Little Learners Preschool gets busy with 27 little students
Posted 9/08/09 (Tue)
By Caroline Downs
School started yesterday at one of the busiest classrooms in Kenmare, the Little Learners Preschool.
Actually, Little Learners Preschool welcomed so many kids this year that three classrooms are necessary. “We have 27 students,” said preschool owner and teacher Kris Zimmer, “and we’re full! But we have three teachers and we’re using three rooms, so the kids get to rotate through each room and each teacher gets to work with each kid.”
Zimmer is beginning her fourth year with the preschool and will be assisted by Julie Rasmusson, who has worked with Zimmer for three years, and newcomer Nette Rodin. Since opening in the fall of 2006, Zimmer has seen enrollment grow every year. “I had no idea there’d be this many little kids in Kenmare when I started,” she said.
Little Learners Preschool accepts children ages three to five. Sessions take place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings each week from 9 to 11:30 am.
Zimmer wants her students to understand the basic ideas behind learning with other kids, as well as concepts related to numbers, letters, shapes and colors. “This is an introduction to school where we also work on social skills, like sharing and listening,” she said.
She designs her classroom activities to meet her students’ needs and abilities, as well as to prepare them for kindergarten with Kenmare Elementary School teacher Jean Barnhart, who was the previous preschool instructor.
“We make sure we do the same handwriting style,” Zimmer said, “and I’m going to introduce the new phonics program [for early learners] they started at the elementary school last year, to provide some continuity.”
She paused and laughed. “Writing their name is a big thing for five-year-olds!” she said.
Class is held in rooms at Nazareth Lutheran Church, after the preschool moved there last year from their original location at the Kenmare Wellness Center basement. “The move gave us room to grow,” Zimmer said.
The preschool also rents the Kenmare Memorial Hall during certain months. “That gives us a place to go especially when the weather gets cold,” said Zimmer, explaining that physical activity is another important element of her curriculum.
Zimmer worked in a preschool in Minot before moving to town with her husband, Kenmare native Mike Zimmer. She started the program in Kenmare partly because of the age of the couple’s own children at the time and partly because of encouragement from several parents in town.
“I heard the community wanted me,” she said, with another laugh. “Since then, people have been so good about supporting us and giving us lots of positive feedback.”
In turn, Zimmer strives to provide the best experiences possible for her young students. She maintains her connections with several former colleagues and other friends with young children in order to continue improving the curriculum at Little Learners Preschool.
“We also take classes throughout the year and search for ideas online,” she said. “We’re always looking for new ideas!”
Zimmer wants her students to be interested in school, as well as familiar with beginning concepts related to reading, writing and numbers. “The main thing is, though, to keep school fun and positive so they want to come to school,” she said. “We want them to have a positive attitude toward school.”
Judging from the high number of kids who returned to preschool this year, Zimmer and her assistants have discovered the perfect recipe to make learning fun.
For more information about Little Learners Preschool, contact Zimmer at 701-385-3186.