School Spotlight: Riverview ECFE
To the untrained eye, a visit to the playground is nothing more than a chance for kids to have fun and burn off some energy. But if you talk to a trained professional, they’ll tell you that there’s more to the scene than meets the eye.
“They are working on their social/emotional skills. They’re working on their large motor skills. They’re working on their relationships with their friends, solving conflict,” said Elizabeth Saxerud, a school readiness teacher at Riverview ECFE in Brooklyn Park.
Saxerud spends four days a week with this group of four and five-year-olds. It’s her job to help prepare them for kindergarten.
“Their imagination is endless outside,” Saxerud said. “And a group of other people would just look at a bunch of kids playing outside as, ‘oh they’re just playing.’ But they’re doing a lot of mental work and a lot of physical work on top of that.”
Aside from the work they do outside, the children spend plenty of time inside during their five-hour school days. Inside the classroom, the students do activities with Play-Doh and Legos, while also learning the basics of education like their ABC’s and 123’s.
“They come in as little caterpillars, and they leave as these great big butterflies,” Saxerud said. “And it’s so amazing to see all of their development.”
While that group works hard on getting ready for kindergarten, there’s a completely different set of students at Riverview who are part of the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program.
Parents Learn Together With Their Children
With ECFE, the school organizes different learning activities that bring parents and children together.
“That’s really our goal, is that the parents and children are playing together, talking with one another, interacting, asking questions, that kind of stuff,” said Penny Walsh, a Riverview ECFE teacher.
It’s a program that parents can sign up for through the district’s community education offerings.
“ECFE is just a great opportunity for parents and children to learn together, to learn through play, to learn through activities,” Walsh said. “To learn with other parents who are going along with the same thing.”
On one morning in May, a naturalist from the Three Rivers Park District taught a class on frogs at Riverview ECFE. It was a chance for the kids to do some hands-on learning.
When the activity finished, the groups split up, and the parents got a chance to learn from a licensed parent educator.
“And they talk about different topics, developmental topics, whatever is happening in their life right now with that child, or maybe their other children who aren’t here, and they bring that to the table,” Walsh said.
Bottom line: Riverview ECFE offers programs that provide children and adults with information and skills that will help them grow.
“Their growth is huge,” Saxerud said. “And it’s my favorite part of my job.”
Anoka-Hennepin offers a variety of programs through community education. For a list of programs, and information on how to register for Riverview ECFE, you can go to the district website.