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All-day preschool gives teachers more time with children

October 10, 2017
Deborah Gertz Husar
The Herald Whig

QUINCY — Beth Schutte sits on the floor, surrounded by 4-year-olds working diligently to put together a Halloween-themed puzzle.

It’s center time, part of the afternoon routine in Schutte’s Head Start classroom at the Early Childhood and Family Center just after rest time.

Studying the picture on the box, they slowly build the puzzle, with Fiona Miller stopping to look for the right piece. “Armanii found it,” Schutte said, and with Owen Schuckman holding another piece, she offers some advice to “turn it until it fits.”

While several friends work on the puzzle, Elizabeth Slater leans against Schutte to “read” a book. “How do we read books when we can’t read yet? We can tell the story from looking at the pictures,” Schutte said.

“I like books,” Elizabeth said.

Other youngsters make shapes out of plastic pieces, then set them over a light box while another group “cooks” in the classroom’s kitchen.

Soon they all come together on the carpet while Schutte reads a book, “Alphabet Mystery,” with the students reciting the alphabet while hearing about the adventures of little “X” who is part of Charlie’s alphabet.

It’s a busy time, and a full day, in the classroom, one of the full-day Head Start classrooms available this school year for the first time at ECFC.

A $175,279 grant from Head Start, a federally-funded income-based preschool program, allowed offering full-day classes which required adding two new classrooms and expanding the playground to accommodate more youngsters and incorporate a grassy play area.