Playschool Programs Receive Accolades from Parents, Teach High School Students Career Skills
September 23, 2016 – Parents have recently begun writing letters of support and praise for the playschool programs offered in West Ada School District high schools. These letters describe the outstanding efforts of teachers and high school students who take on the education of young community members for a few weeks each semester:
“My 3-year-old daughter flourished in the environment. She improved her social skills, self-esteem and motor skills,” Parent Amanda Davison shared in a letter praising Rocky Mountain High School’s Lil’ Griz playschool. “I think this is a great program you have set up for the children and students. I am looking forward to continuing to participate.”
Maureen Lambert moved to Idaho about a year ago from Texas where she taught Family and Consumer Science (FCS) courses for Texas Tech University. She described working with her first group of preschoolers last year: “Our playschool programs give anxious parents a safe place for their children to socialize and become familiar with a school environment before they move onto kindergarten.”
High school students thrive in these programs as well, taking the playschools on as a learning lab for their parent and child development coursework. Students become care providers for these preschool children after learning to build lesson plans, proper discipline procedures, sharing healthy snacks and more. “Our students learn through play,” Lambert explained. “When my high school students read during story time they are learning animation and how to hold a child’s attention.”
FCS programs like playschool offer more than interesting coursework and labs, however. Shannon Phillips, teacher and department chair of FCS at Meridian High School, says many students enter into her programs because they want to thoroughly explore the skills and stamina needed to go into a particular field.
Current FCS student Ashley Brink, a junior at Meridian High School, aspires to work in early education as a teacher or counselor one day. “I am interested in FCS because it focuses on realistic life events and how to deal with life as an adult. My biggest takeaway from my playschool teaching is being able to get experience while still in high school, reassuring me I would like to work with young children.”
“Through courses such as early childhood professions and education assistant programs students are able to get first-hand experience in a specific pathway to decide early on if they are interested, dedicated and passionate enough to make this line of work a career,” Phillips explained. “They realize during these programs-based experiences and internships if they are cut out for these career paths or if they have what it takes to work with children and parents, or if they want to work with children, but in a different environment.”
Taylor Jack, a senior at Meridian High School, wants to study architecture in college but takes the early childhood professions courses because they teach valuable skills about interacting with children. “I love working with children. In parent and child development, we learned about how children develop, mature and grow. Now, in my current class, I see it in action – children learning and developing every day. It is crazy to see and fun to work with.”
Students participating in the playschool programs have the opportunity to work with children ages 3- to 5-years-old in two hour blocks. Lil’ Griz at Rocky Mountain High School is open for three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and for one month in the spring semester. Each high school sets their own playschool schedule. Enrollment in a playschool program is first offered to West Ada staff members, and then opened up to the community. Application packets for families of preschoolers may be requested at each high school providing a program.