The play-school program at Jessamine Career and Technology Center has expanded into the fall for its fourth year and has its biggest class of preschoolers being instructed by high-schoolers.
Students in Jennifer Hulette’s advanced child human development classes plan lessons for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds in the 10-week program who visit the school for about two hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.
“It’s kind of a win-win situation. Those who come from the community, it’s a free program, so their children get to socialize with other children, come to a preschool program, and then my students get to work with the little ones and learn how to plan lessons and just totally take charge,” Hulette said.
The project began in February 2010 with a class of 14 children. After a spring class for each of the past three years, Hulette expanded the project to include a fall class of 18 children, and there is typically a long waiting list.
The high-schoolers who plan the play-school program have already gone across the parking lot to work with students at Jessamine Early Learning Village in an earlier class.
“They take those classes where they get to go with the other teachers’ classrooms and observe, and once they get into this program, they’re in charge — they’re planning the lessons; they’re teaching the lessons, seeing what works and what doesn’t,” Hulette said.
The value of the program to the high-schoolers is clear in the work they do throughout the semester and in the tears often shed during a parent program on the last day of class, Hulette said, and the play school is an equal benefit to the children.
“I’ve had a lot of parents contact me after their kid started kindergarten, saying that the play school really helped them get ready, and it was an easy transition for them once they started,” Hulette said.
The program has grown not just in participation and frequency but also in content. Each year, materials are added to a learning lab, and each teaching group of students creates a memory book for each child in the program.
Lessons each day cover eight different areas — math, science, social studies, language arts, physical activity, art, music and story time.
“It’s kind of cool that even though these kiddos are so little, they learn through playing. The students have learned a lot about coming up with creative lessons,” Hulette said.