Preschool offers education, energy and enrichment for both little and big kidsMar 22, 2021 04:47PM ● By Jet Burnham
A high school student works one on one with a preschooler. (Erin Dea/RHS)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Silver Pups Preschool is unique because it is housed at Riverton High School where preschoolers benefit from a variety of learning environments and a staff of enthusiastic high school students who are studying early childhood development. Camille Tranter, whose husband Matt is an administrator at RHS, said the preschool is a fun and hands-on learning environment for their daughter.
“Each day at preschool has a variety of activities and stations that allow for different types of learning to solidify various concepts,” she said. “The preschool also allows time for creative play and interaction, which I think is really important.”
Preschool classes run two hours and 15 minutes, two days a week. Preschoolers learn the alphabet, numbers, math, science, creative arts, language arts, motor skills and dramatic play. High school students, with support from RHS faculty, plan the daily lessons and activities.
“The high school students bring an added level of fun,” Tranter said. “We love that the students are in charge of the lesson plans for the day as their school assignments. Each lesson feels unique and creative while still following structure.”
Erin Dea, director of Silver Pups, said the high school students bring creativity and energy that community preschools don’t have.
“It's not what they do full time, all the time,” she said. “And because of the age they're at, they have a different excitement and are able to relate to those kids in a different way than an adult does.”
Silver Pups also offers a low teacher to student ratio, 1:1 or 1:2—which is unheard of in community preschools. Dea said that individual attention preschoolers receive from teachers who are able to work with them one-on-one lets them learn at their own pace.
“Some kids come in knowing how to write their names already and some kids don't know any of the letters,” Dea said. “So each teacher works with their kid, giving them what they need.”
“I love that my daughter has an assigned individual teacher,” Tranter said. “I think it helps with continuity of learning, and I feel like my daughter gets more attention and instruction than she would otherwise.”
The students teaching in the preschool are interested in working with kids, as educators or pediatricians.
“They've all gone through the curriculum part of learning how to work with children and then the preschool class is like their capstone course,” Dea said. The students are dedicated to coming to class because they are excited to work with the little kids.
Shannon Hickman used to run a daycare and preschool from her home so she knew what she was looking for in finding a placement for her own daughter. Hickman likes that at the school-housed preschool, the low student to teacher ratio means the high schoolers are very attentive to her daughter’s needs, whether she is feeling anxious or that her ponytail is bothering her.
“They're just very mindful of their little person that they work with because they know them so well,” Hickman said.
Tranter said Silver Pups is a great program for both the big kids and the little ones.
“Miss Erin loves her preschool students as well as her high school students, and she cares about their success,” she said.
Because the preschool is housed in the high school building, there are endless resources for enrichment learning. The agricultural science department invites the kids to come see their animals and the theater department invites them to watch their performances. The basketball team teaches them skill drills and the librarian reads to them. The choir, orchestra and band perform for them.
“The kids really love when we go to the band room because there's so many instruments they've never seen,” Dea said.
Hickman works as a computer technician at RHS, a position she chose because there was an opening in the childcare lab and preschool there for her daughter. Though most kids in the daycare and preschool at RHS are children of parents who work at RHS or surrounding schools, registration is open to anyone. All six high schools in Jordan District are currently registering preschool students for 2021-22.