Kids College offers variety of classes

Five-year-old twins Milia, left, and Cadence Ratledge add a mane to their mirror image painting of a lion during class at Kids College.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

After painting an orange mane on half the lion’s head, Milia Ratledge’s hand hesitated before she brushed it on the other half of the animal’s head.

In this mirror image painting class at Clovis Community College’s Kids College program, students such as Milia learn symmetry by painting one side of a picture and folding the paper over to create the other half.

Teacher Tishia Stewart says it can be difficult for students to realize how the mirror image painting works. But the exercise works both sides of the brain.

“It makes the connection in their world. It shows them a new way of looking, like at a butterfly, to see how the line of their body divides the butterfly and it’s the same on both sides,” she said.

Stewart teaches one of the 28 classes in Kids College. Classes range from physical education to sign language to art classes. They are open to children starting at age 5.

Kids College Director Judith Spillane said the program has been hosted by the college for more than a decade.

“This is an outreach program to our community to provide education opportunities for children,” she said. “We want children and parents to feel comfortable coming to the college so they feel CCC is part of the community.”

Classes ultimately offered at Kids College depend on instructor availability and enrollment, Spillane said.

Dina VanNostran’s daughter, Regan, is taking mirror image painting and swimming lessons. VanNostran said she and her husband have been waiting for Regan to turn 5 so she could take part in the classes.

“They learn a lot and meet new kids. It keeps them active during the summer,” VanNostran said. “It would be great if it could start at a younger age.”

Stewart said she wants to help children be creative while they are young.

“I want to bring their creativity out of them,” she said. “I want to show them that you don’t need to color inside the lines. Some of the most imaginative minds think outside the box so why would I put your brain in a prison?”

Stewart is an art teacher at the Arts Academy at Bella Vista and a coach at Clovis Christian School. She said teaching children art is different than teaching sports. There are less rules.

“In art, if you make a mistake, that mistake is something completely unique that you can turn into whatever you want. In sports, mistakes could cost you the game. There’s a little more freedom in art.”

Stewart said she uses words students may not understand because it gets their minds used to it and will help them connect to it when they learn it.

“Developmentally, if you hold a small child capable, they will learn. Exposure to certain things is important for kids. I love it when a child yells out, “Look what I did,” she said.

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