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Cooperative preschool shines with family values

Shining Stars cooperative Preschool is as much about the parents interacting as helpers, as it is about the kids.

On Tuesday, March 13, Shining Stars held an open house, celebrating its 10th anniversary. Registration for the 2007-08 school is at 7 a.m. sharp on March 19, and it is said some parents camp out overnight to secure spots for their preschoolers.

The multi-denominational preschool is housed on the lower level of the Park City Community Church, where the school room is anything but confining, with large picture windows covering one side of the modern classroom. The classroom is filled with toys, art tables, play areas, and generally about 18 three to five-year-olds making the most of their surroundings.

As a cooperative preschool, parents agree to help in the classroom one day per month, per student for every student they have enrolled. That works out to two teachers and two parent-helpers per day, a day lasting from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

The parents seem to have as much fun and social interaction with other parents and children as the preschoolers themselves.

"If I’m around a lot of three-and four-year-olds it instantly changes my attitude for the better, said parent Brooks Addicott. Parents alternate schedules, getting to know other parents and their children, forming bonds that may last long beyond the preschool.

Parent Aimee Preston said she learns new parenting skills by talking with other parents and helping teachers.

Paige Wakefield, who has had three children who have graduated from Shinning Stars, and another currently in the preschool said, "They make their friends in preschool." Her daughter, Whitney, now a Jeremy Ranch student, said she still goes to school with the friends she made in Shinning Stars.

"Everything we do is fun," said Carol Hardy, the director of Shining Stars. "We’re facilitators for their play." She said the main benefit to preschoolers is the social development aspect, where they learn how to communicate, interact, and how to get along.

A school day begins with 45 minutes of "free choice," where kids can head for a variety of attractions. The rest of the day consists of more organized activities such as singing, speaking, learning letters and numbers, taking advantage of the play area outside, weather permitting, and snack time. Field trips are scheduled once a month. They may ride a trolley; they may go to the grocery store.

Although 36 preschoolers are enrolled, alternating days cuts the class size to 18. The younger kids attend two days per week, the older, three days. Tuition is $140 per month for two-day per week students, $200 for three days. Most openings in the school are for the three-year-olds.

Registration is March 19, at 7 a.m., at the Park City Community Church, located at 4501 State Route 224, Park City. For more information, call 658-5028, or Allison at 658-0166.


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