Summit School program gets parents involved in kids’ early education - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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Summit School program gets parents involved in kids’ early education

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Posted: Monday, August 18, 2014 8:32 am

While Summit School of Ahwatukee’s regular classes are already in session, registration is still open for its Toddler Discovery program for families who would like their children to begin their education at an early age.

Toddler Discoveries, running on its sixth year at the school, is open to children from 15 to 36 months old, and it meets once a week for a 12-week period.

During Toddler Discoveries, children are given a brief glimpse of what a classroom setting is, and learn fine-motor, interactive and developmental activities.

Lisa Hayes has been teaching the program for the past four years and believes it’s a way for parents and students to acclimate themselves for school.

“My role is a facilitator for the parents and kids to interact with them,” she said. “I’m setting up new activities that they might not have at home.”

Parents are given a chance to be involved with the program by staying throughout the class day to interact and engage with their child through academics.

By allowing them to stay during class time, parents are able to use the ideas of Toddler Discoveries within their home.

“The parents get to stay and they’re their children’s No. 1 teacher,” Hayes said. “They are still a teacher in the classroom as I facilitate the activities that we set out for the parents and the toddlers.”

Toddler Discoveries is also an introduction to Summit’s preschool program, which meets three days per week.

“I think it prepares them for having a different environment other than home,” Hayes said. “A classroom environment is much different; there are much more children in the classroom, different materials and different expectations. It definitely prepares them for being in a classroom in the future.”

Andrea Benkel, director of early childhood education at Summit, said children in Toddler Discoveries were able to explore their world of education through interaction.

It also allows parents to elevate their parenting skills and understand what early childhood education offers their child.

“We see the long-term benefit,” Benkel said. “It’s a foundation for learning.”

“What we find is because they are used to coming to school one day a week with their parents, they see, hear, and feel that school is a safe place. When they start preschool, there is no hysteria or anxiety separation from the children or the parents,” she said. “We are so fortunate to be in a position to provide safety for the children and the families.”

Currently, there are 12 families enrolled in Toddler Discoveries, and spaces are available for the fall.

Toddler Discoveries will begin the fall session from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, at Summit School of Ahwatukee, 4515 E. Muirwood Drive.

For more information about Toddler Discoveries, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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