UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Registration for the Bennett Family Center kindergarten program at Penn State for fall 2016 is open for public enrollment, providing an additional education option to families in the State College area.
“The Bennett Family Center kindergarten program provides a unique environment that weaves in the performing and fine arts as a basis for curriculum,” Center Director Heather Kimble said. “The program celebrates each child as an individual and provides activities and experiences that support all areas of development.”
The student-teacher ratio is two certified early childhood/elementary school teachers for a maximum of 20 students. The program is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
While the school day is officially 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., students can arrive as early as 7:30 a.m. and stay until 5:45 p.m., allowing students to participate in activities before and after the official school day. Throughout the day students are provided breakfast, a hot lunch and a snack.
“One of the great things about the Bennett Center is before and after school programs are built into the day,” Jennifer Stoner said. “There is continuity of care with the same teachers here with the students before, during and after school. These days a lot of parents do not have the luxury of being done with work at 3:30 p.m.”
Stoner has worked for Penn State’s child care program for 18 years, teaching kindergarten for the last 13 years. Fellow kindergarten teacher Wendy Haslet has taught at the Bennett Family Center since 2002.
By combining kindergarten curricula with the arts, children in the Bennett Family Center kindergarten program learn multiple perspectives, complex problem solving, qualitative relationships, and constructive ways to analyze complex topics.
“Along with adhering to state standards, our integrated arts curriculum is primarily made up of a variety of philosophies and learning approaches that challenge children to think creatively and critically,” Haslet said. “It is exciting to know that research indicates children who learn in creative ways, score better in reading and math.”
For example, when teaching addition and subtraction, Haslet and Stoner have students dance on a number line allowing students to see the addition and subtraction as they dance. Students also learn about lines and shapes from an artistic standpoint, which leads into learning how to write the alphabet.
“Kindergarten programs need to have their children fully involved, not just do work where you sit down at a desk. They need to be moving their bodies and connecting to their work,” Stoner said. “Just watching the kids grow over the year is so amazing to me and watching them begin to make connections through the arts.”
Enrichment activities include performances at the Center for Performing Arts at Eisenhower Auditorium, events through the Palmer Museum of Art, music classes directed by faculty and graduate students in the Department of Music, and a collaboration with the art education program at Penn State.
Children also learn to honor each other’s differences and value their shared similarities as human beings. A child’s experience in the classroom lays the foundation for the love of learning and a willingness to explore which will ensure a lifetime of academic success.
The school only closes for weather conditions when the University closes. A summer program is also offered between June and August, which includes swimming, performances, library trips and walking trips around campus and in downtown State College.
The kindergarten enrolls a maximum of 20 children. Parents can call the center directly at 814-865-4057 or e-mail Heather Kimble, center director, at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a tour.
“I always encourage families to visit. You’ll feel it. You can feel if it’s the right fit for you or not. I encourage families to check things out. They know their children best,” Stoner said.
Eligible students must have turned five years old by Feb. 1.
For more information, visit childcare.psu.edu/bfc/