“This year’s Child Development class consisted of 19 motivated students. I have been very impressed by this group of students throughout the semester because of their participation in group discussions, planning of activities, participation in various activities, and their overall love for children. I have no doubt that these 19 young adults will make great parents in the future.
We were very fortunate to be able to utilize a wide variety of learning activities that went beyond our classroom walls. These learning activities gave students a hands-on approach to learning that provided them with a deeper level of understanding and something to look forward to each day. Early in the semester we began observing in the Kindergarten and First Grade classrooms. The High School students were able to observe individual students during their lunch and recess time. This helped the high school students see various developmental milestones and gave them a chance to interact with the elementary students. Observation day became a day that all students looked forward to each week.
Students also had an opportunity to wear an Empathy Belly for half a day (either blocks 1-4 or 5-8). Most students reported that it was much harder than they originally thought it would be to do all daily activities. A few students even said that the experience was so awful that they were never going to have children! The Empathy Belly project was a huge success and students ended the project with a new, deeper appreciation for expecting mothers.
As we wrapped up the Empathy Belly project, we were fortunate to be able to take a field trip to Mercy Medical Center in Centerville, IA and go on a tour of the Obstetrics Unit. Rebecca, the Labor and Delivery nurse, gave an excellent, hands-on presentation to the students. Charlie was a great sport and volunteered to be our “expecting mother.” He was hooked up to all of the machines used during labor and delivery. Tory was also a great sport and volunteered to be Charlie’s “doctor.” Although humorous, students were able to see and touch all tools and machines used during labor and delivery for both mother and baby. It was a great, eye-opening experience for the students that they all seemed to enjoy.
After wearing the Empathy Belly, students got a glimpse of what it was like to care for an infant through the Baby Think It Over project. The project involves the students taking an electronic baby doll home for two nights after school. The students each had a special "key" that was used to calm the baby when it would cry. The babies were set on different temperaments ranging from calm to cranky. Depending on the temperament, the babies would cry less frequently but for longer periods of time or more frequently with shorter care sessions. The students were responsible for providing care for their baby from 3:30 pm - 8 am the next day for two consecutive nights and keeping a log of when the baby would cry and what they had to do to calm the baby. The Baby Think It Over project allowed students to get an idea of what life would be like if they were responsible for taking care of a child.
One of our units was over the importance of reading to children and how to analyze children’s books for proper age/development. Mrs. Fitzpatrick read one of her favorite children’s books, “Love You Forever” to the high school students. Students then modeled those reading strategies by choosing a children’s book and reading to their peers. After they had perfected those strategies, we teamed up with Mrs. Ingersoll’s Kindergarten class to read books with the kindergartners. I’m not sure who was more excited by the experience; the high school students or the kindergartners.
Finally, to wrap up our year and everything we have learned, students planned a Child Development Day Care Day. We invited Marilyn Wood in to speak to the class about offering In Home Childcare as a career choice. Marilyn also brought two of the children that she cares for with her and Mrs. Rhodes was kind enough to bring her son in for the afternoon so that students could plan activities and snacks as though they were running a day care. We had a nice age group ranging from eight months to two years.
Looking back, it’s amazing that we were able to fit so much into just one semester! There’s no doubt it was a jam-packed semester that could not have been pulled off without the motivation that these students possessed. Thanks for a great semester and best of luck in the future!”