Oct 172011
 
Authors: Sarah Fenton

When four-year-old Rylan Smith puts on his red and yellow striped firefighter suit he means business. The name of the game is fire safety and at the Sunshine House this past week, Smith and his classmates focused on learning about fire prevention.

Located on campus, the Sunshine House acts as CSU’s childcare facility, catering to the infants, toddlers and preschoolers of university students, faculty and staff.

“I see the benefit for students with kids to be able to be here, it’s really a nice homey atmosphere,” said Annalee Fatch, an employee for the Sunshine House.

Fatch believes that the relaxed atmosphere at the Sunshine House provides for a cohesive operation that in turn benefits the kids themselves.

“We have a really awesome group of women here, they know what they are doing, and they’re educated,” Fatch said. “They love kids, they are passionate about it, which means they are good at it.”

For preschoolers like Smith, the social interactions they experience at the Sunshine House, while participating in activities like pretending to fight fires together, is imperative to their learning process down the road.

“Kids like to play, through all of their play they are learning and engaging with friends,” Fatch said.

So while this happy-go-lucky preschooler hauls a water hose around the playground with his lips perched together ready to make spraying noises, his brain is getting a healthy dose of social and emotional experiences crucial to his development.

This is why his parents have had Smith enrolled at the Sunshine House since he was three months old. For Andrea Smith the social interaction her son experiences on a daily basis has had a positive impact on him.

“I work in the field so it’s important for me to have him in childcare as opposed to staying home with him,” Andrea said.

Although social interaction has played a major role in Smith’s development, his teachers also emphasize the importance of learning basic letters and numbers in preparation for kindergarten next year.

Children at the Sunshine House participate in dancing, singing, reading circles and general playtime. Throughout these activities, teachers including Fatch, work hard to incorporate social themes like kindnessand safety.

Through interacting and safety.

Through interacting with different teachers and other children, kids enrolled at the Sunshine House learn in a variety of different ways. “We emphasize a lot on the cares program, which is keeping ourselves safe, keeping our friends safe and keeping our things safe,” Fatch said. “You’ll hear us say it all the time and so that’s how we structure behavior.”

The typical classroom size for the preschool age group at the Sunshine House is about 18 kids in ratio to several teachers. The most popular activities are art projects, and according to Fatch, creativity in this area is significant.

“I love art therefore my kids love art, I do a lot of messy art projects which is fun,” Fatch said. “Just being creative, letting them express themselves is important.”

Collegian writer Sarah Fenton can be reached at collegian@news.com.

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