The Shepherd of the Hills Child Development Center has been a staple in the Casper community for over 40 years. As the community has changed and evolved, so has the program. The desire to meet each child at their own level, though, has never changed. A mission of the Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church from the beginning, the preschool is a nondenominational Christian–based program that teaches God’s love for all children. This is a part-time program for children ages 3, 4 and 5 with age-specific classrooms and times. The school year generally follows the public-school calendar, but starts after Labor Day and ends before Memorial Day.
One of the things that sets this program apart from others is the desire to make sure music is incorporated throughout it. Music teaches concepts to children in a way that other methods can’t. Music teaches about concepts such as letters and numbers. Music teaches about the world through topics such as the Arctic or Cowboys & Cowgirls, a couple of examples of themes we have enjoyed. Music teaches about friendship, feelings, kindness and body awareness. Making music involves using every part of the brain as well as coordinating body parts in rhythm. We learn to listen to the world around us, whether it’s the sounds of nature, the sounds of work being done around us or the different types music produced around the world. It keeps the whole brain engaged to the world we occupy.
Kindergarten preparedness is also a hallmark of the program. The teachers take this very seriously and recognize that being prepared for kindergarten is multifaceted. This can mean knowing that it is important to pay attention when the teacher is talking; being able to sit during project time and reading time; and recognizing that being able to cooperate with others is important, that you need to speak up for what you need and that there is a time and a place for each activity. These are skills beyond academics, yet they are vital to a successful school life. Also important, of course, is having some basic academic skills to help start off the kindergarten year. Number recognition and counting are reinforced through various activities throughout the day, including special calendar time, where the students learn about the days of the week and months of the year and work with patterns. Letter recognition and sounds are learned through Zoo-phonics. This year, the Heggerty program was added to support learning phonemic awareness (being able to manipulate words) through speaking.
“Our family has had two kids at Shepherd of the Hills Child Development Center and we are anticipating our 3-year-old going there next year. We heard about the preschool from other moms around town that absolutely loved it for their children. We have been nothing short of amazed at the love the teachers have for the kids and their development and learning. You can tell the teachers love this preschool age and really try hard to implement best practices. Every teacher shows respect for all the kids. We have loved the mixture of learning and play. One of my favorite aspects is that the 5-year-old class learns to play the violin. I wouldn’t send my kids anywhere else.” — Susan Milmont
Of course, learning to read is a concern for every parent and educator. The process isn’t always easy or natural for many children and there are many ways to help a child through it. At Shepherd, the teachers have been working for years with Zoo-phonics, “a method developed to make children strong readers and spellers using a ‘phono’ (hearing), ‘oral’ (speaking), ‘visual’ (seeing), ‘kinesthetic’ (moving), and tactile (touching)—whole brain approach.” The teachers have started using Heggerty Phonemic Awareness as part of their daily activities with the kids as well. This program “will allow students to hear the sounds in words and match them to the letters, helping students see the reciprocal relationship between phonemic awareness and phonics.” It teaches children how to take words apart and put them together through sounds. Having this ability is a basic building block to reading and being ready for school.
“I cannot say enough positive things about Shepherd of the Hills Child Developer Center! They have lovingly provided the perfect environment for my 5-year-old to gain confidence in reading and writing as well as working with numbers. I have seen amazing growth in her social skills and sense of responsibility. She absolutely loves Mrs. Rich and the other teachers and staff.” — Gina Storrud
The teachers at the Shepherd of the Hills Child Development Center are dedicated to helping all children build their self-confidence to have the most successful start to their kindergarten year that they can. This might mean working on letter recognition, counting, writing, self-regulation, taking turns, learning how to talk to others and learning how much God loves us all. All of the teachers are degreed and very experienced with early childhood education, which is their passion. Mrs. Moffatt, the morning music teacher for three decades, says, “My favorite place to be is with young, eager learners that are full of energy!”
The Shepherd of the Hills Child Development Center is now registering for the 2023–24 school year. If you are interested in learning more about the program, you can visit www.shephillscdc.com or give the center a call at (307) 234-8522 to set up a tour. There will be an open house on March 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., so feel free to drop by to visit with these phenomenal teachers and see our facility!
|PAID FOR BY SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER
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