Counting their chickens

IPTV visits WC Head Start Program

–Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Iowa Public Television Education Coordinator Trista Peitzman speaks with children at the Webster City Head Start classroom on Monday morning.

Webster City youngsters spent Monday morning counting “chickens” with Iowa Public Television Education Coordinator Trista Peitzman.

Peitzman visited the Webster City Head Start program as a part of IPTV’s Ready for School project tour. She spoke with kids about math education and the importance of learning new things.

“The younger kids start learning that going to school and learning is really fun and they can really embrace learning those skills,” said Peitzman.

Children watched a short PBS Kids show, “Peg + Cat,” a math program for preschool-aged children to help them learn counting skills. In the episode shown, Peg and Cat are on a farm when 100 chickens get loose. Peg and Cat enlist the help of their friendly farm animals to retrieve the chickens by counting.

Children also had a chance to work on their own math skills. Students were given paper bags with a number indicating how many cotton balls or “chickens” to find and place in each bag.

“The whole point is that parents can play games like this with their children,” said Peitzman. “We talked about that with the kids that their chickens could be blocks or crayons or even dirty socks. It’s a fun activity for kids.”

Along with visits, both the Webster City and Dakota City Head Start classrooms received a television with educational DVDs.

“At Iowa Public Television we don’t encourage kids to watch TV all day. We encourage them to just watch programs that are educational and really focus on them learning,” Peitzman said.

“We know that children watch TV. Telling children not to watch TV is impossible, because they’re going to watch it,” said Marjorie Wonderlich, Head Start Manager of Your Own United Resources Inc. “This is an effort to get them to watch good educational TV.”

The current television in the Head Start classroom was unable to play DVDs, so educators were grateful for the new addition.

“The TV and DVDs are actually a part of a collaborative effort, so it’s not really a gift or grant,” said Peitzman. “It’s just part of our collaboration in working with the Head Start.”

“This is a wonderful gift for us,” Wonderlich said. “We will use it sparingly, but it will be used for educational programming.”

There are two Head Start classrooms in Fort Dodge with satellite locations in Dakota City and Webster City. This year, IPTV is partnering with ten communities throughout Iowa, including Webster City and Fort Dodge. In the past five years, the IPTV program has had approximately 100 communities involved in their Ready for School effort.

Head Start’s mission is to prepare children, birth through five years, to succeed in school and life and to empower parents through education, support and available resources.

“I think teaching kids the concept that work and learning are fun is something really important because it leads them throughout the rest of their life,” said Peitzman.