New classes: Early Childhood Development

Claire Krugler and Wesley Woo

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Greendellreal

Palo Alto Unified School District’s preschool located at Greendell Campus. Every block period, students in the Early Child Development class at Paly visit the Greendell Campus to work with preschool-aged kids. Photo by Eric Lu.

Teacher: Hilary McDaniel

Year/Semester class: Semester class

Credits: This course meets the “g” requirement for CSU and UC

The Early Childhood Development class offers a rare opportunity for high school students at the local Grendell site which offers Preschool Family, Young Fives and Vocational Education. The class covers units of physical development, biosocial development and psychosocial development, according to teacher Hilary McDaniel.

“I would say that it’s really a unique opportunity to blend theory with practice,” McDaniel said. “That doesn’t happen a whole lot on a high school level campus … where you read in the textbook, but then you get to see it come to life when you’re there [Greendell] with the children, and I think that was one of the things that the students found maybe the most rewarding and maybe the most exciting.”

Senior Tiffany Fields and junior Kelly Branson give insight to the overall rigor of the Early Childhood Development course.

Workload:

“In the beginning of the semester, we had a lot of homework – about 45 minutes [a night] – but once we started going to the daycare, it was about 20 minutes [per night] for reflections,” Fields said.

Branson agrees, noting that the homework load becomes less after the first unit.

“It ranges from a half-hour to an hour or more a night,” Branson said. “During the beginning of the semester, before you start going to the preschool, there’s a lot of reading and responses… but as the semester progresses the homework load gets less.”

Recommendation:

“I would definitely recommend this course for people who like kids,” Fields said. “It’s a really hands-on course. … It’s kind of like taking a field trip every day, and the kids are so funny and sweet.”

Fields also advises to stick with the course, despite it being difficult in the beginning.

“My advice is to stay positive because the first couple of weeks can be really challenging and a lot of work, but once you get your assigned classroom, you will love it.”

Branson recommends taking this class if you are interested in working with children.

“Try to be outgoing and try to get outside of your comfort zone,” Branson said. “If you really show them [the children] you care and are fun and silly with them you can form great relationships.”

Favorite Part:

The favorite part of the Early Childhood Development class for both Fields and Branson was going to Greendell.

“I really miss the kids,” Fields said. “Right when they finally began to trust us the course was over.”

Fields notes that she would like the class to be a year-long course rather than semester-long.

Branson’s favorite part was also going to the preschool.

“In our classroom we had the opportunity to work with special needs kids and that was something I have never done before,” Branson said. “Definitely taking what we learned and applying it in the classrooms with these amazing kids was the highlight.”

Overall Rating out of 10:

“I would rate it an 8 because of all the work in the beginning and because it’s only a semester,” Fields said.

Branson, too, rates the class as an 8.

“I loved playing with the kids and it was super unique and fun experience,” Branson said. “But there was more work than I anticipated.”

In response to many students requesting the class be a year long, the Early Childhood Development class is now offered as a semester and/or year long course for the 2015-16 school year.