You may not think of 2-year-olds as students, but at the 1ST STEP program offers children an early opportunity to interact with their peers.
And thanks to a series of scheduled playdates, the students and their parents become acquainted with one another to ease the transition into a school setting this coming fall.
The five scheduled events take place throughout parks in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, and are hosted by the 1ST STEP team of Sara Walsh, Sally Stephenson, and Sue Burmeister. The playdates aim to set the tone for the community feel of the program.
“These summer gatherings were so successful the first year of the program that we decided to continue them,” said Sara Walsh, director of the 1STSTEP program. “We’ve found that these get-togethers really help with the transition to the first week of school, as the students have seen their fellow classmates and teachers a number of times before the school year officially begins.”
Even though the LFCDS campus remains open during the summer, Walsh said the choice to not have the events at the school is an intentional one.
“The familiar park setting for the first few gatherings allow for the children to gain comfort with their teachers while their parents are also present," she said. "To not confuse children, the classroom is saved for their independent school experience.”
Kate Jackson, whose oldest son, Cooper, graduated from the 1ST STEP program last year and is heading into the preschool program at LFCDS, and son Holton, who will enter the 1ST STEP program for the 2012-2013 school year, said the playdates are an effective way for the students to form strong relationships and bonds early on in the process.
“It was a wonderful feeling to be able to drop Cooper off at school and there wasn’t any fear — on his part or ours,” she said. “The playdates created this wonderful, cohesive group of children who were so kind and caring toward one another, and it was because they were able to get to know one another on a playground space. It makes the year so much easier.”
1ST STEP is in its fifth year, and this year’s class will go on to become the LFCDS Class of 2024. The thematic, hands-on, multi-sensory curriculum includes early literacy, math, and science instruction as well as music, art projects and outdoor physical activity on a playground designed just for this age group.
The two- and three-day morning programs have limited openings for 2012-2013, and interested parents can call Walsh at (847) 615-6195.