Long day of learning made fun
A program designed to help working parents out by placing their kids in before and after school care has been in effect for 20 years, and the good thing is the kids enjoy it.
By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE
Published August 17, 2006
INVERNESS - A couple of decades ago, the Withlacoochee Technical Institute decided to try a program to assist working parents who had to get to their jobs before their children's school day started and/or had to work after the children were dismissed.
LaMonta Lee Moore was put in charge of the institute's extended day program.
"We started this program at Inverness Primary School as a pilot probably 20 years ago and it just grew from there," said Moore, 62. It is now available at all 10 of the district's elementary schools.
The morning session begins at 6:30 a.m. Parents can bring their children any time between then and the start of school.
The afternoon session begins when school is over and ends at 6 p.m. Children may attend one or both sessions. Summer day care is offered, as well.
The program is self-supporting. The cost to parents is $10 a week for the morning, $21 a week for the afternoon and $28 a week for both. Parents provide snacks. It is offered to kindergarten through fifth grade.
Enrollment is limited. At most schools, 100 students are accepted. Floral City and Homosassa are limited to 50 because of facility size.
The ratio of adults to children is 1:25. The caregivers are trained and must have certification in early childhood education.
To remain employed, the caregivers must undergo continuous education, earning a minimum of eight hours training. "That is the minimum," Moore said. "Some go as high as 30 hours."
Moore's job is coordinating the caregivers, including one site leader at each school. She works with them to plan activities that include sports and recreation, arts and crafts, stories and skill development. They try to help the children develop their social skills, coping skills and self-discipline.
"We're trying to teach them to learn to stop themselves from making wrong decisions," Moore said.
Activities sometimes include educational television, movies and guest speakers. Sometimes parents come in and talk about their careers.
The older children use some of the time to get their homework done, something the children seem to appreciate. Samantha Marshall, a 9-year-old fourth-grader, has been part of the program since the middle of second grade.
"It gives you a chance to get your homework done, so when you get home you can relax," she said. She also likes being able to have a snack after school, if she happens to be hungry.
Keiyah Webster, 8, a third-grader, agrees with Samantha about the homework and snacks. Keiyah was in the program last year and attends both morning and afternoon. She says the extended day is fun.
"The thing I like about it is when you're here you have snacks and do homework when it's quiet." She also attended the summer program, which included field trips and "really nice teachers," she said. "And all the kids are nice, too."
Fourth-grader Chris Spivey, 9, said he has had experience in another day care program and he prefers this one.
He said he likes it "very much, because the teachers are really nice." The other place he attended, he said, wasn't as good.
"I've been working with children for 48 years," Moore said. She has worked with disabled children and troubled juveniles.
She is extensively trained in early childhood development, including child behavior, developmental stages and special needs.
When the children arrive, some waving at her, it is evident Moore is popular with them.
While some of them call her Miss Lee, her face warms when she mentions how many of them address her. "A lot of these children," she said, "call me Nana."
[Last modified August 16, 2006, 22:10:03]
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