A Day at the A. Sophie Rogers School for Early Learning

Schoenbaum Family Center at Weinland Park
Photo by Kevin Fitzsimons

This semester I have the pleasure to intern at the A. Sophie Rogers School for Early Learning at the Schoenbaum Family Center. The school offers early childhood education and care for children ages six weeks to five years in an intentionally diverse learning community. It is a part of the university’s College of Education and Human Ecology, serving as a place for research and undergraduate teacher training. I work as an assistant teacher in a preschool class under the guidance of a master teacher. Days at the school vary, but they all march to the same beat. Below I have shared my experiences on a Thursday in mid-February.

The day begins at 8:30. I welcome students as they arrive. After putting away their belongings and washing their hands I offer them breakfast. At the table we discuss how we spent our home days, the snow, and what’s new in the sensory table. After cleaning up their breakfast dishes students transition to indoor play.

During indoor play children move freely between the interest areas, becoming engrossed in their work. I spend the time observing children, intervening to mediate peer conflict when needed, conversing, and engaging in play. On this particular day I type on old keyboards in writing, facilitate ramp construction on the carpet, pretend to be a domino version of myself at the dollhouse, and mediate much conflict. Due to the extreme cold the children have not been able to spend nearly as much time playing outside than normal. Tensions are running high and feelings are easily hurt. Understanding the natural consequences of yelling or hitting our playmates is a frequent conversation.

At around 10 o’clock we begin to get ready for circle time. Children are given a warning that they have 5 more playing minutes then told to clean up and use the restroom. Through consistent schedules and a well designed environment this is a task they can complete independently for the most part.

I spend circle time working one-on-one with a student that needs extra support. Some days we join the rest of the class on the carpet for stories and finger rhymes, but on most I follow his lead in play. He is highly interested in small world dramatic play and letter recognition and formation. During circle time I try to guide his interest to the latter as it is quieter and less disruptive for those participating in the morning meeting. On this morning we spend circle time working at the writing desk. (You can read more about it here.)

At the end of circle time children choose where they will work. Special materials are available at the tables around the room including the sensory and light tables. Materials are chosen based on the children’s interest. Today there is snow painting at the art table, translucent gems and small cups at the light table, water and pouring/filling tools at the sensory table, and homemade dinosaur puzzles at the circle table. (You can read more about my experience using dinosaur puzzles for child led individual instruction here.)

Following table choices we transition to snack time and typically then to outdoor play. Because of the weather we are unable to play outside. Instead we incorporate gross motor movement by riding bikes, running, and playing movement games such as Simon Says and Follow the Leader. A new game we have been working on is the opposite game. Students are given a task, either to touch their head or their stomachs, but they have previously been instructed to do the opposite of what they are told. A seemingly simple task for adults, for young children it requires great concentration and can be frustrating at times. It is an excellent tool to build persistence and impulse control.

We then transition to lunch where we eat family style – although, modified to take COVID-19 precautions. I serve, converse, encourage adventurous eating, and model and remind students of appropriate mealtime behavior. After lunch we walk back to the classroom for independent reading and rest time.

During rest time I support students who need teacher assistance falling asleep. After all who take naps have fallen asleep, I work one-on-one with an older student on their pencil grasp or assist with administrative tasks.

On this particular afternoon I assemble a sign-in poster and laminate it in the teacher work room. Each student has a space to print their name, scaffolded to their current skill level, at arrival. Incorporating the task into the daily routine encourages fine motor strength and coordination, letter formation, and use of writing to convey meaning.

After that I make popsicle sticks for a process based art project and study of cause and effect to be used next week. As I’m working student’s begin to wake up from their nap. As they transition from rest to snack time they join me at the table. I offer them opportunities to help by counting the bundles of sticks needed and securing the rubber bands on the sides of the bundles. Once we have enough built we clean up and I serve snack.

After snack students transition to indoor play. The afternoon work cycle is very similar to the morning. The children depart individually as their caregivers arrive to pick them up. At the end of the day my master teacher and I sanitize the materials and make sure the room is ready for children to arrive the following morning.

This is the weekly Curriculum Guide that includes the day described above. 

Catching Up with my Mentee

Last Friday I was able to meet up with my ACES mentee, Payton Harvey, at the Ohio Union. We chatted about how the semester was going and areas where I could be of assistance as she finished up her first year at OSU.

Payton is a psychology major and plans on adding an art minor. She hopes to be an art therapist. We discussed the challenges of finding professional development opportunities during the pandemic. She has been researching art therapists in Columbus to better understand their experiences and credentials for working in the field. She is also considering reaching out to them to set up job shadowing if she is not able to secure a paid internship for over the summer. I mentioned an art therapist that did some project work at a previous job of mine that I could reach out to.

Payton is planning on applying for a Wexner Center for the Arts internship for the 2021-2022 academic year. She is also very interested in securing a research assistant position for her sophomore or junior year. She is considering taking an Excel course to become certified in the skill as she expects in could help her in the job search.

As a first generation college student, Payton was recommended to apply to be a First Year Experience Peer Leader. The job would entail running freshmen orientation and assisting first year students with their transition to Ohio State. I’ve recently been accepted for the position for the 2021-2022 academic year. I recommended she apply for next year as I thought she would be a good fit and could gain a lot from the experience. (Have you had the chance to explore your desired career through internships, field experience, etc.?)

Payton lives in the “connector” hallway of the ACES living-learning community. Her hallmates are all very close and enjoy being able to live so close together. Payton has continued to remain close with her roommate. While they are disappointed that one of their neighbors moved home to take online classes this semester they are hopeful that they will have as much fun and connection in their living- learning community as in the fall. (Have you enjoyed the ACES living-learning community in Smith-Steeb? Why or why not?)

We discussed the challenges of online learning and the transition back to in person. as a first year Payton has only had the opportunity to take classes under pandemic circumstances. She is concerned that while her grades are strong she isn’t really learning content. This is a particular worry for her pre-major and major courses. I shared with her that I was feeling the same and new of many others who were also concerned. I mentioned that I found making study guides helpful for retaining the content. She said that she did to and it was helpful for her in her bio course. (What kind of study habits have you developed? Did they work successfully in the fall?)

Payton has joined CHAARGE, Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions to Recreate Girls. The student org provides opportunities for students to learn about health and fitness. Payton participates in a small group that meets over Zoom to complete at home workouts together. She’s enjoyed trying different types of exercise. Most recently they had a yoga session which she liked much more than she expected to.  (How have you gotten involved on campus?)

For the rest of the semester Payton plans to stay involved in her student orgs, be proactive in her academics and seek professional development opportunities. (What kind of goals have you set for yourself for this semester?)

Supporting Literacy in a Junior High Class for Students with ASD

In autumn of 2020 I was placed in a self contained junior high class at Haugland Learning Center (HLC) through Ohio State’s First Education Experience Program. The course culminated in the presentation of a semester long service learning project. For my service project I supported literacy instruction in my CP’s Reading and Language Arts classes through lesson planning.

View Project Here