Child study system creates a personal bridge between preschool and high school

Photo contributed by Renee Reiner 15

Photo contributed by Renee Reiner ’15

In the midst of a physics lab, statistics test and Euro essay, some Staples students choose to get down to crawling level and spend time with preschoolers as teenage teachers.

“We’re not just playing with kids,” Megan Nuzzo ’15 said. “Mrs. McClary treats child study as a real job for all of us high school students. We are given a lot of responsibilities as teachers and must act professionally and thoughtfully.

“This program gives students the opportunity to implement everything they have learned about children into a laboratory experience,” Linda McClary, Director of the Child Development program, said.

According to child study student Diamantis Datil ’16, the class consists of working as assistant teachers to McClary in a working preschool. Students’ general tasks consist of writing lesson plans, interacting with the children and observing the environment of the preschool and child development on the sideline. Meeting three days a week, each day consists of games and activities in math, writing and creative arts.

“We read with them, we create lesson plans, we do everything for the preschool,” Datil said.

A unique feature to the Staples preschool, other than the fact that it is run by high school students, is that each student is paired with a child in the class to allow for more individual attention. Datil’s buddy is Staples environmental science teacher Michael Aitkenhead’s daughter Cora.

“Our system is so different than other preschools,” Datil said. “Everyone knows that a student-teacher ratio makes a class, so every student has a teacher, which is amazing.”

McClary agrees. “It’s all about the special personal connection that comes with this buddy system,” she said.