Students petition for Child Study to become an academic course

Bella Purcell’s buddy listens intently to her read Dr. Suess’s “Hooper Humperdink…? Not Him!”

On Nov. 12, six Child Study students—Kelsey Bobrow ’15, Hannah Berggren ’15, Megan Nuzzo ’15, Renee Reiner ’15, Hadley Ward ’15, and Diana Zogeb ‘16—presented before the collaborative team the reasons behind their push for Child Study to be considered an academic course.

Child Study is essentially a high school student-run preschool. Students create and implement lesson plans for children between the ages of ages three and five. While juggling the responsibilities of preparing class activities and providing individual attention to assigned buddies, students are also studying the children’s social, cognitive, and emotional development.

Colby Kranz ’15, a former Child Study student, strongly supports the petition to have the class weighted into students’ academic GPA.

“Between planning lessons and writing observations for each kid, I always found myself spending long hours in the classroom,” Kranz reflected. “It’s a lot of planning, and if you don’t do your part, it’s not just [your grade] that suffers, but the children, too.”

The class’s final grade evaluation is based on a thorough compilation of the semester’s observations—according to Kranz, this turned out to be a ten-page write-up.

Hannah Berggren seconds the rigor of the course, contending that skills learned in Child Study prepare students for not only the expected level of work in college, but also for future job opportunities.

“At the presentation, I talked about the portfolio I made for college interviews, and how the interviewer was so impressed by the work I had done, saying it was similar to a college-level psychology course,” Berggren explained.

Berggren also discussed the Westport 2025 lens and the ways that Child Study has integrated these values into its course requirements. With the help of Child Study teacher Ms. McClary, students divided and conquered the initiative’s core values—tackling subjects like “critical thinking” and “real world application.”

“I look at the lens and I ask myself how I can create a classroom where we are meeting these expectations,” McClary said. “Considering where the school wants to be in 2025, we are actually doing these things right now.”

According to McClary, the class “is a business” and has presented students with countless employment opportunities, such as working at Pumpkin Preschool or independently as a tutor.

“Kids that take this class are very, very invested,” McClary said, motioning towards the printed schedule before her. The sheet, which had previously been tacked onto the bulletin board by the classroom’s entrance, displayed each student’s assigned tasks for the week.

“The class is a lot of responsibility. We have our own class work to do and are responsible for teaching 14 preschoolers,” Kelsey Bobrow ’15, a current Child Study student, said. “[At the presentation], we discussed why we believe Child Study should be counted as an academic class, so now we have to wait and see what the team decides.”