Byline: Christie Hart Daily Herald Staff Writer
Once a week, Michael Sumrak trades lunch with his friends for a half-hour in the company of 4-year-olds.
He leaves Neuqua Valley High School each Wednesday to help in a class at Prairie Children's Preschool. He plays with the little kids, helps them learn to sort things and even sang them a song once.
The experience has him contemplating a career in teaching.
"You come here and have a good influence on the kids, that's going to sway you," Sumrak said. "You can tell by the way they act that it makes a difference. Everybody greets me and tells me what they've been doing in the week since I was here."
The Neuqua senior is among nearly 100 juniors and seniors from his school and Waubonsie Valley High School taking part in Indian Prairie Unit District 204's Kid-to-Kid program.
The high school students - enrolled in sociology, psychology or child growth and development classes - skip their lunch period once a week to visit preschool or elementary school classes around the district. The program is voluntary, but most of the eligible students participate.
During their visits, they act as teachers aides, helping teachers work with children. In some grades, that means helping children read or write, helping them use a computer, helping them learn to use maps or to do math problems.
At the preschool, the high school students play with the children, read to them and help them with classroom projects.
Sumrak and Waubonsie junior Anna Aleszczyk spent their visits Wednesday helping preschoolers learn to sort beads of different shapes and colors.
"Not only does she help children engage in social interactions, she can engage them in tasks on the table," said Lisa Bullard, the preschool teacher Aleszczyk helps. …