The students at St. Edmond Catholic School are on the verge of getting smaller.
Starting next fall, Saint-Edmond will offer a nursery school for 3 year olds. Registrations are open to the public today.
The idea for the program was born in part because of the shortage of child care facilities in Fort Dodge, according to Tabitha Acree, director of St. Edmond.
Iowa has lost more than 30 percent of its child care businesses in the past five years, according to information from the governor’s office. This had a direct impact on the workforce.
“As we know there is a shortage of child care facilities in Fort Dodge so we thought this was our way of giving back to the community and being able to provide a Christ centered place.” Acre said. âSchool, but also fun for 3 year olds. And then be able to ensure a good transition to school. It’s not as long as our 4-year-old program, but it allows the kids to see what school is all about. This helps parents to ease this transition. So if they don’t want a full day or a daily schedule, they at least have a stepping stone to school.
To attend, a child must be 3 years old by September 15, 2022.
Hours will be 7:55 a.m. to 10:55 a.m. with a two-day and three-day option.
The cost for the 3-year-old kindergarten is $ 80 per month or $ 120 per month, depending on the number of days the child is enrolled.
The four-year-old nursery school is offered free of charge. This is because it is covered by state funding.
Sam Lennon, who currently works for the St. Edmond After School morning program, will be teaching the 3-year preschool classes.
Lennon, who graduated from St. Edmond High School in 1994, has experience as a substitute associate in preschool classes in the St. Edmond Community School District and Fort Dodge. She previously worked in the Catholic Church as Director of Religious Education. During this time, she worked mainly with middle school and high school students.
Lennon’s experience also includes seven years as a nanny.
“I have had experience with children of all ages” Lennon said.
Part of Lennon’s goal will be to help children begin to develop social skills.
“One of my goals would be to help children socially”, Lennon said. âSo while they play, during free time, help them interact with their peers. Try to guide some of these interactions.
She added, âI also think it’s important that all three develop more manual dexterity. Many small children are very good at unlocking a tablet and playing mini games. But if you give them scissors, pencils, or markers, they might not have as much experience in this area. So, 3-year-old kindergarten is also all about allowing them to experience and learn some of those skills that they may not have had the opportunity to do.
Another good news for 3 year olds is that there will be a lot of stories and even songs.
“I want them to hear stories” Lennon said. âI think verbal communication is very important. The way they learn that at 3 is to hear stories, to sing songs. We will sing a lot – not well – but we will. We will be singing and also a lot of learning for 3 year olds is through their body movements and experiential play. We won’t have as many worksheets as a fourth grader or a TK child, but we will have a lot of centers with an activity to teach a certain skill. They just won’t know they are learning. They will play. And playing and learning at 3 is the same thing. It’s a very important activity, but they’ll just think it’s fun.
Religious teachings will also be part of the curriculum.
âA lot of this is just reading a simple story about how we think Jesus loves and it will sometimes incorporate songs with hand play. “ Lennon said.
Acree looks forward to the offer.
“We are very happy to offer our Little Gaels kindergarten to 3 year olds”, Acre said. âWe want to provide a Christ-centered environment for children to learn and play. Our 3 year program will help our youngest learners and families to integrate into a school setting. The program will promote the development of the child as a whole – physical, cognitive, social / emotional and spiritual. Children will have time to explore, create, move, sing and play while learning about Jesus.
Lennon shares the enthusiasm for the program.
“I am very happy to start as a teacher at Little Gaels Preschool at age 3 next fall”, Lennon said. âIt is such an honor for me to be the first example of what school can be for all the children in my care. I hope our program will foster experiences that instill a joy in learning.
âPlus, I’d like to start working on the social skills that will help them make good friends. Finally, I hope to help the children to know Jesus better and his love for each of them.
Families can call 515-576-5182 for more information on the 3-year-old preschool program.
3-year preschool registrations open
Who: Fort Dodge 3 years
What: 3-year-old nursery school
Where: St. Edmond Catholic School
When: Fall 2022
Registration: Open today
How to register: Families can register on the St-edmond.com site under the admissions tab.
For more information: Call 515-576-5182.