Cottonwood High’s Kolt Kids Preschool registration opensMar 28, 2022 09:43PM ● By Julie Slama
During Kolt Kids, a high school student helps a preschooler with a puzzle, one of many stations at the preschool. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Registration now is open for Cottonwood High’s preschool.
Class size is limited to 12 preschoolers, who must be potty-trained and three, four and five years old. About 25 high school students, who have taken Child Development and Early Childhood Education classes, work with the young students with preschool aide Earlene Rex.
Monthly tuition for Kolt Kids Preschool is $120 for four mornings per week. The preschool year is typically October through April. A $25 non-refundable deposit is needed in the school office to hold a spot. Additional information can be found online: www.schools.graniteschools.org/cottonwoodhigh/kolt-kids-preschool/
The mornings begin just after 9 a.m., typically with students and family and consumer science teacher Terilee Herbon walking with students who are holding onto their “Fruit Loops” rope—a rope with colorful round plastic loops into their dedicated classroom. Once they arrive, the preschoolers will hang up their coats and bags and wash hands.
A high school student also will ask a question to every preschooler that will be included in the lessons of the day.
“The question will reinforce whatever we’re talking about and gives us a counting aspect,” Rex said. “So yesterday, we asked, ‘Have you ever seen a giraffe?’ for the letter G. Then we count how many have and decide if it’s larger or smaller than those who haven’t.”
Herbon said that the class “is constantly doing math.”
“Math is so critical in child development,” she said. “They have to understand the concept of counting, which is bigger or more and which is smaller or less. They are learning patterns, which is a very basic skill in kindergarten. We are constantly doing a lot, like maybe 15 math standards, that follow the preschool state curriculum.”
A lesson with hands-on activities that are developmentally appropriate is planned by high school students and typically include art, science or sensory, literacy and math. There also is music and movement intermixed into the preschoolers’ days.
During their morning circle time on a brightly colored rug, a preschooler may see the day of the month, for example the third, and learn about the number three. Then the preschooler can spin a wheel to see if the class will jump or stomp their feet three times. They also will look at the weather and say and practice writing the letter of the day.
The day will follow a theme, perhaps a nursery rhyme or a letter. Recently, the preschoolers learned all about the letter F and reached into a “mystery box” to pull out items that started with the letter, such as felt, a flower, a plastic fire engine and a flag, said junior Myalisa Romero.
When they learned about the letter G, they also learned goat starts with the letter and had a visit from a real goat and learned about feeding and taking care of it.
A story and an art project usually accompany the lesson. Students also explore science, from examining how magnets work while reinforcing the letter M to studying the letter V while learning how a papier-mâché volcano erupts with vinegar and baking soda.
Sophomore Alessandro Torres enrolled in the class for the love of children.
“I love how creative they are and how their perspectives are,” Torres said.
Senior Rebecca Walker loves thinking outside the box when teaching the preschoolers.
“I love working with the kids and learning new ways to teach them,” she said. “We work with each one of the preschool students to learn skills as they all learn differently.”
Each day, preschool students have a healthy snack and play on the playground in the courtyard with high school students. Back inside the preschool, there are several stations for the preschoolers, such as an imagination station or one filled with blocks and manipulatives. There are trucks, puzzles, books, sticker letters and other learning materials.
“There’s always somebody there to play with them and they clean up as we sing the clean-up song,” Rex said. “At the end of the day, high school students sanitize everything.”
Holidays, birthdays and a few other days bring fun opportunities to the preschoolers. For their birthdays, preschoolers wear a birthday crown and choose a book to keep. A special day may include the chance to listen to Cottonwood High music students introduce their instruments and listen to them play or attend part of the high school musical.
For holidays, such as Halloween, the preschoolers who are dressed up in their costumes may trick-or-treat through the school’s offices and then try a witch’s brew. They also may drive golf tees into a pumpkin. For St. Patrick’s Day, preschoolers can bring a leprechaun trap to share with the class, but while they’re out of the room, the leprechauns leave footprints and create havoc in the preschool right down to turning the water green in a child-size toilet.
Typically, during the school year, guest speakers such as a firefighter or crossing guard or other community helpers share with students the importance of their jobs.
Parents are welcome to observe the lessons through one-way mirrors. Rex also takes photos and videos to share with parents and a preschool yearbook is given to students. At the end of the year, high school students plan a preschool graduation ceremony where the youngsters wear their own cardboard mortarboards.
Herbon said high school students are learning many skills in addition to curriculum.
“These kids have learned some incredible positive guidance techniques and they can use them in any situation. They can redirect kids if their having a hard time or to correct behavior and just use a lot of positivity and praise,” she said.
Junior Roxie Templin said she and her peer high school students have learned to be positive.
“We will point out to everybody like if someone is sitting quietly and correctly on their pockets and say, ‘Thank you for sitting’ or ‘Thank you for quietly listening,’” she said. “Other kids pick up on that and learn from one another.”
High school students are translating what they’ve learned from interacting with preschoolers to their own peers, such as having more patience, figuring out different approaches to conflicts, working as a team on projects and being positive role models.
They also learned how to problem-solve as in the case when one preschooler didn’t come with a costume, the high school students quickly created one that brought a smile to the little student’s face.
Junior Gabby Stephens said she’d use some of the teaching skills she has learned at home.
“I’m learning how to be a better sister and how to be a better parent for the future and how to use positive reinforcement,” she said.
Sophomore Janel Amaya said she has learned to be more patient, which helps with anxiety.
“I’m talking to them and seeing how they do stuff—and it’s just so calming,” Amaya said.
Some high school students have plans to become teachers so they enroll for multiple years. Sophomore Aisha Sylvester hopes to return as a senior when her niece and nephew may enroll in Kolt Kids so she can return to be their teacher.
For Rex, being a teacher is not a job, but a passion.
“I love seeing them grow and develop—both the preschool students and the high school students,” she said.