For the past 4 weeks (with more consistency than my shower routine), Kirsten marches with Allison (and occasionally Cienna) down to the basement every day right after morning devotional to start Preschool. She has a colorful table set up next to a bookcase full of school supplies. (After a few days of sensing her seriousness, and after she cleaned the toys off of the nearby shelves herself, I happily handed over most of the family puzzles, letter games, coloring books, crayons, etc. and assisted Miss Smith in organizing her new classroom shelves to her liking.)
And for at least an hour, I hear my daughters singing songs, reviewing letter sounds, counting, and playing games together. The other day I saw Miss Smith take her class outside for a field trip to collect leaves in the backyard. Then they sat on the trampoline with their clipboards and colored leaf books, giggled, jumped, played duck-duck-goose, and giggled some more.
And at the end of every day of preschool, Allison marches back up the basement stairs, announces, “I’m home from pre-cool!” and shows me the sticker her teacher gave her that day (and sometimes a coloring page or two). And even though Cienna bounces between me (who plays teacher with the boys while all of this is going on) and the preschool festivities throughout the morning, she always manages to be in on the action when stickers are passed out.
Twice I have received written progress reports on how my girls are doing. Miss Smith wrote, “Allison is a gud stoodent. Cienna is a gud stoodent too.” And the next day, “Allison and Cienna wer olsoe good in this dae too. I love hou thae liket the games.”
And during the formal sit-down parent/teacher conference with Miss Smith, I was informed that Allison knows all of her letters and sounds quite well…except for “y” and sometimes “w,” she’s learning to sound out 3-letter words, and she can count up to 100, but needs significant help after she gets past 13. Miss Smith is a little concerned about Allison’s occasional goofy behavior, which only improves if Miss Smith promises to play “The Betsy Game” (a pretend game that lasts another hour with Mother (Kirsti), Sister (Allison), Baby Betsy (doll), and Lacy (a toy dog)) after preschool is over.
Miss Smith said Cienna knows some shapes and colors, loves to sing “Wheels on the Bus,” and can repeat any letter or number, but can’t count on her own yet…I should assist her in lengthening her attention span and encourage more consistent attendance if I want to see improvement in math.
I’ve heard Kirsten say that she’d like to be a teacher some day. (I think she’ll have 12 years experience before going to college.)
And, yes, Pajama Day comes around quite often at this school.
And I’ve also heard Kirsten proclaim more than once and in a very serious tone, “Even though preschool is down in the basement where we play some of our other games, it’s not a game. It’s for REAL.”
And it’s all FREE!!
It seems to be a winning educational experience for all parties involved.
I’ve heard President Obama talk about the need for educational reform…I wonder if there are any other first-graders and preschoolers out there who would like to band together with Miss Smith and take this revolutionary preschool idea to Washington.
I would back them up.