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TAYLORVILLE — For about 40 years, Davis Memorial Christian Church (DMCC) has been running a preschool for three- and four-year-olds. This year, the school will start Aug. 29, 2022 and run until mid-May, generally following the same break schedule as Taylorville public schools.
“It just helps establish that introduction to God and Jesus at a young age,” said Rachel Elam, third-year teacher, when asked about the benefits of a faith-based preschool. “The former pastor did and, I believe, our current pastor is going to do a chapel time with them where they do a little lesson about God. We also teach them different songs and do different stories and activities that are based on faith as well.”
Elam serves as the head teacher as well as the director of the preschool. She plans, teaches and communicates with parents. Assistant teacher Gena Craggs also helps in the classroom.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with kids, especially younger ones,” said Elam, who took college classes on early childhood education and still attends conferences and other continuing education classes. “It’s just always been a passion of mine to be able to work with them, and it’s just fun to teach them and to watch them grow through the year, especially the ones that come to three-year-old preschool when they come back to four-year-old preschool; we can watch the huge development through those two years. It’s rewarding to be able to watch them grow and learn.”
The school has two sessions, one for three-year-olds and one for four-year-olds. The older group comes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:45 to 11:15 a.m, and the younger group Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m. Each class usually enrolls 10 to 12 children.
“It’s a smaller environment for kids,” Elam said, “and we’re able to focus on one-on-one work with them. We just offer lots of fun activities for them.”
A typical day in DMCC’s preschool starts with students finding their tables and completing the question of the day. At the tables, students participate in fine motor activities, like spelling words with alphabet letters or practicing letters and numbers by tracing them with dry erase markers. Then students go to the rug for circle time, where they do the Pledge of Allegiance, calendar time, weather, activities around the letter of the week, stories and singing. They also have crafts and worksheets, snack time, and free-play time. They usually close the day with more songs before pickup.
“A lot of my belief in teaching kids is that they learn best by hands-on experiences, so we try to do a lot of hands-on things, just letting them play and explore the classroom,” Elam said. “We also, especially for the four-year-old class, do a couple of field trips throughout the year, so they always enjoy doing that.”
Parents looking to enroll their children can register online at davismemorialchristian.org/dmcc-preschool/ or in-person at the church. Office hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:30 p.m. during weekdays. There is a $25 one-time registration fee, and then a monthly cost of $65 for the three-year-old class and $75 for the four-year-old class. The church offers scholarships for families who may not be able to afford the program. Anyone with questions is encouraged to call the church at 217-824-8181.
The school will host a Meet the Teacher day before classes start on Aug. 25 and 26.
“[We have the Meet the Teacher day] so the kids can come in and get a feel for the classroom, especially the ones that haven’t been there before,” Elam said. “The ones that are returning always enjoy coming in and seeing their classroom again. It’s a good time for parents to be able to ask questions and see everything that we do in the classroom.”