Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley
"Blocks, blocks, blocks," said one child, as she marched over to the stack against a wall.
Sheltered by a ceiling filled with a myriad of dangling artwork, several preschool children gather each week to learn and play at the Star Kids Teaching and Learning Center.
Though this preschool has the same goals for their young charges as many in the area, Star Kids greatly differs from other programs. Housed inside St. Charles North High School, this is a program that benefits both high school students and preschoolers.
"It's part of the second-semester child development curriculum," said family and consumer science teacher Colleen Fasbender, who teaches these students how to be teachers.
During the first semester of the school year, freshmen and sophomore students can choose to take "Child Development I," where they study theory and learning development norms. This is followed by the second-semester class, "Child Development II," where they can put their knowledge into action.
The high school students who choose to take this elective are divided into three groups: observers, planners and teachers. Each of these groups rotates responsibilities each week.
"It's hands-on learning for them. When they're teaching, they can see how individual children behave. When they are observing, they see how teachers and children interact, and see so much more about what activities work. They can use that information to challenge the preschoolers," said Fasbender.
Kalee Geris, a freshman "teacher" in the program, said that she chose this elective because, "I want to be a child psychologist, and this would be a good step towards that. And it's fun to be with the kids. They learn about you, and it's fun to learn about them."
Inside the preschool lab, student teachers put their learning into action. During her turn as a teacher last week, freshman Lauren Majestic helped 3-year-old Meagan figure out how to sort a variety of tiger bean-bag toys by size and color.
After free play time was announced, Meagan went over to the preschool's play kitchen area. "I like the play food best," Meagan said.
In the child development classroom, sophomores Nikki Kusswurm and Kara Coyle were among the group of students who were busy planning lessons for the following week.
"We've got different books to look at to help with the planning. …