By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer
A Bona Vista preschool teacher received a prestigious national child care award for the “Down on the Farm” program she is launching in her class of 2-year-olds.
Joanne DeMarco was among 52 educators in the nation who received the 2013 Terri Lynne Lokoff and Children’s Tylenol National Child Care Teacher Award.
“Early childhood education is emerging as a necessary beginning for a child’s formal education,” Allan Miller, executive director of the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation, said in a press release. “Child care teachers are being recognized for the important role they play in providing the first learning opportunities for young children. ... The teachers, particularly those honored as our national award winners, are respected professionals. Their curriculum-based lesson plans are designed to further children’s natural creativity and stimulate curiosity to explore.”
Miller said children learn through investigation and play. So early childhood teachers capitalize on that. They create games to foster language and vocabulary development, improve social skills and introduce scientific and mathematical concepts.
That’s what DeMarco aims to do with her “Down on the Farm” program. She will incorporate the theme into all of her classroom learning centers.
“I chose this because of the age of my children,” DeMarco said. “They love animals, especially farm animals. I don’t have many activities or games that pertain to that.”
She envisions farm-related puppets, dress up clothes, puzzles and games. She wants a sensory table with mud and a duck pond to introduce new textures and temperatures to her students. Children will even milk a pretend cow using a rubber glove filled with watery white paint, she said.
“And you explain that’s where milk comes from,” she said. “That’s a whole new lesson. I can already see their imaginations running wild with it.”
DeMarco’s award came with a $1,000 cash prize. She will use $500 to implement her farm program.
DeMarco said she was astonished that she even received the award, though. She was going up against educators who work at large preschools across the nation.
“I have 10 kids,” she said. “We’re just a little classroom here in Kokomo.”
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