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Back to School: TEK offers school readiness programs, tips for preschoolers to tweens

The moms behind Tailored Enrichment Kids share more about themselves and their back-to-school tips.

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Julie Sullivan and Duval Fisher of Tailored Enrichment Kids
Duval Fisher and Julie Sullivan launched Tailored Enrichment Kids, in part, because they were seeking more educational opportunities for their own kids.

The two Raleigh moms had the chops. They both are former classroom teachers with years of experience. They started TEK a year ago, offering camps and classes, along with opportunities for parents to craft programs specifically for their kids.

I checked in with Fisher and Sullivan to learn more about their programs and to get some tips for the beginning of the school year. Here's our email chat. (Full disclosure: One of my daughters is a classmate of one of Sullivan's).

Go Ask Mom: Tell us a bit about yourselves. You're both former teachers?
Duval Fisher and Julie Sullivan: Yes, we are both former “classroom” teachers, and still teachers!

Duval Fisher has 12 years experience teaching preschool and elementary aged children. The majority of her teaching career was spent at Joyner Elementary School in Raleigh. She holds a degree in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill and received her teaching certification from UNC-Wilmington. Duval is a native of Richmond, Va., and has resided in Raleigh with her husband and two children for over 10 years.

Julie Sullivan has 10 years of teaching experience in a variety of classrooms settings, including AG elementary aged children, 4th and 5th grade as well as most recently teaching in a preschool program in Raleigh. She has a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Florida. Julie grew up in New Jersey and Massachusetts and has enjoyed moving around the east coast, especially living in Raleigh with her husband and three children for the past five years.

GAM: Why did you start Tailored Enrichment Kids?
DF&JS: TEK was founded because of our passion for teaching. The concept grew from our desire to have enhanced educational experiences for our own children. We want to provide exceptional learning experiences for children.

In addition to our scheduled classes, we provide a service for parents in which they can tailor a class customized for their child’s academic needs or interests. We found this a unique approach in this day where it is challenging to fit more into our schedule. Our tailored approach allows parents to create and schedule a class that is convenient to them.

GAM: What kinds of programs and courses do you offer?
DF&JS: TEK offers enrichment classes and camps for preschool aged kids to 5th graders. Our preschool classes are focused on kindergarten readiness skills. Classes dive into the world of reading readiness, emergent writing skills, age appropriate math skills, as well as hands-on science experiences. For the elementary aged kids, we offer a wide range of classes: book clubs, writing enrichment classes, Shake Hands with Science classes, and Excel in Math enrichment classes.

New additions this fall will be Spanish enrichment classes for preschool and elementary aged kids as well as a home schooling program based on the Montessori approach that will run daily throughout the year.

GAM: What do you enjoy about the work?
DF&JS: What we enjoy most about TEK is having the opportunity to be teaching while running our own business. TEK allows us to make learning fun, hands on, and creative thus igniting a desire to learn in our students. In addition, we feel very fortunate to work with all the different teachers we have at TEK. Each brings so many ideas, new approaches, and an excitement that is contagious!
GAM: As we head back into the traditional school year, what are your top tips for parents and students for getting the year started right?
DF&JS: Heading back to school can be stressful whether your child is off to their first day of preschool or 5th grade. Try to emphasize with your children the excitement of a new chapter in their lives in which they will be making new friends and having an opportunity to learn and grow.

As educators and parents, here are a few tips from TEK to make the transition back to school a smooth one!

Encourage reading: School is a key part of childhood, and therefore many children’s books have been written focused on the school setting. Here are a few your children might enjoy reading before the start of school. They will promote some healthy conversations in your house and perhaps relieve some back to school anxiety.
  • Preschool Books
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Pirates Go To School by Corinne Demas
How Do Dinosaurs Go to School by by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean
  • Elementary Books
  • A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
    Marco Goes to School by Roz Chast
    My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil by, Hanoch Piven
    Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell and David Catrow
    Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon
    Third Grade Angels or Fourth Grade Rats By Jerry Spinelli
    No Talking by Andrew Clements and Mark Elliott (upper elementary)
    Pick up a Pencil: Has writing taken a hiatus in your house for the summer? Give your child a jump start to school by working on some writing activities before the start of school.
    • Write a letter to their new teacher introducing themselves to him or her
    • Create a scrapbook of their summer and write captions under photos or illustrations
    • Create a comic strip documenting an event from the summer or an imaginary event
    You also can sign up for a back-to-school readiness program and enrichment classes for the fall, including TEK's book clubs, jump start camps and other programs. For more information about what TEK offers, check the website.
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