Cubs’ Den

By Emma Helmick

The Cubs’ Den playground outside of the classroom. Photo by Emma Helmick.

High school students are training new cubs to become Golden Lions.

Cubs’ Den is a preschool in the high school. Each kid has their own high school helper to guide them and work with them individually.

“Having 25 high schoolers and 15 preschoolers in the room at the same time takes a lot of planning and structure, but we have so much fun,” Child Development Teacher Mrs. Tiffany Smietana-Lysell said. “It is nice having the high schoolers in class before the preschool year starts so that we can establish routines and get ready for what to expect out of our little ones.”

Makenzie Span teaching the preschoolers the alphabet. Photo by Emma Helmick.

High school students who take child development start off by learning how to act around little kids, how to talk to them and how to work with them in any situation that may occur before being put in an actual environment with them.

“Providing high schoolers with the hands-on experience to work one-on-one with the preschoolers is truly the best way to directly apply what we learn about child development and early childhood education,” Mrs. Smietana-Lysell said. “This gives high school students first-hand experience to understand the professional aspect of the position along with all of the preparation, time-management and ethics that goes into teaching. This is a neat experience for the preschoolers because they have the ‘big kids’ to look up to and learn from during this impressionable time of their lives.”

The child development students must plan out lessons to teach the kids before even meeting them. When preschoolers arrive, the high school helpers have to keep up with journaling their assigned kid’s growth throughout their time in Cubs’ Den.

“I want to go into a field after high school where I work with children, whether that be being a teacher or a therapist working with children,” senior Crysta Collins said. “I can use what I’ve learned in Cubs’ Den to interact with children and use my knowledge to create lesson plans if I decide to teach.”

This class helps the preschoolers prepare for kindergarten, but it is also helping students who want to be teachers or do any job where children will be involved.

“I think it’s really fun to be able to teach them while still being a student because it gives the kind of nostalgia from whenever I was in Cubs’ Den when I was younger,” sophomore Greta Hagofsky said.

Cubs’ Den has found a way to bring back students and make them the teachers.

“Throughout Cubs’ Den I’ve learned leadership and responsibility. Cubs’ Den also teaches patience because it’s not easy to work with preschoolers, especially when they have short attention spans and don’t always listen or focus,” Collins said.

Working with the children is not expected to be easy. There are backup students who can step in and help out if those who are new to the class are struggling or do not know what to do.

“The best way to describe Cubs’ Den is ‘organized chaos’ but in the most fun way,” Smietana-Lysell said.

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