It’s Game Night at the Early Childhood Education 102 class.
The games look like this: board games with brightly colored squares. Big, fuzzy dice to roll. A spinner that takes toddlers and young children to the finish line.
Each game was created by a student and based on a book – from Goodnight Moon to The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Dr. Seuss. All of the games have a math concept that included counting, adding and subtracting. The games are meant to help develop little ones’ minds and provoke questions, interest and learning. In essence, the games need to be fun.
And that’s a bit of the spirit of this night class, taught on Monday nights, from 6-9pm. Mary Skinner, the instructor and program coordinator, says the class is very hands-on, and was built to be interactive and collaborative – reflective of a child’s classroom.
“We model how the students would be as teachers with young children,” Skinner said.
The students took turns playing their classmates’ games.
“I got it!” one student said, as she moved her pawn forward.
“This game is fun,” another said. “Even I would play this, and I’m not a kid.”
“Hmmm, this game is not age appropriate,” a student said. “If I was three years old, I would get really frustrated. You will need an adult to assist.”
After an hour of playing and discussion, the class of 22 students take a break. They pull out snacks, heat up food, or walk outside for some fresh air.
“I’m taking these classes to be a better teacher,” said Mary, 50, who is a preschool and pre-K teacher. “I’ve been able to take the ideas I’ve learned in these classes and try them on my students at school. The response has been positive, and it validates my work. Now I understand ‘the why’.”
Berni, 30, also is a full-time preschool teacher. She balances a full class load while working, and raising a six-year-old son.
“What would I tell people if they want to go back to school?” she said. “Make sure you have stability at your home and work. Have good time management. Manage every bit of your time wisely.”
For Misty, 47, who has two children and two grandchildren, earning this degree has been a longtime dream. She is set to graduate in June, and can’t wait to teach children. Her focus will be on children with special needs.
“I love children,” she said. “I love that through playing, children are learning. They don’t realize they are learning, but they’re having fun, and that’s the joy for me.”
Break time is now over. It’s time for the students to take a mid-term. The students break out their pens and pencils and get ready.
The Early Childhood Education program is designed to develop skills needed to be a successful early childhood professional. Students can earn an Associates Degree of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education. Click here for more degree information.