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Meet The Rho-Reid Family of The Phebe Anna Thorne School

With two very different children, find out why Phebe Anna Thorne school has been a perfect learning environment for both boys.

As her oldest son approached preschool age, a comment on the Main Line Parent Community Facebook page caught Kathy Rho’s eye: a mom said that she had two children that were very different from one another, and that the Phebe Anna Thorne School had worked well for both.

Kathy and her husband, Matthew Reid, also have two very different kids. Dylan, who will begin Thorne Kindergarten this fall, is thoughtful and reserved; while Ellis, “jumps first and asks questions later.”  Ellis will enroll in Thorne’s toddler program this year. And, indeed, Thorne has been a fit for both boys, and a perfect learning environment for their whole family.

Matthew had experienced a play-based preschool himself as a child, so Thorne’s model felt familiar to him. “Thorne is truly a play-based learning experience.  Everything they do is play and that is the core of their approach. It really works for all kinds of kids. Thorne teachers know how to nurture children and help children work through their learning and their growth and learn who they are.”  As a former educator, Kathy also believes wholeheartedly in Thorne’s model.

The Phebe Anna Thorne School offers programs for toddlers and preschoolers at their location on the Bryn Mawr College campus, a full-day kindergarten program on the Haverford College campus, and a Language Enrichment Preschool Program for children with identified speech and language difficulties. First opened in 1952 as a laboratory school, the Thorne School maintains strong partnerships with local universities and seeks to demonstrate the value of play as the focus of early childhood education.  Thorne’s motto is “play to learn, learn to play” and it guides every aspect of their developmentally-appropriate, warm, supportive and relatively self-structured classrooms.

Kathy and Matthew love the community at Thorne.  Teachers focus on building community in the classroom and helping children learn how to play with and care for each other as well as how to disagree and come to an agreement.  Parents observe and learn directly from teachers so that they can use similar language and techniques with their kids at home. “I really feel like I am a partner,” Kathy says. “I understand the philosophy of the school and we want to extend it into our home.” Thorne’s First Fridays bring parents together for informal chats about parenting topics, casual meet and greets or occasional speakers, and foster a tight-knit parent community.

Dylan says that he likes the toys at school and that he “plays” there, and this is just what teachers, administrators and the parent community at Thorne want. Kathy says, “At a play-based school you might be worried that the academic skills aren’t coming, but they are – (Dylan) learned very quickly and developed fine motor skills through play.  He is learning math and writing and more. Through playing games and through play he is learning academic skills.”

You can learn more about the Phebe Anna Thorne School on their Profile Page and their Facebook Page. Contact Amanda Ulrich for enrollment information at 610-526-7913.

This story supports the Main Line Parent Community and was written by Karen Barbuscia with photography by Abbe Foreman Photography.

Learning to Play, Playing to Learn: The mission of the Thorne School is to provide play-based, developmentally appropriate child-centered programs for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners.