*Bellefonte Area High School students involved in the child development classes work and play with children enrolled in Little Raiders preschool. (Photos provided by FCS teacher Andi Kramkowski)
Little Raiders preschool registration
- Ages: 3 to 5
- Cost: $185 a year (follows district calendar)
- Times: Morning session, 9:10 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.; afternoon session, 12:10 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.
- Other: All children must be potty-trained.
- Contact: Teacher Andi Kramkowski, firstname.lastname@example.org
- On the web: www.basd.net/domain/137
*An open house event is planned for September, however activities and events are subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kramkowski is working on a plan for the 2020-21 school year following health and safety policies from the state and school district, and other guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health.
High school students help run preschool as part of child development program
Grace Sherman plans to be an American sign language interpreter, which might mean she could work with children. Having participated in the child development program at Bellefonte Area High School has allowed the recent graduate to experience working with young kids that could give her an advantage when going into the real world.
“This has helped me so much with learning and experimenting with all the different ways children learn and work with certain types of teachers or (other) children,” she said. “Getting to see how to interact with the children and all the different ways that they all learn, I learned how to actually help and be able to put (myself) in the child’s shoes.”
The program offers ninth through 12th-grade students the chance to take a two-part elective with yearlong classes called Child Development 1 and Child Development 2. Under the umbrella of Family and Consumer Sciences, the classes provide high school students the opportunity to help organize Little Raiders preschool that’s open to children in the community as young as 3 years old.
“Normally, it’s for (high school) students who’d like to see if they want to spend time with kids or work in a profession where they would work with kids,” teacher Andi Kramkowski said. “Sometimes it helps establish an interest and other times they realize it might not be for them.”
The preschool is held in two, two-hour sessions during the school year, on days 1-4 on the six-day school cycle. The high school students work on content and lessons during the other two days.
“They make great connections and the (preschool) kids often relate better to them because they’re more of a peer than a teacher, and these high school kids create awesome bonds with the little kids,” she said. “It’s a shame they didn’t get the full year, but it was still amazing to have so many returning students.”
While Bellefonte Area School District physically closed in March through the end of the 2019-20 school year due to a state mandate to help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kramkowski said that didn’t stop the high school students from still learning and participating in the classes – it just came through online education. They created lessons, made modifications based on different examples, and also connected with the preschoolers and their families by providing resources for them.
“My goal is once they leave the class they can make good lessons and be fast on their feet,” she said.
Generally, each high school student is assigned to a preschool student to work one-on-one with learning objectives and other needs. The preschool lesson plans created by the high schoolers include nine topics facilitated throughout the preschool sessions. It includes music, arts and crafts, experiments, free play, snack time, story time and more. The goal of the topics is to acquaint the high school students with a variety of responsibilities, while providing preschoolers with fun and structure while in the program.
“We taught the children hands-on and intellectual patterns, shapes, numbers, letters and color work; and memorization with matching games, board games or fun crafts to participate in,” Sherman added.
Heading into her second year at Bellefonte Area School District, Kramkowski, a Penn State graduate and mother of three children, brings experience to the position after teaching health and physical education, and sixth-grade FCS at State College Area School District.
Her hope with child development at BAHS is to establish more positive relationships with other high school teachers, so she can bring the preschoolers into their classes for fun fieldtrips within the building. Additionally, she said she wants to work with elementary school teachers across to district to learn more about how to prepare preschool students for kindergarten and what those teachers look for in students heading to the next phase of their education.
*By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD