Santa Claus, in the form of PBH superintendent "Jock" Cockburn will take down the Christmas orders of 90 University Nursery School students this week. Santa made a surprise visit last week to let some of the junior undergraduates do their shopping early, and although Miss Winnifred Lydon, director of the nursery, fears that some of the older children may know "Jock" from PBH, the transactions came off smoothly.
Playing Santa is nothing new for "Jock," who has done it at PBH for other groups of youngsters. Christmas festivities will reach a climax Friday, when the nursery will throw a holiday party for the "undergrads," with gifts and appropriate ceremonies.
Like all other departments of the University, the two-month-old Quonset hut school is very much in demand. 100 student-parents have entered their children on the growing waiting list, with no expansion of the nursery planned at this time.
Priority on admissions is given to the offspring of veterans, non-veterans' children coming next, and the boys and girls of service personnel still stationed at the University last on the list. So far, faculty children have no chance of getting in, says Miss Lydon, adding that even Dean Buck's youngster is not permitted admittance.
The four-hour period of supervised play that the nursery offers daily for only $5 a month, and Miss Lydon's "parent education program" are two good reasons for the heavy demand on nursery facilities.
Miss Lydon's parent program consists of continual conferences with the mothers "and especially with fathers who need to catch up on the latest child-raising techniques," she comments. There are occasional lectures, such as the one to be given on January 20 by Cheney Jones, leader of the Home for Little Wanderers in Philadelphia.
Under the leadership of trained nursery school teachers, one third of whom are wives of University students, quiet is the order of the day in the nursery. The two-year-olds, the three-year-olds, and the four-year-olds each have their own play-room, complete with blocks, rockers, see-saws, and other bits of infant paraphenalia. There is even an isolation group for "sick or over-stimulated children," according to Miss Lydon who adds that the four-year-olds are "the wild crowd."
Nursery is Model
The nursery is being used as a model for child-workers from all over the country, who drop in to see how Harvard does it. Teachers-in-training have a chance to try out their classroom education during part of the day, when they assist the regular teachers.
Miss Lydon finds that the children do not offer any exceptional problems. One obstreperous youngster, however, arrived with his father and then decided that he'd rather go with "the old man" to Law School. Father convinced son that it was more fun at the nursery. Other University children have insisted on following their fathers' example of bringing books to school. Reading however, is not a part of the nursery's curriculum.
The nursery's director started her University work taking care of servicemen's children at PBH during the war. When the present "H" shaped building was finished in October, she continued her activities over there.