At Our Lady of Victory Preschool, it’s important from day one that the children have fun while learning, preschool director Dawn Lorenz said.
“Another goal of early education at our school is for our children to know that God loves them, and so do we,” Lorenz said.
OLV Preschool is a state-certified preschool, offering age-leveled programs for children 2 1/2 through 5 years. The pre-K program is specifically designed to help children be academically, emotionally and socially ready for kindergarten. The optional enrichment and lunch bunch programs offer additional learning experiences for students.
When children are playing, they are learning
“The work of the child is their play,” Lorenz said. “Play is how children learn how to problem-solve, make inferences about their world and discover new ways of doing things.”
OLV Preschool teachers devise their lessons so children can explore and learn in a fun, yet purposeful way. This is easy to do because the classrooms have ample materials for make-believe play.
The artistic creations of students decorate the halls and classrooms of OLV Preschool. For example, a group painting was created by rolling toy trucks in paint and then pushing them across the paper to make interesting patterns.
“Some of the boys who didn’t normally show a lot of interest in art projects really got into this one. I know it was because they like playing with the trucks,” said Allison Royes, the lead teacher for the 2 1/2-year-old program.
The children also have lessons and play outdoors at the enclosed playground, children’s planting garden, the butterfly garden and the science center.
“My children constantly came home with projects, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that was an ingenious and fun way to teach that,” ’ said Jennifer Flynn, mother of two graduates of the OLV Preschool program.
Routine and structure enhance learning
Research studies and experiences at OLV Preschool support that routine and structure are vital to a successful transition to and experience in preschool. Consequently, each OLV Preschool class follows a format that is predictable, yet flexible and fun. Classes open with a routine of a song and prayer, calendar time, weather report and discussion about the theme for the day. Circle time, free play, snack time and nap/rest time take place at predictable times.
“Children need structure and routine; they feel more comfortable when they have those boundaries and perform better when they know what they are,” said Ruth McMullen, a pre-K teacher at OLV Preschool.
Learning about God’s love and loving our neighbor
Talking about Jesus and God every day is what makes OLV Preschool different, said Deb Hilands, who teachers preschool and pre-K at OLV.
“We can put everything in the context of God’s love and our response to it,” Hilands said. “Every day you can hear us tell the kids, ‘Jesus wants us to be kind and loving to each other.’ ”
“Our curriculum is faith-based and our partnership with Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church allows us to also celebrate holy days and feast days,” Lorenz said.
OLV Preschool chose Heifer International to center the all-school Lenten Project this past spring.
“Our director explained to all the children in a great way what Heifer International did — not just in giving food, but how it works to help families and communities to improve their income, nutrition and standard of living,” McMullen said.
Children were encouraged to do simple jobs — such as help set the dinner table — as a way to raise money for the charity.
“Our pre-K class’ goal was to raise enough for a chicken,” McMullen said. “And in the end, we raised enough for a whole flock!”
In total, OLV Preschool raised more than $1,000 for the charity organization.
The vision and long-standing reputability of OLV Preschool is credited to Beth Doughtery, the founding director of the school. In 2016, Doughtery retired after expertly guiding thousands of families and children through the preschool years.
“We now are enriching what Beth cultivated for over 20 years,” Lorenz said. “We have new engaging programming to meet our core goal: For our children to know God loves them and be academically, socially, and emotionally ready to succeed in the ‘big school’ and beyond.’
Kathy Peters is a mother of five, with three who attend Our Lady of Victory Catholic School and one who attends St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy.