Child development program prepares to open Tiny Cats Preschool


Child development students prepare for the return of their Tiny Cats program. Photo illustration by Alyssa Folmer.

Entirely managed by students, the child development program takes on Tiny Cats Preschool as it returns from 2020. A free preschool open to the community, Tiny Cats has been a big highlight since its creation in 2018. Beginning in January 2022, Mrs. Jennifer Armas’s students will have the chance to connect their joy of working with small children on campus while experiencing hands-on learning.

“The Child & Adolescent Development II students are not helping with Tiny Cats, they are teaching Tiny Cats,” Armas said. “The entire first semester, students are preparing to teach by learning different levels of development for toddlers and preschool-aged children as well as learning about preschool readiness and lesson planning.”

The program is funded by the Career & Technical Education department and through donations by high school students, parents and preschool parents. 

In each stage of development for the program, students learn the responsibilities of taking care and nurturing children ages 3 to 5. Two teams, named the “maroon” and “gold” teams, take charge when it’s their week to teach with Armas there for supervising and assisting as needed. Dara Pasion explains the excitement of in-person teaching through this class. 

“It gives us an opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience where we get to work with kids in real life. It’s the type of thing where we physically take care of children instead of just reading about them in a textbook,” Pasion said.

Similarly, Sophia Punsalan said she is excited to be able to get a feeling of the setting.

“[It’s exciting to] gain hands-on experience [and to] be able to familiarize ourselves with the type of environment we’ll be working in,” Punsalan said.

A typical school day in Tiny Cats will include six sessions called “circle time,” “arts & crafts,” “snack,” “math & reading readiness,” “science,” and “outdoor & group play.” The first three sessions will be run by fourth period students and the last three will be run by the sixth period students. 

“During the passing period, preschoolers will be sitting down [enjoying] their snack,” Armas said.

Armas has high hopes for her students and Tiny Cats. She is excited for it to return next semester. 

“In 2018-2019, our students did a phenomenal job. If that is any inclination on how our program will be once we have a full group of preschoolers, I cannot wait,” Armas said.

Armas’s plan is to start Tiny Cats Preschool Jan. 12. The preschool program will run every other week, Wednesdays and Fridays on even days, during fourth and sixth period through May 20.