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KINDERGARTEN OFFERS THE SOLID FOUNDATION
It’s been said that Kindergartners are like an inquisitive sponge, soaking up all the beneficial knowledge and skill sets placed before them.
It follows, then, that children who complete pre-school and Kindergarten are much more prepared for the more rigid academic structure of the first grade than those who skip this critical year of education.
But Kindergarten offers children so much more than academic readiness. Yes, it promotes those language, cognitive and numeral skills that will empower these scholars throughout the journey to a high school diploma, and beyond. But Kindergartners also learn to follow rules and a schedule, learn how to become independent, and thrive in the all important opportunity for socialization.
At Belmont Elementary, Kindergarten teacher Amber Hajek sees the social opportunities afforded by her class as being paramount.
“I see learning social skills as the biggest benefit,” Amber said. “How to act around other kids, the structure of the day, how to follow rules, how to make friends. And all that serves the child through the education system.”
At Park View Elementary, veteran Kindergarten teacher Debra Holland calls this all important period in a child’s life “The Foundation.”
“Children learn their letters, they learn their sounds, they begin to read and write,” Debra said. “They learn their numbers, and by the end of the year, they are adding and subtracting. Kindergarten is critical: if they don’t get the foundational skills here, first, second and third grade are going to be very difficult.”
Celestina Kracker, another Kindergarten teacher at Park View, added, “At the end of the Kindergarten year, children become much more mature. They have more self confidence and believe they can do something without automatically saying, ‘I can’t do it.’
“Here at Park View, we believe in the ‘power of yet.’ We may not be able to do something right away, but with practice and practice, we eventually are able to accomplish things and be successful. The child who goes straight from pre-school into first grade is definitely going to be at a disadvantage: academically and emotionally.”
Fellow Kindergarten teacher Brittany Dionisio said the opportunity for children to attend school with their older colleagues and be with friends within the classroom is just one of many advantages of the program.
“Plus, it gives them the opportunity to learn all the academics they may not have learned at home,” Brittany added. “The kids that go to preschool and Kindergarten are definitely at an advantage when they go to the first grade. It’s an absolute must.”
Highland Park Elementary is home to a thriving Kindergarten program, where the Stallions’ classroom “work” is interspersed with gym, art and music.
“We really focus on letter naming and letter sounds,” explained Jennifer Gutierrez Vasquez, now in her second year of teaching Kindergarten. “Throughout the year, we decode those three-letter words and by the end of the year, we actually start reading.”
Crystal McFarland, a veteran Kindergarten teacher at Highland Park, reiterated the fact that Kindergarten builds “The Foundation” that begins with pre-school.
“Kindergarten gives them all the basic skills they need to carry them through,” Crystal said. “From the start of the year until the end, the change in a child is amazing.
It’s crazy how much they grow. Some of them go from never being in school to being able to count, write letters and read.”
Tara Leos, a mother of two who assists Crystal in the classroom, said Kindergarten has given her children the ability “to put not only letters together but words, figuring out on their own how to do that. They’ve also learned their basic math skills so now they are counting how many pepperoni pieces are on their pizza, and things like that.
“For my kids, their favorite part is the social thing: meeting people and making new friends.”
Kindergarten enrollment in all of our schools is open, and our dedicated teachers are anxious to start building your child’s “Foundation.”
Visit enrollD60.org to learn more.