Sounds of joy and laughter with an occasional cry could be heard throughout the playground at the University of South Florida’s Preschool for Creative Learning as children and their parents, teachers and staff adorned in their best costumes celebrated the annual Fall Festival.
The pandemic forced the staff to get creative on how to conduct the festival over the past two years, meaning not everyone could socialize until now.
“The event is really for the kids and their families to come together, mingle with each other and see what we’re (teachers and staff) doing at the school,” said Cassidy Dickson, director of the preschool.
According to Dickson, the festival is twofold. Families get acquainted with each other
and share valuable information about their children that’s useful to the teachers.
“There’s also those informal relationships and conversations that are happening with
all our teachers and staff members that are really unique. You get some information
that you might not necessarily have and that helps us to be able to teach the children
while we’re in the classroom,” Dickson said.
“Smile honey,” said a mother who was trying to take a picture of her daughter posing by the fall backdrop. The parents played an intricate role as well, hosting the festival with nearly 100 percent of parent involvement.
Children ranging in age from 2 to 5 participated with excitement in various activities including a bounce house with a slide, temporary tattoo booth, arts and craft station where picture frames and wreaths were made, pumpkin decoration station, ball tossing booth and a backdrop for photos. Kona Ice provided snow cones.
There were sightings of superheroes, Disney characters and occupational professions such as firefighters.
The preschool has been around since 1990 and at that time, it was called the University of South Florida’s Educational Research Center for Child Development. The name changed to PCL in 1996 and has always been located on USF’s campus. “A lot of people don’t know that,” Dickson said.
The preschool cultivates early childhood practices by providing opportunities for students, teachers and faculty to engage in research within an early learning context.
“We serve as a lab school for the College of Education, specifically their early childhood education program. As a lab school, we are constantly mentoring and coaching different interns that come through the program so our teachers are all able to help build up the next group of educators to graduate,” Dickson said.
The preschool serves children of USF students, faculty, staff and community members by providing an environment that supports children’s intellectual growth, social and emotional competence, and physical development.
It also serves as a site for teacher education, interdisciplinary collaborations and professional development by providing a context for implementing best practices in the field of early childhood education.
The preschool plans to continue with its tradition of hosting a fall festival while providing a quality education for its students and an avenue to train some of the best and brightest future educators in the state and country.
All of the images can be viewed here.
boy in costume
teacher helping child with craft
two students in costumes
wide shot of fall festival