Meet Canton’s new preschool

The high growth rate of the Plymouth Canton Community Schools has brought one of the top pre-school franchises to the Canton Community.

The Goddard School, a pre-school offering classes for children six weeks to six years old, opened a new independent franchise location in Canton this October. The school offers year-round half or full day education and daycare for children in the area.

Owner Carl Pittner said that he opened the new location after seeing the growth in the Canton community, and their school district.

“The demographics of Canton said it would make a good location for a school,” Pittner said. “We just opened our school in October, so we’re not at full enrollment yet. It’s always to get from zero to as full as possible.”

The Goddard School system expanding to the Plymouth-Canton community represents the high growth of the district. The Plymouth-Canton Community Schools grew by 219 students in 2007, showing an increase of 1,446 since 2004. The district passed Livonia to become the fourth largest school district in the state, behind only Detroit, Utica, and Grand Rapids.

Jennifer Plachetzki, the director for the Canton location, said that Goddard is the place to be for Plymouth and Canton children “based on the curriculum and the philosphoical beliefs for educating young children.”

The Goddard System has specialized curriculum for every age. The programs are designed to help children learn how to associate with other kids and get an introduction to different school subjects. Classes are divided into Infant I, Infant II, First Steps, Toddler, Get Set, Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten, with many different areas of focus within each. For example, the Get Set class, which is for older toddlers, teaches children how to complete 5 to 10-piece puzzles, develop multi-tasking skills, improve speech and finger movement, and help with sharing and taking turns. In the pre-kindergarten class, children learn how to recall sequence and details of a story, grow a vocabulary of 4000 words, express ideas through art and materials, and identify different types of music.

Sarah Maher, an assistant teacher, came to Goddard on March 3 from the Southfield YMCA, and she said the biggest difference between the public childcare and Goddard is the level of security for the children.

“They don’t let anybody in, versus at the YMCA, where it was more than just a childcare center, so it was open to other people,” Maher said. “Here, even if you see some random person taking a picture in a parking lot, they are on video camera and they have a security system in the door where the parents have to push in a code to get into the door, or the directors let them in.”

Parents can be assured that there are plenty of teachers at the school, and that they all are educated in areas of childcare, according to Maher. All teachers at Goddard have college degrees in child development or teaching certificates. State laws require certain ratios of students to teachers; from six weeks to two years, the ratio is 1 to 4; from two years to 2 ½ years, the ratio is 1 to 8; from three years to four years, the ratio is 1 to 10; and for pre-kindergarten it is 1 to 12. However, if the children are not potty-trained above the three to four year age group, these ratios change.

Every child at Goddard is given a portfolio when they enroll, which the teachers add to and record development throughout their years.

“The portfolios are something that starts shortly after the child begins, and depending on their age,” Maher said. “They have curricular goals that they should be learning and advancing in, and we just collect their work and then make records of it and take pictures of examples. They carry the portfolio with them until they leave, and then they can take it with them. It’s just to show their work, and it’s also a requirement of the Goddard School system.”

Maher said that the portfolios are added to almost every week, so that management and parents can keep up to date with the child’s progress. It is also a good tool for communication at parent-teacher conferences.

Next year, the Canton Goddard location plans to open a private kindergarten within the facility. Pittner said that according to state laws, they aren’t allowed to open a kindergarten until their second year.

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