St. Matthew's Day School, where children learn best in an atmosphere of warmth and vitality and through their active participation in rich experiences. St. Matthew's is a busy, happy place where each child can find success and develop a love of learning.
As members of the congregation, we make a covenant to support and nurture our life together in the name of Christ, in faithful and diligent use of the means of Grace, in prayer, in study and by our common efforts in support of the Church, as we seek to be God’s servants in His world.
How we started
It was a windy day in October 1971, when David Bohannon, our now retired senior pastor, began knocking on doors in the then sparsely developed communities of Lake Ridge and western Dale City. On February 6, 1972, seventy-six people gathered for St. Matthew’s first worship service. Visit the ELCA website to find out how much we have grown.
Who we are
We are a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, (ELCA). Locally we are part of the Metropolitan Washington Synod, which includes the areas of Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. We are one of five E.L.C.A. churches in the Woodbridge/Lakeridge area.
Perhaps your children are enrolled in our Day School. Maybe you’ve heard about our service work in the community through ecumenical organizations such as Action in the Community Through Service (ACTS). Maybe your neighbor recommended our Sunday Church School or youth group programs. You might be a life-long Lutheran transferring to the Washington Metropolitan area for the first time. However you found us, we invite you to share our life in Christ.
Children learn best in an atmosphere of warmth and vitality and through their active participation in rich experiences. St. Matthew's is a busy, happy place where each child can find success and develop a love of learning.
Positive relationships with caring and responsive adults nurture a sense of trust and respect for others.
A consistent daily routine provides the comfortable predictability important to young children and their developing feelings of competence.
Thoughtfully planned opportunities throughout the day introduce and support meaningful learning. Teachers are guided by HighScope's active learning curriculum, as well as each child's interests, needs, and abilities. Teaching begins where the child is, leading and encouraging each one to increased understanding and independence.
Children acquire skills through both teacher lead and child-initiated experiences. The child's curiosity and natural motivation to learn is stimulated through daily opportunities for imaginative play indoors and out, ongoing projects, creative arts, structured and spontaneous music and movement, active involvement with science, math, literature and literacy, and regular walk-abouts and field trips.
St. Matthew's seeks to lay a foundation for success in a complex and changing world by inspiring an enthusiasm for learning and an awareness of the unique value of each person as a child of God in a caring community.
The structure of the preschool day offers choices and challenges, problems and solutions, friendship and delight.
GREETING & GROUP TIME
As the children arrive, the teacher welcomes each child individually, catches up on their “news,” and does a visual health check. The children check-in and make plans for the day. Some children find they have a "job" to do - Bell Ringer, Door Holder, Table Washer, Block Captain. (Children love to have real jobs.) They exercise initiative, choosing and working in small centers until everyone has arrived.
Circle time is a teacher-lead exercise in community building and class decorum - in an atmosphere acceptant of children’s enthusiasm, inexperience, and active natures. Developing self-regulation (needed for sitting & listening) is a work in progress. The teachers make circle time interesting, lively, sensitive to children's abilities, so that focused attention grows while children talk and listen, sing and dance, and preview the school day together.
The teacher may lead a conversation about a topic of current interest, or help advance children’s plans for an emerging project. (Projects and interests under construction are communicated in each teacher's monthly newsletter.)
As the children’s imaginative and constructive play develops, circle time may also be used for discussing the problems and issues of society in microcosm – kind words, safe behavior, sharing resources.
Talking in turn, listening to one another, and attending to the teacher are “school skills” that must be thoughtfully developed. They prepare children for more formal educational settings to come, and help them participate in group-life more easily. However children’s curiosity, creativity, and enthusiastic need to “find out firsthand” shouldn’t be held at bay too long!
Centers available each day are:
* Home or Dramatic Center (doll house, dress ups, cooking accessories)
* Block Center (accessories: cars, trains, animals, people)
* Easel & Table art (play dough, tempera, water colors, markers, etc.)
* Library (children choose books to look at and "read" or be read to)
* Table Toys and Puzzles
* Sensory table (sand, water - materials to pour, search and sift through)
* Science or Discovery Center (offering first hand experiences with materials and animals
* Writing Center (all manner of drawing implements, paper, name cards, scissors, tape, hole punches, staplers . . . things to entice use and build fine motor strength and control.)
When Center Time comes to a close, it's Clean-Up Time. Time for everyone to work as a team putting everything back in its place. There's incentive to help, because coming up may be Snack Time, Playground Time, Story Time, or Small Group Time.
Snack Time is a time for refreshment, relaxation, conversation and developing independence in a community of friends. It offers a different setting for talking with friends and teachers, and recalling the work done in centers. Each parent sends their child to school with a small snack, wet-wipe, and cup in a hard plastic or metal lunch box.
Playground Time brings running, climbing, balancing, jumping, swinging, sliding, digging. Children play traditional games and invent their own. The children play outside every day unless the weather is severe. Our playground is full of natural wonders and sheltered by an ample tree canopy. In severe cold or steady rain we go downstairs to slide, crawl, balance, toss balls & beanbags, scoot or row with scooter boards, build with hollow blocks, and more. Children gain a joyful confidence in their ability to move.