A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s


Manal Ahmed

Students at LHS teach and play with toddlers. Pictured here, high school students and preschoolers begin the class with free play.

Manal Ahmed, Staff Writer

Colorful toys, nursery rhymes, and catchy songs are not present in every high school student’s day, but for some students at Libertyville High School, they deal with these activities daily as a part of the LHS Preschool Program.

The LHS Preschool Program is a class that gives students at Libertyville High School an opportunity to take a leadership role and teach, play, and plan lessons for preschoolers ranging from 3-5 years old.

This class takes place during 3rd and 4th periods, starting during the second half of first semester. Parents drop off their toddlers at the start of 3rd period and at the end of 4th period, the preschoolers head home. Because the class is two periods long, there are different groups of LHS students in 3rd and 4th period, but the same preschoolers stay the full two hours.

The class begins with free play. After about 10-15 minutes of playtime, students and preschoolers sit on the mat for “circle time” led by preschool supervisor Kristin Tarrant. “Circle time” consists of talking about what day, month, and season it is and also about different holidays coming up.

After “circle time,” high school students lead the activity that the class is taking part in that day.

“The theme that my students teach will change every couple of days. So it could be pets on Monday and Tuesday and then weather on Thursday and Friday,” Ms. Tarrant stated.

High schoolers choose a theme and then they find multiple ideas and activities to help teach the kids.

“We usually have the same theme for about two days, and you will teach them some information through talking or reading and do some type of activity where they can use what they learned,” sophomore Michelle Nee said.

Students teach a wide variety of activities and subjects during class time. Sometimes, preschoolers will sit down and do a craft, and other times they’ll be in the gym playing games such as “Sharks and Minnows.” Since the preschoolers vary in age, it can be tough to get everyone happily involved.

“We try to help kids develop motor skills. We want them to be up and active and moving but then also being able to color and cut because those are skills that kids are just starting to practice with. Some of the younger kids have trouble with these motor skills while the older kids are doing well,” Ms. Tarrant declared.

High school students involved in the LHS preschool program find the class fun and helpful. Although it is a big responsibility to take upon, students love the class.

“I took this class because I’ve always loved interacting with kids and teaching has always interested me. I had also heard some really good things about the program from people who had taken it last year,” Nee proclaimed.

Sophomore Hannah Ebert also chose to take the class for the first time this year and really enjoys it.

“The best part is getting to play and interact with the kids,” she stated.

This class’s main goal is to help high school students develop different childcare skills. The hardest part for Ms. Tarrant is making sure that all her students are prepared for their lessons and know how to handle different situations.

“I don’t always want to be the one jumping into sticky situations. I want my students to feel comfortable that they can handle all of these situations too,” Ms. Tarrant expressed.

Teaching preschoolers can be enjoyable for high school students, but it also requires a lot of work and patience.

“The hardest part is getting them (the preschoolers) to concentrate when you are teaching lessons,” Ebert said.

In addition to the time spent with preschoolers, high school students spend numerous weeks planning lessons and learning about skills and development of young children. For the first half of 1st semester, preschoolers do not come because students and Ms. Tarrant are planning lessons and getting ready for the children to arrive. After a few weeks, preschoolers start to come daily and high schoolers began teaching their lessons.

“For the first half of the semester, my students learn about physical development, intellectual development, social, and emotional [developments] that is related to 3-5 year olds,” Ms. Tarrant stated.

After learning how children grow and develop, students start planning lessons. Students make a “daycare handbook” where they pull different crafts, activities, and games that they come up with or take from the internet and other sources. And a few weeks later, preschoolers start to come to class and high school students began teaching.

Overall, this program is extremely rewarding and helps high school students develop leadership skills to use in the future.

“Nothing is more exciting than seeing a kid’s face light up and smile because of what they learned,” Nee expressed.