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PRESCHOOL TEACHER GETS CLASSROOM

After five years in the house I figured it was time to get my own room, Cindy Crawford, owner of Creative Learning Preschool said.

This is Crawfords sixth year operating the school, which had been in her home on Oceanview Drive.

Crawfords husband Michael, after getting his own separate garage, and her children Bailey, a first grader, and Jake a third grader, let Crawford convert the family garage into what she calls an all inclusive preschool, which includes a classroom, office and bathroom.

The new room opens directly onto the schools outside play area, eliminating the need to cross the yard and parking area.

Children entering the classroom find a bench where they may sit to change shoes, Crawford said.

Cubby holes for each child are also in the entry way.

To the left of the entrance is Crawfords office with a computer the children can use, Crawford said.

An area for circle time is found at the right side of the entrance where Crawford has placed a futon with pillows.

The futon allows the children to get comfortable and is a way for Crawford to teach whats acceptable and whats not when using furniture, she said.

The circle time area is used for things like reading stories, blocks, books, dress up and show and share.

Crawford stocks a shelf in the area with a variety of childrens books she rotates by making frequent trips to the library.

Another section, Crawford calls the dramatic area, is stocked with toys, like a play kitchen .

A portion of the room with tables allows all the children to assemble at once and is used for things like art projects, Play Doh, writing, snacks and meals, Crawford said.

Because the table area is directly off Crawfords kitchen shes able to prepare lunches in the kitchen, which offers a controlled environment where an older child can help, Crawford said.

Crawford said she designed the room to create an academic setting, cozy like a home, but not a home.

She wanted a distinct feel for each area, Crawford said. Each setting offers a different learning behavior.

The bathroom has a handwashing area with a toilet that will have separate doors for privacy, Crawford said.

A subtle cloud pattern decorates the ceiling.

Crawford said she hired Paula Young to stencil the walls with things like ferries and butterflies to create an outdoorsey, fantasy feel of happiness thats sweet and uplifting.

Crawford said her teaching philosophy is a combination of teaching styles.

She said shes taken the best of Montessori, that involves individual work, manipulative puzzles, math drive and critical thinking skills problems and solutions.

Kids solve their own ideas, she said.

From Rudolf Steiners Waldorf method, Crawford said she likes to create a fantasy world teaching art, music and dance.

A recent painting exercise involved creating a picture while listening to different kinds of music from Mozart to Western. The students were allowed to paint whatever they wanted, Crawford said.

A music teacher visits twice a month, and she the children sing everyday, she said.

The students practice storytelling without books a couple of times a week, she said.

Crawford doesnt agree with all of the theories. Teaching is my own style, my own philosophy. Taking the best of what Ive seen to keep a unique preschool setting,she said.

Crawford said she tries to offer a broad spectrum of the world.

To help the preschoolers learn different ways to communicate Crawford teaches them 50 to 75 sign language words and has a Spanish teacher who visits for a half hour each week, she said.

The children take a couple of field trips every month that always deal with what we are doing and pertain to what we are learning about, Crawford said.

Once a month the students visit GRAFF gym for a tumbling class and take a creative movement and dance class twice a month, she said.

Crawford also has the children participate in two community projects a year. Similar to last years project of collecting cans of food for the Elks Lodge community Christmas baskets.

Crawford said she has an end of the year holiday get together so families can meet each other and an end of the school year graduation with singing and dancing.

The gatherings are held because schools important, and the (children) should be proud of themselves, Crawford said.

In an effort to keep current and to work toward a teaching credential, Crawford said she takes a college class every term.

Preschool is the beginning of attitudes in school seeds for the future, Crawford said.

Parents are asked to commit to help out with things like carpooling, she said.

The help is necessary to make field trips or the swim lessons the students are currently taking possible, she said.

Crawford is certified to teach 12 children with a helper and 10 by herself, she said.

She prefers 10, because she likes the intimate feeling, she said.

Deanna Marrington, a teachers assistant, visits once a week in the afternoons and Crawford has three teenage girls who help, she said.

She is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

She said shes always accepting new children and families.

Children must be at least 2 and a half, she said.

She also takes afterschool kindergartners and after school children. The bus brings the kids right to me, she said.

Crawford said it is important that people remember she offers preschool with daycare. She teaches all morning long, then offers daycare, she said.

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