Beginnings Preschool at Bowling Green Baptist Church is coming back for Year Two, and this year will also include a class for 3-year-olds if sufficient enrollment is met.
The church at 225 North Main Street is having an open house for its preschool program on Aug. 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. Classes will begin the week of Sept. 2.
Linnea Woolridge, the preschool’s director and teacher, said Bowling Green Baptist Church had wanted to do a preschool for many years. As she had previous experience teaching preschool, church leaders recruited her to kick off the program.
“They sort of approached me and said, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ I said, ‘Well I think that sounds amazing,’” Woolridge said.
Beginnings started off small last year, with a class of seven 4-year-olds for a few hours a day a few times a week.
The plan for this coming year is to expand with a class of 3-year-olds. The 4-year-olds will have class Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the 3-year-olds will meet Tuesday and Thursdays.
“That’ll be exciting, because it’s amazing the difference in learning levels between a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old,” Woolridge said.
Woolridge will teach both classes, and Cathy Gray is returning as her assistant teacher.
“She was my assistant teacher last year also, and it was just a beautiful thing. … Her heart was very much in it,” Woolridge said.
Beginnings follows the Creative Curriculum for Preschool.
She explained, “We allow them to sort of let us know what their learning level is. We were very fortunate this (past) year that we had a really bright group of kids, so by the end of the year, they were all pre-readers. All of them were doing mathematics, beginning addition, a little bit of subtraction, and learning to decipher letters.”
For example, two students last year came in already knowing their letters.
“That doesn’t mean that the rest of the seven students are ready for that, but that does mean we can pull them aside and give them a little extra, so I like to think that what sets us apart is that we can offer an individualized curriculum,” Woolridge said.
Outdoor activities are also incorporated. Last year, the kids also helped plant a garden on the church grounds.
The goal is to make sure children are prepared for kindergarten by the time they complete the 4-year-old class.
But, as can be expected with the program being housed in a Baptist church, the children also learn about Christianity.
They use The Gospel Project, which takes a story-centric approach to teaching the Bible to children.
“We’re not talking about fire and brimstone kind of things,” Woolridge said. “We teach them about God’s love, and most of them, because it’s a Christian school and parents know that, are getting it at home anyway. We just sort of reiterate with the stories, and their art projects have to do with Bible stories.”
She continued, “We want them to be prepared for kindergarten wherever they go. They may go to a Christian school. They may go to a public school. But we also want them to have a strong foundation in Christianity.”
However, the preschool is open to any child of any faith or background. It’s not restricted to Baptists, and non-Christians are welcome as long as the parents are comfortable with Christianity being included in the lessons.
“It’s not a Baptist school. It’s in a Baptist church, but it is a Christian school,” Woolridge said.
They may be open and accepting, but they’re not letting their guard down in terms of security.
During school hours, that section of the building is under lockdown. No one gets in or out without calling ahead, and security cameras are keeping an eye on everything.
“It’s a safe environment anyway, but it’s extra-safe because everything is on video all the time, which makes me feel good that anyone who came in would be recorded,” Woolridge said.
Sherri Burns said her daughter had a “wonderful” experience at the preschool last year, and as a mother, she was “very comfortable and happy” sending her child there.
“Audrey absolutely loved going,” Burns said, adding, “She made great friends. The teachers were very caring.”
Burns said her favorite part was the fact that the teachers would send home journals each Friday. Not only would these keep parents in the loop regarding their child’s progress, but the teachers would also include amusing comments the child made that the parents otherwise would have missed.
The purpose of the Aug. 16 open house is “a chance to meet me and look around the classroom. Their children are welcome to go and play on the playground and enjoy the outside area, look at our garden from last year,” Woolridge said.
“Also we would get a chance to meet the kids, which is important to me and Miss Cathy as the teachers—meeting the children and seeing how they interact with us. … It’s fun for us to get to know the kids.”
For more information, call Bowling Green Baptist Church at (804) 633-6803 or go online to bgbcva.org/beginnings.