NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 250 kids converged on Tennessee State University’s indoor practice facility to participate in activities leading up to the Week of the Young Child.
Three to 5-year-olds from several local schools and day cares participated in the April 12 event hosted by TSU’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Center for Learning Sciences.
Each April, the National Association for the Education of Young Children designates a week to focus on children. This year April 24-28 is designated.
Dr. Margaret Machara, who is in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, was the coordinator of TSU’s event, which involved participation from 16 of the university’s departments.
She said students and faculty in each department were asked to develop activities for the children related to their respective areas of study. Organizers said the event provided a learning experience for both kids and college students, particularly those in a program like early childhood.
“The little kids are learning, but the big kids are learning too,” Machara said.
Stacey Nieman, program manager of the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance at TSU, agreed.
“The older students at TSU, what we’re getting them to see is being part of the community, and reaching out to the schools, preschools that are in our neighborhood,” Nieman said. “And the children, we just want them to get a feel of the university. It’s great if we can make an impression at an early age.”
She said research shows that most of the brain’s development happens when children are under the age of 8.
“So, those children in the ages of 3 to 5, it’s a primary time to have optimal brain development, and that’s done through experiences,” like the event here at TSU, she said.
Activities included a tractor simulator that allowed kids to virtually experience harvesting and baling hay, and exercising with some of the physical therapy students.
The kids also learned about safety and health care, such as making sure they always wash their hands.
“We’re teaching kids how to cover their cough, and how to wash their hands,” said nursing student Megan Tomlin, who will be graduating in May from TSU’s BSN program. “It really helps in preventing illness.”
Parents at the event were given a booklet on activities they can do to help their children continue to learn.
Natasha Winfrey attended with her four-year-old son, Gavin. She believes the activities made a positive impression on the kids.
“I think it’s good to get the kids started early, to see all the specialties that are available to them when they get older,” she said.
As he was leaving, Gavin was a little more succinct about his visit.
“I had fun!”
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.