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Class hosts preschool for real-world experience

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Stacy Vogel
December 16, 2007
— Visitors to the family and consumer sciences classroom at Milton High School might think they’re in the wrong building this month.

A giant foam puzzle covers the floor next to a plastic fort. Paintings of Disney characters decorate the walls. Near the doorway, sock puppets wait patiently to be taken home.


Plus, about half the “students” are only 3 feet tall.


The actual high school students are taking care of 2- to 5-year-olds this month as the finale to their “careers with children” class. With the help of their teacher, Jessica Thimm, they organize and host a preschool for community children on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.


Each student is responsible for creating a lesson plan and running a session. Monday, junior Carrissa Kerl struggled to get the kids involved as she read them a “Sesame Street” story.


“Who here has friends?” she asked. A couple of teens raised their hands, but the preschoolers were apparently friendless.


But Kerl coaxed the truth out of them and soon had them chattering away about their friends. She and the other students helped the preschoolers create new “friends” out of gingerbread cookies.


Several students said they took the class because it looked fun, but they quickly learned childcare is more work than play.


“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” sophomore Casey Robles said.


Before the preschool, the students learned about everything from the food pyramid to stages of childhood development, Thimm said.


Many of the students want to be teachers, but others want to be doctors or police officers, she said. Some want to learn to be good parents, and a few are parents already.


The students earn three credits from Blackhawk Technical College for the course.


This month, they put into practice what they’ve learned.


“It’s a lot different to be with the kids than to talk about it or pretend to be one,” Thimm said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”


Sophomore Megan Schullo led the first class, and not everything went as expected, she said. Some of the children didn’t want to make the rainbow fish project she’d prepared, so the students had to find something else for them to do.


“You have to deal with things on the spot and have quick thinking,” said Schullo, who wants to be a daycare worker or primary school teacher. “It’s really improved my patience.”


The class helps the preschoolers, too, said Chandra Enright, who brings her 3-year-old son, Connor, to the class.


Connor loves the preschool and has learned a lot about listening to teachers and socializing with other children, she said.


“He looks forward to this,” she said. “I wish they did it every day.”



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