Education Service District focuses on preschool

Anita Savio
IVN contributing writer

The Southern Oregon Education Service District serves up an impressive menu of services for pre-students, current students and their families in the Illinois Valley. Two of them are Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups and Art and Science Kids Outdoor Preschool.
Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups (KPL) are gathering spaces for caregivers/parents, and young children, ages 0 to 6, to meet with others in their community and learn about fostering healthy child development and school readiness. Siblings are welcome too. KPL is a place where everyone, children and adults, learn through play. Each group has time for free play, a coordinated group activity, a light snack and story time. Each family receives a free book at each group to support early literacy.
“We continue to see repeat families as well as new families each week,” said Jenn Searle, KPL facilitator. “These families are bringing friends and other family members to experience Kaleidoscope.” KPL is held every Monday and Friday from 10 to 11:30 at the IV Family Coalition.
The groups are drop-in, with no registration needed.
Art and Science Kids offers a year-round “outdoor preschool” for 16 children age 3 to 5 in the Illinois Valley. According to Program Director Joseph Flaherty, this was the first outdoor preschool in Oregon to pass a child care inspection. The program is based on a one acre forested property on Old Stage Rd, although they also sometimes meet at the Illinois River Forks State Park. It runs Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The preschool has three primary purposes: social development, motor skill development and perseverance. They do art and science projects with materials found in the outdoors, such as forts made out of sticks. They always have a circle time around 10 a.m., when they eat snacks and they always toast: “Happy smiles to everyone.” At 12:45 they have a puppet show. They sing songs. They learn the names of plants and animals. They go on a hike every day, year round, rain or shine. They play in the snow. When appropriate they wear rain pants and boots and wool socks. They each have their own backpacks.
“We’re really building strong children, and perseverance is very important to us,” said Flaherty.
Flaherty finds it is very important to involve families in the program, and families are welcome to volunteer and participate in the activities.
“And we’re really open to the families that want our help,” said Flaherty.
What Flaherty finds most rewarding about the program is watching the children grow and find joy in dirt and logs and climbing trees and running and playing.
If interested in having your child participate in the preschool, you should contact Flaherty now at 541-415-0161 or email him at artandsciencekids@gmail.com.

Editor’s Note: This is part one of the SOESD series by contributing writer Anita Savio. Be sure to view part two next week.