Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

Full-Day Preschool Program Incorporates Arts and STEM

Jan. 14, 2022 -- Flexibility and patience are the name of the game in teaching, especially with preschoolers. And thanks to some shifts in scheduling and staffing, district preschool students now have access to the same related arts classes as their older elementary peers.

Gearity’s related arts team, those who teach music, art, physical education, Spanish and STEM, now offer those same classes to the full-day preschool students at Gearity, Noble and Oxford for 40 minutes each week.

For STEM teacher Sean Sullivan, it’s all about hands-on experiences. “I try to provide as many artifacts as possible, things they actually see and touch” as they focus on investigation, exploration and inquiry. He uses the Ohio Science Standards for pre-K as a guide, all the while throwing in as many fun, real world experiences as possible.

They’ve taken nature walks, used artifacts from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to compare fur and feathers, and incorporated music and chants to remember concepts. “I have an advantage” he says of teaching youngsters, “because I run a soccer camp for kids as young as 4. But it definitely requires a mind shift.”

Art teacher Brian Stern agrees. “It’s tough to keep preschoolers engaged in one project for 40 minutes,” so he splits lessons up into multiple projects and relies on the teaching assistants to help with classroom behavior.

“I bounce ideas off of them to see what they’re learning in class and focus on things like dexterity and fine motor skills.” Some students have never held scissors before while others have plenty of experience so every lesson requires differentiation as well.

Early Childhood Instructional Specialist Danielle Foran believes that participating in art, music, physical education, STEM and Spanish helps lay a strong foundation for future growth and success. “Children are offered intentional learning experiences that build on the classroom curriculum and offer additional opportunities to practice skills. This early exposure to new experiences and language is key to ensuring that children are prepared to be successful in school and life in the greater community.”

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