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OHS Child Development Class Teams Up with Preschool 

Melissa Dollar’s classroom at Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center is abuzz with students laughing, learning, creating and playing. But it’s not just preschoolers making that noise it’s teenagers, as well. That’s because Ozark High School students in Child Development class are presenting the lesson and leading the activities.  

“This program is a fantastic way for my high school students to gain knowledge, first hand, by physically seeing how the field of early childhood education careers work and how children behave in a preschool environment. They learn how to properly plan, prepare and implement developmentally-appropriate and theme-based lesson plans and activities for preschool children,” said Trista Hilton, OHS Parenting and Child Development instructor. 

In years past, OHS students in Parenting and Child Development classes visited Tiger Paw to tour the building and ask questions. This year, however, the partnership expanded. OHS students spend their class time preparing lessons and activities for the preschoolers. And, every couple of weeks, OHS students visit different preschool classes to put those lessons into action. Lessons focus on five areas: Literacy, a craft using fine motor skills, a science or math activity, a gross motor skills activity, and a take-home project for students to complete later.  

“The preschool children absolutely love when my high school students walk through the door to see them. I find this beneficial as well because it gives my students a boost of confidence and puts big smiles on their faces,” Hilton said.

But the partnership doesn’t just benefit OHS students. The preschoolers look forward to it and are gaining valuable skills, as well.

“This opportunity benefits our students by increasing their social emotional skills, engaging with other students, listening to others, expressing their own ideas and communicating,” said Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center Director Laura Eakins. “They can build a sense of community and develop new interests and abilities.”

Hilton said building relationships is vital, and this partnership often opens doors for the high school students.

“Students are able to build relationships with the teachers and directors at Tiger Paw. Some students are hired for after-school care while they are still in high school. Ozark is hiring within the community and supporting our own community by helping them fulfil their dreams of becoming early childhood educators,” Hilton said. “Through the completion of child and family courses at OHS, students are also allowed the opportunity to earn articulated credit through the early childhood development program at OTC.”

OHS junior Ella Metcalf, who wants to be a preschool teacher, said the class is preparing her for life after high school. 

“I wanted to learn more about what it would be like in the classroom and how kids develop so I could be more prepared to take my college classes. It helps to be able to interact with the kids and see what the set up is actually going to be like in a preschool classroom,” she said. “The kids are so sweet and precious, and it’s awesome to get to come and take time out of our day to spend time with them.”

OHS Child Development Class Teams Up with Preschool