Even the most veteran of teachers can learn a thing or two from a 3- or 4-year-old.

Even the most veteran of teachers can learn a thing or two from a 3- or 4-year-old.

"Children, you never know what to expect," commented Vickie Goldsmith, one of the teachers at Grove City's RecSchool Preschool Program. "There's never any boring routine around here."

"Even when you think you've seen it all and done it all, you haven't," offered Karen DeVore, another of the instructors.

Each of the women has been with the program, now sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department, for 20 years, but they admitted their small charges can still provide some pretty big surprises.

"You'd be surprised what you can learn from 3- and 4-year-olds," Goldsmith said.

For example, during a section on transportation last week, the children were asked to list some of the things carried by trains. The answer from one youngster was "kittens" while another came up with an even more intriguing prospect: Ghosts.

The mission of the RecSchool Preschool Program is: "To enrich the lives of young children and their families," but DeVore and Goldsmith both said their two decades with the young ones have left them the ones with lives enriched.

RecSchool first opened in September 1985 at the Grove City Methodist Church, according to background on the program coordinator Michelle Demmy provides to parents and guardians of prospective enrollees. It moved to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church for the 1987-88 school year before moving to its current home, the Gantz Barn in Gantz Park, in April 1988.

In October 1990, according to Demmy, additional classes were added to the lineup at Gantz Barn and eventually classroom space was created on the second floor.

"RecSchool provides children with the opportunity to learn in a nurturing, supportive child-centered environment," according to the sheet given to adults attending the required observation session. "We believe that young children learn best through hands-on play, and that successful socialization is the key to lifelong happiness. Our goal is to foster each child's love of learning while developing independence and a positive self-concept."

RecSchool currently has seven classes and serves more than 120 children.

It isn't just the children who have kept Goldsmith and DeVore devoted to their duties for all these years.

"The parents," DeVore said. "I really like the parents."

"We have wonderful parents," Goldsmith chimed in.

"Our staff is great," she added.

As wonderful as those parents might be, a preschool program is often all about getting even toddlers ready for the wider world beyond their household, and RecSchool accomplishes that, according to Goldsmith.

"I think it gives them a good start in dealing with people beside their parents, involvement with other children," she said. "It gives them some of the basics as far as socialization."

"It's really at their level," DeVore said of the lessons and play that take place during RecSchool.

"Just to watch them learn, they're like sponges," Goldsmith added.

Many parents, at the conclusion of a session, are surprised to find how independent their children have become, according to DeVore.

DeVore, who was single when she began working at RecSchool, has benefited beyond her paychecks and the wonderful parents and the fun with little boys and girls.

"It has made me a much better parent," said DeVore, now the mother of four.

Registration for the 2009-10 school year, which begins the week after Labor Day, gets under way next month. The cost for a child to attend three days a week is $1,215 a year, or $135 a month. For two days a week, the fee is $945 annually, or $105 a month. Parents or guardians pay $495 a year, $55 a month, for children attending one day a week.

Those interested in enrolling a child must observe a class and meet with the coordinator.

For more information on the process, call 871-6330.