by Julie Lineback
The University of West Georgia’s pre-kindergarten program serves a dual unique purpose of fulfilling the community’s needs of quality early education content and care while providing aspiring teachers with hands-on experiences in a classroom.
The program, which runs from August through May, is available each year to children who reach age 4 by September 1 of the enrolling year and are Georgia residents. Each year allows space for 86 children, 28 of who are children of university faculty, staff and students. The remainder of availabilities is filled via a lottery process.
“One important aspect of pre-K is encouraging children to become effective members of the classroom community,” says UWG Pre-Kindergarten Director Becky Lansing. “Learning how to work with others and care for the classroom is the beginning of their awareness of ‘community.’ Our program models this concept through collaboration with area school systems.”
The College of Education’s Department of Learning and Teaching operates the pre-K program. Undergraduate and graduate students in early childhood, special education, speech/language, psychology, physical education and music programs are able to observe the four full-time teachers and interact with the children and families.
“Instructors utilize the pre-K as a resource for their students to fulfill course requirements at UWG Pre-K through practicums, observations, research and teaching experiences,” Becky explains. “These experiences are mutually beneficial to the UWG students and the pre-school children. The children have attended learning activities relating to science, the arts, health, physical education—all presented by UWG students as part of their course curriculum.”
UWG’s pre-K program serves in combination with Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s Bright from the Start. It is also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which has a key focus of community involvement.
“Our program uses community resources to enrich the children's experience, and finding opportunities to give back to the community through projects such as food and clothing drives and sharing resources with families,” Becky concludes. “We are continually looking for additional ways to become more involved in the communities of which we are a part—the University of West Georgia, and the community at large."
For more information, please visit www.westga.edu/uwgprek.