Rural preschool provides a great start

Posted on: 8th February, 2016

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

Choosing a preschool that is a good fit for your child can be quite an overwhelming experience for parents. It’s a big decision…research has shown that the first five years of life are of critical importance in children’s cognitive development. A child’s brain develops most dramatically during the first five years — providing an unprecedented opportunity to shape his or her thinking, learning, development and health.

From September 2016, every child in Ireland under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme will be able to start preschool at the age of three and remain in preschool until they start primary school. The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides free early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age.

Whether a preschool is close to home or work, the preschool setting and the educational philosophy followed at the school are important factors that parents need to consider when choosing a preschool.

Families in the Reenascreena locality, only five minutes from Rosscarbery village, are fortunate to have an impressive preschool right on their doorstep. However, with falling numbers at the small rural preschool this year, there is a need to highlight this amenity so that families in the community are aware of its existence and the quality of the service provided.

Established in 1992, Reenascreena Community Playgroup is the only preschool in West Cork with HighScope accreditation. HighScope is a research-based programme, which builds on the children’s interests and talents. An active participatory approach is used: a process in which children and adults are partners in the learning experience. Children are invited to make a plan for what they would like to do each day and participate in a review session to discuss the success of their plan. The HighScope preschool curriculum has not only been proved to help young children excel in language and cognitive learning but also promotes independence, curiosity, decision-making, co-operation, persistence, creativity, and problem solving — the fundamental skills that help determine success in adult life.

reenascreena1Reenascreena playgroup leader Fiona Deane has been working in Childcare for over 30 years in the UK and Ireland and from her experience she says that the HighScope philosophy really works. “It’s a very powerful curriculum, the children learn from one another and thrive on it.”

Each day at Reenascreena Community Playgroup starts with a story and interactive news time. A message board encourages pre-reading and letter recognition skills. Throughout the morning, the children have a say in the routine and at the end of the daily session, Fiona evaluates how the day went for each individual child, what worked best for each of them and she looks at how to encourage development in different skills the following day.

“Conflict resolution is one of the major life skills that we incorporate into our daily routine at playgroup. When conflict arises we ask ‘what’s the problem’ acknowledge the children’s feelings, and support the children in seeking solutions. We actively encourage the children’s ideas and look for solutions from the children,” says Fiona. “It’s a very positve way of learning where the children learn by ‘doing’.”

This year, the playgroup moved location just up the road to the local National School. The new preschool is bright and welcoming with excellent facilities and a large outside play space for the children. Imaginative play is encouraged and the children get to stomp about in the woods and use their imagination to play boats, tree houses and campfires.

Reenascreena Community Playgroup is open from Monday to Friday, from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

There are a number of upcoming fundraising activities for the preschool that the local community are asked to support: The Ahakeera Drama Group will present a comedy ‘Don’t tell the wife’ in Reenascreena Community Hall on Friday, February 12 at 8.30pm. Tickets are €10 at the door. A ‘Clothes Drive’ in aid of the preschool will run until Monday 15 — unwanted or unneeded clothes, shoes and accessories, which are bagged, can be dropped at the preschool any weekday morning. Two Easter hampers — on display in Reenascreena Creamery (Lisavaird) and Kilmeen creamery (Drinagh Co-Op) — will be raffled before Easter. Tickets are €2 and all proceeds go to the preschool.

Anyone interested in speaking to Fiona or making an appointment to view the preschool can contact her on 086 1221463.

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