Helping Little Stars to Shine

By Sandra Zunino

A child’s success in kindergarten may depend on what happens the year before ever entering the classroom and Diane Ryan of Shine Like Stars Preschool in Grasonville is dedicated to ensuring her students a smooth transition into public schools.

Director of Shine Like Stars, Diane says the school’s goal is not only for children to grow and learn socially but also academically. “We created the curriculum and designed it to reinforce reading, writing and math,” says Diane, “through introducing letters and letter sounds, writing letters and numbers, and counting.”

Teachers work with student in small groups as well as on a one-on-one basis for individualized attention as they recognize each child learns at a different pace. Not only are students introduced to music and art at Shine Like Stars, they also learn Spanish. Preschool-age children can actually learn Spanish easier than at age 13, when foreign language is typically introduced, according to Diane. “We count in Spanish and name colors and say simple phrases,” she says, “words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ or ‘your welcome.’”

Diane is a certified teacher with two Bachelor of Science Degrees: one in Elementary Education and one in Early Childhood Education. She has 10 years of teaching experience in public elementary schools from kindergarten to sixth grade including classes for gifted students.

Diane was also an elementary school Science Fair Coordinator in Prince George’s County where third through sixth grade students completed Science Fair Projects using the Scientific Method.

It was after Diane spent time away from her education career; however, that she started formulating the concept of providing specialized prekindergarten education. “I wanted a preschool for my son to meet other children, but was also academically oriented,” she says.

When Diane was unable to find a school that met her criteria, the Living Water Lutheran Church on Kent Island, where she was a member, helped her create one. Diane served as director of the Living Water Preschool for more than six year. With inadequate facilities to house the growing program, the school moved to Lakeview Fellowship Church and officially became Shine Like Stars last year.

While the name and location changed, the school’s academic and social philosophy remained the same. Shine Like Stars not only provides a nurturing environment for prekindergarten, but also separate classes for two year olds and three year olds. A certified teacher with the help of an assistant conducts each class. A maximum of 12 children per class ensures individualized attention for each student.

Now that public schools changed kindergarten from half-day to full-day schedules, Diane says it’s more important than ever for children to participate in prekindergarten. “If children don’t attend preschool for a half day, then full-day kindergarten will be a big shock,” she says. “It helps acclimate them to going to school every day, knowing they have to be there at a certain time and knowing their mom is going to pick them up at the same time.”

Parents and public school teachers report to Diane that her students excel in kindergarten and beyond after attending her classes. “I have experience teaching both early childhood and elementary, and I can see how children grow and what they build on,” she says. “When we give them a good foundation to build upon, they can be successful in their future education.”

For more information or to register for 2010/2011 pre-school, visit www.shinelikestarspreschool.com or call 410-643-2486.

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