BY MAGGIE BEAMGUARD
Preschoolers in Seven Lakes and the surrounding area will have a new option for early learning when The Preschool in the Pines opens this fall.
The preschool is a dream realized for Alison McClosky, the school’s founder and director. McClosky grew up in Seven Lakes, attending a small, in-home preschool which prepared her for the next big steps.
“Preschool gave me the confidence to go to kindergarten. I was more ready than timid,” she said.
Since her early days of crayons and paste, McClosky went on to graduate from Pinecrest and to Sandhills Community College, where she earned a degree in early childhood education.
Now she is back to dealing in crayons and paste. With experience as a full-time nanny and a preschool teacher, McClosky is poised to take a leap with this endeavor.
“I really like being around kids and working with kids,” she said. “So when the opportunity arose to have my own school, I jumped at it.”
The school will operate out of classroom space at The Chapel in the Pines. “Registrations are open. I am filling up spots. I’m hiring teachers, and I’m hoping to have an open house around the end of May or beginning of June.”
While McClosky works to get the school up and running, she currently serves as a middle school substitute. The contrast between older and younger students helped her realize how much she loves the younger ones.
“I like preschool kids because when they get something, when the light clicks on, they get so excited,” she said. “I really like celebrating the tiny wins.”
For McClosky those tiny wins range from little ones sharing they slept in their big-kid beds to learning to identify colors.
“They get excited about everything. Everything is a celebration. The 2-year-old picks out their name on their wall, and that’s incredible. That’s name recognition. Every time they do it, they get more confident at it. Then they learn to try new things and that whole part is so fun.”
Play and fun will be essential elements for the learning at the preschool which will be theme and center-based with small group instruction. Preschoolers, McClosky says, “need a safe and fun, overall fun environment where they can become more confident and try new things.”
While learning the alphabet is part of the curriculum, preschoolers also benefit from the social and emotional interactions you can only get in a school setting. “We learn how to wait our turn. We learn that you cannot be first in line every day. We learn how to do two-step directions,” she said.
Weekly themes such as weather, transportation, sea and space will help integrate the learning objectives. “We’ll have a garden week where we learn facts about gardens and they’ll grow plants, but we’ll also teach them the colors of a garden and count seeds together.”
McClosky says the students don’t even realize they are learning. “It’s like when you put vegetables in like chili. You make your kid eat it, and they don’t know they’re eating vegetables. It’s kind of like that.”
One of the lessons from her own study of early childhood education is that children learn through play. Adults provide ample creative leeway and look for the teachable moments. “I just want to make learning fun,” she said.
The Preschool in the Pines will provide four programs that run from September-May. The 3 and 4-year-old classes will be offered five days a week. There will be two classes of 2-year-olds, one meeting Mondays and Wednesdays and the other meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays. Classes run from 9 a.m. to noon, with a lunch bunch option until 1 p.m for an additional fee.
Additionally, the school will offer a Mother’s Morning Out program on Fridays for children 18-months to 2 years. Mother’s Morning Out gives parents and caregivers an opportunity to be able to run errands and go to appointments and it gives toddlers an opportunity to play with other kids their age and learn independence.
To enroll, the students must meet the age requirement for their class by Aug. 31. This means all the students in the 4-year-old class will turn 5 in the classroom, and they will be eligible to go to kindergarten in Moore County Schools the following year. Participants in the 3-year-old class must be potty trained. Two teachers will oversee each classroom. McClosky aims for small classes with a ratio of one teacher for every eight students.
Providing clear communication with parents is a priority for McClosky. “I get their babies yeah for three hours a day and that’s a privilege,” she said “We work with the parents. We are a team.”
McClosky believes preschool allows these kids to grow in self-confidence and to become well rounded students that are kindergarten ready. “My hope for the school is to provide a well-run preschool for the Seven Lakes area.”
For more information about The Preschool in the Pines or to request an enrollment application, email Alison McClosky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Maggie Beamguard at email@example.com.