Healthy Learners

Healthy Learners
A School Adjustment Program for Children in Kindergarten

For the tenth year, Woodside School is pleased to offer the Healthy Learners Program, a program which helps students in kindergarten adjust more fully and successfully to school. We have served approximately 175 students since our beginning and are one of five other sites in Maine . We are affiliated with and supervised by the Children's Institute in Rochester NY that has been sponsoring this program nationally for 50 years. The program is supervised by Helene McGlauflin, a guidance counselor and clinical counselor, and we are fortunate to have our talented child associate, Lonie Ellis.

The program seeks to serve children in the early grades, who may be having some trouble adjusting to school. These children may need to develop more confidence in themselves as learners, may have trouble taking risks and trying new things, or may be struggling to understand school rules. The program is designed to offer these children an opportunity to feel more comfortable and connected at school, so they can be more successful academically and socially.

All our students in kindergarten are screened by classroom teachers, using a research based evaluation tool. With the help of this tool and conversations with teachers, students in kindergarten are recommended for the program. Parents of recommended children are called by classroom teachers or the counselor, who will discuss the goals we have for each Healthy Learner. Participation is voluntary, and with parental consent only.

Each Healthy Learner will work with Lonie Ellis, our adult helper, once a week for 30 minutes for approximately 15 weeks. This happens in our playroom which is equipped with toys that facilitate expressive play. The child is encouraged to play freely, while the child associate watches, listens, attends, and follows the child's lead. Parents are invited to meet Helene and Lonie at the beginning and end of the cycle to discuss the program and the child's goals. Midway through the cycle, parents are invited to join in one of the child's sessions to see first hand and experience time in the playroom. Following this individual time, the child associate visits classrooms during choice time to encourage the growth and learning from the playroom into the classroom.

Over the weeks, a successful Healthy Learner will make a connection with Ms. Ellis, will take risks in the playroom, will feel more confident, and will look forward to coming to school. The program's hope is to nurture these children through the child associate/mentor relationship. The program will help the children adjust to the school environment and hence, become a more successful learner.

We have seen it work successfully for many children, and look forward to welcoming our new Healthy Learners this year!

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