Kids have a lot of energy. And, like adults, sometimes they need a bit of help figuring out where to channel it. Are you in need of a creative and safe space for your preschooler during the day? Perhaps you need a break, a bit of quiet time? South Sound Dance’s Fine Arts Club might be just the place for you to relieve a bit of stress and expend some of your child’s seemingly never-ending energy.
The Fine Arts Club at South Sound Dance started in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when children were moved to attending school virtually. South Sound Dance owner Hannah Taylor-Kormondy looked at her two young kids and thought, “What am I going to do?” She wanted a way for her kids to get out of the house while still engaging in academics. “The only things that were allowed to be open were education programs,” she shares, “so at that moment I decided, ‘Okay, we’re starting an education program!’”
Fine Arts Club is a daytime preschool and arts enrichment program for kids ages 3-5 in the Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater areas. Preschool curriculum is taught through art, music and dance in an open class setting. Fine Arts Club Director and Instructor Cyrra Robinson teaches from the program’s syllabus while adding her own art projects for students to explore. She has a Bachelors in Arts and Culture and is working on completing her Child Development Accreditation (CDA). Cyrra focuses on being personable with each student to ensure that they feel safe, loved and valued. “In the classroom, we move our bodies to develop confidence,” shares Cyrra. “We create individual and group projects that build our creativity and self-efficacy, we use drama to express and better understand our emotions, and we learn yoga poses that help us self-regulate and follow directions–all while expressing so much joy in the process!”
Preschoolers learn, socialize and express their creativity in a multitude of inventive ways during Fine Arts Club. Hannah describes it as similar to a STEM program for kindergarten preparation, designed with preschool development research in mind. Activities in this program stimulate the pre-frontal cortex as well as amygdala development, the sections of our brains responsible for our ability to plan complex cognitive behavior, show our personalities and independence, make decisions, moderate social behavior, and express our feelings in healthy ways. This makes for kinder, more mindful and confident kids who are open and welcoming to differences and change.
Students are encouraged to answer questions in front of the class about the content they are learning, work together with peers and express their needs to teachers and other students. When these skills are developed before kindergarten, kids are better able to adapt to the changes that will soon come with larger class sizes and more structured, lengthy school days. These are the building blocks needed to be resilient in the new territory of kindergarten.
South Sound Dance’s Fine Arts Club Teaches More Than Dance
Students in this program are introduced to letters, colors, numbers, shapes, and introductory writing and reading. Creatively, they are kept interested by the use of monthly themes. Hannah describes this as finding a child’s spark to motivate them to learn and stay engaged. Each month, art projects, which are the main focus of the school day, as well as story time, dance and music are related to the chosen theme. Sometimes themes are based on the seasons, such as Harvest in the fall, and other times, they are subjects like class-favorite Dinosaurs, Bugs and Insects and Weather. The recent June theme, Sea Life, resonated with students thanks to its colorful nature and the ability to learn about what lives in the Puget Sound.
Classroom stations are set up for different segments that rotate throughout the week and time is also set aside for open creative play. All sorts of toys are provided, from LEGOS and cars to books and gymnastics mats. Students typically go on at least one field trip per year, not including park adventures. The current pre-k class is involved in a city-wide art project that, once finished, will be displayed at city hall. Guest teachers may also pop up from time to time to teach sculpture making, yoga and more.
Enrollment is open now for the 2022-2023 school year from September to June. Class sizes are limited to 10 students per teacher for a personalized experience, and are offered in a Monday/Wednesday/Friday group as well as a Tuesday/Thursday group. There are morning and afternoon classes, and classes are split up by ages: 3-5 and 4-5. To learn more or enroll your child for the upcoming year, visit their website here.