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Riverdale Elementary parents experience 'Day of Pre-K'

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

As Keisha Pou got up to leave her son, Isaiah's, pre-kindergarten class at Riverdale Elementary School on Wednesday morning, the 4-year-old pupil ran up to his mother, threw his arms around her legs and asked her not to go.

He said he wanted his mother to stay longer because "it was really fun getting to learn with her."

Keisha Pou had been visiting the class as a participant in the school's "A Day of Pre-K," during which parents and grandparents of pre-kindergarten students are invited to come into school to observe and participate in the learning activities their children are engaged in.

"I have to go to work now honey, I'll pick you up later today," Keisha Pou told her son.

"No, I don't want you to leave, please don't go," Isaiah Pou responded.

Six parents, and grandparents, of students in the pre-kindergarten class taught by lead teacher, Joanie Hughes, and co-teacher, Sheila Oluseyi, came to the school on Wednesday to participate in "A Day of Pre-K."

All 30 pre-kindergarten classes in Clayton County Public Schools hold "A Day of Pre-K" in September, but the classes do not hold their programs on the same day, school system Family Services Liaison Konstantina Bankhead said. "This is something we do annually, where we invite the parents to come into the classroom to see how the kids learn through a hands-on curriculum," she said.

"They do not just play," Hughes said. "They do go to school and learn like their older siblings do, because many of our students do have older brothers and sisters in this school."

The parents and grandparents who came to Riverdale Elementary School for "A Day of Pre-K" stayed through the morning. They participated in work stations with their children, where they got to do a variety of activities, such as building items with blocks, working in a play kitchen, painting, playing educational games on computers, and assembling puzzles.

Hafsat Mohammed, the mother of pre-kindergarten student, Amin Mohammed, said she liked the work stations because of the independence the children were learning. She also liked the fact that the children had to engage in "clean-up time" when they were finished with the work stations.

"They are teaching them to be organized and how to think and make decisions for themselves," Hafsat Mohammed said.

The youths also sang a song for their visitors about counting.

"I always wondered what they were doing when my son was at school," Keisha Pou said. "It's good to see how they learn through play, and not just run around all day. You get to see how they incorporate [into the learning process] the things shown to them at home."

Guadalupe Hernandez, the mother of pre-kindergarten student, Cristian Felix, said "I like that he's learning the alphabet, and numbers, [and] how to play with other kids."

Earline Jones, the grandmother of pre-kindergarten student, O-maree Pizarro, said she has come to the school a few times to help out with lunch duty, but she enjoyed getting to sit in on her granddaughter's class for a while. Jones wore a "motorcycle cop" helmet and counted plastic cookies with the students, and played instruments with them.

"I think being in the classroom helps the children because they see their parents and grandparents are interested in what they are doing every day," Jones said. "I think more parents should be involved in the schools."

Pizarro said she enjoyed getting a chance to show her grandmother the plastic cookies and baby dolls in the classroom, and "that I was being good."

Hernandez and Hafsat Mohammed said they plan to be more active in the school now that they've had an opportunity to see what goes on in the classroom on a daily basis.

"This motivates me," Hafsat Mohammed said. "I want to do more at home with him [Amin Mohammed] to help the teachers out ... I've also signed up to be a volunteer in his class."