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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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A special bond

South students take on teaching Titan Tots
Mariam Aleem
Tall Titans, Tiny Tots: Freshman Charlie Kite dives into the colorful world of the Early Childhood Education class, captivating a Titan Tot with a fun lesson. involving pom poms. In the Early Childhood Education class, students come up with activities such as these to play with the Tots. Photo by Mariyam Aleem

In a room bursting with vitality, a tapestry of vibrant colors adorns the walls. Hand-crafted murals compliment an alphabet rug and personalized nameplates. However, the most captivating aspect of the room is the bonds built between the 161 Early Childhood Development students and the preschool Titan Tots, Amy Collins, Career and Technological Education teacher, said.

While the Titan Tots embark on their daily routine with themed table activities and storytime, the Early Childhood Development 161, 261, and 361 students prepare lessons to take on the role of a teacher, Dawn Hall, Career and Technological Education Instructional Supervisor, said. Through this process, students learn the importance of organizational skills and first impressions, Hall explained. Being aware of their impressions on the tots is crucial to the tots’ development, Hall emphasized.

“It’s wonderful that the teaching students are able to come in and get their practice but also have those experiences with the [tots],” Hall said.

The most valuable feature of the Titan Tots program is the ratio of student-to-teachers that allows for maximum tot attention, Preschool Director Michelle Goodrich stated. The program has a 1-to-1 ratio for learning when it is typically a 10-to-1 ratio in KinderCare, a child daycare center, Collins said. This allows for extended social interaction and emotional understanding due to personalization, Collins said.

“It’s a great learning opportunity for both high schoolers and preschoolers to have that collaboration together,” Goodrich said.

The program has made adjustments for this year, specifically regarding late starts. While high schoolers may not feel the impact of the deducted hour each week, it can disrupt the tots’ routines, which could be detrimental to their need for consistency for brain development, and pose challenges for parents juggling multiple responsibilities and navigating schedules, Collins said. The program’s solution was to recruit high school volunteers who would forgo their extra hours of rest to come in early and support the tots’ development, Hall explained.

“When there were more late starts, we knew that [it] was going to impact the parents and families’ schedules, as well as our tots having a consistent experience and continuing to grow,” Hall said.

The Titan Tots program stands out above other preschools, Hall said. The program is less costly due to it being lab-based inside of South, she explained, and the cost of childcare is rising exponentially and will soon compete for the highest cost of a family’s budget. The question of being able to afford childcare or not has become increasingly common among new parents in Glenview, making the program’s lower price a valuable asset to the community, Hall added.

“We are able to offer spaces in preschool when it can be really expensive or hard to get in [otherwise],” Hall said.

Interaction with the tots creates hands-on experience for students, honing their problem solving skills and fostering social connections for the young learners, freshman Kate Ptak said.

“I like going in to work with the kids,” Ptak said. “We learn a lot from our experiences with [the tots], like how to handle [different situations]. [The tots] are also getting to meet new people, [which] is important for them.”

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