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Teenagers and toddlers working together

Teenagers and toddlers working together photo

Through Northport High School’s Family and Consumer Science department, students have the unique opportunity to work with toddlers and experience child-development first-hand. The program affords students with tactile interaction with children twice a week, witnessing their classroom-learned knowledge come to life.

For one semester, students enrolled in Family Dynamics are paired with a toddler in order to observe the physical, social, and emotional growth of the child. On a rotating schedule, students plan the day’s activities, arts and crafts, and “circle-time” for the children to comfortably transition leaving the classroom. At the end of each week, students record how they’ve watched the child grow and develop by way of motor skills, vocabulary, and more.

“They understand a lot more than I expected,” said Chris, a senior in the program. “My toddler only knew a few words in the beginning and know he knows so much more. It’s crazy how fast they pick things up.”

Students involved in the program vary from aspiring future educators, to budding psychologists, to just wanting to be prepared for a future family.

“This is definitely the most hands-on class I’ve ever taken,” said Deanna, a junior at NHS, “and I genuinely look forward to each afternoon I get to spend time with these kids.”

If students want to continue on in the program after completing working with toddlers, they’re able to enroll in a Human Development class, where students work with preschool aged children three times a week, taking on more responsibilities and leadership roles in the classroom.

“We find that students who go through this program and continue on to pursue professions in education and psychology have a significant advantage compared to other students,” said Family Dynamics teacher Antoinette DiGiacomo. “This experience sets them apart in ways that impresses their professors, and ultimately helps them achieve future professional success.”