They are building, drawing, counting, sculpting -- and learning every minute of the day. They are the Little Pirates, the students in the Perry County School District 32 public preschool program.
"Little Pirates is a preschool program for children ages 2-5," said director Renea Schnurbusch. "A day care center offers your child basic care with less focus on kindergarten preparedness. However, preschool program like ours offers children a structured atmosphere focusing on learning.
"Little Pirates Learning Center is designed to teach children language, math and social skills. The daily routines offer opportunities to learn and develop new skills."
The program, which is open to all children, is accepting new students for both part- and full-time enrollment, with a minimum of 2 days attendance.
Little Pirates follows the District32 school year calendar and is open Monday-Friday from 7 am to 4:30 pm. (Little Pirates closes when District 32 closes for bad weather, but remains open during teacher workdays, parent-teacher conferences and professional development days.)
The full cost of the program is $18 per day with a $2.20 cafeteria charge, but there are financial aid programs available for those who qualify.
To register for Little Pirates, call the preschool at 547-7500, Dial 8+226. For more information on Little Pirates Learning Center visit the District 32 Website at www.perryville.k12.mo.us/domain/131.
The philosophy of Little Pirates Learning Center is based upon the premise that children learn and grow through a variety of learning experiences, Schnurbusch said.
"We believe that children learn and grow through a variety of learning experiences," she said. "We believe that they learn and grow individually by experimenting with new ideas, material, situations and friendships. By having the opportunity to acquire new information, problem-solve and build positive interpersonal relationships, our students are able to develop at their own pace."
Schnurbusch's staff includes lead teacher Brittany Hecht, teacher assistant Shelly Clifton, and instructional aide Kelly Winschel. They implement The Creative Curriculum in the classroom.
"Through studies and research, this curriculum is designed to help children grow and learn in cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language development," Schnurbusch said. "The studies have shown that children learn best through guided play. The teacher's role in the classroom is to play with the children and implement developmentally appropriate lessons."
Little Pirates Learning Center's large classroom is divided into different learning areas where children can explore and become engaged in their learning environment. These areas include block, science, writing, literacy, art, and math centers; dramatic play; library; sensory table; manipulatives and games; outdoor play; and music and movement.
Schnurbusch said the curriculum carries over into the home, where parents continue the lessons through play.
"The Creative Curriculum recognizes that parents are one of the most active teachers in their child's life," she said.
"With teacher and parent cooperation, a child's learning environment can only be enriched at school and home. Through careful observations and documentation during the school day, teachers work as a team to develop evaluations in the areas of development so lessons and activities are developmentally appropriate for your child. With help from parents, we strive to offer your child the best learning environment possible."
Little Pirates Learning Center accommodates children with special needs.
"Our preschool is located in the Early Childhood Special Education building on the District 32 campus," Schnurbusch explained. "Children with special needs who qualify for special education classes have the convenience of just crossing the hallway to attend those classes.
"Our building also holds the offices and classrooms of many special education specialists and teachers. These knowledgeable educators are great resources and can help identify any special needs in our students. Our daily schedule also includes integration time with the Early Childhood Special Services classrooms."
When discussing the rewards of teaching preschoolers, none of the staff members mentioned paychecks -- but all of them talked about hugs!
"At the end of the day, we can be so tired," Schnurbusch laughed. "But it's such a good feeling because we can see our students learning and growing every single day. They keep us on our toes!"