Teens Learn To Teach Tots At High School

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When preschool children attend high school, their hour or so goes fast and furious according to Payson High School teacher Ruby Lane.

Lil' Longhorns teaches high school students what working in a preschool is like. It is a creative learning atmosphere filled with the laughter of children and the near-adults who shower them with attention.

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Brenna Whetton and Austin Brown learn how different textures feel from Lil' Longhorn teacher for the day, Jolene Seville.

Parents check their children in at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday through Friday in Devon Wells' classroom. The Lil' Longhorns receive a photo name-badge hung on a lanyard with the names of who are allowed to pick them up written on the back. Then the fun begins.

"Everyday when they come, they play for a little bit and then we have them clean up and then they go sit down. We have a head teacher (for the day) start the lesson," student Cashe Owens said. Today it is about the sense of touch.

One of the days student teachers, Jolene Seville said, "We're mixing beans and rice and different textures in the paint, so when they paint they can feel different textures. We have to write out a lesson plan, how we are going to go about giving a lesson."

The lesson plans are comprised of competencies, required materials, preparation, step-by-step procedures for the activity, introduction, motivation, closure and transition.

The follow-up is after the class.

"On Monday during class we have to write how their lesson went; if it went as smoothly as we thought, if it didn't work out like we thought it would and if the kids cooperated with each other and how the teachers cooperated with everybody else," Seville said.

One little boy didn't have to be asked more than once what something felt like. Picking up a dried lima bean Austin Brown said, "This feels like something..." he said, then touched the bean to his head, "a real hard head." He didn't hold the bean long; a feather drew away his attention.

As he described excitedly the bird, he seemed to be seeing in his mind's eye, "This feels like a bird...a little bird...real real soft."

Stephanie Zierk, a sophomore, expressed disappointment that she only gets to take the class for one semester, "It's fun and it is helping the kids out."

Zierk, a frequent babysitter, wants to go into the field of childcare partly because all her siblings are older than she is, and she looks forward to caring for others rather than being looked after.

Liz Watkins, another student teacher, will be attempting to hold the attention of the 17 Lil' Longhorns during the daily story time.

While the children snack, the teenage teachers leave for their own lunch break. This is for the safety of the children, and sanity of parents not getting stuck in a lunch-time traffic jam on McLane Road.

The fun at Lil' Longhorns ends at 12:40 p.m.

"This is the perfect school for those children who need interaction possibly because they are the only child in the home, the parent is the main caregiver, or the child just needs to learn to interact with others," said Wells of the day care center, which is certified through the Department of Economic Security.

The preschool seeks to fill three spots. Parents interested in enrolling their child should contact Devon Wells at Payson High School (928) 474-2233.

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