Source: Sherman Publications

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Students learn, teach at Funshine

February 15, 2012

Funshine students Stephanie Johnson and Maxim Brown learn about nature with teaching assistant Kaitlin Pitts and a friendly live snake.

Special to the Clarkston News

Did you know Funshine's Early Childhood Center has a location at Clarkston High School?

This unique program allows high students enrolled in Child Development classes to interact and be part of the preschool students' day. Lead teacher Carrie Oda oversees all projects and learning centers in the classroom.

"We are able to expose the preschool students to so many different learning opportunities because of the extra help the high school students provide," Oda said.

This multi-aged Funshine classroom at Clarkston High School runs from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Enrollment options for the class are based on need, as students are welcome to attend 2-5 days a week.

A typical day in Oda's classroom is certainly busy. Learning is hands on and individualized. Preschool students are engaged at different learning centers, such as the math center, art center, ABC center, drama center, or writing center.

A high school student serves as a facilitator at each center, assisting with conversation, pencil grips, or simply playing with the preschool age students.

In one class, a preschooler could be seen sitting in Oda's chair "reading" a story to the class, who watches in admiration as he explains the pictures to them. Sitting alongside each preschooler are the high school students in child development.

"What a terrific learning environment, which provides hands-on experiences working with children," said child development teacher Lisa Donley.

The program is naturally rewarding to the preschoolers and the high school students.

"The child development program is especially a great stepping stone for students who want to go into teaching. Additionally, bonds are formed, and it puts a smile on everyone's face. It's just an all around great program," Oda said.

"I love working with the preschool children, and getting to know them," said senior Taylor Smith, a child development student. "We get to know not just their names, but their personalities, their interests, and how they learn."

Fall registration materials will be available soon at The Early Childhood Center.