By Kim Johnson

COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) — This week’s Excellent Educator is being awarded for her work not only with her students but also with their parents.

That’s because her students are still in diapers, and their parents are learning how to help their child strive.

As an early childhood family education teacher at Coon Rapids Family Place, Risa Lieser is on a mission to help both reach their top potential.

Lieser has devoted her career to teaching toddlers, really big little things.

“Today we’re working on physical development so we do finger plays,” she said. She uses music to teach kids the concept of fast and slow, and tossing scarves helps the little ones grasp small movements.

“We’re starting with physical development, that’s a lot of fine muscle type things,” she said. “Then we move to language and math and talk about cognitive development which is thinking and problem solving.”

In early childhood family education, parents are invited to the weekly class. Parents and their kids, ages birth to kindergarten, spend time together doing activities to enhance learning.

Families leave with new ideas to continue at home.

“The beauty of this class is the parents are really the teachers of their children, we are just the extra support, we come up with the activities which will support the development of the children,” she said. “The parents can go home and grandparents go home and really do these activities and help their children learn these things.”

Lieser’s reputation means her class is always full.

“She is welcoming, she is warm, she loves to dance, so her circle times are fun, fun, fun,” said Jody Bordwell, her supervisor.

Lieser has fun too, but the real reward for her is being invited to the circle.

“To get to know people and really be a part of families, I appreciate that because that’s a huge deal,” she said.


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