Early childhood education has been a topic of discussion in Southern Lyon County USD 252 for many years. Parents from Olpe, Hartford, Neosho Rapids and the surrounding areas have expressed a need for more early childhood education options. In response, early childhood education programs have been established in both Olpe and Neosho Rapids.
âThe community voiced that they needed more options for education and daycare,â Tasia Markowitz, coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Center for school district, said. âSo this is in response to their requests. We were able to add a 3-year-old early childhood education program and a day care.â
Markowitz says that both sites offer preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds. In addition, day care services are provided for children that are two and a half years old and older.
The day care opens daily at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m. Three-year-olds attend preschool in the mornings and four-year-olds attend in the afternoon.
âWe do have some students that only attend preschool,â Markowitz said. âBut we have other students that are here all day so they will go to preschool for a portion of the day and then go to day care for the remainder of the day.â
Both locations have two rooms â one for day care and the other for preschool. Children eat together family-style, enjoy time on the playground and take part in numerous learning activities.
Both centers are located in close proximity to the elementary schools. In Neosho Rapids, the early childhood education center is actually located in the same building as the elementary school but maintains a separate entrance. In Olpe, the center is located in a mobile unit on the school grounds close to the playground.
A benefit of the close proximity is that older students have the opportunity to serve as mentors to the children in the early childhood education center.
âSome of the high school students serve as volunteers in the classrooms,â Markowitz said.
Educators can also collaborate with one another to share learning experiences. Recently, preschool students were learning about different animals, so a class from Olpe High School brought their animals for the preschool students to meet and pet. The older students were able to share their knowledge with the younger students.
âThe high school students love coming over and teaching and working with the younger students,â Markowitz said. âThey worked and planned out how they were going to talk to the students about the animals.â