now into the very first week of November and these children are already forging larger group ties, connections, and the skills they will need to work together in more complex ways. It’s still so early in the year and they are already busy and able and interested in going on to the next level of group building.

    Every year, every group of children does this. For Nursery children it sometimes happens in November or December, often in January or later, and one year it wasn’t until two weeks into May, that a collective group understanding came about.

    When it does happen, it’s when they seem to sense individually that they are ready and also that they want to accomplish things they can’t do as well on their own. It requires the ability to communicate their ideas in a group setting with the others. It requires a certain give and take, plus a comfort with the process of really listening and talking as they work out the inevitable bumps in the road and figure out how to take their play forward. It requires practice, repetition, and sometimes courage, to be able to let go of what you may want in the moment to become part of something bigger than yourself and make yourself part of a blended vision. I see the work they put into it to find the balance. I think they are  aware of their individual and collective effort, but, for them, I think it is the joy of the process that is what they’re most aware of. Their process is the motivator! When they are on a roll, it’s like watching jazz musicians improvising with and off of one another.   

    I think one thing that is at the core of being ready to do this kind of work is their practice and comfort with turn taking. I have watched them spontaneously join up in unlikely little groups of three or four to throw a ball around to one another while they came up with  variations to the game as they went along. One variation included them trying to bounce it off of their heads instead of catching it. Much laughter.

    There has been another game that was invented and refined by one Nurseryer over several days. With this one, as many as six children at a time would eventually join in. In it, after the rest of the group had ritually stepped out of the way, each Nurseryer, in turn, would run like mad around the perimeter of the sand box and, after several circuits, would dive — head, tummy, legs — flat into the sand. They would jump up triumphant, the rest of the group would celebrate with them, they would scoot out of the way again, and then the next person would make their own run and dive and celebration.

    With no adult involvement or direction, they are sometimes having real shared group conversations around the lunch table now which absolutely requires them all to individually  buy into turn taking. Sometimes in call and response. One went like this:

    “Who likes cucumbers?”

    Around the table one at a time: “I like cucumbers.”

    “Who likes strawberries?”

    Again, one at a time: “I like strawberries.”

    “Who likes carrots?

    This time, one person quickly disagrees: “I hate carrots.”

    Another gently says, ”Don’t say hate; that’s not good.”

    The first person, rephrases: “I don’t like carrots.”

    Someone else responds: “But they’re healthy food; they’re good for you.”

    Playing with the form of their call and response they had just invented, the others continued laughing around the table: “I like carrots.”

    Being three and four and five, it eventually was over the edge and into: “Who likes to eat poop?”

    And then they joyously moved into something new.

    Please realize that all of these vignettes stem from their hard work and practice and getting to know one another and themselves in this group setting. Add a creative spark, the idea of some Nursery Schooler who leads the way, and then the others spontaneously join in. I am an observer and sometimes if I am quick enough I can grab my iPhone or paper and my pocket pencil to make a record of these moments.

    This is high level work/play that they are choosing to do. Make no mistake, they are accomplishing this while they often feel “Meee first!” You can see that there is much joy and satisfaction in their process and what they can do together, but it’s also challenging work for them. It requires a lot of practice being together and working things out to set the stage for every one of these spontaneous epiphanies.

    I imagine they may be tired when they get home!


Read more from Ann's blog...
Ann - Nursery

Ann Guthrie - Nursery

From my earliest, I have been intrigued by the natural world and animal behavior--including human.  Among my ongoing interests are the brain, brain research, individual temperament and personality, child development, social organization of groups, language acquisition, history of  the English language, writing, and words in general.

In many ways an autodidact, I left high school for part of a year when I was 15 to work on a research project which took me to the Kansas City Science Fair and then on to the 1964 National Science Fair-International as a finalist, where I was awarded second place by the American Psychological Association.  I had parents who very much respected personal autonomy, trusted in me, and found ways to support my somewhat quirky and passionate interests which ranged from field study, brown capuchin monkeys, to gymnastics with a lot of other stuff in between.

I did go back to high school and also have a BA from Antioch College in Education with certification K-6.  My post-graduate work is ongoing and mostly of my own design.  Over these past 28 plus years, a good part of it has taken place at the educational laboratory of The Antioch School and in an ongoing collaboration seminar with my colleagues, past and present, who are rare and gifted teachers and profound educational thinkers.

Each year I also have the opportunity to get to know 12 individuals, young children, who bring with them their own unique temperaments, personalities, interests, and learning styles.  I am honored to be part of their process as they learn and grow as individuals, see themselves and one another, and collaborate to create their group.

My husband is a writer whose special interests are music, literature, and history.  Our daughter is an alum of The Antioch School and teaches in the Theater Department at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

For 3 1/2 - 5-year-olds
8:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
8:30 A.M. to 11:30 P.M.

Upcoming Nursery Events

Fri Nov 22 @10:00AM - 11:30AM
American Sign Language Lessons

Tue Nov 26 @11:45AM - 02:00PM
Thanksgiving Feast - Early Dismissal

Wed Nov 27 @12:00AM
Thanksgiving Holiday

Thu Nov 28 @12:00AM
Thanksgiving Holiday

Fri Nov 29 @12:00AM
Thanksgiving Holiday

Fri Dec 06 @10:00AM - 11:30AM
American Sign Language Lessons

Mon Dec 09 @12:00AM

Fri Dec 20 @12:00AM
Children's Cookie Exchange

Mon Dec 23 @12:00AM
Winter Holiday

Mon Jan 06 @12:00AM
School Resumes

Contact Ann

If you have a question for Ann, please use the form below to send her an email.

Testimonial of Selah Griffin.

Selah Griffin
The Antioch School 2009-2015

An Older Group student at the time this testimonial was written

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