Educating young minds at BYU

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College students are not the only young minds being educated on campus every day. BYU administration and BYU students help run a daily preschool and kindergarten on campus.

The BYU preschool started around 1950, and has been on and off campus over the years. The kindergarten program started in 2002, and this year it is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Both programs are currently located in the Joseph F. Smith Building.

Anne Ure, who has been the director of the preschool and kindergarten since 1998, talked about the purpose and threefold mission of the program.

“First, the school is to provide a research facility for faculty members,” Ure said. “Any department on campus can use the preschool and kindergarten for research, as long as they are approved by the university and by the school.”

For example, Dr. Cortney Evans utilizes the preschool labs to examine how children’s different physiological and behavioral reactions to sensory stimuli, such as bright lights or itchy clothes, influence how they get along with their peers.

The second part of the school’s mission is to train teachers. The school works with the education department in the David O. McKay Building and gives students that are a part of the early childhood education program an opportunity to work hands on with the kids. This way, the students can get the experience they need and decide if teaching is really for them. If they like it, they have the chance to come back their senior year and be a student teacher. Students are even given the opportunity to teach classes under the supervision of the teachers and director of the school.

Kate Lelegren, an early childhood education major who works at the school, talked about the great experience she gets working there.

“I have the unique opportunity to immediately implement and practice those things taught to me in my previous classes concerning developmentally appropriate practice,” said Lelegren. “I get to know the other teachers and children I work with really well and create strong friendships. I get a sneak peek of what my future career can be like if I continue on in early childhood education, and I love it.”

The third part of the school’s mission is to give people a model of what they can do when they have a knowledge of child development. The school helps the preschoolers and kindergartners learn through their hands, bodies and minds.

Christine Holmes, another early childhood education major who works at the school, talked about the different activities she gets to do with the kids.

“We get to do lots of activities with the kids,” Holmes said. “We have interactive literature activities (and) large group time where we have lessons. We sing songs and play games with the kids and just get to experience everything with the kids. It really is a special opportunity.”

At BYU, with the help of students, the kids have the rare opportunity to learn in a classroom where the teacher-to-student ratio is 1 to 4. Ure said it makes for a fantastic learning environment for the kids and BYU students.

“I get to train students and see them catch the vision of how childhood development can help them be a better parent, be a better teacher, be a better primary worker,” Ure said. “They get to see and understand how the brain is working.”

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