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Pine Orchard Nursery School (PONS) was founded as a parent cooperative in 1939 and presently exists in the "little red school house" at 149 South Montowese Street in Branford. Almost 70 years later, PONS maintains its original mission: to provide an exceptional preschool experience in a parent involved school.

At PONS, we strive to nurture a child's innate sense of wonder and curiosity. Our teachers encourage exploration and growth in an environment that is safe, stimulating, consistent, and nurturing. We encourage cooperation, communication, and respect for others. We believe that school should be a happy place, and we strive to make every child's first school experience a positive one.

Through cooperation and communication, parents and teachers work together and form relationships which create a community spirit. Preschool children find comfort in this close relationship between school and home. Parents are always welcomed into the classroom, encouraged to observe and participate.  Everyone at PONS is a learner - the children, the teachers, and the parents. Together we create a community of learning.

Interested in reading more about how current research supports our educational philosophies?

  • New York Times op-ed piece "Let Kids Learn through Play" by David Kohn describes studies that support child-initiated vs. academically oriented learning. From the article: in one study, "by the end of the fourth grade those who had received more didactic instruction earned significantly lower grades than those who had been allowed more opportunities to learn through play."
  • New York Times op-ed piece "The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K" by Shael Polakow-Suransky and Nancy Nager talks about how, for preschool students, play is the best way to learn. From the article: "As they play, children develop vital cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional skills. hey make discoveries, build knowledge, experiment with literacy and math and learn to self-regulate and interact with others in socially appropriate ways. Play is also fun and interesting, which makes school a place where children look forward to spending their time. It is so deeply formative for children that it must be at the core of our early childhood curriculum."
  • In Branford Patch article "Learning through Imaginative Play," Alana Joli Abbott reported on how Gladys Deutsch, Director at the Leila Day School in New Haven, and Early Childhood Education Consultant Barbara Stern explained current early childhood education research at the 2014 PONS Annual Meeting.
  • Angela Hanscom wrote in the Washington Post, in "The decline of play in preschoolers—and the rise in sensory issues," that the focus on academics at the expense of play can lead to young children not developing the necessary social skills to get along in elementary school.