Pre-K ??“ Grade 6
1 Head Teacher, 1 Assistant and 1 Intern
Sited at the end of the campus, the Afterschool Program (???the Program???) is in a historical looking building. There are three floors; the Program is on the first floor. College classes are also held in the building during the Program??™s hours of operation. Absent was a playground and outdoor equipment. However, there is a track where children can engage in recreation. The classroom is spacious enough for the number of children attending. When weather hinders outdoor recreation, there is an adequate amount of space for running, jumping and throwing small balls indoors. Bathrooms are not inside the classroom, and the children share these facilities with the college students. These visits are supervised by the Program??™s staff.
This is a regular classroom. There are approximately six centers: math, science, social studies, computer, art, library and a game room, and they all have a supply of educational tools designed to assist in cognitive, self-esteem and emotional development; social play and dramatic play skills; and writing, reading and art skills, which will eventually strengthen large and small motor skills. There are round and long navy blue tables placed strategically throughout the classroom; the library center has a light blue cushion chair. Seating arrangements only seem to apply to those students using the three computers that are setup on individual stations. The students have the option to use headphones while they visit particular educational websites (Nick Jr., poptopic.com and starfall.com) and the sessions are monitored.
Bold colorful rugs with geometric shapes and numbers on them are placed throughout the classroom. Posters decorated with glitter and photographs of students with their parents participating in various events (a pajama party, cultural dinners, a fall festival, baking an apple pie and making pizza) suspend freely from the ceiling. The walls are adorned with many large and colorful themes according to specific centers.
Diversity is evident in the classroom as large animated pictures of children dressed in their cultural garb, and the countries they represented were labeled accordingly. President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama are on the bulletin board in the social studies center, and oversized bugs, reptiles, large magnify glasses and books dominate the science center shelves and counters. In fact, the cubbies, shelves and counters in each center are stocked with many instructive visuals: flash cards, games, magnetic numbers and letters, and puzzles.
The students have their own mailboxes, and they check each day for letters, notes or pictures from either their classmates or staff. Classroom rules, number charts, a telling time clock, sanitizer dispensers, first aid kits, safety signs and a fire distinguisher are visible fixtures on the walls. Dinner is prepared and served in the classroom, and there is a water cooler.
There are nine students, four girls and five boys. The students are frequent attendees. They range from pre-k to fourth grade. The class includes African-American and Hispanic students, and three of these students speak both English and Spanish. Integrated into this regular classroom are three male students who fall into the category as exceptional learners: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia and a slow learner. These boys unite in the game room to watch TV or play foosball and they are quite hyper. They run and play rough, but their activities seem harmless. I did not hear any spoken language between them, only loud laughing. One pre-k male student does not respond well to orders. He has not yet fully comprehended prosocial behavior skills, and he acts and sulks in response to the head teacher??™s stern tone. The girls are quiet and engage alone in dramatic play; all except for one pre-k student, she clings to the adults in the classroom and gives the impression that she is unable to express herself fully with words.
A daily class schedule is adhered to: homework, dinner and centers. The students do their homework when they arrive to the classroom. The staff observes each student and gives support when needed. Once the homework is completed, the students amuse themselves in every one of the learning centers and utilize each and every educational tool until dinner is served. There is a monthly calendar, which lists upcoming events. This month the students will create homemade thank you cards, sculpt with kool-aid playdoh and relax and enjoy a movie night. The staff tried introducing a book of the month with a movie and activity based on the book, but the students refuse to explore or get involved.
Although this is my first site observation, the children seem to interact with the environment with sense. Based on a particular set of criteria, the various educational tools used focused on assessing the students??™ strengths, especially in dramatic play and prosocial behavior. The children appear to be happy and enthusiastic, just as I was, and I think the Program is accomplishing the cognitive needs of its students. As the children rapidly move from center to center and from one room to another, the head teacher is attentive to her fast paced classroom, its universal learning technique, and the conduct of each student. I look forward to my next visit.