Pre-schoolers get glimpse of ‘big’ school

Published 8:56 am Thursday, April 18, 2019

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By Jeanna Baxter White

“The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round” ….

Just ask the NC Pre-K students from Almost Home Child Care who recently rode a school bus to William R. Davie Elementary School for a tour as they prepare to enter kindergarten this fall.

For many, it was the first time on a bus and the first time in an elementary school.

“The transition from preschool to kindergarten can be one of the most significant events a young child experiences,” said Stephanie Nelson, preschool collaborative teacher for Davie County Schools, who organized the field trips.  “Many emotions characterize this moment; excitement, fear, happiness, anxiety, surprise and a sense of being overwhelmed are a few of the emotions children and families might feel.

“However, with careful advance preparation and planning, this transition can be a successful milestone for the child. DavieLEADS is giving thoughtful and deliberate attention to this process in many ways.  One way is by creating these transition field trips for students attending NC Pre-K classrooms that are located in child care settings.”

DavieLEADS (Literacy Empowers All in Davie to Succeed), is a five-year early literacy initiative created through a $2.5 million grant from the Mebane Charitable Foundation to improve kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading proficiency.

Through the initiative, collaborative work with NC Pre-K classrooms in private child care settings has been progressing with the goal of creating educational opportunities equitable to the educational opportunities the students in public school NC Pre-K classrooms receive. While all NC Pre-K classrooms, regardless of location, meet the same state guidelines and provide the same curriculum, students attending NC Pre-K in public school settings get an opportunity to gain familiarity and comfort in the elementary school setting before attending kindergarten.

The field trip included a tour of the school conducted by William R. Davie NC Pre-K teachers, Margaret Steele and Alisa Allen, and the opportunity to join their class for a story and a Letterland activity in the gym.

“We hope that when the students come back next year and see a familiar face within the staff, it will really help,” Nelson said. “The teachers and kids have loved it, and the administrators of the child care centers have been very thankful for this opportunity through the grant from the Mebane Foundation.”

Sabrina Lever, an NC Pre-K teacher at Almost Home, said: “I value that our Pre-K students have this opportunity to explore an elementary school and the kindergarten classrooms. The whole experience of the children getting to ride a bus, visit the cafeteria, gymnasium, media center, and computer lab was educational and extremely fun for them.

“Now they can visualize kindergarten when we are talking about it. This experience has helped them developmentally by preparing them for what’s to come. They know more of what to expect and now have a better understanding of what it means to be a kindergartner.”

In addition to familiarizing the students with elementary school, the tours provided another opportunity for the pre-K teachers from the private sites to connect with counterparts at the schools to build the professional community.

The participating NC Pre-K classrooms included Almost Home Child Care, Kountry Kids Learning Center & Preschool, Mocksville Head Start, Mudpies Child Development Center, and Young Children’s Learning Center. The participating elementary schools and public NC Pre-K classrooms included Cooleemee, Cornatzer, Mocksville, Pinebrook, and William R. Davie Elementary schools.

The students who have completed their field trip have been excited to see their elementary school.  During one recent field trip to Pinebrook, a student from Mocksville Head Start excitedly told the bus driver, Susan Pifer, “This is the best day of my life.”