‘Helping our littlest learners’
Registration for St. Edmond 3-year-old preschool opens today
The learners at St. Edmond Catholic School are about to get littler.
Starting next fall, St. Edmond will offer 3-year-old preschool. Registration opens to the public today.
The idea for the program came about in part because of the child care shortage experienced in Fort Dodge, according to Tabitha Acree, principal of St. Edmond.
Iowa has lost over 30 percent of its child care businesses within the past five years, according to information from the governor’s office. That has had a direct impact on workforce.
“As we know, there is a shortage for child care in Fort Dodge, so we felt this was our way to give back to the community as well as be able to offer a place that is Christ-centered,” Acree said. “School, but also fun for 3-year-olds. And then being able to provide a good transition into school. It’s not as long as our 4-year-old program, but gets kids in the building to see what school is about. It helps parents ease that transition. So if they don’t want a full day or an every day program, at least they have a stepping stone into school.”
To attend, a child should be 3 years old by Sept. 15, 2022.
Hours will be 7:55-10:55 a.m. with a two-day and three-day option.
Cost for 3-year-old preschool is $80 per month or $120 per month, depending on how many days the child is enrolled.
Four-year-old preschool is offered at no cost. That’s because it is covered by state funding.
Sam Lennon, who currently works for the St. Edmond After School program in the morning, will teach the 3-year-old preschool classes.
Lennon, a 1994 St. Edmond High School graduate, has experience working as a substitute associate in St. Edmond and Fort Dodge Community School District preschool classrooms. She previously worked in the Catholic Church as director of religious education. During that time she worked primarily with middle school and high school aged students.
Lennon’s experience also includes seven years as a nanny.
“I’ve had experience with all different ages of kids,” Lennon said.
Part of Lennon’s goal will be to help children start to develop social skills.
“One of my goals would be to help the children socially,” Lennon said. “So while they are playing, during free choice time, help them to interact with their peers. Try to guide some of those interactions.”
She added, “I also think it’s important for the threes to develop more manual dexterity. A lot of little kids are very astute at unlocking a tablet and playing mini games. But if you give them scissors or crayons or markers, they may not have as much experience with that. So 3-year-old preschool is also about letting them experience and learn some of those skills that maybe they haven’t had a chance to do.”
Another piece of good news for the 3-year-olds is there will be lots of stories and even singing.
“I want them to hear stories,” Lennon said. “I think verbal communication is very important. The way they learn that at 3 is to hear stories, to sing songs. We will do lots of singing — not well — but we’ll do it. We will sing and also a lot of 3-year-old learning is through their body movements and experiential playing. We won’t have as many worksheets as a fourth-grader or a TK kid, but we will have lots of centers with an activity geared to teach a certain skill. They just won’t know that they are learning. They will be playing. And playing and learning when you’re 3 is the same thing. It’s a very important activity, but they will just think it’s fun.”
Religious teachings will also be part of the curriculum.
“A lot of that is just reading a simple story about how we feel Jesus loves and it will sometimes incorporate songs with hand plays,” Lennon said.
Acree is looking forward to the offering.
“We are very excited to offer our Little Gaels preschool for 3-year-olds,” Acree said. “We want to provide a Christ-centered environment for children to learn and play. Our 3-year-old program will help our littlest learners and families ease into a school setting. The program will nurture the development of the whole child — physical, cognitive, social/emotional, and spiritual. Children will be provided time to explore, create, move, sing, and play while learning about Jesus.”
Lennon shares the enthusiasm for the program.
“I am super excited to get started as the Little Gaels 3-year-old preschool teacher next fall,” Lennon said. “It is such an honor for me to be the first example of what school can be to all of the kiddos entrusted to my care. It is my hope that our program will foster experiences that instill a joy of learning.
“Further I would like to begin working on social skills that will aid them in making good friends. Finally, I hope to help the children get to know more about Jesus and his love for each of them.”
Families may call 515-576-5182 for more information about the 3-year-old preschool program.
3-year-old preschool registration open
Who: Fort Dodge 3 year olds
What: 3-year-old preschool
Where: St. Edmond Catholic School
When: Fall of 2022
Registration: Opens today
How to register: Families can register on the St-edmond.com website under the admissions tab.
For more information: Call 515-576-5182.