ParkTalk Podcast S16 Episode 01: The “Why” Behind our New Preschool Curriculum

Monday, March 23, 2020

Preschool teachers and program managers share their excitement about a new curriculum that helps kids learn and thrive.This episode is part of Series 16: Play with a Purpose.

For a list of ParkTalk episodes and series visit

Pre-K students painting with straws as part of the Wind and Water unit

Quotes from the episode:

"As a preschool program we have always looked at best practice and we wanted to continue every year to strive to do better." Sara Cass, Program Manager

"I think it goes right back to, 'Do I know what to expect? Do I feel safe? And do you like me?' And when you have those three components in place, learning can happen." Sara Cass, Program Manager

"So what happens if I'm building this block tower and I want to do something else? We've taught them during the first three weeks to put a cone in place to save their work. We've taught the other kids, what does that mean, if the cone is there? That means you can't play with that right now....And when they're done, they will let you have them." Sherri Swanson, Program Coordinator

"Some children use the cone every day to save their work. And another thing we use is our problem solving puppets and those are key." Theresa Brady, Preschool Teacher

"We have a space in our classroom that's a quiet space, when you just need a moment to calm yourself." Sherri Swanson, Program Coordinator

"Sometimes morning is rough for kids coming to school and they have all these emotions. They can quickly go to the quiet center and open a book, and everybody knows that they need a moment and when they're ready, they will rejoin the group." Mary Beth Boyle, Preschool Teacher

Naperville Park District Preschool Programs

Naperville Park District offers two preschool programs for the academic year, September through May: NPD Preschool Academy and Toadstools and Pollywogs Preschool. Both programs emphasize play with a purpose where teachers create an environment that fosters curiosity and facilitates learning. Through guided play, children develop kindergarten readiness skills. NPD Preschool Academy meets at the Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center, 305 W. Jackson Ave., and Toadstools and Pollywogs Preschool meets at Seager Park Interpretive Center, 1163 Plank Road and at Knoch Knolls Nature Center, 320 Knoch Knolls Road. Toadstools and Pollywogs takes advantage of nearby walking trails, open fields and wildlife to explore nature and to facilitate learning. For more information about these programs and other early childhood classes, camps and events, check the Program Guide.

Toadstools and Pollywogs Preschool students explore corns and beans outdoors at Seager Park