In 1930, a group of women developed a school for young children. Not only would this place be a safe and loving learning environment for the children, but would also help the working parents be sure to have a place to take their children during the hours they worked. The school had very humble beginnings with only ten students and held their classes under the Oak trees. The ladies that started this facility were Alice Turner, Luella O’Neil, Susie Reddick, Susie Newton and Mary Emma Jones. The community this school was started it was known then as Newtown, and is still known by the same name today.
Since the 1930’s, this particular facility became known as the Helen R. Payne Day Nursery School, a head-start program for young children in preparation for kindergarten and grade school. Both facilities and enrollment grew to the point that an additional facility (Helen R. Payne Annex) was constructed some years down the line before finally merging with Children First (a head-start program that offers early education to young children from families with low income).
Today, the facility continues to thrive and evolve, keeping with the original goal and integrity from which the school was developed: providing children with a safe place to start their learning and growing experience.
One more experience that has been ever growing within the Children First program has been art instruction; not by the teachers, but by volunteers, both from Ringling College students, and community members. From creating mosaics to working on portraits or that of their classmates, we, as a community, have ensured that these children are receiving a well-rounded education by exposing them to art and the many elements that go with it.
For the past couple of years, Ringling students have been making regular visits to one of the Children First facilities and teaching classes. This is a tradition that Ringling College’s volunteerism department (RVO) would like to continue as well as expand. Children First always welcomes volunteers and more importantly, the children love it when an artist comes to visit.
To volunteer with a group of kids that are genuinely excited about the experience you’re sharing with them is a truly rewarding opportunity. You are encouraged to stop by one of the campuses and become a volunteer! If you would like to learn more about the Helen R. Payen campus, the Orange Avenue campus or any of their campuses located throughout the Sarasota County, please visit their website: http://www.childrenfirst.net
The More You Know
“Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence.”
In ‘Creative and Mental Growth,’ a book written by Viktor Lowenfeld, he describes the artistic development of a child ranging from ages two years old to seventeen. The age and stage seen most commonly in nursery schools is the ‘scribbling stage’ (ages two to four years). It is during this stage that children are at their most crucial developmentally. Along with language skills, these children are learning motor control and exploring the world around them at every chance they get.
Throughout many of the early developmental changes that the child goes through, scribbling is a constant activity for him/her. As soon as they can physically hold a crayon in their hand, they start playing on paper. The evolution of that play provides us with a precious record of the child’s expanding universe. (Lowenfeld)
Is art essential in a child’s education? It is topic that is constantly up for debate and there are always studies on the matter, but it is certainly safe to say that volunteering time to teach local kids about something they may not have a lot of exposure to can be life changing for both the children and the volunteers.
To read more on Loewnfeld’s studies of the child psychology and development and the role art plays in it, check out his book, ‘Creative and Mental Growth.’