The Little Stars Pre-School in Killyleagh has just celebrated its first anniversary.
As I entered the busy classroom area located in St Mary’s Primary School in Killyleagh, the children were tuning up for a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on their little stage and they sang very well. Then, as the morning progressed, the big moment arrived… the cutting of the birthday cake with one lit candle on it. There was a clear flurry of excitement as they recognised and indeed celebrated their Little Star pre-school’s birthday. There were smiles all round.
Fiona Martin, Chairperson of the Board of Little Stars Pre-School, said: “I am so impressed with the way that the first intake of children have developed. One of the assets of the pre-school is the great involvement of the parents – one came in the other days and was reading stories to the children and they were just engrossed.
“The children in their first year settled down from day one very well and we can clearly see the remarkable growth in them over the months. Our facilities are excellent – we have use of a classroom in St Mary’s Primary School and it is well lit, spacious and comfortable. There are lots of paintings around the walls that the children have themselves done and they really enjoy getting involved in art work and splashing around with paints.
“In the better weather days we get the children out to play in the enclosed yard. We have to give them a half hour of exercise daily. If the weather is bad we go into the gym and they play games there and run around.
“In fact a lot of the learning they are engaged in is focused on play… for example, from music to numeracy and literacy areas. It is just fantastic to see them grow on their journey as mindful individuals.”
School Principal Delores Millar said: “I am delighted that the Little Stars Pre-School is going so well and all the children are thriving. The classroom is very stimulating and they have lots of equipment and toys and marvellous staff to look after and nurture them.
“This is a very important stage in their life-long education and I am pleased that they are making excellent progress.
“The continued support of the parents is vital for the long-term success of the Little Stars and we are just delighted we have such a strong team all round in place.
“So we are all looking forward to the continued success of the pre-school and wish all the staff and children best wishes on celebrating their first anniversary.”
Karen McCormick, Little Stars Leader in Charge, said: “We have twelve children in the pre-school at the moment and the numbers will grow. The age range is from 2 years 10 months to school age. I have one pre-school assistants and two students also with me and we work well as a team.
“I have been involved in managing pre-schools for around ten years now and I find Little Stars a fantastic challenge and it is very personally rewarding for myself and the staff. We are blessed with having such wonderful parents who really do get involved with the playgroup which makes all the difference to the children’s development.
“It is very rewarding to see each individual child grow progressively through intellectually, emotionally and even physically and listen to their vocal development which grows through stories, poems, conversation, and singing and music.
“We do have two children with additional needs and they are very well integrated into the group and well looked after and they are fulfilling themselves well within their age and ability ranges.
“I am looking forward to growing the Little Stars pre-school and no doubt it will be a challenge but we have a strong team and lots of support from the parents and in the wider community.”
“One of my responsibilities is looking after the staff and trainees and we are so lucky to have Vanessa Cunningham aboard. She has completed a university education and has decided to make early learning years her career. She gets on great with the parents too and is a brilliant asset in our pre-school and an important part of our team.”
Karen added: “The early foundation years in education are critical to future progress and we try and build up their confidence and self-esteem so they can prosper at the next stages of their education. We have six areas of early years education and development that we have to concentrate on: language, maths, science, the arts, the world around us, and their their physical development.
“We do try and make their day as interesting and stimulating as possible. They certainly learn through play focussed activities.”
The children were up on their little stage again singing their favourite song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars.
And they were all just that… LITTLE STARS.