by Kyla Hurt
With many families forced to attempt the transition to homeschooling for the end of this academic year on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents or guardians have spent an increased amount of time with children. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to truly understand the high level of activity and entertainment those little bodies can handle. Many have turned to the internet, Pinterest, etc. for ideas on amusement and fun projects. Those are all great. Here is one more to add as we continue with pandemic precautions and hint at the coming summer.
Check out the Facebook page for the Early Years Program. The actual page name is “Jacksonville School District #117 – Early Years Program.” They have been posting a series of “Just for Fun!” activities, which are especially fantastic because the activities are encouraging new or growing skills, but that part is hidden in the fun. The various activities might sneak in anything from practicing balance, coordination or gross motor skills; listening; working on patterns, sequences and connections; sharing and taking turns; being aware of groups of sounds in words; practicing fine motor skills; being aware of warning words; and so much more. Additionally, many of the projects require no materials. For the projects that do require materials, the items are generally things you would already have at home.
It is a great resource. Per www.earlyyears.jsd117.org, the program states as its philosophy, “The Jacksonville School District #117 Early Years Program strives to promote the individual child’s development through appropriate learning activities in a warm, nurturing environment. We believe that parents are the child’s first teacher and we emphasize the important role that parents play in their child’s education. Our staff respects the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of all children and their families by providing rich multicultural experiences and works to increase the understanding of diversity within the community.”
The Early Years Program works with children through age five. It began modestly in 1986 as a single classroom at Lafayette School, with two teachers, a teacher’s aide and 15 students the first year. Also according to the history noted on their website, the program has much grown. It now includes eight classrooms within the Early Years Center located at 516 Jordan St., plus a classroom inside Murrayville United Methodist Church Hall. They have expanded to eight teachers; eight paraprofessionals; three parent educators; one principal, secretary and nurse; and two custodians on staff, all serving to 240 students.
The Early Years Program has been serving the community for over 30 years. Make sure to take a look at their Facebook page and who they are. Try some of the posted “Just for Fun!” activities and give them some feedback about what you and the kiddos thought. These activities promote a time within you can nurture, connect and developmentally provide for a child. In the midst of everything, there is joy and love it that. Have fun!