A taste of life in college

College for Kids science teacher Jill Geer works with Lindsay

GILROY
– Kids are getting a little taste of university life this summer
during Gavilan’s College for Kids. Walking around in matching

CFK

T-shirts, they are familiarizing themselves with the campus,
sampling the menu in the cafeteria and even choosing which classes
to take.
GILROY – Kids are getting a little taste of university life this summer during Gavilan’s College for Kids. Walking around in matching “CFK” T-shirts, they are familiarizing themselves with the campus, sampling the menu in the cafeteria and even choosing which classes to take.

“College for Kids is a program that fosters a safe and fun learning environment in which students’ creativity and energy is channeled into a product,” teacher’s assistant Sebastien Reyes said. “In computers, they get to design something they’ve only imagined. It’s pretty empowering when you witness their faces light up when you see them accomplish something.”

The 105 kids enrolled attend morning enrichment classes and afternoon recreation activities, such as swimming and soccer, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at Gavilan. Upon registering, participants choose between section one – which explores science, computers and Japanese language and culture – or section two – which focuses on math, art and Spanish language and culture. The second section ends this Friday.

“My vision is that all year ’round, kids are laden with homework,” Coordinator Leila Arias-Osler said. “College for Kids gives a chance for children to have fun in summer without homework and timed assignments and tasks, providing them with academics while still developing their social skills with games and interactions with their peers.”

And this is exactly what the children love about the program.

“I like getting some math into our brains so we don’t forget about it over the summer,” said Michelle Coddington, 10.

The enrichment classes are designed to challenge students while allowing them to be creative and explore the subjects they may not get a chance to during the school year. All classes are led by one certified teacher and an assistant and have a maximum of 20 students.

In the computer class, students learn how to use the programs and practice typing while creating their own amusement park. They also do research on the Web sites for Great America and Bonfante Gardens to get inspiration.

“They’re getting exposure to things they don’t get during the school year,” said teacher’s assistant Michelle Kopari as she helped students dissect owl pellets. Kopari is a child development major at San Jose State University.

The language courses are culturally based, allowing students to have fun with the language. They learn a few phrases, have parties and play games to help reinforce what they learn.

And the math class isn’t just about long division. During one period, the students used estimation, the equation for volume and a bush to count to one million.

“The littler kids seemed pretty impressed,” math instructor Stephen Lentz said. “They took ownership of the problem, and it became a real number for them.”

In order to further improve the program, Arias-Osler has students fill out an evaluation at the end of the session. She has been greatly impressed by their responses.

“Some say ‘we are experts now, the teachers were great, we learned a lot,’ ” she said. “I think they like it because it’s structured, very organized and safe. We also emphasize positive reinforcement with the students.

“Every child is a good college-for-kids student. I believe that given the opportunity any student will blossom. The challenge is to be able to get every child involved and interested in classes and to have fun. I’m also very big on being kind and learning sportsmanship, values, socialization, problem solving.”

Scholarships are given for students in need through Gavilan Community Education.

Although the program is for students ages 8 to 13, College for Kids doesn’t turn away alumni who are still interested in lending a hand. The program gladly accepts former students to help the teacher aids. Once they turn 18, they can apply for an official position.

“My (teacher’s assistants) are the jewels of the program. They are highly screened and have to go through training and CPR,” Arias-Osler said.

In the future, she hopes to offer an advanced Japanese class as well as more practical classes such as basic study skills, money management and homemaking.

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