In the waning days of summer, crickets and cicadas sing in an ancient language lost to many. Children, however, are skillful interpreters, and to them the message is clear: vacation is over and school has begun. Fortunately, for students at Northrop Urban Environmental Learning Center (4315 31st Ave. S.), the educational benefits of play are highly valued; therefore, the start of classes does not mean the end of fun.
This year, Northrop welcomes Playworks Twin Cities, whose mission is “to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play.” Several full-time Playworks coaches will join the school community to provide organized activities during recess; leadership opportunities in individual classrooms; and tutoring, physical activity programs, and developmental sports leagues after school. For more information, visit www.playworks.org.
(Disclosure: Outgoing SENA Board President Tom Evers is now the executive director of Playworks Twin Cities.)
Students have another fun and unusual educational prospect this year, in the form of the Northrop plot at the Southside Star Community Garden (32nd Ave. S. and E. 41st St.). Over the spring and summer, teachers and parent volunteers planted cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, eggplant, beans, radishes, and more. The garden, which is a very short walk from the school, will offer a bounty of scientific learning opportunities, not to mention delicious and healthy organic snacks.
Inside the school building, the commitment to quality education is stronger than ever, as evidenced by the increased involvement of the Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC). MRC is a nonprofit program to help every Minnesota child become a successful reader by the end of third grade. Four full-time MRC members will work with students in grades K–3 to boost students’ reading skills, and one half-time member will work in the Hi-5 classroom to give the youngest Northrop students a head start toward a lifetime of reading enjoyment.
The fun and learning don’t have to be restricted to school hours either, as Northrop also offers on-site before- and after-school daycare, called Minneapolis Kids. Activities for group and individual play include crafts, music, art, computers, sports, cooking, storytelling, and dramatics. A minimum enrollment of two days per week is required. There is a fee for the service; however, some families may qualify for financial assistance. Call 668-3890 for more information or e-mail email@example.com