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Minnechaug Preschool Program accepting 'little kid' applications

Date: 1/12/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM What's the best part about the Minnechaug Preschool Program for three- and four-year-olds?

"The one on one time," Minnechaug Regional High School senior Jill McDiarmid said.

And the best part about the program for her?

"I love coming to Child Study," she said. "We learn from the books on Tuesday and Thursday and then work with the kids on Monday-Wednesday-Friday. It's so much better to be hands on. You get to really experience what you learn."

The 2009-2010 Minnechaug Preschool Program is sponsored by the Family and Consumer Sciences Department of the high school. It matches "big kids" (the high school students in the Child Study III program) with "little kids" for preschool learning two or three days a week, from 9:10 to 11:55 a.m., depending on the child's age.

Applications for the program will be accepted throughout the month of January. Children must be three by Sept. 1, 2009 for the two day program or four by the same date for the three day program. Applicants must be residents of Wilbraham or Hampden.

Rosemary Notarangelo, chair of the Family and Consumer Science Department, has been heading up the preschool program for 22 years. She explained that her students begin working with the little kids during the second week in September, with the focus on the three-year-olds learning language and other development skills and the four-year-olds preparing for kindergarten.

"These high school students are interested in going on in education," Notarangelo said. "And the high schoolers can make the little kids feel special. They really create bonds. The big kids become role models."

McDiarmid said she loves working with the preschoolers. Notarangelo assigns each big kid a little kid at the beginning of the semester, and that big kid watches his or her little kid develops physically, socially and educationally.

McDiarmid commented that her little kid, Olivia, a four-year-old, has become much more outgoing over the past few months.

"She loves to learn," McDiarmid said.

The high school senior said the benefits of the program include adult supervision and lesson plan approval from Notarangelo and that the big kids are all responsible.

"If they're in Child Study III, it means they all want to be here [to work with the little kids]," she said.

Applications for the program must be received by Jan. 30. From the applications received, the names of six boys and six girls will be chosen by lottery; the lottery drawing will take place Feb. 2. An alternate list will also be created.

A $50 deposit will be due upon notification of acceptance. The three day program is $550 per year and the two-day program is $400, the totals of which are not due until Nov. 1.