Spotlight: Greenbelt Nursery School, Cooperative Preschool for 2 – 4 year olds

Curious about the local schools, daycare and child care options along Maryland’s Route 1 corridor? Then check out Route One Fun’s Spotlight on Schools series, where local parents share their insight on 11 local schools (including preschools, daycare, public schools and private schools) in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Greenbelt Nursery School

In this latest Spotlight, local parent Anna Bedford-Dillow puts Greenbelt Nursery School on our radar and gives us the inside scoop on this cooperative school for children ages two, three and four years old. As a parent who’s had one child go through each of the classrooms and graduate from GNS two years ago as well as a child currently in the littlest 2-day Farm Room, Anna knows a thing or two about Greenbelt Nursery School!

About Greenbelt Nursery School

By Anna Bedford-Dillow, current parent and board member of Greenbelt Nursery School

Greenbelt Nursery School is nestled in the bottom of Greenbelt’s Community Center, and opens out to a new playground, along a quiet path between the library and the Youth Center. This is where both of my children had their first classroom experiences, and where I, as a parent, was also able to immerse myself a couple of times a month in a preschool classroom with all of its magical childhood play, songs, and joyful discoveries.

Greenbelt Nursery School. Photo by Anna Bedford-Dillow.

Last year the school celebrated its 75th birthday. It was founded, as so many of the historic institutions in Greenbelt, as a cooperative and a non-profit, and continues as such today. Currently, two of the board members at GNS are both parents of children at the school and also attended themselves as children.

Teacher & Parent Involvement at Greenbelt Nursery School

Each day the classrooms are led by a teacher, a teaching assistant, and two parents. One of the things I like best about GNS is that it invites parents to contribute to the classrooms and to join their children there. Working in the classroom – usually once or twice a month – is not required, but for those that are able to, it is a wonderful opportunity to share in their earliest educational experiences and rediscover the feeling of playdough on your fingers and sitting cross legged at circle time.

Play-based learning (& sharing!) at Greenbelt Nursery School.
Photo by Anna Bedford-Dillow

Play-Based Learning at Greenbelt Nursery School

The school serves about 75 families and comprises of 5 classes: a 2-day Farm Room for the littlest 2 year olds and early 3s; a 3-day Farm Room for young 3 year olds; a 3,4, or 5 day morning class or afternoon class for the 3-4 year olds in the Ocean Room; and a 5 day morning class for the 4-5 year olds in the Forest Room. All of the classes center on play-based learning, and strive to foster natural curiosity and a love of learning. The school also offers an enrichment program in the afternoon for parents who want children to stay all day, with an unusual amount of freedom for parents to choose the days for which they wish to sign up. It is also one of few nursery schools in the area to be accredited by NAEYC’s National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.

Community at Greenbelt Nursery School

We have loved the community of fellow parents and neighbors we have met at the nursery school. My husband and I moved to Greenbelt as graduate students and didn’t know many parents, but we met a large local community of them here. Families get to know each other through co-oping together, working on committees, through bake sales, yard sales, and annual events like the school’s pot luck, house party, and 5K family race (coming up on April 6th and open to the public). Most of our nursery school friends live close by and have become friends we see at playgrounds, and, for my eldest, would be friends long after nursery school, on baseball teams and scout groups and at local schools.

On-site playground at Greenbelt Nursery School.
Photo by Anna Bedford-Dillow.

Of course my favorite thing about the school has been how much my children have enjoyed it, their excitement to go each day, and their equal enthusiasm to come back and share the stories from their day, along with the things they’ve learned – socially as well as academically – and the friendships they’ve made.

Upcoming Open House at Greenbelt Nursery School

Greenbelt Nursery School will hold its annual open house on February 23rd from 10am to 1pm, when registration for the following year will open. We invite local community members to join us then, meet teachers and current parents and tour the classrooms.

Questions about Greenbelt Nursery School

As part of the Spotlight on Schools series, I ask each parent/author to make him/her/themselves directly available to readers who may have some questions about the school. Anna Bedford-Dillow graciously agreed to do so and can be reached at: annalouisebedford at gmail dot com.

Greenbelt Nursery School is located at 15 Crescent Rd, Greenbelt, MD 20770.

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