Karter shows off his building skills at Mother’s Morning Out
Big Canoe Chapel offers Mother’s Morning Out program
The miniature bookcase and nearby beanbag chairs invite youngsters to settle in and turn pages. Cubbies offer toys and building blocks for little hands. The carpet is ready for circle time and the toy kitchen beckons preschoolers to come exercise their imaginations. Mother’s Morning Out, a new program at Big Canoe Chapel, is welcoming for its tiny participants.
Sessions are held each Tuesday and and Thursday from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm and teachers have big plans to make learning fun for area preschoolers. Beginning counting, letter practice and social skills are some of the topics covered at each session.
A new venture
Director of Children and Youth Ministries Lindsey Wesseling began working on setting up the program last August by talking with local parents about the idea and determining that there was enough interest to move forward with the project. The former church nursery was transformed into a preschool classroom, teachers were hired, and the first session held on January 22.
Courtney Otto served as the Sunday School Coordinator at Big Canoe Chapel prior to taking on her current role of lead teacher of Mother’s Morning Out. She has developed a program using elements of Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards, commonly used in Georgia preschools. She also draws from the popular Christian curriculum Abeka. “We are focused on a good social and emotional foundation,” Otto said, “for relationships with each other, with our community and with God.”
All are welcome
For three hours, three days a week, local parents can run errands, keep appointments or just enjoy a break. The program is not limited to Big Canoe residents but is open to all area children from ages 2 to 5. “This is a place,” Otto said, “where all people can belong.”
Each session has a theme and two words appear on the large bulletin board at the front of the room. On this day, the words “give” and “share” would be discussed. A book about sharing was ready for the children. Music, dramatic play and artwork for the day were all planned around the theme of generosity.
Preschoolers learn differently
Movement activities are alternated with those that require sitting. Teacher Katrina Labao pointed out that, when teaching such young children, repetition and reinforcement are key. While the theme words may be new to youngsters at the beginning of the session, after hearing them over the course of the morning and having them explained on their level, understanding comes. “They like what they know,” Labao said, “We all do.”
Big Canoe Chapel donated some seed money to begin the program but it will be financially self-sustaining going forward. There is a one-time enrollment fee of $50. The cost of each three-hour session is $30.
Benefits kids and parents
Wesseling has enjoyed success in executing other Big Canoe Chapel youth programs and hopes Mother’s Morning Out will be of service to local parents like herself who do a lot of driving to activities outside the gates. “It can be hard for moms to connect with each other,” Wesseling said, “This program can help with those relationships. We want people with young children to know that we are here for them.”
Teachers Katrina Labao and Courtney Otto welcome youngsters