Kindergarten can be a scary time. Even the kids can be a little nervous.
Truth be told, the parents are usually the most anxious about this important year. All of a sudden, that child who was seemingly just a baby yesterday is going to school. Not "pre" school. School. And with public schools now having "all-day kindergarten," it's even more terrifying.
But what if you didn't have to start the school year with your kindergarten suddenly thrust into the all-day every-day K schedule? What if you could gradually ease him into it? What if you could even have a "transitional" year for your summer-birthday child who may or may not be emotionally and socially ready?
Well, you can. The Weaver Child Development Center (CDC), a Reggio inspired Christian preschool and primary school, offers reluctant kindergarten parents exactly those options. Offering half-day and full-day kindergarten, parents can design their own schedule. Many even start with five half-days and gradually add full days throughout the year. Other parents start the year with five full-days but realize that perhaps one or two days of the week are too hectic due to other extra-curricular activities, so they cut back to make their schedule less hectic.
"We have all of our core curriculum in the morning," states Susie Clark-Maioriello, Director of the Weaver CDC and first-grade teacher. "The afternoon consists of lunch and plenty of free-time to do art projects, experiments, and self-guided exploration, as well as structured reading, games, and gross motor activities. The students are generally begging their parents to stay all day; but even if they only come in the mornings, they are getting all the instruction they need to be ready for first grade the following year. It's great to have that option in order to accommodate extra-curricular activities, time with family, or even just because a child perhaps isn't ready to go to school all day every day. All of those are valid reasons that we completely understand and value."
Other parents aren't sure whether or not their young kindergartener is really ready. Should they send them to kindergarten "early" or wait a full year, even though their child seems too advanced for "preschool"? Problem solved! For younger five-year olds (such as those with late-spring or summer birthdays), The Weaver CDC offers a "transitional" kindergarten program during which a child can be in the kindergarten classroom but using a modified curriculum and assessment that is age- and developmentally appropriate.
"My daughter's birthday is just a few weeks after our school district's July 31st deadline, and I was really in a conundrum about what to do with her with regard to kindergarten," states Dianne Williams, parent of a kindergartner at the Weaver CDC. "The more I researched, the more I realized it made sense to follow the district’s guidelines and give her the advantage of being one of the oldest in her class. She was academically ready to go into kindergarten, but I didn't want to put her at a disadvantage for the rest of her school years by putting her in kindergarten ‘early’ and ahead of schedule. Having her in the Weaver CDC's kindergarten classroom when she was five (as a transitional year) and then again when she was six (as an official kindergartner) has been so beneficial. She has become a leader in her class and has gained a great deal of confidence this year; her social and emotional development has been remarkable. And frankly, that's what kindergarten should be about."
After 38 years on the campus of Malone University, the Weaver Child Development Center will have a new home on the historic 50-acre Fieldcrest Estate in North Canton starting in the fall of 2013. The Weaver CDC currently has approximately 100 students, ranging from age 2 through 3rd grade. Serving as a “lab school” for Education majors from several local universities, including Malone, Walsh, Stark State, and Kent Stark, this well-renowned educational institution has a cutting-edge philosophy about educating children which meshes perfectly with Fieldcrest’s idyllic setting.
“Our teachers believe in an educational philosophy that is inspired by Reggio-Emilia,” states Clark-Maioriello. “We believe that children learn best when they are involved in the co-construction of knowledge…that they learn from experiences, not worksheets. Reggio educators recognize that children are not just a vessel to fill simply with facts, but that children are smart, creative individuals who can build theories, test them out, and learn from them alongside their teachers and peers in a safe and comfortable environment. In essence, we believe that children learn best from experiences, not worksheets.” The Weaver CDC is the only Reggio-inspired Christian preschool and primary school in the area, and one of only a handful in the state of Ohio.
Clark-Maioriello and the other teachers at the Weaver CDC love to let nature be a catalyst for education, so the Fieldcrest’s 50 lush acres of rolling hills and scenic views is ideal. “It’s not uncommon for our classes to go outside and explore our world to learn about math, language, and science,” states Clark-Maioriello. “The teachers, students, and parents are very excited about the opportunities this new location will provide us.”
Registration for all classes begins February 19th. Due to the school's well-established reputation, classes are already reaching their full capacity and some grades are on a waiting list.
If you would like a private tour of the current facility to see how a Reggio-inspired classroom looks and functions, please contact the Weaver CDC at 330.471.8264.
The Weaver CDC is hosting an Open House on Thursday, February 21st from 6:00 - 8:30. Parenting expert, author, and syndicated columnist Diana Boggia will be giving a FREE parents-only presentation at 6:30. RSVP is required by calling the school at 330.471.8264.